UFC on Fox Sports 1 Preliminary Breakdown

August 15, 2013

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UFC on Fox Sports 1 Preliminary Breakdown



UFC on Fox Sports 1: Shogun vs. Sonnen (also known as UFC Fight Night 26) takes place on August 17, 2013 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.

UFC on Fox Sports 1 preliminaries will be broadcast on Facebook starting at 4 PM (EST).  Coverage will continue on Sportsnet 360, with preliminaries beginning at 5 PM (EST) and the main card airing at 8 PM (EST).*

(*all times according to UFC.com)

The most important question surrounding the Cody Donovan (1-0 UFC, 8-2)/Ovince St. Preux (1-0 UFC, 13-5) match: can the broadcast team resist referring to St. Preux as “OSP”?  I’m sorry, that’s just a lazy nickname.

Donovan (who vaguely resembles a mutated Jon Fitch) is a Grudge Training Center prospect and a BJJ black belt.  He pulled off a minor upset in his first UFC bout, knocking out Blumenort, Manitoba native Nick Penner.

He’ll have his hands full with former Strikeforce star St. Preux.  As odd as it sounds, OSP (agh!) is looking to rebound from a decision win against Gian Villante that went to the scorecards early in the third round due to an accidental eye poke and some referee miscommunication.  This fight will be a second chance for him to make a first impression and show why he has long been considered a top prospect at 205.  OSP (oh forget it) is 10-1 in his last eleven appearances.

*****

Don’t be alarmed if you find yourself experiencing prolonged flashbacks to the fourth season of The Ultimate Fighter when former lightweight hopefuls turned featherweights Manny Gamburyan (3-5 UFC, 3-1 WEC, 12-7) and Cole Miller (8-5 UFC, 19-7) face off.

Gamburyan earned a much-needed decision win against Michihiro Omigawa last August to snap a three fight skid.  The one-time featherweight title challenger had gone from world ranked to irrelevance following losses to Tyson Griffin and Diego Nunes.  The prototypical fiery Armenian, Gamburyan is far more dangerous than his record suggests.

Seeing the skeletal Miller drop down to featherweight (a division he competed in to start his career) was somewhat shocking and the initial returns were not promising.  He lost two straight before facing WEC standout Bart Palaszewski.  Miller was able to secure a match ending rear naked choke and one more fight in the UFC.

Behind welterweight and lightweight, featherweight is quickly becoming the third deepest division in the UFC.  For the winner, a possible return to the main card awaits; for the loser, career jeopardy.

*****

Diego Brandao (3-1 UFC, 16-8) had a lot of folks worried when he gassed out badly against Darren Elkins in his first fight after winning TUF 14.  He’d torn through the tournament with such ferocity (usually dropping sound bites littered with death threats) that big things were projected for him right away.  Was it too much hype?  Brandao has shown great improvement since the Elkins loss, especially in his last win against Pablo Garza, where he won with a gorgeous arm-triangle submission.

His opponent, Daniel Pineda (3-2 UFC, 18-9), would be more well known if he’d been able to squeak out a victory over Mike Brown at UFC 146.  All the momentum from that closely contested bout was nearly erased when he ended up on the wrong end of a highlight reel KO at the hands of Antonio Carvalho.  A flashy submission win over Justin Lawrence put him back in the winner’s circle.

Both men are well versed in Muay Thai and submissions, so look for this fight to be an early candidate to steal the show.

*****

Steven Siler (4-1 UFC, 22-10) faces off with Mike Brown (2-3 UFC, 6-2 WEC, 26-8), a former world champion who is at a stage in his career where young names are looking to build their reputations off of him.

Brown actually had his first UFC fight back in 2004 (a loss to Genki Sudo), when Siler was 17 years old.  Since then, Brown dropped down to featherweight, ascended to the top of the division, flirted with disaster losing two straight before finally earning the first UFC win in his 33rd career fight.  Phew.

