UFC 129 Fight Card: Previews, Analysis, and Predictions of All the Fights
UFC 129 will be live from the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario Canada this Saturday, April 30th.
Headlining the night's fights will be two championship contests.
First, in the bantamweight division, current champion and the No. 3 pound-for-pound fighter on the planet, Jose Aldo, will look to retain his championship gold against the lethal Muay-Thai kick-boxer, Mark "The Machine" Hominick.
In the night's main event, current welterweight champion and the No.1 pound-for-pound fighter, Georges "Rush" St-Pierre will defend his title for a sixth time against the slick grappling sensation and former Strikeforce and Elite XC champion, Jake Shields.
Rounding out the night's main card will be a light heavyweight battle between the icon, Randy Couture, and former UFC light heavyweight champion, Lyoto Machida.
Additional fights include the UFC debut of Ben Henderson, the return of Jason MacDonald, the introduction of Vladimir Matyushenko to many American fans and a welterweight clash between Nate Diaz and new-comer Rory MacDonald.
Please follow along as I provide preview, analysis, and predictions of the entire fight card.
Enjoy the night's events.
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Facebook Fight No. 1: John "The Bull" Makdessi vs. Kyle Watson
Beginning this amazing night of action is the first fight aired on Facebook.
This lightweight match-up features the 8-0-0 John "The Bull" Makdessi versus the more experienced 16-7-1 Kyle Watson.
Makdessi, a seasoned veteran of kick-boxing has transitioned seamlessly into the cage with six victories by knockout.
Opposing "The Bull" is the head jiu-jitsu instructor, Kyle Watson, at UFC hall-of-fame veteran Matt Hughes' gym, the H.I.T. Squad.
Watson is an extremely versatile grappler with a brown belt in jiu-jitsu and has trained under Royler Gracie of the world famous Gracie family on a number of occasions.
Styles make fights and this is a classic case of stand-up striker versus world-class grappler.
In the end, I believe John Makdessi's kick-boxing brilliance will be too much for Kyle Watson and "The Bull" will earn a TKO victory.
Winner: John "The Bull" Makdessi via TKO from strikes
Facebook Fight No. 2: Jason "The Athlete" MacDonald vs. Ryan Jensen
Storming onto the UFC scene with two upset victories over The Ultimate Fighter 3 finalist Ed Herman, and the hard-hitting brawler, Chris Leben, Jason "The Athlete" MacDonald was highly touted in the UFC middleweight division for his various skills.
Not quite living up to the expectations of his early hype, MacDonald suffered a few glaring losses as well as endured a rash of injuries that sidelined the Canadian fighter.
Looking to regain momentum and get back in the win column, the 24-14 Jason MacDonald will be squaring off against the 15-7 Ryan Jensen.
Ryan Jensen, fighting out of the Jackson Submission Fighting camp, is a well-traveled fighter with five knockout victories and 10 submission wins to his credit.
More of a submission specialist, Jensen will be looking for a quick take-down, forcing the opportunity to lock up a tap-out victory.
In the end, I feel the experience and re-committed Jason MacDonald will be more than Ryan Jensen can handle.
Earning a KO victory, Jason MacDonald will once again look to climb back up the middleweight contention ladder.
Winner: Jason "The Athlete" MacDonald by KO
Facebook Fight No. 3: Ivan Menjivar vs. Charlie Valencia
At 135 pounds, two quick moving and action-packed fighters will entertain the crowd and provide fireworks inside the Octagon.
With an overall MMA record of 21-8, Ivan Menjivar has faced some of ultimate fighting's elite including Matt Serra, Joe Lauzon, Urijah Faber, and most recently, Brad Pickett.
Training with Georges St-Pierre, Menjivar is a diverse fighter with exceptional stand-up abilities as well as tremendous grappling skills.
Opposing Ivan Menjivar will be Charlie Valencia.
With an overall MMA record of 12-6, Valencia's most recent fight was a defeat to Miguel Torres via rear-naked choke on September 30, 2010.
