Tag Archive for Prelims

Predictions! UFC Lincoln ‘Prelims’ Preview – Pt. 2

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a bevy of “Prelims” fights to both UFC Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1 this weekend (Sat., Aug. 25, 2018) when UFC Fight Night 135: “Gaethje vs. Vick” storms Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln, Nebraska. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg continues the UFC Fight Night 135 “Prelims” party with the second — and final — installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

It’s time for less than five rounds of Lightweight action!

Human bonus-winning machine Justin Gaethje and surging contender James Vick take their feud from Twitter to the Octagon in Lincoln, Neb., this Saturday (Aug. 25, 2018), headlining UFC Fight Night 135 inside Pinnacle Bank Arena, which will air live on FOX Sports 1. UFC Fight Night 135’s main card will also feature Bryan Barberena vs. Jake Ellenberger, Deiveson Figueiredo vs. John Moraga, and Eryk Anders vs. Tim Williams, among others.

We’ve got four more UFC Fight Night 135 “Prelims” undercard matches to check out before that, though (check out the first batch here), so let’s continue, shall we?

170 lbs.: James Krause vs. Warlley Alves

Despite riding a two-fight win streak, James Krause (23-8) elected to try his hand on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 25, where he picked up another two wins before falling to Jesse Taylor in the semifinals. He has since notched victories over Tom Gallicchio and Alex White to move his UFC record to 6-3.

He stands three inches taller than Warlley Alves (13-2) and will have an inch of reach on him.

Alves followed up his dominant TUF: “Brazil” run with four consecutive Octagon victories, only to drop consecutive bouts to Bryan Barberena and Kamaru Usman. He has since gotten back on track with wins over Salim Touahri and Sultan Aliev, the latter of whom he finished via grotesque eye swelling.

Four of his six submission wins have come by guillotine.

Assuming he doesn’t have issues making the cut, I’d prefer to see Krause at 155 pounds. At Welterweight, he’s going to struggle against more physically powerful foes, a bill which Alves fits nicely. He’s got the heavier hands of the two and should be able to power through Krause’s long-range offense to do damage on the inside.

I’m not convinced Krause has the firepower to keep Alves off of him, and judging by that less than 20 percent takedown accuracy, he’s not shutting down Alves the way Usman did. Alves’ steady pressure stifles Krause’s kicks and allows him to beat up the head and legs for a clear decision.

Prediction: Alves via unanimous decision

135 lbs.: Cory Sandhagen vs. Iuri Alcantara

Two knockout victories in a combined 4:07 erased the memory of Cory Sandhagen’s (8-1) lone career loss and brought him to the Octagon this past January on an eight-day turnaround. The short notice proved no issue as he put away Austin Arnett with body shots in the second round.

He’s two inches taller than Iuri Alcantara (36-9), but will give up an inch of reach.

Alcantara’s comeback kneebar of Luke Sanders gave way to upset losses to Brian Kelleher and Alejandro Perez, the former of whom handed “Marajo” his first submission loss since 2009. He went on to prove he was still dangerous by thrashing Joe Soto in 66 seconds to secure his fourth post-fight bonus in his previous six fights.

He has knocked out and submitted 14 opponents apiece.

As great as the Soto knockout was, it feels like Alcantara’s flashes of brilliance are getting fewer and farther between. “Marajo” took a career-altering beating from Sanders before pulling off a Hail Mary submission and sleepwalked through his fight with Perez. He’s also closing in on 40 years old, meaning that freak athleticism may not last much longer.

Sandhagen, meanwhile, is a decade younger and a much smoother striker. His body attack should work well against the explosive Brazilian and Alcantara’s never been a consistent takedown artist. Barring one of the bursts of violence “Marajo” is known for, Sandhagen avoids the big left hand and out-boxes him for 15 minutes.

Prediction: Sandhagen via unanimous decision

185 lbs.: Andrew Sanchez vs. Markus Perez

Andrew Sanchez (9-4) looked poised to make waves in the division after a strong TUF run, dominating Khalil Rountree and defeating Trevor Smith in his first two Octagon appearances. His cardio issues have since reared their heads, allowing underdogs Anthony Smith and Ryan Janes to knock him out in brutal fashion.

He has knocked out five opponents and submitted another two.

Markus Perez (10-1) made the most of his first LFA appearance by choking out future “Contender Series” standout Ian Heinisch to win the promotion’s Middleweight title. He fell to Eryk Anders in his short-notice Octagon debut, but picked up his first UFC victory in May with a submission of James Bochnovic.

“Maluko” steps in for Antonio Braga Neto on three weeks notice.

Sanchez could really be something special if he could learn to pace himself. Solid wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu with serviceable striking is a quality skillset, even it’ll never carry him past the monsters waiting at the top of the division.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say he wins this, even if that seems hypocritical given how I talked about Jon Tuck yesterday. He just seems like he can outclass Perez in the latter’s area of expertise, and I’d imagine that thrashing from Ryan Janes has taught him not to blow his wad early. This is the last shot I’ll give him, but I say Sanchez comes up big with his back against the wall and mixes boxing and takedowns for the win.

Prediction: Sanchez via unanimous decision

170 lbs.: Mickey Gall vs. George Sullivan

Mickey Gall (4-1) rose above his Octagon origins as a C.M. Punk opponent to become a genuine contender with his 2016 submission of Sage Northcutt. He had some good moments, but couldn’t do the same to Randy Brown at UFC 217, resulting his first-ever professional defeat.

All four of his professional mixed martial arts (MMA) wins have come by rear-naked choke.

George Sullivan (17-6) started his UFC career strong with wins over Mike Rhodes and Igor Araujo, closing as the underdog in both fights. He’s just 1-3 since, suffering stoppage losses to Tim Means, Alexander Yakovlev and Niko Price, and faced a two-year layoff because of USADA issues.

“The Silencer” has knocked out 11 professional opponents.

This is a fairly obvious get-well fight for Gall, albeit one with the slightest tinge of danger. Sullivan is a threat on the feet and showed some nasty ground-and-pound against Araujo. That said, he looked hopeless on the ground against Niko Price, who struggles in most aspects of the game that aren’t punching people extremely hard, and has been taken down at least twice in every UFC appearance.

Heck, Dom Waters got him down five times.

Gall’s going to get him to the mat as soon as he wants to, and from there it’s just a matter of time until he takes the back and puts on the squeeze.

Prediction: Gall via first-round submission

Justin Gaethje means I’m tuning in, no questions asked. See you Saturday, Maniacs.

Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 135 fight card this weekend, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” undercard bout at 6:30 p.m. ET, followed by the FOX Sports 1 “Prelims” undercard bouts at 8 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10 p.m. ET (also on FOX Sports 1).