Siler developed a peculiar reputation early on as a “brother slayer”.  After five UFC appearances, it’s his performances that are making the headlines.  He beat Cole Miller and then finished undefeated prospect Joey Gambino.  A win over a big name like Brown could quietly place Siler in the contender’s circle

 

Three to watch:

 

On Facebook:

Lightweight Bout: Ramsey Nijem (3-2 UFC, 7-3) v. James Vick (0-0 UFC, 4-0)

Vick was one of the bright spots from TUF: Live, a long and lanky 155er whose sponge-like approach to training made him a favourite of coach Dominick Cruz.  A concussion suffered in the semi-finals prevented him from making an official appearance in the octagon.  He makes his long awaited debut over a year after that loss.

In the opposite corner will be a man affectionately known as “Stripper Ramsey” for his casual disregard for clothing while in the TUF house.  After a runner-up finish in the TUF 13 tournament, Nijem put together a tidy three fight win streak.  In his last appearance, he ran into the Myles Jury freight train and was stopped in the second round.  Nijem is a powerful wrestler who can make good fighters look bad with his smothering tactics.  The enormous Vick is like a statue just waiting to be toppled.

This projects as a striker vs. grappler match.  Vick will need every inch of his long legs to keep Nijem at bay.  The kickboxing specialist has a developing ground game, but Nijem has superb top control and he knows how to make the most of his takedown opportunities.  However, if the fight remains standing, Nijem’s limited stand-up could cost him dearly.

 

On Fox Sports 1:

Featherweight Bout: Conor McGregor (1-0 UFC, 13-2) v. Max Holloway (3-2 UFC, 7-2)

Fights like this make the UFC’s preliminary cards almost as appealing as the main ones.  Fans shouldn’t miss the chance to see McGregor before he gets to a point where you have to shell out $60 for him.  He may only have one win in the UFC, but the talent he showed in a blowout of Marcus Brimage has people buzzing.  Could he be the real deal?  The brash Irishman has never gone to a decision in 15 career fights.  None of his wins came after the second round.

Holloway is tougher to gauge.  When Ricardo Lamas got injured before UFC 143, Holloway stepped in as a replacement against Dustin Poirier.  He wasn’t even old enough to drink yet.  Not surprisingly, Poirier was too much for him, but he bounced back with three straight wins including a sensational finish of Justin Lawrence.  He followed that up with a win over Leonard Garcia via split decision (almost more notable due to Garcia’s history of getting the better of the scorecards).  A controversial decision loss against Dennis Bermudez did little to slow him down.  Interestingly enough, this will be Holloway’s third time fighting as a replacement (previously replacing Lamas and Cody McKenzie)

McGregor might be the one that the wild Boston crowd will be screaming for, but don’t count out Holloway.  The 21 year old Hawaiian is a phenomenal striker in his own right.  Were it not for the freshness of McGregor and his impeccable ability to hype himself, it might be Holloway getting the VIP treatment from Dana White.  An upset here would elevate Holloway above what has at times seemed like a temp position.

 

Bantamweight Bout: Brad Pickett (3-2 UFC, 3-1 WEC, 23-7) v. Michael McDonald (4-1 UFC, 1-0 WEC, 15-2)

It’s a shame that a fight between two of the top bantamweights in the world is relegated to the preliminaries.  Admittedly, the main card is stacked but I would have liked to see these two get higher billing than Uriah Hall and John Howard.  If the UFC wants to capitalize on their smaller weight classes, maybe they should stop treating them like second class citizens.

You’re 22 years old and you’ve just fought for the world title and lost.  How do you respond?  This is the conundrum facing McDonald.  He looked like a world beater knocking out Alex Soto in 56 seconds and finishing bantamweight legend Miguel Torres with strikes (only the second fighter to do so).  Against interim champ Renan Barão, McDonald was simply outclassed by an opponent who is simply on another level from everyone else at 135 at the moment.

Pickett is the perfect opponent for McDonald.  He’s a contender and he’s comfortable standing.  Other than Barão, nobody has gone toe to toe with McDonald and lived to tell about it.  Pickett promotes the image of a brawler, but he’s actually a fine technical boxer who rarely resorts to slinging sloppy haymakers.  Considering both men’s punching acumen, a rollicking knockout is always a possibility, but it’s just as likely that they spend the majority of the match measuring each other and only engaging when there is a promising angle.  Either way, look for Pickett and McDonald to give it their all in the hopes of securing a rematch with Barão.

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