By Lance LeVan
UFC Fight Night is being held in Barueri, Brazil on Saturday, December 20.
I am not happy with the recent Fight Night fight cards and this one is not any different.
There are approximately 12 fights on the card and I have only heard of four of the fighters. So out of 24 fighters, I have only heard of four of them. I think the UFC is over saturating the market with too many fighting events per month. I understand that they have more and more fighters coming into the UFC and they need to have fights. However, when the fans are watching fights and they have no idea who either of the fighters are, I think that is a problem. Therefore, I am only going to preview the first two matches of the event.
(#4) Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida (21-5-0) vs. (#10) CB “The Doberman” Dollaway (16-6-0).
This is going to be a five round middleweight (185 lbs) fight. This is a fight between two guys who are on the path to getting a title shot with the champ, Chris Weidman. They are both fast and even though they are 185 lbs, they move like lightweights. Both of these fighters are explosive veterans of the Octagon. Machida has fought a who’s-who of people in his 11+ year career. He is the former light heavyweight champion. He is a 3rd degree black belt in Shotokan Karate and a black belt in BJJ. He has lost two of his last four fights and I am certain he is looking to make another run for championship belt.
Dollaway is a former NCAA wrestler and a purple belt in BJJ. He has won four of his last five matches. Both of these fighters like to strike, even though they are both well versed on the ground. In both cases, the majority of their wins and losses where the fight was finished, have been via KO/TKO. I hope Dollaway brings his wrestling “A” game. Machida is not known for letting fighters take him down very easily. Dollaway will need to make some good take downs early to make Machida worry about that aspect. Then he can concentrate more on the striking.
Machida will need to do what he always does, which is stuff the takedowns and then strike effectively. He hits his opponent and then he dodges. Then he hits, and dodges. Over and over again. Something to consider is that Dollaway has never gone five rounds and Machida has been there at least three times. It will be a huge factor if the fight goes that far. However, I think the fight will go to the championship rounds, and I hope Machida will pull out a submission. My prediction: Machida wins by unanimous decision.
(#1) Renan “The Baron” Barao (34-2-0, 1NC) vs. (#14) Mitch Gagnon (18-9-0).
This is a three round bantamweight (135 lbs) fight. When I first heard about this matchup, I thought it was a typo or a mistake on Joe Silva’s part. Barao is the former Champion of this division and is currently ranked number one. His only loss since 2005 is the loss to the current Champion, TJ Dillashaw back in May.
I did some research and discovered that Barao passed out while trying to make weight before a rematch with Dillashaw back in August. He had to drop out of the fight less than 24 hours before show time. PPV numbers for that event were the worst in several years, and I am certain the UFC and Dana White are punishing him.
Barao is a Muay Thai fighter who is also a black belt in BJJ. Other than his recent loss to the current champion, Barao is on a 32-fight win streak. There is also a NC in there too, but that streak is amazing. I am not trying to take anything away from Gagnon, because he is a great fighter. He is a tough striker, but his forte is submissions. He has finished 11 of his 12 victories via submission. He is a purple belt in BJJ, but he is still a submission expert.
It will be entertaining to watch and see how much time of this fight is on the ground. Is Barao’s experience and training enough to fend off the submission attempts from Gagnon? Will Gagnon be able to step up and compete with a fighter of this caliber? This one might have a chance at “Fight of the Night” honors. In this fight, I just can’t ignore the winning streak and the experience of Barao. I would love to see the underdog win this fight, but I think that Barao is going to be too much for Gagnon to handle. My prediction: Barao wins via submission (guillotine) in the third round.