Previewing UFC Fight Night 139
Almost 25 years to the day the Octagon originally debuted in Denver, Colorado the UFC returns to where it all started on Saturday Night. The day was November 12th, 1993 and the UFC’s first card ever went live from Denver Colorado. It is now 24 years and 363 days later the UFC returns looking like a very different business. The original 8-man tournament that started the largest global MMA organization was something no one had ever seen. The McNichols Sports Arena was the home then, but now the Pepsi Center is where the UFC will visit in Denver. The sport may have changed over the years, but that original tournament was where it all began. One would have to imagine there will be a tribute to those 8 guys who started it all. We were introduced to the like of now MMA Legend and UFC Hall of Famer Royce Gracie (13-2-2) and UFC Hall of Famer Ken Shamrock (28-17-2). We had the sideshow of pro boxer Art Jimmerson (0-1) wearing 1 boxing glove in his matchup. It is hard to believe that this was the event that started it all back in 1993, but this Pay Per View experiment was just the beginning. The UFC has done a good job commemorating the 25-year anniversary on UFC Fight Pass with their 25 short documentaries discussing the times since its original debut. The UFC went from a sport that was banned in multiple states to a global giant that sold for a reported 4 Billion dollars just last year. Now as for the card, it lost its original main event when Frankie “The Answer” Edgar (23-6-1 #3 Ranked Featherweight) had to pull out for an injury. The main event is now “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung (14-4 #10 Ranked Featherweight) and Yair “El Pantera” Rodriguez (11-2 #15 Ranked Featherweight) which is just a fantastic matchup. We have 12 fights on the card Saturday so let’s dive into the 25th-anniversary show.
The night gets started on Fight Pass at Bantamweight as Mark “Bumblebee” De La Rosa (10-1) takes on Joby Sanchez (11-3). Mark De La Rosa rebounded from his first career loss in his UFC debut by taking home a win over Elias Garcia (6-1) in July. The 24-year-old now returns to the Octagon looking to get his momentum going and take home a second win. The ground game is where De La Rosa thrives with 6 submission wins in his career. The goal is going to be to get the fight to the mat and take home a limb is he can. Five of his submission wins have been via rear naked choke, so you must expect that is what he will be shooting for. Joby Sanchez got his shot at returning to the UFC following 2 appearances on The Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series in 2017. He scored 2 victories and a contract. He then made his return to the UFC in February of 2018 where he was submitted in the first round by Roberto Little Fury” Sanchez (8-2). Sanchez now has a record of 1-3 in the UFC. That includes his first stint which was 3 fights from 2014 to 2015. Sanchez is talented and does a good job closing distance to limit the striking of his opponents. He has 4 knockouts and 4 submissions on his record. Sanchez is going to be desperate to pick up the win in this one, because if not we may see him back on the regional circuit after this. Prediction: Mark De La Rosa via Submission.
We drop down to 125lbs in what could potentially be one of the last fights in the UFC at Flyweight as Joseph “Bopo” Morales (9-1) takes on Eric “Showtime” Shelton (11-5). The reports are that the UFC is looking to dissolve the 125lb division before the end of 2018 following the trade of Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson (27-3-1) to One FC. However, there are still fights on the books at 125lbs and this is one of them. Joseph Morales has gone 1-1 in the UFC with his only loss being his last appearance to Deiveson “Deus da Guerra” Figueiredo (15-0 #5 Ranked Flyweight). Morales is just 24 years old and had finished all but 2 of his previous opponents before his loss. Morales has 5 career submissions and that is where he can take this fight. Since his run to the Semi-Finals on Season 24 of The Ultimate Fighter, the former Caged Aggression Flyweight Champion Eric Shelton has faltered in the UFC. He has gone just 1-3 in his 4 appearances. Two of those were split decision losses and then a unanimous decision loss to Alex Perez (21-4 #14 Ranked Flyweight). Shelton is very talented and stays in every fight having never been finished in his MMA career. He needs to find a way to hit that next level here. Hopefully, if the reports are true these two guys can hang on at 135lbs at Bantamweight in the UFC or at least fall on their feet in another organization. Prediction: Eric Shelton via Decision.
