On April 28th, perhaps MMA’s most significant fight will take place as Albuquerque trained and UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones (17-1) will take on the trash talking and wrestling standout Chael Sonnen (27-12-1) in a World Title fight at UFC 159. The event will take place inside the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey and the evening will be home to several prominent local New Mexico fighters who will compete before the main event headlined by Jones.
Two of those fighters who will be competing on the undercard will be in completely opposite scenarios in their career going into their bouts. UFC veteran Leonard “Bad Boy” Garcia (15-10-1) takes on Cody McKenzie (13-3) in a bout that will make or break Garcia’s career. Garcia’s teammate, Rustam Khabilov (15-1) will look to keep his hot streak going when he matches up with undefeated Yancy Medeiros (9-0).
It is very rare to keep your job in the UFC after suffering four consecutive losses but Garcia has managed to secure the opportunity to avoid a 5-fight losing streak in the UFC. Since winning his UFC debut in December of 2010, Garcia has lost three decisions and was victim to the UFC’s first “Twister” submission at the hands of Chan Sung Jung. While the Jackson-Winklejohn trained Garcia has fallen onto some troubled grounds, the always exciting slugger is matched up with an opponent favorable for his brawling style.
The Cesar Gracie trained McKenzie is a submission specialist known for his unique set up to the guillotine choke he has labeled the “McKenzietine”. Known for his stellar grappling, McKenzie doesn’t possess polished striking skills and will have a hard time dealing with Garcia’s frenetic pace and power driven aggression if he is unable to take the fight to the ground.
The fight will be a “make or break” type moment for Garcia as a loss here almost certainly guarantees a release from the UFC and maybe the last chance Garcia has to remain in prominence among the 145-pound Featherweight division.
On the complete end of the spectrum, Rustam “Tiger” Khabilov has a four fight win streak going which includes his UFC debut that saw Khabilov ragdoll his opponent with suplexes. The win would announce Rustam’s entrance into the promotion and label the Russian fighter as one to watch out for in the future. His next bout very well may be a breakout type fight that could propel him to the next level in the 155-pound lightweight division.
Being undefeated in the UFC brings a lot of attention and Yancy Medeiros had just that entering 2010that, as the Hawaiian top prospect had been making waves finishing seven of nine career opponents since his MMA debut in 2007. Unfortunately, Medeiros has not seen action since the 2010 Strikeforce event headlined by Fedor Emelianenko and Fabricio Werdum. The aggressive striker despite the lengthy layoff is still only 25-years old and a fight with Khabilov will be a quick test as to whether he can still make waves in the sport.
The fight may favor Khabilov as an aggressive striker looking to land the power punches is susceptible to being taken down and controlled. Khabilov definitely has the Sambo background to dominate the grappling and has been more active in the sport in comparison to Medeiros who may suffer from some ring rust. It will be a style contrast that could be Khabilov’s chance to make a mark in the UFC’s 155-pound division.
Stay tuned to SWFight.com for more event coverage, fight breakdown and analysis as well as fight results Saturday night. We send our best wishes with the fighters traveling from Albuquerque to New Jersey this weekend for UFC 159.