This card, which is the UFC's first return to Florida since June 2007, has been ravished by injuries. Hermes Franca who was supposed to be in the main event pulled out due to a torn ACL and has been replaced with Jeremy Stephens. Amir Sadollah, Alessio Sakara, and George Sotiropoulos all pulled out with various injuries as well.
This should still be a solid card, but obviously some of the recognition power will be missing. In any case, it's free, so I really shouldn't complain, but it still sucks that all those guys got injured.
With that said, let's start breaking down the fights.
Steve Bruno v. Matt Riddle: Bruno is 12-4, 1-1 in the UFC, with 11 wins by stoppage. Riddle is 1-0 overall and in the UFC. I think Bruno's experience should earn him a TKO victory in the first round.
Nick Catone v. Derek Downey: Catone is 5-0, making his UFC debut, with four wins by stoppage. Downey is 10-3, also making his UFC debut, with all 10 wins by stoppage. I think Downey's experience will carry him through and earn him a TKO victory in the first round.
Rich Clementi v. Gleison Tibau: Clementi is 32-12-1, 5-4 in the UFC, with 24 wins by stoppage. Tibau is 15-6, 3-3 in the UFC, with nine wins by stoppage. I think Clementi is more well rounded than Tibau and can defend himself if the fight goes to the ground.
I think the difference will be Clementi's striking which is why I will pick him by TKO in the second round.
Matt Grice v. Matt Veach: Grice is 9-1, 0-1 in the UFC, with six wins by stoppage. Veach is 10-0, making his UFC debut, with nine wins by stoppage. I never like guys making their UFC debut to win (unless they're also fighting a UFC rookie) so I will pick Grice to put a dent in Veach's undefeated record with a win by TKO in the first round.
Kurt Pellegrino v. Rob Emerson: Pellegrino is 12-4, 1-0 in the WEC, 4-3 in the UFC, with 9 wins by stoppage. Emerson is 9-6, 2-0 in the UFC, with 4 wins by stoppage. I like Pellegrino's grappling skills to be the difference. I'm picking him by decision.
Jake Rosholt v. Dan Miller: Rosholt is 5-0, 1-0 in WEC, making his UFC debut, with all 5 wins by stoppage. Miller is 10-1, 2-0 in the UFC, with six wins by stoppage. This is Rosholt's debut in the UFC after the WEC folded it's middleweight division into the UFC.
This fight should be an interesting battle between two grapplers. Rosholt is a top notch wrestler with solid ground and pound while Miller is a BJJ artist. I think Rosholt will impose his will on Miller and earn the decision victory.
Luigi Fioravanti v. Anothony Johnson: Luigi is 14-4, 4-4 in the UFC, with 9 wins by stoppage. Johnson is 6-2, 3-2 in the UFC, with four wins by KO. I think Johnson's athleticism and wrestling will be too much for Luigi's stand up. I'm picking Johnson by TKO in the third round.
Cain Velasquez v. Denis Stojnic: Cain is 4-0, 2-0 in the UFC, with all four wins by KO. Stojnic is 12-1, making his UFC debut, with two wins by KO. I think this is another patsy for Velasquez to help build his reputation even if Stojnic's record says otherwise. I'll pick Cain by TKO in the first round.
Mac Danzig v. Josh Neer: Danzig is 18-5-1, 0-1 in the WEC, 0-1 in PRIDE, 2-1 in the UFC, with 14 wins by stoppage. Neer is 21-7-1, 3-4 in the UFC, with 18 wins by stoppage. Both of these guys have turned into journeymen but I think a win here does more for Danzig's career.
Neer has a better all around game than Danzig who is mostly a submission artist. However, I think I'm still going to go with Danzig to pull out the decision.
Joe Lauzon v. Jeremy Stephens: Lauzon is 17-4, 4-1 in the UFC, with all 17 wins by stoppage. Stephens is 16-3, 3-2 in the UFC, with 14 wins by stoppage. This is a tough fight for both guys.
Lauzon has the better submission skills but Stephens is more impressive on the feet and with his wrestling. For that reason I'm picking Stephens to win by TKO in round two.
My pick for KO of the night goes to Cain Velasquez. There is no submission of the night. And my pick for fight of the night goes to Fioravanti v. Johnson.
This should be a solid card people so I hope you enjoy the free night of fights after an expensive January. Stay tuned for my Fight Night review and my fighter rankings. Until then,
Soccer kicks and head stomps...