UFC Fight Night 50: Jacare vs. Mousasi 2 – Full Card Breakdown/Predictions
UFC Fight Night 50: Jacare vs. Mousasi 2
September 5, 2014 | Foxwoods Resort Casino—Mashantucket, CT
Fox Sports 1 Main Card: 9 p.m./6 p.m. ET|PT
Fox Sports 1 Prelims: 7 p.m./4 p.m. ET|PT
With the SNAFU that was UFC 177: Dillashaw vs. Soto now in our rearview mirrors, we turn to look at this Friday’s UFC Fight Night: Jacare vs. Mousasi 2, a card that, if we’re being fair and honest, has considerably more to look forward to in comparison. Headlined by a rematch almost six years in the making between two former Strikeforce champions (whose first meeting ended in a brilliant first-round upkick knockout), UFC Fight Night 50 (as it’s otherwise called) is, from top to bottom, one of the most promising events to date in 2014.
Verily, every single fight worth a watch.
It is for that reason that I’m breaking protocol and making predictions for every single fight on the card. That’s both the main and preliminary cards – 10 fights in total. Granted, the breakdowns will be much shorter, but hey—so will this intro!
– In parenthesis, to the right of the fighters’ records, are the available Vegas betting odds at the time of this writing.
– Also on Friday, competing organization Bellator FC will be airing an event as well—in the same TV time slot! What’s more, the clashing events are taking place in casinos only 20 minutes away from one another.
– Ironically, the headliners of the UFC event, Mousasi and Souza, were both employees of current Bellator president Scott Coker (while he ran the now-UFC-absorbed Strikeforce promotion on Showtime).
Let’s get on with it, shall we?
Middleweight (185 lbs.) Fight – 5 Rounds
#4 Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza [20-3, 1 NC] (-289)
#7 Gegard Mousasi [35-4-2] (+249)
The first time these two world-class athletes met up, Gegard Mousasi was the reigning Dream middleweight champion and Jacare (meaning “alligator” in Portuguese), a devilishly lethal submission specialist, was challenging for the title. The fight saw Souza tenaciously pursue the takedown, succeed, and operate largely within Mousasi’s guard before an upkick while moving in for another approach left him face down on the mat unconscious.
Both fighters have done rather excellently since, securing titles and enjoying lengthy win streaks interrupted by only the best competition out there, so both fighters’ abilities to compete at the highest level isn’t up for debate. The real question is “Which of these two fighters has improved the most?” and the answer’s an easy one: Jacare.
Since getting caught by Mousasi, Jacare has looked downright terrifying, adding new striking wrinkles to his previously formidable grappling-centric game that make him a legitimate threat to the middleweight throne. That’s not saying Gegard doesn’t stand a chance – the Iran-born Dutchman is always in the fight – but it’s hard denying Souza’s momentum.
Jacare Souza defeats Gegard Mousasi by submission.
Heavyweight (207-265 lbs.) Fight – 3 Rounds
#7 Alistair “The Reem” Overeem [37-13, 1 NC] (-515)
“Big” Ben Rothwell [33-9] (+400)
A couple years ago, presenting this matchup to the UFC brass would have gotten you laughed out of the room. However, a pair of knockout losses, a lackluster outing against the ghost of Frank Mir and being forced off PEDs (ahem—sorry… “horse meat”) will do much to diminish even a fighter like Alistair Overeem’s stock.
Will former IFL heavyweight standout Ben Rothwell be the next man to topple “The Reem?” Unlikely, as the former Strikeforce, Dream and K-1 Kickboxing champion outshines Rothwell in nearly every aspect of the game, from striking accuracy (58% vs. 44%) and defense (65% vs. 51%) to takedown success (74% vs. 36%) and average submissions attempted (1.23 vs. 0.29 per contest).
And yes, Rothwell definitely has a puncher’s chance, but something tells me that much of Overeem’s time at Greg Jackson’s gym was spent shoring up on his defensive deficiencies.
Alistair Overeem defeats Ben Rothwell by TKO.
