The UFC will air its third broadcast on Fox, and this time they may have gotten it right!

The first attempt was the much hyped heavyweight title fight between Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez. The bout was so hyped the decision was made to only air the title fight. It lasted only 64 seconds, which resulted in nearly an hour of fluff and chit chat among the announcers that bordered on uncomfortable at times.

UFC on Fox 2 promised more fights and less talk. This time three fights would be aired instead of one. While the show delivered name fighters like Rashad Evans, Michael Bisping and Chael Sonnen, the UFC seemed to forget that most of the fighters employed a wrestling-based attack that may seem boring to casual fans. All three televised fights found their way to less than spectacular decisions.

UFC on Fox 3 seems to have found a great combination of name value and pleasing styles. The main card kicks off with two men who will gladly stand and bang, and the odds of it making it out of the first round can’t be high—Pat Barry and Lavar Johnson have combined for 19 first-round knockouts. It is followed by the first of three fights that may have title implications as Alan Belcher matches his well-rounded game against the man with the most devastating leglocks, Rousimar Palhares. Resident top-five welterweight Josh Koscheck will look to settle a feud with the man who stopped his good friend and training partner Jon Fitch in under 30 seconds when he takes on Johny Hendricks in the co-main event. And the main event features two guys trying to break out of the logjam at the top of the lightweight division rankings when Jim Miller takes on Nate Diaz in a five-round main event. While Koscheck and Diaz deliver some name value for the casual fans, it is the style match-ups that promise that UFC on Fox 3 will be a can’t-miss card.

UFC on Fox 3 takes place at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J., on Saturday, May 5. The main card airs on Fox at 8 p.m. ET. The preliminary card action will stream on Facebook at 4 p.m. ET and then on Fuel TV beginning at 5 p.m ET. Let’s take a look at the four-fight main card as seen through my eyes and the eyes of my colleagues, Dale DeSouza and Kyle Symes.

HW: Pat Barry (7-4) vs. Lavar Johnson (16-5)

DeSouza: Pat Barry vs. Lavar Johnson is a Knockout of The Year candidate just waiting to happen—that is, of course, unless we see a similar fight to what Joey Beltran displayed when he fought Barry at Fight for The Troops 2. Going back to Johnson, though, this fight is good in whatever way you slice it, and with both men coming off of impressive victories, the question is not “who will land first?” but rather “when will one strike land first?”

Pat Barry (TJ De Santis/Sherdog)

For Barry, the fight against Johnson seems somewhat tailor-made on the feet. Remember, Barry—a Roufusport product turned Deathclutch headhunter—was a former kickboxer who had to pick up a few things along the way to adjust to MMA. In picking up those few things, he’s developed into quite the menace despite having been finished four times in an 11-fight career. On the plus side, however, he picked up a nice Fight of The Night bonus for his performance against Christian Morecraft at UFC on FX 1 earlier this year.

Personal thoughts notwithstanding, Barry’s kickboxing makes him a well-rounded threat on the feet.To beat Johnson, a man needs to be a fast starter who pressures the usually aggressive Strikeforce import, forcing Johnson to get wild with his striking when he presses forward. Barry’s just not the man to beat Johnson, save for a situation in which Johnson commits to either being technical or just flat-out not opening up with his own striking against the shorter and more technical Barry.

It’ll be hard to call this one unless we see a takedown from one of these two big boys, and Barry’s looking for takedowns and submissions these days, so perhaps it’s inevitable in this one. To Barry’s credit, he is a gamer and he will not go down as easily as he’s gone down in previous fights, but Johnson’s hands will be just too much for even Barry to handle in this bout as he will rock the usually entertaining Barry and put him away by TKO in the 2nd round.

Symes: Johnson made a huge impact on UFC fans by being the first guy to stop Beltran in the UFC—stopping him in devastating fashion no less. Barry, on the other hand, has been a fan-favorite for years for his colorful personality and fan-friendly fighting style.

Like Dale, I believe this bout will come down to who lands their shots, so long as the fight remains standing. Barry’s leg kicks are ruthless and it would certainly be wise to use those to take away the base of the much bigger Johnson. He’s also been working on his wrestling game and could utilize that to his advantage as Johnson has shown some holes in his grappling game.

I just don’t see Barry being able to take too many shots from Johnson. In his bout with Cheick Kongo, Barry was dropped by a dazed Kongo with a single punch. What happens when a fully coherent striker in Johnson lands one of those huge punches?

