It’s the third UFC event in as many weeks and this one might be the biggest, against in terms of size. Fight fans in Vancouver might not recognize some of the things they see on Saturday night though as there will be no biting and the stars will actually show up. They’ll likely see plenty of headshots though, but these will lead to victories and not suspensions for the giving party. Now while Carrie Underwood was in Vancouver just a month ago, not even she could heat up the city like Brittney Palmer will this weekend.

Heavyweight Fight: Shane Carwin vs. Junior Dos Santos

After 10 weeks of coaching The Ultimate Fighter opposite Brock Lesnar, Junior Dos Santos faces Shane Carwin due to Lesnar having a diverticulitis relapse. The winner will go on to challenge for the UFC heavyweight strap later this year.

Carwin Skill Assessment: Despite his wrestling background, Carwin has become known for his one punch knockout power. He’s not a technically sound striker, although he did show off a good straight left-right uppercut against Lesnar. Otherwise he’s almost exclusively a one-two puncher. He does a nice job of using his jab to set up his takedowns and he has strong takedowns but we also haven’t seen a lot of them. He tried to takedown Frank Mir but couldn’t get it and Mir’s takedown defense isn’t high-level. When he does get a takedown, he’s a monster on top. He does a nice job of posturing, moving to better positions, and staying active with strikes. Carwin doesn’t really offer anything off his back other than how to get up. He looked lost against Lesnar but he was also gassed out. Against Gabriel Gonzaga though, he got up with relative ease after being stunned with a couple of right hands. Carwin’s biggest strength might be in the clinch. Against Mir, he dominated him in the clinch by controlling him, landing knees to the thighs, and using his free hand to punish Mir with short punches and uppercuts. The big concern with Carwin is his health and conditioning. He’s coming off major spinal surgery and hasn’t competed in almost a year. Also, from what I’ve heard, he’s dropped a little bit of weight, which might help his conditioning but could also take away from his power.

Carwin Game Plan: Carwin needs to make this a dirty fight. He needs to use his strength to bully Dos Santos into the clinch, rough him up in the clinch, and try to get the takedown. He’s proven that he can generate a ton of power in a very short distance so he has no reason to stay at a striking distance with Dos Santos.

Dos Santos Skill Assessment: Ever since Dos Santos burst onto the UFC scene in 2008, he’s quickly become the most feared striker in the division. He’s an excellent technical boxer. He likes to go the body early, especially with the jab, and that’s all to set up his right hand to the head. He’ll also switch the combo around, throwing a jab to the head and then a right hook to the body. His favorite combo to use though is a left hook followed by a right uppercut. He’s also a solid counter puncher with a powerful left hook. We’ve seen Dos Santos’ takedown defense tested a couple of time in the UFC and each time he’s passed. He was down for a brief moment against Gonzaga and immediately popped back up and he stuffed every takedown attempt from Roy Nelson. Neither of those men have the strength or credentials of Carwin though. Working in Dos Santos’ favor is his quick hips and good balance. Because we’ve never seen Dos Santos on his back, we don’t really know how good his guard or jiu-jitsu is. His teacher, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, says that Dos Santos gives him fits on the ground but what else would you expect his trainer to say? Dos Santos does seem like a guy who is a sponge though so it wouldn’t shock me if he has quickly learned the jiu-jitsu game. At the very least I think he’ll be able to limit Carwin’s ground work. I wouldn’t be shocked of Dos Santos has been training leg locks in preparation for this fight. Carwin is going to be tough to submit up top because of his build but Dos Santos could snatch one of his legs and take it home with him. Dos Santos’ clinch game isn’t bad but he was controlled and roughed up a bit by Nelson. Dos Santos’ chin has never been tested like it will likely be tested against Carwin but he has taken some stiff punches from Mirko Cro Cop and Nelson and didn’t blink. The big advantage Dos Santos has in this fight is his speed. In addition to having faster hands, he’s also quicker and lighter on his feet.

Dos Santos Game Plan: Dos Santos needs to use his speed. Jab to keep Carwin at bay and show the uppercut to make Carwin think twice about shooting in. When Carwin moves in aggressively, Dos Santos has to move away and then counter with the straight right. Dos Santos needs to be at a distance at all time. He can’t let Carwin press him against the cage or get him to the ground.

Fight Prediction: As the UFC promo hints at, this fight could come down to who lands first. My guess is that Dos Santos will land first because he is the quicker of the two. Plus, Carwin is too much of a mystery coming off major surgery and changing up his strength and conditioning programming. I think Dos Santos will be able to tag up Carwin early, avoid the takedown, and put Carwin away.

Official Prediction: Junior Dos Santos to defeat Shane Carwin by TKO in Round One

Featherweight Fight: Diego Nunes vs. Kenny Florian

Starting his career at middleweight on Season 1 of The Ultimate Fighter, Kenny Florian now drops to featherweight to take on Diego Nunes.

