Kaufman is seen by all as one of the Top 5 female bantamweights in MMA. She’s a former Strikeforce champ with a 16-2 record and wins over most of her divisional peers. However, she was tapped out in less than a minute by Ronda Rousey and barely got by Leslie Smith last April in a follow-up fight under the Invicta FC banner. Kaufman’s coming off an injury and facing a gamer in Jessica Eye who is no doubt looking to boost her stock by beating someone with the Canadian’s resume. On paper, Kaufman should definitely emerge with her hand raised, but stats rarely guarantee an outcome so she’ll definitely need to bring her “A” game. Anything less and Kaufman becomes a lot less relevant in a weight-class needing stars. After tearing up the scene as a middleweight Lombard was brought in from Bellator as the next great challenge for Anderson Silva. He’s since gone 1-2 with a knockout of Rousimar Palhares and Split Decision defeats to Tim Boetsch/Yushin Okami. Those results alone give reason to believe the 5’9” Lombard should fare better at 170 pounds, as he flattened the one opponent who he was similarly sized to (and who has also moved down to welterweight since the showdown) but was barely outdone by larger foes. He weighed in at 169 pounds, so it seems Lombard’s cut went well, and that might spell doom for opponent Nate Marquardt. However, if Lombard comes up short, he could end up as a free agent based on the amount of money he makes and the failure to succeed even at a smaller weight. Sanchez’s second fight at 155 pounds since moving back to the division is an especially important opportunity. He looked fairly dull against Takanori Gomi in his first foray and was lucky to have earned a Split Decision. Melendez is a much tougher opponent and won’t let off the gas pedal if Sanchez looks suspect. The level of Sanchez’s performance will also determine how far “The Dream” can go at lightweight. If he looks competitive, he’s still got a future and might make another run at the belt. If he’s overmatched, he may consider a return to welterweight where he doesn’t have to diet as much and can still entertain en route to the occasional victory. Cormier is dead set on dropping to light heavyweight for his next outing and even came in at 224 pounds for his bout with Roy Nelson (25 ticks less than “Big Country”). If he’s still able to showcase the same skills shown against past foes like Josh Barnett, Antonio Silva, and Frank Mir, the former Olympian has a good chance of bringing home a victory and transitioning the success into a title-shot as a 205er. If not, and his smaller frame works against him, “DC” will be in the middle of the pack coming into a stacked division with some uncertainties involved based on the new surroundings and change in physique. Obviously it’s no secret Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos have squared off against each other twice before. In each instance, the man who held divisional gold ended up losing. Velasquez will attempt to break the pattern by turning in a performance similar to their most recent meeting rather than their initial encounter in which Dos Santos turned his lights out less than 90 seconds into the scrap. Of course, Dos Santos undoubtedly learned a few lessons from the one-sided drumming he dealt with last December, and his knockout power is arguably the best there is at heavyweight. It’s an excellent match-up in so many ways, albeit one sure to play out at least 1-2 more times before each ultimately hangs his gloves up and calls it a career.
When fighters take to the cage tonight in Houston for
the ensuing action can be summed up as simply as stating apt athletes will battle it out inside the Octagon until winners emerge. However, most match-ups have a lot more going on than just the actual clash of competitors. Rather, scraps often involve storylines unrelated to the physical display playing out in front of fans and such is certainly the case with a few of the efforts attached to this evening’s event. UFC 166