UFC 149: Preliminary Card Dissection

McGee x Ring

The UFC returns to Canada this Saturday (July 21) for UFC 149 from the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta. The headliner is a battle for the interim bantamweight championship that pits Renan Barao vs. Urijah Faber and new arrival Hector Lombard, who vacated his Bellator middleweight strap with the move, meets Tim Boetsch in the co-main.

As usual, the FX channel will air an assembly of preliminary card fights at 8:00 p.m. ET before the live pay-per-view begins and Facebook will stream a pair of matches to lead off the evening's festivities. Here's how the preliminary card shapes up:

FX Channel
Court McGee vs Nick Ring
Roland Delorme vs Francisco Rivera
Ryan Jimmo vs Anthony Perosh
Bryan Caraway vs Mitch Gagnon

Facebook Stream
Antonio Carvalho vs Daniel Pineda
Mitch Clarke vs Anton Kuivanen

Court McGee (14-2) vs Nick Ring (12-1)

It's a TUF 11 flashback -- Ring defeated McGee on the show by unanimous decision (and one that many found to be controversial) but, along with Rich Attonito, was forced out of the competition with an injury. This enabled McGee to get back in the running and he capitalized in full, blitzing the competition with a submission frenzy: it started with a standing guillotine against James Hammortree, continued with a rear-naked choke on Brad Tavares in the semis and ended by latching the same choke on Kris McCray at the live finale.


More UFC 149 Dissections

Faber vs. Barao | Lombard vs. Boetsch | Kongo vs. Jordan
Ebersole vs. Head | Riddle vs. Clements


Ring, who was Coach Tito Ortiz' first pick and favored to win the show, regrouped and re-established himself in the Octagon. He notched a pair of impressive victories (Riki Fukuda in another contentious decision, James Head by 3rd-round submission) before suffering his first career defeat at the hands of Tim Boetsch (unanimous decision) in his last turn.

Continued in the full entry.

SBN coverage of UFC 149

Ring, who hails from Calgary, doesn't get enough credit for how talented and technical he is. He boasts a 4-1 record in professional boxing, his Muay Thai is excellent, he's a brown belt in BJJ and his counter-wrestling is highly under-appreciated. His stubborn takedown defense and feisty scrambling was on full display against Fukuda, Boetsch and McGee, all of whom are skilled wrestlers, and he bored straight punches through Head's defense to bloody him up before sealing it with a choke.

Ring brought out the whole enchilada in his first (unofficial) win over McGee on TUF: he used front kicks and teeps from a distance to keep McGee on the fringe (often doubling the straight kicks up with low roundhouse kicks), he kept his balance while striking and stayed light on his toes in order to react on McGee's takedown attempts, he enforced strong head position and control in the clinch, he snapped McGee down hard from the front headlock (and even spun to his back from that position after sprawling) and cut angles off his back to create space and hip escape.

McGee, an average striker, spent most of his time looking a bit uncomfortable under Ring's torrent of kicks, punches and circling. His comfort zone is in the clinch or grinding on top in a grapple-fest, so his prime directive was to cut Ring off and launch a double leg or lullaby him with a few combinations to set up his takedowns. In the few instances he was successful, Ring locked him down with stifling control of his head and posture and switched back and forth from Half Spider guard and pushing off to squirm away. Ring was effective and escaped virtually unscathed, even assuming the top position in the 2nd round after taking the back and forcing McGee to roll into guard.

Though it's been some time since they battled and McGee's power and gameness can quickly turn the tables, I don't see much in their respective evolution to convince me that Ring won't be able to actualize the same strategy.

My Prediction: Nick Ring by decision.

Roland Delorme (8-1) vs Francisco Rivera (8-2)

TUF 14 bantamweight contestant Roland Delorme is 2-0 in the Octagon after submitting Josh Ferguson at the live finale and then Nick Denis in a come-from-behind upset, both by rear-naked choke. The BJJ brown belt and Judo black belt has finished all 8 of his wins with 6 submissions and 2 TKOs, 5 of which were finished in the 1st round.

Francisco Rivera had a tough go in his UFC entrance, encountering stiff competition in Erik Koch, who thwacked him with a head kick in the 1st, and then won the opening stanza against Reuben Duran but succumbed to a 3rd-round choke. Rivera chalked up a pair of 1st-round TKOs in Tachi Palace Fights to earn another chance and got the better end of Alex Soto via decision in a back-and-forth boxing affair.

Delorme's Judo and clinch tactics have made up for his basic striking thus far. He showed big heart against Denis after eating a few chunks of leather, which he'll inevitably do against Rivera's more polished, powerful and quicker stand up, but was able to land a flurry of his own before pouncing with the submission. Considering Delorme's resiliency and chin, Rivera will have to be on point with his takedown defense to afford the time he needs on the feet to land meaningful punches. While he'll rack up points when he's standing, Rivera has sputtered out a little in later rounds and I think Delorme, the hometown Canadian, can weather the early storm and swarm him with submission attempts in rounds 2 and 3.

My Prediction: Roland Delorme by submission.

Ryan Jimmo (16-1) vs Anthony Perosh (13-6)

Grace and fluidity have no place in an Anthony Perosh fight, but "The Hippo" always seems to strong-arm his opponent to the mat and entangle them in the devices of his methodical submission game. Perosh, now a light-heavyweight, has finished every win (9 subs, 4 TKOs) and only fallen in the UFC to heavyweights (Jeff Monson, Christian Wellisch), one of which was feared knockout artist Mirko Filipovic (in a late-notice bout). The Aussie is rolling on a 3-fight surge with back-to-back rear-naked chokes (Tom Blackledge, Cyrille Diabate) and a 1st-round TKO over Nick Penner.

