The promotion of UFC 118 has been pretty top heavy for the most part. Not to sound as if I'm complaining about the overflow of quotable material from James Toney, but the man has abducted the spotlight like no one I've ever seen. While his attention seeking behavior has been nothing but great publicity for the event, it has also drawn some coverage away from the other fights. 'Tis the truth. So, what are some key matchups flying under the radar? Join me now as we take a gander at the guys not cool enough to get seats at the press conference. And for the guys I don't even mention, may God have mercy on their souls.
Mario Miranda Vs. Demian Maia
This could actually be a pretty tough matchup for Maia. Although Miranda lost his UFC debut to Gerald Harris back at an Ultimate Fight Night back in March, he was able to quickly rebound with a dominating performance over David Loiseau at UFC 115 in June. The BJJ black belt was able to take Loiseau down with ease, imposing his will throughout the fight. Maia is the better pure grappler, while Miranda is a much more well rounded talent. Miranda will enjoy a 4" height advantage, so as long as he can use his wrestling to keep it standing and tee off on Maia he should survive this one. That being said, if Maia can force this fight to the ground, and the betting man in me says he will, he should take the edge on the mat. He'll need to avoid Miranda's elbows, but his bottom game is too good not to like him in that position.
Marcus Davis Vs. Nate Diaz
This may very well be Marcus Davis' last hurrah fighting for the promotion, and as Ben Folkes said a few days back, he desperately needs a win on Saturday night to stay employed with the promotion. A loss to Nate Diaz would make it his third in four fights, and while a victory over Jonathon Goulet is certainly admirable, it's not much to write home about. His KO loss to Ben Saunders may have been a sign of things to come, and losing to guys the UFC has bussed down to the minors is never a good thing. Davis is the better boxer, but Nate uses the same funky striking style used so well by his older brother, Nick. Diaz has the advantage on the ground, and if he can work a takedown or somehow pull guard he should have no problem tapping out the 37 year old Davis. I think this one will actually be pretty boring. It'll most likely be a three round stand up snoozer, with Diaz taking a solid decision. I don't think either of these guys have the power to finish their significant other, so unless Diaz gets wiley with a TKO or a Submission, he should win on the judges score cards.
Amilcar Alves Vs. Mike Pierce
I'm actually really looking forward to this one. Mike Pierce has fared pretty well since signing with the UFC last year, his only loss coming courtesy of another Jon Fitch decision. Alves will be making his UFC debut, which is usually not a great indicator of success against someone like Pierce. The judo black belt should have the grappling edge over Pierce, but Mike is a pretty good wrestler in his own right. Check out the third round of his fight with Fitch. He damn near TKOed him. The only way I see Alves pulling this off is by submission from the bottom, so I'm going with Pierce on this one. Mike Pierce via second round cornermen checking his cellphone.
Mike Pierce 5 second KO UFC 1 on Versus Video Mike Dolce Brandon Vera Fight Video Jon Jones (via FightingPolitics)