- Current UFC “Prelims” Prediction Record for 2018: 113-56

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Predictions! UFC Lincoln ‘Prelims’ Preview – Pt. 1

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a bevy of “Prelims” fights to both UFC Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1 this weekend (Sat., Aug. 25, 2018) when UFC Fight Night 135: “Gaethje vs. Vick” storms Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln, Nebraska. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg kicks off the UFC Fight Night 135 “Prelims” party with the first installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

Social media rivals Justin Gaethje and James Vick take center stage this Saturday (Aug. 25, 2018) when they headline UFC Fight Night 135 inside Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska. Meanwhile, 10 pounds south, Michael Johnson attempts to end his current slump at Andre Fili’s expense, while Angela Hill fights Cortney Casey and Jake Ellenberger attempts to finally breathe life back into his Octagon career against Bryan Barberena.

Before all that, though, seven “Prelims” undercard bouts will set the stage on UFC Fight Pass and then FOX Sports 1. So let’s work our way up, starting from the bottom:

125 lbs.: Joanne Calderwood vs. Kalindra Faria

The strong Invicta FC run for Joanne Calderwood (11-3) earned her the No. 2 seed on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 20, where she defeated Emily Kagan before falling to Rose Namajunas. She has since struggled to maintain consistency and enters the Octagon on the heels of losses to Jessica Andrade and Cynthia Calvillo.

This will be “Dr. Kneevil’s” first fight in 13 months.

Kalindra Faria (18-7-1) had faced a “Who’s Who” of women’s mixed martial arts (MMA) veterans on her road to the Octagon, including Claudia Gadelha, Vanessa Porto, Jessica Aguilar and Karolina Kowalkiewicz. She ultimately made her UFC debut on a three-fight win streak, but came up short against Mara Romero Borella and Jessica Eye.

Seven of her 12 stoppage wins have come via (technical) knockout.

When Calderwood is on, she’s a match for anyone in the 125-pound division in the standup. That’s the rub, though, as she’s underperformed in the past and seems to lack the venom in her strikes she had during her Invicta FC days. I do expect her to look a lot better at her natural weight class, though, and I wasn’t terribly impressed with Faria’s UFC efforts.

There’s always the worry of the layoff and Calderwood’s inconsistency, but I like the style match up here. She’s busier and cleaner than the Brazilian on the feet and shouldn’t have too much to worry about in the takedown department. JoJo gets back on track by pot-shotting her way to a decision win.

Prediction: Calderwood via unanimous decision

155 lbs.: Drew Dober vs. Jon Tuck

Drew Dober (19-8) has come into his own since a 1-3 UFC start, winning four of his last five bouts. He is coming off of a knockout win over Josh Burkman and subsequent Fight of the Night slugfest against Frank Camacho in Charlotte.

He will give up three inches of height and reach to “The Super Saiyan.”

Jon Tuck (10-4) — once a red-hot prospect going into TUF 15 — has yet to find his footing in the Octagon, going even (4-4) since injury cut short his run on the show. After consecutive split decision losses to Josh Emmett and Damien Brown, Tuck choked out what’s left of Takanori Gomi for his first win since 2015.

This will be his first fight in 14 months.

The book is out on Tuck. For five-to-seven minutes, he’s a fast, athletic beast with one-shot knockout power and a lethal grappling game. For the rest of the fight, he’s a plodding mess saved by top-notch durability. The guy’s had eight UFC fights and gassed in all but one of the ones that went past the first round, so I don’t think that’s something he can fix.

Unfortunately for him, Dober is ridiculously durable and is learning to put some real heat behind his punches. Expect Tuck to look like a world-beater in the first round, only to once again run out of steam and get pieced up on the feet.

Prediction: Dober via unanimous decision

135 lbs.: Rani Yahya vs. Luke Sanders

Rani Yahya (25-9) — who ended his World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) run on a two-fight losing streak — continues to chug along, winning six of his last seven. His current run includes consecutive submissions of Henry Briones and Russell Doane.

He has submitted 19 opponents by more than a half-dozen different methods.

Luke Sanders (12-2) hit quite the bad luck streak after a dominant debut, falling to Iuri Alcantara and Andre Soukhamthath despite strong starts against both. He finally managed to break the slump in April with a decision over Patrick Williams.

“Cool Hand Luke” has knocked out six professional opponents and has six first-round finishes overall.

Yahya has done extremely well for himself as a miniature Demian Maia, pushing hard for early takedowns and outlasting those opponents he can’t submit in the first two rounds. It makes his fights annoyingly hard to predict, as there’s no real middle ground between his style working or not working, but at least it keeps things interesting.

What has me picking him here against a strong wrestler is Sanders’ fight with Alcântara. Sure, he laid an unholy smackdown on the Brazilian, but he got caught in the most telegraphed leglock I’ve ever seen in the process. That’s a simply unacceptable lapse against someone like Yahya, who’s got the ground game of a bear trap with arms. Yahya drags him down in the first few minutes, takes his back as he tries to scramble up, and finishes him with a rear naked choke.

Prediction: Yahya via first-round submission

Four more UFC Fight Night 135 “Prelims” bouts remain to preview and predict, among them the return of Mickey Gall and the latest from Bantamweight prospect Cory Sandhagen. Same time as always, Maniacs!

Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 135 fight card this weekend, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” undercard bout at 6:30 p.m. ET, followed by the FOX Sports 1 “Prelims” undercard bouts at 8 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10 p.m. ET (also on FOX Sports 1).

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Predictions! UFC 227 Fight Pass ‘Prelims’ Preview – Pt. 1

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a bevy of “Prelims” fights to both UFC Fight Pass and FX this weekend (Sat., Aug. 4, 2018) when UFC 227: “Dillashaw vs. Garbrandt 2” storms Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg kicks off the UFC 227 “Prelims” party with the first installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has sequels on the mind this Saturday (Aug. 4, 2018) as T.J. Dillashaw and Demetrious Johnson defend their respective titles against former foes Cody Garbrandt and Henry Cejudo inside Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. UFC 227 will also feature a Featherweight crossroads fight between Renato Moicano and Cub Swanson, as well as top women’s Strawweight prospect Polyana Viana against The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) veteran J.J. Aldrich.

Prior to the start of the pay-per-view (PPV) main card, eight “Prelims” undercard bouts will set the stage, the latter four on FX for once. So let’s first check out the Fight Pass lineup:

125 lbs.: Jose Torres vs. Alex Perez

Jose Torres (8-0) went from the world’s top amateur to Titan FC’s Flyweight and Bantamweight champion in just five fights, both titles which he defended. While bulking up for a crack at the Featherweight belt, “Shorty” got a short-notice call to the Octagon, where he struggled early against Jarred Brooks before “The Monkey God” knocked himself out with a slam.

Torres has knocked out four opponents, including Brooks, and submitted another two.

Alex Perez (20-4) rebounded from the first two-fight skid of his career, which included the loss of his Tachi Flyweight title to future Ultimate Fighter competitor Adam Antolin, with four consecutive regional wins and an anaconda choke of Kevin Gray on “Tuesday Night Contender Series.” He has been equally impressive in UFC itself, choking out Carls John de Tomas and upsetting Eric Shelton by decision.

As you might imagine from his opponent’s nickname, Perez is two inches taller, though their reaches are identical.

