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Event: UFC on Fox 9
Date: Saturday, December 14
Time/TV: 9:00 p.m. ET (FS1)
Venue: Sleep Train Arena
Location: Sacramento, California

Bantamweight Bout - Urijah Faber (29-6) vs. Michael McDonald (16-2)
Sportsbook.ag Line Faber -160, McDonald +130

Urijah Faber looks to extend his three-match winning streak as he takes on Michael McDonald Saturday at UFC on FOX 9 in a fight that could determine who earns a chance at the belt.

Since a unanimous decision loss to Renan Barao on July 12, 2012, Faber has looked terrific, winning two fights by submission. In his last victory against Iuri Alcantara on Aug. 17, Faber used his elite quickness and conditioning to get the victory by unanimous decision. In the loss to Barao, Faber was never able to control the fight. He is one of the best strikers in the weight class, leading to a 6-2 record at bantamweight, but Barao kept him at bay the entire fight. He must bring the fight to McDonald, who also has elite knockout power. Like Faber, McDonald fell to Barao on Feb. 16, but he lost by way of submission. He bounced back on Aug. 17 against Brad Pickett, winning the match with a triangle choke. McDonald is a very talented fighter that is close to becoming a champion, but he must continue his improvements as a fighter. This has a chance to be the fight of the night, as both men are hungry and ready to get another shot at the title.

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Of his 29 career victories, Faber has won 14 by submission and nine by knockout. He has never lost a non-title fight in his career. His quickness is his biggest strength, and he has the ability to get on top of his opponent at any time. If he is able to get ground-control, it is nearly impossible for his opponent to get back in the match. For his career, Faber has a takedown average of 1.54, compared to 1.39 of McDonald. A bigger advantage in this match will be his experience. Faber has nearly twice the amount of career fights that McDonald does, and has been able to win most of those matches. At 34 years old, "The California Kid" is nearing the end of his career. He understands that he may not have many more title chances in his future, and he must capitalize on this golden opportunity. However, do not expect McDonald to go down lightly.

McDonald is a knockout artist, with nine of his 16 career victories coming by way of knockout. However, he is not one-dimensional, as he has also won five by submission and two by decision. In consecutive victories over Alex Soto (Nov. 19, 2011) and Miguel Torres (April 21, 2012), McDonald ended both of those fights in the first round by knockout. "Mayday" averages 3.02 strikes per minute, compared to 2.68 strikes per minute by Faber. While he does not have the takedown average of Faber, he is much more accurate at 67 percent, compared to Faber’s 36 percent. The 5-foot-9 McDonald, who also hails from California (Modesto), also has a three-inch height advantage over his opponent. This is the second fight on the card, but both of these fighters have a ton to compete for. Look for this to be a high-energy, electric bout with both fighters ready to go from the opening bell.

Flyweight Championship - Demetrious Johnson (18-2-1) vs. Joseph Benavidez (19-3)
Sportsbook.ag Line Johnson -125, Benavidez -105

Joseph Benavidez looks to defeat the flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson on Saturday in a rematch from UFC 152 that saw Johnson win by split decision.

Johnson has been on a roll as of late, winning his past four matches. He is as well conditioned as anyone in the UFC, and pairing that with his athleticism and speed makes him one of the most difficult fighters to defeat. In his last victory over John Moraga on July 27, he showcased his versatility by locking in an arm-bar to defeat Moraga in the fifth round. In their first meeting at UFC 152 on Sept. 22, 2012, both fighters put on a show, and it was the first time in Johnson’s career that he won by split decision. Since that loss, Benavidez is 7-1 in his past eight fights, including three straight victories, and has looked dominant in those matches. In his most recent win over Jussier Formiga on Sept. 4, Benavidez delivered a devastating knee to the body, and then got on top of Formiga and showcased his ground-and-pound abilities in that first round finish. The only other fighter that Benavidez has lost to in his career is Dominick Cruz, and both of those matches ended by decision. No one has ever submitted or knocked Benavidez out, but he has just not been able to do enough in those big fights to get the victory.

Of his 19 victories, Benavidez has won eight by submission. However, he has the ability to win a match any way, as he has also tallied six victories by knockout and five by decision. The 29-year-old Benavidez is an experienced fighter that has gone toe-for-toe with champions in the past, and will not be affected by the magnitude of this fight. In addition to his one-inch height advantage over Johnson, he should have the crowd on his side as he fights out of Sacramento, which is where this fight will take place. Benavidez will have a huge advantage in his submission average, where his is 1.0, compared to just 0.3 for Johnson. A big reason why he lost in the first matchup is that he couldn't keep up with the punches that Johnson was throwing. That is something that will play a huge role in the fight as Johnson lands 3.32 strikes per minute, compared to just 2.99 by Benavidez. If he can show the ability and improvement in his striking game, Benavidez has everything needed to become the next champion. However, if he again can’t match Johnson’s striking ability, Benavidez will be in trouble.

Like Benavidez, "Mighty Mouse" Johnson has shown the ability to win a match in many different ways. He has eight decision victories, to go with seven submission victories and three by knockout. Both of his career losses came by way of decision, as he fell in 2010 to Brad Pickett, and in 2011 to Dominick Cruz. While Johnson has the striking advantage in this matchup both in volume and accuracy (51.2% compared to 30.5% from Benavidez), he also will have a big edge in the grappling department. Throughout his career, the 27-year-old Johnson has a takedown average of 3.73, compared to just 1.26 for Benavidez. When he was at 135 pounds, Johnson was consistently thought of as the fastest striker in that class, and he has proven to be that in the 125-pound weight class as well. With their first match being just 15 months ago, neither fighter has had a lot of time to change their styles and prepare for the other. If Johnson once again can keep Benavidez at bay throughout the fight, then he has a great chance of retaining his belt.

  
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