Heavyweight (207-265 lbs.) Fight – 3 Rounds
Matt “Meathead” Mitrione [7-3] (+115)
Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis [11-2, 1 NC] (-135)
Like fellow The Ultimate Fighter alum Amir Sadollah, Matt “Meathead” Mitrione has spent his entire professional career fighting under the UFC banner—a trial-by-fire scenario which forces an athlete to rise to the occasion or be flushed out and onto the regional circuit. Thus far, neither Mitrione nor the TUF 7 champion have been jettisoned by the promotion, however both fighters, now in their mid-30s, are teetering closer to it becoming an reality.
Top heavyweight prospect Derrick Lewis has proven to be a veritable smashing machine, accumulating a 11-2 record with 10 knockouts and two submissions. The former convicted felon (he did time for three years for aggravated battery) has refocused his violent nature in a profitable manner. He’s 5-0 in his last five outings – all wins by way of vicious knockout – and one notable win over Team Takedown’s Jared Rosholt stands out as a clear indicator that if he has holes in his overall game, they’re closing at a rapid rate.
That Mitrione and Lewis’ one opponent in common, Shawn Jordan, lost to Mitrione and won against Lewis should be merely a footnote detail; Lewis has improved by leaps and bounds since.
Derrick Lewis defeats Matt Mitrione by TKO.
Lightweight (155 lbs.) Fight – 3 Rounds
Joe “J-Lau” Lauzon [23-10] (+125)
Michael “Maverick” Chiesa [11-1] (-145)
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the favorite in the “Fight of the Night” category.
Were this three years ago, my prediction would be one-and-done in favor of Joe Lauzon, however let’s face it—“J-Lau” hasn’t quite looked the same since having his brain rattled by current lightweight champion Anthony Pettis back in early 2012.
He’s facing a much larger and fresher opponent in TUF champion Michael Chieasa, a man whose striking prowess has yet to be rightly pronounced (its existence dubiously tentative) but whose submission acumen is undeniable.
A lot of people are too down on Lauzon, who at only 30 years old can still crack some heads. Expect him to remind everyone how dangerous he can be this Friday.
Joe Lauzon defeats Michael Chiesa by TKO.
Featherweight (145 lbs.) Fight – 3 Rounds
#8 Nik “The Carny” Lentz [27-6-2, 1 NC] (+123)
#14 Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira [18-4, 1 NC] (-143)
Ain’t Nik Lentz the perennial underdog? It seems like every time the self-deprecatingly nicknamed featherweight graces the Octagon Joe Rogan feels the need to reassure people of the 9-year veteran’s skill set, despite his current top-10 placement in the 145 pound rankings.
His opponent, Charles Oliveira, will undeniably be taking him seriously. Hell, he’s already spent almost 7 minutes in the Octagon with Lentz already, securing a rear-naked choke on the 30-year-old Minnesotan en route to a submission finish before the fight’s results were overturned as a result of a preceding illegal knee.
Both men have scores to settle and mettle to prove since their initial meeting back in June 2011. I’m siding with the guy who took current featherweight title challenger Chad Mendes to the scorecards.
Nik Lentz defeats Charles Oliveira by split decision.
Flyweight (125 lbs.) Fight – 3 Rounds
John Moraga [14-3] (+200)
Justin “Tank” Scoggins [9-1] (-235)
Let’s hear it for John Moraga, a man whose three losses are attributable do the current flyweight champion, Demetrious Johnson, and John “The Magician” Dodson, the only man who definitively defeated current bantamweight champion T.J. Dillasahaw. Aside from those two men, the Arizonan’s opposition hasn’t known what to do with him.
But for an arguable loss to Dustin Ortiz in his last outing, Justin Scoggins (who trains with the likes of the Johny Hendricks and Jared and Jake Rosholt at Team Takedown) has seemed an unstoppable force at 125 pounds, knocking out six of his opponents and submitting one on his way to a possible title contention fast track.
Wrestling will be the key on fight night, and let’s face it—Scoggins inarguably has the edge. Moraga would also be wise to concern himself with Scoggins’ possibly better overall stand up game as well, his crisp and creative distance striking rounded off by a brutal clinch game.
