Let’s take a look at the second half of the fights for tonight before the main event. Betting odds are taken from Bovada.lv
Mike “The Hulk” Easton (-120) vs. Ivan “Pride of El Salvador” Menijivar (-110)
Easton enters at 12-1 overall and 2-0 in the UFC, and Menijivar is 24-8 and 3-1 in UFC. Easton has skated by in a lot of easy fights though, so his 12-1 record is a little misleading. He won a split decision at UWC against Chase Beebe that was highly dubious and set fires on MMA discussion boards, and he also won a majority decision over Jared Papazian that he likely should have lost. The fact is, he could easily have as many as four losses instead of one, had things gone the way most MMA pundits feel they should have. What makes that even more unsettling is that he hasn’t even dominated the competition he has had, which has all been subpar. Even with 12 victories, it’s hard to chalk him up to being that good when none of the fights have come over top tier opponents.
Easton has a lot of serious flaws as a fighter. He moves too overtly and aggressively, and is a poor boxer technically. He loops his punches and is careless. He attacks too much in flurries and can’t keep a consistent fight regiment. He’s not accurate. All of these things are going to hurt him on the score sheet.
Menijivar has good power for a bantamweight, but isn’t so great with striking defense. He was hurt badly against John Albert last fight and was nearly finished by him, and he was beat badly by Brad Pickett at WEC 53. He has some great strikes of his own, including a strong jab/right hook combo, but is going to have to be careful to guard himself between his boisterous attacks.
Both fighters likely want to keep this standing, and if it goes the distance, I like Menijivar, but Easton could easily end this early via TKO. I’m not inclined to bet on this one, because I have no good feeling and as the odds indicate, these fighters are very evenly matched.
Chad “Money” Mendes (-650) vs. Cody “AK Kid” McKenzie (+425)
McKenzie is 13-2 and 2-2 in UFC and Mendes is 11-1 and 2-1 in UFC. McKenzie’s last 11 wins have all been by guillotine choke, and he is a one trick pony. The fact is, a lot of fighters don’t seem to be able to stop his only move. He managed to beat Marcus LeVesseur, Aaron Wilkinson, and Len Bentley, all by guillotine choke, not that any of them are standouts. Against both Rocha and Yves Edwards, he was unable to utilize his only move, and was submitted by rear naked chokes in both fights. Mendes is a far better striker and a far better wrestler. He’s a better grappler. He’s a better fighter. There’s no way McKenzie’s pathetic technique works against a fighter like Mendes, and MMA oddsmakers have reflected that absurdity with the heavy odds.
Patrick “The Predator” Cote (-210) vs. Cung Le (+170)
Cote will make his return to the UFC to take on Cung Le. Cote is 17-7 overall and 4-7 in the UFC, and Le is 7-2 overall and 0-1 in the UFC. Cote won his last match against Gustavo Machado in the Amazon Forest Combat prop, and Le lost in a main event bout by TKO to Wanderlei Silva at UFC 139.
Le is a good fighter and is strong with kicks, which makes him very fun to watch, but I don’t think he’ll stack up well against Cote. He hasn’t won against that many good fighters, and while Cote is not all that awesome, he is a better and more well rounded fighter, a good enough fighter to give Le a lot of problems. Le doesn’t even have the conditioning to stay with Cote past two rounds, for that matter. If Le wins, it will be early and by KO or TKO, but I just don’t see that happening.
Dong Hyun “Stun Gun” Kim (-165) vs. Demian Maia (+135)
This is the third fight of the pay per view portion and will be Maia’s first fight at 170 lbs after previously being a middleweight fighter. Maia is 15-4 overall and 9-4 in the UFC while his opponent Kim is 15-1-1 overall and 6-1 in the UFC.
Maia has spent most of his recent fights standing, trying to out strike opponents. This is likely not the result of a shift in his fight style, but rather an adaptation to his opponents . He’s well suited to beat most average UFC fighters, but hasn’t been able to beat the upper tier of fighters, despite his strong BJJ skills. His takedowns are not the greatest, but he can be great with single leg takedowns and has a nice foot sweep/trip. He’s susceptible to take downs and still needs to work on his striking defense.
Kim is a great judo fighter and while Maia has a good training in judo fighters, he is going to be a bit surprised by Kim. Kim has great takedown ability and a good overall skill set, not to mention that he is a very good grappler. He really doesn’t have many flaws at all, as a fighter, and is unsurprisingly favored by MMA oddsmakers because of it. Kim will have his choice as to how this fight goes, and he’ll likely want to keep it standing. Even if it does go to the mat, Kim is rarely submitted, and should be able to win this regardless of whether it is by submission, TKO, decision, etc.
Forest Griffin (-300) vs. Tito “Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Ortiz (+230)
Tito Ortiz is just far past his prime at this point, but this will likely (finally) be his last career fight. He’s amassed a 16-10-1 record and a 15-10-1 UFC record over his career, and his opponent Forest Griffin enters at 18-7 and 9-5 UFC. Ortiz’s last fight was a first round TKO loss to Antonio Noguiera and Griffin lost his last match too, getting knocked out by Rua at UFC 134.
Griffin has a great skill set and a good striking game. He punches straight, and connects a lot, and his leg kicks are powerful too. He’s a very big fighter for a light-heavyweight, and he’s difficult to take down or submit. He has seven career wins by submission in his own right, though most of those took place earlier in his career. He has shown himself to be a good ground fighter, and can pound it out with the best on the mat. He’s in great shape, too, which renders him ready for all attacks since he doesn’t find himself gasping for air later in matches.
Ortiz is a good wrestler, and will seek to take Griffin to the ground. He’s one of the few light-heavyweights bigger than Griffin, but his conditioning isn’t quite as good. He fades later into fights, and after round three he could have some trouble with Griffin. That will likely be his demise here, and it will be a sad way for a legend to go out. Griffin by unanimous decision.