While UFC® heavyweight champ, Cain Velasquez, has voiced his disappointment at a recent injury which forced him to withdraw from a title defense at UFC® 180, MMA fans aren’t pouting quite yet. (Get well soon champ!)
Instead, they get not one, but two matches to crown a bantamweight and featherweight The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America winner, as well as an interim heavyweight title matchup!
The 20,000+ fans and UFC VIP Experience guests who bought tickets for the first-ever Mexican UFC® event are in for a night full of potential fight of the year contenders. Without further ado, let’s preview the night’s main events and give our predictions for who will earn W’s at this historic event!
Fabricio Werdum vs. Mark Hunt
No. 1 contender, Werdum, has been training for this shot for months. Mark Hunt, currently ranked as the #4 heavyweight, began training for Werdum just about three weeks. Needless to say, there’s a significant advantage already just on the basis of the amount of training and fitness these guys have gotten in.
Werdum is a highly trained MMA fighter that holds a Second Degree black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, a Black Belt in Judo and a Black Belt in Muay Tha,i and has amassed a 18-5-1 record. One of the most skilled heavyweights in the world, he knows how to win in a variety of ways, and his submission game is impressive, earning him a victory over Nogueira back in 2013.
The Super Samoan, Hunt, is a world-class kickboxer. He’s won the majority of his 10 victories via KO (7) and he’s shown he has the gas to go all the way with three of his victories coming by way of decision. Recently, Hunt clocked an impressive KO against Roy Nelson, a punch which is in early contention for KO of the year.
If Hunt wins it will be via KO. He’s shown that he’s vulnerable on the ground, seeming to not possess much of a submission defense. If Werdum gets this match on the floor it’s nearly guaranteed he will walk away the interim champ. For Hunt, the three-inch reach disadvantage as well as his opponents far superior training may mean a short night for the New Zealand native.
Our Prediction: Werdum via Submission Round 2
Who do you think will come out of UFC® 180 as the interim heavyweight champ and why? Weigh in below in the comments!
Jake Ellenberger vs. Kevin Gastelum
Ellenberger has been on a skid recently with a 2-3 record, including two straight losses coming into UFC® 180. Gastelum on the other hand, seems unable to lose, coming into the historic Mexico event with a 10-0 record. For both fighters, a win here is key.
Ellenberger needs to get back to winning form, and against a young Gastelum, a victory here can help him regain some confidence and silence the detractors. For Gastelum, a win over a seasoned and popular fighter in Ellenberger will only help his cause, move him up in ranking, and possibly put him a match away from a title shot in a very competitive division.
Something else that will make this matchup even more interesting: both fighters once trained together in Lake Forest, CA.
Our Prediction: Jake Ellenberger via Decision
This is a hard one to call, who do you think will win? The rising star in Gastelum or the Juggernaut in Ellenberger?
UFC® 180’s card is stacked and includes other great matchups such as:
Ricardo Lamas vs. Dennis Bermudez
Our Prediction: A battle that ends with Lamas’ hand raised via decision.
Jessica Eye vs. Leslie Smith
Our Prediction: Who will get to the top of the women’s bantamweight division? We believe Eye will win via round 2 submission.
While UFC VIP Experience guests will be basking in exclusive access, hanging with UFC® stars and enjoying a bucket list experience, MMA fans who chose to watch on television may be wondering how they can get in on the action.
The UFC’s calendar is already set rolling into 2015 and, boy, are there some great cards coming your way!
The year closes out with a dual championship co-main event card featuring Anthony Pettis and Johny Hendricks in their first title defense attempts at UFC® 181.
2015 kicks off with the highly anticipated matchup of champ, Jon Jones, and Daniel Cormier. Those of you who remember the tension from their presser know UFC® 182 is a can’t-miss event!
Then, fans can witness the return of the Spider, Anderson Silva, as well Nick Diaz at UFC® 183.
Does backstage tours, Octagon™ access and UFC® fighter and Octagon girl meet-and-greets sound like your cup of tea? How about exclusive access to a UFC VIP Hospitality Party Room and reserved seating at pre-fight events including the fighter Q & A and weigh-ins? Then it’s time to get your access to a future UFC® event!