The UFC’s “A” team may be taking to the field on the FOX network on Saturday night, but there’s a sizeable “B” team that’s duking it out on Fuel TV in the three hours before that big hoedown. (Did I just use the word “hoedown”? What the hell?) Now, I don’t know about you, but whenever I call my cable company and ask if I can get Fuel TV added to my already extensive channel package, the person on the other end laughs uncontrollably and hangs up. However, last weekend, when Jim Miller and Melvin Guillard were on deck, someone tweeted that the prelims airing on Fuel TV were also being broadcast on a channel called FOX Deportes – and lo and behold, I have FOX Deportes. Granted, I speak almost zero Spanish and had no clue what was being said, but a fight’s a fight. Other than knowing the names of the fighters, what more do I need? So, in the spirit of there being a possibility that my liveblogging duties on Saturday night will extend beyond what’s on FOX’s flagship channel and stretch into the realm of “fuera de combate”, here’s a preview of the undercard. Maybe some of you will get to watch the prelims, maybe none of us will. Who knows. At least I tried.
-Evan Dunham vs. Nik Lentz – Some fighters are so exciting, you sit on the edge of your seat whenever they’re in motion, wary of the wicked knockout or slick submission they could inflict on their opponent at any given moment. Lentz is not one of those fighters. No, Lentz hugs people to death. He’s pretty good at it, though, which is why he still has a job. As a rule, Dunham is pretty exciting, and for a while there he was considered number one with a bullet when it came to the lightweight division. Guillard squashed that with a rapid-fire TKO about a year ago, so here we are with a matchup that pits Mr. Huggy Bear against someone actually quite dangerous and skilled at finishing. My money is on Dunham winning the decision, except I have truly never gambled, even though I’ve spent so much time in casinos attending MMA shows. Weird, huh?
-John-Olav Einemo vs. Mike Russow – Einemo is a big, heavyweight jiu-jitsu black belt from Norway, which is kind of cool if you think about it. Norway. That’s like totally “Viking” or something. Russow, on the other hand, is a big, hard-headed wrestler galoot from Minnesota, and Minnesota was settled by the Scandinavians, with Scandinavia comprised of Norway, Sweden and Denmark. So technically, while it’s cool Einemo is repping the Norwegian MMA scene, he’s really fighting his brethren in Russow, which kind of makes the matchup less cool. Anyway, Einemo may have gotten smoked by Dave Herman in his UFC debut, but he’s still a better grappler than Russow. I see him winning by sweeping Russow, easing into mount and raining down punches.
-Cub Swanson vs. George Roop – Swanson’s never really been able to rise to the occasion when taking on top-level featherweight competition, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t skilled. He has, however, been in the game for a while, and his body has gotten kind of worn down, so count that as a strike against him. Roop, meanwhile, is a tall and lanky gamer who’s proven to be tougher than a two-dollar steak. Also, he tends to flounder against top-level competition too, so watch for these guys to wow us – Swanson on the ground and Roop on the feet – and for one of them to get the decision, then face someone tougher in the future, and get killed.
-Charles Oliveira vs. Eric Wisely – Up until he faced Jim Miller at UFC 124, Oliveira was the next big thing, busting out submissions like it was 1999 and he was the Artist Formerly Known as Prince. Unfortunately, Miller kneebarred him easily, his win over Lentz was turned into a “no contest” when it was determined the Brazilian won via an accidental foul, and Don Cerrone just completely smashed him. So I picture the conversation between Dana White and Joe Silva going something like this: “What the heck are we going to do with this Oliveira kid? He had so much potential?” said White. “Why don’t we pluck someone completely unworthy from the sub-minor leagues and feed him to the Brazilian – you know, to make Oliveira look good?” said Silva. “Great idea. Also, $@#^&*>+!” said White. Oliveira is going to murder Wisely. He better. It doesn’t get any more spoon-fed than this.
-Shane Roller vs. Michael Johnson – Roller can wrestle, nail a submission, or land a knockout punch. He can also get worked over on the ground, get submitted, and get KO’d. I guess that makes him well-rounded? Johnson came close to winning TUF 12, but instead will forevermore suffer under the curse of the “TUF Runner-Up” (seriously, go back and look where all the TUF runner-ups are right now). I have Roller outwrestling and outworking Johnson, but since both men are so capable at getting beaten, this one could go either way.
-Lavar Johnson vs. Joey Beltran – Lavar Johnson (no relation to the aforementioned Michael) was a somewhat decent heavyweight slugger in Strikeforce, and now that Strikeforce is no longer in the heavyweight business, we get to see homeboy mix it up in the Octagon. Yay! His first opponent in the UFC? The Human Punching Bag (didn’t I call someone that last week?) known as Beltran. This is actually a good test for both men. If Johnson can put Beltran away, he’ll prove to be a solid addition to the UFC roster; if Beltran wins, then that just proves he’s a badass and that Strikeforce sucks. Or did suck, when it wasn’t a Muppet with Dana White’s fist up inside it like a proctologist with a profanity streak.