It’s time for another great UFC card, this time by way of Canada and the big Fox channel. UFC On Fox 21 goes down in Vancouver tomorrow night, and has a host of great Canadian talent on the card. The “Natural Born Killer” Carlos Condit will be taking on one of the most skilled grapplers in the sport when he meets Demian Maia in the main event.
Anthony Pettis will make his featherweight debut against the slick and dangerous, Charles Oliveira, Bec Rawlings will finally get to realize her dark wish of punching Paige VanZant in the face repeatedly, and Joe Lauzon and Jim Miller will be back in a highly anticipated rematch of their spectacular 2012 showdown.
It’s an event with some wheels on it, and fans should benefit from a fast-paced ride. The underdog action runs deep in this card, but all four of the main card bouts are just rife with possibility, so I’ll be focusing on those bouts. Let’s get started.
Joe Lauzon $10,300 / Jim Miller $9,100
These two had a fantastic fight in December 2012, which saw Miller take a pretty handy unanimous decision. It was a great battle, but in the end it was a clear cut victory with no controversy. The two have been hit or miss in their contests following that fight, with both now coming off TKO wins.
This fight will likely see plenty of action on the ground, similar to their first bout, but it will be set with solid inside work in the standup. If Miller can press the action on the inside, and get the plum clinch the way he did in 2012, we could see him rock Lauzon enough to get this bout where it needs to be, on the ground. Jim is extremely skilled from the top or the bottom positions, and BJJ legend, Eddie Bravo, has declared Miller as having one of the deadliest guards in the sport.
Cardio will play a major role here, and Miller has been laser focused on keeping himself in better shape during the off season. He has the blueprint, and should be able to wear Lauzon down, and possibly finish him off.
Jim Miller via Submission
Paige VanZant $10,800 / $Bec Rawlings $8,600
Paige is a game fighter, willing to trade blows with her opponents at any cost. She’s tough as nails, and will fight through conditions that would make lesser women quit. That said, she has lots of room for improvement, and against a bigger, stronger opponent like Rawlings, that’s going to be an important factor.
Rawlings is on her third fight camp with Alliance MMA, where she’s found continued success under Eric del Fiero’s tutelage. Her striking has come a long way since her Invicta days, and with each outing her standup shows visible improvement. She’s a very capable wrestler and is extremely durable. Bec also has the confidence advantage in that she’s coming off a pair of wins, and VanZant is returning to action for the first time since suffering a pretty demoralizing defeat at the hands of Rose Namajunas.
Bec’s standup and ability to endure through “wars of attrition” should net her the victory.
Bec Rawlings via Decision
Anthony Pettis $10,400 / Charles Oliveira $9,000
Anthony Pettis is making his first foray into the featherweight division against the super slick grappling ace, Charles Oliveira. In his last six fights, Charles has lost only to Max Holloway, and that was by a crazy esophageal injury he suffered in the opening stanza of the contest. Of the five wins in that group, he’s submitted four (including Nick Lentz), and beat Jeremy Stephens handily in a solid unanimous decision performance.
Pettis, on the other hand, is on a three-fight skid and may find himself questioning his camp choices, as we saw him spend a good portion of time at Greg Jackson’s earlier this year. It’s true that the losses have come at the hands of two champions and a rising contender, but the shine on this gem is definitely losing some luster.
If we take a look around the web, we’ll see some pretty alarming photos and video over the last few days that show a positively emaciated frame with skin that looks like it’s been chemically treated to stretch over his bones. I’ve never been a fan of big weight cuts, and in this case, even less so. Making his 145 debut against a killer like Oliveira will score him points with the fans for not taking the easy road, but I’ve got a feeling it won’t score anything in his win column. “Do Bronx” is going to do work.
Charles Oliveira via Submission
Carlos Condit $10,000 / Demian Maia $9,600
Condit is a fighter the fans can really get behind. He’s durable, can absorb a tremendous amount of punishment, and can pull out Rockyesque come-from-behind victories (see his fight with Rory MacDonald). He’s got a beautiful unorthodox striking game, great kicks and competent ground game.
So what is his Achilles heel? For starters, his takedown defense is a glaring weakness, especially against Maia whose trips and single legs are absolutely excellent. If the fight hits the ground he may be able to survive, but he’ll likely lose those exchanges. Let’s face it, if this fight hits the ground there’s a very high level of probability that Condit gets submitted.
Maia has a lot of upside in his striking, specifically his ground and pound. He used it flawlessly to ruin Neil Magny’s night, as well as Gunnar Nelson’s. This fight will more than likely be bound for the floor, and will almost assuredly end with Demian’s hand raised.
Demian Maia via Decision
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