UFC On Fox 2: Fuel TV Prelims Dissection (Part Two)

Fighter images via UFC.com

UFC on Fox 2 goes live this Saturday night on the Fox channel and will be headlined by former UFC light-heavyweight champion Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis. Now that the Johnny Bedford vs. Mitch Gagnon affair has been nixed, six preliminary matches are set for Fuel TV at 5 p.m. ET along with one fight (Chris Camozzi vs. Dustin Jacoby) streaming on Facebook.

As a follow up to Part One of the Fuel TV preliminary card Dissections, the three bouts below will be analyzed here in Part Two.

Evan Dunham vs. Nik Lentz
Cub Swanson vs. George Roop
Mike Russow vs. Jon Olav Einemo

Evan Dunham (12-2) vs. Nik Lentz (21-4-2)

Evan "3D" Dunham premiered as an unknown and undefeated lightweight at UFC 95. Fourteen months and four consecutive wins later, the lanky southpaw had engraved his name on the list of top contenders at 155-pounds. Dunham seared through his first four opponents, each offering a sequential increase in status (Per Eklund, Marcus Aurelio, Efrain Escudero, Tyson Griffin).

The thirty-year-old native of Oregon earned the nickname "3D" for his triple-pronged proficiency in boxing, wrestling and submissions. A wrestler in high school, Dunham took an elective course on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu when he was attending college at University of Oregon and was hooked immediately. He's now a black belt under "Megaton" Dias and holds a submission win (guillotine choke) in MMA over 2008 World No-Gi champion Cleber Luciano. Dunham is deadly in transitions and a tenacious scrambler, as demonstrated in his impressive wins over Escudero and Griffin.

His first career loss, a split decision to Sean Sherk at UFC 119, was embroiled in controversy. Sherk definitively took the first round with dominant takedowns and managed to slice him open with an elbow, but many felt that Dunham's gritty turnaround in the second and third should have earned him the nod. Melvin Guillard made sure there was no basis for debate by closing Dunham out with a first round flurry in his next venture. Most recently, Dunham realigned his progress with a commanding decision over Shamar Bailey.

Nik "The Carnie" Lentz was officially unbeaten in the UFC until his last outing, which was a decision loss to Mark Bocek. The D1 wrestler debuted at UFC 103 with seventeen wins, three losses and one draw, and notched a decision over Rafaello Oliveira. In his second match, Thiago Tavares was docked one point for a low blow, transforming what would have been a unanimous decision for Tavares into a majority draw.

Lentz went on to quietly chip away with four straight wins: he bested Robert Emerson and Andre Winner by decision, crept by Tyson Griffin in a split decision that many considered unjust, and submitted Waylon Lowe with a guillotine. Before meeting Bocek, Lentz took on the soaring Charles Oliveira and was finished with an illegal knee when he was still down, resulting in the outcome being changed to a No Contest.

Gifs and analysis in the full entry.

SBN coverage of UFC on Fox 2

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Half of Dunham's twelve wins were facilitated by his spidery submission game. Even without a distinct pedigree, Dunham's wrestling is well above average and he's far from the type to be pulling guard or transmitting an invitation to grapple via butt-scooting.

Rather than presenting a looming threat with takedowns (though he was able to ground Tyson Griffin), Dunham is at his best in scrambles and transitions. He excels at taking the back, he loves to attack the neck with guillotines in the clinch or when defending takedowns and his guard passing skills are solid. While his grappling has been phenomenal thus far, he might be just as dangerous standing.

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While he's not a knockout artist with major power, Dunham's a very crisp and accurate volume puncher who mixes in an occasional kick. His straight left hand is superb, especially when he sets it up with his jab, or with multiple jabs as he's been doing lately.

When he unwinds combinations (left), Dunham rolls his punches over and adds a slight hooking motion. They aren't laser-straight -- which gives them tricky trajectory and timing -- but he gets great extension and depth with his hands from the way he torques his core into each blow.

