UFC 122 Preview: Prospective International Talent Highlights Excellent Roster of Preliminary Battles

Ufc_122_poster_mediumUFC 122 will take place on Saturday, November 13th from the Konig Pilsener Arena in Oberhausen, Germany, airing on tape delay on Spike TV at 9:00 PM EST. The event will feature a #1 contender bout in the UFC middleweight division between Nate Marquardt and Yushin Okami while also featuring a striker's duel between Alessio Sakara and Jorge Rivera. German-born fighters Dennis Siver and Peter Sobotta will also make appearances on the main card along with Amir Sadollah, Andre Winner, Goran Reljic, and Krzysztof Soszynski.

As always, the UFC 122 preliminary card will take place before the main card airs with the opportunity for some of these great fights to make the televised broadcast. Take a look at some of these intriguing battles.

Middleweight: Kyle Noke (17-4-1, 1-0 UFC) vs. Rob Kimmons (23-5, 3-2 UFC): Headlining the UFC 122 preliminary card is a middleweight match-up featuring The Ultimate Fighter season eleven quarter finalist Kyle Noke and submission artist Rob Kimmons. Both Noke and Kimmons have enjoyed success recently as Kimmons defeated Steve Steinbeiss at UFC Live II: Jones vs. Matyushenko back in August while Noke bombed fellow TUF 11 contestant Josh Bryant at The Ultimate Fighter 11 finale in June. Noke has had the more sustained run of success, however, as he's put together a three-fight win streak that included two bouts outside of the UFC. Kimmons was previously defeated by Jorge Rivera and Dan Miller, but defeated Rob Yundt and Joe Vedepo.

There is a small amount of intrigue in the style match-up of this fight. As you may or may not recall during the reality series, Noke's defeat at the hands of Kris McCray was solely due to the relentless takedown ability of McCray, and that loss has fueled speculation that Noke may be in for some hard times in the UFC. Joe Silva challenged Noke in his debut bout with the promotion by pitting him against Josh Bryant, the man who defeated McCray during the show. In an imposing performance, Noke dominated Bryant with the use of devastating leg kicks and precision punching, eventually earning a victory by TKO.

Bryant didn't have a chance to threaten with takedowns early due to Noke's strategy of kicking the wind out of Bryant's sails early. But Rob Kimmons will more than likely be looking for the takedowns to bring Noke into his world on the ground, and that could be a means to exposing Noke. Unfortunately for Kimmons, he doesn't offer much more than that, and Noke's ground acumen is good enough to avoid the submission prowess of Kimmons. Unless Kimmons can control Noke for most of the fight, Noke should be able to use his more technical striking skills to pepper Kimmons from a distance and ward off any attempts at a ground battle. I'll take Kyle Noke via TKO.

Light Heavyweight: Vladimir Matyushenko (24-5, 5-3 UFC) vs. Alexandre "Cacareco" Ferreira (18-5, 0-0 UFC): This is one of the most interesting fights on the entire UFC 122 fight card, and it's particularly intriguing due to the legendary status that Alexandre "Cacareco" Ferreira has in the grappling world as well as the sport of Luta Livre in Brazil. He was a runner-up in the 2003 and 2005 ADCC grappling tournaments, defeating well-known world champion grapplers Fabricio Werdum and Robert Drysdale during runs for titles. He also happens to have an extensive wrestling background in Luta Livre, making him one of the most dangerous grapplers to ever transition to mixed martial arts. 

Unfortunately, he's had some trouble against fighters who mimic the style that Vladimir Matyushenko brings to the table. While his strength and wrestling can overwhelm fighters early in a fight, he isn't very active off his back. He can threaten often with heel hooks and Achilles' locks when fighters try to attack from top control, but Matyushenko has been effective in avoiding submissions for his entire career. Adding to the disadvantages, Ferreira enters this fight on roughly a month's notice. While that isn't a significant shortening of a training camp, it could play a role in his conditioning for this fight.

I'll go with Matyushenko here, but "Cacareco" could be a worthy upset pick. Matyushenko's striking should be far better than anything Ferreira can offer, but his power is quite formidable. There is also the chance that he pulls off a quick submission early, but I'm banking on Matyushenko's ability to avoid those submissions and dominate from the top in this fight.


