By Josh Nason, WrestlingObserver.com
In a week that was more focused on rib cartilage and the possibility of a worked fight than in-cage action, Saturday’s UFC show in lovely Hollywood, FL, has one great fight and a lot of roll the dice action. While far from a major event, let’s hope UFC Fight Night 70 turns out to be a fun show. One indication that it could be: the smaller cage is in effect tonight.
And what better way to get ready for the show than episode 5 of Josh Nason’s Punch-Out starring MMA Junkie assistant editor Brent Brookhouse?
– Jack Encarnacao (54-21 | .720) Sherdog Rewind host, The Lapsed Fan podcast co-chair, Steve Austin impersonator
– Steve Juon (49-26 | .653) AngryMarks founder, MMA Mania writer
– Mike Sempervive (48-27 | .640) Wrestling Observer Live co-host | Big Audio Nightmare
– John Pollock (48-27 | .640) Fight Network personality, Live Audio Wrestling co-host, The MMA Report host
– David Bixenspan (48-27 | .640) Figure Four Weekly writer, Observer Daily Update writer, podcast host
– Front Row Brian (44-31 | .586) MMA newsbreaker, Twitter personality, podcast host
– Dave Meltzer (43-32 | .573) Wrestling Observer founder & writer, occasional cougher
– Mike Sawyer (41-34 | .546) Tough Talk MMA, 2014 picks panel champion
– Josh Nason (40-35 | .533) Wrestling Observer digital media and content guy, WON Twitter enabler
> Lyoto Machida (22-6) vs. Yoel Romero (9-1)
Alright, now. This is a fight! Machida is coming off a short break (two months) and a decimation at the hands of Luke Rockhold. His wins lately have been against the middle tier of the division (CB Dolloway, Gegard Mousasi, Mark Munoz) and at 37 years old, it’s time to wonder if the guy we saw against Rockhold is the Machida of now.
He faces another old fella in Romero, who is young in fight years. The past Olympic wrestling medalist has won all five of his UFC bouts and has shown some nice power in doing so with four of those victories by T/KO. There’s been some controversy amongst them (Tim Kennedy, anyone?) and two scheduled tilts with Jacare Souza have been scrapped due to injury. He’s been on the shelf since last September, but with a win over Machida, he puts himself in the conversation for a #1 contender’s match with Souza this year.
Machida (slight favorite): Meltzer, FRB, Juon, Pollock, Encarnacao
Romero: Nason, Sempervive, Sawyer, Bix
> Santiago Ponzinibbio (19-2) vs. Lorenz Larkin (15-4)
After losing in his UFC debut, the 28-year-old “Gente Boa” has won his last two. His name also has 19 letters in it. Double L looked awesome in his welterweight debut, decimating John Howard in just over two minutes — a win that snapped a three-fight losing streak. He’s looking for consecutive wins for the first time since 2011.
Larkin (favorite): Nason, Sempervive, Meltzer, Sawyer, FRB, Bix, Juon, Pollock, Encarnacao
> Anthony Carlos Junior (4-1) vs. Eddie Gordon (7-3)
Gordon was a surprise TUF winner, but has done nothing to silence the doubters as he’s lost both of his post TUF finale fights. ACJ is still young in his MMA career and suffered his first career defeat at the hands of Patrick Cummings earlier this year. This is his first fight at 185 pounds and he’s part of a fun fact: three UFC bouts, three different weight classes.
ACJ (favorite): Nason, Sempervive, Meltzer, FRB, Juon, Encarnacao
Gordon: Sawyer, Bix, Pollock
> Thiago Santos (10-3) vs. Steve Bosse (10-1)
Even though he’s just 2-2 in his UFC career, Santos has gone past the first round just once. He’s coming off a January first round TKO of Andy Enz. The 33-year-old Bosse was pulled out of retirement to fight Fabio Maldonado in Montreal in place of Rampage Jackson, but Jackson’s Bellator court injunction was overturned. Thus, the former hockey enforcer was put on ice and now will make his UFC debut in Brazil Saturday. He hasn’t fought since May 2013 and fought sparingly before that.
Santos (favorite): Bix, Pollock, Nason, Juon, Encarnacao, Sempervive, Meltzer, FRB
> Hacran Dias (22-3-1) vs. Levan Makashvili (7-1)
Dias has fought sparingly over the last four years, going 2-2 with four decisions in that time. He’s coming off a December win over Darren Elkins that I assume you don’t remember. The 26-year-old Makashvili made his Octagon debut in May with a split decision victory over Mark Eddiva. Not exactly a ton of star power in this one.
Dias (favorite): Nason, Sawyer, Encarnacao, Bix, Juon, FRB
Makashvili: Meltzer, Pollock, Sempervive