Nunes Skill Assessment: Nunes is a well-rounded fighter who looked very impressive against Mike Brown. He’s a good striker although he mainly just throws kicks. He has quick leg kicks, likes to throw a lead leg head kick, and loves the spinning back kick. When he does throw his hands, he usually leads with a straight left or right, depending on which stance he’s in. For a fighter with no wrestling background, Nunes showed off some impressive takedown defense against Brown, who is known for his powerful wrestling. Nunes is a purple belt in jiu-jitsu although because UFC pulls content from other sites and doesn’t bother putting up WEC content on their site, I haven’t seen much of Nunes on the ground. My guess is that he can hold his own against Florian, especially if he’s on top, but he won’t be able to submit Florian off his back. Nunes is very good in the clinch. He likes to grab the plum clinch, has good control with it, and throws very good knees to the body and head. Nunes is a rather large featherweight and should have a strength advantage in this fight.

Nunes Game Plan: Nunes needs to use his size, strength, and pace in this fight. This is Florian’s first time cutting to 145 and history has shown that guys just don’t have the stamina they usually have when making their first cut to a new weight. Nunes needs to wear on Florian and bully him around. I know Nunes is more a striker than a grinder but he has to be willing to change things up and get a little dirty in this fight.

Florian Skill Assessment: Like Nunes, Florian is a well-rounded fighter. He’s a very technical striker, who use to just throw kicks but has really developed good boxing in recent years. He stands southpaw, a quick jab, and a good counter left straight. He uses a lot of kick feints but when he decides to throw them, he throws them quickly and with a lot of power. Florian’s takedown defense has been suspect throughout his career but I do think it’s better than he’s given credit for. He stuffed all of Clay Guida’s takedowns and we saw last weekend how good of a wrestler Guida is. Florian’s trouble is against big, strong wrestlers, which Nunes is not. Florian has decent takedowns but after seeing Nunes stuff the takedowns of Brown, I’m not sure if he’ll be able to get Nunes to the ground. On top though, Florian has very good control, loves using elbows, and uses head and arm control to set up his passes. Off his back he stays active with elbows and likes to use the omoplata to try and sweep. In tight, Florian likes to grab the plum clinch to throw knees and close quarter elbows. As mentioned above, this is Florian’s first time cutting to 145 and so I don’t expect him to fight up to his full potential. It’s very possible that his conditioning won’t be what it should be.

Florian Game Plan: One would think that Florian would have the size advantage considering he’s cutting down but he just doesn’t have that body type to be a power guy. So he needs to use his speed and boxing in this fight. Use his jab, put a straight left behind it, and just make it a technical fight. If the takedown is there, go for it but I wouldn’t be overly concerned with it, especially because it could lead to him burning energy that he may not have.

Fight Prediction: This is a tough fight to call because no one really knows how the weight cut will affect Florian. My guess is that he’ll get off to a strong start and then fade should the fight go to a third round. I think Florian will be able to do enough in the first two rounds though to sort of coast in the third, should his conditioning not be there. I’m keeping my expectations low simply because I fear that Florian will fight conservative by using a lot of jabs and movement and just frustrating Nunes with his reach.

Official Prediction: Kenny Florian to defeat Diego Nunes by Decision

Middleweight Fight: Mark Munoz vs. Demian Maia

Powerful wrestler Mark Munoz battles jiu-jitsu ace Demian Maia in a middleweight showdown with title implications.

Munoz Skill Assessment: Munoz is a strong wrestler with one punch power and some of the most brutal ground and pound in MMA history. He likes to strike but he’s not a great striker. He has a stiff jab but he loads up a lot on his right hand and doesn’t throw many straight punches. What I like about his striking though is that he’s always throwing. He throws on the clinch break and he throws on the way up after failed takedowns. His strength is still his wrestling though. He has a quick single leg takedown although he doesn’t set it up very well. He’d be a lot more dangerous if he threw the overhand right used it to go into a takedown but, up until now, he hasn’t added that to his game. On top, he’s a handful. He’s great at posturing up and raining down his heavy hands. Off his back he’s very good at quickly getting to his feet, and as mentioned above, throwing his hands on the way up. He’s very strong in the clinch and does a nice job of staying active with knees. He has a tendency to be over-aggressive, which could be to his detriment against a grappler like Maia.

Munoz Game Plan: Munoz just needs to fight smart against Maia. Keep it on the feet for the most part because it should be an even fight, at worst, for Munoz if they’re both standing. The in the final moments of the round, go for the takedown and secure the frame. He needs to use his jab to keep Maia at bay and set up his right hand, not just throw it wildly. He can’t over-commit to his punches because Maia does a nice job of ducking under and getting takedowns.