Welterweight: Pascal Krauss (9-0, 0-0 UFC) vs. Mark Scanlon (7-0, 0-0 UFC): Kenny Robertson dropped out of this fight in mid-October due to injury, giving fellow UFC newcomer Mark Scanlon only a few weeks to work on a gameplan to battle the very tough Pascal Krauss, one of the top prospects in Europe. At first glance, it seems like a rather even match-up as both Krauss and Scanlon have fed on sub-par European competition over the course of their careers, but there are some distinct differences that lean my own opinions about the outcome into the direction of Krauss.

Most notably, Krauss seems to be much more diverse in his path to victory as he's shown solid striking ability in combination with his submission prowess. Scanlon's strength and ground game have proven to be quite effective, but Krauss has more tools at his disposal. It certainly isn't an easy fight for Krauss by any means, but I think he'll live up to the hype and finish off Scanlon.

Welterweight: Duane Ludwig (19-11, 2-2 UFC) vs. Nick Osipczak (5-2, 2-2 UFC): It's somewhat of a mystery as to what level of striking Duane Ludwig can produce at this current point in his career. In two appearances with the UFC, he's only had a total of three minutes and fifteen seconds of cage time, forty-four seconds of which was against Darren Elkins at UFC Live: Vera vs. Jones in which Ludwig suffered a grotesque ankle injury. The previous bout against Jim Miller didn't prove that Ludwig was any better of a striker than your standard mid-level talent as Miller was able to get the better of Ludwig on the feet, eventually taking advantage of Ludwig's well-known weakness to submissions.

While Osipczak isn't a world class kickboxer or world champion Muay Thai fighter, his 6'1" frame and improving striking skills should be a combination that Ludwig will find quite challenging to deal with. If that weren't enough of a problem, Osipczak isn't a novice grappler by any means, and Ludwig has always been highly susceptible to submissions. Barring a return of Ludwig's jaw-dropping power, I gotta go with Nick Oscipzak via submission.

Light Heavyweight: Seth Petruzelli (14-5, 0-3 UFC) vs. Karlos Vemola (7-1, 0-1 UFC): Petruzelli's return to the Octagon at UFC 116 had all the attributes of a great performance with the exception of having his hand raised at the end of the fight. After an impressive first round in which he barraged Ricardo Romero, Petruzelli worked for an armbar in the second, giving up control from the top during the attempt. Romero took advantage and worked for an Americana before eventually tapping Petruzelli with a straight armbar. Petruzelli handed Romero the beating of his career, but once again -- came up short.
Petruzelli will get one more shot as he battles Czech fighter Karlos Vemola, a former heavyweight, in light heavyweight action. Normally, I'd be a bit worried about a guy nicknamed "The Terminator" dropping down a weight class to fight someone who's been defeated at every chance he's been given in the UFC, but Vemola's atrocious striking ability leads me to a conclusion that Petruzelli is going to find his chin quickly. Vemola's strength from top control could cause problems, but I think Petruzelli is game enough to escape those threats and punish Vemola's chin. Seth Petruzelli via TKO.

Welterweight: Kris McCray (5-1, 0-1 UFC) vs. Carlos Eduardo Rocha (8-0, 0-0 UFC): I should probably be a bit more hopeful that German-born American fighter Kris McCray can stave off the inevitable submission hold he'll be in during this fight, but it's tough not to like Rocha's chances. Rocha, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under legendary red belt Darcio Lira, has lived in Germany since 2007 after a German citizen offered him the opportunity to teach in the country. He has since rattled off eight straight victories and remains undefeated heading into UFC 122 on Saturday. 
While I'm a bit skeptical of the level of competition that Rocha has faced in Germany, he has explosive takedowns on top of a highly offensive grappling game, and that is something that we rarely see in tandem. When we do see it, fighters who possess it usually win... a lot. McCray's willingness to move down in weight is a good sign for his future, but Rocha's submission ability coupled with his strength will be overwhelming. Rocha via submission.
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