UFC 123 Preview: The Prelims
Hey guys just posted up the break down for the preliminary card over at my website. Check below for the article and predictions. And check out the website for more MMA, and the 123 main card preview in the coming days!
After a lackluster card in Germany this past weekend we can only hope that UFC 123 makes up for it with some exciting fights. Luckily the night seems littered with potential style clashes and promising wars. Let’s take a look at the prelims first.
Consider this punishment to Lentz for producing an absolute borefest against Andre Winner on the Spike preliminary action of UFC 118. How else can you explain someone unbeaten during their four fights in the UFC opening a card? Lentz is a one dimensional wrestler who looks to control his opponents. His jiu jitsu is solid enough, he went three rounds with both Rafaello Oliveira and Thiago Taveres without being submitted. His stand-up keeps him out of trouble but he is hardly a threat on his feet.
Tyson Griffin may be fighting for his spot within the UFC after back to back losses to Evan Dunham and Takanori Gomi. Griffin is a very talented wrestler who has slowly garnered a complete mixed martial arts game. His stand up continues to improve over at Xtreme Couture while his submission defense looked phenomenal against Evan Dunham. Prior to his two fight skid, Griffin had been working his way towards a title shot.
This seems like a sure fire way to give Lentz a loss after his previous performance on national television. Griffin should be able to stuff his takedowns and avoid being held up against the cage while blasting Lentz in the stand-up. Considering Griffin’s history of decisions I don’t know if he can stop Lentz, but he should definitely come out on top.
Paul Kelly vs. T.J. O’Brien
Paul Kelly has had a rather up and down career within the UFC, going 4-3 with a drop down to the lightweight division. Kelly has had problems every time he has stepped up to face a higher level opponent, Marcus Davis, Dennis Siver, and Jacob Volkmann have all dealt him losses. A strong wrestler despite coming out of England, Kelly has shown a dominating top game in his victories. He has yet to face a submission specialist like O’Brien but has has shown a decent enough submission skills.
T.J. O’Brien attempted to make it onto the current season of the Ultimate Fighter but was knocked out by Koscheck’s first round pick Marc Stevens. Going into the show O’Brien was deemed one of the top lightweights to watch for to win the season. O’Brien has shown to be incredibly adept at submissions, as evident by his nickname “The Spider”. Of his 16 wins, 15 have been by submission, and of those 15 most have been by triangle choke. Little else is known about the UFC newcomer outside of his submission skills.
It’s incredibly hard to pick a fight when so little exists about one of the contestants. O’Brien has had 19 fights but all of them were in small organizations against no-name competition. His ground game is obviously very dangerous but I question if anything else is really UFC quality. With Kelly’s wrestling I expect the Brit to keep the fight standing and either TKO the newcomer or take home a clear unanimous decision victory.
Edson Mendes Jr. vs. Mike Lullo
Edson Mendes Jr, better known as Edson Barboza, has already been hailed as the next big thing within the lightweight division by fans all across the internet. A former muay thai competitor, Mendes amassed a record of 25-3 before switching over to MMA. His stand up is obviously his biggest advantage, whipping vicious leg kicks Thiago Alves style that demoralize his opponents. His hands and feet are scary fast, producing a brutal combination with his power. He showed beautiful takedown defense against Marcelo Guidici, stuffing almost every shot and getting back to his feet immediately the one time he was. His submission skills are largely untested, which equates to undeniably the biggest question mark.
Mike Lullo is another UFC newcomer looking to stop the scorching hot Brazilian prospect. Lullo is a rather well rounded fighter displaying comfortable stand up skills and a very advanced ground game. He has displayed the ability to throw kicks seamlessly into his striking, making him dangerous on the feet. Of his eight wins, six have come by way of submission, his biggest strength. Displaying a beautiful array of submissions, including a gogoplata victory, it’s clear that the ground game is Lullo’s bread and butter. While he is well adept at both striking and the ground game, his wrestling seems lacking.