Lavar Johnson (James Law/Heavy MMA)

Barry may like to stand and bang, but his best chance for victory would come if he can get Johnson to the mat. Not that I believe Barry is a great wrestler or submission expert, but I believe he will realize that if he wants to be a serious contender, he will need to start using his opponent’s weaknesses to his advantage.

I’ve got Barry pulling off the upset with a rear-naked choke towards the later half of round two.

Wilcoxon: This fight may not make it out of the first round. The two have combined for 19 first-round knockouts which means both men have KO power.

While I think my colleagues have hinted at some of the things that will impact this fight, I also think they have missed a few. They hinted at the size advantage that definitely favors Johnson. He is 6-foot-4 whereas Barry is a relatively short 5-foot-11. The reach advantage will be just as large and means Barry will have to get inside the range of Johnson to knock his opponent out.

They also hinted at Barry being the much more technical of the fighters, where Johnson is a little wild. And they indicated that Barry is able to mix his strikes from punches to kicks, but didn’t point out Johnson does not have that ability.

However, they completely failed to mention that even though Johnson has more MMA fights, the experience gained by fighting top competition gives Barry an edge. Barry has eight fights in the UFC and has faced many name fighters whereas the best competition Johnson has faced was either Beltran or Shane Del Rosario.

Barry’s biggest weakness so far in his career is the lack of being a killer.  He had Cro Cop in trouble and let him survive. He had Kongo in trouble and pulled back. He even had Beltran to the point of barely being able to walk and he let him get to the judges. Barry recognizes this weakness and has been working on it.

I think the difference in the competition level each fighter has faced is huge. Barry will land solid leg kicks that will leave Johnson off balance while Barry picks away at him before collecting a late-round knockout.

MW: Alan Belcher (17-6) vs. Rousimar Palhares (14-3)

Symes: In a battle of talented middleweights, Alan Belcher and Rousimar Palhares square off in what could very likely earn Fight of the Night honors. Belcher came back from a career-threatening eye injury to defeat Jason MacDonald last September. Palhares, meanwhile, has won three straight with all but one opponent being forced to tap out.

It would be easy to call Palhares a one-trick pony given his ability to latch onto a heel hook, but he’s a much more talented fighter than that. He’s a human specimen who combines both raw power and deadly submission skills into a dangerous package.

Alan Belcher (top) (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

Belcher, meanwhile, is more known for his impressive striking array, but to quote Joe Rogan, “has a very underrated ground game.” If the fight ends up on the mat, don’t be shocked to see Belcher surprise the Brazilian with his grappling skills.

The fight is honestly a coin toss for me at this point. I believe Belcher can use his technical skills to outpoint Palhares on the feet, but the Brazilian has one of the best jiu-jitsu games in the middleweight division and some striking power of his own.

I see this as being a very close fight with Palhares pulling out a controversial split decision victory.

Wilcoxon: Maybe it is just me, but I think Belcher is being criminally overlooked in this fight. He is a well-rounded fighter with solid wrestling, great jiu-jitsu, and solid striking. He is 5-1 since 2008 with his one loss being a controversial split decision to Yoshihiro Akiyama that many people thought he won.

I also think at this point Palhares is a little overhyped, but it is easy to understand why. The muscular middleweight has been locking on leglocks right and left and few seem to be able to stop him.

Belcher will need to use his height and reach advantage along with solid footwork to pick apart Palhares in order to win. It is easier said than done as Palhares tends to come out of the gates like it is a race to see how fast he can get done. But the longer this fight lasts, the more likely Belcher is to win. I really see this fight much closer to even than most seem to think it will be. I just think Belcher is here to ruin the party. Belcher takes a unanimous decision.

DeSouza: It’s strange how a Rousimar Palhares fight normally goes when you think about it enough. Everyone knows what he wants to do to win the fight, everyone expects him to try for his preferred method of victory at least once before the end of the fight, and everyone—including Palhares’ UFC on Fox 3 opponent, Alan Belcher—always says they’re going to find a way to avoid it. Aside from Nate Marquardt, though, who has been able to live up to their word of avoiding Palhares’ patented heel hook?

