By Adam Martin
First and Worst is an ongoing series for MMARatings.net, where every week Adam will make his pick for the best and worst newly-announced fight of the past week (Monday to Sunday). If you’d like to see any additions to this series, hit him up on Twitter @MMAdamMartin.
First: Michael Chiesa vs. Jorge Masvidal, UFC on FOX 8
Visa issues took Reza Madadi out of his scheduled UFC on FOX 8 matchup against Michael Chiesa, and now the winner of TUF Live will take on veteran lightweight Jorge Masvidal in a three-round bout that is my pick for the best fight announced over the last week.
This is a very good replacement fight, and although I was looking forward to a possible ground battle between Madadi and Chiesa, I think that Chiesa deserved a step up in competition. Masvidal, a former title contender in Strikeforce, certainly represents that, as the former Miami street fighter defeated up-and-coming Tim Means at UFC on FOX 7 to show he means business in the UFC.
The fight will pit Chiesa’s submissions and heart against Masvidal’s wrestling and dynamic striking. It’s a very tough fight for Chiesa so early in his UFC career, but it’s the right one, as he’s still undefeated and may possibly be a dark horse title contender, but we just don’t know it yet. But if he beats Masvidal we’ll know that Chiesa is for real, and conversely, if Masvidal gets a nice finish in this fight, that will really help him get a push up the ladder, so overall it’s good matchmaking, and I’m a fan of the fight booking.
Worst: Ben Rothwell vs. Brandon Vera, UFC 164
My pick for the worst first announced this past week is the upcoming heavyweight bout between Ben Rothwell and Brandon Vera, which is due to take place at UFC 164. Vera is making the move back up to heavyweight after an unsuccessful tenure as a light heavyweight, while Rothwell will be in a must-win situation, as he’s coming off a bad loss to Gabriel Gonzaga that dropped his UFC record to 2-3.
The fight is very puzzling, and I’m not sure what to make of it. Although I’m not totally against the idea of Vera fighting at heavyweight again, I’m confused by the timing of this decision, as he’s coming off by far his best performance as a light heavyweight, when he stepped up on short notice to deliver a barnburner against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua last summer at UFC on FOX 4. Sure, Vera lost the fight via fourth-round TKO, but he looked better than he ever has, and a loss to Rua is nothing to be ashamed of.
That’s why I’m confused about why he decided to move up to heavyweight now, and especially to take a fight against Rothwell, who is nicknamed “Big” because he’s a huge heavyweight. Vera is going to be at a significant size disadvantage in this fight, and although he’ll likely have the speed and striking advantage, it might not matter if Rothwell is able to use his girth to pin Vera against the fence and lie on him on the ground.
We’ll see how this move turns out for Vera, but I’m suspecting it doesn’t work out very well for him, and that he moves back to 205 his next time out.
UFC on Fox 8 is due to take place on July 27, 2013 at the KeyArena in Seattle, Washington.
Click the stars to rate how good you think UFC on Fox 8 will be.
UFC 164: Henderson vs. Pettis II is due to take place on August 31, 2013 at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Click the stars to rate how good you think UFC 164 will be.