Expect this to be a coming out party for “Tank,” whose namesake alone should remind fans of pure unadulterated caged violence.
Justin Scoggins defeats John Moraga by TKO.
Lightweight (155 lbs.) Fight – 3 Rounds
“Ragin” Al Iaquinta [8-3-1]
Rodrigo Damm [12-7]
Basing your assumptions on his record alone, you wouldn’t be faulted being surprised that “Ragin” Al Iaquinta trains in the same gym as Chris Weidman, Aljamain Sterling and Eddie Gordon. Let’s face it: he’s disappointed, despite how high on him striking coach Ray Longo has been.
Fortunately for him, TUF Brazil alum Rodrigo Damm won’t offer too much resistance. Damm is well-rounded, sure, but he’s tight where should be loose and lagging where he should be evasive, clocking in a 39% striking accuracy (against Iaquinta’s 44%) and absorbing one full significant strike per minute more than his opponent.
To make matters worse for the 35-year-old Sao Paulo resident, his takedown accuracy is dreadful, meaning if Iaquinta, a much better wrestler, intends on keeping the fight on the feet, that’s exactly where it’s staying.
Al Iaquinta defeats Rodrigo Damm by TKO.
Middleweight (185 lbs.) Fight – 3 Rounds
Rafael “Sapo” Natal
Chris Camozzi [19-8]
Current New York resident and Renzo Gracie stablemate Rafael Natal has his back against the wall, as they say in the fight game (and, you know, everywhere else). Coming off of back-to-back losses against Tim Kennedy and Ed Herman, the Belo Horizonte, Brazil-born protégé of BJJ genius Vinnie Magalhaes needs to get a win or he very well may be seeing his walking papers.
Facing him in not too dissimilar a position is Reddit-friendly Chris Camozzi, whose three-fight losing skid makes him an almost assured candidate for the ax after a four and a half-year tenure in the organization.
Natal tends to go for the takedown, but Camozzi is the better wrestler. Camozzi lands more significant strikes per minute (3.84) than Natal (2.83), but is less accurate and absorbs 50% more of them. At the end of the day, Natal almost as a rule only loses to superior overall grapplers. Camozzi, despite his friendliness on social media, does not fall into that category.
Rafael Natal defeats Chris Camozzi by unanimous decision.
Bantamweight (135 lbs.) Fight – 3 Rounds
Dustin “The Diamond” Kimura [12-2]
Tateki “Tech” Matsuki [10-5]
Chris Beal is coming off of a first-round flying knee knockout of Patrick “The Animal” Williams in his last outing at UFC 172: Jones vs. Teixeira, so I’m a little sore, as I was rooting for the Fight Time Promotions veteran. But let’s face it: Beal is undeniably “The Real Deal.”
Filling in for an injured Dustin Kimura, Tateki “Tech” Matsuki is following in the footsteps of many before him by taking on a tough and hyped opponent on short notice with the hope of a repeat visit to the Octagon regardless of the outcome on fight night. A six and a half year veteran of the sport, the 28-year-old Mark DellaGrotte-trained fighter is riding a two-fight win streak into his Zuffa debut this Friday, and hey – he could pull off the upset.
What’s more likely, however, is that Matsuki’s difference in style will throw Beal for the better part of two rounds, but not enough so that the Californian won’t be able to secure another win.
Chris Beal defeats Tateki Matsuda by unanimous decision.
Featherweight (145 lbs.) Fight – 3 Rounds
Sean Soriano [8-1]
Chas “The Scrapper” Skelly [12-1]
In this bout, it’s Team Takedown’s Skelly vs. Blackzilians’ Soriano. Both fighters are five-year veterans of the sport, both have nigh-pristine records and both have had their only losses occur inside the Octagon.
A lifelong wrestler who began MMA after working with fellow UFC fighter Johnny Bedford, Skelly rebounded after losing a majority split decision back in April to win just this last month on August 23rd. That he’s back already, assuredly in peak shape, is enough to convince me that he’ll defeat Soriano, whose thus-far excellent takedown defense (75%) has yet to lead him to a victory inside the promotion.
Chas Skelly defeats Sean Soriano by submission.
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