The UFC on Fox 8 card has gone through a laundry list of changes, bout re-ordering, and even an outright fight removal. We have 8 preliminary card fights scheduled for Seattle, Washington this evening, with two on Facebook (4:30 PM ET/1:30 PM PT) and the remainder on FX (5 PM ET/2 PM PT).
Three fighters are making their UFC debuts, including women's bantamweights Julie Kedzie and Germaine de Randamie. An additional three are replacing injured fighters, so we'll see how everyone involved fares at KeyArena. Let's take a look at all of the fights starting from the FX headliner to the Facebook curtain raisers.
Chiesa overcame the loss of his father and pulled off multiple upsets en route to winning TUF 15. The culminating performance came against the favored Al Iaquinta, who Chiesa dominated and finished with a rear naked choke. He made his first post-TUF appearance at UFC 157, submitting Anton Kuivanen in the 2nd round to remain undefeated. Chiesa was supposed to face Reza Madadi, but Madadi's Visa issues (prior to his burglary arrest) forced the switch to Masvidal, who certainly doesn't fight like Madadi.
Masvidal has been around this sport for a decade, having fought in Strikeforce, UFC, Bellator, and Sengoku. His run in Strikeforce was the most successful of the 4, as he (unsuccessfully) competed for the lightweight title against Gilbert Melendez. After beating Justin Wilcox, Strikeforce soon dissolved and he joined the UFC to fight Tim Means at UFC on Fox 7, which Masvidal took by unanimous decision. He's entertaining to watch, a very good striker, and this clash of styles with Chiesa should make for some good action.
Danny Castillo (15-5 MMA, 5-2 UFC) vs. Tim Means (18-4-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) - Lightweights
His style may not be the most entertaining to watch, but Castillo is quietly 5-2 in the UFC, and he sent Paul Sass out of the UFC with wrestling, ground-and-pound, and impressive submission defense. "Last Call" was a veteran of the WEC who took on the likes of Ricardo Lamas (which he won by TKO), Anthony Pettis, and Donald Cerrone. His UFC career has been a relative success, and while he has the wrestling to make Means' night rough, he possesses underrated punching power.
The last time Tim Means was in Seattle, he fell in the sauna on the day of the UFC on Fox 5 weigh-ins and missed his fight with Abel Trujillo. With that misadventure behind him, "The Dirty Bird" fought Jorge Masvidal in San Jose this past April and lost a grueling unanimous decision. Now he comes in on short notice for the injured Bobby Green, and he will need to be on point with his takedown defense to have a chance against Castillo.
Danzig is 3-6 in his last 9, but in the past few years he's put in respectable performances even in defeat. His last two losses were close FOTN performances against Takanori Gomi and Matt Wiman, while he defeated fellow TUF winners Efrain Escudero and Joe Stevenson. He's historically been exciting to watch, and his submission threat could pose problems for Guillard, who has historically been deficient in defending submissions.
Guillard was given serious consideration for a title shot as recently as 2011, having won 5 straight fights and rattling off knockout after knockout in the process. The tables have since taken a dramatic turn, as "The Young Assassin" is just 1-4 in his last 5, and he was knocked out for the first time in his MMA career vs. Donald Cerrone. He's also missed weight and been arrested on an assault charge. All signs point to a release from the promotion if he loses again.
When Yves Edwards made his MMA debut, Daron Cruickshank was a mere 12 years old. Sixteen years later, Yves is still fighting and achieving respectable results. In fact, after Cruickshank fought Henry Martinez at UFC on Fox 5 in Seattle, Yves became the first man to KO Jeremy Stephens, as he sent him into unconsciousness inside the 1st round. As great a moment as that was for Edwards, his sub-par performance and split decision loss to Isaac Vallie-Flagg at UFC 156 put him at 2-3 in his last 5 fights. He was supposed to face Spencer Fisher tonight, but Fisher was one of the many injured fighters on the original card, so instead of fighting another veteran he is fighting a young gun in Cruickshank.
Cruickshank's last trip to Seattle saw him absolutely demolish Henry Martinez in the 1st round before finishing him off with a thunderous head kick in the 2nd. The TUF 15 lightweight didn't repeat his success against John Makdessi at UFC 158, but still put in a fun back-and-forth kickboxing exchange. With his six-fight win streak now snapped, he has to build up a new one on short notice against a crafty veteran.
