That’s right boys and girls, its time for a Seattle-centric edition of the Downes Side! We all know it as the birthplace of Starbucks, but the Emerald City also houses the greatest fighter to never step inside the Octagon -- Frank Dux.
While we’re all waiting for the day when GSP will show us the Dim Mak and win the kumite, UFC on FOX 8 will have to entertain us until then. Live from KeyArena, the flyweight title is up for grabs in the main event as current champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson faces relative newcomer John Moraga. Defending his belt for the second time, Johnson seeks to put an end to Moraga’s impressive seven-fight win streak. The co-main event of the night has grown into a grudge match with welterweight title implications as the trash talking Jake Ellenberger tries to derail the Rory MacDonald hype train. So put on your flannel shirt, play your favorite Soundgarden album and get ready for the breakdown.
Liz Carmouche (7-3) vs Jessica Andrade (9-2)
The main card begins with two women way more physically fit than Courtney Love as Liz “Girlrilla” Carmouche battles Jessica “Bate Estaca” Andrade. Coming off a loss to Ronda Rousey in February, Carmouche pushed the champ harder than any previous opponents, but eventually succumbed to the armbar. One of the strongest competitors in the division, she utilizes her wrestling to transition into punishing ground-and-pound. Replacing Miesha Tate, the 21-year-old Andrade has a style almost as aggressive as her fight schedule. She comes right at her opponents, but also has a dynamic submission game.
Andrade may be an unproven commodity, but what we do know is that 33% of her wins have come against women named Silva. Luckily for Carmouche, her parents named her Liz. Neither one of these fighters will back down on the feet, but it’s eventually going to head to the ground where Carmouche holds the advantage. Andrade will attack with her jiu-jitsu, but the Girlrilla will be too strong and stifle her. Eventually the power and experience gap will become too much for the UFC newcomer to handle and she’ll start to fade. Carmouche takes this by second-round TKO.
Robbie Lawler (20-9 1NC) Bobby Voelker (24-9)
We move up to welterweight for a fight between two sluggers who have have knocked back more guys than Scott Weiland did shots in his heyday. Hard-swinging southpaw “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler’s boxing and active clinch has earned him 17 career knockouts. In his UFC debut last February, he used his power to TKO fan favorite Josh “Mr. Congeniality” Koschek in the first round. Another heavy-handed striker, “Vicious” Bobby Voelker steps in for the injured Siyar Bahadurzada and looks to rebound from his UFC debut where he dropped a controversial decision to Patrick Cote.
Lawler has the ability to end the fight with a single punch, but he’s been incredibly inconsistent. With a .500 record in his last ten fights, he just fails to string together wins. If Voelker walks out there and tries to get in a firefight, Robbie takes this one in the first. Fortunately for Voelker’s long-term health, he has a more well-rounded game and can attack in a variety of ways. Lawler has tremendous power, but it’s hard to knock somebody out when you’re on your back. Voelker does the smart thing, takes it to the ground and picks up the unanimous decision win.
Rory MacDonald (14-1) vs Jake Ellenberger (29-6)
We stay at welterweight for the co-main event of the night. With an 8-2 career UFC record, Ellenberger most recently TKOd Nate Marquardt in the first round at UFC 158. At only 23 years of age, MacDonald has already defeated the likes of Nate Diaz, Mike Pyle and BJ Penn. The fight does have big consequences for the 170 lb division, but who cares about that when guys are insulting each other on social media? If you could award bonus points for pre-fight trash talk, Ellenberger certainly deserves it. Here’s a sample: “I haven’t said anything that wasn’t true and my message to Rory is pretty clear: start tasting some flavors of baby food, find one you like and stock up because this isn’t a Tears for Fears lookalike contest. (Good stuff, and would you be shocked to hear that he now shares a gym with one Chael P. Sonnen?) While some agree with the Juggernaut, I do have to defend Rory on this one. He doesn’t look like anyone from Tears for Fears -- if anything, it’s Simon from the BBC show InBetweeners.
Conventional thought posits that Ellenberger has the pure wrestling advantage. The two are practically a statistical match in both takedown accuracy and defense, so neither one will be able to dominate that aspect. That means they’ll spend the majority of the fight on the feet. The last person to defeat Ellenberger was Martin Kampmann. What we learned from that fight, besides the fact that Martin Kampmann can take a punch, is that Ellenberger can get impatient. Rory will avoid Jake’s big punches and that will cause Ellenberger to charge. As the fight progresses, Rory will use this (and his reach advantage) to tag his opponent and start to wear him down. You may not like Rory’s dapper appearance, but you will respect him when he drops the Juggernaut in the 3rd round. MacDonald via TKO.
Demetrious Johnson (17-2-1) vs John Moraga (13-1)
Here you are now, and the main event of the night will entertain you. Since winning the inaugural UFC flyweight title against Joseph Benavidez, Demetrious Johnson successfully defended the belt against John Dodson in January. His combination of hand speed, takedowns and cardio has made him one of the most difficult fighters in the entire UFC to hit. His opponent John Moraga has been impressive in both of his UFC outings, finishing both Ulysses Gomez (via strikes) and Chris Cariaso (via sub).
Mighty Mouse’s MMA-tailored wrestling has given his opponents fits. Moraga did time as a Division I wrestler, so he certainly possesses enough ability to defend attacks. The difference maker here is the ability to do damage. This is where the champ’s weakness lies. He hasn’t KOd somebody since his appearance on the short lived Running-Man knockoff reality television series, “Alaska Fighting Championships.” Moraga may not have the same speed to match Johnson, but he’ll be able to defend the wrestling. This will give him the opportunity to counter-punch and Johnson has been rocked in a number of his previous fights. This will be enough to earn the decision and crown a new champion.
That wraps up another flannel-shirt worthy edition of the Downes Side. Follow me on Twitter @dannyboydownes. Don’t forget to make your picks here and leave your own thoughts, predictions, comments or favorite Alice in Chains song here. I’ll take the uplifting, “Rain When I Die.”
The Downes Side: UFC on FOX 8 Predictions
UFC/WEC veteran Dan Downes talks strategy and predictions for UFC on FOX 8, taking place Saturday, July 27.