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Even after a handful of UFC appearances, Nik Lentz seemed to have a pretty unremarkable style, but he's slowly divulged little bits and pieces of a well layered game.

Standing, he keeps busy with kicks from outside and mostly employs his hands in close. He's been fairly hittable on the feet because of his tendency to leave his chin exposed when attacking. He does well defensively when he's focused on it, but he's had some trouble shifting back and forth from offense and defense smoothly throughout the ebb and flow of the fight.

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I was thoroughly impressed with Lentz's ability to get back to full guard amidst the relentless passing onslaught of BJJ black belt Mark Bocek -- especially for a fighter with a wrestling base. We haven't seen much of Lentz on his back and he stayed calm and showed solid grappling smarts against a high level submissionist.

Lentz has a very tight guillotine as well. Bocek was a tough match up in this regard and ended up escaping the attempts, but the one to the left put him in quite a precarious position.

With no concerns of how the fans will receive it, Lentz is wise in applying his strengths, as we saw in the control-oriented strategy against Andre Winner. Based on the way he's cycled between striking, clinch control, takedowns and submission threats, I'd also categorize him as a three-dimensional fighter.

Though his straight wrestling might be better than Dunham's, the problem is that Lentz is more of an average triple-threat fighter (by UFC standards) and Dunham is virtually A-level across the board. Dunham's wrestling prowess -- the weakest of his three specialties -- is adequately reinforced by his striking and submissions. Sherk, who is one of the better wrestlers in the weight class, absorbed a hail of leather on his way into clinch-range and then spent a good amount of time trying to wriggle free from Dunham's vice-like guillotines. His height, stretchy wingspan and cautious footwork allows him to keep opponents on the end of his punches, and his leverage and base in the clinch makes for a sturdy second option when he's tied up.

I just don't see many ways for Lentz, who is not a big finisher, to grind Dunham down for three rounds. His best option is to replicate the blueprint that Sherk laid out, but even that only held for the first round. Dunham's error was falling back for the guillotine too often when defending takedowns instead of digging underhooks; a mistake I don't expect him to repeat.

My Prediction: Evan Dunham by decision.

Cub Swanson (15-5) vs. George Roop (12-8-1)

Fan-friendly featherweights who fight with unbridled aggression will collide here.

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A consistent source of entertainment in the WEC, Cub Swanson slipped out of the spotlight during the UFC-WEC merger due to injury. He finally got back to action and made his Octagon debut versus Ricardo Lamas at the first UFC on Fox show, but succumbed to an arm-triangle in the second after winning a close first round.

Cub is a guy who might never wear a belt but always deserves a watch on account of his diversity and gameness. A member of the stacked Jackson's MMA squad, Swanson is a BJJ black belt, swarming striker and thoroughly well rounded competitor.

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He's exhibited traces of Capoeira and western boxing in his striking, Thai and Judo in his clinch and a medley of wrestling and BJJ on the mat, which scores high marks for Swanson in all three phases of combat. What sets him apart is his knack for transitioning from one aspect to another, his ever-electric pace and willingness to tear into anyone no matter where the fight goes. He'll never be accused of avoiding risks, playing it safe or "fighting not to lose." In fact, his brash courage is probably his biggest flaw, as a more calculating strategy would serve him well.

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Roop kind of just blended in with the crowd of lightweights on TUF 8 and seemed destined to fade out after losing two of three in the Octagon after the show. The former Shawn Tompkins student dropped in weight, transferred to the WEC and quickly reaped the benefits of his long frame and tightened-up kickboxing. Though he got a little carried away by plummeting twenty pounds at first, resulting in a loss to bantamweight Eddie Wineland, Roop settled on 145 and fought to a conspicuous draw with Leonard Garcia before becoming the only human to put Chan Sung Jung to sleep, which was accomplished by a vicious left high kick.

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He found himself on the receiving end of a knockout against Mark Hominick, then bounced back with a dominant upset of Josh Grispi before falling prey to top-billed newcomer Hatsu Hioki. The split-decision verdict was a debatable ruling and Roop proved that he was still accelerating despite the loss.