Rousimar Palhares (left) (Heavy MMA)

The scariest thing about Palhares’ leglocks—especially that heel hook—is that six men out of the ten that Palhares has submitted in his career all had the chance to defend the hold and they all still wound up trapped in it. Only Dave Branch has lost a pro MMA bout to Palhares by kneebar, while Ivan Salaverry dropped a UFC 84 bout to the then-debuting Palhares due to an armbar. But still it stands that six men knew about Palhares’ jiu-jitsu and therefore should have expected the heel hook. Yet, they all were forced to tap, which doesn’t help Belcher out much coming into this bout. It also doesn’t help that, Palhares also took some legs home at last year’s ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship in the -88kg category by submitting three poor souls before losing to eventual -88kg and absolute division winner Andre Galvao.

Of the things Belcher does have, though, what does help him out is a combination of two things. The first is his submission-by-punches win over Jason MacDonald at UFC Fight Night 25, which came after a long layoff from recovery after the emergency eye surgery that forced him out of UFC Fight Night 22. Though MacDonald was no Palhares, Belcher did stuff MacDonald’s best attempts to get the fight on the ground, wound up on top, and punished MacDonald on the ground to force the verbal tapout. The second thing helping Belcher is his own competence of BJJ, which may translate into successful submission defense.

Now, I say it may translate into successful submission defense, but with Palhares, successful submission defense is awesome footwork and striking that forces some sloppy offense from Palhares. Unless Belcher is looking to stuff Palhares’ takedowns, catch him on the way up with a few shots, and have him backpedaling to avoid the striking that “The Talent” is known for, the result will come in the form of yet another submission win by heel hook, likely in the first round. The only real upset in all of this is whether or not it comes in the first minute of the round. I don’t think it will come until late in the first round because Belcher is a tough fighter for even Palhares to handle, but strange things happen when a man fights Palhares and tries to avoid that heel hook.

WW: Johny Hendricks (12-1) vs. Josh Koscheck (17-5)

Wilcoxon: This is an important battle in the welterweight division with big title implications. At first glance, both fighters appear to possess the same strengths: standout wrestlers who have worked on and found success striking. However, I think a closer examination shows a different reality.

Hendricks bolted up the rankings when he knocked out Koscheck’s former training partner and close friend Jon Fitch in just 12 seconds. Hendricks is a two-time NCAA National champion and a four-time All-American. He used that great wrestling and solid athleticism as base to build power striking. His striking is not technical but packs enough power that any fighter needs to be careful.

Johny Hendricks (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

Of course, Koscheck is also a NCAA National champion and a four-time All-American. He used his wrestling for years, but slowly has grown more reliant on his striking. His striking is probably a little more technical than Hendricks but lacks the big power.

The big differences between these two in my mind is not so much where they came from but more in where they are. Hendricks still readily incorporates his wrestling with his striking, giving him some openings he wouldn’t get relying on just one or the other. Koscheck has abandoned his wrestling for the most part and would prefer to just strike. The second difference is age and chin. Hendricks is only 28 and entering his prime; Koscheck is 34 and nearing the end of his career. Hendricks has never been KO’ed or seriously hurt; Koscheck has been brutalized and been through wars. He has been KO’ed and hurt from strikes.

To me this is the passing of the guard. Koscheck makes it a fun fight in the first, but Hendricks wins by KO in the second.

DeSouza: I’d like to agree with Richard and think that Koscheck makes this a fun fight simply because regardless of your personal opinion of the man, he does make fans wonder how his fights are going to go. To his credit, he is a wrestler with knockout power, but I do have questions not only about his knockout power compared to that of Hendricks, but also about his ability to bully around Hendricks akin to how Rick Story was able to bully around Hendricks not all that long ago. Truthfully, I believe Hendricks is more likely to bully Koscheck around than Koscheck is likely to bully Hendricks, but then again, I have been proven wrong at least three times in the past about Koscheck.

If my doubts about Koscheck stop on this night, it’s because Koscheck is a guy who used to train with Fitch and now makes his home at the Dethrone Base Camp in his stomping grounds of Fresno, Calif., along with rising prospect Justin Wilcox. With the move to Dethrone will likely come a rounding-out of his game to the point that he does things that many of us may not be considering as potentially a part of his game plan for Hendricks. Speaking of Fitch, some may feel he was a better wrestler than Koscheck is, and that’s why many feel Hendricks has this fight bagged and tagged. But as if the disbelief in the 12-second KO of Fitch—considered a downright fluke by some—was not enough, there is also the fact of Koscheck being just a little bit more experienced than Hendricks, and there are some times in which experience trumps potential, even if said “potential” does belong to Hendricks.  Nevertheless, Koscheck is on a roll currently with a two-fight win streak that includes wins over Mike Pierce and Matt Hughes, and with him being 4-1 in his last five fights, Koscheck does seem like he might be knocking on the door to title contention with a win over Hendricks.

