After going 3-2 in my UFC RIO picks (thanks to Mario for giving me that Prater call), it’s nice to have some momentum coming into this week. In fact, the only negative response to my last edition was the picture. In some circles, Photoshopping yourself into a picture with a couple women is hilarious, even high-five worthy. In others, however, it gets you a stern talking-to from one's fiancé and a restraining order from Arianny and Chandella. Yes, while once I fought in the Octagon, now it looks like I won’t even be able to get within 100 feet of it.
This Friday the UFC on FX rolls into Nashville (almost three million feet away from my place). Personally, I think this is the best move FX has made since they offered Dana White the role of Detective Vic Mackey in “The Shield.” Hopefully this leads to a whole new level of UFC/FX crossovers. I think Justified’s Timothy Olyphant could be a decent fighter and maybe Matt Mitrione could get on an episode of The League (though I don’t think his two career tackles make him a viable fantasy football play).
PAT BARRY VS. CHRISTIAN MORECRAFT
The night kicks off with a heavyweight contest between Pat “HD” Barry and Christian Morecraft. Both guys are coming off losses and badly need a win to stay in the organization. In the interest of full disclosure, Pat is a personal friend of mine, and not just because we’ve driven up bar bills that rival my student loan debt. He’s a great guy whose Twitter feed is vastly superior to his opponent's, and that’s why it feels terrible to pick against him.
Prediction: Luckily for me, I won't have to. Morecraft has four submission victories, so if he can get “HD” to the ground, Pat could be in trouble. Pat’s footwork and athleticism, though, should help him avoid tying up while picking Morecraft apart with his superior striking. Barry gets a 1st round TKO and looks way more masculine than he does when ordering his drink of choice. Seriously, coconut rum and pineapple juice?!
MIKE EASTON VS. JARED PAPAZIAN
Next up is a bantamweight bout between newcomer Jared “The Jackhammer” Papazian and Mike “The Hulk” Easton. Easton is making his second appearance in the Octagon after finishing Byron Bloodworth in the second round last October. I didn’t catch the fight, but with a name like Bloodworth, the guy had to be a vampire and even the Twilight ones are hard to beat.
Prediction: The Jackhammer has gone to decision his last five bouts. That, compounded by the fact that he’s making his UFC debut on short notice, makes it hard to choose him against a guy who smashed his way through the local Washington D.C. circuit -- we all know hard it is to accomplish something in that town. Easton via 2nd round TKO
DUANE LUDWIG VS. JOSH NEER
I expect Duane “Bang” Ludwig and Josh “The Dentist” Neer to be the fight of the night. Ludwig's having a good streak - he's won his last two fights, and the UFC now officially recognizes his win against Jonathan Goulet as the fastest KO in UFC history. Tough veteran Josh Neer has finished his last five fights, most recently against Keith Wisniewski via doctor stoppage due to cuts that almost made referee Dan Miragliotta almost lose his lunch.
Prediction: Ludwig has the advantage in standup, no doubt - he's one of the best in MMA. Neer, however, is much more well-rounded has a solid chin. I think that he’ll try to stand and trade with Ludwig, but then his self-preservation instincts will kick in, he’ll take Duane down and work some ground and pound. Most people hate the dentist, and Ludwig won’t be the exception after Neer takes this by decision.
MELVIN GUILLARD VS. JIM MILLER
The main event has lightweight contenders Melvin “The Young Assassin” Guillard and Jim Miller jockeying for position on the 155-pound ladder. Both guys have something to prove after recent losses derailed their contender status in the division. It's a textbook style matchup: Guillard has explosive boxing and dangerous knockout power; Miller is one of the most effective grapplers in the UFC and a BJJ black belt who's won 11 of 20 by submission.
Prediction: Melvin Guillard’s performances have been about as reliable as my
grandma after a glass and half of Riesling. Sometimes he goes out there
on point and you want to crown him the next lightweight champ; other
times, you have a hard time believing that' he's the same guy who took
out Shane Roller and Evan Dunham with extreme violence. Joe Lauzon showed the hole in Guillard’s game and Miller has the ability to rip it open even wider. Miller will get the takedown and secure a submission, giving Melvin his second loss in a row.
That concludes the third edition of the Downes Side. Don't forget to follow me on Twitter at @DannyBoyDownes, and keep your fingers crossed that I finish my work in time to watch the fights tonight. I have to apologize to my fiancé (this should do it) and hire some legal counsel. I wonder if Volkmann has a good lawyer I could call.
Check out Danny's previous predictions for UFC Rio.
The Downes Side: UFC on FX 1 Predictions
UFC/WEC veteran Dan Downes talks strategy and predictions for UFC on FX: Guillard vs. Miller