Couple together Lullo’s wrestling deficiency and Mendes’ striking prowess and I think this fight should be pretty cut and dry. I think Lullo gets lit up early and attempts to take the fight to the ground but is unable to. If he does get it there I still expect Mendes to eventually make it back to his feet. Mendes impresses in his UFC debut winning by KO.
Karo Parisyan should win this fight in dominant fashion given his skill set and experience. Unfortunately little is known of the Armenian’s mental health at this point in time. After getting dropped from the UFC for withdrawing from an event days before his fight, he traveled to Australia and won via second round submission after urging the promoter to move his fight to earlier during the broadcast because he was wrecked with emotions. A previous addiction to painkillers also complicates matters. When Parisyan is 100 percent he brings world class judo and ground skills to the Octagon with decent enough striking. All of his wins have come by decision or submission.
Dennis Hallman may own the most surprising pair of victories ever over former champion Matt Hughes, who he beat twice in a combined 38 seconds. Hallman has a world class ground game, submitting opponents in 33 of his 42 victories while never being submitted himself. He is also a former state champion wrestler in high school. His striking is basic but good enough to keep him out of trouble against most of the division.
This fight hinges entirely on the mental state of Karo Parisyan. If he has truly put all of his demons behind him I expect him to take a clear cut decision victory with awesome throws and dominate top control. But it’s become clear that you should not trust the former title contender. It seems safer to bet that Parisyan still isn’t totally there and that he suffers a decision loss to the resurgent Hallman.
Mark Munoz vs. Aaron Simpson
Mark Munoz comes into this bout off the heels of a very disappointing contest against Yushin Okami where he was unable to take down the Japanese middleweight. His storied college wrestling credentials did little for him when Okami defended takedown after takedown. Munoz did show great heart though, forging ahead, always trying to take control of the fight even after being wobbled multiple times. He is slowly rounding out his game, enhancing his already powerful ground n’ pound with the guys associated with Black House gym. He has decent enough striking with enough power to put most down within the middleweight division.
Also coming off of a disappointing loss, Aaron Simpson looks to regain his winning ways. After dominating Chris Leben for a round, he came out visibly gassed in round two before Leben put him away with punches for the TKO stoppage. Simpson has displayed powerful wrestling, coming from Arizona State’s famous program. His hands still haven’t quite gotten to the UFC level yet as he got tagged repeatedly in his past two fights against Tom Lawlor and Chris Leben. Hopefully his hands and cardio have improved training with Ryan Bader, C.B. Dollaway, and other former ASU wrestlers.
When two strong wrestlers meet the bout is usually decided on the feet. When you train with Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida for extended periods of time you can’t help but pick up some solid striking. Combining his training partners and powerful hands I think Munoz will be able to land cleanly on Simpson and put him down for a TKO stoppage.
Matt Brown vs. Brian Foster
The Ultimate Fighter album Brown has proven to be an exciting fighter inside the Octagon. Brown has put forth excellent efforts against Chris Lytle, Ricardo Almeida, and Dong Hyun Kim before eventually losing to all three. Brown has shown dangerous striking against James Wilk and Pete Sell and a pretty decent ground game when he submitted Ryan Thomas. Brown is currently working towards his black belt in judo as well.
Brian Foster came into the UFC when he stepped in as a late replacement at UFC 103 against Rick Story, losing by arm-triangle choke. Since then Foster has looked pretty darn good within the organization. He stopped Brian Foster, who was considered one of the top up-and-coming welterweights within the UFC at the time, and TKO’ed Forrest Petz in a mere 1:07. Besides his victories, he even looked pretty sharp against Chris Lytle, before falling to a knee bar. Foster has shown good wrestling with sharp hands in all of his fights so far.
I really like Brian Foster. I think he has looked sharp in all of his fights so far, even against the top of the division. Brown has been impressive in all of his fights so far, even in defeat. The winner of this should be looked at as a legit threat in the welterweight division, which would be accompanied by a jump up in competition. I expect a really exciting back and forth battle before Foster takes a late TKO stoppage victory.