Josh Koscheck (R) (James Law/Heavy MMA)

However, there are questions about Koscheck that must be answered as well. See, Koscheck is the type of fighter that Hendricks has yet to deal with thus far in his career, but it’s been awhile since Koscheck has had to deal with a fighter that packed a punch like Hendricks and worked as well with his wrestling. Not only that, but also seeing as how we’ve brought up the Fitch fight thus far, we also know that Koscheck has his two-fight streak and Fitch’s upset  loss as motivation, but does he really need to prove that his wins over Pierce and Hughes weren’t flukes? No, he does not. Hendricks does have a question of a “fluke win” to which he must respond correctly on Fox. Some believe that if Hendricks fights Fitch 99 more times, Fitch wins all 99 times.

Even still, it’s tough to knock the man on getting a win in a fight he was clearly not expected to win by anything other than a gift decision. People don’t have to like Hendricks, but he is a powerful wrestler who has the type of hands needed to test the 2012 version of Koscheck’s chin, and unlike Pierce, he actually will try to test that chin if Koscheck leaves an opening or if Hendricks creates one. Anything can happen in MMA, but in yet another fight that some might not expect Hendricks to win convincingly, he will create an opening to lay Koscheck out cold en route to a mid-first round knockout victory.

Symes: A passing of the guard, as Richard put it, is the perfect way to describe this fight. It’s the typical veteran standing up to the younger fighter when Koscheck meets Hendricks.

Hendricks is coming off the biggest win of his career, a one-punch KO of Kos’ former teammate Fitch in December. Koscheck, meanwhile, is coming off a victory, but looked rather sluggish against Pierce at UFC 143.

This comes down to the fact that I believe at this point Hendricks is the better wrestler and still incorporates it into his technique. Koscheck has a storied wrestling background, but if you’ve seen his fights it’s clear he’s fallen in love with the striking game.

However, Koscheck incorporates more weapons into his striking, such as leg and head kicks—something we’ve yet to see Hendricks feature. I think an interesting battle will ensue if both men choose to keep it standing, but I can also see Hendricks working for takedowns in order to steal rounds.

I see Koscheck opening up early, but I believe Hendricks is too much for the veteran to handle right now. Hendricks via TKO in the later part of round two or round three.

LW: Nate Diaz (15-7) vs. Jim Miller (21-3)

Symes: In what could determine the future title challenger at 155 pounds, Nate Diaz and Jim Miller will meet in the UFC on Fox 3 main event. Diaz is riding a two-fight winning streak with his last victory coming at UFC 141 against Donald Cerrone. Miller bounced back nicely from a devastating loss to Benson Henderson by defeating Melvin Guillard in convincing fashion.

Nate Diaz (R) (Phil Lambert/The MMA Corner)

As much as people are heralding Diaz for growing his game, I believe people are severely overrating him. Fans praised Diaz’s ability at UFC 135, claiming the Cesar Gracie product had finally come into his own. Never mind the fact this was against a way over-the-hill Takanori Gomi.

I will give him fair credit for the win over Cerrone as Diaz beat the better striker at his own game. If Diaz can use his length to stay away from Miller, he can repeat the Cerrone performance.

Miller is an accomplished grappler and his best attributes lay in his submission skills. Normally matched against a strong wrestler or striker, Miller will find himself paired against another top-level grappler in Diaz.

Most fans would immediately assume this will turn into an ugly stand-up battle between two grapplers, but I can see Miller using his wrestling to hold Diaz down—something Diaz has been very vulnerable to in the past.

Both men have reached the upper levels of their divisions, but it always seems just as they’re prepared to jump into stardom, they fall flat and lose. Someone is going to take a major step forward while the other will likely begin to hear the “choke” label associated with them.

Although I believe Diaz can win a stand-up battle and has the skills to secure a submission, I believe Miller’s submission defense and takedowns will be the key in earning him the unanimous decision victory.

