It’s time again for another round of previews and predictions from the FightLine staff. This edition will focus on — wait for it — the UFC on FOX 3 main and co-main events.
At the top of the card, lightweights Nate Diaz and Jim Miller will do battle for a chance to greatly increase their stock at 155. Supporting them will be Josh Koscheck and Johny Hendricks, who will wage war with similar stakes in the welterweight division.
UFC on FOX 3 goes down tomorrow night from the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. FightLine will be back as always with live, ongoing coverage of the fight, beginning with the Facebook-aired preliminary card at 4PM ET/1PM PT.
Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller
In this fight, neither man is known for playing it safe or trying to eke out a decision victory. Though they’ve each taken their fair share of fights the distance, both fighters are adept at finishing.
Fresh off of a win over Melvin Guillard, New Jersey native Jim Miller will be looking to make it two in a row with a win over Diaz. The stocky lightweight was riding a seven-fight winning streak before running into Benson Henderson last year at UFC Live: Hardy vs. Lytle, where he lost a unanimous decision. Scrappy on the feet with a powerhouse grappling game, Miller is a threat to any fighter in the division.
Since dropping back to lightweight, the younger of the fighting Diaz brothers has gone on an impressive two-fight run, beating down both Takanori Gomi and Donald Cerrone. Constantly improving as a fighter, Diaz seems to have hit his stride as a fighter after suffering some tough defeats at 170lbs.
Mark: Diaz has struggled with wrestlers in the past, but has only been truly dominated at welterweight by bigger, stronger competition. At lightweight, Diaz is a force and I expect him to look improved even from when he fought Cerrone. Both men have tremendous submission skills, but Miller is the more adept at getting the fight to the ground. Still, I think that Diaz will be able to box Miller up on the feet and mostly avoid the takedown (or at least any serious offense from Miller on the ground). It’ll be a fight, but Diaz gets the late submission finish after softening Miller up with constant offense. Diaz via 4th round submission
Dana: Both fighters have plenty to prove and on the line in this fight, and I feel like Jim Miller will be the one to handle the pressure a little bit better. In my opinion, Nate Diaz and Miller are equals in terms of skill-set. That means, whichever fighter is more mentally focused, wins. So, I got Miller taking control with his wrestling, avoiding serious damage by Diaz in the stand-up game, and scoring a decision victory. Miller via unanimous decision
Jack: This fight is going to be a turning point for both guys. While Diaz has a clear advantage in the standup with his rangy boxing, Miller is tough as nails and will be able to withstand the initial barrage. If it goes to the ground, don’t expect a quick submission. In the end, I think Miller’s thicker frame will allow him to take Diaz down a little easier (we all saw what Rory McDonald did to him) and use superior positioning to work some ground and pound before going in for the kill. Miller via 3rd round submission
Josh Koscheck vs. Johny Hendricks
This is an intriguing welterweight match up between two collegiate NCAA Division-1 champions/All-Americans that have dynamite in their fists.
Though he’s almost always followed by a chorus of boos, Josh Koscheck is one of the most well-established welterweights in the UFC. Currently several fights from a title shot (Kos has lost twice to current champion Georges St-Pierre), Koscheck is spending his time spoiling the title aspirations of other fighters, like Johny Hendricks. The 34-year-old is currently enjoying a two-fight winning streak, having beaten Matt Hughes and Mike Pierce in succession.
The magnificently bearded Johny Hendricks went from prospect to contender with one punch this past December. Hendricks floored perennial number two welterweight Jon Fitch (one of Koscheck’s good friends and training partners) with a brutal left hook in twelve seconds at UFC 141, alerting the rest of the 170lbs division of his presence if they were unaware. Hendricks is unbeaten in his last three outings.
Mark: I think this is a very interesting fight, just based off of their respective styles. Both men are adept at wrestling and are capable strikers. Though Koscheck holds an edge in experience, Hendricks appears to hold the edge in power. I don’t think it’s because of his age, but I do think that Hendricks will win this fight. The bearded wonder has the wrestling chops to keep it standing or give Koscheck some trouble and the power to make him pay for any mistakes. Hendricks via 2nd round TKO (ground and pound)
Dana: Two great wrestlers inside the Octagon can lead to a boring fight most of the time. However, when those two wrestlers are Josh Koscheck and Johny Hendricks, boring is not the word I would use. Hendricks is on the cusp of superstar-status, and I think he knows it. A win over Koscheck, by stoppage, would make him one of the hottest fighters going right now. “Kos” can’t be overlooked, though, despite a horrible performance in his last fight. Still, Hendricks is the new guard, and the welterweight division better be prepared. Hendricks via second round TKO (ground and pound)
Jack: Koscheck has turned into somewhat of a gatekeeper, never claiming a title but possessing the all-around skills to knock top prospects down a notch and I think he will do that here. When you get two wrestlers together, expect their grappling skills to cancel each other out, leading to a three round war on the feet. Sure, Hendricks has heavy hands but I think the veteran will get the better if the exchanges to pull out the win. Koscheck via unanimous decision