UFC Fight Night 26 happens on Saturday night, and there is quite a bit of buzz about the stacked card. It seems that ZUFFA is trying to kick off the launch of this new FS1 channel with a bang, because they’ve put together a card full of great matchups. Even with a few injuries to the card, the UFC managed to dig into their magic bag of backups and hold the integrity of the card together quite well. Let’s preview the main card:
Michael Johnson vs Joe Lauzon
A solid candidate for fight of the night opens the main portion of this card. Michael Johnson was the runner-up for TUF season 12. He was given a contract shortly after, and was able to thrive after he got warmed up. He rode a three fight win streak, and capped it off with a huge comeback KO win over Danny Castillo. He then lost his most recent two fights, and is in desperate need of a win at this time. Joe Lauzon looks to spoil those plans. Lauzon has an amazing resume, including twelve post-fight bonuses. Yes, twelve. That ties the great Anderson Silva for the most bonuses in UFC history. Lauzon is aggressive and relentless with his grappling. His submissions are top notch, and Johnson is surely in for a long night with Lauzon all over him.
John Howard vs Uriah Hall
John Howard will fight in front of his hometown crowd at his own request. After the Boston marathon bombings, he politely requested that he be placed on the card. He got his wish, and he now faces the dynamic Uriah Hall. John Howard hasn’t fought in the UFC since his release back in 2011. He lost three in a row, and was given his papers. Since that point, he has won six of his last seven fights, five of those victories via KO/TKO. His striking will have to be sharp as a knife, because Uriah Hall has absolutely devastating striking. He is best known for his impressive stint on TUF 17, winning all three of his fights on the show via KO/TKO, two of them being absolutely gruesome finishes. He is best known for his picture perfect spinning wheel kick knockout of Adam Cella, and then he followed that performance up with a one punch knockout of Bubba McDaniel, breaking his face in three places. He was upset by Kevin Gastelem in the finale, but his striking is something to be feared for anyone at middleweight.
Mike Pyle vs Matt Brown
Thiago Alves was originally slated to face the surging Matt Brown, but alas, Alves was forced to withdraw due to injury. All hope was lost for an interesting last minute matchup. Then in comes Mike Pyle! Mike Pyle is on a four fight win streak currently, one of them being an impressive one-punch knockout of the veteran Josh Neer. Two more were also via TKO, and he has also won eight of his last ten fights. It seems Pyle has hit his stride in his career, and he will need every bit of that momentum in order to get past Matt Brown. Matt Brown’s career has hit a major resurgence as of late. He is on a five fight win streak, including a one punch KO of Mike Swick. He also shut down the new kid on the block Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, earning a unanimous decision via being a badass. His most recent fight was a thriller against Jordan Mein. Brown was hurt badly to the body and dropped, only to reverse his position and rally back for a TKO win. Don’t touch his dip, because Brown means business. What a matchup this is.
Urijah Faber vs Iuri Alcantara
Two fighters with funny first names fight in the bantamweight division. Most everyone knows Urijah Faber. He is the California Kid, and has some strange curse that mean he wins every single fight UNLESS it is for a title of some sort. Faber ruled the roost in the WEC where he was the main draw. He was defeated while attempting some sort of strange backwards elbow against the wrong guy, (Matt Brown) and has not seen gold around his waist since. He is still a major draw, and he is coming off of two wins against top guys. Why they matched him up with Alcantara, I don’t know. Alcantara has a winning UFC record, but is somehow unremarkable. No one seems to know who he is. I remember him because two fights ago he fought Pedro Nobre and was pounding on him from the top position when an errant shot from Alcantara grazed the back of Nobre’s head. The ref called for a pause in the action, and Nobre indicated that he could not continue. Nobre was given an academy award for best lead actor, and it was ruled a no contest. After that Alcantara quickly TKOed Illiarde Santos. This should be an easy W for Faber.
Alistair Overeem vs Travis Browne
I like this matchup a lot. Overeem has won a title in every single combat sports promotion that he has ever fought in, except for the UFC. His debut with the UFC was a successful one, he was able to TKO the equally massive Brock Lesnar by kicking him square in the diverticulitis. Overeem was then set up for a title eliminator matchup against the man known as Bigfoot. After coasting through the first two rounds, Bigfoot woke up, and came full on with an endless combination that saw Overeem go crashing to the mat. It was an amazing upset, and it set Overeem back two steps. Browne also had a run in with Bigfoot which he appeared to be winning until one of his leg muscles decided to detach itself. After this unfortunate match, Browne bounced back with a wildly illegal TKO of Gabriel Gonzaga that somehow went unnoticed. Both fighters are big guys with great standup, and both have great footwork. It looks like a calculating and tactical matchup, but one that has the capacity to end at any moment with one big shot. What could be more exciting than that?