Considering the short notice and the massive weight cut Torres had to go through to make 125 pounds, I can forgive his shaky performance against Brooks. When he’s on, “Shorty” is as good as anyone in the world, and I expect we’ll see a much better performance here.

Perez is a damn good wrestler who seriously impressed me against Shelton, but Torres’ boxing is quite a bit sharper, and Perez will find him much more difficult to keep on his back. Torres has the skills to keep it standing, sneak in a takedown or two of his own, and get to work with punching combinations. Perez should take the first round, as Torres is notoriously slow to get going, but expect “Shorty” to take over once the combos start flowing.

Prediction: Torres via unanimous decision

135 lbs.: Ricardo Ramos vs. Kyung Ho Kang

Ricardo Ramos (11-1) came up short in his “Lookin’ for a Fight” appearance opposite Manny Vazquez, but earned a call up after choking out future “Tuesday Night Contender Series” hopeful Alfred Khashakyan. Following a decision over Michinori Tanaka, Ramos faced fellow prospect Aiemann Zahabi and wiped him out with an awesome spinning elbow.

He has gone the distance just twice as a professional, submitting six.

Kyung Ho Kang (14-7) put on one of 2014’s best fights against Michinori Tanaka, but was unable to capitalize on his momentum due to South Korea’s mandatory military service. He returned to action earlier this year, choking out TUF: “Latin America” alumn Guido Cannetti at UFC Fight Night 124.

“Mr. Perfect” has submitted 10 opponents and knocked out another two.

Most of the odds are already out for this event and Kang is around a two-to-one underdog. That doesn’t quite reflect the reality, which is that this is an extremely winnable fight for the Korean. Not only can he match Ramos’ height, he looks to be a fair bit thicker than the Brazilian and is enormously strong for the weight. In addition, he’s a sufficiently skilled takedown artist to put Ramos on his back and tricky enough to hold his own on the mat against the Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace.

Kang has faded in the past, but his sheer physicality and ground skills seem like just the ticket to overwhelming the Brazilian. He banks at least two rounds through top control and submission attempts to get the decision.

Prediction: Kang via unanimous decision

115 lbs.: Danielle Taylor vs. Weili Zhang

After a loss to the much, much taller Maryna Moroz in her Octagon debut, Danielle Taylor (9-3) got back on track with narrow decisions over Seo Hee Ham and Jessica Penne. Shew as unable to do the same against J.J. Aldrich, however, and is now sitting on a .500 UFC record.

As usual, the 5’0” Taylor will give up height, specifically four inches this time.

Weili Zhang (19-1) has not tasted defeat since her professional debut, establishing herself as one of China’s best fighters … period. She has been exceedingly efficient about it, too, going past the second round just once in her current streak.

She has knocked out nine and submitted six.

Some Chinese fighters have greatly exceeded my expectations upon joining UFC, but none have impressed me before their debuts as much as Zhang. She’s aggressive, powerful, entertaining and throws some lovely combinations. She’s borderline Top 10-quality already, an excellent addition to the roster.

Though Taylor has legitimate one-punch power and Zhang has been hurt before, “Dynamite’s” measly 30 percent striking accuracy and notoriously low work rate make this an uphill battle for her. Therefore, expect Zhang to rack up points with her low kicks and boxing on her way to a dominant decision.

Prediction: Zhang via unanimous decision

135 lbs.: Marlon Vera vs. Wuliji Buren

Marlon Vera (12-5-1) put together an impressive three-fight win streak, among them stoppages of Brad Pickett and Brina Kelleher, to unexpectedly become a legitimate contender. He has since dropped decisions to power-punchers John Lineker and Douglas Andrade, though neither managed to significantly hurt him.

He steps in for the injured Bharat Khandare on two weeks’ notice.

Wuliji Buren (11-5) joined several of his countrymen in Shanghai in Nov. 2017, debuting against Rolando Dy in the midst of a four-fight winning streak. It wasn’t to be five, as “The Beastmaster” lost a wide decision to the Filipino boxer.

He has stopped six opponents, four by submission.

Khandare vs. Buren would have been an interesting clash of wrestlers. This is just going to be a stomp.

Buren really has no clear advantage here outside of his takedowns, and that weapon just puts him in danger of “Chito’s” submission arsenal. On the feet, Vera is the more proven kickboxer, meaning there’s no apparent avenue of victory for the China native. “Chito” touches him up with long-distance kicks until an ill-advised shot from Buren gives him the chance to lock up his neck.

Prediction: Vera via first-round submission

Four more UFC 227 “Prelims” fights to preview and predict tomorrow, including the debuts of two recent “Tuesday Night Contender Series” victors. See you then, Maniacs!

Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 227 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FX at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

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Predictions! UFC Hamburg ‘Prelims’ Preview – Pt. 1

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a bevy of “Prelims” fights to both UFC Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1 this weekend (Sun., July 22, 2018) when UFC Fight Night 134: “Shogun vs. Smith” storms Barclaycard Arena in Hamburg, Germany. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg kicks off the UFC Fight Night 134 “Prelims” party with the first installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

The inimitable Mauricio “Shogun” Rua returns to the cage for the first time in 2018 this Sunday night (July 22, 2018) when the Brazilian meets late replacement Anthony Smith inside Barclaycard Arena in Hamburg, Germany

The FOX Sports 1 fight card also features Glover Teixeira against Corey Anderson, Stefan Struve versus Marcin Tybura in an all-Europe heavyweight battle, and local standout Abu Azaitar’s Octagon debut opposite knockout artist Vitor Miranda.

Seven “Prelims” with some fresh faces are in store for the morning people among you. Let’s look at the first three airing at 10:30 a.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.

135 lbs.: Manny Bermudez (12-0) vs. Davey Grant (8-3)

Bermudez caught the UFC’s eye with nine first-round finishes in his first eleven victories, including several in under two minutes. It took him a bit longer in his UFC debut, but he nonetheless got the finish via guillotine against Albert Morales. All but one of his eight submission wins has come by choke.

Grant, the runner-up on The Ultimate Fighter 18, has faced difficulties both in and out of the ring, debuting in 2013 and fighting just three times in that span. He was supposed to fight Bermudez in May, but came down with a staph infection just days before showtime. He stands two inches taller than Bermudez at 5’8.”

Bermudez’s ultimate ceiling will boil down to how well his wrestling develops. As lethal as his ground game is, it’s not worth squat if he can’t consistently get it to the ground. Grant is a capable enough wrestler for this to be an informative matchup and a decent test that I believe Bermudez can pass.

After seeing Grant struggle with Damian Stasiak, I don’t see him having a lot more success against a spry young submission artist, especially with nearly two years of rust to shake off. Bermudez scores an early takedown and secures a fight-ending choke on the way back up.

Prediction: Bermudez by first-round submission

205 lbs.: Jeremy Kimball (15-7) vs. Darko Stosic (12-1)

Kimball’s short-notice UFC debut against Marcos Rogério de Lima went disastrously, but “Grizzly” bounced back with a bonus-winning knockout of Josh Stansbury in just 81 seconds. Things went right back to disastrous, though, as he tapped to a Dominick Reyes choke in Detroit. All but one of Kimball’s victories since 2013 have come inside the distance.

