UFC Fight Night 33: Preliminary card preview and prognostications

Photo by Esther Lin of MMA Fighting

Underlining Mark Hunt vs. Antonio Silva will be a collection of bantamweights and welterwights going at it, from veterans like Takeya Mizugaki and Nam Phan to newcomers like Bruno Santos and Justin Scoggins.

Takeya Mizugaki (18-7-2) vs. Nam Phan (18-11) Bantamweight

When we last left our heroes...Mizugaki was always been a steady fighter, but it's also shocking how he has quietly had one of the more successful UFC careers of any Japanese fighter that comes to mind. After displaying great poise and determination in a title shot for the WEC, he continues to reveal what makes him a mainstay int he division.

He's 3-0 in his last three with wins over Erik Perez in a tough battle, Bryan Caraway in another closely fought match, and Jeff Hougland. Not major names or anything, but he's picking up wins.

As for Phan, he's 2-2 in his last 4 after going 1-4 in his previous 5 (I love how arbitrary this all sounds). There's not much to add at this point; Nam is a solid fighter, but not elite.

What both men can do: Miz' has always had a strong ability to get up from his back and keep it close on the feet with stiff, but tough boxing. He's willing to take a shot to land a good left hook, or straight right. And he does a real good job of cutting angles, leaping into strikes when an opponent moves laterally.

He doesn't have the cleanest technique, but I've always liked watching him, even before he gave then division king Miguel Torres all he could handle in a street fight. Seems like ages ago, but that was 2009.

As for Phan, he has a little in common with Mizugaki in that he excels in bouts where he gets to box more than grapple. Both men are solid on the ground, but are more effective when the fight isn't zig zagging from place to place.

What both men can't do: Phan's problem is being outmuscled, and controlled. Bigger fighters aren't intimidated by his striking (though he has decent power), and can always try putting him on his back. Maybe it's just me, but his striking has also looked increasingly stiff.

Takeya takes this one comfortably. He's quicker and has more ways to win. I think his ability to land strikes at a distance will lead to a very comfortable victory over a fighter who is good, but is on a modest decline.

X-Factor: Just the usual string of events that could destroy the world...locusts, plagues, and another sequel to Grown Ups.

Prediction: Takeya Mizugaki via Decision.

Caio Magalhaes (6-1) vs. Nick Ring (13-2) Welterweight

When we last left our heroes...Ring is like most TUF products these days; low ceiling, but not a terrible floor. He's 3-2 in the UFC with a few decisions I might argue could have gone his opponent's way (like the Fukuda and McGee fights). Despite what could be a very terrible record, bouts always seem to slip away from him.

Opposite Ring will be Caio Magalhaes, who owns the nicknname "Hellboy" for reasons that are insulting to Joachim Hansen (for those unaware the real Hellboy is still fighting, and last saw action in April for ROAD FC 11). Caio is 1-1 in the UFC, losing to the somewhat underrated Buddy Roberts .

What both men can do: Ring is a solid all around fighter. From his southpaw stance he has a good understanding of the striking with a good left leg, and a strafing left hand. He's just your average well rounded fighter and is particularly adept on the ground as well. Again, nothing groundbreaking,

As for Caio he'll be looking to grapple and throw a left leg kick. I'll leave it at that because...

What both men can't do: Caio has one of the oddest first few seconds gameplans I've ever seen. He just stands there with his hands near his chest like he's gripping his thyroid, and then throws he same left high kick each time. It works against undercarders at a smoker show, but I doubt Ring will be fooled by Caio's odd offense on the feet.

I've never been high on Ring. He came onto the show with a decent amount of hype, and in each fight, just seems constrained to inactivity and inertia. He doesn't fight with urgency, and is shockingly hittable at times.

Nonetheless, Ring takes this one. Caio has a difficult time of getting the bout to the ground and will against Nick who defends very well, and has a huge advantage on the feet.

X-Factor: Ring's legs. He's had multiple knee injuries, which I think explains why his movement can be so stiff.

Prediction: Nick Ring by Decision.

Richie Vaculik (9-1) vs. Justin Scoggins (7-0) Flyweight

When we last left our heroes...This one should be a doozy. Vaculik fought on the TUF international show where Team Australia took on Team UK. He was bested by the underrated Norman Parke by Decision.

Outside of that hiccup he has one official loss and is on a five fight winning streak. Opposite Vaculik is Scoggins, a fairly well touted prospect with a style that will be persistently and painfully described as 'elusive'. He has yet to experience defeat fighting mostly in Warfare.

What both men can do: 6 of Vaculik's 9 wins are by submission. While he likes to put in work on the feet using his quick jab, and sharp straight, he has a tendency to finish on the ground. He's quick when it comes to identifying the submission, wth his win over Nick Honstein being a good example...the way he finds the reverse triangle is effortless, and it's that movement on the ground that has helped him win more than he's lost.

As for Scoggins, he's a little like Stephen Thompson. He keeps a squared stance that allows him to lead with a side kick, and switches stances often, though he's primarily southpaw. He has a solid right hand and punctuates his offense with strong knees. Then there's stuff like this at the 13:28 minute mark (his opponent is knocked down with a TKD hook kick). Amazingly, it's the same kick he uses to finish the fight.

What both men can't do: It's hard to say much about Scoggins' ground game except that he has solid takedown defense. This will be the difference in my opinion. While Scoggins is still too "green" in general, I think this will be the type of bout where the favorite based on hype ends up not looking good in victory, but only because his opponent was much better than advertised. Vaculik is a solid scrapper, but I don't expect him to solve Scoggin's eccentricity on the feet.

X-Factor: Vaculik's level of aggression. Just like with Stephen Thompson getting overwhelmed by Matt Brown, if Vaculik decides to duplicate the Brown plan, he could easily end up taking this scrap. Fighters like Scoggins, Thompson, etc. need time to set up and stay composed. Vaculik needs to take away that composure.

Prediction: Justin Scoggins by Decision.

Bruno Santos (13-0) vs. Krzystof Jotko (13-0) Middleweight

When we last left our heroes...It's not every day we get two fighters with identical 13-0 records to face off against one another but that's precisely what we're getting.

Is there any other piece of history worth mentioning about these two other than that one is from Poland, the other from Brazil, both who have gone undefeated fighting out of their homelands? Or that both are southpaws?

What both men can do: Santos is an interesting fighter. He's got chops on the ground yet 11 of his wins are by decision, and he enjoys standing straight up always ready and willing to uncork a left kick that goes high and low. He chambers them quick, so Jotko will be looking for it.

Jotko doesn't do any one thing special; a description used for every fighter who belongs in the UFC for a total of five bouts at most. However, that's not to say that he's a can. He moves well on the ground, and is fluid in the scrambles, particularly when taking the back.

What both men can't do: Jotko is limited on the feet. While it's nothing egregious, he'll be looking to take the fight to the ground when he can. Honestly I don't know how this bout could possibly go, but even with Santos' rigid upright stance, I like him to play 'keep away' for the duration of the bout. Staying upright, landing kicks, and avoiding the ground where he's more than capable is how he will win.

X-Factor: N/A

Prediction: Bruno Santos by Decision.

Alex Garcia (10-1) vs. Ben Wall (7-0-1) Welterweight

When we last left our heroes...Garcia enters this contest with a moderate amount of hype coming from Montreal, Quebec. Watching him fight, it's easy to understand where that notion comes from. When he faces inferior competition, he wins big. His only loss thus far is to Seth Baczynski in a fight that saw him tire and get overwhelmed.

Opposite Garcia is Wall, who was last seen on TUF: Australia vs. the UK, in which he lost to Colin Fletcher. No offense to Ben, but need I say more?

What both men can do: Garcia has a very mean and vicious double leg. Watching him lift Seth Baczynski...one of the biggest welterweights around, over his shoulders is impressive on its own. He has a mean left hook from his traditional stance that he throws with ill intent, and it's how I expect him to win this one.

Wall is anything but a specialist. He throws a solid one two, and is sound defensively, but he has yet to face someone one could reasonably expect to truly challenge. Wins over Rob Lisita, and Nick Honstein mean he's anything but a can, but his inability to pull ahead of his opponent in a fight will always make him limited.

What both men can't do: If Wall stands a chance anywhere it's with respect to Garcia's gas tank. It's proven to be somewhat questionable in the past, and certainly failed him against Baczynski. But Seth is a solid MW, whereas Wall won't have a long UFC career. Garcia's ability to keep it standing if he wants (where he's superior), and on the ground (where his ground and pound could be the difference) will make this pretty straightforward for prognosticators. Especially given Garcia's power.

X-Factor: N/A

Prediction: Alex Garcia by TKO, round 2.

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