"Short Fuse" has had a rough go of it in his last two outings. He was "loaned" to Strikeforce for their final show as he faced Jacare Souza this past January, and predictably Herman was submitted. His last UFC fight was a loss-turned-no contest after Jake Shields failed his UFC 150 drug test. The TUF 3 runner-up was inactive from late 2009 to 2011 after being hampered by injuries, but he's 3-1-1 overall since knocking out Tim Credeur in June 2011.
Smith is a Washingtonian who has fought as high as heavyweight, and in 13 career fights he's never been to a decision. He joined Strikeforce in 2011 as a light heavyweight, winning his first two bouts before Gian Villiante earned a TKO win over "Hot Sauce" in 2012. Smith made another cut to middleweight, won one fight outside of Strikeforce, and was matched up against Tim Kennedy this past January, where he was submitted early in the 3rd round.
Julie Kedzie (16-11 MMA, UFC debut) vs. Germaine de Randamie (3-2 MMA, UFC debut) - Women's bantamweights
Kedzie is one of women's MMA's most experienced fighters, with a pro career that spans over nine years of fighting. Her biggest early success was winning the HOOKnSHOOT Women's Grand Prix in 2005 after defeating Missy Karr, Jan Finney, and Molly Helsel in one night. Kedzie then had her stock raised when she fought Gina Carano to an entertaining decision loss in 2007 in EliteXC. The BJJ specialist's most recent fight was an incredible war with Miesha Tate in August 2012, which saw her nearly stop Tate in the first round only to be finished late in the 3rd with a dramatic armbar.
de Randamie is a high-level kickboxer out of The Netherlands who is still getting her feet wet in professional MMA. While she went 37-0 in pro kickboxing, she lost her MMA debut to Vanessa Porto by submission back in 2008. The 29-year-old won her Strikeforce debut in 2011, but later closed out the year with a loss to Julia Budd. de Randamie beat Hiroko Yamanaka in August 2012 (on the same Strikeforce card as Kedzie/Tate) to bring her MMA record above .500 again, and now she drops to bantamweight for her UFC debut against a strong grappler in Kedzie.
It feels like Aaron Riley is older than 32, but that is indeed his age. The last time we saw Riley in the UFC was at UFC 135 in September 2011, when he fought Tony Ferguson and was unable to continue after breaking his jaw. Other injuries have prevented him from competing again, and it's a bit unusual for the veteran of 44 pro fights to be out for this long. Riley is a wrestler who has won half of his fights by submission, and while he's got a strong chin he's been stopped 3 times by either his corner or the ringside doctor.
Salas had wins over Rob Emerson and Joe Ellenberger (yes, the brother of Jake Ellenberger) on his resume before debuting in the UFC early last year against Anton Kuivanen. The Wyoming native defeated Kuivanen by unanimous decision to extend his winning streak (at the time) to 6. At UFC on FX 3 in Florida his win streak came to a crashing halt, as Tim Means knocked him around the cage for 66 lopsided seconds before the referee finally stopped the fight.
John Albert (7-4 MMA, 1-3 UFC) vs. Yaotzin Meza (19-8 MMA, 0-1 UFC) - Bantamweights
John Albert's last 3 fights have ended in identical fashion - A first round submission loss. Granted, he's fought tough competition in Ivan Menjivar, Erik Perez, and Scott Jorgensen, but his inability to win is the big reason why he's opening the preliminary card. The TUF 14 alum hasn't won since December 2011, when he knocked out Dustin Pague on the season finale event. The last time Albert fought in Seattle he won FOTN honors in his loss to Jorgensen.
Meza was rushed into the UFC at the last minute to replace the injured Hacran Dias vs. Chad Mendes at UFC on FX 6. He wasn't given much of a chance to beat the featherweight contender, and to no one's surprise he was knocked out in about one minute. There's no shame in losing quickly to an elite fighter, but there is a sense of urgency for Meza, who trains at The MMA Lab in Arizona, to make the most of his bantamweight debut.