Cerrone vs. Miller: A Complete Guide to Full UFC Fight Night 45 Card

Scott Harris@ScottHarrisMMAMMA Lead WriterJuly 11, 2014

Cerrone vs. Miller: A Complete Guide to Full UFC Fight Night 45 Card

0 of 11

    Jim Miller
    Jim MillerUSA TODAY Sports

    You know you're getting at least one exciting fight out of this deal.

    That's what MMA fans are thinking, and that's what the UFC brass knows they're thinking. It's probably the reason why said brass soldered Donald Cerrone and Jim Miller to the business end of UFC Fight Night 45 on July 16, a card going down on a Wednesday evening and thus one that is generally more prone to neglect than the average card.

    Now, however, this is virtual appointment territory. Not to get all carnival barky on you, but Cerrone vs. Miller is one surefire, money-in-the-bank pier-sixer. You'll have to throw away the mold for this one. You better get Grandma tucked in nice and early, Holmes. No niceties in this affair. Mano a mano, will this lightweight division contest be.

    I've jinxed it now, and so now one of these guys is going to slip on a delinquent gob of Vaseline in the prep point, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, this is a paper tiger for Fight of the Year candidate.

    So really, it doesn't even matter what's on the rest of the card, even if there are some good ones sprinkled throughout. Among them is the UFC's first official women's strawweight fight, although it was somehow and strangely relegated to the online-only realm.

    In any event, here is a complete guide to the wheat and the chaff alike, including information capsules, predictions and viewing coordinates. Please enjoy.

Claudia Gadelha vs. Tina Lahdemaki

1 of 11

    Division: Women's strawweight
    Records: Claudia Gadelha (11-0), Tina Lahdemaki (5-0)
    See it on: UFC Fight Pass (subscription required)

    Oddly, a fairly important moment for MMA is being swept under the programming rug by the UFC. At least put this fight on cable. Maybe even talk about it a little, if not for the fighters, then for the UFC itself. It seems like an opportunity missed.

    But hey, I don't run a promotion. I'm sure I'm just missing the nuance here. Fortunately for those tuning into Fight Pass, there'll be no such nuance in the actual contest.

    The 25-year-old Gadelha trains with Nova Uniao and has eight wins by stoppage. She may be the finest strawweight in the game today. Stop by and watch her ply her trade; it should be a great appetizer for the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter, which is devoted entirely to the 115ers.

    Prediction: Gadelha, submission, Round 1

Yosdenis Cedeno vs. Jerrod Sanders

2 of 11

    Yosdenis Cedeno
    Yosdenis CedenoUSA TODAY Sports

    Division: Lightweight
    Records: Yosdenis Cedeno (9-3), Jerrod Sanders (14-1)
    See it on: Fox Sports 1

    Sanders made a slight ripple in the proverbial pond when he deserted the World Series of Fighting on the week of a scheduled bout to take this late injury fill-in spot against Cedeno.

    It's hard to blame the guy, though. It's his UFC debut, and he hasn't lost in three years. I'd have done the same. Still, he has a tough task in handling Cedeno, a large lightweight who banks on power takedowns and even more powerful punching. Cedeno is coming off a loss, but he could be a little too much of a load for the debutant.

    Prediction: Cedeno, unanimous decision

Hugo Viana vs. Aljamain Sterling

3 of 11

    Aljamain Sterling (right)
    Aljamain Sterling (right)USA TODAY Sports

    Division: Bantamweight
    Records: Aljamain Sterling (9-0), Hugo Viana (8-1)
    See it on: Fox Sports 1

    Sterling is one of the division's true elite prospects and showed it by dominating Cody Gibson in his first UFC fight. He has a tougher test in Viana, who not only has knockout power but the defense to stifle top wrestling attacks (ask T.J. Dillashaw if you don't believe me).

    Still, I have to go with Sterling here. I think he'll find a way to attack the body with combos and eventually drag Viana to the mat. Once the fight is there, it's Aljamain's world.

    Prediction: Sterling, unanimous decision

Jessamyn Duke vs. Leslie Smith

4 of 11

    Jessamyn Duke
    Jessamyn DukeUSA TODAY Sports

    Division: Women's bantamweight
    Records: Jessamyn Duke (3-1), Leslie Smith (6-5-1) 
    See it on: Fox Sports 1

    Despite her high profile as one of Ronda Rousey's Four Horsewomen and so on, Duke has not been especially impressive at the highest level. There's no grappling to speak of, and she just can't seem to get that length and reach rolling in the right direction.

    Smith is nothing special at a glance either, having lost two in a row and three of four. This might be intended as a get-well fight for one of the division's more marketable figures.

    But you know what? I sense an upset here. Methinks Smith pins Duke against the fence and gets enough points for a win in a bit of a snoozer.

    Prediction: Smith, unanimous decision

Gleison Tibau vs. Pat Healy

5 of 11

    Pat Healy
    Pat HealyUSA TODAY Sports

    Division: Lightweight
    Records: Pat Healy (29-19), Gleison Tibau (28-10)
    See it on: Fox Sports 1

    I don't know who Pat Healy pissed off up there in the UFC hierarchy, but it was somebody. His last three opponents were Khabib Nurmagomedov, groin-kick Picasso Bobby Green and striking ace Jorge Masvidal.

    Now it's The Incredible Hulk of the lightweight division in Tibau. The matchup doesn't bode well for Healy's signature style, namely takedowns and being tough. He could very well go to his fourth straight defeat and find himself out of the UFC.

