With all of the major promotions taking a break this week, our attention turns toward the upstart Resurrection Fighting Alliance organization. The Nebraska-based promotion will host its third event on Saturday, June 30, from the Viaero Event Center in Kearney. The night’s main event will feature former Ultimate Fighter winner Joe “Daddy” Stevenson facing recent TUF Live competitor Dakota Cochrane.

If there ever was a fight that exemplified the promotion’s goal of helping fighters who have fallen on tough times regain the spotlight, Stevenson-Cochrane is it. Both fighters have struggled of late, but one of them will steer their career back on track come Saturday night.

For Stevenson, it has been a rough last four years. After falling short against B.J. Penn in his quest for the UFC lightweight championship, Stevenson has gone just 3-7, including losing his last four fights. After an ill-fated run at featherweight, he was released from the UFC last year. Although he just turned 30 years old, Stevenson’s 45 career fights are a lot of mileage for anyone in the sport.

Cochrane, meanwhile, looked to be one of the most promising young fighters in the sport after opening his career 11-1 with wins over current UFC fighters Jamie Varner and Marcus LeVesseur. Unfortunately, that’s where the wheels came off for the Nebraska fighter. He dropped his RFA debut, fell short in the elimination round on TUF Live and was then submitted in his next bout with RFA. The fight with Stevenson will give the former adult film star a chance to redeem himself in front of his hometown crowd.

Let’s take a deeper look at the fight. And as a reminder, this is a side-by-side comparison of how the fighters’ skills matchup against one another.

Striking: Stevenson – 7, Cochrane – 6

Cochrane (R) (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Neither one of these fighters are natural strikers and it shows in their attacks.

Stevenson, with his significant experience advantage, has had much more time to develop his stand-up game and will possess a slight edge over his younger opponent. While “Daddy” has scored six finishes by way of strikes in his career, it’s certainly not his bread-and-butter. One of the pitfalls of his game is a tendency to overcommit and leave himself open for counterstrikes.

In his elimination fight on TUF Live, Cochrane really struggled with a longer striker in James Vick. That won’t be the case again Stevenson. Cochrane may be able to capitalize in this fight with his reach advantage. Although the difference may only be a few inches, Stevenson fights very compact, which may be the opening that Cochrane needs.

The Clinch: Stevenson – 7, Cochrane – 6

A turning point in this bout is likely to be the clinch, especially the over-under position against the fence. Why, you ask?

Although Stevenson has a wrestling background, he’s not the type of fighter that looks to bring the fight to the mat with traditional takedowns. Instead, he uses his judo and hips. If Cochrane finds himself with his back up against the fence, he’s likely to go for a ride.

Cochrane’s counter will have to be his size and strength advantage.

Ground Game: Stevenson – 10, Cochrane – 7

Stevenson latches onto a guillotine (Sherdog)

I’d hate to oversimplify this fight, but if Stevenson gains the top position, it’s not if, but when he will submit Cochrane.

Although Stevenson has not forced a tapout since UFC 86, the Robert Drysdale black belt still possesses a lethal Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu attack. Roughly half of his 31 career wins have come by submission, and he may not even need to get on top of Cochrane to end this fight, as his guillotine choke is one of the most effective in the entire sport.

Cochrane does possess five submission wins of his own, but two of his three losses have come by rear-naked choke. The 26-year-old will certainly be outclassed if he tries to play the submission game with Stevenson.

Wrestling: Stevenson – 7, Cochrane – 8

Cochrane (top) (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

The aspect of this fight were Cochrane’s size advantage will be critical is in the wrestling department. As with nearly every component of this fight, Stevenson will have an experience advantage, but outside of Cochrane’s fight with Ramico Blackmon, the Nebraskan has excelled with his takedowns and control.

Stevenson’s no slouch here though. Remember his dominant win over Nate Diaz in 2009? The one where he put Diaz in a spladle? How many times have you seen that inside the Octagon?

The deciding factor may be whose defensive wrestling is better.

X-Factor

The biggest question leading into this fight is whether Stevenson’s head is still in the fight game. Four straight losses is tough for anyone to swallow, even a grizzled veteran. It’s crazy to think that at 30 years old a fighter may be past his prime, but Stevenson’s recent performances leave a lot to be desired. Can he overcome a young, hungry opponent such as Cochrane?

Total: Stevenson – 31, Cochrane – 27

Verdict: If this were a wrestling match, I give Cochrane a solid chance. However, Stevenson’s MMA game is much more developed and complete. If his year away from competition has allowed him to clear his head and focus, he’ll walk away with a slick submission victory over Cochrane.

Top Photo: Joe Stevenson (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

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