This column highlights five past bouts from fighters competing on this weekend’s UFC on Fox 13. 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. Nate Diaz vs. Donald Cerrone – UFC 141 Upcoming Bout: Nate Diaz vs. Rafael dos Anjos
Despite losing two of his last three and spending more than a year outside the Octagon, Nate Diaz has a chance to jump right back into title contention against Rafael dos Anjos on Saturday night. The younger brother from Stockton has his work cut out for him, as dos Anjos has massively improved his striking, and has always possessed a strong grappling game which would seem good enough to avoid the submission from top position. The one good path to victory for Diaz is if he can get his offense rolling early and pile up the strikes against the Brazilian.
That’s the reason for this fight pick, as there’s no better example of Diaz’ volume striking than his UFC 141 shellacking of Donald Cerrone. If he can march forward and get his punches off first, he could be able to avoid the sharp counters of dos Anjos and earn himself a victory. Otherwise, it’s going to be tough to get his hand raised.
Bout available on UFC Fight Pass. 2. Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Rosi Sexton – CWFC 69 Upcoming Bout: Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Claudia Gadelha
Most saw Joanna Jedrzejczyk as a pretty run-of-the-mill prospect prior to this performance from her at Cage Warriors 69. It was here that she truly exhibited the danger that she poses to basically any woman at 115lbs. Rosi Sexton was a solid veteran who was just outmatched phyiscally at 135lbs in the UFC. Dropping down to 125 in Cage Warriors, she was expected to find more success against Jedrzejczyk at 125. No such luck.
Fighting up a weight class, Jedrzejczyk still showcased her power and striking chops in addition to having solid takedown defense. All of those attributes will be necessary for her to overcome the women who many consider the best 115lber in the world, Claudia Gadelha. The Polish fighter has uncommon power for the weight class, and that gives her a shot in any bout, even if she is outmatched from a technical perspective.
3. Henry Cejudo vs. Ryan Hollis – Legacy FC 24 Upcoming Bout: Henry Cejudo vs. Dustin Kimura
Most MMA fans know Henry Cejudo’s story. He passed up the collegiate wrestling scene to instead take his chances in the international circuit. That worked out pretty well, as he won a gold medal at the 2008 Olympics. Cejudo’s focus became an issue after that, as his training for the 2012 games wasn’t nearly as diligent, and he didn’t qualify to represent the United States in London. After that, he focused on the transition to MMA, and while he’s shown remarkable promise, he’s also been extremely frustrating to follow.
His bout against Ryan Hollis showcases all of the aspects of Cejudo. First, he weighed in at 128.1lbs for a scheduled Flyweight bout. Once the bell rang however, he pretty much dominated Hollis for 15 minutes, using his striking early and his wrestling later on. I picked this bout because Hollis was a significantly taller and longer fighter, but Cejudo navigated those advantages well, something he’ll have to do against Dustin Kimura as well. Cejudo has all of the physical ability, as long as the mental game catches up he still has the chance to be something special in MMA.
4. Anthony Birchak vs. Ryan Benoit – MFC 37 Upcoming Bout: Anthony Birchak vs. Ian Entwistle
This was one of my favorite fights (from any promotion) in 2013. Anthony Birchak emerged victorious from the fight, but Ryan Benoit impressed so much in defeat that he actually earned a UFC roster spot first. This bout showcases what makes Birchak a fun fighter, but at the same time what can get him in trouble both in this fight and moving forward. Birchak is very aggressive in scrambles, and can sometimes put himself in bad positions in an effort to accomplish something. Against a talented submission grappler like Ian Entwistle he might just end up getting caught. More likely however is a similar (or more emphatic) result than we saw in this bout, where Birchak is able to control the majority of the grappling later in the bout and land some damaging shots.
5. Ian Entwistle vs. Liam James – CWFC 62 Upcoming Bout: Ian Entwistle vs. Anthony Birchak
We just discussed Anthony Birchak, and this is an example of how things could go wrong for him. Ian Entwistle doesn’t need a traditional takedown or control in order to put his opponent in danger, and one of the best subs of 2013 is a great example. While not quite as smooth as Ryo Chonan’s finish of Anderson Silva, this is still a thing of beauty. Entwistle is incredibly dangerous early, and if he could learn to carry that throughout the fight he’d hang around in the UFC for a long, long time. However, the downside of Entwistle that isn’t shown here is that if he doesn’t get the submission early, he doesn’t have much to offer, which was exactly the case in his UFC debut against Daniel Hooker. The Brit will certainly be looking to avenge that loss when he takes on another fighter who isn’t afraid to turn into a tumbleweed.