Nick Diaz and Jim Miller set to face at UFC on Fox 3 (Photo courtesy of bleacherreport.com)
MMA DieHards is back with another session of Counterpunch, taking on UFC on Fox 3, which takes place Saturday at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, N.J.
UFC on Fox 3 features a lightweight title contender bout between Jersey’s own, Jim Miller and west coast fighter, Nate Diaz. Welterweight Josh Koscheck looks to slow down Johny Hendricks pace, while Alan Belcher and Rousimar Palhares both look for their fourth straight win and Lavar Johnson meets Pat Barry to start the main card.
MMADieHards.com put together a team of our finest writers to bring you Counterpunch for the event. The group independently makes its selections for each fight. Minority picks will be defended by one of the panelists making that selection.
Joining us this week will be Joe Rizzo, Mark Hensch, Bob Badders and Robert G. Reynolds.
While unanimously selected fight winners are not covered, below is the listed match, the fighter being defended and the author of the defense.
Mike Massenzio vs. Karel Vemola
Defending Vemola: Mike Stetskowski
There’s a reason this fight was originally scheduled to be dark, with Vemola being 1-2 in the UFC, and Massenzio a dismal 2-4. I would love to make a pick with the whole hometown fighter winning with the crowd behind him but I’m taking Vemola here. I could pick it solely on nicknames, the “Terminator” being way better than “Master of Disaster.” I really feel the difference will be his size, what with the light heavyweight and heavyweight experience that Vemola has on his resume. “The Terminator” should take this in Rd. 2 via TKO.
Louis Gaudinot vs. John Lineker
Defending Lineker: Bob Badders
I’m not going to lie, this pick sure felt and looked a little cozier before Lineker missed weight by a pound and was fined $1,200. It’s hard to overlook his 13-fight win streak since dropping down to the bantamweight and flyweight classes, even if the sample is strictly from his home country of Brazil. The lighter weights are among the most competitive and populated in Brazil and Lineker has dominated there, most recently winning the Jungle Fight bantamweight belt. Saturday will mark his UFC debut and first fight outside Brazil. His weight issues, albeit minor, illustrate at least some reason for concern. The experience edge goes his way with 24 professional fights to just seven for Gaudinot. The question is can Gaudinot avoid Lineker’s knockout power in his hands or put a dent in his iron chin. It was a tough Friday for Lineker, but look for the 22-year old to make a name for himself Saturday night.
Danny Castillo vs. John Cholish
Defending Cholish: Bob Badders
On paper it should be easy to pick the winner of John Cholish vs. Dan Castillo. The WEC veteran Castillo has fought under the ZUFFA banner since 2008, going a combined 8-4 and entering off wins over Shamar Bailey and Anthony Njokuani. He’s been a staple of the lightweight division for over three years, no simple task in arguably the promotion’s deepest weight class. Cholish, however, may not be under the radar much longer. The Renzo Gracie Jiu-Jitsu product is John Danaher’s latest prodigy, combining Division I caliber wrestling with slick submissions. On his feet he is steadily improving as evident by his second-round knockout of Mitch Clarke at UFC 140. Cholish lost his first pro fight in 2007, but since then all he’s done is go 8-0 with seven finishes. I think Cholish is one of the top prospects waiting for an opportunity to shine. Here’s that chance. Cholish, by submission in an upset.
John Hathaway vs. Pascal Krauss
Defending Krauss: Mark Hensch
I’m picking Pascal Krauss largely because he seems like the more versatile fighter. “Panzer” picked up martial arts with a successful amateur boxing career, and from there he competed at the top level in wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu too.
Such diversity has left Krauss undefeated, and it’s a quality I believe he’ll retain after having his way with Hathaway. Though Hathaway has fought more experienced opponents, Krauss is equally at home trading leather as he is switching submission attempts. Variety is the spice of life, and I’ll wager that Krauss has too much of it for Hathaway to handle here.
Pat Barry vs. Lavar Johnson
Defending Johnson: Joe Rizzo
Johnson is making his second appearance on a FOX card, and the reason is because he is a heavyweight who is not afraid to go for knockouts. Barry might not be the perfect opponent, with his powerful and accurate K-1-level kicks combined with sharp hands. But Johnson is not looking for holes in order to sneak through his punches, he’s more willing to smash in order to get his hand raised. Joey Beltran had never been knocked out until UFC on FOX 2 in January, but Johnson blasted his way to the KO of the night, anyway. Just a slight underdog, Johnson has more than the puncher’s chance here, and will break through to get Barry before Barry gets him. If you’re looking at the over-under of 1 1/2 rounds, you might even want to wager on the quick finish.
Alan Belcher vs. Rousimar Palhares
Defending Belcher: Robert G. Reynolds
Not selecting Belcher in this situation may prove to be a costly mistake in the realm of Counterpunch. Currently, he matches Palhares’ three fight win streak, however, the game changer here is going to be the take down defence of Belcher.
Sure, the Brazilian is a big, strong and has many tools to work Belcher with. But once the storm has passed in the first round, Palhares is going to be frustrated and he will beg for the takedown; that is when the tables will turn. Expect Belcher to start picking apart Palhares in the second round, ultimately finishing him via TKO early in the third round.
Josh Koscheck vs. Johny Hendricks
Defending Hendricks: Mark Hensch
This is an interesting, unpredictable matchup that I had trouble calling at first. I’m hanging my hat on Hendricks, however, as he edges out Koscheck every step of the way on paper.
For starters, Koscheck’s biggest weapon is his wrestling. Unfortunately for him, Hendricks is as good a grappler as he is. In terms of striking, Koscheck knows how to throw but “Bigg Rigg” lobs hands of stone that hit much, much harder. Last but not least, some say Koscheck’s experience gives him the edge, but I think that’s a copout to Hendricks’ youth, momentum and vitality.
The real x-factor here, however, is Koscheck’s camp. Formerly a diehard AKA member, he’s since made a messy break with his ex-teammates and one has to wonder how it’s altered his training. Though I don’t believe old dogs can’t learn new tricks, my guess is Koscheck’s new coaching will prove too big a change for an opponent who quite frankly would have equaled or exceeded him anyways. My educated guess is that Hendricks has this one bagged.
Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller
Defending Miller: Joe Rizzo
As they so often do, my MMADieHards.com colleagues have left me a gift, picking the underdog Diaz against the solidly favored Miller. I’m not quite sure what they’re in love with. Maybe it’s the mystique of the take-it-or-leave it Diaz brothers. Maybe it’s Nate’s lanky frame at 155 pounds. Perhaps they’re swayed by the Diaz’s trademark work rate on the feet, or ability to defend submissions and create offense on the ground.
Whatever it is, they’re better against the wrong UFC brother.
Miller is also part of a fighting family, and his brother Dan’s toddler son, Daniel Jr., is never far from focus with his need for a kidney transplant. Jim Miller is fighting in front of his friends and family, about a half-hour from AMA Fight Club’s main location in North Jersey, looking to bring some focus to his nephew’s great need.
But it’s all secondary, since Miller’s skill set is a nightmare for Diaz. Miller’s not going to be submitted, and proved that against Mark Bocek. He’s not going to get knocked out, as he showed in falling to Benson Henderson. Miller is not going to be intimidated by what appears to be a more physically gifted athlete, as evidenced by his finish of Melvin Guillard.
Diaz will be hard-pressed to sustain enough offense in a grinding fight during which Miller will nullify his weapons, and the New Jersey native will walk away with a unanimous decision in an up-tempo and action-filled five-round fight.