A protégé of Mirko Cro Cop, Stosic has knocked out seven professional opponents, all but one of them in the first round. His current eight-fight winning streak includes two finishes in under a minute and a first-round stoppage via leg kicks. This will be his light heavyweight debut.

If you’ve got a dangerous new striker to welcome into the UFC, Kimball’s your man; he’s durable and skilled enough on the feet to pose a threat and too incompetent on the mat to start wrestling if things go south. He should be lunchmeat against Stosic, who packs quite a bit more power and can take things to the mat should he get into dire straits.

My only real reservation here is that Stosic is 230 pounds and built like a brick wall. Each leg alone look like it would have to cut to make lightweight. So long as he can drop the weight safely, though, this is a heavyweight against a blown-up middleweight. Stosic tears up that lead leg for a late finish.

Prediction: Stosic by third-round TKO

145 lbs.: Damian Stasiak (10-5) vs. Liu Pingyuan (11-5)

After getting outwrestled by Yaotzin Meza in his Octagon debut, Stasiak proved his grappling chops were still legit with impressive submissions over Filip Pejic and Davey Grant. He couldn’t do the same against fellow submission artist Pedro Munhoz and, one fight later, fell to Brian Kelleher’s relentless pressure in a Fight of the Night war. “Webster’s” seven submission wins include five by rear naked choke.

Liu, one of the stars of China’s Wu Lin Feng promotion, picked up five wins in 2016 and two more in 2017 before signing to the UFC. He was set to debut against Bharat Khandare in Shanghai, but wound up withdrawing due to injury, allowing Song Yadong to make his first Octagon appearance instead. He has won 11 of his last 12 after starting his pro career 0-4.

Liu looks like another solid prospect out of China. Going by his shirt in one of his more recent fights, he’s training out of Tiger Muay Thai, which is one of Asia’s best camps. He’s got power, plenty of aggression, and can finish things on the mat as well.

His issue right now is polish; he’s so fixated on the knockout that he tends to overextend with his power swings. In addition, he’s fairly unproven against decent opposition. If nothing else, Stasiak is tough as nails and has a nasty submission game. Liu has the tools to be a contender, but for right now, I say Stasiak capitalizes on his overeagerness to lock up an early finish.

Prediction: Stasiak by first-round submission

Tomorrow’s four fights previewed for FOX Sports 1 include a pair of strong featherweight prospects and Emil Meek’s latest appearance, so be sure to stop by and have a look with us.

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Full Boat! Complete UFC 226 ‘Prelims’ Undercard Predictions, Preview

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a bevy of “Prelims” fights to both UFC Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1 this weekend (Sat., July 7, 2018) when UFC 226: “Miocic vs. Cormier” storms T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg delivers a complete UFC 226 “Prelims” undercard preview, including fight picks, below.

For the first time since B.J. Penn squared off with Georges St-Pierre for the second time way back in 2009, two Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champions with actual title defenses will duke it out this Saturday (July 7, 2018) as Heavyweight kingpin Stipe Miocic welcomes Light Heavyweight roost-ruler Daniel Cormier back to the division where he got his start. Meanwhile, 120 pounds below, Featherweight champion Max Holloway squares off with the surging Brian Ortega in UFC 226’s pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event, while Derrick Lewis gets his long-awaited grudge match with Francis Ngannou.

We’ve got seven “Prelims” undercard matches that will first set the stage inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, with three on Fight Pass and the rest on FOX Sports 1. Because this is a double fight week — The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 27 Finale takes place the night before — we’ve crammed them all into one post.

FOX SPORTS 1 ‘Prelims’ (8 p.m. ET start time)

185 lbs.: Paulo Costa vs. Uriah Hall

Paulo Costa (11-0) — the martial artist formerly known as “Borrachinha” — bounced back from an unsuccessful TUF: “Brazil” 2 run to win and defend the Jungle Fight Middleweight title. He has been every bit as successful in UFC, smashing Garreth McLellan, Oluwale Bamgbose and Johny Hendricks in his 2017 campaign.

He has never gone past 1:23 into the second round as a professional, knocking out 10 opponents and submitting one other.

Uriah Hall’s (13-8) ridiculous upset of Gegard Mousasi gave way to three consecutive losses, including first-round (technical) knockouts against Brunson and the aforementioned Mousasi in the rematch. Down on the cards and with his back against the wall, “Primetime” knocked out Krzysztof Jotko to win “Performance of the Night” and keep his Octagon career afloat.

These two were originally slated to fight in April before Costa suffered a biceps injury.

We all know how it goes at this point. Hall has the potential to knockout anyone in the division at any time, but it is beyond foolhardy to put any faith in his ability to execute against competent Middleweight competition. This is a guy who lost to Josh Howard and then went on to knockout Mousasi, a feat multiple world champions and quality Heavyweight kickboxers have failed to accomplish.

Costa is young, huge, incredibly powerful and seemed to have solid cardio in his two trips to the second round. The obvious outcome sees him pressure Hall against the cage and blast him with hooks for the finish as Chris Weidman and the aforementioned Brunson did. Barring another Hall miracle, that’s my call.

Prediction: Costa via first-round technical knockout

170 lbs.: Paul Felder vs. Mike Perry

Paul Felder (15-3) is 5-1 since consecutive losses to Edson Barboza and Ross Peason, securing three consecutive (technical) knockout victories. He was originally slated to fight James Vick in Boise, Idaho, but answered the call when Vick got called up to face Justin Gaethje and Yancy Medeiros busted a rib.

“The Irish Dragon” has knocked out 10 opponents and submitted one other.

Mike Perry’s (11-3) thunderous knockouts of Jake Ellenberger and Alex Reyes put him within spitting distance of title contention, only for Santiago Ponzinibbio to out-slug him in a grueling affair. He returned two months later against Max Griffin in what looked to be a rebound fight, but “Max Pain” defied considerable odds to pick Perry apart and secure a decision.

Seven of his 11 knockout wins have come in the first round.

Perry has all the tools to be a truly standout Welterweight, boasting hellacious power, hand speed and physicality, but his technique isn’t advancing the way it should. While losses to Alan Jouban and Santiago Ponzinibbio are understandable, Griffin is someone he should have destroyed. Felder is durable enough, adaptable enough, and versatile enough on the feet to recreate Griffin’s winning effort.

There is the concern of Felder being unable to stand up to the power of a genuine Welterweight, but he has absorbed blows from quality finishers like Edson Barboza and Daron Cruickshank without flinching. I have faith in his ability to steer clear of Perry’s bombs and pick him apart for a decision win.

Prediction: Felder via unanimous decision

135 lbs.: Raphael Assuncao vs. Rob Font

It hasn’t always been the prettiest of affairs, but Raphael Assuncao (26-5) is 10-1 since his knockout loss to Erik Koch, beating the likes of T.J. Dillashaw, Bryan Caraway, Aljamain Sterling and Marlon Moraes, among others. His latest win was the most eye-catching yet, a brutal one-punch knockout of Matthew Lopez that earned the Brazilian his first post-fight bonus since 2013.

