History will be made at UFC 157 when Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche battle for the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s women’s bantamweight title at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. on Feb. 23. The event will also feature an intriguing matchup between Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida.
Here are my predictions for the entire UFC 157 fight card:
Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche
One could easily argue that the future of women fighting in the Ultimate Fighting Championship will be on Rousey’s shoulders when she steps inside the Octagon at UFC 157. Fortunately for the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist (in judo), she’s actually as good as the promotion’s marketing machine claims she is.
Carmouche (8-2, 5 KOs) has shown decent grappling skills in the past, but Rousey (6-0, 6 first round armbar submissions) is on a completely different level. “Rowdy” does a really good job of transitioning from her throws to armbars, so Carmouche will need to stay focused on maintaining her distance throughout their fight. Liz’ strength and wrestling ability should help her keep avoid the clinch early on, but it’s hard to see her keeping Ronda at bay for 25 minutes.
Rousey hasn’t had much of a chance to display her striking skills in the past, but from the little I’ve seen, she should be able to use her strikes to eventually close the distance, throw Carmouche to the canvas, and force the tap via armbar.
Prediction: Rousey wins via submission.
Lyoto Machida vs. Dan Henderson
The first man to give current light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones a real test inside the Octagon, Machida (18-3, 7 KOs) will try to take a step towards another title shot when he faces Henderson (29-8, 13 KOs) at UFC 157. Henderson was originally scheduled to face Jones at UFC 151, but the entire fight card ended was cancelled when a knee injury forced “Hendo” out of the bout and “Bones” refused to fight Chael Sonnen — who stepped up as a last minute replacement.
Henderson won “Fight of the year” honors with his previous performance against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, but he’ll have his hands full when he squares up against Machida. “The Dragon” tends to do well against wrestlers, with wins against the likes of Ryan Bader, Randy Couture, and Rashad Evans. Lyoto should be able to force a standup battle and avoid Henderson’s right hand with his evasive footwork. There’s a decent chance Machida will make history at UFC 157 and become the first man to defeat Henderson via knockout.
Prediction: Lyoto Machida wins via KO.
Urijah Faber vs. Ivan Menjivar
Faber (26-6, 14 submissions) has lost his last five title encounters, but he plans to fight his way back to contention. “The California Kid” can’t afford another loss when faces Menjivar (25-9, 10 submissions) at UFC 157. Menjivar has won four of his five fights in the UFC (since his return in 2011), and he would have won the first fight between the two in 2006 if Pride rules were in place.
Unfortunately for Ivan, soccer-kicks weren’t allowed at “TKO 24: Eruption,” and he was disqualified for blasting away at Faber while the latter was downed.
Faber did dominate most of their first encounter, and he’s evolved a lot since then. Menjivar will put up a lot of resistance, but I expect Faber to emerge victorious.
Prediction: Faber wins via decision.
Josh Koscheck vs. Robbie Lawler
Lawler (who will drop down to 170 pounds for the first time since his 2004 bout against Nick Diaz) will return to the Ultimate Fighting Championship after an eight-year absence at UFC 157, and he’s being thrown to the wolves. Koscheck (17-6, 5 KOs) might not be the most beloved fighter in the welterweight division, but he’s clearly one of the perennial top contenders.
However, it’s a big opportunity for Lawler (19-9, 16 KOs), as a win will immediately elevate him to contender status. Lawler has struggled lately, losing three of his last four fights. Besides Lawler catching Koscheck off guard with one of his big left hooks, it’s hard to see him winning.
Koscheck should be able to dominate their encounter with his wrestling and add another victory to his record.
Prediction: Koscheck wins via decision.
Josh Neer vs. Court McGee
Both men have lost their last two fights, and a loss at UFC 157 might mean the end of their gigs. McGee (13-3, 7 submissions) is the better wrestler going into the fight, but Neer (33-12-1, 17 KOs) is a bit craftier with submissions. Their striking skills are evenly matched, and that should lead to a competitive fight. McGee will probably end up using his superior wrestling skills to dominate the action and break out of his slump.
Prediction: McGee wins via decision.
Lavar Johnson defeats Brendan Schaub
Michael Chiesa defeats Anton Kuivanen
Dennis Bermudez defeats Matt Grice
Sam Stout defeats Caros Fodor
Kenny Robertson defeats Brock Jardine
Neil Magny defeats Jon Manley
Yuri Villefort defeats Nah-Shon Burrell
Previous fight card predictions (UFC on Fuel TV 7): 8-4