DeSouza: Miller vs. Diaz is probably one of the most difficult fights that I have ever had to pick. Both possess exciting styles. On one hand, Miller is a tough son of a gun who has only lost unanimous decisions to former UFC lightweight champ Frankie Edgar, current UFC lightweight champ Benson Henderson, and formerly-undefeated Gray Maynard, but Miller is also one of the best in the division when it comes to looking for a submission win. On the other hand, the brash bad boy Diaz is a Cesar Gracie product who works a rugged and rough jiu-jitsu game and also has some underrated hands for a kid who is the brother of former Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz.

Jim Miller (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Is anyone overrating Diaz currently? Of course—it happens every time a fighter wins the way Diaz does, even if he’s only riding a two-fight streak. The thing about Diaz, though, is that he’s been so convincing in his performances against Gomi and Cerrone that nobody’s really been quick to note anything about how Cerrone probably should have gotten and kept Diaz on the ground,  even though Diaz has been historically good off of his back. Also, what’s failed to be mentioned is how Gomi needed to rebound from his loss to Clay Guida in the same way that Diaz needed to rebound from losses to Rory MacDonald and Dong Hyun Kim at the time of his fight with Gomi. It didn’t matter in the long run, though, because again Diaz had left no doubt that he’d won the fight, and he looked sharp on the feet in both affairs.

Miller knows a little something about coming off of losses, because when he lost to Henderson at UFC on Versus 5, he lost his seven-fight winning streak. However, he survived an early storm from Guillard and came back to submit him in the UFC’s debut outing on FX. The win over Guillard marked his 12th career win by submission, and his fifth by way of a rear-naked choke. While Diaz owns his own submission win over Guillard, Miller brings a blend of aggression and composure the likes of which not even Diaz has had to deal with before…or so we think.

I don’t know if I’m in the minority here, but for all that I like Miller and for all of his aggression in the cage, I like Diaz’s reach just a little bit more on this night. Sure, wins over a guy like Guillard will always mean something, but against Diaz, Miller will have a level of violence brought to him that he never had to deal with against Maynard, Edgar or Henderson. Miller does have a knowledge of submission defense and good takedowns, just like Kyle said. But with all due respect to Mr. Miller, it will be Diaz’s boxing and his natural fighting spirit that overwhelm Miller en route to that unanimous decision win.

Wilcoxon: It looks like I get to be the tiebreaker on this one. I think both of my colleagues laid out an excellent case of the path to victory for each fighter.  For Diaz to win, he needs to keep this fight on the feet where he can use his superior reach, his superior chin, and that awkward Diaz striking technique to pick apart Miller. For Miller to win, he will need to use his superior wrestling to get the fight to the ground where he can work from the top for a submission or some ground-and-pound. Physically each man has the tools and a path to impose their will to victory.

Nate Diaz (Sherdog)

I think this fight comes down to how much of an advantage they hold in their key areas and intangibles. There is no doubt that Diaz has a longer reach and will be the better striker. However, Miller has shown some skill in the striking department. He holds three KO victories and has never been knocked out. As far as submission skills go, both men are far above average and will probably negate each other. However, wrestling is where a major difference in skill comes into effect. Miller is a solid wrestler while wrestling is a big hole in Diaz’s game.

As for the intangibles, they seem to favor Miller as well. Diaz is traveling across the country for this fight whereas it is basically in Miller’s backyard. Miller has discussed how much better he performs when he can feed off the crowd’s energy from those there to support him. Also, mentally, Miller deals with adversity in the cage better than Diaz does. It is not uncommon to see Diaz become completely frustrated when things are not going his way.

I don’t mean to make it sound like Diaz doesn’t have a chance because I truly believe this fight is as close as they come. Diaz could catch Miller with a strike or a submission from his back and finish Miller. I just think when looking at each aspect of the fight that it favors Miller slightly. Miller can end this with a late-round submission or more likely a decision.

Top Photo: Jim Miller (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Richard Wilcoxon
Staff Writer

An East Coast native, Richard Wilcoxon grew up a die hard fan of traditional team sports. In the early 1990's, he stumbled onto the sport of MMA and has been hooked ever since. He started writing about the sport on his Sporting News member blog in 2005 where he worked to spread his passion for the sport. He eventually became an official staff writer for Sporting News' "The Rumble" MMA/boxing blog before joining The MMA Corner.