Tomorrow night Zuffa reloads and fires again with another top flight card that displays just how deep their talent pool is. This time it’s UFC on Versus 4: Kongo vs. Barry and this time it’s free. As far as free on TV cards go, this line-up is definitely one of the more loaded, despite the loss of long-time middleweight title contender “The Great” Nate Marquardt (31-10-2). The main event was originally slated to be his first bout in the welterweight division, but an undisclosed issue saw Nate “The Great” fail to pass his pre-fight medical screening, resulting in his removal from both the card and the UFC roster. Never missing a step, the UFC has pushed heavyweight kickboxing juggernauts Cheick Kongo (15-6-2) and “Hype or Die” Pat Barry (5-3) up to the main event slot while Charlie Brenneman (13-2) has agreed to face blue chip nightmare “The Horror” Rick Story (11-2). Ailing welterweights “Doomsday” John Howard (14-6) and “The Immortal” Matt Brown (11-10) will also climb in the cage and opening up the night of fan favored fights are a pair of bouts that scream excitement as TUF 10 pariah turned heavyweight wrecking machine “Meathead” Matt Mitrione (4-0) goes against Christian Morecraft (7-1) and lightweight gatekeeper Tyson Griffin (14-5) cuts to 145 to face “The Anvil” Manny Gamburyan (11-6). The card is free, the match-ups are great, and the organization is proving once again that it is the best.
Matt Mitrione vs. Christian Morecraft: It will be interesting to see how Mitrione fairs against a solid wrestler…if he ever fights one. For now, the UFC seems content on feeding their unexpected fan favorite blue chipper a steady diet of fighters willing to stand and trade leather with him as he displays his rapidly progressing skills as a kickboxer. Morecraft is a brawling stand-up fighter who looks to break the .500 mark in the UFC for the first time at the expense of Mitrione’s 4-0 UFC record. Unfortunately for him it isn’t likely to happen. Mitrione has shown a natural aptitude for striking and has improved more in his short time at Roufus Sport than most fighters do in several years of training. Look for Morecraft to bring the heat like he always does but Mitrione’s vastly superior stand-up will end the night early. Mitrione via KO, Round 1.
Matt Brown vs. John Howard: Matt Brown and John Howard are both in deep waters headed into their UFC on Versus 4 bout. “The Immortal” is now 4-4 in the UFC and has been finished in his past three fights. Howard is on a two-fight skid of his own and boasts a 4-2 promotional record. For either man, a loss could mean an end to their UFC career. From a technical aspect, Howard holds several key advantages, namely his superior power and submission game. “Doomsday” is a more explosive striker who, while not as refined as the Judo brown belt, does a lot of damage with his hands and has the superior Jiu-Jitsu to wrap things up on the mat. While not as polished on the ground, Brown is superior in the transitional positions such as the scramble and the sprawl as well as better in the clinch and he is also the more technical striker who will hold the advantage in a drawn out war of attrition. He also holds a less tangible advantage in the fact that he knows without a doubt that he will be cut if he loses. A cornered animal is the most dangerous opponent one can face and that’s exactly what Brown is. Look for Brown to go for broke and push Howard harder than he wants to be pushed before getting caught by one of Howard’s big bombs. Howard via TKO (Strikes), Round 2.
Charlie Brenneman vs. Rick Story: Nate Marquardt showed up to the UFC on Versus 4 pre-fight medical examination and the results were not what anyone wanted to hear. Nate “The Great” would not be medically cleared to compete for undisclosed reasons and would lose his place on the UFC roster as a result. This turn of events left blue chip wrestling machine Rick Story without an opponent. The young prospect has been on a tear as of late, knocking off top prospects “McLovin” Dustin Hazelett (15-7) and Johny Hendricks (10-1) and defeating former title contender “Pitbull” Thiago Alves (17-8) and the disappointing loss of Marquardt threatened to not only cost him a main event fight, but could have potentially stymied the momentum the rising star has built headed into the fight. Luckily for Story, undercard main stay Charlie Brenneman answered the call and stepped in to fill Marquardt’s shoes. A win over Story would propel the self-trained freestyle wrestler into the spotlight but that will be a very tall order to fill. Story holds key advantages in the stand-up department and in the fact that he has faced a much higher level of competition, and has had better overall training than Brenneman. As always, Brenneman will come to fight and won’t let the hype surrounding “The Horror” affect him, but it is a losing battle as long as Story is on his game. Look for Story to control the stand-up and dirty box his way to victory. Story via TKO (Strikes), Round 2.
Cheick Kongo vs. Pat Barry: When Pat Barry and Cheick Kongo square off, it will be an example of how when two great strikers meet in MMA, it all comes down to the ground game. Barry has elite K-1 level brutality in his stand-up, especially his leg kicks, and Kongo has a lifetime of martial arts experience in Karate, Kendo, Muay Thai, and Pencak Silat culminating in nine major European and World kickboxing, Savate, and Muay Thai championships. Unfortunately for Pat Barry, Kongo, who is arguably the better stand-up fighter anyway, also holds an eight-inch reach advantage and a background as a Greco-Roman Div. III level wrestler. Though Kongo has a distinct disadvantage on the ground against most heavyweights in the UFC, Pat Barry is not one of those fighters. Barry has the power to obliterate Kongo with a single punch, but he will likely find himself on the losing end of a frustrating decision as Kongo peppers him at range and puts him on his back with brute force Greco-Roman upper body throws anytime Barry manages to close the distance. Kongo via Unanimous Decision.