Maia Skill Assessment: Even though he hasn’t submitted an opponent since February 2009, Maia is still one of the best grapplers in the sport. His striking has improved over the years but it’s still very basic. He stands southpaw and leads with an overhand left and then likes to throw a right hook. Even though he’s not known for throwing many leg and body kicks, he’d be wise to use them in this fight, as long as he keeps his hands up when he throws them as a way to bait Munoz into a takedown. And if Munoz doesn’t go for the takedown, then they’ll score for him. Maia’s striking is mainly just used to get inside though. Maia is a very underrated wrestler, especially in the clinch. He has a good single leg drag and in the clinch he’s very crafty. He’s great at using trips and throws to get his opponents down and he’s also not afraid to pull guard in order to get the fight to the ground. On the ground, whether he’s on top or on his back, Maia is aces. On top, he has excellent control and is very active with his strikes in order to set up his submissions and passes. I’d like to see him throw more elbows on the ground though. Off his back, he has excellent triangles and armbars and sets them up beautifully with wrist control. He’s also good at using sweeps and initiating scrambles in order to end up in a dominant position. I’m a little worried about Maia’s cardio. In his last two fights, he’s faded a bit in the final five minutes. Now granted he works very hard on the ground and spends a fair amount of energy trying for takedowns and staying active on top but his conditioning could be improved.

Maia Game Plan: On the feet, Maia needs to use kicks and just wait for Munoz to become over-aggressive in order to get his takedowns. Use his strike to get inside on Munoz, clinch, and work from there. Take away the legs of Munoz with knees, look for trips, and try to get the fight to the ground by any means. On the ground, whether he’s on top or bottom, Maia will be comfortable and he’ll just look to do what he does best.

Fight Prediction: This will either be a chess match on the ground or dull striking contest. Either way, I favor Maia in the fight. I think he’ll be able to frustrate Munoz on the feet by not engaging too much, which will lead to Munoz making a mistake that Maia will capitalize on in order to get things to the ground. From there, Maia will be able to control the fight and wear out Munoz with his grappling expertise.

Official Prediction: Demian Maia to defeat Mark Munoz by Decision

Heavyweight Fight: Jon Olav Einemo vs. Dave Herman

Competing in MMA for the first time 2006, Jon Olav Einemo takes on Dave Herman, who is making his UFC debut.

Einemo Skill Assessment: Einemo is one of the best pure grapplers in MMA. He’s the only man to defeat Roger Gracie at ADCC, which tells you all you need to know about his jiu-jitsu skills. He also trains at Golden Glory, which houses some of the best strikers in MMA. As far as Einemo’s striking goes, it’s very basic. He has a decent jab but his best punch is a straight right hand. His striking is pretty much used to get inside and get the clinch though. He’s very strong in the clinch and has quick and heavy hips, which helps him get takedowns. As you would expect, his top game is outstanding. He has great control and is very good at using that control and his craftiness to pass to better positions. Once he has the mount, he’s almost impossible to shake off. As with most high-level grapplers, he’s very patient in setting up his submissions and passes and makes sure to secure position before submission. The biggest concern with Einemo is that he hasn’t had a MMA fight since 2006. So no matter how much he’s been training or competing in grappling tournaments, he’s going to have some cage rust. I’m also not sure he’s ever competed in the cage, which is a disadvantage because it’s something that does take getting used to.

Einemo Game Plan Obviously Einemo’s best chance to win this fight is on the ground but he might be able to find success on the feet. Herman throws a lot of kicks, which leaves him open for straight right hands, which is Einemo’s best punch. He needs to get inside on Herman, drag him to the ground, and work his ground game. Herman has a solid guard but he’s not on the level of Einemo and in fairness, few are.

Herman Skill Assessment: Herman is a relatively well-rounded fighter who is finally getting his big break. His striking is solid but I think overrated by a lot of people. He has power in his hands but he doesn’t really throw them. He prefers to throw mainly kicks, usually leg kicks and push kicks. Defensively he gets caught way too much with punches, especially with left hooks and straight right hands. Herman’s strength is in the clinch. He has good balance, he’s strong in the clinch, and he has an underrated muy-thai game. He’s very active with elbows in the clinch. He’ll throw them in tight and while trying to defending the takedown. On the ground he has a solid top game, heavy ground and pound, and I think he’ll really benefit from being allowed to throw elbows in the UFC. Off his back he has a good defensive guard and again, loves to throw elbows. Of course I doubt he wants to spend too much time on the ground against a grappler like Einemo.

Herman Game Plan: Herman needs to keep the fight on the feet and make this a fast paced fight. Because Einemo hasn’t fought in five years, his conditioning will likely suffer. Herman needs to push the pace and really test the cardio of Einemo. Herman should really look to use the cage to his advantage by bullying Einemo into the cage and batter him up with short elbows and knees.