We head to FS1 for the prelims there as two Season 2 Contender Series alums go head to head as Devonte “King Kage” Smith (8-1) takes on Julian “Juicy J” Erosa (22-6). Devonte Smith wasted little time making an impression on the Contender Series as he used his elbows to score a 2 minute and 52-second knockout. That got him his UFC contract in August, and he now is set to make his UFC debut. Smith has been a knockout artist coming up with 7 of his 8 career wins coming via the knockout. At only 25 years old Smith is still very early in his UFC career. He will be looking to get off to a fast start win a win here in his UFC debut. For Julian Erosa a head kick knockout in the second round of his Contender Series fight did not get him a contract at that time. However, as it happens Erosa still eventually go the call from the UFC. He will now make his debut here in his 29th professional fight. The former CageSport 155lb champion will look to make a fast impact on the biggest stage of them all. Erosa can finish an opponent anywhere having 10 career knockouts and 9 submissions. Experience is going to play a big role in this one considering both guys are in their UFC debut. Prediction: Julian Erosa via Submission.
We stay at Lightweight next as Davi “Tasmanian Devil” Ramos (8-2) takes on The Ultimate Fighter Season 27 alum John “The Machine“ Gunther (7-1). Davi Ramos showed why he is one of the most dangerous submission grapplers in the UFC when he secured a first-round submission win over “Sargeant” Nick Hein (14-4 1NC) back in May. The 2015 ADCC 77KG World Champion Ramos is an extremely talented grappler. Ramos has 6 career submissions and has a dominant ground game. Ramos has improved on the feet, but we know where he wants to take the fight. Look for him to be more than comfortable to go to the mat at any point during the fight. John Gunther did not have a great run on Season 27 of The Ultimate Fighter. He dropped his first fight in 17 seconds and then as added back into the tournament due to an injury and lost a 3-round decision. Then we got to Gunther’s debut and it was a Majority Decision win over Allan “Tigre” Zuniga (13-2). Gunther’s style is to close the distance and use his wrestling to grind the fight out. That is going to be very tough against a guy as talented as Ramos. He is going to have to be very careful on the ground in this one. Prediction: Davi Ramos via Submission.
We drop down to Featherweight next as Chas “The Scrapper” Kelly (17-2) takes on Bobby “The Wolfman” Moffett (12-3). Chas Skelly has been out of action since May of 2017 a loss to Jason “The Kid” Knight (20-6). Skelly has gone 2-2 in his last 4 in the UFC but looked impressive in those 2 wins. The problem here with Skelly is consistency. Skelly is a solid grappler who has 10 submission wins on his record. If Skelly can control the fight with his grappling he can walk away with another win in the UFC. Bobby Moffett picked up his UFC contract with a second-round submission win in the last week of Season 2 of The Contender Series. Moffett has 8 career submission wins, and he will be looking to get the fight down to the mat quickly if he can. He showed how fast he can finish when he gets an opening on the Contender series. He must be mindful of how skilled Skelly is on the mat or he could find himself in some trouble. This one has the making of a grappling fight inside the Octagon. Prediction: Chas Skelly via Decision.
We close out the prelims as Ashley “SpiderMonkey” Yoder (5-4) takes on Amanda “ABC” Cooper (4-4). Ashley Yoder has not fared well in the UFC going 0-3 including a split decision loss to Mackenzie Dern (7-0 #15 Ranked Strawweight). Yoder was 5-1 outside of the UFC including a 4-fight win streak that got her in. Yoder is a solid wrestler, but she must make sure she is the aggressor in the matchup. She can get in trouble when she stops moving forward and lets the action come to her. The Ultimate Fighter Season 23 runner-up Amanda Cooper also suffered a loss to Mackenzie Dern in her last appearance as she was submitted in the first round. That dropped her UFC record to 2-3. She is a very talented wrestler, and if she can score the takedown and get on top she can stay there. Cooper struggles with submissions, however, having lost all 4 of her career losses via submission. This has an eerie feeling of a loser leaves town match. Prediction: Amanda Cooper via Decision.
