UFC Fight Night 24 Preview: The Main Events

In the two main events at UFC Fight Night 24 on Spike TV, welterweights Dan Hardy and Anthony "Rumble" Johnson lock horns as do light heavyweights Phil Davis and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.

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UFC Fight Night 24 Preview: Phil Davis Vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

The main event for tonight's UFC Fight Night 24 is a light heavyweight non-title affair between veteran and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and former NCAA Division I wrestling national champion Phil Davis. Nogueira is significantly older, far more shop worn than Davis and has had less than inspiring performances against wrestlers like Jason Brilz and Ryan Bader. Davis, so far undefeated in his short career in mixed martial arts, has looked good, but still limited. Davis has show almost no interest in striking whatsoever and while his submission game has improved dramatically, it's not sufficiently strong to lord over the top of the division.

Here's how BloodyElbow.com predicted this fight would go:

Wrestling has long been a means to combating both the best grapplers in the world and the best strikers in the sport. Davis' strength and advancing submission skills pose more of a threat to opponents with each fight, and it isn't unimaginable that he pulls off a submission on Saturday, especially if he can tire his older foe over the course of the three-round affair.

I'm not convinced Davis has the skills to be that dangerous just yet. I do think that Davis has the wrestling acumen and top control game to relentlessly work and win this fight via the scorecards. While Nogueira has the submission game to threaten, his age and the fact that he relies on defensive grappling tactics to find openings leads me to believe he's in for a rude awakening on the ground. He can't stop takedowns, and hoping for Davis to leave his arm hanging is a means to getting pummeled from the top for fifteen minutes.

In my mind, Davis takes this fight the distance and wins on the scorecards. I think Nogueira has the grappling ability to potentially catch Davis in a submission, but I don't think his boxing will be a huge threat as the fight progresses. In the early moments of each round, it may be an immediate danger. Unfortunately, Nogueira's lacking takedown defense will hurt him. I'll go with Davis via decision.

And here's my official prediction:

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.

For all the hype Davis has coming into this fight - he's being positioned as the man to eventually give Jon Jones a challenge - he needs to inspire tonight with his performance. Not just win or win convincingly, but make a name off of a win over Lil' Nog. Let's see what he can do.

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UFC Fight Night 24 Preview: The Main Events

There are a number of notable fights and fighters on this UFC Fight Night 24 card. And with every UFC card, there are also fighters who face the chopping block if they lose or promotion within their division if they win. Kris McCray vs. John Hathaway is a fight that will likely send the winner packing. But there are no two other fights where the winners have more to gain that Dan Hardy vs. Anthony Johnson and Phil Davis vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. The two main events (Davis vs. Nogueira is the headliner) are not just notable for being excellent match-ups between top fighters within their divisions, but because they are battles of contenders looking to advance in UFC divisional hierarchy. They all need wins over the others to enter the top five in their respective weight classes.

First, let's take a look at the co-main event between Hardy and Johnson. Johnson is coming into this bout from a long layoff. Hardy is looking to rebound after being flattened by Carlos Condit. Here's what BloodyElbow.com had to say about the fight in terms of predicting a winner:

The upside is that Johnson has significant advantages in this fight. He possesses the reach advantage and proven power to stop Hardy in his tracks. The more technical striker is Hardy however, lending some credence to the idea that Hardy can avoid Johnson's reach and get inside. It's a difficult proposition considering Johnson's three straight knockout wins prior to his loss to Koscheck.

But it isn't a convincing enough case in the face of such a long layoff for me to pick Johnson. I do, however, think Johnson is a strong bettor's pick due to the advantages he has over Hardy. Reach is tough to beat against strikers who know how to utilize it. Johnson has the know-how to keep opponents at bay, but Hardy is ballsy enough to throw caution into the wind to win a fight. Can he do that against Johnson? I don't know. He does, however, have the technical prowess to counter Johnson and come out victorious on Saturday night. I'll bank on Hardy putting away a fading Johnson in the second.

I largely agree. Here's my official prediction:

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.

Ordinarily I'd pick Johnson. He's a better athlete with better striking and better wrestling. And while he appeared to make weight yesterday without issue, he's had a tremendous layoff with personal battles sprinkled throughout the sabbatical. That does not inspire confidence.

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