The time is now.
UFC headed into 2015 with a plethora of amazing fight cards on the schedule, many of which included some of the biggest matches that have been made in years.
Unless something crazy happens, ala Renan Barao vs. T.J. Dillashaw II or Ken Shamrock vs. Kimbo Slice, these two are going to make the walk to the cage on Saturday night and put on what is hopefully just the first of what will be many epic Octagon encounters in 2015.
One could argue that UFC 182, which takes place on Saturday, January 3rd from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, is a one-fight show. Outside of the Jones vs. Cormier headline attraction, there isn’t a lot on the card that has people talking.
Fortunately, Jones-Cormier is such a big fight, that it doesn’t really matter. Most fans would fork out their $60 if that was the only fight on the pay-per-view offering, and I’m one of them.
With that being said, there is a couple of interesting matches scheduled for the pay-per-view portion of the card this Saturday night, so let’s take a closer look.
Hector Lombard vs. Josh Burkman
Boone’s Breakdown: For the first time in nearly six years, “The People’s Warrior” will compete inside the world-famous Octagon this Saturday night. Unfortunately, he’s going to have to compete against Hector Lombard.
After going through a tear in Bellator and other organizations, Lombard was thought to be a legitimate threat in the UFC Middleweight division. He had a rough start, dropping a split decision to Tim Boetsch in his UFC debut in 2012, and a little over a year ago, dropped a split decision to Yushin Okami, however outside of those two fights, you’d have to go back to 2006 to see Lombard’s name in the “loser” column.
With recent knockout victories over Rousimar Palhares and Nate Marquardt, and a decision victory over Jake Shields, Lombard is starting to look like the killer many thought he would be when he first signed with the UFC.
On the other hand, we’ve got Josh Burkman. After leaving the UFC in 2008, “The People’s Warrior” competed only once in 2009, twice in 2010 and once in 2011. Since 2012, however, he has returned to the three-times-per-year rate, and strung together a nice 4-1 run in World Series of Fighting. He lost by submission to Steve Carl in October, however prior to the match, he was on a 5-0 run, with victories over the likes of Jon Fitch and Aaron Simpson.
On Saturday, Burkman will no doubt have his hands full. He has not competed against the same level of competition as Lombard and stylistically, could face some trouble against the heavy-handed Cuban.
Boone’s Prediction: Hector Lombard
Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Louis Gaudinot
Boone’s Breakdown: This is a fight that most people will be making their bathroom breaks and beer runs during, but you should probably reconsider. Just because these two aren’t the most recognizable names to casual fans, die-hard MMA fans will tell you that these two Flyweights should provide plenty of excitement during the early portion of the pay-per-view on Saturday night.
Coming into this fight, Horiguchi is on an 8-0 run, and has won all three of his fights in the UFC thus far. As the number eleven-ranked contender in the UFC Flyweight division, a win over Gaudinot, he will likely crack the top ten.
On the other hand, Gaudinot is not ranked in the top 15, and badly needs a win on Saturday night. In his last fight, The Ultimate Fighter 14 veteran failed his post-fight drug test, resulting in his fight with Phil Harris being overturned. That aside, Gaudinot hasn’t had the best run in the UFC, winning only one fight since his time on the reality show, and dropping two others, three if you count the “No Contest” ruling after his drug test failure.
Boone’s Prediction: Kyoji Horiguchi
Brad Tavares vs. Nate Marquardt
Boone’s Prediction: Heading into Saturday night, both Marquardt and Tavares desperately need a win. While Marquardt scored a submission victory over James Te Huna in his last outing, he was on an 0-3 run prior to that, dropping his final fight in Strikeforce and his first two back in the UFC.
On the flip-side of the coin, Tavares, still ranked number 15 in the UFC Middleweight division, has dropped his last two bouts, getting out-scored by Yoel Romero in April and TKO’d by Tim Boetsch in August.
Vegas odds makers have this as the closest fight on the card, with Tavares a very slight favorite at +110. I’d have to agree with the experts on this one. It could go either way, Marquardt is a guy you can never count out, but all things considered, I’m leaning towards the Hawaiian.
Boone’s Prediction: Brad Tavares
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