UFC 191 is just a day away. There are spectacular fights on the Main Card that somewhat overshadow the prelims, however that does not diminish their importance or their potential for fireworks. These six matchups should be full of action, so let’s get to it.
The marquee fight of the Fox Sports 1 Prelims is a Lightweight battle that all but guarantees to display some of those fireworks I mentioned when American standout Paul “The Irish Dragon” Felder (10-1-0) meets one of England’s favorite sons, Ross “The Real Deal” Pearson (19-9-0, 1 NC), in the Octagon on Saturday evening. While neither man is ranked and both come into this pivotal fight off a loss, they are counted among the most talented strikers in their division. That’s not to say they are one-dimensional, because they are both well-rounded, I think they both enjoy a good fist fight. Felder did lose in his last bout, but there’s no shame in losing a close decision to Edson Barboza, and he looked pretty good even in defeat. Felder is a magnificent athlete and he has a unique, diverse offensive style that utilizes a lot of flashy techniques. TUF:9 victor Pearson has basically alternated wins and losses in the promotion, though he is not to be underestimated. He has skills all over the cage, but he doesn’t prioritize solid defense for the most part, and has paid for that on occasion. Felder is so unpredictable on the feet, he is a master of controlling distance, and his explosive athleticism lends itself well to the high-pressure assault he brings to the table. These factors make him a nightmare for a counter-puncher like Pearson, and those attributes will notch him a win here in highlight-reel fashion, though the Brit’s toughness will delay the end for a little while. I predict Felder R2 TKO Pearson.
John “Hands of Stone” Lineker (25-7-0) will be making his divisional debut against #12 Francisco “Cisco” Rivera (11-4-0, 1 NC) in the Bantamweight co-headliner, a fight practically designed for the fans. The hard-hitting Linker is the a top ten Flyweight and he enters this fight on a two-fight win streak, but his well-documented struggles with making the cut to 125 have forced him up a weight class. This might not seem like much, but he put himself through those grueling cuts for a reason: he will often have to overcome a significant size disadvantage in this division. However, I think he has the kind of power and durability to compensate for that, so I suppose he’ll just have to get better at closing distance and improve his defense everywhere. With eight career T/KO stoppages, Rivera obviously carries a lot of power behind his strikes as well, he is just far more evasive on the feet. Both men will likely push forward andcollide repeatedly looking to put each other down with huge power shots. It’s not that they are incapable of anything else, but it’s how they both do business. “Cisco” has lost two of his last three, but his huge height and reach advantages (5” and 3”, respectively) will be too much, especially as they go deeper in the rounds. Unfortunately forLineker, I think his first outing at Bantamweight will end in failure. I predict Rivera R3 TKO Lineker.
In Women’s Bantamweight action, #13 Jessica “Bate Estaca” Andrade (13-4-0) squares off against Raquel “Rocky” Pennington (5-6-0). Coming off a win over Sarah Moras in July, Andrade has been victorious in four of her last five fights, and the submission ace looks to keep her momentum this weekend. While she has carries some pop in her standup game, she is anything but technical, and her best chances at victory lie in her far more refined ground game.Pennington, who has traded wins and losses during during her four-fight UFC career, will be in trouble if she gets taken down, but with her wrestling she should be able to stave that off. Where she has the clear edge in this matchup is on the feet: her boxing is more crisp, and she has some power too. These two women should be verycompetitive and both are as tough as nails, but I don’t think either will get a finish. I predict Andrade UD Pennington.
We now turn to the Featherweights for the FS1 prelim opener, as prospect “Cassius” Clay Collard (14-6-0, 1 NC) faces off with Tiago “Trator” dos Santos e Silva (19-5-2, 1 NC). After winning ten consecutive fights over two-plus years“Trator” suffered a relatively shocking setback in February against Mike de la Torre. In spite of that setback, he appears ready to rebound and get back to his winning ways. He really is an all-around talent, though he seems content to keep fights standing and he has proven he has a nose for the finish with thirteen (7 T/KO, 6 Sub) in his career so far. Young gun Collard, 22, lives up to his nickname with a slick striking game, and he has a very aggressive, powerful style, to which he owes eight T/KO stoppages. Both of these guys will likely be satisfied to stand and trade, and they both have enough knockout juice to make this fight run short, but I’m going with the rising prospect. I predict Collard R1 TKO Trator.
MMA stalwart, 50+ fight veteran and recent Welterweight transplant Joe “Diesel” Riggs (40-15-0, 1 NC) is moving up to Middleweight, and for his first assignment, he drew Ron “ChoirBoy” Stallings (13-7-0, 1 NC). Stallings should be the more active fighter on the feet, though Riggs has good enough standup defense to survive. Riggs is more likely to look for a takedown, for while they are the same height, Stallings is the larger of the two men. Clinching up and wrestling would mitigate that size difference for “Diesel”, though he’s just as likely to keep it standing anyway. These two have forty-eight finishes between them, and because of that, I sense there will be a heavy dose of caution from both of them. With that in mind, I think this will go until the final horn. I predict Stallings UD Riggs.
The Fight Pass Prelims opener features Joaquim “Netto BJJ” Silva (7-0-0) and Nazareno “El Tigre” Malegarie (27-3-0) in a Lightweight showdown, and should make for a quality beginning. Saying that TUF:Brazil semifinalist Malegarie is a ground specialist is putting it mildly, to say the least. With fifteen career submission victories under his belt, his intentions and gameplan are no big secret. He smothers his opponents like few others, and the Argentinian latches on like a pitbull until he’s twisted you into a pretzel. The debuting Silva is something of a phenom, with his only loss- professional or amateur- to Glaico Franca during the show, and he is an even bigger prospect. All of Silva’s pro wins have come in the first round, tallying four T/KOs and three subs, which is certainly impressive despite the fact that none of those fights were in the bigger promotions. I think this is going to be largely contested on the cage floor, and I would give Malegarie the advantage there over most fighters. With that in mind, I predict Malegarie R2 Sub Silva.
Here’s my Main Card preview: http://firststopfantasy.com/articles/ufc-191-main-card-preview/
By: Evan Alworth