UFC on ESPN 12 is the last event that we will see on US soil until August. The UFC is leaving the US on a high night with a main event that features two lightweight contenders battling it out for a potential title shot. Former interim lightweight champion, Dustin Poirier (25-6, 1 NC), will be taking on Dan Hooker (20-8). The card is really solid this weekend, and fight fans should be getting excited. With that, let’s dive into the main card and breakdown this Saturday’s action.
Dustin Poirier vs Dan Hooker
In the main event of the evening, you have one of the more anticipated matchups of the summer. Dustin Poirier is returning for the first time since he lost to the champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, back at UFC 242. Prior to the loss, nobody in the UFC was hotter than Poirier. Taking out the no contest against Eddie Alvarez, Poirier had won five fights in a row including wins over Max Holloway, Alvarez, and Justin Gaethje. Poirier proved that he was definitely one of the best fighters in the world. Poirier has all the makings of a champion, but he ran into a Russian Bear last September. Poirier is looking to get back into the win column Saturday night, but he’s got another tall order on his hands.
Dan Hooker has completely turned his career around since moving to lightweight. After a 3-3 start to his UFC career, Hooker is 7-1 since moving to 155 pounds. Hooker has wins over guys like Paul Felder, Al Iaquinta, and Gilbert Burns. Hooker is looking to use this fight to springboard himself into lightweight contention. If he’s able to defeat Dustin Poirier, there is no denying Hooker any longer.
When it comes to the fight, I see this fight taking place on the feet. Both guys are going to look to trade. Early on, I really like Hooker to establish his jab and range. I think you’re going to see Hooker have some early success in this fight. However, one thing that concerns me is Hooker’s ability to get hit. Dustin Poirier is a better and faster striker than Paul Felder. Poirier also has more power in his hands than Felder. Felder was able to land some bombs on Hooker in their razor close fight. While I think Hooker will have his moments, I think Poirier is going to be too much for him. I think in the middle rounds, Poirier is going to land something big, and I think Poirier is going to get the finish in this one.
Prediction: Dustin Poirier by TKO – Round 4
Mike Perry vs Mickey Gall
The co-main event of the evening features a welterweight contest between “Platinum” Mike Perry (13-6) and Mickey Gall (6-2). There are not a lot of tougher guys in the UFC than Mike Perry. He’s truly a unique guy with a pretty good all around skillset. Perry has good wrestling, and he has really good power on his feet. Yes he’s lost three of his last four, but they are to some top notch guys like Cowboy Cerrone and Geoff Neal. Perry is making headlines in this fight because the only corner member he will have on Saturday night will be his girlfriend. He is out to prove that he doesn’t need any coaches to fight and look good doing it.
Mickey Gall is a very interesting story. He became famous after calling out and defeating CM Punk in the UFC. After beating CM Punk, Gall was able to defeat Sage Northcutt. It seemed like Gall was on the rise. However, Gall has since gone 2-2, and even in the wins, he hasn’t looked impressive. His lst fight against Salim Touahri was troubling. Gall didn’t look fluid on his feet, and his cardio was not there. In the fight before, Gall was completed dominated by an old Diego Sanchez. This is a really tough matchup for Mickey Gall, and I’m having a hard time seeing how he wins this fight. Even with no one besides his girlfriend in his corner, I think Perry runs away with this one.
Prediction: Mike Perry by TKO – Round 2
Brendan Allen vs Kyle Daukaus
The next fight of the main card is a middleweight contest between Brendan Allen (14-3) and UFC newcomer, Kyle Daukaus (9-0). Allen comes into this fight as one of the more talked about prospects in the UFC’s middleweight division. He’s come right out of the gate with two strong wins in the UFC with neither going to the scorecards. Allen has good striking, good wrestling, and very good decisions. He’s very strong for this weight class, and there are not a ton of weaknesses in his game. It’s a very tough draw for Daukaus who is going to be making his UFC debut.
Originally, Ian Heinisch was supposed to be fighting Brendan Allen in a battle of top fifteen middleweights. However, injury pulled Heinisch off the cards which gave Daukaus the golden opportunity. Daukaus has fought on the Contender Series, but this fight will be his UFC debut. His Contender fight is still the only fight that has gone the distance in his professional career. Daukaus has nine submissions wins, and he’s extremely slick on the ground. If the fight ends up on the ground, he’s got a great chance at pulling the upset. The problem for Daukaus is he’s not as good of a striker or wrestler as Allen. He’s also not as strong as Allen. It’s going to be very difficult for Daukaus to get this fight on the ground. As a result, I think Allen is going to cruise to victory, and look to get that fight with Heinisch rescheduled.
Prediction: Brendan Allen by TKO – Round 3
Gian Villante vs Maurice Greene
In the second fight on the main card we have Gian Villante (17-11) moving up to heavyweight to take on Maurice Greene (8-4). Villante is one of the more seasoned guys on the UFC roster. Villante has been in the UFC for over seven years. He’s had highlights such as his knockout win over Corey Anderson, but he’s also had some low moments like getting knocked out by Michal Oleksiejczuk in the first round. Villante is a sprawl and brawl kind of fighter. He wants to stand and trade with anyone standing across from him. His striking skills are not bad, but they are also not elite in any way.
After winning his first three UFC fights, Maurce Greene has lost his last two fights. He was stopped in one fight and submitted in the other. Greene has a decent overall game, and he trains with one of the best gyms in the world, Jackson’s MMA, alongside Jon Jones. Greene has the big size advantage in this fight, and I think fighting off his jab is going to be key. Greene has shown at times that he does possess a very solid jab. Both of these men don’t have the best gas tanks in the world. As of today, I’m leaning towards this fight going the distance. I think Villante is going to have his moments, but I think ultimately Maurice Greene is going to score more leading to a victory.
Prediction: Maurice Greene by Unanimous Decision
Sean Woodson vs Julian Erosa
The main card on ESPN kicks off with a catchweight contest between Sean Woodson (7-0) and Julian Erosa (22-8). Woodson is one of the more interesting fighters in the UFC’s lower weight classes. While he fights at featherweight, Woodson stands an astonishing 6’3. There has been a lot said about how brutal the weight cut is for him. However, the size advantage comes into play nicely for him at 145 pounds. Woodson is a pretty good kick-boxer who likes to strike from range. It’s hard for anyone in the UFC’s featherweight division to get near him when he’s sporting a 78 inch range.
Julian Erosa is in his second stent in the UFC. Erosa is a guy who likes to use his striking, and he’s pretty aggressive in the octagon. Erosa got his second opportunity in the UFC after he knocked out Jamall Emmers on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. After getting back into the UFC, Erosa is 0-3 getting stopped twice. While Erosa fights at a high pace, I think he’s going to have a ton of trouble overcoming the four inch reach disadvantage. Woodson is not a finisher, and I don’t think a finish is coming in this fight, but I think Woodson’s ability to strike from range is going to be the deciding factor in this one.
Prediction: Sean Woodson by Unanimous Decision
UFC on ESPN 12 Outlook
I’m really excited about this weekend’s card. I’m very interested in the main event, but there are fights throughout the evening I’m excited about. I’m very anxious to watch Jinh Yu Frey and Kay Hansen fight it out. That is a fight that I would prefer to see on the main card over a couple of those fights. Ultimately folks are going to tune in for the Poirier/Hooker fight, and I don’t blame them. It should be a good fight, and one that you won’t want to turn away from.