Montreal, Quebec, Canada’s Bell Centre will play host to the UFC for UFC 124 where Canada’s favorite son, “Rush” Georges St. Pierre (20-2) will face the ultimate heel in “Kos” Josh Koscheck (15-4) in a rematch for the UFC world welterweight title. Also making appearances on the card are heavyweights “Skyscraper” Stefan Struve (17-4) and “Big Sexy” Sean McCorkle (10-0) in an internet hype fueled newcomer super fight, welterweight wrecking machines “The Pitbull” Thiago Alves (16-7) and “Doomsday” John Howard (14-5), and lightweight submission experts “The Mongoose” Jim Miller (18-2) and Charles Oliveira (14-0). In a thrilling lightweight match-up, The Ultimate Fighter alums will see action against one another as “Daddy” Joe Stevenson (31-10) squares off against TUF Season 6 winner Mac Danzig (19-8-1). Like so many fights in the UFC following the announcement of the UFC/WEC merger, this bout is a critical one for both Stevenson and Danzig.
At First Glance: This is a do-or-die match for both of these long time UFC lightweights. Stevenson has posted a record of 2-3 in his past five fights with the organization and Danzig even worse at 1-4. With the feather- and lightweights of the WEC rushing in to fill roster spots in the already stacked UFC lightweight division, a loss at this juncture is almost a guaranteed pink slip from UFC President Dana White. Luckily for Joe “Daddy”, he comes from a season of The Ultimate Fighter when Dana White cared more about talent than TV ratings. Danzig was the best of the worst when it comes to TUF casts and his performance in the UFC reflects that.
In Depth: Danzig has been billed by Joe Rogan and the rest of the MMA world as being a top notch ground fighting specialist and he simply hasn’t backed that up. In his UFC career he has only achieved victory twice since earning the title “The Ultimate Fighter” and both of those wins have been over fighters to whom the label “gatekeeper” would be a serious compliment. Stevenson by contrast has taken some of the best fighters the lightweight division has to offer to the judges’ cards in his own losses. All of this points to the fact that Joe Stevenson isn’t only the superior wrestler, but is by far the better overall fighter. Danzig may have a few slick submissions but against Stevenson’s superior everything else, it is doubtful he will get an opportunity to use them.
The Wild Card: A highly questionable aspect of this fight is Stevenson’s choke factor. Any time Joe Stevenson has been in a high stakes, high stress bout, he has folded like a house of cards. In fact, it has been proven time and again that if an opponent can simply gain an advantage over him he tends to completely shut down. In a match where his UFC career may hang in the balance it is difficult to predict how “Daddy” will handle the pressure, especially if Mac Danzig manages to grab an early advantage.
The Verdict: In the end, this battle of Ultimate Fighter alums comes down to the seasons from which they came. Danzig fought on Season 6, the season whose few fighters to make it into the organization have posted the worst combined record of any season, whereas Stevenson comes from Season 2 which has produced multiple top ten competitors. That difference will shine through as “Daddy” systematically dismantles Danzig over the course of the fight en route to a submission finish. Stevenson via Guillotine Choke, Round 2.