UFC 170 has had its list of brutal injuries, and the preliminary card for the most part has felt the worst of it. We've had a prelim bout bumped to the main card as well as three fighters removed due to injury, and a late notice fight for two newcomers to fill up the quota. It's a rough sequence of events, but the show must go on, and there are still several interesting match-ups to be had.
There are multiple top 10 ranked fighters and several new prospects in the fold, so we'll get a mixture of glimpses at the potential future of MMA as well as important showings from fighters trying to make their way to the top-tier of their divisions.The UFC 170 prelims begin live on Fight Pass at 7 PM ET and then continue on Fox Sports 1 at 8 PM ET all the way until the 10 PM ET main card on PPV.
Alexis Davis (15-5 MMA, 2-0 UFC) vs. Jessica Eye (10-1, 1 NC MMA; 0-0, 1 NC UFC) - Bantamweights
Davis had a tougher than expected UFC debut against Rosi Sexton, but she still came away with a unanimous decision in front of the Canadian crowd at UFC 161 in Edmonton. Her next bout would be against recently vanquished title challenger Liz Carmouche, and she picked apart Carmouche with pinpoint accurate striking and hard leg kicks to win another decision. She's was pegged early on as one of the potential title challengers against Rousey when the women's 135 roster took shape, and she's lived up to the billing so far.
By now you know that Jessica Eye's win over Sarah Kaufman is now a no-contest following a disclosed failed drug test for marijuana at UFC 166. That it was revealed only recently when the fight took place in October ... well it's the fun of having a UFC event in Texas. Eye's public image has taken a huge hit and it has obviously overshadowed her chances of being a title contender. This is a very competitive fight on paper, but will Eye's turbulent past few weeks get in her head and affect her performance?
Assuncao's UFC debut came against Erik Koch at featherweight, and the end result was a brutal KO loss. That sparked a drop to 135 lbs, where he's been outstanding. The Brazilian is unbeaten at bantamweight, with finishes over Issei Tamura and Vaughan Lee, plus a recent FOTN split decision over T.J. Dillashaw in Brazil last October. He's improved as a striker, remains a dangerous grappler, and could be in for the next title shot with a win tonight.
Munhoz is the RFA bantamweight champion who is listed as one of Bloody Elbow's best prospects of 2014. He's undefeated in his MMA career and holds a win over veteran Jeff Curran. Look for him to use his takedowns and high-level BJJ black belt, as he's won 6 of his fights by submission. An injury to Francisco Rivera prompted the late call-up, and this is a massive opportunity for Munhoz to go from prospect to contender in a division wanting for depth.
Aljamain Sterling (8-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) vs. Cody Gibson (11-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC) - Bantamweights
Sterling has been on the Bloody Elbow radar for two years, and his name resurfaced on the latest scouting report just as the UFC signed him to replace the injured Bryan Caraway. The Long Island native trained out of the Serra-Longo camp, which has earned high accolades on fighter development, as evidenced by the success of Chris Weidman. He's very athletically gifted and a standout collegiate wrestler, and his debut is definitely one of the top things to watch for on the entire card.
GIbson is filling in for Lucas Martins, who also had to bow out with an injury. The Californian is unbeaten in his last 6 and has wins over former WEC man Chad George and ex-UFC bantamweight Walel Watson. He's tall for his weight class at 5'10" and like Sterling, excelled as a wrestler in college. What was supposed to be Caraway/Martins is now a battle of two prospects.
Makovsky, like Munhoz, captured an RFA belt (flyweight) and was signed by the UFC to replace an injured fighter for his debut. "Fun Size" won a fun fight with Scott Jorgensen at UFC on Fox 9, improving his mark to 3-0 at 125 lbs. You may previously remember Makovsky as a Bellator bantamweight, where he won the season 3 tournament but lost a title fight to Eduardo Dantas. A split decision loss to Anthony Leone sent him out of Bellator, but he's picked himself up and has used his wrestling and grappling to the fullest extent during this winning streak.
Sampo is a submission specialist who was booked on late notice for his UFC debut against fellow newcomer Ryan Benoit at the TUF 18 Finale. While Sampo won FOTN and submitted the Canadian, he missed weight and was denied his bonuses. His only defeat in his last six is against Will Campuzano, and he's never been submitted. This is a good opener on Fox Sports 1 and the winner could be in line for a fight against a top 5 opponent.
Erik Koch (13-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) vs. Rafaello Oliveira (15-6 MMA, 2-5 UFC) - Lightweights
It's all changed dramatically for Erik Koch over the past 2 years. Once the #1 contender and confirmed title challenger for Jose Aldo on 2 occasions, he finds himself trying to snap a losing streak in a new weight class. Koch was TKO'd via elbows against Ricardo Lamas last January, and then was doomed by a poor start against Dustin Poirier en route to a decision loss. Now Koch, a very talented striker, makes his way to lightweight against an opponent prone to knockout losses.
Oliveira's first stint in the UFC ended after he lost 2 of 3 fights and was bounced from the promotion. From there he picked up 4 consecutive victories and returned to the Octagon at UFC 130. Unfortunately for the Brazilian, his second crack at the big time has been even worse, as he's lost 3 of his last 4, including a leg kick clinic put on by Edson Barboza. Odds are bleak that he wins this one, and if he does it'll surely be through getting Koch to the ground and using his jiu-jitsu.
Chavez is an unknown commodity. The 30-year-old was signed (along with Cedeno) to fill up a card that was rapidly losing fights. All of his pro bouts have taken place in California against non-descript competition, so tonight's Fight Pass opener is a chance to see if there's any long-term value in keeping him in the organization.
Cedeno is a Cuban prospect with vicious knockout power. He's got a wide range of kicks and powerful punching, which could make this an action-packed fight. Still, these men were both brought on for the reason of filling up the card, so don't get your hopes up too much that you'll see quality competition, especially after the last two dreadful set of prelims.