Robbie Peralta def Estevan Payan via 3rd Round KO
Peralta and Payan was thought to be a back-and-forth slugfest, but this fight featured more of the other side of fighting. Peralta landed two solid takedowns in the first round, but found himself swept later in the round. Payan proved to be the better grappler of the two as he was able to secure side control without much defense from Peralta. The fight would later play out much like this as both Peralta and Payan secured takedowns, but it seemed Payan was slightly more technical. However, each round starts out on the feet and it appeared Peralta had a sense of desperation coming into the third. He blitzed Payan, dropping him with a left hook and finishing with big punches on the ground. I originally picked Peralta to win by a decision as he would out-strike Payan, but Payan proved to be a stiffer test on the ground than imagined. Nevertheless, I’m 1-0 in my picks.
William “Patolino” def Bobby Voelker via Unanimous Decision
A strong showing from William Macario showcased his much improved stand-up skills, especially in technique. I have to say I wasn’t too impressed with Patolino’s striking on the show, or in his UFC debut, but this fight proved how much potential this young kid has. I predicted Voelker to overpower Macario on the feet with his aggressive striking to knock Patolino out in the second round, but it was clear Patolino was the faster, smoother, and more technical striker. He kept Voelker out of range, and Bobby’s haymakers were sighted far in advance by William. Crisp striking and solid striking defense lead Patolino to a dominant decision in an entertaining display of skill. I fall to 1-1 in my prelim predictions.
John Howard def Siyar Bahadurzada via Unanimous Decision
This bout also seemed to play out in more of a “grey area” than I thought it would. I saw Siyar coming into this fight as the better striker with more power and more accuracy, while Howard being the much better wrestler. Howard was able to showcase his striking much more than I thought he would, and he arguably out-struck Bahadurzada. Ontop of that, Howard was able to secure a takedown in the third round that secured him a dominant position. Both fighters landed big shots, but Howard’s movement on the feet and takedowns won him the bout. I picked Howard to win by decision, but I figured it would be by smothering Bahadurzada on the mat; that wasn’t the case though as Howard stood toe-to-toe with Siyar, and even looked to finish on the ground. 2-1 on the prelims.
Dennis Siver def Manny Gamburyan via Unanimous Decision
Siver’s active lead leg kicks and improving ground game stifled Gamburyan’s gameplan en-route to a 29-28 decision win. Siver proved to be the better striker by far on the feet, keeping Gamburyan at bay with his infamous lead leg attacks. Manny failed to close the distance and land anything other than grazing punches. Siver stunned Manny in the second round with a counter hook, but didn’t capitalize. Siver showed that he was not afraid to go to the ground with Manny, and even landed a handful of takedowns. Gamburyan displayed an active bottom game however as he attacked with armbar and leg lock attempts, but it was Siver’s control and relentless stand-up attack that earned him the decision. I picked Siver to TKO Gamburyan, but Manny’s aggressiveness on the feet kept Siver from loading up on anything big. I didn’t expect Siver to welcome much, if any, grappling, but he was apparently comfortable and confident enough. Still, a win for Siver. 3-1 for me on the prelims.
Michael Johnson def Gleison Tibau via 2nd Rd KO
It took a while for Johnson to get into his groove, but once he did I was confident he’d be able to vastly out-strike Tibau. I expected more wrestling between these two, but it was evident they were prepared to stand and bang with eachother. Tibau, a fighter who’s usually strong in the first round, gave Johnson about as much as he could handle and arguably won the first round with his striking. A quick trip to his corner to receive some advice and Johnson made the needed adjustments, which seemed to be more movement, and it opened up the window for a blistering shot that put Tibau out. I expected much more wrestling in this bout, especially from Tibau, but I knew Johnson would eventually sneak away with the better hands. Predicting a close decision, I guess I underestimated Johnson’s actual power. Regardless, another pick I get right as I increase to 4-1, hopefully I have this luck for the rest of the card.
Uriah Hall def Chris Leben via 1st Rd TKO
Chris Leben came out like a bull, but Uriah Hall expertly played the role of the matador. Much improved striking defense and footwork gave Hall a much more comfortable experience this time around in his third UFC appearance. Hall stunned Leben right away with a flying knee, and then nearly did the same later in the first round. Leben could never land anything other than a few leg kicks. His overhand left missed time after time, and he paid for it dearly when he took a stiff counter right hand from Hall that put Leben down. Some follow up punches stunned Leben even more, but the horn saved him – or so we thought. Leben went back to his corner and said, “I’m done”. That puts a wrap to this fight and gives me another notch in my predictions. I picked Hall to win by decision through expert striking, fluid movement, and takedowns.
I end the prelims with 5-1 record, to take a look at my exact prelim predictions, click here
Front-Page Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor