UFC 180: Fabricio Werdum vs Mark Hunt – Main Card Preview
The UFC finally makes its long-anticipated debut in Mexico carrying what could’ve been the most iconic fight in Cain Velasquez’s career. Unfortunately, the current champ pulled out three weeks before the fight and MMA journeyman Mark Hunt stepped in to fight Fabricio Werdum for the Interim Heavyweight title. Should Hunt pull off this upset, it could be the greatest underdog story in UFC history.
Welterweight contenders Kelvin Gastelum and Jake Ellenberger square off as the co-main event, two fighters on a different trajectory as Gastelum is climbing the rankings while Ellenberger is faltering. Dennis Bermudez and Ricardo Lamas meet in what could be a featherweight title contender.
Local hero, Augusto Montano is set to make his UFC debut against wrestler, Chris Heatherly and Mexican-Americans Edgar Garcia and Hector Urbina round out the main card. The UFC’s quest to conquer Mexico starts now!
Fabricio Werdum (-420) vs Mark Hunt (+345)
UFC Heavyweight Championship (265 lbs)
I can’t say enough about Mark Hunt’s amazing run to get into this position. At one point, Hunt was 5-6 with five consecutive first round losses. He was so bad the UFC allegedly wanted to pay him to not fight. Five years later, Hunt has won five of his last seven fights, four via his iconic walk-off knockout. He’s on the cusp of the greatest underdog story in mixed martial arts!
Every ounce of me wants to pick Mark Hunt to win this title fight—despite him taking it on three-weeks’ notice, his cardio issues and problems cutting weight plus the thin air in Mexico City. But Werdum is the heavyweight division’s best BJJ fighter and his striking game has made such a huge improvement (he tooled Travis Browne and Roy Nelson, two of the division’s premiere knockout artists).
Hunt will always have the puncher’s chance but Werdum has as much hunger to prove himself and will keep away from Hunt, tire him out and collect a clear-cut decision win or a submission somewhere down the road.
Prediction: Fabricio Werdum def. Mark Hunt via Submission (Round 3)
Kelvin Gastelum (-230) vs Jake Ellenberger (+190)
Welterweight Bout (170 lbs)
A rising contender and a Juggernaut that has slowed down; Gastelum has won his last three fights, his most notable over the tough-as-nails Rick Story (who just upset Gunnar Nelson). Gastelum hits hard and is a wide-bodied welterweight with a strong grappling base. His biggest advantage is his momentum.
Ellenberger meanwhile has lost his last two, the last by TKO (to #1 contender Robbie Lawler) and has looked worse for wear on both fights. There was a time he went hard at guys like Nate Marquardt and Jake Shields and finished them in spectacular one-round fashion. If Ellenberger comes in like that, this is his fight. Gastelum will throw down and the Juggernaut has enough power to keep him honest. This is likely a turning point in both their careers.
Prediction: Jake Ellenberger def. Kelvin Gastelum via Split Decision
Dennis Bermudez (-170) vs Ricardo Lamas (+150)
Featherweight Bout (145 lbs)
Not unlike the co-main event, this is another fight that may be a turning point for both Bermudez and Lamas. Dennis “The Menace” is tied with the champion, Jose Aldo, in having the division’s longest streak. He finished his last two, Clay Guida his latest, and has looked better each fight. The NCAA Division I wrestler pushes the pace, hits with bad intentions.
Lamas was in Bermudez’s shoes about a year ago when he was hot off a four-fight winning streak. He then lost his title shot to Jose Aldo losing all but the last round. He rebounded by beating tough grappler, Hacran Dias though it was notably a fight he didn’t look as dominant as his earlier ones. Lamas may have lost something in the Aldo fight or not but if he lets Bermudez apply his forward pressure he’ll likely have a rough night. Lamas may be the more experienced grappler and can dirty this fight. It’ll be tough and gritty and maybe a thin decision.
Prediction: Dennis Bermudez def. Ricardo Lamas via Unanimous Decision
Augusto Montano (-240) vs Chris Heatherly (+190)
Welterweight Bout (170 lbs)
Montano and Heatherly are going to beat the absolute crap out of each other, Diego Sanchez style. The entire Mexican audience will be cheering as their hometown hero, Augusto Montano, winner of 13 of his 14 fights finishes Chris Heatherly with a sweet liver kick. Well, this is a best case scenario. What is likely is the taller Montano utilizing enough strikes to keep Heatherly honest although he’ll spam for takedowns but the huge size difference (Montano is 6’2” and Heatherly is 5’8”) will make it difficult. If Heatherly can’t get Montano to the mat and keep him there, it won’t end well for him.
Prediction: Augusto Montano def. Chris Heatherly via TKO (Round 2)
Edgar Garcia (-205) vs Hector Urbina (+170)
Welterweight Bout (170 lbs)
Not unlike Montano-Heatherly, this is another fight that has fans scratching their heads in terms of the two fighters and their place in the PPV. Garcia makes his return to the UFC after a four-fight winning streak. Garcia is a scrapper and Urbina isn’t too different. Both fighters have majority of their wins coming via T/KO. But Garcia slightly better in that department and should handily beat Urbina although it won’t be surprising to see either fighter come out with the win.
Prediction: Edgar Garcia def. Hector Urbina via Unanimous Decision