The fight cards on the UFC’s calendar continue to fill up, with new fight bookings being announced on a near-daily basis. Here are my thoughts on some of them… ”Rowdy” Ronda Rousey vs Alexis “Ally-Gator” Davis – Davis asked for it and she got it. UFC President Dana White took to Twitter on Friday afternoon to announce that the July 5th UFC 175 card in Las Vegas will be co-headlined by none other than Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey in a title defense against Alexis Davis. Rousey last saw action at UFC 170, where she defeated fellow Olympian Sarah McMann via first round TKO, earning the first stoppage via striker in her professional fighting career, not to mention her eighth first round finish in nine fights. Davis’ last outing was also at UFC 170, where he took home a split decision win over Jessica Eye. The Rousey vs Davis bout will serve as the co-main event for UFC 175, with Chris Weidman vs Lyoto Machida headlining the card. Also featured on the main card will be a pair of light heavyweight bouts in the form of Daniel Cormier vs Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen vs Wanderlei Silva. It is shaping up to be one of the best cards in UFC history, and I am really looking forward to it. As for the co-main event, I think Davis has earned this title fight, and expect she will give her best effort come July. Unfortunately, I don’t think it will be enough against the bronze medalist judoka. While Davis is very skilled in the submission game, I think Rousey’s strength will prove to be the difference when the fight hits the mat. Miesha Tate was able to defend Rousey’s armbar attempts, and Davis is more skilled in the submission game than Tate is, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see her nullify that part of Rousey’s game. Though, if she does nullify it, much like with Tate, I feel Rousey will keep going for it and eventually nail it. I think those who predicted this will be the fastest submission victory of Rousey’s career are really under-estimating Davis’ ground-game. Due to the high level grappling game of both ladies, I am excited to see the grappling exchanges in this bout. On the feet, one would assume Davis would have the advantage, but with Rousey’s improved striking, that too is now a question mark. A fight many think will be a walk in the park for Rousey may not be so. We’ll know for certain come Fourth of July weekend. Rory “Ares” MacDonald vs Tyron Woodley – I wanted to see this fight made, and it’s finally official. These welterweights will be squaring off in the co-main event at UFC 174 in Vancouver, on a fight card that will be headlined by a flyweight title fight between Champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson and challenger Ali “Puncher King” Bagautinov. MacDonald vs Woodley is a great match-up, and one that will help settle some things in the welterweight division. The winner of this bout will likely get a title shot against Johny Hendricks. I think this is an excellent pairing at welterweight, and these two clashing inside the Octagon should produce an exciting fight. MacDonald is coming off his impressive, come-from-behind decision victory over Demian Maia at UFC 170, while Woodley last saw action at UFC 171, where defeated Carlos Condit via second round TKO. James Te Huna vs Nate “The Great” Marquardt – After going 0-2 in the UFC’s welterweight division, Marquadt has opted to move back to 185 pounds. Meeting him there will be New Zealand native James Te Huna, who himself will be making his debut at middleweight, as he drops down from the light heavyweight division after a 5-3 run. Unless this proves to be a Fight of the Night-caliber scrap, it could be farewell time for the loser. I am a fan of both of these fighters, but I can’t tell whether I like this match-up or if I hate it. I would hate to see either one of them, or even worse, both of them, have poor performances. That isn’t a big worry, though, considering that win or lose, both men always show up to fight. They will both be looking to return to the winning column in a five round main event at UFC Fight Night 44 in Te Huna’s backyard of Aucklund, New Zealand. They are both also coming off first round knockout losses; Te Huna’s against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC Fight Night 33 in Australia, and Marquardt’s against Hector Lombard at UFC 166 in Houston. It’s no secret that Te Huna will be looking to keep this fight on the feet and score the knockout, similar to how Tyron Woodley and Hector Lombard did before him. Marquardt’s main goal should be to get the fight to the mat, where he is worlds better than Te Huna. A takedown could mean an easy submission victory for the former Strikeforce welterweight champion, but he could also win this fight on the feet, as he is also the superior technical striker. His diminishing chin combined with Te Huna’s power could spell for trouble for Marquardt, which is why his game-plan should be to take the fight to the mat as soon as possible, where the New Zealander will be a fish out of water against him. Kajan Johnson vs Tae Hyun Bang – After competing as a welterweight on The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada vs Australia and losing via second round knockout in the semi-finals, Kajan Johnson has been booked for a fight in his backyard of Vancouver at UFC 174 against Tae Hyun Bang. Bang will be making his second appearance inside the Octagon, following a unanimous decision loss against Mairbek Taisumov at UFC Fight Night 34 three months ago. While Johnson competed at 170 pounds on the reality series, he will be making his promotional debut fighting in his natural weight class of 155 pounds. I think this is a winnable fight for Johnson, but I don’t like the match-up. He just had his jaw brutally broken in several locations on TUF, and he is set to make his Octagon debut against a lightweight who packs a lot of power. While he is not very well-rounded or exceptionally talented, as far as punching power goes, Bang is one of the heaviest hitters in the UFC’s lightweight division. If he connects on Johnson’s twice-broken jaw, it could be a painful sight. Tom Niinimaki vs Thiago Tavares – This is a featherweight match-up I am really interested in. Niinimaki made his promotional debut at The Ultimate Fighter 18 finale a few months ago, taking a split decision win over Rani Yahya, who has since dropped down to the bantamweight division. After beating a Brazilian who dropped a division afterwards, he will be facing a Brazilian who just moved from a higher weight class. Tavares was successful in his featherweight debut five months ago, defeating Justin Salas via rear naked choke submission in the very first round of action. I expect this to be a fun featherweight fight, and it is one I am looking forward to seeing. The contest will be taking place on May 30th at UFC Fight Night 41 in Berlin. The main card will be headlined by a main event between Gegard Mousasi and Mark Munoz. I believe Niinimaki vs Tavares will most likely be featured on the preliminary card.
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