He is three inches shorter than Rob Font (15-3) and will give up five inches of reach.

Font scored brutal finishes in four of his first five UFC appearances and looked poised for another win in Oct. 2017, but succumbed to Pedro Munhoz’s infamous guillotine late in the first round. Against another dangerous foe in Thomas Almeida, Font survived a competitive first round to drop and stop “Thominhas” in Boston.

Font has knocked out seven opponents and submitted another four.

Well, if there’s anyone outside of Cody Garbrandt and John Lineker who could drag a great fight out of Assuncao, it’s Font. Dangerously powerful and aggressive, he’s everything you’d want in a young fighter. For all that destructive potential, though, I’m not convinced he’s sharp enough to take the Brazilian out of his comfort zone. Assuncao’s counterpunching is some of the best in the division — only Dillashaw and the incredibly adaptive Moraes have been able to consistently land on him without taking more in return. Based on what I’ve seen, he can slow this fight to his pace and consistently punish Font’s aggression.

I’m pulling for Font, as he’s exponentially more entertaining, but I say Assuncao picks him off enough to take a controversial decision.

Prediction: Assuncao by unanimous decision

170 lbs.: Max Griffin vs. Curtis Millender (15-3)

Max Griffin (14-4) — after splitting bouts with Colby Covington and Erick Montano — threw down with Elizeu Zaleski at UFC Fight Night 119, coming up short on the cards but securing a $ 50,000 bonus for his troubles. Four months later, “Max Pain” took a wholly unexpected decision over Mike Perry, whom he outclassed on the feet.

Half of his pro wins have come by form of knockout.

The early 1-3 skid for Curtis Millender’s (15-3) didn’t stop him from winning six straight afterward, including solid victories in LFA. His Octagon debut pitted him against Thiago Alves, whom he caught with a vicious knee in the final minute of the second round.

“Curtious” stands four inches taller than Griffin at 6’3.”

Griffin impressed pretty much everyone against Perry, so it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him shut down “Curtious,” but this looks like a rough match up for him. In addition to the height disadvantage, Griffin is fairly easy to hit and got knocked down more than once against Zaleski. It’s also worth noting that his arsenal doesn’t prominently feature takedowns or low kicks, which are Millender’s key weaknesses.

Without the tools to get inside on Millender or make him hesitate on those long kicks, Griffin is going to struggle to bring his heavy hands to bear. Millender finds the mark with a head kick partway through the second round.

Prediction: Millender via second-round knockout

UFC Fight Pass ‘Prelims’ (6:30 p.m. ET start time)

155 lbs.: Gilbert Burns vs. Dan Hooker

Gilbert Burns’ (13-2) Brazilian jiu-jitsu pedigree earned him quite a bit of attention when he joined UFC and he lived up to the hype with wins in his first three Octagon appearances. A 1-2 stretch slowed his roll, but he has smashed his way back into contention with crushing knockouts of Jason Saggo and Dan Moret.

Burns has submitted seven professional foes, four by armbar, and knocked out another five.

After an inconsistent run at Featherweight, Dan Hooker (16-7) has reinvented himself as a Lightweight contender with three impressive finishes. He opened his 155-pound run with a knee knockout of Ross Pearson, submitted Marc Diakiese soon after, and went back to the basics with another savage knee against Jim Miller.

He will have two inches of height, four inches of reach, and three inches of leg reach on “Durinho.”

Hooker has looked like a new man at 155 pounds, discarding his face-first brawling in favor of a varied, tricky offense. Burns has looked ferocious as well, but I’m not sure energy-intensive headhunting is the best approach against the iron-jawed Kiwi. Hooker is notoriously durable and has gotten out from under ace grapplers like Hatsu Hioki in the past.

If he’d showed a better jab and more blended wrestling, I’d take Burns over most of the division. As is, while he’ll get plenty of highlight-reel finishes, the stylistic match up isn’t in his favor — Hooker is just too damn tough to get rid of and too sharp with his game planning. Heavy knees and straight punches keep the hard-charging Burns at bay for 15 minutes.

Prediction: Hooker via unanimous decision

155 lbs.: Lando Vannata vs. Drakkar Klose

Lando Vannata (9-2) opened his UFC career with a near-upset of Tony Ferguson, dropping “El Cucuy” with a head kick before ultimately tapping to a d’arce choke. His Octagon career since has been inconsistent but entertaining, as he has gone 1-1-1 and earned three post-fight bonuses.

He has knocked out and submitted four professional foes apiece.

Drakkar Klose (8-1-1) — fighting out of The MMA Lab — defeated “Lookin’ for a Fight” product Devin Powell in his Octagon debut before using powerful leg kicks to upset Marc Diakiese. He had less success against David Teymur, who shut down his wrestling and picked him apart at range.

He will give up an inch of height and 2.5 inches of reach to the “Groovy” one.

Vannata is a match for anyone in the division in the first round. The reason he’s sitting on a losing UFC record despite his obvious skills is his inability to pace himself. That said, he still gave David Teymur a much tougher fight than Klose did and his slickster stylings seem well-equipped to shutting down Klose’s straightforward offense.

Klose will struggle to keep Vannata on the fence, isn’t a sufficiently overpowering wrestler to take him down in the center of the cage, and doesn’t have the power to put him away. Vannata banks at least two rounds with nifty long-range striking before fading enough for Klose to start connecting.

Prediction: Vannata via unanimous decision

115 lbs.: Emily Whitmire vs. Jamie Moyle

Representing Team Justin Gaethje on TUF 26, Emily Whitmire (2-2) submitted Christina Marks in 40 seconds before falling to Roxanne Modafferi in the quarterfinals. Her woes continued at the Finale, which saw her tap to a Gillian Robertson submission in little more than two minutes.

She is five inches taller than Jamie Moyle (4-2), but will give up two inches of reach.

Moyle likewise went 1-1 in her TUF run, beating Alyssa Krahn in the elimination round of TUF 23 before falling to eventual finalist Amanda Cooper. Things have been similarly up-and-down in the Octagon, defeating Kailin Curran in her Octagon debut and losing to Viviane Pereira six months later.

This will be her first fight in 13 months because of injury.

Whitmire’s two professional victories came over opponents who were 0-0 and 2-7. She was a Strawweight before moving to 125 pounds for TUF, so she shouldn’t have much of a weight advantage. She has been submitted twice as a professional and got ground-and-pounded into the dirt on TUF.

That said, you can see why I’m not picking her over a capable wrestler.

Moyle has faced much stronger competition and has the stylistic edge to overcome the height disadvantage. She outstrikes, outwrestles and outgrapples Whitmire for up to 15 minutes.

Prediction: Moyle via unanimous decision

UFC 226 will feature two incredible world title fights, a grudge match, and the return of Gokhan Saki. If that’s not worth your money, I don’t know what is. See you Saturday, Maniacs!

Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 226 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

Current UFC “Prelims” Prediction Record for 2018: 86-40

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Predictions! UFC ‘Singapore’ ‘Prelims’ Preview – Pt. 2

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a bevy of “Prelims” fights to UFC Fight Pass this weekend (Sat., June 23, 2018) when UFC Fight Night 132: “Cerrone vs. Edwards” storms Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, Singapore. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg continues the UFC Fight Night 132 “Prelims” party with the second (and final) installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

Night owls and those who kinda just don’t sleep, rejoice!

Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, Singapore, plays host to the latest Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) international venture this Saturday morning June 23, 2018), hosting a Welterweight crossroads bout between Donald Cerrone and Leon Edwards alongside 11 other bouts. UFC Fight Night 132’s main card also features Ovince Saint Preux vs. Tyson Pedro, Jessica-Rose Clark vs. Jessica Eye, and a guaranteed barnburner between Li Jingliang and Daichi Abe.

We’ve got four more UFC Fight Night 132 “Prelims” undercard bouts to preview and predict (check out the first batch here), so here’s what the late arrivals get to enjoy:

135 lbs.: Teruto Ishihara vs. Petr Yan

After ending his Road to UFC: “Japan” run with a draw against Mizuto Hirota, Teruto Ishihara (10-5-2) turned heads with his boisterous personality and brutal knockouts of Julian Erosa and Horacio Gutierrez. “Yashabo’s” fortunes took a rapid turn, however, entering the cage with just one win in his last four fights.

Eight of his professional wins have come by form of knockout.

Petr Yan (8-1) — fighting out of Tiger Muay Thai alongside the likes of Mairbek Taisumov and Ben Nguyen — won an ACB tournament before losing a controversial decision to Magomed Magomedov in a vacant title shot. Undaunted, “No Mercy” went on to beat Magomedov in the rematch and knockout previously unbeaten Matheus Mattos in his first title defense.

He has knocked out three opponents and submitted one other.

I’ve said this about a few different people and generally come out looking stupid for it, but tempting fate is fun. Yan is “Next Big Thing” material — he’s fast, powerful, aggressive and has deep wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu games to complement his core boxing game.

He can also take a punch, which is bad for Ishihara.

Yan has him beat in striking technique, wrestling skills and submission prowess. “Yashabo’s” only real chance is a one-hitter quitter from that sledgehammer left hand, and considering I’ve seen Yan absorb a flush spinning back fist without flinching, that seems unlikely. Yan dominates wherever the fight goes.

Prediction: Yan via unanimous decision

145 lbs.: Felipe Arantes vs. Song Yadong

Consecutive upset submissions of Yves Jabouin and Jerrod Sanders made it look like Felipe Arantes (18-9-1) had found a home at Bantamweight, only for him to miss weight against Erik Perez and subsequently lose a split decision. “Sertanejo” returned to 145 pounds in Oct. 2017 with a decision loss to Josh Emmett, who knocked down the durable Brazilian multiple times on his way to victory.

Though he and Song Yadong (12-4) are the same height, Arantes will have a six-inch reach advantage.

Song made his professional mixed martial arts (MMA) debut at just 15 years old, cutting his teeth in China, Japan and Russia before making his Octagon debut in Nov. 2017. Facing Indian wrestler Bharat Khandare, Song showed some dangerous striking before locking up a bonus-winning guillotine choke late in the first round.

Four of his seven stoppage wins have come by form of knockout.

Song is aggressive and powerful, but extremely raw, the sort of fresh-faced youngster who Arantes can dramatically upend. “Sertanejo” is extremely durable and dangerously tricky, well-equipped to exploit the myriad openings Song leaves in his aggressive pursuit of the finish. He can control the stand up with his Muay Thai and lock up an armbar in a heartbeat should Song hit the deck or try to take him there.

Song has real potential, but he’s up against a taller, longer, more experienced veteran who can survive the early onslaught and end things as soon as he lets up. Arantes wraps up a submission late in the first.

Prediction: Arantes via first-round submission

145 lbs.: Rolando Dy vs. Shane Young

Rolando Dy (9-6) ran into some bad luck in his first two UFC appearances, as an eye injury cut short his fight with Alex Caceres and a point deduction against the aforementioned Ishihara turned what would have been a majority draw into a unanimous decision loss. He finally entered UFC’s win column in Nov. 2017 with a decision over Wuliji Buren in Shanghai.

“The Incredible” will give up three inches of reach to Shane Young (11-4).

“Sugar” Shane brought a five-fight win streak into his UFC debut, a short-notice bout with top prospect Alexander Volkanovski. Though he lasted the distance, he struggled with his foe’s wrestling en route to a decision loss.

Five of his professional wins have come by form of knockout.

This should be fun! Young’s a striker by trade and should be willing to engage Dy on the feet. Unfortunately, that’s a mixed blessing for “The Incredible,” who has a terrible habit of getting dropped. Even if things do wind up going the Filipino’s way on the feet, even Ishihara was able to take him down, meaning Young should have little trouble mixing things up and disrupting Dy’s rhythm.

Young’s the more durable of the two and can grapple if necessary. He controls the striking and mixes in a takedown or two to win the decision, possibly dropping Dy once or twice along the way.

Prediction: Young via unanimous decision

170 lbs.: Hector Aldana vs. Song Kenan

Hector Aldana (4-0) picked up three stoppages in four wins to earn a spot on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): “Latin America” 2, where he represented Team Kelvin Gastelum. He defeated Alvaro Herrera in the elimination round, but suffered a submission loss to Enrique Marin in the semifinal round.

He stands three inches shorter than Song Kenan (13-4) at 5’9.”

“The Assassin” actually entered UFC on a two-fight losing streak, falling to Elnur Agaev and kickboxing standout Brad Riddell. He got back on track in his UFC debut with an upset knockout of Bobby Nash that took him just 15 seconds.

Nine of his 11 finishes have come in the first round.

Aldana has not had a professional fight since 2013 and two of his four wins came over guys making their debuts. Song may be a flawed fighter, but at least he’s got a solid punch and a boatload of experience.

On the more substantive side of things, Aldana doesn’t appear to have any takedown defense whatsoever and doesn’t look superior on the feet. Song takes him down early and locks up a quick submission.

Prediction: Song via first-round submission

Whether live or at an actually reasonable hour, there’s plenty here worth checking out. See you Saturday, Maniacs!

Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 132 fight card this weekend, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” undercard bouts at 4:30 a.m. ET, before the main card start time at 8 a.m. ET, also on Fight Pass.

