Generally we break these things down fight-by-fight, but for this event we're going to do one primer for the whole undercard. There are a few fighters that you might not immediately recognize, so we'll provide a little background info on each and break down the matchups a bit. For a much more thorough breakdown of each of these fights, you can check out Dallas Winston's awesome undercard dissection here. There will also be primers covering most of the main card, and a separate one for the main event.
The preliminary card features bouts at middleweight, lightweight, featherweight, and bantamweight. All six preliminary card fights will be aired live on Facebook. The Facebook stream will begin at approximately 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT (possibly 5:30 p.m/2:30 p.m). Here's a quick rundown of the all the scheduled fights.
Tavares is coming off the first official loss of his career and hasn't stepped into the cage in almost a year, while Yang is coming off a loss to TUF winner Court McGee in September. In fact, both men have lost to McGee (Tavares lost to him on TUF 11 in an "exhibition" fight). This will probably be a standup battle, though both men do have the ability to take it to the ground if need be.
McKenzie was a contestant on TUF 12 and impressed with some guillotine finishes before being stopped by Nam Phan. He has lost two UFC bouts in a row. LeVesseur was a standout wrestler (the only man other than Cael Sanderson to never lose an NCAA wrestling match, though he was in Division 3) and has 26 pro fights under his belt. He is currently on a three fight winning streak. This bout obviously comes down to the dreaded guillotine of doom vs. strong wrestling.
Grant had an up-and-down run at welterweight before deciding to drop to lightweight late last year. He picked up a solid win in his first 155 bout over Shane Roller. Prater was getting demolished in his UFC debut by Erick Silva and seemingly lost the bout, but instead was gifted a victory due to Silva getting disqualified for repeated punches to the back of the head. Prater is currently on a five fight winning streak. Both of these guys are good on the ground but Grant is better on the feet, so we'll have to see where he wants to take the fight.
RDA is coming off a disappointing split-decision loss to Gleison Tibau after the biggest win of his career, a 59-second knockout of George Sotiropoulos. Shalorus has disappointed in the UFC thus far, going 0-2 with losses to Jim Miller and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Dos Anjos is the much more well-rounded fighter, but Shalorus is an excellent wrestler with heavy hands and a good chin.
Curran will look for his first UFC win in a 14-year, 48-fight career against the Brazilian Eduardo. He's coming off a decision loss to Scott Jorgensen at UFC 137, while Eduardo is coming off a decision loss to Raphael Assuncao at UFC 134. Both guys are well-rounded but prefer the ground game. Curran could retire after this bout, win or lose.
Rivera steps in as a late replacement to get his second shot in the UFC. His only other UFC bout was a late submission loss to Reuben Duran in mid-2011. He's picked up two quick KO wins in Tachi Palace Fights since then. Soto was a late replacement at UFC 139 but got smoked by Michael McDonald in 56 seconds. The ex-military man is actually dolphin trainer right now. This should be a war on the feet.
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