With UFC 127 behind us we can forget the bore draw that was Penn and Fitch and look forward to UFC 128 which promises some serious action.
Fans and those that partake in UFC betting alike where left feeling a little underwhelmed at UFC 127, but with a blockbuster headliner in the shape of Rua vs. Jones, 128 should be a number higher and notch faster.
Miller vs. Shalorus
We all know the UFC lightweight division is stacked but just how deep the talent truly runs will be on display between New Jersey native Jim Miller (19-2) and the undefeated Prince of Persia himself, Kamal Shalorus (7-0-2). These two cage warriors have similar styles and it is yet another example of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and free style wrestling dominating the MMA scene.
Jim Miller is a submission specialist with 11 of his nineteen wins coming by way of kneebar, armbar, or choke. He has never been knocked out or submitted and has the pedigree of a champion. But like the other elite fighters in his division, he appears to be half a click below lightweight champion Frankie Edgar and number one ranked contender Gray Maynard. Not surprisingly, those two fighters represent the only blemishes on his superb MMA record. When last Miller entered the Octagon he submitted Brazilian sensation Charles Oliveira in the first round, handing the then undefeated BJJ master the first loss of his MMA career.
Kamal Shalorus is a wrestler first and a BJJ practitioner second. But to ignore his striking ability could come with some very dire consequences. You would think a fighter so deeply rooted in a grappling game would have registered the majority of his victories by way of submission. The Prince is a different story however as he packs an enormous punch for a 5’8” lightweight as evidenced by 4 of his seven victories coming by way of knockout.
This should be an intriguing fight with Shalorus looking to shake Miller to the core with his explosive strength and heavy hands. When the fight does go to the mat, Shalorus will be in familiar territory as well. That being said, this is a huge step up in class for Shalorus and though he is undefeated, his last appearance in the Octagon was a split decision over a game but far less accomplished Bart Palaszewski. That close decision was preceded by a draw with another WEC combatant Jamie Varner. This is Shalorus’s debut in the UFC and at the age of 38, it may very well be his last. I look for Miller to win by submission, in the 3rd round.
Cro Cop vs. Brendan Schaub
The heavyweights will shake the Prudential Center in Newark when Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic throws down with Brendan “The Hybrid” Schaub. This is the new breed of MMA colliding with the old guard and it should be a dandy.
Cro Cop (27-8) is legendary throughout the MMA community and his thunderous kicks have kept orthopedic surgeons in business for a good long time. He is the former king of the PRIDE organization and his hands can be as murderous as his feet. Certainly some of the gild is off the lily as he lost his last fight to another MMA veteran in Frank Mir by getting KO’ed in the 3rd round and is an unremarkable 4-4 in the UFC.
Brendan Schaub (7-1) is “The Ultimate Fighter 10” runner-up whose other claim to fame is having had a cup of coffee in the NFL. Schaub is a big banger who has recorded 6 of seven wins by knockout, with his only defeat coming at the hands of former IFL champion and one of the toughest fat guys you’d ever want to meet, Roy Nelson. Schaub has reeled off 3 wins since his lone loss in the TUF finals and his last victory was by decision, the only he’s had in his short career, over journeyman Gabriel Gonzaga.
Unlike many of the tactical grappling fights we’ve seen recently in the UFC, this should be an out and out war. Cro Cop is an old school kickboxer and Schaub’s a guy whose heart is steeped firmly in his right hand while his soul resides in his left. Though Schaub has a decent ground game to go with his devastating hands, Cro Cop brings lightning in his hands and thunder in his feet. I believe youth will triumph and Schaub’s ground game should be enough to tip the tables and give him a tactical advantage. The judges might as well take this fight off because somebody’s going to go to sleep before this one is through and it certainly won’t be the audience. I’ll take youth over experience. Brendan Schaub in a KO.