Current UFC “Prelims” Prediction Record for 2018: 80-38

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UFC 225 Prelims: Curtis Blaydes Demolishes Alistar Overeem

Curtis Blaydes continues to be as sharp as his name — literally as well as figuratively.
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Predictions! UFC 225 Fight Pass ‘Prelims’ Preview – Pt. 1

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a bevy of “Prelims” fights to both UFC Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1 this weekend (Sat., June 9, 2018) when UFC 225: “Whittaker vs. Romero 2” storms United Center in Chicago, Illinois. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg kicks off the UFC 225 “Prelims” party with the first installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

The two undisputed kings of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight division will duke it out once again this Saturday evening (June 9, 2018) when Robert Whittaker fights Yoel Romero in UFC 225’s pay-per-view (PPV) main event inside United Center in Chicago, Illinois. The co-main event sees Rafael dos Anjos look to secure a title in a second weight class against Colby Covington, competing for the interim UFC Welterweight belt, and Invicta champ Megan Anderson fights Holly Holm in the third slot.

UFC 225 features eight “Prelims” undercard bouts this time around, four apiece on Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1. Let’s see what’s cooking on the Internet!

205 lbs.: Rashad Evans vs. Anthony Smith

It’s been more than four years since Rashad Evans (19-7-1) demolished Chael Sonnen in his last Octagon victory. He has since lost four straight, including a winless (0-2) Middleweight run that featured split decision losses to Dan Kelly and Sam Alvey.

“Suga” is four inches shorter than Anthony Smith (28-13) and will give up two inches of reach.

“Lionheart” — who was one-and-done in his first UFC venture — won eight straight to earn another shot in the Octagon. After splitting his first two bouts, he rattled off a three-fight knockout streak before succumbing to the power of Thiago Santos in February.

Fourteen of his 25 stoppage wins have come by form of knockout.

If Evans had shown even a modicum of his former self since 2013, I’d pick him to win this without much trouble. Smith’s takedown defense remains iffy and I don’t think moving to 205 pounds is the panacea for that particular trouble. As is, Evans is too reluctant to pull the trigger for me to pick him over someone who throws this much volume.

Evans needs to stay low, active and work his way inside Smith’s reach to overpower him on the mat. I’m sure he can still do that physically, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him finally pick up another win, but I say his hesitation costs him as Smith potshots his way to victory at range.

Prediction: Smith via unanimous decision

125 lbs.: Sergio Pettis vs. Joseph Benavidez

After opening his UFC career 3-2, Sergio Pettis (16-3) finally got his feet under him and proceeded to win four straight, among them a main event victory over Brandon Moreno in hostile territory. Henry Cejudo proved a step too far, though, exploiting Pettis’ takedown defense to win a unanimous decision.

He will have two inches of height and four inches of reach on Joseph Benavidez (25-4).

Benavidez has won 13 of his last 15 fights, defeating everyone not named Demetrious Johnson along the way. His current six-fight streak includes a split decision victory over Cejudo in his last bout.

This will be his first Octagon appearance since Dec. 2016 thanks to ACL surgery.

In more than one decade as a professional fighter, Benavidez has only ever lost to the Flyweight G.O.A.T. and the arguable Bantamweight G.O.A.T. That streak has to end at some point, obviously, but it won’t be doing so this Saturday. He’s got the same sort of wrestling prowess that has stymied Pettis in the past and his sheer speed is enough for him to hold his own on the feet.

Unless Pettis can finally show off some stopping power, Benavidez is going to walk him down all night, clipping him with overhands and hooks until he can dominate on the mat. In other words, 30-27s across the board for Joe B.

Prediction: Benavidez via unanimous decision

155 lbs.: Clay Guida vs. Charles Oliveira

Clay Guida (34-17) has found new life since returning to Lightweight, winning two straight after ending his Featherweight run on a 1-3 skid. His last fight saw him score his first (technical) knockout in almost a decade by stopping Joe Lauzon in just 67 seconds.

“The Carpenter” is three inches shorter than Charles Oliveira (22-8) and will give up four inches of reach.

A series of catastrophic weight cut failures — including weighing in at the Lightweight limit for his Featherweight fight with Ricardo Lamas — sent “Do Bronx” back to 155 pounds after 12 fights at Featherweight. He choked out Will Brooks in his Lightweight return, but got pounded into the dirt by Paul Felder in his most recent appearance.

He replaces Bobby Green on just over a week’s notice.

This could either be very entertaining or hideously boring — there is no middle ground. All things being equal, I lean toward Oliveira. On the feet, his height and clinch knees give him the edge, while his ground prowess is well-known. Guida risks a guillotine or sweep every time he ducks in for one of his favored double-legs and isn’t an active enough ground-and-pounder to break Oliveira’s will the way Felder did.

Oliveira is just too dangerous on the ground for Guida to execute his ideal gameplan and too dangerous with his clinch striking for Guida to grind him to death on the cage. In short, Oliveira catches him in something nasty before long.

Prediction: Oliveira via first-round submission

145 lbs.: Mike Santiago vs. Dan Ige

Mike Santiago (21-11) knocked out Mark Cherico on Dana White’s “Tuesday Night Contender Series” to cap off an 11-fight win streak that included nine first-round finishes. He went on to lose to Zabit Magomedsharipov in his Octagon debut, then dropped a decision to Mads Burnell four months later.

He has submitted 10 opponents and knocked out another seven.

Dan Ige (8-2) rattled off five straight wins to earn a “Tuesday Night Contender Series” slot, choking out Luis Gomez in Week 3. Facing fellow “Tuesday Night Contender Series” alumnus Julio Arce in his UFC debut, “Dynamite” struggled to deal with his opponent’s striking and ultimately lost a unanimous decision.

He is three inches shorter than Santiago, but will have a two-inch reach advantage.

Santiago is the more entertaining of these two by a fair margin, which makes it a bit of a bummer that he’s going to eat his third consecutive loss. Ige may be a slow, one-note grinder, but a severely diminished Burnell managed to take down Santiago three times, so my faith in his counter-wrestling isn’t sky-high at the moment.

Santiago’s the better striker of the two and will have a considerable edge if he can force a high-pace, scramble-heavy bout. After his last performance, though, I see Ige’s meat-and-potatoes wrestling putting him on top long enough to get the decision.

Prediction: Ige via unanimous decision

Four more UFC 225 “Prelims” bouts to preview and predict tomorrow, including the return of Mirsad Bektic and a clash of Top 10-ranked Heavyweight contenders in the featured undercard bout. See you there, Maniacs!

Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 225 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

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GIF: Grisly, NSFW Arm Injury Ruins Bellator 200 Prelims

Blood doesn’t bother me, so all those pics of gaping wounds and crimson masks are just another day at the office for my intestinal fortitude.

But watching limbs get contorted in ways they shouldn’t has always been a problem for me, which I attribute to Steve Cantwell pretzel’ing Razak Al-Hassan at UFC Fight Night 16 in late 2008.


Anyway, Bellator MMA was kind enough to promote its preliminary card — airing live on its official app — by sharing this grisly GIF of Tom Means doing his best Miesha Tate impression (circa 2012) against Mike Ekundayo inside SSE Arena in London, England.

The official result was a technical knockout victory in favor of “Airlines” at 1:02 of round two.

The rest of the Bellator 200 fight card (see it) will air later tonight on The Paramount Network and we’ll be sharing those results and highlights during the tape-delayed broadcast to avoid any spoilers.

