International Fight Week kicks off with a bang, as the UFC will host two action packed cards on back to back days in Las Vegas, Nevada. the 175 Weidman versus Machida will be the first of two cards of the weekend, with the ‘TUF‘ Finale Edgar vs. Penn card on Sunday. The Weidman versus Machida early prelims will be shown exclusively on Fight Pass at 7 pm EST, switching over to FOX Sports 1 at 8 pm EST. The main card itself will not be live until 10 pm EST, only on pay per view. This card, along with all the festivities during International Fight Week will be covered by the Guardian Liberty Voice. Be sure to stay tuned for any live updates throughout the week.
[C] Chris Weidman (11-0) vs. #3 Lyoto Machida (21-4) – Middleweight Championship Bout Machida will make take his first stab at the middleweight title; as Weidman looks to defend his belt for the second time, and fight someone outside the name of Anderson Silva, for the first time in almost two years. The path taken to get to Silva was somewhat of a questionable one, with Weidman’s most notable victory was over the fading Mark Munoz. Machida has fought some of the toughest competition to date, noting his days as the former light heavyweight champion in the UFC. Outside of Silva, Weidman has not fought a fighter of Machida’s caliber and exquisite karate style before. “The Dragon’s” movement is hard one to match, along with his lightning fast kicks and punches when he decides to attack. Weidman would do himself a favor if he could close the distance, and back Machida against the cage. Grappling and wrestling should be the champion’s plan of attack if he wants to remain champion in the division. The MMA Spotlight wants to believe in Weidman’s reign as champion, with a win outside of Anderson Silva should do just that; but the MMA section just does not think it will happen. Lyoto Machida via Unanimous Decision.
[C] Ronda Rousey (9-0) vs. #2 Alexis Davis (16-5) – Women’s Bantamweight Championship Bout “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey is looking to put her win total in the double digits, as Alexis Davis hopes to become the first woman to defeat one of the brightest stars in the UFC. Davis has had an impressive run in the organization thus far, knocking off opponents such as, Jessica Eye; riding a five fight win streak into her title bout with Ronda. When it comes to women’s MMA though, Ronda Rousey is just incomparable to any of the women in the UFC. Rousey has finished all nine of her opponents with ease, and it does not seem as if her time at the top will come to an end any time soon. Alexis Davis may give Rousey her toughest fight to date, using her black belt in BJJ to fend off Rousey’s grappling prowess; but it still will not be enough to defeat the women’s champion. Ronda is learning at a rapid pace, and showed in her last fight that she can finish opponents anywhere inside the octagon. Ronda Rousey via Technical Knockout.
#12 Stefan Struve (29-6) vs. Matt Mitrione (7-3) – Heavyweight Bout Stefan Struve is finally making his return to the octagon, after suffering a broken jaw at the hands Mark Hunt over a year ago. Finish or be finished seems to be the motto for the “Skyscraper”; in 35 career fights, only one has ever gone the distance in his career. It has been quite awhile since we have seen the heavyweight prospect in the cage though, which may make him subject to some ring rust coming into this bout. Matt Mitrione is coming off an impressive knockout victory over Shawn Jordan back in March, but has only won two of his last five fights inside the UFC octagon. Struve will have the reach, and the length; to keep Mitrione at bay, look for Mitrione to close the distance and pin Struve against the cage. Lookout for Struve in any situation, as the dutch kickboxer is known for having a deadly submission game as well. Struve has the experience, and the higher ceiling of potential then Mitrione does, hopefully ring rust does not defeat yet another fighter upon their return. Stefan Struve via Submission.
Urijah Hall (9-4) vs. Thiago Santos (9-2) – Middleweight Bout Urijah Hall was able to bring out his inner monster when he stopped Chris Leben, can he find the will power to take out Thiago Santos as well? One of the biggest question marks of Hall’s career, is his killer instinct; president Dana White notably questioned that during Urijah’s two fight losing streak. Thiago Santos on the other hand, has had only three fights go to decision; the Brazilian is always looking for the finish each time he steps inside the cage. Both are coming off TKO victories, and both are looking to gain some steam in the middleweight division. If Santos allows Hall to sit outside and execute his wide array of kicks; it will be a long night for Santos. Santos will be looking for the same as well, both will approach the bout with similar styles. The MMA Spotlight is not completely sold on Hall and his determination to finish fights after the Leben fight; Santos though, the section tends to beg to differ. Thiago Santos via Technical Knockout.
Marcus Brimage (6-2) vs. Russell Doane (13-3) – Bantamweight Bout This is where some may call into question, why is Urijah Faber not on the main card, and this fight is? Doane has one UFC fight under his belt, while Brimage suffered a gruesome loss to the rising Dublin featherweight star, Conor McGregor. Brimage has only two finishes to his resume,and Doane has made a career of finishing lesser known opponents. Either way, the fans must deal with the cards dealt to them; and this is the first fight to kick off the main card July 5th. Doane is currently on a two fight win streak, finishing both opponents in the process. Just going off that alone, Doane has an opportunity to make quite the impression on the organization, opening a main card on possibly the biggest event this year. Russell Doane via Unanimous Decision.
“The California Kid” Urijah Faber, will square off with Alex Caceres as the headliner on FOX Sports 1. Submission wizard, Kenny Robertson and Ildemar Alcantara will also take place on the FOX Sports prelims as well. For all International Fight Week and UFC coverage, follow the Guardian Liberty Voice throughout the week leading up to July 5.
Commentary by Justin Huffman
Follow Justin’s coverage in the MMA Spotlight section
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer leading the coverage in MMA