UFC 164: Facebook Preliminary Card Prognostications

Veterans collide on the Facebook undercard for UFC 164: Pettis vs. Henderson in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

So for anyone keeping track, there's another UFC on this week; Anthony Pettis vs. Benson Henderson. Before the two engage in what could easily be fight of the year stuff, the Facebook card starts us off with the usual mixture of journeyman, and maybe-prospects.

Soa Palelei (18-3) vs. Nikita Krylov (15-1) Heavyweight

History Lesson: Soa, inappropriately nicknamed 'The Hulk' (you better be someone truly special to be named after Bruce Banner's alter ego), has dipped his toes into the big show before. His entire career has been fought in Australia, except for one Pride appearance, and one UFC appearance at 79 against Eddie Sanchez. It's surprising when you consider his record, which until now, didn't mean much to matchmakers, but a win over UFC twitter veteran Sean McCorkle has drawn the attention of Silva and Co.

Krylov boasts an impressive record when you look at the numbers. All 15 of his wins are in the first round, 10 of which are by submission. Then you actually watch some of the his fights and say to yourself 'oh, well that's why'. Nonetheless, he's doing exactly what he should be against that competition, so...so far so good. Especially at just 21 years of age.

What both men can do: This fight is pure throwback. Soa will try to keep the fight on the feet because that's where he's good, while Krylov won't hesitate to get in the clinch, and get the fight to the ground for a quick submission victory. Soa is your classic brawler, but with a slight upgrade to previous models. He has sturdy enough takedown defense, but also punches fairly straight, and with enough power to command anyone's respect.

Kyrlov is an interesting fighter. Submissions are his specialty. He's pretty fluid in top control, and will draw comparisons to Fedor (beyond a passing resemblance setting side the presence of dark hair) when you look at his work in the clinch, opting for trip takedowns rather than energy-consuming double legs. But most interestingly, his karate background gives me a unique dimension. He fires very quick, if loose, leg kicks. His striking shows signs of flash, as he'll throw spinning back kicks, and spinning backfists to punctuate his offense on the feet.

What both men can't do: However, I would describe his striking as anything but "fluid". Same with his ground game for that matter. One of the problems I've sensed from traditional sambo practitioners, even going all the way up to Fedor, is the lack of defensive positioning on the ground. Krylov gets caught out of position, and is clearly much more adept on offense than from his back. His cardio is also a question mark, especially given his size. He's not a big HW, whereas Soa is.

It's tough to predict how this fight will go. I feel like Soa is good enough to defend Krylov's takedowns. He has pretty good defense, and gets up quickly when he does get put on his back. But he's not good on the bottom in general, and Krylov will do everything in his power to keep it on the ground. This fight could either be very ugly for a lengthy duration, or very short.

I'm leaning on Krylov's pressure, and progression (against my better judgment, I think). It won't be an easy win, but it'll be a gutsy win, with Krylov relying on his constant pressure to wear Soa out. He'll be worn down in the process, and the fight will look like an adolescent in the cage with a bulldog. With the adolescent victorious, Krylov's corner will celebrate by saying "son...welcome to manhood" (pretty sure I've used this video before but I don't tire of it).

X-Factor: Vadim Finkelstein shows up and whispers the words "cross promotion" in Dana's ear in the middle of the fight.

Prediction: Nikita Krylov.

Ryan Couture (6-2) vs. Al Iaquinta (5-2-1) Lightweight

History Lesson: Couture has had an unceremonious run for a guy 2-1 in his last three. In addition to the stupid drama surrounding the mindless animosity between Dana White and his father, 'Handy Couture', he's just had a questionable string of performances. Iaquinta is one of the more interesting prospects out of TUF. Though he lost in the finals to Michael Chiesa, we've since seen that this is nothing to be ashamed of.

What both men can do: Though not on paper, Ryan still shares a lot in common with his father in practice. Neither guy lit it up on the feet, and both seem to thrive going the distance, but Couture is a little flashier. He throws nice straight punches, always mixes his strikes up, and displays a clear affinity for the ground game.

Iaquinta will want to brawl with Couture because that's what he's good at. He has a very heavy right and left hand, which he used to solid effect on the show, and even in spurts against Chiesa. He chambers his punches well, but the rub is that...

What both men can't do: his overzealous on the feet can make him susceptible to the takedown. Ryan is similar to Randy in that both do a good job of measuring their opponents. Getting the fight to the ground will be priority number one for Couture, and Al's aggression will make it easier for Ryan to identify when he needs to shoot.

However, as we've seen with Couture, he can lose to basic MMA physics: the longer the fight, the more it favors the dynamic fighter. Nonetheless, I'm still picking him because Iaquinta isn't necessarily the more dynamic fighter.

X-Factor: Iaquinta's layoff.

Prediction: Ryan Couture by Decision.

Jared Hamman (13-5) vs. Magnus Cedenblad (10-4) Middleweight

History Lesson: Hamman has garnered himself a reputation in the octagon, for better or worse, as a blood and guts fighter. Frankly, finding an identity in spire of journeyman status is one of the best things you can do career wise. Hammann is turning into a latter day Scott Smith, but thankfully he's getting the soft touch in this one. Not that Cedenblad is just gonna roll over. While he managed to make a Francis Carmont fighter barely exciting, he was an impressive 7-fight winning streak beforehand.

What both men can do: Hamman's style is all substance, no style. If that makes any sense. He's gonna throw punches, and land just enough to force you into his wheelhouse of hamster fluttering.

Cedenblad is a solid striker, with a good straight right, and excellent knees in close. We should expect the only thing we've come to expect from both men...

What both men can't do: Cedenblad has trouble against wrestlers. It's where he's traditionally been exploited, and I wouldn't expect that to change against elite grapplers in the division. Hamman isn't an elite grappler, but he's got decent enough takedowns.

X-Factor: It depends. How hittable is Hamman? The guy exists only in arcade games; a malfunctioning mole you can easily whack in the arcade because his head is constantly stuck above ground.

Prediction: Jared Hamman by Decision.


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