The feature fight of the UFC 152 preliminary card marks the return of a TUF 8 finalist and one of the sport's best submission grapplers. Croatian striker Igor Pokrajac (25-8 MMA, 4-3 UFC) looks to spoil Vinny Magalhaes' (9-5 MMA, 0-2 UFC) first fight back in the UFC since 2009. Neither man is ranked in the top 25 of the SB Nation MMA Consensus Rankings, but a win for either could see them ranked in October.
Pokrajac is on a three-fight win streak and is on the ascendency at 205 lbs, while Magalhaes took the hard road back to the UFC after being released the first time. You can catch this fight along with 3 other prelim bouts on FX at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT before the PPV starts at 10 PM ET/7 PM PT.
How do these two stack up?
Pokrajac: 33 years old | 6'0" | 74" reach
Magalhaes: 28 years old | 6'3" | 77" reach
What have these two done recently?
Pokrajac: W - Fabio Maldonado (UD) | W - Krzysztof Soszynski (KO) | W - Todd Brown (TKO)
Magalhaes: W - Mikhail Zayats (TKO) | W - Viktor Nemkov (SUB) | W - Jake Doerr (TKO)
How did these two get here?
Pokrajac started fighting professionally in 2003 and essentially never ventured beyond his native Croatia. He entered the UFC in 2009, dropping his first two fights to Vladimir Matyushenko and James Te-Huna. In a "loser gets cut" matchup with James Irvin in August 2010, Pokrajac was the victor with a 1st round submission. Following a loss to Stephan Bonnar, Pokrajac has been on a roll, winning his last 3 fights, including a stunning 35 second KO of Krzysztof Soszynski. His entertaining win over Fabio Maldonado was slightly overshadowed by the close decision going his way, but nevertheless he's found some consistent success in the UFC and will look to continue it tonight in his 2nd fight in Toronto in the last 9 months.
Vinny Magalhaes is an outstanding grappler with two bronzes and a gold medal in the ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championships. He made it to the finals of season 8 of The Ultimate Fighter, where Ryan Bader's right hand ended his night in less than two minutes. A decision loss to Eliot Marshall dropped his record to 2-4 in MMA and 0-2 in the UFC, which led to his walking papers. He's won 7 of his last 8, 4 of which came on M-1 Challenge cards where he's the LHW champion. Vinny is finally back in the UFC but Pokrajac is a significant leap in competition from M-1 and other regional talent.
Why should you care?
It's a pure Striker vs. Grappler matchup, so it will be interesting to see if Pokrajac can hold his own on the ground against an elite grappler or if Magalhaes can show improved striking. This is one of the most intriguing fights on the card, and there's the added incentive of Vinny being a reader/commenter on Bloody Elbow.
More UFC 152 coverage from Bloody Elbow after the jump.