One word to describe this UFC 178 card? Stacked. Completely and utterly filled to the brim with ranked fighters and border line main event fights on any other night, filling up the main card. The budding Irish star in Conor McGregor, the slug fest between Donald Cerrone and Eddie Alvarez, the rightful number one contender in the women’s bantamweight division, Cat Zingano, makes her return; oh, and not to mention, the fastest man in the organization is the main event on this Las Vegas, Nevada venue. Demetrious Johnson vies to remain king of the flyweight division, and continue climbing the proverbial pound for pound ladder, as Chris Cariaso will try to nudge him off at all costs. All that and plenty more on the prelims as things kick off on Fight Pass at 7 pm EST, switch over to FOX Sports 1 for more prelim action at 8 pm EST, and making the final turn on Pay Per View at 10 pm EST. This card does not need many words to hype this event up, the match ups speak for themselves!
[C] Demetrious Johnson (20-2-1) vs. #8 Chris Cariaso (17-5) Flyweight Championship Bout – From what used to be Jon Jones versus Daniel Cormier, the UFC did not do this highly anticipated card any favors by placing the light drawing flyweight division as the main event. Yes, Demetrious Johnson is one of the pound for pound best, and arguably considered the quickest fighter in the organization; but fighting an unknown among most may not be the way to go here. Chris Cariaso has yet to defeat anyone worth mentioning in the top ten, in which leads to the questioning of why he was awarded a championship fight in the first place. Neither here nor there, does it matter anymore, the fight is scheduled and is going to happen barring any setbacks. This fight is almost a guaranteed victory for the champ, odds makers know it, analysts know it, even the fans may have a hunch. Johnson is the far superior fighter in any aspect of this match up, there is always a puncher’s chance though, Cariaso could change the stars with a win Saturday night. Demetrious Johnson via Technical Knockout.
#5 Donald Cerrone (24-6) vs. #14 Eddie Alvarez (25-3) Lightweight Bout – There are so many possible “Fight of the Night” candidates on this card it’s quite frankly, ludicrous. Forget Fight of the Night, how about a possible “Fight of the Year” match up in this one? If this fight makes it past the first two rounds, mark it down, it could be one of the best this year. Cerrone’s strong Muay Thai kickboxing base has wreaked havoc on the lightweight division for a long time, ask Jim Miller if someone may need a reference. Despite the strong offensive output, the “Cowboy” does have some glaring holes in his game. His defense lacks at times, and his head movement can be quite minimal, leaving an easy target to hit. Alvarez has some very crisp boxing, and can get in and out of his opponents in a quick hitch; but his gas tank in the later rounds has somewhat regressed, and the mileage on the body is starting to take a toll. If this match up was made a couple of years ago, Alvarez may had the slight edge here, now Cerrone could just as easily cement his status as a top lightweight. Donald Cerrone via Submission.
#5 Dustin Poirier (16-3) vs. #9 Conor McGregor (15-2) Featherweight Bout – Dustin Poirier refuses to admit it, but McGregor has a point, Poirier cannot avoid trouble to save his life. “The Diamond” has a habit of being caught by punches, for some reason though, has found ways to survive and overcome the long odds. In this fight though, what those other fighters have not been able to accomplish, “The Notorious” one will. McGregor’s “Star on the Rise” status is almost impossible to ignore, and he is not shy on letting his opponents know either. Besides the brash talk and candor outside the cage, McGregor suave style inside the cage is just as persuasive. The Irishman will stalk his opponents down in the octagon, and force them to find an answer for his wide array of strikes that may come about. Not one man in the UFC has yet to solve the McGregor puzzle, and no one may ever will; Poirier is walking a tight rope in the ranks, expect Conor McGregor to snag the line beneath him. Conor McGregor via Technical Knockout.
#6 Tim Kennedy (18-4) vs. #10 Yoel Romero (8-1) Middleweight Bout – The wrestling Olympian, Yoel Romero, is just scratching the surface in what could become a potential contender if he were to get past a game Tim Kennedy in the middleweight division. Romero’s wrestling is light years ahead of many in the organization, boasting a silver medal on his resume; and even though he heavily relies on his wrestling credentials to pick up victories, his striking is improving each fight that goes by. If Yoel Romero ever figures out the stand game, or at least is not considered a liability using it, that may just be the day the UFC crowns itself a new middleweight champion. Kennedy is a warrior, and a veteran of the cage who can hold his own on the ground, but he has just not faced this high level of wrestling before. The game plan for Kennedy will obviously be to keep this thing standing, and at all costs, do not let that intimidating man across from him get him to the ground. Do not underestimate Romero’s striking ability though; he may not be flashiest, but his power alone could make it a long night in hospital bed for a one, Tim Kennedy. Yoel Romero via Unanimous Decision.
#1 Cat Zingano (8-0) vs. #8 Amanda Nunes (9-3) Women’s Bantamweight Bout – It has been quite the dramatic road for the number one contender, Cat Zingano. First she suffers a devastating knee injury that kept her away from fighting Ronda Rousey, and secondly; her husband took his own life and committed suicide during her recovery. Those two things alone would crush any normal human being and possibly send them into a lifelong roller coaster ride full of depression. Zingano battled off the demons, and will make her long-awaited return back to the octagon to reclaim her top contender status. Amanda Nunes is just as dangerous as Zingano is though, and could rightfully unseed Cat if she comes out lackluster. Nunes throws some heavy hands, and has been quoted by some notable fighters as being one the strongest fighters they had ever fought, that is saying something. With all the trials and tribulations that Zingano has gone through, it takes a lot for someone not to cheer her on. This also has “Fight of the Night” written all over it; in other words, do not blink.
The main card is not the only portion of this venue that stands out, the prelim action is just as strong as the main card. Former bantamweight champion, Dominic Cruz, starts his quest back to his championship belt when he takes on Takeya Mizugaki. Cruz has been snake bitten with knee injuries, and was stripped of the gold; this will be his first fight in almost three years. The ranked lightweight Jorge Masvidal takes on a replacement fighter in James Krause, while welterweight strikers Patrick Cote and Stephen Thompson throw down on the prelims as well.
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Commentary by Justin Huffman
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Guardian Liberty Voice sports writer leading the coverage in MMA