This column highlights five past bouts from fighters competing on this weekend’s UFC 186. These fights represent some of the highest moments in the careers of their respective participants, and should serve to pique your interest heading into the event. 1. Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Shintaro Ishiwatari – Vale Tudo Japan 2nd Upcoming Bout: Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Demetrious Johnson
When Japanese commentators are freaking out, you know a fight is pretty good. This was Horiguchi’s last fight before signing with the UFC, and it shows why he has an outside chance at beating Demetrious Johnson on Saturday night, but also why that likely won’t happen. Very early in the fight he stuns Ishiwatari with a lunging punch, but then gets over aggressive and gets dropped, has his back taken, and get put in a choke. He managed to survive due to his scrambling skills — which he shows throughout the fight — but Demetrious Johnson is a different type of grappler than Ishiwatari. Horiguchi will be dangerous, and difficult to find, on the feet, but the champion also possesses those traits. If Horiguchi can avoid prolonged periods on the ground he’ll be competitive against Johnson, but that’s a big if given how Ishiwatari was able to control him at times.
2. Shane Campbell vs. Jerrid Burke – MFC 40 Upcoming Bout: Shane Campbell vs. John Makdessi
Both Shane Campbell and John Makdessi are fun strikers who normally force their opponents to take them to the ground if they hope to find any success. That’s exactly what happens here, as Burke keeps Campbell on his back for much of round one. However, it also shows that Campbell isn’t useless from his guard, as he was looking for submissions, and got side control out of the one scramble that took place. Once they were back on their feet in the second round, it was a matter of time before Campbell unleashed his liver kick (something that has won him two of his past three bouts), and the fight was over. I don’t see Makdessi going for takedowns against Campbell, and I think he’ll get bullied in the clinch, so I think the UFC newcomer has a real shot to make a splash here.
3. Thomas Almeida vs. Vinicius Zani – MMA Super Heroes 3 Upcoming Bout: Thomas Almeida vs. Yves Jabouin
I really like this display by Thomas Almeida. He shows that even though he’s young and has knockout power, there’s no need to force the issue. The knockout will come when it comes. This should serve as a bit of a blueprint for how he approaches Jabouin. Constant pressure to shut down Jabouin’s kicks with his hands high and tight. If he sticks to that gameplan, I don’t think he’ll take as long to finish Jabouin as he did to Zani in this bout, as we’ve already seen Jabouin’s chin fading a bit.
I know I’ve given you a lot of fight minutes to watch today, so if you just want to take what I wrote above as the Coles/Cliff/Spark Notes for this fight, skip to the beginning of the fourth round and check out the awesome finishing sequence.
4. Nordine Taleb vs. Pete Sell – Ring of Combat 38 Upcoming Bout: Nordine Taleb vs. Chris Clements
This was one of the first bouts to really get people excited about Nordine Taleb. Facing UFC veteran Pete Sell, he showed strength in the clinch, good power and variety in his strikes, and a nice killer instinct. Since this fight, Taleb has only scored one TKO, and he seems tentative on the feet — which combined with his upright stance and low hands, is not a good combination. If he can get back to the style he fought this bout with, perhaps there’s a bright future for the Frenchman, and against a fighter in Chris Clements who he should hold some physical advantages over, it could be a good opportunity to raise his stock. However, if he gets hit early and goes into his shell, this could be a rather dull affair against the cage and on the ground.
5. Aisling Daly vs. Karla Benitez – Cage Warriors 63 Upcoming Bout: Aisling Daly vs. Randa Markos
If there’s one thing that the women’s strawweight division brings in spades, it’s scramble-heavy grappling. Both Daly and Markos were examples of this in their official UFC debuts, as Daly submitted Alex Chambers and Markos had a back-and-forth affair with Jessica Penne. If their bout on Saturday hits the mat, there’s not much reason to expect different, as this bout of Daly’s from New Year’s Eve 2013 shows. Daly is a slick grappler, and Markos is more of a physical grappler, so their styles could intertwine nicely on the mat. A 15-minute kickboxing match here might not be the most aesthetically pleasing, but lets hope these two go back to their bases and we get some fun grappling to kick the night off.