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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
The UFC returns to Fuel TV on Tuesday with their third dedicated fight card for the network. Tuesday's broadcast will air live from the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Va., headlined by the featherweight bout between Dustin Poirier and "The Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung. The three-hour broadcast features six fights, and here's what's on tap for the broadcast:
Dustin Poirier vs. "The Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung (Featherweight)
Since coming into the Zuffa fold in 2010, Chan Sung Jung has been a fan favorite due to a sometimes reckless fighting style, an ability to absorb punishment, and a penchant for having really fun fights. His sloppy debut brawl with Leonard Garcia in the WEC was one of the more exciting fights of 2010, and though he was robbed of a decision win, it left fans wanting more.
He suffered a head kick knockout against George Roop in his next fight, but then rebounded in a big way in 2011 with the first ever twister submission in his rematch with Garcia, and then his seven second KO of Mark Hominick.
Poirier hasn't been tested against top level opposition just yet, but at 23-years-old he's shown off an impressively well rounded game, and is also a very exciting fighter to watch.
Jung isn't afraid to stand and strike with an opponent, though his willingness to take punches to land could certainly lead him to trouble. That said, once on the ground he's got a very adept submission attack as well, with last year's Twister a prime example of that.
However, Poirier's striking is crisp and effective, and his ground game is very solid as well. This is a very entertaining matchup on paper, and should prove to be one on Tuesday as well. Though Jung is certainly capable of pulling off an upset, I don't trust his chin to hold up through a five round fight with Poirier. Poirier via TKO in the fourth round
Amir Sadollah vs. Jorge Lopez (Welterweight)
Sadollah - the season seven Ultimate Fighter who has spent his entire professional career inside the Octagon - looked like he had turned a corner in his skill set last March when he decimated DaMarques Johnson. However, in a lopsided decision loss to Duane Ludwig last August, he was brought back down a notch.
Lopez fights for the second time in the Octagon after suffering a decision loss to Justin Edwards in his organizational debut last September, leaving both fighters to enter this event off of lengthy layoffs.
Neither fighter is especially superior in any aspect of the game, as they've both got decent striking and solid grappling, which makes for a fairly even fight overall. If Sadollah hasn't learned from the loss to Ludwig, he may certainly find himself in a repeat of that performance, but he seems to bounce back fairly well from adversity, and I think he'll get back on track in this one. Sadollah via decision
Donald Cerrone vs. Jeremy Stephens (Lightweight)
In what may be the best fight on the card, Cerrone looks to bounce back from a momentum-killing loss to Nate Diaz in December and to reemerge as a contender in the lightweight division. Standing across from him is a very talented lightweight who has proven to be a pretty good barometer for talent in the division in Jeremy Stephens.
Stephens will never challenge for a title in the UFC, but he's got a ton of power in his strikes and has a good grappling game as well, making him a fairly well rounded threat. As a gatekeeper in the lightweight division, he's also more than capable of testing any fighter trying to break into the next level at 155 lbs.
The term "gatekeeper" isn't meant pejoratively here, either. He's been in some immensely close fights with several fighters, and he's capable of defeating most in the division, but a 7-6 record in the UFC will have him in that role indefinitely.
With that said, this is the type of fight he tends to lose in close fashion. Cerrone's never been stopped by strikes before, and he's been hit with some pretty big shots throughout his career. His striking is also much improved, and while his jiu jitsu game is pretty slick as well, it's his improvements in wrestling that helped him turn the corner from solid lightweight to potential title contender.
He got sucked into Nate Diaz's game in December, but the same thing won't happen against Stephens. If he fights intelligently, uses his reach, and picks his spots, he's got the length, height, and speed necessary to render Stephens ineffective during the fight. If he does that, this is his easy. Cerrone via decision
Yves Jabouin vs. Jeff Hougland (Bantamweight)
Jabouin's early career is littered with stoppage wins, and he's shown off his power on a few occasions in the WEC and UFC, but he lacks a stoppage victory in his 3-3 mark under the Zuffa umbrella.
Hougland, who was brought in as a late replacement, has gone unbeaten in nine fights over the last seven years, including a win in his UFC debut last July. However, while he presents a submission threat throughout the bout for Jabouin, the fact that he's a late replacement and hasn't fought in 10 months does work against him.
Ultimately, Jabouin has more experience on a big stage, and has won two straight, albeit by split decision. Still, he should have more than enough in the tank to avoid the attacks of Hougland, though an eye must be kept on the submission game of Hougland prior to the final horn. Jabouin via decision
Igor Pokrajac vs. Fabio Maldonado (Light Heavyweight)
Pokrajac is coming off of two stoppage wins over Todd Brown and Krzysztof Soszynski, but he's facing a decidedly more difficult striker in Fabio Maldonado here. However, Maldonado hasn't fought since a questionable decision loss to Kyle Kingsbury almost a year ago.
This is very likely going to be a fight contested entirely on the feet, and while Pokrajac has been impressive in his last two stoppage wins, Maldonado is a more dynamic puncher than either fighter he faced in those wins.
If Maldonado's cardio isn't completely negated by the year long layoff, I think he'll provide a varied attack that should wear Pokrajac down to a stoppage around the midpoint of the fight. Maldonado via TKO in the second round
Jason MacDonald vs. Tom Lawlor (Middleweight)
This fight features two immensely entertaining, yet woefully inconsistent fighters. Lawlor's entrances have become a part of his schtick, but he hasn't put together the regular success to bring the complete package.
MacDonald was brought back to the UFC in 2010 after a year and four fights outside of the organization, and promptly suffered an injury that kept him out a year. He returned with a submission win, only to lose once more in his last fight against Alan Belcher.
Lawlor has some decent skills on the ground, but MacDonald's submission game will be on another level there. If Lawlor can keep things standing, he's got the advantage on the feet, but that's easier said than done. The big X factor in this fight is also MacDonald's cardio advantage, so there are just more things working in MacDonald's favor here. MacDonald via submission in the second round.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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