UFC Fight Night: Cerrone vs. Miller - The Preliminary Card Q & A Breakdown

Photo by Estehr Lin of MMA Fighting

Male and females alike punctuate the undercard for UFC Fight Night: Cerrone vs. Miller in a series of solid, action packed fights that include a division's debut (Women's Strawweight).

We're not interested in hearing why your life sucks because you have to cover two cards during a week that your actual job is double shifting you. Let's talk fights!

First off, screw you.

Second, I'd just like to address some of the recent BE comments concerning "negativity" in the coverage. The fine readers of BE are owed at least one man's opinion, even if BE as a whole may not share it: true...the UFC is putting on lots and lots of cards. For readers, you come here for coverage. You trust us over what we determine is worth covering in the first place, and then you read what we cover, and move on.

Just to speak for myself, there's a difference between a discussion on oversaturation, and 'negativity'. Complaining about the amount of content is not the same as discussing whether the amount of content could have a negative impact on the sport moving forward. If I ever come across as negative, feel free to call me ugly names on Twitter, and threaten to steal my copy of The Raid 2*.

I've got no problem with the amount of fights being offered. On every undercard I've covered this year, there's at least one fight that is objectively good, and a handful of fighters who are at least interesting. The only complain I've ever levied against these UFC cards is that they are advertised wrong. Give these prospects and undercard veterans their own platform where Zuffa can provide fight fans a draft-like experience, where prospects either graduate onto main events and PPV's, or remain projects with mixed success. The concept of "oversaturation" is merely a perception problem: fight quality hasn't changed. It's just distributed unevenly.

Unless you're writing an op-ed rehashing your same old complaints, we've got fights to preview fool!

This undercard is a fine case in point. Tibau vs. Healy is an objectively good fight on paper, and a brand spanking new division is being introduced. Plus Hugo Viana's awesome mutton chops.

Healy is +120. Seems like a good bet.

I don't know. Both guys are pretty similar. They're both well rounded, and are huge for the division, yet are consistently inconsistent. Healy is on a dreadful skid, sitting at 0-3-1 in his last four. He's faced some very tough opposition, losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov, Jorge Masvidal, and Bobby Green.

Healy has some nice wins on his resume, but he's got some awful losses on his record too and always has. A fighter like Tibau presents exactly that weird medium where Healy can't seem to find peace: Tibau is skilled enough to finish him, but just raw enough for Healy to find openings. As for Tibau, I keep waiting for his Anthony Johnson moment; the day when he decides to stop cutting weight, and ends up dwarfing Tim Sylvia only for the collective MMA fanbase to respond with "I knew that guy was secretly that big without his water weight all along!"

Hes' 31, so you'd think he'd end up at WW at some point. Instead the walking, talking, punching, antithesis to Murphy's Law keeps trucking. Even though Healy is younger (bet you didn't know that without looking at wikipedia), he's got too much mileage on his body, and I suspect this is why he looked so uninspired against Green. Yes, Bobby is coming into his own, but Healy just doesn't seem able to mount a sustained counterattack if he's down on the cards.

It was weird to see Tibau get put down by Michael Johnson, who has always had a sturdy chin, but I suspect he'll keep it standing and off the ground. Healy is tough in the clinch, but Tibau is capable of putting him on his back and avoiding the submissions.

And the ladies? Jessamyn Duke vs. Leslie Smith and Claudia Gadelha vs. Tina Lahdemaki?

Duke is basically Struve, the Fried Green Tomatoes years. She has some very solid mechanics in place: throws a good front kick, has access to brutal knees made more effective by her weight, and does pump out a jab. Unfortunately she doesn't synthesize them all to violent effect. She paws with her jab a lot, doesn't throw those effective kicks enough, and seems to be more effective in close (nice Rousey style trips) where she's also prone to being punished.

In her loss to Bethe Correia, Bethe was able to lunge in with combinations and single strikes because Duke wasn't active enough where she need to be: at range. Leslie Smith offers something similar int he way she's able to land lots and lots of punches with effective good ole' fashioned combination striking. Needless to say, Smith will get her licks in. She's also experienced against top competition, having lost twice to Sarauh Kaufman in tough, attrition based affairs. She also has good training partners in the Diaz brothers.

I expect this to be a slugfest, and I think Smith will largely be able to replicate Correia's success. However, Duke at +120 is a very attractive bet. Smith is certainly the more durable of the two, but Duke is pretty good at turning the clinch into a takedown where I think she can control the fight for lengthy durations. Smith is still the smart pick, but not necessarily the smart bet. I like Duke's chances to control the fight on the ground.

And the other bout?

Gadelha has quite the list of BJJ accomplishments, especially at just 25 years of age. It helps that she's getting advice, and training at Nova Uniao. She is exactly what the division needs: a blue chip prospect in a young , nascent division.

If there's a knock against her it's that her style isn't all that pleasing to casual fans. Imagine Ricardo Arona with a better finishing rate, and you get the idea. It sounds really awesome on the surface, but aesthetically it's very similar. Her opponent in Lahdemaki is the odds on dog for this reason at +310: she fights for the clinch, which is Gadelha's specialty. Look for Tina to land strikes, and then get taken down.

Hugo Viana vs. Aljamain Sterling...don't forget that one too.

This fight is a perfect example of what gets lost in the UFC card shuffle. People look at this undercard, and don't see good fights because they're used to big names and yet this is an awesome fight for the Bantamweight division. Sterling is one of the more dynamic, and fluid prospects you'll see so it'll be interesting to see how quickly he develops from one fight to the next. Viana's a stiff test (which is why you should consider him at +170), but Sterling's kicks, and overall ability to switch phases should keep Viana from finding a rhythm with his strikes.

*Off topic: How awesome is that kitchen fight on scale of 1 to Jackie Chan vs. Benny the Jet?

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