A seasoned veteran within the UFC, Charlie Valencia has battled some of the bantamweight divisions most talented fighters including Dominick Cruz and Brian Bowles.
This high-speed, action-packed match-up will feature tremendous striking by both competitors as well as a high level of grappling ability displayed.
In the end, the experience and all-around fight game of Ivan Menjivar will capture a victory for the Salvadorean.
Winner: Ivan Menjivar via unanimous decision
Facebook Fight No. 4: Claude "The Prince" Patrick vs. Daniel "Ninja" Roberts
The final Facebook preliminary card matchup features two welterweights; a Canadian native and brown belt in jiu-jitsu, Claude Patrick, versus the Cesar Gracie protege, Daniel Roberts.
Claude "The Prince" Patrick has a very impressive overall MMA record of 13-1, with nine submission victories.
Quite obvious from his brown belt in jiu-jitsu and nine tap-out wins, Claude Patrick is extremely dynamic off his back and will be looking to lock up a submission victory this Saturday.
Opposing Claude Patrick is the extremely talented, Daniel "Ninja" Roberts.
Fighting out of the Cesar Gracie camp alongside Nick and Nate Diaz, Gilbert Melendez, and Jake Shields, Roberts has had tremendous success inside the famed Octagon.
With a 3-1 UFC record and a Submission of the Night honor against Mike Guymon with a slick anaconda choke, Daniel Roberts will be looking to continue his winning ways against the BJJ wizard.
This welterweight contest will be even on the mat. However, Daniel Roberts will have the edge in the stand-up.
This advantage will secure a decision victory for the "Ninja" as he continues to climb up the welterweight ladder.
Winner: Daniel "Ninja" Roberts via decision
Spike TV Preliminary Card Fight No. 1: Sean Pierson vs. Jake Ellenberger
Spike TV's first preliminary fight is a match-up between the home-grown Canadian, Sean Pierson, and the Omaha, Nebraska native, Jake Ellenberger.
Pierson is coming off of a unanimous decision victory over Matt Riddle in December at UFC 124. Also prevailing in his last fight, Jake Ellenberger squeaked by Carlos Eduardo Rocha in February at UFC 126 en route to a split decision victory.
Both fighters will be looking to make a splash in the highly contested welterweight division of the UFC.
More of a stand-up fighter, Sean Pierson is also well-versed in wrestling, which is Jake Ellenberger's strong suit.
An assistant wrestling coach at The University of Nebraska at Omaha, Ellenberger's wrestling pedigree is far more extensive than Pierson's. Additionally, Jake has tremendous power in both hands.
Both fighters have similar fighting styles and make-ups. However, in the end, the power and strength of Jake Ellenberger will ultimately over-match Sean Pierson.
A thunderous right hand will spell defeat for the Canadian as Jake Ellenberger exits Toronto with a knockout victory.
Winner: Jake Ellenberger via KO due to punches
Spike TV Preliminary Fight No. 2: Nate Diaz vs. Rory "The Waterboy" MacDonald
Suffering a unanimous decision defeat to Dong Hyun Kim on New Year's Day at UFC 125, Nate Diaz will be looking to extend his UFC record to 9-4 with a victory this weekend.
A teammate of Daniel Roberts, Nate Diaz is also a Cesar Gracie pupil and is exceptional in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Known more as a slap-style boxer, like his brother Nick Diaz, Nate utilizes his unorthodox stand-up game and long levers to open up submission opportunities off of his back.
Collecting tap-out victories over Kurt Pelligrino, Melvin Guillard, and Marcus Davis, Nate Diaz is a very diverse fighter with a balanced attack.
Fighting mainly in the King of the Cage promotion, Rory "The Waterboy" MacDonald will be making his third appearance inside the Octagon.
Not a physically opposing fighter, do not let this 21 year old's physique fool you. Rory MacDonald is an exceptional fighter with a 10-1 overall MMA record with six submission victories and four knockout wins.
This welterweight clash should be epic.
The confidence of Nate Diaz will need to be at an all-time high against the grit and resilience of Rory MacDonald.