    Prediction: Tibau, unanimous decision

Lucas Martins vs. Alex White

6 of 11

    Alex White (left)
    Alex White (left)USA TODAY Sports

    Division: Featherweight
    Records: Lucas Martins (14-1), Alex White (10-0)
    See it on: Fox Sports 1

    By all accounts, 25-year-old White is a man possessed. The undefeated Missourian who grew up poor and found MMA because there was a gym near the McDonald's where he worked has made up for lost time, winning boxing tournaments and grappling contests when he's not kicking tail in the cage.

    Martins is a pure marauder, with a finish-or-be-finished mindset. Here's guessing White grabs the upper hand.

    Prediction: White, TKO, Round 2

John Lineker vs. Alp Ozkilic

7 of 11

    John Lineker
    John LinekerUSA TODAY Sports

    Division: Flyweight
    Records: John Lineker (23-7), Alp Ozkilic (9-2)
    See it on: Fox Sports 1

    First and foremost, Lineker has to make weight. It's a little unfortunate that is a key challenge, sort of like wondering whether a diva rock band will show up for your concert. But that's where we are.

    Assuming that all happens and his weight cut doesn't leave him too desiccated to defend himself, Lineker's punching power and underrated wrestling make him a threat to anyone.

    Ozkilic is a good wrestler and solid bench depth in a thin division, but Lineker should be able to beat him, if he doesn't first beat himself.

    Decision: Lineker, TKO, Round 2

Justin Salas vs. Joe Proctor

8 of 11

    Joe Proctor
    Joe ProctorGregory Payan/Associated Press

    Division: Lightweight
    Records: Justin Salas (12-5), Joe Proctor (9-2)
    See it on: Fox Sports 1

    These guys are similar in that they are up-and-down veterans who've never quite been able to take the next big step. This fight probably won't get either man a whole lot closer, even with a win.

    Proctor likes submissions, where Salas is a little more rounded. Salas looked as good as he ever has in his last fight, a first-round knockout of Ben Wall. Take that for whatever it's worth, but it's more likely than not that he can keep it up against Proctor.

    Prediction: Salas, TKO, Round 2

Rick Story vs. Leonardo Mafra

9 of 11

    Rick Story
    Rick StoryJeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Division: Welterweight
    Records: Rick Story (16-8), Leonardo Mafra (11-1)
    See it on: Fox Sports 1

    I understand why the UFC picked Mafra to replace the injured John Howard. Mafra had some name recognition from his TUF Brazil semifinal run and a string of regional wins under his belt. More importantly, the man likes to come forward, making him a tasty dance partner for the thudding, plant-your-feet-and-swing Rick Story.

    But this will be just a little too much, too soon for Mafra. If he wants to, Story can outwrestle Mafra and is tough enough to withstand the slugfest that will likely ensue.

    Prediction: Story, TKO, Round 2

Edson Barboza vs. Evan Dunham

10 of 11

    Edson Barboza
    Edson BarbozaUSA TODAY Sports

    Division: Lightweight
    Records: Edson Barboza (13-2), Evan Dunham (14-5)
    See it on: Fox Sports 1

    And I thought Healy had some bad matchups.

    Dunham must have some compromising photos in a safe somewhere or be really annoying in meetings. His last five opponents are Nik Lentz, T.J. Grant, Gleison Tibau, Rafael dos Anjos and Donald Cerrone. Somehow, he has carved out a 2-3 record in that run, but it hasn't been easy, and his brain is probably pretty angry with him.

    It doesn't get any easier with Barboza, a Harlem Globetrotter of a striker with the takedown defense to back it up.

    Both of these men are coming off losses to Cerrone. So who's the more eligible bridesmaid here at UFC Fight Night 45? I'll say it's the man with the fireworks in his back pocket, though Dunham, as he usually does, will make it an event to remember.

    Prediction: Barboza, unanimous decision

Donald Cerrone vs. Jim Miller

11 of 11

    Donald Cerrone
    Donald CerroneUSA TODAY Sports

    Division: Lightweight
    Records: Donald Cerrone (23-6), Jim Miller (24-4)
    See it on: Fox Sports 1

    Both of these men are complete packages, but this will be a volcanic war of fisticuffs. You know it, I know it, they know it, and we all know we all know it.

    Cerrone wants nothing more in life than to be your anti-hero, the big-talking, Stetson-sporting, beer-can-chugging, extreme-sports-loving, swagger-jacking man about campus who just loves to go in there and let those weapons fly and chips fall.

    Miller is an interesting contrast. The New Jersey native is quieter but perhaps the more genuine badass. The hunter, fisherman and home craft brewer walks a lot softer than Cerrone, but he sure carries a big belt buckle.

    Either way, both have distinguished UFC careers, but neither has quite gotten over that hump and past that final velvet rope into the VIP room of true contendership. Whether it was Cerrone's humbling at the hands of Nate Diaz or Miller's fall to a rising Benson Henderson, there are plenty of examples of each man falling short when the lights were brightest.

    This fight will help determine who is best equipped to climb not so much into that room but certainly back to its doorway. Miller is built like a tree stump, and his jiu-jitsu/wrestling base is sharper than ever. Cerrone is on a tear in his last three, winning post-fight bonuses each time. His chin is simply too hard, his muay thai simply too difficult.

    That will tell the tale. Miller knows this is a show, and in his attempt to give the people what they want, he will inadvertently eschew his own best weapon and in so doing fall victim to that of his opponent. Yippee-kai-yay.

    Prediction: Cerrone, TKO, Round 2

    Scott Harris writes about MMA and other things for Bleacher Report and other places. Follow Scott on Twitter if you so desire.