Another representative of Team Canada at UFC 149, Ryan Jimmo is the former Maximum Fighting Championships (MFC) light-heavyweight champion who hasn't tasted defeat since his MMA debut in 2007. His 16-piece frenzy includes UFC-caliber opposition in Jesse Forbes, Marvin Eastman, Wilson Gouveia and Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, all of which were unanimous decision victories barring Eastman (split). In fact, 6 of Jimmo's last 7 wins went the distance; he has 6 submissions and 2 TKOs overall.

Jimmo is pretty scrappy in all aspects but Perosh is a decorated grappler, having brought home a bronze medal twice at the World Championships (1999, 2003), a silver medal at the 2000 Pan-Ams and won the South Pacific ADCC tournament in 2009. Perosh seems plodding and uncoordinated on the feet, but eventually manages to inflict his Old Man Strength through gritty clinch pressure and pure persistence. Jimmo should make him work hard for takedowns but Perosh has been spirited and relentless with double legs, throws and trips, and he's far from clumsy in the top position. He attaches himself with a heavy base and tenaciously advances position, preying on his opponent's counters by being a step ahead mentally.

My Prediction: Anthony Perosh by submission.

Bryan Caraway (16-5) vs Mitch Gagnon (8-1)

Canadian bantamweight Mitch Gagnon was honored as the #10 Featherweight on the 2011 Bloody Elbow Scouting Report. He'll be making his Octagon debut on a 6-fight streak, having won all 8 of his career victories by submission (7 traditional catches, 1 submission via "slam"). Surprisingly, Gagnon has a set of skills that mirror Caraway's in that he's a powerful wrestler with a very dangerous submission acumen to boot.

Bryan Caraway has some Division II wrestling experience and went on to compete on Team USA at the FILA Grappling World Championships in 2009 at 145.5-pounds. He entered TUF 14 as an experienced competitor with a 15-5 record; each defeat was delivered by reputable opposition (UFC fighters Ian Loveland, John Gunderson, Fredson Paixao and Mark Hominick and Bellator black belt Wilson Reis). On TUF, Caraway submitted Marcus Brimage but was knocked out by eventual winner Diego Brandao, then submitted Dustin Neace at the TUF 14 finale.

Both fighters have limited stand up and prefer to shoot takedowns and wreak havoc with guard passing and submission attempts. Gagnon seems much more inclined to attack with heavy ground-and-pound whereas Caraway has more of a technical focus and typically pesters with ground strikes to open up opportunities to advance position. Their combat tendencies are comparable but Caraway has the edge with intangibles such as size (3" height advantage), wrestling pedigree, training camp (now with Team Alpha Male), past level of competition and overall experience. He was, however, criticized for his mental toughness on TUF and Gagnon has the brute aggression and gameness to exploit such a flaw.

My Prediction: Bryan Caraway by decision.

Antonio Carvalho (13-5) vs Daniel Pineda (17-8) -- (Facebook stream)

Featherweights captain the UFC 149 Facebook stream as veteran Antonio Carvalho, in his sophomore effort, seeks victory in the Octagon against finishing machine Daniel Pineda. Carvalho is a Canadian with a BJJ black belt who attracted attention for his 8-0 entrance to the sport in 2002-2005, which culminated with a win over "Lion" Takeshi Inoue. Carvalho would drop 4 of his next 6 but did score an impressive win over Hatsu Hioki in that stretch. "Pato" debuted against Felipe Arantes at UFC 142 and demonstrated his unique blend of technical kickboxing and grappling despite incurring the decision loss.

Pineda kind of came out of nowhere. He debuted in the UFC on a 5-fight surge and having finished every win, but his busy record was checkered by a few mid-level losses. Thus far, Pineda has demonstrated that he's still improving and absolutely worthy of Octagon status: he hammered Pat Schilling for a violent 1st-round TKO, submitted Mackens Semerzier with a smooth triangle-armbar in the follow up and dropped a competitive decision to former champ Mike Brown in his last.

This is the sleeper fight of the prelims. Both fighters are extremely versatile with effective striking and submissions but can wrestle as well, though that's their weakest of all dimensions. The appeal is that Pineda is a loose-cannon and wild risk-taker whereas Carvalho is cunning, calculating and more fundamentally refined. While Carvalho is a little bigger and more technical, he's getting up there in mileage at age 33 with a decade of experience while Pineda is 26-years-old and still on the rise -- but still has heaps of legit experience himself.

This should be an entertaining clash that pits Carvalho's polished kickboxing and methodical ground assault versus the brawling Thai-boxing and fiery offensive grappling of Pineda. This is a roll of the dice for me, as their differences in mentality present equal risk and reward, but I'll side with Pineda for mounting the more memorable offense on the feet.

My Prediction: Daniel Pineda by TKO.

Mitch Clarke (5-1) vs Anton Kuivanen (16-5)

Mitch Clarke is a once-beaten (TKO loss to John Cholish in his UFC debut) Canadian lightweight and purple belt under Rodrigo Munduruca, a world no-gi grappling champion. Submissions account for 6 of his 9 wins, 7 of which occurred in the opening frame. Anton Kuivanen is a Finnish fighter who came in at #8 on the Bloody Elbow Lightweight Scouting Report and was out-wrestled by Justin Salas in his debut, but it was a respectable showing.

This should be a poor match up for Clarke, who doesn't have the D1 wrestling prowess that Salas employed to nullify the diverse striking of Kuivanan, who also has excellent physicality, takedown defense and submission defense. If he can't manipulate a stoppage with strikes, the Finn should take a decision via sprawl-and-brawl.

My Prediction: Anton Kuivanen by decision.

Star-divide


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