(Jesus Christ, Joe, are you playing for the other team?! You don’t snipe in Carentan, saboteur!)
Of all the seasons of The Ultimate Fighter to have produced upper-echelon fighters and title challengers at 155 lbs., who would’ve guessed that the season that coined the phrase “Wang and Bang” would one day rule them all? Not only is Nate Diaz next in line for a shot at Ben Henderson, but former title challenger Gray Maynard has just been booked to take on perennial contender Joe Lauzon in a battle that will easily launch the victor onto the short list of contenders at lightweight.
Then again, Sir Isaac Newton did state that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, which might explain why Gabe Ruediger is getting his ass kicked by skateboarders these days.
After spending the entirety of 2011 feuding with former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, which ended in his first career defeat, Maynard recently bounced back into the win column with a controversial split decision win over Clay Guida in the main event of UFC on FX 4. Although Maynard was thoroughly out-hustled for the majority of the fight, the significance of his offense in the latter rounds combined with Guida’s lack thereof was enough to earn him the nod.
Maynard will be facing the always entertaining Lauzon, who is currently 3-2 in his past five and most recently scored a third round triangle submission victory against former WEC champion Jamie Varner in their classic scrap at UFC on FOX 4. Lauzon has struggled in the past when facing top contenders, having dropped fights to Kenny Florian and Anthony Pettis in the past, but has also finished his opponents in all 22 of his victories. And although his cardio looked the best against Varner that it arguably ever has, there is no doubt that Maynard’s experience in the championship rounds will pay huge dividends if Lauzon isn’t able to put him away earlier.
Speaking of Varner, Matt Hamill recently pulled a similar maneuver as the former WEC champ by un-retiring and agreeing to face Bellator veteran Roger Hollett at UFC 152. However, word broke earlier today that Hollett had suffered an undisclosed injury forcing him out of the contest, and stepping in for Hollett would be none other than former IFL champion Vladimir Matyushenko.
The two share a lot of similarities beyond their extensive wrestling background, the first of which being that neither Hamill or “The Janitor” have fought since running into the one way pain train that is Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 133 and 141, respectively. Hamill’s beatdown was so bad that it led him to retire in the first place, whereas Matyushenko simply suffered from a bad case of attempting to block Gustafsson’s punches with his face.
Luckily, I’ve managed to find some decent quality highlights from both men’s fights with Gustafsson below, and added them below. Enjoy, and let us know who you think takes this one.
Hamill vs. Gustafsson
Matyushenko vs. Gustafsson (highlights start at the 1:10 mark)