It seems like just yesterday that I was gearing up for six weeks of major MMA. Now, five of the six weeks have passed, which means it’s time to prepare for one last event before a break. My decision to write individual posts for every fight preview has resulted in quite a disproportionate amount of previews as opposed to opinion pieces or “current events” coverage on this website. Hopefully in the future, I’ll be able to balance the previews and the other stuff a bit better. But for now, it’s fight week yet again, which means that it’s preview week yet again. I hope that the content of the previews has been of a high enough quality to be worth reading.
The UFC is giving two new fighters a chance to make a splash in the bantamweight division, as UFC 132’s first fight features Jeff Hougland and Donny Walker. Part of what goes into the UFC absorbing the WEC is that it has absorbed two new weight classes, featherweight and bantamweight, and because the WEC was such a smaller organization, those weight classes are smaller by extension. The result is that the UFC has too many welterweights and lightweights, and too few featherweights and bantamweights. That’s essentially why fighters like Joe Stevenson and Tyson Griffin have moved to featherweight: their chances of survival in the UFC increase greatly when they move to a weight class the UFC is actively looking to deepen.
I’m convinced that depth is why Hougland and Walker were invited into the promotion. Let me explain. Hougland and Walker have had somewhat similar paths to the UFC. Hougland began his career 1-4, including a loss to current Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez. He’s followed that awful start with an eight-fight winning streak, improving his record to a much more respectable 9-4, which is the record he’s taking into this fight. Walker, on the other hand, was 8-6 at one point with exactly zero quality wins. He’s followed that up with a seven-fight winning streak, and enters this fight at 15-6 (according to Sherdog’s Fight Finder; I’ve seen his record reported differently by other sources).
The quality of opponents during each man’s winning streak is very similar as well. Here are the records of all eight of Hougland’s opponents during his streak, going into each fight:
- Julian Samaniego, 0-9
- Chris McMillen, 0-1
- Josh Gardner, 4-5
- Rusty Simpson, 0-1
- Roy Bradshaw, 5-3
- Jeremy Burnett, 3-3
- Omar Avelar, 4-0
- Craig Ross, 6-5
I don’t know about you, but that list doesn’t blow me away. Here’s the list of the men Donny Walker has beaten in his last seven fights:
- Brad Fonck, 1-5
- Bruce Ferguson, 4-1
- Tony Jayme, 1-2
- Dustin Kempf, 4-3
- Kenny Foster, 7-1
- Mike Nesto, 4-2
- Billy Vaughan, 9-5
That’s a little better. The best win either man has is Walker’s win against Kenny Foster, but more often than not, when a previously mediocre fighter goes on a long winning streak, it’s because of a less than stellar roster of opponents faced.
SILVA PREDICTION: DONNY WALKER (25.96) OVER JEFF HOUGLAND (20.28)
That’s why I think the UFC is just trying to add depth by inviting these two fighters. There’s very little that suggests either man has much hope of becoming a title contender; they have too many losses compared to not enough quality wins. Still, this fight is a very competitive match-up, and will likely be a battle of Walker’s striking and wrestling against Hougland’s grappling. SILVA likes Walker to win it.