At UFC on Fox 9, Demetrious Johnson will defend the Ultimate Fighting Championship's flyweight title for the third consecutive time when he squares off against Joseph Benavidez.
The two will headline the Dec. 14 fight card at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, Calif.
Carlos Condit and Matt Brown were also scheduled to meet at the second to the last UFC fight card in 2013, but an injury to the latter forced a cancellation. Despite the loss of the highly-anticipated bout, UFC on Fox 9 remains a decent card with lots of intriguing matchups.
Here are my predictions for the entire event:
Demetrious Johnson vs. Joseph Benavidez
A technical standup battle broke out the last time these two met inside the Octagon, and it's hard to see things going differently on Saturday. Benavidez (19-3-0, 8 submissions) landed the harder shots during their 2012 title tilt, but Johnson's (18-2-1, 7 submissions) speed and footwork proved to be the difference maker.
"Mighty Mouse" edged out the split decision, becoming the first flyweight champion in the Ultimate Fighting Championship's history.
Both men have been equally impressive inside the Octagon since then, which means the rematch will likely be just as competitive. At the end of the day, DJ is still the faster, more-versatile fighter, and that should give him the edge come fight time.
Prediction: Johnson wins via decision.
Urijah Faber vs. Michael McDonald
Faber (29-6-0, 16 submissions) has been on a tear lately, racking up impressive victories against Ivan Menjivar, Scott Jorgensen, and, most recently, Iuri Alcantara.
McDonald (16-2-0, 9 KOs) fell short against current interim bantamweight champion Renan Barão earlier in the year, losing via arm-triangle during the fourth round of their title showdown. He bounced right back with a "Fight of the Night" and "Submission of the Night" winning performance against Brad Pickett.
Clearly, motivation won't be an issue for either man since the winner will likely be rewarded with a crack at the 135-pound title.
McDonald might be able to dominate the striking exchanges at UFC on Fox 9, but the grappling advantage goes to the more-experienced Faber. "The California Kid" should be able to dictate where the fight takes place and eventually put McDonald away.
Prediction: Faber wins via submission.
Chad Mendes vs. Nik Lentz
Mendes (15-1-0, 6 KOs) is the number-one ranked featherweight in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and there's a good reason for that. The Team Alpha Male product has been particularly vicious inside the Octagon ever since his 2012 loss to Jose Aldo -- which was for the featherweight title, knocking out his next four opponents.
Lentz (24-5-2, 10 submissions) has won three-consecutive fights since he dropped down to 145 pounds, but he might be in over his head against Mendes. Lentz' wrestling is one of his biggest assets, but Mendes has never been taken down inside the Octagon.
"Money" will also likely have the advantage in the striking department, making this his fight to lose on paper.
Prediction: Mendes wins via TKO.
Joe Lauzon vs. Mac Danzig
Lauzon (22-9-0, 18 submissions) and Danzig (21-11-1, 10 submissions) are both sporting two-fight losing streaks heading into UFC on Fox 9, and that should give them extra motivation to leave it all inside the Octagon come fight time. Their skills are somewhat evenly matched, but Lauzon seems to have a slight edge in the striking and grappling department.
Prediction: Lauzon wins via submission.
Court McGee defeats Ryan LaFlare
Edson Barboza defeats Danny Castillo
Bobby Green defeats Pat Healy
Scott Jorgensen defeats Zach Makovsky
Cody McKenzie defeats Sam Stout
Roger Bowling defeats Abel Trujillo
Alptekin Ozkilic defeats Darren Uyenoyama
David is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and boxing practitioner who has watched and studied MMA for the past 8 years. Send him your questions @davidkingwriter and check out his blog for his UFC on Fox 9 FightPicks.
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