This column highlights five past bouts from fighters competing on this weekend’s UFC 197. 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. Jon Jones vs. Quinton Jackson – UFC 135 Upcoming Bout: Jon Jones vs. Ovince Saint Preux
Jon Jones has had so many incredible performances in his career, but I picked this one for two reasons. 1) The UFC posted it for free on YouTube, 2) I expect Jones to be in complete control of his bout with OSP just as he was against Rampage. With it being his first bout back after the longest layoff in his career, I wouldn’t be shocked to see a measured Jones early while he knocks off the ring rust. After he gets comfortable in there however, we could see some serious violence levied upon Saint Preux. The Tennessean admirably stepped up to the plate in Daniel Cormier’s absence, but I think he’ll just end up being the guy in the wrong place at the wrong time on Saturday.
Danny Roberts vs. Henry Fadipe – Cage Warriors 57 Danny Roberts vs. Juan Manuel Suarez – Cage Warriors 64 Upcoming Bout: Danny Roberts vs. Dominique Steele
These aren’t Danny Roberts’ best performances, but both are incredibly fun fights. The Fadipe bout takes a while to get going because Fadipe took it on three or four days notice, but once it does it gets really good. For those looking to bet Danny Roberts on Saturday, these should also warrant some caution. While he’s got solid striking and grappling skills, he’s prone to giving up positions and letting lesser opponents find more success than they should. If he does the same against another fighter who is primarily a grappler in Dominique Steele, he won’t be able to escape from bad spots as easily, and could end up spending a lot more time on his back.
Cody East vs. Vernon Lewis – Legacy FC 36 Upcoming Bout: Cody East vs. Walt Harris
Let me start by saying that I wanted to use East’s bout against Roy Boughton in this spot, but they disabled embedding on that video. That one would have served as more of a warning on East’s future prospects than anything. This fight just makes him look like what the UFC hopes he will become. East was way quicker to the punch than Lewis here, showing a good variety of strikes, footwork, and decent power. If you watch the Boughton fight however (Cody East vs. Roy Boughton), you see what happens to East when an opponent makes him work. The technique and speed quickly go out the window, and he has to rely on his power, which isn’t particularly special at heavyweight. He was also the beneficiary of an absolutely atrocious stand up, which was definitely fight changing. Look for East to impress against guys who will strike with him, and struggle against grapplers. It’s almost like Dana’s new show just finds new strikers into the UFC without worrying about how well-rounded their game is.
Efrain Escudero vs. Dakota Cochrane – RFA 13 Upcoming Bout: Efrain Escudero vs. Kevin Lee
I remember watching this fight and thinking that Escudero did an excellent job of working from the bottom, and I scored the last two rounds for him (the third a 10-8). Unfortunately, in the real world, hanging out on your back and going for submissions from the guard is a good way to lose rounds in MMA, regardless of how much more you’re doing than your opponent. I mention this, because there’s a very good chance Escudero ends up on his back against Kevin Lee. Will he use this fight as a learning experience and show some urgency to get back to his feet, or go back to his ways of looking for the elusive sub from the bottom against a quality grappler? Either way, Lee will be a tough out for the once promising TUF winner Escudero.