SHIELDS vs. HERMAN
This fight has the potential to be a very entertaining grappling match. Both of these guys are two of the better grapplers in the middleweight division. This is going to be a chess match and once someone makes a mistake they will be going for checkmate.
Jake Shields makes his way back to 185-pounds after going 2-2 at welterweight. In Shield's last fight at middleweight he successfully defended his Strikeforce belt by defeating Dan Henderson on April 17, 2010. That was Henderson's last defeat, and now finds himself fighting for the UFC light heavyweight belt against Jon Jones.
Shields has been one of the best fighters in the world, and his grappling is off the charts. He is 27-6-1 in his MMA career, and had a 15-fight win streak come to an end when he lost to welterweight champ, George St. Pierre, on April 30, 2011. Usually when a fighter has a 15-fight win streak it is because of lack of competition.
That was not the case with Shields. He knocked off Martin Kampmann, Dan Henderson, Jason Miller, Robbie Lawler, Paul Daley, Nick Thompson, Mike Pyle, Carlos Condit, Yushin Okami, Dave Menne, and Toby Imada during this period. Shields is hoping he can start another win streak by beating Ed Herman on Saturday night and get his win streak to two. He beat Yoshihiro Akiyama via unanimous decision at UFC 144.
Ed Herman comes in riding a three-fight winning streak. However, he is taking a huge step up in competition facing off against Shields. Herman is 7-5 in the UFC and is looking to finally cement himself into the title picture. He has been inconsistent since joining the organization. He was the runner up on season three of "The Ultimate Fighter" losing to Kendall Grove via unanimous decision.
He has had a three-fight win streak before, but that quickly ended with back-to-back losses against Demian Maia and Alan Belcher. He has won four of his last five and will look to ride his momentum into Saturday night. Herman has improved tremendously on his striking over the last couple of years, and this could bode well for him.
Jake Shields is one of the smartest fighters in the world and always has the perfect gameplan. He trains with the Diaz brothers and Gilbert Melendez under Cesar Gracie. He has also been training with "Team Alliance" preparing for this fight. Brandon Vera, Phil Davis, and Dominick Cruz are just a few of the guys that train with "Team Alliance." Shields will try and put Herman on his back and use his grappling skills to full effect.
Herman's best chance to win this fight is to keep it on the feet. Herman has the edge standing. Shields has a good jab, but outside of that his striking is mediocre. This will be a very interesting fight, as both guys will try and implement their gameplan at the Pepsi Center. Shields is the favorite, but not by much. Herman will get his toughest test, and with a good performance he could make a rise in the middleweight division. If Shields comes out victorious, he will be a couple wins away from fighting for the belt.
OKAMI vs. ROBERTS
Yushin Okami looks to bounce back after back-to-back losses. He was one of the top middleweights in the world until he ran into Anderson Silva and Tim Boetsch. He dominated Boetsch for two rounds, but Boetsch knocked out the former title-contender in the third round. It was one of the best comebacks in UFC history. Okami fell to the back of the line among middleweight contenders. He is 10-4 in his UFC career and is one of the strongest middleweights in the world. He will look to utilize his strong wrestling game on Saturday night against Buddy Roberts.
Roberts made his UFC debut two months ago against Caio Magalhaes at UFC on FX 3. He won via unanimous decision. Okami is a huge step up in competition for Roberts, who has a 12-2 MMA career record.
He trains with Greg Jackson's camp and has been sparring with some of the best fighters in the world. Jackson has always been one of the best trainers in the world implementing a great gameplan for his fighter to give him the best chance to win. Roberts is a huge underdog in this fight, but he will look to make a huge splash on Saturday night.
Okami was originally slated to battle Rousimar Palhares, but Palhares suffered an injury while training. Roberts was suppose to lock horns with Chris Camozzi, but Camozzi had to withdraw with an injury. Roberts and Okami both wanted to stay on the card and agreed to meet each other at the Pepsi Center.
Roberts has nothing to lose in this fight, while Okami has nothing to gain. Okami should win this one easy, but Roberts knows a win over Okami will put his name on the map. A win for Okami does not do much, but if he has a great performance he should get a top-ten middleweight in his next fight.
LAWRENCE vs. HOLLOWAY
Justin "The American Kid" Lawrence was the favorite to win last seasons "Ultimate Fighter Live." Things did not work out for him, as he lost in the quarterfinals to the eventual winner, Michael Chiesa. Lawrence bounced back strong in his UFC debut against John Cofer.
He knocked Cofer out cold with a head kick that earned him the "Knockout of the Night" bonus. He also took home the "Fight of the Night" bonus, that earned him an extra $80,000 in the bank. Lawrence is a very skilled and talented fighter who will keep getting better and better. He is only 22 years old and has a very high upside to make a name for himself in the featherweight division. This will be his first fight at featherweight in the UFC after dropping down from lightweight after knocking out Cofer.
Max "Blessed" Holloway is one of the better young fighters in the featherweight division. The winner of this fight will inch closer to contender status in the 145-pound division. He is 5-1 overall and 1-1 in the UFC. His lone loss was to one of the best featherweights in the world in Dustin Poirier.
He followed his first career defeat with a dominant unanimous decision victory over Pat Schilling. Holloway is a lengthy featherweight and will have a three-inch reach advantage against Lawrence on Saturday night. He will look to utilize his reach and keep Lawrence outside.
Both of these fighters are two of the youngest featherweights in the UFC and they have a ton of potential to be one of the best in the division. Holloway enters the cage as the youngest fighter in the organization at 20 years old. Lawrence is two years older than his opponent. This should be a very entertaining fight and could steal fight of the night.
Lawrence is one of the best young kickboxers and will look for another knockout of the night bonus. He won over 150 amateur kickboxing matches and was a two-time Golden Gloves boxing champion in St. Louis. Holloway is one of the most versatile strikers in the featherweight division. He will throw anything from flying knees to spinning back elbows and keeps his opponents guessing on what is coming next. This is going to be an exciting fight that should get the fans juiced for a great main event.