Perhaps 2014’s most stacked PPV takes place tomorrow night as UFC 181, live from the Mandalay Bay Event Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, puts two UFC belts on the line. Better yet, the entire card is stacked from top to bottom with exciting match-ups that are sure to deliver. There are several fights on here that you just know are going to be action-packed, so without further-ado, here are the fights I am expecting to potentially get the Fight of the Night bonus:
Alex White vs. Clay Collard
If you read my preview of this fight you’ll know why I think the first fight of the night has a good chance at being the most action-packed of the entire card. Both White and Collard are known for being extremely aggressive guys with high-output. Collard is an absolute volume machine and never stops throwing strikes (think Nate Diaz on crack). White on the other hand doesn’t quite have the volume per say, but he does have the power, explosiveness, and athleticism to make this a real barn burner. What’s going to make this fight good is if both guys try to implement their striking skills on one another and White doesn’t try to take this fight to the ground.
Josh Samman vs. Eddie Gordon
Both of these guys looked fired up at the weigh-ins and what tells me this fight is going to be good is Josh Samman’s attitude. After cutting weight and dehydrating himself for the 185lb weight limit he was all smiles and seemed genuinely happy to finally be back fighting after taking a long layoff due to personal tragedies and injuries. I think we’re going to see the best Josh Samman ever, but that still might not be enough to outmatch Eddie Gordon. The Serra-Longo fighter is an intense guy who is as explosive as all hell. He has one-punch knockout power but an especially dynamic wrestling game that could give Samman some real troubles. This fight features a really craft, high-damage output, well-rounded fighter in Samman against an explosive, athletic, power prospect in Eddie Gordon. This fight has all the makings to be a back and forth affair with intense scrambles, exchanges, and submission attempts.
Tony Ferguson vs. Abel Trujillo
Anytime Abel Trujillo fights you’re guaranteed fireworks. Trujillo is just a no-bullshit kind of guy who comes to throw down and hurt you in every way possible. If you need any reminder about how violent and aggressive Trujillo can be, just watch his bout with Jamie Varner. Even after Varner nearly knocked his lights out, Trujillo came back, stomped the gas, and put Varner out cold amidst a violent exchange of haymakers. Ferguson is a bit more calculated with his approach, but can still bite down and wing shots. However, what is going to make this fight exciting is Ferguson’s versatile arsenal and sneaky techniques that he uses against over-aggressive opponents. Both Ferguson and Trujillo are two offense-oriented fighters which makes for a destined war.
Anthony Pettis vs. Gilbert Melendez
Much like the Ferguson/Trujillo fight, this bout features two fighters who have insane offenses. “Showtime” is known for his exciting fighting style, the off-the-cage techniques, and his acceptance to go to the ground because of how dangerous his guard is. Melendez on the other hand is an intense fighter who never backs down. When Melendez and Sanchez stood toe-to-toe, you saw why Gil is favored by so many – he has a true fighter’s spirit. Melendez said he’s going to take the fight to Pettis, and Pettis does his best when his opponents come right him. The only thing stopping this fight from being Fight of the Night is if someone gets stopped early.
Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler
Their first fight was perhaps the greatest title fight in UFC history as Hendricks and Lawler put their chins on display and cracked each other with punching combinations for 25 minutes. While a lot of people are expecting the same thing to happen, I for one am anticipating a different approach from both fighters – especially Lawler. Robbie knows that he is getting towards the end of his career, and just by listening to him you can tell he has been cracked with some really hard shots throughout his lifetime. Hendricks on the other hand is still very fresh physically and probably in the peak of his athletic career. Even though everyone is expecting this fight to be just as good, if not better, than their last fight, I’m expecting it will only be Fight of the Night worthy if Lawler comes ready to bang. If Lawler comes trying fight a smarter fight, I think we’re going to see a much more calculated Hendricks/Lawler match up than anticipated, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.