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… ”The California Kid” Urijah Faber vs Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres – This bantamweight scrap was just announced and will be on the main card for UFC 175 in July, which will be headlined by a Middleweight title bout between challenger Lyoto Machida and defending Champion Chris Weidman. This is a very unexpected match-up but one I am definitely looking forward to seeing. I am guessing that Faber will open as a -600 or so betting favorite and would immediately get bet to -1200 and possibly reach -2000 by fight time. That said, I would not fully agree with those lines. While I think there is a great chance Faber wins this fight, I wouldn’t want to count “Bruce Leeroy” out. It is not clear how Caceres would find a way to victory, while it is easy to picture several routes to victory for “The California Kid”. Faber’s last fight was a title fight against current UFC Bantamweight Champion Renan Barao at UFC 169 over three months ago, which he lost via first round TKO, of which the stoppage was extremely controversial, as Faber was giving a “thumbs up” notion while defending punches with his arm. I am not sure how Faber vs Caceres will play out, but I really look forward to finding out. I could only hope it is not completely one-sided for Faber, because I am personally a fan of Caceres and will be rooting for him in this match-up come July. Ryan “Babyface” Benoit vs Ray Borg – I think this is going to be a very entertaining scrap in the UFC’s flyweight division and is a fight I very much look forward to seeing, as it has ‘Fight of the Night’ written all over it. Borg is coming off a split decision loss against Dustin Ortiz at last month’s UFC on FOX 11, which was the first loss of his professional mixed martial arts career. I had personally scored the fight for him, but two out of three judges cage-side did not see it the way I did. Benoit last saw action at the Ultimate Fighter 18 finale, where he was defeated by Josh Sampo via second round rear naked choke submission. Though a losing effort, the fight took home ‘Fight of the Night’ honors and Benoit pocketed $100,000 for his efforts. I expect Borg to open as a betting favorite in this contest, probably around -200, considering he will be holding advantages in both grappling and cardio, though he will be at a definite striking disadvantage. This bout is scheduled for June 28’s UFC Fight Night in San Antonio, and I cannot wait to see these two staring each other down from across the cage. Soa “The Hulk” Palelei vs Jared “The Big Show” Rosholt – This is a match-up I was planning for my post-UFC Fight Night 40 matchmaking predictions article, but it was put together and announced before I had a chance to write it. Rosholt will be heading to enemy territory to take on Palelei in New Zealand at next month’s UFC Fight Night 43. I think this match-up makes a ton of sense in the UFC’s heavyweight division. It will be interesting to see how Palelei fairs against a talented wrestler, and how Rosholt will fair against a heavy hitter who possesses a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Palelei was successful at UFC Fight Night 40 this past weekend with a first round knockout of South African promotional newcomer Ruan Potts. Rosholt last saw action a month ago at UFC Fight Night in Abu Dhabi, where he took home a unanimous decision victory over the Pole Daniel Omielanczuk. This pairing makes for a quick turnaround for both heavyweights, especially Palelei. This is a fight that could be incredibly entertaining, or a complete snoozer. That said, I look forward to seeing this heavyweight scrap. I assume Rosholt will open as a betting favorite, probably around -200, though I would not be surprised to see early action come in on the rising hometown underdog. Josh “The Punk” Thomson vs Michael “Da Menace” Johnson – Scheduled for July’s UFC on FOX 12 in Thomson’s backyard of San Jose, this is one lightweight scrap I cannot wait to see! It will be AKA vs Blackzilian’s when these two step inside the cage. I think they will produce a really exciting striking war. Johnson’s takedown defense is tremendous, but it’s a question mark as to whether he’ll be able to stop Thomson’s attempts. They’re both very talented strikers, though Johnson has only gotten great at that part of his game within the last couple of years, since partnering up with striking coach Henri Hooft. I really hope this fight stays on the feet, because I think that is a recipe for fireworks and the ‘Fight of the Night’ award. I expect “The Punk” to be about a 2-to-1 favorite heading into this bout. If this were a year or two ago, I would guessed Thomson would open as a 6-to-1 favorite, but Johnson has been improving drastically from fight to fight and is now a serious threat in the UFC’s 155 pound division. “Da Menace” is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Melvin Guillard at UFC Fight Night 37 a couple of months ago, and “The Punk” last dropped a very controversial unanimous decision to former champ Benson Henderson at UFC on FOX 10 back in January. A win over Thomson will be huge for Johnson, making it four in a row for him and likely earning him a number one contender bout for his next outing. With a win over Johnson, Thomson is right back in the title picture, as well, especially considering that no one really views his last bout as a loss. This is a fantastic match-up, and I am looking forward to it. I have grown to become a fan of both of these lightweights, so it will be sad to see one take a step back, though it will be great to see the other move up. Evan “3D” Dunham vs Edson “Junior” Barboza – This is another excellent match-up in the UFC’s lightweight division that I am very much looking forward to. I am a fan of both of these 155ers who are each coming off a loss to the same opponent in Donald Cerrone, so it will be a bit sad to see one of them drop to 0-2, though it will be great to see the other get back in the win column. I’m a bigger fan of Barboza’s, as he is one of my favorite fighters in the division, and I believe he has championship potential, so I will personally be rooting for him. His takedown defense will again be questioned in this bout against Dunham, as will his chin. He has already faced two similar wrestler/boxer style fighters in Jamie Varner and Danny Castillo, and he has had trouble against both of them, so it will be interesting to see how he fares this time around. For Dunham, it will be a question of whether he can overcome the Brazilian’s superb Muay Thai and brutal leg kicks, which are hands down the best in the division. I have no doubt that this fight will prove to be entertaining, no matter how long it lasts. Fans will be on the edge of their seats because this is one of those fights that could literally end at any second. Barboza will likely open as the favorite in this bout, I am thinking -140 but I would not be surprised to see an inflated line. At -140, I would certainly side with him, but if we get Dunham at +200 or better, we’d have to start giving that side a better look.
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