Friday's UFC on FX 3 event includes a half-dozen preliminary fights on Fuel TV at 6:00 p.m. ET before the 4-piece main on FX at 9:00 p.m. ET. With the Facebook stream and Part One of the Fuel TV preliminary card Dissection behind us, we'll move on to the latter half of the prelims with analysis on the following match ups:
Pague was a bantamweight on TUF 14; he lost via decision to eventual finalist T.J. Dillashaw and was massacred by "Prince" John Albert at the live finale, who gift-wrapped his arm from the top and pounded him out (1st-round TKO). Pre-UFC, Pague was the Ring of Combat bantamweight champion and his 4 losses can be attributed to either inexperience (Jon Owens in Pague's MMA debut) or respectable UFC- or WEC-level opposition (Jeff Lentz, Anthony Leone, Din Thomas).
More UFC on FX 3 Dissections
Papazian reps the renowned Hayastan Academy under Judo kingpin Gokor Chivichyan and impressed in his Octagon debut against Mike Easton. Despite losing a unanimous decision, Papazian was game in all aspects and made Easton work hard for everything. Most of the battle took place standing, where Papazian rolled out an aggressive Thai arsenal, exceptional timing and rhythm on the feet, a beefy clinch and solid takedown defense.
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Thus far, Pague's competed admirably against legit competition but has yet to triumph. He has good height and length along with decent striking and overall instincts, but I think his lack of raw grit and physical strength will be a problem against the quick powerhouses in the bantamweight division. Papazian's high-velocity striking barrage does lend itself to counter-striking opportunities, but "The Jackhammer" has never lost due to strikes and should be able to impose his will by manhandling Pague in the clinch. As long as Papazian stays focused on defending himself when closing range, he should be able to avoid momentum-shifting counters, though Pague does have a nice spearing knee that he used to discourage Dillashaw from dropping levels.
My Prediction: Jared Papazian by TKO.
Both lightweights clocked in a successful debut on the Sanchez vs. Ellenberger Fuel TV card. Means capitalized on his condor-like wingspan and peppered Bernardo Magalhaes with strikes while neutralizing takedowns and Salas, the 4th-rated prospect on the Scouting Report, buried Finnish prospect Anton Kuivanen with his Division 1 wrestling pedigree for a unanimous decision.
Salas, who trains at the Grudge Training Center in Colorado, picked up his biggest pair of wins in Robert Emerson and Joe Ellenberger (Jake's brother) just before his Octagon debut. Means is soaring on a ridiculous rally: he split his first 4 fights (losing to UFC-caliber foes in Spencer Fisher and Luke Caudillo) but has since notched 15 wins in his last 17 with 1 loss and 1 draw.
The considerable height (6'2"), absurd reach length (76") and the footwork of Means will be crucial to stay afoot against the overbearing wrestling of Salas, who's won 4 of 10 by decision. Salas struggled to nail doubles against Kuivanen but found success by changing to a low single, and will have to make the same type of on-the-fly adjustments. The commentary team indicated that Means "comes from a wrestling background" but I couldn't find any specifics.
The way he dictated the action with rangy striking, cerebral motion and defensive clinching against "Trekko" conveyed that he has the intelligence and resolve to out-hustle Salas to the finish line. Crucial factors will be Means' footwork and selection of distance strikes while the way Salas shrinks the gap and sets up his advances. Salas will be stronger but I think Means is just feistier and will be more successful in stinging with counters than Salas will be with takedown attempts.
My Prediction: Tim Means by decision.
Roberts is the Jackson/Winklejohn middleweight who was set to debut against Sean Loeffler on the first UFC on Fuel TV show, but the bout was scratched at the last minute due to a Loeffler injury. Roberts has competed as high as heavyweight and light-heavyweight in the past and played football for 4 years at Howard Payne University. Of his 11 wins, Roberts has a balanced finishing ratio of 4 TKOs, 5 submissions and 2 decisions.
Magalhaes is a Nova Uniao rep and, accordingly, an exceptional BJJ black belt and submission specialist who hurls haymakers on the feet. He's stopped 3 of his 5 opponents (2 subs, 1 TKO) and is distinguished by a frenetically aggressive style.
This should be a case of a well-rounded and experienced fighter using his repertoire to avoid the clutches of a sub-grappling whiz. Magalhaes' stand up is serviceable but a bit wild and sloppy, much like his takedowns. Roberts should be able to employ his size and athleticism to keep Magalhaes at bay with a sprawl-and-brawl strategy, though he's in trouble if the Brazilian has a chance to fire up his sub-game.
My Prediction: Buddy Roberts by decision.