For much more on Bellator 200 click here.

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Predictions! UFC ‘Liverpool’ ‘Prelims’ Preview – Pt. 2

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a bevy of “Prelims” fights to both UFC Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1 this weekend (Sun., May 27, 2018) when UFC Fight Night 130: “Thompson vs. Till” storms Echo Arena in Liverpool, England. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg continues the UFC Fight Night 130 “Prelims” party with the second (and final) installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

Scouser slugger Darren Till looks to prove he’s more than just hype this Sunday (May 27, 2018) when he faces former two-time Welterweight title challenger Stephen Thompson in Liverpool, England, headlining UFC Fight Night 130 inside Echo Arena. The FOX Sports 1-televised main card also sees Craig White step up on short notice to fight Neil Magny, Arnold Allen face Mads Burnell, and Makwan Amirkhani return to the Octagon after a year away from the sport to fight Jason Knight.

UFC Fight Night 130’s FOX Sports 1 broadcast also includes four “Prelims” undercard bouts (check out the Fight Pass portion here). Check ‘em out:

170 lbs.: Claudio Silva vs. Nordine Taleb

After suffering a disqualification loss in his professional mixed martial arts (MMA) debut, Claudio Silva (11-1) worked his way to UFC with eight stoppages in his next nine fights, six of them in the first round. His UFC career has seen him out-grapple Brad Scott and take a contentious decision over Leon Edwards.

Thanks to multiple injuries, this will be the first fight for “Hannibal” since Nov. 2014.

Two unsuccessful runs on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) weren’t enough to dissuade Nordine Taleb (14-4), who has won three of his last four and fought Santiago Ponzinibbio to an extremely competitive decision in that lone loss. His latest win was arguably his biggest yet, a 59-second demolition of Danny Roberts that earned him “Performance of the Night.”

He stands two inches taller than Silva and will have three inches of reach.

One would think that UFC would give Taleb at least a fringe contender at this point, but instead he gets a gimme that will do nothing for his stock. Silva is one of the most one-dimensional grapplers in UFC, absolutely hopeless on the feet and not terribly adept with his takedowns. He barely beat an extremely green Edwards and was getting eaten up by Scott in their stand up exchanges.

Oh, and he’s been out for 2.5 years.

Taleb’s exponentially better than Silva on the feet and is more than capable of stuffing his takedowns all night long. He sprawls-and-brawls his way to a decisive victory, possibly securing a late stoppage.

Prediction: Taleb via unanimous decision

185 lbs.: Dan Kelly vs. Tom Breese

Despite his age and knees that look fit to snap at any moment, Dan Kelly (13-3) opened his UFC career 6-1, doing so as an underdog in every single bout. A 76-second knockout loss to Derek Brunson stopped him in his tracks, after which he lost a snoozer to Elias Theodorou in Nov. 2017.

The Judo Olympian has submitted five professional opponents and knocked out another three.

Tom Breese (10-1) made his way to the Octagon on the strength of his ground game, which netted him seven finishes in seven fights, but proved his well-roundedness with knockouts of Luiz Dutra and Cathal Pendred in his first two Octagon appearances. After taking a decision over Keita Nakamura, Breese took on Sean Strickland at UFC 199 and lost a controversial split decision.

This will be his Middleweight debut and his first fight in nearly two years.

It’s impossible not to love Dan Kelly, but I’ve got to be realistic here. Breese is a terrible match up for him even with almost 24 months of cage rust. Breese is three inches taller than Kelly and has just as much reach, not to mention the skills to actually use that length to great effect. Worse, he’s a strong wrestler in his own right and packs more power than Kelly on the feet.

Kelly faces an uphill battle in the stand up and he’s going to struggle to get the clinch he needs to score takedowns. In short, Breese chews him up with one-two combinations for a one-sided decision victory.

Prediction: Breese via unanimous decision

185 lbs.: Brad Scott vs. Carlo Pedersoli Jr.

Brad Scott (11-5) — Welterweight runner-up on TUF: “The Smashes” — elected to drop back to 170 pounds after going 3-3 as a UFC middleweight and suffering a knockout loss to Jack Hermansson in his most recent appearance. “The Bear” was set to face Jack Marshman, also making his Welterweight debut — in March before the Welshman botched his weight cut and had to withdraw.

He has knocked out and submitted five opponents apiece.

Italy’s Carlo Pedersoli Jr. (10-1) has not lost since his fourth professional fight, stopping four of his next seven opponents. His most recent victory was his biggest, a split decision over former UFC competitor Nicolas Dalby just one month ago.

He steps in for the injured Salim Touahri on little more than one week’s notice.

Pedersoli is boatloads of fun to watch, mixing aggressive karate with viciously slick grappling, but these aren’t ideal circumstances for his debut. He’s on a four-week turnaround after a grueling fight and is stepping up in weight.

That said, Scott’s been consistently underwhelming in UFC. His three Octagon victories came over Michael Kuiper, Dylan Andrews and Scott Askham, none of whom are currently on the roster. Hell, Askham nearly beat him on one leg. Pedersoli has the better striking variety and is dangerous enough on the mat to keep “The Bear” honest. Pedersoli lands enough heavy kicks and threatens enough submissions to earn a narrow win.

Prediction: Pedersoli Jr. via unanimous decision

125 lbs.: Molly McCann vs. Gillian Robertson

Molly McCann (7-1) — the delightfully nicknamed “Meatball” — last tasted defeat in her second professional fight, since which she has stopped three of six opponents with strikes. She last fought in February, winning the Cage Warriors women’s Flyweight title with a second-round stoppage of Bryony Tyrell.

She will give up two inches of height to Gillian Robertson (4-2).

Robertson — representing Team Justin Gaethje on TUF 26 — fell to No. 2-ranked Barb Honchak in the Round of 16. She found quite a bit more success at the Finale, though, submitting teammate and No. 8-seed Emily Whitmire via first-round armbar.

“The Savage” went 9-2 as an amateur before debuting professionally in 2016.

McCann is most certainly a welcome addition to the division. She’s a dangerous boxer with legitimate power and a mean streak to match — if you’ve got Fight Pass, her Cage Warrior bouts are well worth watching. Robertson should give us a good idea of her current capabilities, as the former’s wrestling and submissions are a legitimate threat to the occasionally overaggressive “Meatball.”

This match up boils down to McCann’s takedown defense and scrambling ability, as this is her fight to lose if she keeps it on the feet. I say she does, overwhelming Robertson en route to a mid-round technical knockout finish.

Prediction: McCann via second round technical knockout

You cannot in good conscience miss Darren Till vs. “Wonderboy,” and UFC Fight Night 130 has got a pretty solid supporting cast. No excuses! See you Sunday, Maniacs.

Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 130 fight card this weekend, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” undercard bouts at 10 a.m. ET, followed by the FOX Sports 1 “Prelims” undercard bouts at 11 a.m. ET, before the main card start time at 1 p.m. ET, also on FOX Sports 1.

Current UFC “Prelims” Prediction Record for 2018: 67-31

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