We kick off the main card with one of the most interesting fights of the night as The Ultimate Fighter Season 27 Winner Michael “The Lone Wolf” Trizano (8-0) takes on Luis “Violent Bob Ross” Pena (5-0). Michael Trizano was a terror on Season 27 of the Ultimate Fighter. He ran his way to the finals and took home a split decision win in the Finale back in July. He now heads into this fight unbeaten and looking to prove a point. The 26-year-old New Jersey native has a chance to really get off to a good start by building a 2-fight win streak inside the UFC. Trizano has 2 submissions and 2 knockout wins. He needs to get going quickly and close to distance to limit the striking of Luis Pena. Speaking of Luis Pena an injury following his first-round win on the show saw him must withdraw. Pena still got his shot and took out fellow castmate Richie Smullen (3-1-1) at the Finale. Pena is a dynamic striker who loves to throw kicks. His length is what truly sets him apart having a 78-inch reach at 155lbs is tough for most fighters to deal with. Pena also has a solid ground game with 4 submission wins. We could be staring at the fight of the night kicking off the main card. Prediction: Luis Pena via Decision.
Two debuting Strawweights are next as Maycee “The Future” Barber (4-0) takes on Hannah “Shockwave” Cifers (8-2). At just 20 years old Maycee Barber took home a TKO victory on episode 5 of Season 2 of The Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series and earned a UFC contract. The former Legacy Fighting Alliance Strawweight has only seen the judges once in her short career. The hype surrounding her heading into the Contender Series fight was clear, and she will look to live up to that in her UFC debut in her home state. You can imagine the fan support she will have as she looks to take home her first UFC win. For Hannah Cifers a 5-fight win streak bring her into the UFC. Cifers will be looking to strike early and often having 5 career knockouts on her record. Cifers will need to avoid the grappling of Barber and lean on her experience to take home the win in this one. Prediction: Maycee Barber via TKO.
We head next to 155lbs as Beneil Dariush (14-4-1) takes on the debuting Thiago Moises (10-2). Beneil Dariush has hit a bit of a skid going 0-2-1 including a first-round knockout loss to Alexander “The Great” Hernandez (10-1 #12 Lightweight). Dariush at one point was ranked in the top 10 at 155lbs, but the losses have piled up lately. Dariush is very talented and has 6 submissions and 3 knockouts on his record. He will be looking to get back in the win column, and his UFC experience against a guy making his debut could make all the difference. For 23-year-old Thiago Moises, a 2-fight win streak moves him into the UFC as an injury replacement. The alum of the Dana White Contender Series Brazil earned his way into the UFC and now will look to make a splash against an established veteran. A win over a guy like Dariush in his debut would go a long way. He showed his power in that fight on The Contender series and will try to carry that over here. Prediction: Thiago Moises via TKO.
A former Champion takes on a former title challenger as Germaine “The Iron Lady” de Randamie (7-0 #5 Ranked Women’s Bantamweight) takes on Raquel “Rocky” Pennington (9-7 #4 Ranked Women’s Bantamweight). Germaine de Randamie has been out of action since capturing the inaugural UFC 145lb title back in February of 2017. She has been injury plagued since after defeating Holly “The Preacher’s Daughter” Holm (12-4) in a controversial decision win. She has some serious striking talent and has 3 knockouts. She will need to keep her distance and get that striking going to neutralize Pennington. De Randamie is a really talented fighter, and despite being stripped of the 145lb title based on injuries she proved could hang in that Holm matchup even if the decision was tough. Raquel Pennington has been out of action since a 5th round TKO loss in her bid for UFC gold against Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes (16-4 Women’s Bantamweight Champion). That fight caused some controversy when she tried to stop in between the 4th and 5th rounds and her coaches sent her back out there. Pennington is a solid grappler who has been in the Octagon with some serious talent. She is going to have to avoid the big strikes from De Randamie is she expects to get back in the win column. Prediction: Germaine de Randamie via TKO.