Fight Prediction: I think Einemo is a very talented fighter who has talent beyond his grappling. But I can’t favor him when he hasn’t fought since 2006 because I don’t know what we’ll see from him or how much he’s improved or regressed over the years. At least with Herman, I know what I’m getting, and while it’s not always pretty, it’s more often than not effective. I think Herman will be able to keep the fight standing, use the cage to his advantage, and rough him up with strikes.

Official Prediction: Dave Herman to defeat Jon Olav Einemo by TKO in Round Two

Lightweight Fight: Vagner Rocha vs. Donald Cerrone

Vagner Rocha makes his UFC debut on short notice against the always-entertaining Donald Cerrone.

Rocha Skill Assessment: Unfortunately I can’t find any video of Rocha so I can only assess his talent based on what I’ve read/heard about him. Personally, I think every MMA organization that ever runs a show in the history of everdom should send me the video so I can properly do my job. Anyway, Rocha is a rather sloppy striker who throws a lot of overhand rights and leaves himself open to counter punches. His wrestling isn’t great and it’s certainly not on the level Jamie Varner, who Cerrone out-wrestled not too long ago. Rocha’s strength is his jiu-jitsu. He’s a jiu-jitsu black belt and even teaches down in Florida. Most of his wins have come via armbar, so I think it’s safe to assume that he has a pretty good armbar. Rocha used to fight at welterweight so my guess is that he’s a rather large lightweight. Rocha is taking this fight on short notice so I’m not sure how good his cardio will be.

Rocha Game Plan: Even though Rocha isn’t a great striker, the overhand right could serve him well against Cerrone considering the amount of kicks and knees Cerrone likes to throw. Rocha needs to get the fight to the ground though and he needs to use his size to do so. Get the fight in the clinch, look for trips, and then work his top game while also avoiding the ground activity of Cerrone. Rocha is a much more technical grappler than Cerrone so he needs to try and turn this into a technical jiu-jitsu contest. He also needs to get off to a fast start. Cerrone is a slow starter and because Rocha’s cardio may not hold up, he needs to look to get Cerrone out of there early.

Cerrone Skill Assessment: If nothing else, Cerrone is always exciting. He’s a very good technical striker, although he gets hit way too often. He has a quick jab, likes to use a left hook-leg kick combo and throws a crisp one-two. He also likes to a throw a lot of knees up the middle to counter fighters coming in or trying to go to the ground. As mentioned, Cerrone gets hit a lot but his parents blessed him with an outstanding chin. Cerrone’s wrestling has improved a lot over the years. Offensively, he does a nice job of ducking under his opponents strikes and getting takedowns. His takedown defense is what has really shown the most improvement as of late though, especially against Varner. On the ground, Cerrone is one of the most active fighters in the sport. He’s constantly attacking, both on top and from his back, not only with strikes but also with submission and sweep attempts. His constant activity does get him in trouble though as he loses positions because he tries to move before he secures himself. A consistent problem that Cerrone has run into is his slow starts. In many first rounds, he looks like he’s just going through the motions. It’s only really cost him once in his career, in the second fight against Ben Henderson, but it’s never good to almost give away the first round and put yourself in a position to have to win two straight rounds or finish. It’s fair to question Cerrone’s mind set considering that he was scheduled to face an Ultimate Fighter champion and a guy that he didn’t like to now facing an unknown but Cerrone is the type a guy who just loves to fight. I’m pretty sure you could have told him that he was fighting me this weekend and he still would have trained like it was a title fight.

Cerrone Game Plan: Cerrone will most likely want to keep this fight standing. I’m sure he’s confident in his grappling but there’s no point in risking it when jiu-jitsu is Rocha’s specialty. Cerrone needs to use his boxing and throw his knees up the middle. He may want to stay away from kicks so he doesn’t give Rocha an opening for takedowns but if Cerrone doesn’t feel threatened by Rocha’s wrestling then I’m sure he’ll let his legs go.

Fight Prediction: This is really Cerrone’s fight to lose. He should be able to keep the fight standing and if he does, he should pick apart Rocha with his technical striking. I’m sure Cerrone will eat a punch or five, but he’ll give 10 in return and his pace and power will eventually wear out Rocha.

Official Prediction: Donald Cerrone to defeat Vagner Rocha by TKO in Round Two

Preliminary Fight Predictions

*Yves Edwards to defeat Sam Stout by Decision
*Chris Weidman to defeat Jesse Bongfeldt by Decision
*Krzysztof Soszynski to defeat Mike Massenzio by TKO in Round Two
*Nick Ring to defeat James Head by Decision
*Dustin Poirier to defeat Jason Young by TKO in Round One
*Joey Beltran to defeat Aaron Rosa by TKO in Round One
*Michihiro Omigawa to defeat Darren Elkins by Decision