Tomorrow night live on Spike TV, the UFC offers another installment of their live fight series designed to promote up-and-coming prospects: UFC Fight Night 24. The event is headlined by a light heavyweight non-title fight between former NCAA Division I national champion Phil Davis and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. Either fighters with a Spike TV background - Kris McCray, Amir Sadollah - also appear on the card.
For a fight night event, the overall card is exceptionally strong. It lacks the still somewhat considerable star power of Tito Ortiz. Ortiz, the former UFC light heavyweight champion, was originally scheduled to face Nogueira, but was forced to withdraw due to injury. There is very much an open question of how this event will do in terms of ratings given the lack of star power and the quick turnaround after UFC 128.
Still, the event is certainly worth watching. Here are my official predictions for the event. For more, follow me on Twitter: @MMANation.
This is actually a really tough fight for Davis. Nogueira has better takedown defense than he's given credit and has a fantastic guard/sweep game. I struggle just a little thinking of how Davis will score given how he's fought in the past. He'll get most if not all of the takedowns, but can he GNP? How about pass positionally? It's an open question. I do think Davis will figure it out, though, given how much of the fight will be spent in a position where he has time to work through the challenges, namely, on top in Nog's guard. Davis by decision.
Without all of the issues and distractions for Johnson, I'd ordinarily like him to win here. Add in Hardy's inability to wrestle at the same or even similar level, and again, I'd like Johnson to win. But I suspect Hardy's improved and with Johnson's layoff/personal issues, we have no idea what to expect. I think Hardy's very much overrated, but he's been active and rapidly improving. Hardy via TKO.
Sadollah is superior everywhere. Should be an easier fight for him. Sadollah by TKO.
Jung won the first time despite what the idiotic judges saw. And after the loss to George Roop, Jung publicly stated he wanted to be less willing to be reckless. I think that's enough. Jung by decision.
Alex Caceres vs. Mackens Semerzier
Semerzier should be bigger, stronger, more technical everywhere and experienced against better competition. Semerzier by decision.
If Madsen wins, he'll be the least appreciated wrestler since Nik Lentz. Madsen by decision.
McCray is the hometown kid, so this pains me to say this: I think this might be his last hurra in the UFC. His game is very similar to Hathaway's, but the Brit is larger, stronger and has more ways to score points or accrue damage. I don't think McCray is out of his league. He is certainly capable of winning. I just don't like the odds. Please don't kill me, Kris. Hathaway by decision.
McDonald is dynamic and capable of winning anywhere. I like him to impress here. McDonald by submission.
Hard to pick either fighter here. Morecraft is a bulldozer, but can be careless. McCorkle has some ability, but is ultimately pretty limited. This is a toss-up, but I'll go with Morecraft's physicality being the difference. Morecraft by TKO.
Johny Hendricks vs. TJ Waldburger
Hendricks needs to continue improving his skill set if he has any real chance of being a contender, but even with this limits, he's a league above Waldburger. Hendricks by submission.
Miranda's an excellent striker, but has shoddy wrestling for this level. Simpson is a strong wrestler with a suspect gas tank. The issue is that Simpson has been hurt before and held on to win. I fully expect Miranda to hurt him, but he won't be able to keep the fighting standing once he does. Simpson by decision.
Two wrestlers, Lowe being the bigger and stronger of the two. I don't feel strongly either way here. I think Lentz will got bodied early and come on strong late. That's probably enough to take it. Lentz via split decision.