We head to the Co-Main event and the showdown between Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (33-11 1NC #12 Ranked Welterweight) taking on “Platinum” Mike Perry (12-3). Donald Cerrone is a fan favorite, and a guy who you can never count out in fights. His striking is fantastic, and he utilizes his legs to control fights. People sleep on his ground game, but 16 submissions don’t just happen. We have not seen a ton of that in his UFC run, but he certainly can end the fight on the mat. However, Cerrone has lost 4 of 5 since a 4-fight win streak saw him within a fight of another shot at a UFC title. The question becomes has the damage of the wars in the Octagon caught up to Cerrone. These losses are all to top talent there is no doubt about that, but against a guy like Perry who throws punches with bad intentions regularly, it could be a problem. Cerrone also has added emotion into this as Perry is now trained by Mike Winklejohn and that situation has rubbed Cerrone the wrong way. Cerrone can say that won’t play a role in his fight, but it most certainly could. Mike Perry got back in the wing column in July when he won a split decision over Paul “The Irish Dragon” Felder (15-4 #15 Ranked Lightweight). Perry is a big puncher who has learned to control his emotions and pace more and more as he’s gone on in the UFC. Perry has 11 knockouts on his record, but the ground game certainly comes in to question. He is a talented wrestler, but he will need to keep this one off the mat for sure. Prediction: Donald Cerrone via Submission.
We close out the 25th Anniversary show with “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung (14-4 #10 Ranked Featherweight) and Yair “El Pantera” Rodriguez (11-2 #15 Ranked Featherweight). Chan Sung Jung was originally supposed to face Frankie Edgar but instead will look to get his second win since returning from his 4 years of mandatory military service against Rodrigues. The Korean Zombie returned in February of 2017 with an impressive 1st round knockout of Dennis “The Menace” Bermudez (17-9). He is one of the most intriguing stories in the UFC because of the time that he missed with the military service. He has a fight canceled in the summer of 2017 and then obviously the matchup with Edgar was put aside. The Korean Zombie can get it done anywhere and he has 8 submissions and 4 knockouts on his record. He has a chance here to pick up a big win and continue to cement his Top 10 spot at 145lbs. Yair Rodriguez has been up and down in the past year and a half. A devastating loss to Frankie Edgar back in May of 2017 led to a significant amount of time off. Ten there was the controversy with him turning down Zabit Magomedsharipov (17-1 #14 Ranked Featherweight) which led to his reported release from the UFC. That got fixed and the fight with Zabit was made. However, a late injury pulled Rodriguez from the card and The Ultimate Fighter Latin America 1 Featherweight Champion was without an opponent. He now steps in on short notice to take on a very dangerous fighter in Korean Zombie. Rodriguez is a dynamic striker who can light up almost anyone on the feet. He will need everything he’s got on the feet to battle against Korean Zombie. A win here and the 26-year-old Rodriguez vaults himself back into the Top 10 without question. Prediction: Yair Rodriguez via Decision.
The UFC has come a long way from the 8-man tournament that started it all 25 years ago. It would be very surprising if the guys like Rorion Gracie and Art Davie who started this ever thought the UFC would become what it has. Obviously, the eventual purchase by Zuffa and The Fertitta brothers and Dana White’s involvement brought the UFC to where it is today, but it all started in Denver that day. 231 Pay Per Views, 138 Fight Nights on FS1, and cards on all types of networks like FOX, FX, and Fuse TV the UFC has grown to a giant international brand. They’ve made major stars and have brought in a ton of money. They changed the game in the world of the UFC. The big boom obviously is always attributed to the end The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 and the matchup between Forrest Griffin (19-7) and Stephan “The American Psycho” Bonnar (15-9) on Spike TV. Since then the rocket ship took off and now we are here 25 years later honoring the past. Thousands of fights and thousands of fighters have gone down in the Octagon. They made it a legitimate sport from appearing on Sports Center to now signing a deal to be broadcast on ESPN in 2019. 25 years down and hopefully at least 25 years more for one of the best sport’s out there.