Dana White promised that the first UFC card on Fox Sports 1 would be the "best one we've ever done on free TV". While you could argue that a Shogun/Sonnen headliner makes Dana's claim false, there's no denying that this show is absolutely fantastic. When the preliminary card features top 10 bantamweights then you know you're in for a great evening of MMA.
Four preliminary card fights will air live on Fox Sports 1 at 6 PM ET/3 PM PT and lead right into the big main card on the same channel at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT. All of these bouts look to be exciting on paper and hopefully they deliver later tonight.
Brandao won TUF 14 with a dramatic armbar late in the singular and wildly entertaining round with Dennis Bermudez. While the Brazilian's post-TUF career got off to a bad start with a loss to Darren Elkins, he's dominated his last two fights against Joey Gambino and Pablo Garza. His KO power, good submissions, and tendency to fight recklessly make him a treat to watch whenever he fights. At just 25 years old, Brandao could be poised for a title run if he racks up the wins and defeats better competition.
Pineda is another exciting fighter who recently got a job-saving win over Justin Lawrence at the TUF 17 Finale. The Texan had previously lost consecutive fights to Mike Brown and Antonio Carvalho, the latter was a quick KO in just 71 seconds. Similar to Brandao, Pineda rarely goes to a decision win or lose, but unfortunately his 6 submission losses shows his biggest glaring weakness in his game. Brandao, a BJJ black belt, has won 2 of his 3 UFC fights by submission.
Mike Brown (26-8 MMA, 2-3 UFC) vs. Steven Siler (22-10 MMA, 4-1 UFC) - Featherweights
Contrary to popular belief, the former WEC stalwart Mike Brown is not retired. In fact, he's won his last two fights after losing his first two UFC fights after the big merger. Brown has fought professionally since 2001 and is best known for twice defeating Urijah Faber in the WEC, but since his TKO loss to Jose Aldo it's been pretty clear that he's no longer in championship form. That does not mean he can't compete in the UFC anymore, and a win over Siler would give him his first 3 fight win streak since his 10 fight run from 2006-2009.
Siler has been quietly impressive in his time with the UFC. After losing to Diego Brandao in TUF 14, Siler defeated fellow cast member Josh Clopton in the show's finale to secure his place in the organization. He then upset Cole Miller and submitted Joey Gambino to make it 3 for 3 in the big show. A loss to Darren Elkins set him back, but an entertaining decision win over Kurt Holobaugh has him back in the win column and looking to start another win streak.
McGregor is the talk of the town, at the moment. The Irishman was already making waves in Europe when he won both the featherweight and lightweight titles in Cage Warriors, but few expected him to make such short work of Marcus Brimage at UFC on Fuel 9 in Sweden. McGregor needed only 67 seconds to pull off the knockout victory, giving him 12 career wins by KO/TKO. Holloway is another talented striker, so this fight has potential to be one of the best of the night.
You could say that it's a blessing in disguise that Max Holloway is replacing the injured Andy Ogle. He started his UFC career as an injury replacement, and performed well in his submission loss to Dustin Poirier. After the defeat, the Hawaiian rattled off three wins, including a TKO over Justin Lawrence at UFC 150. Perhaps his best performance came against Dennis Bermudez at UFC 160, as he showcased beautiful striking, solid takedown defense, but still ended up losing a very contestable split decision. Holloway has a big opportunity to knock off the most talked about prospect at 145 lbs and make his claim as a potential threat in the division.
Pickett is easily one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC, and even dating back to the WEC his fights have been filled with incredible action. In 9 combined fights in the WEC and UFC, Pickett has picked up 6 post-fight bonuses, including FOTN in his win over Mike Easton at UFC on Fuel 9 in Stockholm. The Englishman also holds wins over Demetrious Johnson, Ivan Menjivar, and a brutal uppercut KO of Yves Jabouin.
McDonald is coming off a tough title loss to Renan Barao at UFC on Fuel 7 in London. The 22-year-old would've become the youngest champion in UFC history had he beaten the Brazilian, but there's no denying that he is presently one of the best talents in the sport today. His brutal KO power has already been put on display against Alex Soto and former #1 bantamweight Miguel Torres. McDonald's amazing power and speed combined with PIckett's well-rounded skills and willingness to brawl makes this one of the must-see fights on a night full of great bouts.