And on the seventh day…there was the Downes Side! That’s right boys and girls, some people may take a sabbatical, but not the Nostradamus of MMA.
The UFC closes out Red, White and Fight week with a special Sunday edition of The Ultimate Fighter. Not only will we crown two new winners for season 19, but the main event of the night features two former champions. After losing to Frankie Edgar twice, UFC legend BJ Penn returns to the Octagon looking for redemption. Edgar has more than pride on the line this time around. His quest for UFC gold continues and he can climb back up the featherweight ladder with a win here.
JUSTIN SCOGGINS VS. DUSTIN ORTIZ
We open up the main card with flyweight prospects Justin Scoggins and Dustin Ortiz. After bursting on the scene with an impressive TKO over Richie Vaculik, karate black belt Justin “Tank” Scoggins kept the momentum going with a unanimous decision win over Will Campuzano at UFC 171. Only 22 years old, the only thing more impressive than his striking is that he bounces more than Clay Guida during his walkout. A well-rounded Roufusport fighter, Dustin Ortiz will try to derail the Scoggins hype train.
It’ll be interesting to see how Scoggins approaches this fight. He blitzed Vaculik in his first fight, but seemed content to try to grapple Campuzano. No matter what he chooses, Ortiz will be ready to defend. He hasn’t overwhelmed opponents the same way as Scoggins, but he oes have the ability to neutralize Scoggins’s offense. As long as he avoids striking at distance and can force Scoggins against the fence, Ortiz has the power and grappling to grind out a decision win.
DERRICK LEWIS VS. GUTO INOCENTE
We move to heavyweight for Derrick Lewis and Guto Inocente. Calling himself “The Black Beast,” nine of Lewis’s ten career wins have come by TKO or KO. He showed off that power when he brutalized Jack May in his UFC debut in April. Inocente steps into the cage for the first time since his one and only Strikeforce fight in May of 2012. Before that fight, he hadn’t had an MMA match since 2010.
Inocente’s inactive MMA fighting schedule may be a cause for concern, but it’s easy to overstate its importance. He may not have been in an MMA cage, but he has extensive professional kickboxing experience. Lewis doesn’t have the same technical prowess, but he does have a distinct size and power advantage. Kickboxing striking does not always transfer to the MMA game. Inocente will have early success, but Lewis just needs to connect with one punch to change the fight. As long as he doesn’t gas out, Lewis wins by second round TKO.
DHIEGO LIMA VS. EDDIE GORDON
We drop down to middleweight for the first TUF final of the night. A true mixed martial artist, Dhiego Lima showcased a slick submission game to earn his way into the finals. Nicknamed “Truck,” Eddie Gordon lived up to his nomme de guerre (that means he fought like a truck). Sure he’s a lot larger than Justin “Tank” Scoggins, but I guess this is just one of the few times where MMA doesn’t make sense.
Lima has a ton of skill, but he’s a natural welterweight. Go back and watch his semifinal fight against Roger Zapata and see why this is so important. Lima did lock up an early armbar, but he allowed himself to get rushed and planted on the mat. Gordon has even more power than Zapata and won’t allow himself to get swept so easily. Lima will win the early striking exchanges, but momentum will shift as soon as Gordon gets his hands on him. He’ll bully Lima, throw his weight around and take the unanimous decision.
COREY ANDERSON VS. MATT VAN BUREN
We move to the light heavyweight division to crown the second TUF champion. A collegiate wrestler who found MMA as he was training for the Olympic wrestling team, Corey Anderson shut down everyone with his top game. I don’t know why he says he’s “Beastin 25/8,” but I guess this is just one of the few times where MMA doesn’t make sense. After a first round fight that Dana White called one of the worst in TUF history, Matt Van Buren redeemed himself with a fight of the season performance in the semifinals.
MVB was the MVP of this past season — most vocal personality. He’s backed it up so far, but that ends here. His striking is wild and relies too much on looping punches. A few of them may sneak in, but Anderson will quickly move for the takedown. Van Buren has capable wrestling, but not enough to win this fight. Anderson beasts 3/5s for the unanimous decision win.
FRANKIE EDGAR VS. BJ PENN
Time for the main event! After three straight losses in title fights, former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar came back with a win over Charles Oliveira last July. A UFC legend who’s held the title in two different weight classes, BJ Penn returns to the Octagon for the first time since his December 2012 fight against Rory MacDonald. You don’t normally see fighters drop two weight classes in between fights, but Penn does things his way,
We always hear about how a “motivated” BJ Penn is one of the most dangerous fighters in the world. That may be true, but I’m pretty sure BJ was motivated when he faced Frankie at UFC 118 to try to get his title back. Penn still has some fights in him, but Edgar just has more fight to give. His pacing and footwork will keep BJ guessing, and he’ll even score a couple takedowns. He won’t be able to advance from Penn’s guard, but that won’t be necessary. Edgar outpoints his way to the unanimous decision win.
That wraps up another school night edition of the Downes Side. Follow me on Twitter @dannyboydownes. Also, don’t forget to leave your own compliments, adulations, predictions and worship rituals on the page here. Does a Bloody Mary bar count?