In the end, I predict a slight upset victory as Rory MacDonald will earn a decision victory over Nate Diaz.
Winner: Rory MacDonald via decision
Main Card Fight No. 1: Mark Bocek vs. Ben "Smooth" Henderson
Mark Bocek is one of Canada's first Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts. Training under both Renzo and Rickson Gracie, Bocek has even instructed UFC owner, Lorenzo Fertitta, and CEO, Dana White in jiu-jitsu.
Challenging top-tier talent in the UFC lightweight division, Mark Bocek has accumulated an overall MMA record of 12-3 with seven submission wins.
Opposing Mark Bocek will be the extremely versatile and crowd-pleasing Ben "Smooth" Henderson.
Making his official UFC debut, Henderson is the former WEC lightweight champion.
Training out of the MMA Lab in Glendale, Arizona, Ben Henderson is known for his wide variety of ultimate fighting skills.
Competing in a variety of monumental battles including match-ups with Donald Cerrone, Jaime Varner, and most recently, Anthony Pettis, "Smooth" has the experience necessary to defeat Mark Bocek on his home soil.
I predict a back and forth affair with Ben Henderson gaining the advantage in the stand-up and Mark Bocek having the edge on the ground.
Possibly earning Fight of the Night honors, this lightweight contest will mark the inaugural victory for Ben Henderson in the UFC as he defeats the hometown proud Mark Bocek by TKO.
Winner: Ben Henderson via TKO
Main Card Fight No.2: Randy "The Natural" Couture vs. Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida
Possibly marking his final fight inside the UFC, Randy "The Natural" Couture will be attempting to finalize his hall-of-fame career with a victory over the former UFC light heavyweight champion, Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida.
Known for his wrestling prowess, physical conditioning, and dirty boxing skills, Randy Couture will be looking to exact a solid fight plan against the extremely versatile and elusive Lyoto Machida.
Wanting to close the distance without suffering too much damage and inflict punishment on Machida from the clinch, Couture's strategy will be to stifle the movement of "The Dragon" and take the fight to the ground.
Not known for his ground skills, Lyoto Machida is actually a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and is exceptional off of his back.
Even though Lyoto Machida can earn a submission victory in this match-up, he will be Implementing a strategy of movement and quick strikes from various angles and planes against Couture.
The former light heavyweight champion should have an advantage in the stand-up striking department over "The Natural."
I feel that this advantage will ultimately be too much for Randy Couture to overcome. Lyoto Machida will capitalize on this advantage, eventually earning a TKO victory of the iconic Couture.
Winner: Lyoto Machida via TKO
Main Card Fight No. 3: Vladimir Matyushenko vs. Jason "The Hitman" Brilz
In the UFC light heavyweight division, "The Janitor" Vladimir Matyushenko will face Jason "The Hitman" Brilz.
This match-up is a classic case of experience versus youth.
With an overall MMA record of 25-5, Matyushenko has been competing professionally since 1997.
Fighting worldwide, "The Janitor" is a well-established fighter globally looking to "introduce" himself to the sea of UFC fans here in the States.
A solid wrestler with exceptional stand-up boxing skills, Vladimir is a balanced competitor inside the Octagon with limited holes in his game.
Opposing "The Janitor" will be "The Hitman" with an overall MMA record of 18-3, 3-2 inside the UFC.
Also an exceptional wrestler, Jason Brilz is continually evolving his stand-up skills to balance out his attack.
Training with Vladimir Matyushenko at VMAT in El Segundo, California, I have first-hand knowledge of Matyushenko's skill-set and level of conditioning.
Because of my training background with Vladimir, I am biased in my prediction of Matyushenko as the victor.
But I am confident that Vladimir Matyushenko will eventually pass Jason Brilz's guard and earn a TKO victory due to strikes from the mount.
Winner: Vladimir Matyushenko via TKO
Main Card Fight No. 4: Jose Aldo "Junior" vs. "The Machine" Mark Hominick
Jose Aldo "Junior" is the current UFC featherweight champion with an overall MMA record of 19-1 with 12 knockouts.
