Hatsu Hioki poses after making weight at the UFC 144 weigh-ins on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
This Friday night, the UFC airs UFC on FX 4. The main card is headlined by Gray Maynard vs. Clay Guida and features three other quality fights. But before that FX card, the night kicks off with prelim action. First up, starting at 5 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. PT will be a pair of fights streaming on Facebook. After that, Fuel TV airs a six fight prelim card starting at 6 p.m. ET / 3 p.m. PT. In this primer, we preview all eight prelim fights. Be sure to check back later today for both a main card and Maynard vs. Guida primer. And for a more in depth look at every fight, take a look at the excellent fight by fight Dissections by Dallas Winston.
For a smaller FX show, there are actually some pretty notable fighters on the prelims. In particular, there's the #2 Featherweight in the world, who closes out the prelim action on Fuel TV.
Fuel TV Prelims:
Hatsu Hioki vs. Ricardo Lamas (Featherweight)
Hatsu Hioki (26-4-2; 2-0 UFC) has been considered to be next in line for Jose Aldo ever since his UFC debut at UFC 137. But the former TKO, Shooto, and Sengoku champion has opted to take more fights to get acclimated to the UFC before challenging for the belt. While he definitely looked more comfortable in his second UFC outing at UFC 144, waiting for a shot is a risky proposition. Already, Hioki may have been leapfrogged in line by The Korean Zombie Chan Sung Jung, and now Lamas will look to play spoiler. Ricardo Lamas (11-2; 2-0 UFC) is just a 4 year pro, but has good experience in both the WEC and UFC. He's looked good in his two UFC wins, but is facing a real step up in competition here. He's here to give Hioki a win, which means he has nothing to lose.
Ramsey Nijem vs. C.J. Keith (Lightweight)
Ramsey Nijem (5-2; 1-1 UFC) was a finalist on season 13 of The Ultimate Fighter, losing to Tony Ferguson. He's since bounced back with a win over Danny Downes. Nijem has been sidelined a bit due to injury, and with only 7 fights to his name and 2 in the UFC, he has not yet made much of a mark on the organization. C.J. Keith (8-0) makes his UFC debut here. A pro since 2007, Keith has been fighting entirely in the California regional scene, where he is undefeated. So far, he has faced no opponents of note.
Steven Siler vs. Joey Gambino (Featherweight)
Steven Siler (20-9; 2-0 UFC) is a very active fighter with nearly 30 fights in his 7 fight career. He came to the UFC through The Ultimate Fighter season 14, losing to eventual champion Diego Brandao. In his proper UFC career, he's undefeated, with wins over Josh Clopton and a bit of an upset over Cole Miller. Joey Gambino (9-0) is another fighter making his UFC debut here. He trains out of the Tristar Gym, and was ranked in last year's Bloody Elbow Scouting Report - a fact that he proudly displays on his UFC fighter profile page: "What ranks and titles have you held? Combat In The Cage am Lightweight Title, CFFC Pro Featherweight Title, and I'm ranked the #2 prospect in the world for 2012 featherweights on Bloody Elbow's scouting report." For that alone, I must root for him here. Here's our scouting report analysis on Gambino.
The rest of the prelims plus more UFC on FX 4 preview coverage from Bloody Elbow after the jump.
Rick Story vs. Brock Jardine (Welterweight)
Next to Hioki, the highest ranked fighter on the prelims is the #15 ranked Rick Story (13-5; 6-3 UFC). After a big win over Thiago Alves at UFC 130 last summer, Story looked to be on the fast track up the Welterweight ranks. But a surprise loss to Charlie Brenneman (after the Nate Marquardt fiasco) and a loss to Martin Kampmann have slowed him down. His 6 fight win streak is now a thing of the past, and he has to work his way back up, but with wins over both Jake Ellenberger and Johny Hendricks, he still deserves to be in the mix. Brock Jardine (9-1) makes his UFC debut here, and is another fighter featured on the BE Scouting Report, which put him at #6 last year. He's a good ground fighter whose lone MMA loss comes against Tony Ferguson. He steps in for the injured Papy Abedi here on roughly 3 weeks notice.
Nick Catone vs. Chris Camozzi (Middleweight)
Nick Catone (9-2; 3-2 UFC) made his UFC debut in 2009 after a successful start to his career in New Jersey's Ring of Combat promotion. The Ricardo Almeida trainee has had a bit of a tough time in the UFC, as he has dealt with a series of injuries and bout cancellations that have kept him largely inactive. This will just be his 3rd fight since 2009. He's coming off a very good win over Constantinos Philippou at UFC 128, but that was over a year ago. Chris Camozzi (16-5; 4-2 UFC) came to the UFC via The Ultimate Fighter, where he was forced out of season 11 due to injury. He's had mixed success in the UFC, but holds wins over Dongi Yang and Joey Villasenor.
Matt Brown vs. Luis Ramos (Welterweight)
Matt "The Immortal" Brown (14-11; 7-5 UFC) is another TUF veteran, as he was a part of season 7. Since then, he's established his place as a gritty veteran in the UFC. He's coming off good wins over Chris Cope and Stephen Thompson where he played essentially the same role he's playing here - veteran test for the new UFC fighter. Here, that newer UFC fighter is Brazilian Luis Ramos (19-7; 0-1 UFC). Ramos was last seen in the UFC on the receiving end of an Erick Silva 40 second KO at UFC 134. He's a Nova Uniao fighter with a lot of solid experience in Brazil. Look for him to use his submission game against Brown here.
Dan Miller vs. Ricardo Funch (Welterweight)
The big story here is the UFC Welterweight debut of Dan Miller (13-6(1); 5-5 UFC). A longtime fixture of the Middleweight division, Dan is the brother to Lightweight contender Jim Miller. He's faced many of the best at 185, which accounts for his .500 UFC record. His move down to 170 is interesting, as he clearly wasn't going anywhere at 185, but he wasn't especially small for the division. How will the cut treat him? The other big question is his mental game. Miller has been on the shelf for almost a year, due in part to his son's health issues. There's no denying Miller's heart, but the time off and the cut are both tough. Ricardo Funch (8-3; 0-3 UFC) made his UFC debut in 2007, going 0-2 before being released. He got a second chance after a win outside the Octagon, but lost his return fight to Mike Pyle. The Brazilian fighter holds a win over T.J. Waldburger, but is almost certainly fighting for his job here.
Ken Stone vs. Dustin Pague (Bantamweight)
Ken Stone (10-3; 1-1 UFC) made his Zuffa debut at the final WEC show, being knocked out by an Eddie Wineland slam. After dropping another KO loss to Scott Jorgensen in the UFC, he seemed on the way out, but rebounded with a very impressive win over Donny Walker last September where Stone looked excellent. Dustin Pague (11-5; 1-1 UFC) was a competitor on season 14 of TUF. He lost on the TUF finale to John Albert, but bounced back with a good submission win over Jared Papazian. He's stepping in as a replacement here after two previous opponents for Stone pulled out.
Bloody Elbow UFC on FX 4 coverage: