The welterweight title is back on the line on January 2, as reigning champion Robbie Lawler attempts to defend his belt for a second time, taking on Carlos Condit in the UFC 195 (10 P.M. EST, Pay Per View) main event.
A bout that was rescheduled from November, after Lawler was forced to postpone due to injury, this fight features two of the division's most feared and accomplished finishers.
Lawler (26-10 1 NC, 11-4 UFC), who is riding four-straight wins inside the Octagon, is known for his fast and heavy hands. A knockout artist who first debuted in the UFC at age 20, Lawler has been nearly perfect during his second run inside the Octagon, only narrowly losing a decision to Johny Hendricks in March 2014. Ever since, Lawler has been lights out.
Condit (30-8, 7-4 UFC), a former interim champ, has faced some of the sport's best, including Georges St-Pierre and Nick Diaz, in five-round affairs, and will look to unload his unorthodox striking arsenal on Lawler. Known for starting slow and making adjustments, Condit has an active and offensive guard on the ground, but it's in the clinch where's he best able to utilize his advantages of height and reach.
Stylistically, the contest should be an exciting battle of kickboxing-heavy MMA. And with Lawler and Condit both preferring the standup, this bout is likely to end via TKO. Look for Lawler to stop the fight via punches in the mid-to-late rounds.
Co-Main Event: Andrei Arlovski vs. Stipe Miocic
Former heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski continues to ride his career resurgence up the divisional ranks. A winner of four straight inside the Octagon, Arlovski is now paired with boxer and wrestler Stipe Miocic, in what could be a title-eliminator.
With Arlovski (25-10 1 NC, 14-4 UFC), there will be no surprises. His gameplan will rely on punching for the knockout, while not over extending himself or exposing himself to Miocic's punches.
Miocic (13-2, 7-2 UFC) prefers to do damage at close range, utilizing his wrestling to grind opponents down against the cage and dirty box in close.
It's been a great ride for Arlovski since returning to the UFC in 2014, but the streak ends against Miocic, who controls the Octagon and pressures his way to a decision victory.
Lorenz Larkin vs. Albert Tumenov
Boy has Lorenz Larkin been a great story since cutting down to 170 pounds.
A former middleweight, who owns a win over welterweight champion Lawler, Larkin (16-4, 3-4 UFC) has looked impressive during his first two fights at 170, earning a pair of TKO wins.
Tumenov (16-2, 4-1 UFC) is riding four straight heading into UFC 195, including a Performance of the Night head kick in his most recent bout.
Expect a mostly standup affair, as both Larkin and Tumenov favor the knockout. And sometime late in the second, Tumenov will put it together to stop the fight via TKO.
Diego Brandao vs. Brian Ortega
Former The Ultimate Fighter winner Diego Brandao always delivers something wild inside the Octagon. He doesn't always win, but there's definitely a show.
Brandao (20-10, 6-3 UFC) can punch. He likes to punch and knee, but he can also deliver on the ground, where he's apt in the submission game. In between, Brandao exposes many weaknesses, but he does so in the spirit of fighting, hard.
Ortega (9-0 1 NC, 1-0 1 NC UFC), an up-and-comer, is a more patient fighter, who prefers the ground over the feet.
Expect Brandao to race out and look for the knockout. Ortega will weather the storm until Brandao gasses out and take the bout via decision.
Abel Trujillo vs. Tony Sims
A mainstay at Boca Raton's Blackzilians camp, Abel Trujillo is the very type of serviceable wrestle-boxer that can hang on the UFC's lower rung, but has never been quite able to step up against higher-ranked opposition. Tony Sims, who's only in his third fight with the UFC, is living on that lower tier, where Trujillo has been able to feast on opponents.
Trujillo (12-7 1 NC, 3-3 1 NC UFC) is known for some heavy, heavy hands, but he's likely to fade as the fight goes on. Sims (12-3, 1-1 UFC) also has knockout power, and has only been finished once in professional competition.
The first round will start of off fast, and it won't be pretty, as the bout evolves into a grinder along the cage fence. Sims will mount a comeback in the second frame, but somehow, Trujillo will land the knockout punch before the final bell and avoid a third-straight loss.
Dustin Poirier vs. Joseph Duffy
While we generally focus on the main card, this lightweight bout between Dustin Poirier and Joseph Duffy can not be ignored, despite its place on the UFC Fight Pass preliminary card (6:30 P.M. EST, UFC.TV).
A decorated finisher and five-year UFC veteran, Dustin Poirier (18-4, 10-3 UFC), the promotion's 12th-ranked lightweight, has a knack for exciting knockouts and submissions. Poirier was previously one of the sport's top featherweights before moving up to 155 pounds. He's 2-0 in the higher weight class and is right on the verge of emerging as a legitimate contender.
Duffy (14-1, 2-0 UFC), who was forced to withdraw from the pair's previous booking with a last-minute concussion, is the UFC's second great Irish hopeful. Known as the last man to beat Conor McGregor, Duffy excels as a boxer, but also plays the submission game. His style is an incredible counter to Poirier's, as both fighters play offense and defense well.
A strong candidate for the evening's Fight of the Night, this bout goes the distance, as both Poirier and Duffy never quite pull the trigger. Poirier wins by decision.