Roop's first significant evolution was polishing up his offensive striking, which led to maximizing his reach with punches and flinging out his nasty high kicks effortlessly. The second was supercharging his clinch with thorny elbows and a better understanding of balance and underhooks.

Another key aspect of Roop's latest transformation is his brilliant use of the front push kick, which he employs like a jab to sting opponents with on the outer perimeter. Altogether, the push kick and his newly bolstered clinch tactics paved the way for his unhinging of Grispi and were praised in a Bloody Elbow Judo Chop. This fresh format was all inclined to protect the vulnerability of his grappling, but even that facet showed improvement against a top-flight ground technician in Hioki.

Defensively, Roop still has some holes in the standing department, particularly with head movement and letting his hands wander too far from his chin. His footwork and dictation of range have also become more technical, but he still has lapses where his movements seem a bit clumsy.

I'm mildly surprised that Swanson comes in as a tight favorite on the betting lines. On paper, his Jiu Jitsu acumen and diversity portray a poor match up for Roop.. My concern is that Swanson rarely exploits his strengths by trying to force an advantage and will be facing a disadvantage in height (5'7" vs. 6'1") and reach (70" vs. 72"). The pivotal factor will be how well and how often Swanson can navigate through Roop's long kickboxing to clinch up. I think Cub will have his work cut out for him and that Roop is definitely a live dog here.

My Prediction: Cub Swanson by submission.

Mike Russow (14-1) vs. Jon Olav Einemo (6-2)

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Einemo is a hulking Norwegian heavyweight who trains with the fierce stable of kickboxers at the renowned Golden Glory team, but his acute submission grappling is his best weapon. "The Viking" won the 2003 ADCC tournament and defeated BJJ phenom Roger Gracie in the process, and he's finished all of his MMA wins with five submissions and one TKO.

Einemo lost his debut to Dave Herman at UFC 131 after winning the first with his striking and clinch takedowns.

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He has somewhat of a lumbering and plodding style on the feet, mostly due to his massive size (6'6", 260-pounds), but still hurls a decent one-two with a good straight right.

Einemo typically lurches forward while slinging leather in the hopes of initiating a clinch and forcing the fight downward to work his specialty. His approach, pace and timing are fairly predictable yet still effective. Herman's speed advantage played a role in his last defeat, but he'll be facing a comparably sized and paced heavyweight in Russow on Saturday.

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Mike Russow put himself on the map with a come-from-behind KO of Todd Duffee in the third round at UFC 114 (right).

Russow has competed at an odd pace, taking his first pro fight in 1998 and then not reappearing again until 2006. He lost his Pride FC debut to Sergei Kharitonov by first round submission, which remains his only loss to date. Russow pecked away in smaller promotions before venturing back overseas to notch an impressive north-south choke on Roman Zentsov in the ephemeral Yarennoka show after Pride was shut down.

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Russow piled on two more submissions in the Adrenaline MMA promotion before signing with the UFC. He's continued his moderate pace and competed just once per year since, defeating Justin McCully by decision in his debut.

After the monumental upset over Duffee, Russow put on a strong performance against Jon Madsen, dotting the wrestler up with heavy punches to earn a TKO via doctor stoppage.

Russow is solid just about everywhere with decent boxing, wrestling and submission knowledge.

Though not quite as agile nor as proficient in wrestling as Dave Herman, I see Russow presenting the same list of challenges for Einemo: he'll have the faster hands with more power, better cage movement, a sturdy sprawl and enough experience to avoid Einemo's submissions like the plague.

I agree with Russow's slight push on the betting lines and think he can batter Einemo on the feet and keep the fight standing with his rugged clinch. Einemo, though superior on the mat, lacks the wrestling pedigree to get and keep Russow on the mat.

My Prediction: Mike Russow by TKO.

All gifs via Zombie Prophet of IronForgesIron.com



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