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UFC 167: Facebook preliminary card preview and prognostications

The Bantamweight debut of Sergio Pettis underlines a well matched Facebook preliminary card for UFC 167 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Photo by Esther Lin of MMA Fighting

Jason High (17-4) vs. Anthony Lapsley (22-5-2 NC) Welterweight

When we last left our heroes...When you cover the sport "professionally", which I understand doesn't apply to me, it's easy to forget that you're still allowed to root for some people. And Jason High is rootable. If you haven't checked out our own Steph Daniels' interview with him, you should. He's a fantastic personality, and a welcome departure from the factory made zombies of the SpikeTV era.

While I've got my account tailored for science news, the odd comedian, journalists, and a few personal friends who don't even exist digitally, with High it's easy to make the exception to include him into my normally specific and non-MMA related newsfeed.

Irrelvent stuff aside, High was finally able to score a victory in the UFC this past August, when he beat James Head with a guillotine choke less than two minutes into the first round. He's 1-2 in the UFC.

He'll be looking to break .500 against Anthony Lapsley, who is making his UFC debut. Anyone who has been the victim of this inside the cage surely exists in a universe where lightning routinely strikes twice, which is where fans remember him from.

What both men can do: High has always been an interesting case of blue chip talent without blue chip results. I can't be sure what that means, but it sounds accurate. Going into the Dream Welterweight Grand Prix I had him as the favorite over Marius Zaromskis, who would end up winning via brutal head kick knockout.

High has solid fundamentals though. Obviously, wrestling is where he excels. He has a quick shot, and excellent mechanics when it comes to hand placement, which means he finishes his takedowns well. He doesn't have the type of wrestling pedigree that is typically fawned over, but it's a skill he's nourished well. His standup isn't bad by any stretch; from his southpaw stance he has an incredibly quick left hand, and mixes in kicks well when called upon.

Lapsley is a kindred spirit of sorts. 15 of his 22 wins have come by way of submission. He's not a grappling specialist, but he does a good job of getting takedowns, and capitalizing on opponent's mistakes. Also a southpaw, he throws a solid right hook, but that's about it, which brings us to...

What both men can't do: Not much else. Lapsley is limited on the feet, and even, as he showed against guys like Daniel Head, and John Mahlow, a liability on the ground. His top control is erratic.

Though I don't expect that to be a factor. High will be able to keep it on the feet, where this fight could be a little ugly, but ultimately I like High to score a guillotine choke. He'll land the better shots on the feet leaving Lapsley with the only recourse, which is to get the fight to the ground.

X-Factor: Lapsley has had two fights in which the referee gave him a premature submission loss. One against Jay Hieron, and against John Mahlow. Don't be surprised if it happens again.

Prediction: Jaosn High by Guillotine, round 1.

Will Campuzano (13-4) vs. Sergio Pettis (9-0) Bantamweight

When we last left our heroes...Sergio Pettis' hype is unheard of for a BW. