One of the things I'd like to do moving forward is concentrate less on the fights for the preliminary cards, and more on the narratives. A lot of cards coming up involve fighters who not only do casual fans not know, but will likely never know. There's no reason to pretend like all fight cards are created equal, and it's not like these previews bring in traffic, so instead of previewing each fight at length I will focus on the 'stories' fans should be curious about.
This is actually a decent undercard, so while my timing is awful, there's also a ton of cards on the docket moving forward. I'm open to hatemail, twitter tomato throwing, and all forms of criticism, so feel free to offer me ideas on how to improve my coverage. I'll be tinkering with the preview format for the prelims until something sticks. I'll make an effort to be more involved in the comments section if you feel like I'm forgetting something or want certain questions answered.
It's Abu Dhabi...what could possibly go wrong?
Let's hope the MMA gods arent' as vindictive this Friday as they were April 10th, 2010 when Zuffa laid a Portuguese egg in front of Flash Entertainment fresh off puchasing a 10% stake in the company.
It's unfortunate their educated fans didn't get a better card, but it's no worse than what some other countries have been getting recently. Once again I'm gonna sit here and whine about the need to develop some sort of amateur system under the Zuffa banner in order to properly define the big events from the small events. I know Dana would love to stick Chris Camozzi on a billboard in Times Square if he could, but let's..'be real'.
But there are some good matchups right? Wait...this is Fight Pass...when I should I not grab a beer and drown in cheese filled appetizers?
Actually, yes, believe it or not. Nothing great, but nothing downright awful for a strictly UFC Fight Pass card. Pretty much every fight promises an early victory, or a decision that will prove to be competitive.
Ok, give me the bad and ugly first. What's the count on pinkslip pugilism?
Believe it or not there's only one bout on this undercard not involving fighters on some multi-fight losing skid. The closest thing to a pink slip fight is the MW matchup between Chris Camozzi and Andrew Craig. Both guys are 1-2 in their last three, but they haven't been embarrassing.
Camozzi just fought Lorenz Larkin and Jacare. That's an insane schedule for a fighter who wasn't a highlight on the TUF list, and prior to losing boasted a 4 fight winning streak in the UFC. He's got wins over some solid scrappers in Nick Ring and Nick Catone.
Craig is the perfect matchup for him. Craig is becoming less and less coherent to me. He burst onto the scene looking good against Kyle Noke, Rafael Natal (well...sort of), lost to Ronny Markes, and then redeemed himself with another victory over Chris Leben. Then he got obliterated by Luke Barnatt, who I'm still not too sold on.
It's hard to say but both guys are similarly matched. They're competent on the ground, strike reasonably well, and have never been knocked out.
So who potentially wins the Jake Shields award for getting cut that didn't deserve to?
Nobody on this undercard, which tells you a lot about its Joe Silva elegance. Even a bad performance won't get anyone cut. The guys that are coming off consecutive losses are entertaining and have UFC experience, and those that aren't are fairly entertaining.
The lone exception is Jared Rosholt. If he has a terrible performance and loses, I could see him getting cut. Just look at his brother Jake. Jake earned a huge victory over Chris Leben when he was still very good (it helps that he was younger), and two losses to two then-tough opponents in Kendall Grove and Dan Miller. Regardless of whether or not he could still be in the UFC (his current record certainly argues he wouldn't), he deserved another fight in my opinion.
In addition, his opponent, the 16-3-1 (1 NC) Daniel Omielanczuk fighting from Nastual Team is a very tough matchup for him. In fact, I'd compare Omielanczuk in a lot of ways to Kendall Grove. Daniel is a tricky fighter on the feet. Despite his size, he's incredibly nimble from his southpaw stance. He likes the roundhouse kick using his left leg, he moves well by any standard, and keeps his combinations varied (dare I saw...there's even a little GSP in him in the way he switches his punch kick combinations). Despite this, he has plenty of submissions wins. Jared better be prepared because a much lesser fighter in Walt Harris found sporadic success against him. Still, Rosholt should win...but we'll get to that later.
And the Dan Hardy award for inexplicably not getting cut?
There are none. Again, this undercard ain't half bad.
Any prospect pugilism?
Yep. Alan Omer vs. Jim Alers. Omer, the 18-3 prospect from Iraq, and fighting out of Stallion Cage, has some moderate hype on him. However, the caveat is that all that hype was back in 2011. He took some time due to injuries, and for more...just read Zane's interview with him (avoid the comments section if possible: the first one will remind you what's it like to be in grade school in a class with some oversized 7th grader who uses his time wisely by lobbing spitballs in your direction).
Though he's offensively pretty gifted on the ground, he prefers to keep the fight standing. He does a lot of switching of stances, and has a pretty good overhand left from the odd southpaw stance. It's a tough matchup for him, as Alers is a very very polished FW. Alers keeps his hands up, and has a superquick release with his right hand from his traditional stance.
Alers is 27, so he's not exactly young, but I think he'll look like the better of the prospects. He's the stronger fighter in the clinch, and on the ground, and has faced better competition.
So I'm looking at the odds for these bouts. Can I trust you to win me some money?
Not really. Maybe I'll crunch the numbers when it comes to my "prognostications" but I can't remember the last time I did really good for a card. Essentially, I'd have to be awful just to get better. Nonetheless...
Omielanczuk at +205 seems pretty good. It's a tough stylistic matchup for a guy who didn't make much of an effort to fight to his strengths in his last bout. Nonetheless, I'm picking Rosholt because Daniel somehow strikes his way into the clinch a lot, where Rosholt will exploit that.
Bedford at +anything above 164 might be interesting, but Yahya is still so ridiculously world class on the ground, and he fights like he knows he's the better grappler. Too many guys with his skill level on the ground still fight like they're in class, and need to practice their setups. Yahya knows how to flip that switch against lesser fighters. Like I said though...if Bedford were a bigger underdog, this could be good. He's a tough kid and is still better on the feet. Nonetheless, Yahya is pretty underrated in the toughness department despite the perception of him as a "grappling specialist afraid to keep it standing".
Smith at +393 is tempting, but Leites is on a nice run and he's fighting Ed Herman's leftovers...who he just beat. Odd matchmaking by the way.
A year ago, and Craig at +118 is an excellent bet. If his performance against Barnatt is any indication, I'd just avoid this one. Camozzi is tough, and won't be bullied by Craig like the faltering Leben was.
Alers at -259 sounds exactly right.