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While the
UFC Fight Night 184
prelims lack the depth of the surprisingly
strong main card on Saturday in Las Vegas, these eight bouts still
provide some worthwhile viewing material. The featured undercard
battle leans on some name recognition, as
Ultimate Fighting Championship
mainstays Michael
Johnson
and Clay Guida
face one another in a matchup where both men need a win. Beyond
that, there are some prospects to watch. Mike
Rodriguez
looks to rebound from Sherdog’s 2020 “Robbery of the
Year,” while Devonte
Smith
and Justin
Jaynes
figure to bring guaranteed fireworks at 155 pounds.
Deeper still, Karol Rosa’s
bantamweight scrap with Joselyne
Edwards
serves as a fascinating under-the-radar pairing, while
reliable action fighters like Molly
McCann
and Youssef
Zalal
help round out a breezy slate.

Now to the preview for the UFC Fight Night “Overeem vs. Volkov”
prelims:

Lightweight

NR | Michael
Johnson
(19-16, 11-12 UFC) vs. NR | Clay Guida
(35-20, 15-14 UFC)

ODDS: Johnson (-225), Guida (+185)

Few fighters have combined such impressive highs and distressing
lows as much as Johnson, who suddenly finds himself trying to stop
a three-fight losing streak. Johnson spent a few years on the
roster as a middling lightweight before a breakout performance
against Joe Lauzon in
2013, when “The Menace” showed off a quick and dangerous striking
game that had finally clicked into place. That led to a four-fight
winning streak that ended in controversial fashion via decision
against Beneil
Dariush
, but the UFC seemed to have Johnson’s back and gave him
a prominent rebound fight against Nate Diaz.
However, the bout wound up being all about Diaz, who lured Johnson
into a losing fight and used his post-fight interview to build what
would be a career-defining feud against Conor
McGregor
. As for Johnson, it was the second loss in a rough
patch that saw him lose five out of six fights. With that said,
even the lone win in that batch showed how effective Johnson can be
at times: He starched Dustin
Poirier
just 95 seconds into a main event, making him the only
man besides Khabib
Nurmagomedov
to beat “The Diamond” at 155 pounds inside the
UFC. That overall skid led Johnson to cut down to featherweight,
which did not turn around his woes. Losses to Darren
Elkins
and Josh Emmett
only further typecast Johnson as someone who implodes as soon as
something goes wrong, and wins over Andre Fili
and Artem Lobov
were not particularly inspiring. In turn, that led Johnson to ply
his trade back at 155 pounds, but it has just been more of the
same. Fights against Steven Ray
and Thiago
Moises
went fine early, but Johnson quickly folded as soon as
he was taken to the mat, with Ray earning a narrow decision and
Moises scoring a low-percentage ankle lock submission. Johnson
might need a win here to save his spot on the UFC roster, and he
will look to score one against a fellow skidding veteran in
Guida.

Guida is essentially set for life in terms of goodwill thanks to
the first few years of his UFC career, when “The Carpenter”
guaranteed as much excitement as anyone in the sport. His wars
against Roger
Huerta
and Diego
Sanchez
were legendary among fans who were part of the Spike TV
boom of the mid-2000s. That made his memorably terrible loss
against Gray
Maynard
in 2012 a shocking aberration, but while that did sap
Guida of some of his action cred, he has still shown a commitment
to making things happen in the near-decade since. Sometimes the
results were not particularly inspiring, as Guida had his fair
share of fights in which he was simply willing to hold down the
opponent; at other times, he charged into his opponents’ offense.
However, Guida’s willingness to keep moving forward and apply some
sort of pressure has been welcome, even as he has slowed down in
later years. After a middling run down at featherweight, Guida
returned to the lightweight division in 2017, when one-sided wins
over Lauzon and Erik Koch
provided some hope that he was on his way to a successful
late-career run. Unfortunately for “The Carpenter,” things have
stalled out since. Beyond a relatively inactive schedule, Guida’s
lone win in his last four fights came in uninspiring fashion over
the husk of B.J. Penn. Losses
against Charles
Oliveira
and Jim Miller
were quick affairs in which Guida almost immediately got himself
choked out. Coming off of a decision loss in which Bobby Green
mostly stalled him out, Guida also finds himself on the cut line
and in need of a win.

Johnson should win this, but he is at the point where it is hard to
have any faith in his gutting out a victory. Johnson’s defensive
wrestling is usually solid, so it is easy to see a scenario where
he can keep this fight standing, at which point Guida’s lack of
defense should make him a sitting duck for the type of sharp
counter that can knock out any man. However, as Johnson’s last few
fights have shown, he can have all the success in the world
shutting down his opponent’s wrestling, but he is now in his own
head to the point that one takedown can send him careening off the
rails into a one-sided loss. Guida may get knocked out trying, but
as soon as he gets this to the mat, his relentless approach should
be able to break Johnson, even at this stage in his career. The
pick is Guida via decision.

Continue Reading »
Rodriguez vs. Marques


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