Prior to the purchase of World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) by Zuffa in October of 2010, Aldo steamrolled through the greatest featherweight competition within the WEC stable of fighters.
Making his WEC debut in 2008 at Arco Arena in Sacramento, Calif., Aldo defeated the extremely talented Alexandre Nogueira at the 3:22 mark of Round 2. Forcing a referee stoppage, Jose was awarded the TKO victory after an onslaught of vicious elbow strikes.
Destroying his next four opponents, Aldo was provided a title shot against then-WEC featherweight champion Mike Brown on Nov. 18, 2009.
Delivering devastating leg kicks, coupled with lightening-fast movement and tactically precise strikes, Aldo won the WEC featherweight championship with a TKO victory of Brown at 1:20 of Round 2.
Just six short months later, Aldo would be tested to his maximum ability in his first title defense as WEC featherweight champion versus Urijah Faber.
Defeating Faber by unanimous decision, Aldo landed a total of 32 kicks on the former champion, keeping Urijah off-balance and unable to control the intensity and momentum of the fight.
Challenging for the UFC featherweight title is Hominick. An extremely talented striker in his own right, Hominick is patient, methodical and unrelenting. In short, Hominick dissects his opponents with surgeon-like precision.
This Muay-Thai kick-boxer from Ontario, Canada has engaged in various memorable battles inside the Octagon. Most recently annihilating fellow countryman, George Roop, on Jan. 22 of this year, Hominick's skills have been consistently tested during Aldo's layoff.
Capable of striking from various angles and with all eight limbs, "The Machine" is not as elusive a fighter as the champion. Mark will stand and trade in the pocket and then bounce out to analyze his next move.
Meanwhile, Aldo is known for his quick, gorilla-style striking with devastating results, which limits the back-and-forth trading conducive to Hominick's style.
The difference in their stand-up strategy favors Aldo and minimizes any adverse effects from his layoff. Even though Hominick has excellent head movement and strikes at various angles and planes, his stand-up style is to always push forward.
This tendency is advantageous against less elusive fighters who are lacking in their striking abilities. However, Aldo is a premier striker and his quick, explosive style counters Hominick's drive for pressure very well.
In the end, Jose Aldo "Junior" will remain the UFC featherweight champion with a knockout victory over Mark Hominick.
Winner: Jose Aldo via KO
Main Card Fight No. 5: Georges "Rush" St-Pierre vs. Jake Shields
The final fight at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada features Canada's own iconic hero and current UFC welterweight champion and the No.1 pound-for-pound fighter on the planet Georges "Rush" St-Pierre versus the No. 1 contender, Jake Shields.
St-Pierre's background as a fighter has been well-documented. Georges will enter the Octagon fully prepared, in tremendous conditioning shape, and with a sound fight plan.
With the ability to effortlessly maneuver in and out of the pocket, delivering damage while minimizing counter strikes, and executing an array of strikes from all angles, levels, and with all appendages, GSP has very limited gaps in his stand-up ability.
Developing into an excellent grappler, St-Pierre has been known to take-down superior wrestlers and inflict a savage ground-and-pound beating.
If Georges decides to take this fight to the mat, he will face Jake Shields' strong suit as a fighter.
Possessing tremendous jiu-jitsu skills and the ability to finish fights with a lethal variety of submissions, Jake Shields is a wizard on the ground.
Also known for his solid chin, his stand-up game is developing daily and his boxing skills are balancing out his overall fight-game.
Entering his first fight against Martin Kampmann in suspect conditioning shape due to the drastic weight cut to the 170 pound ceiling, I do not feel this obstacle will effect Shields in Toronto.
Standing next to Jake Shields as he encouraged his teammates at the Strikeforce event in San Diego, I noticed that the progression to drop the necessary weight has begun for Shields back in March.
Without the weight cut affecting Shields in this welterweight championship fight against St-Pierre, talent will determine the victor.
When the blood is clotted and the sweat is wiped, Georges St-Pierre will remain the champion, much to the adoration of the Canadian fans.
Winner: Georges St-Pierre via five-round decision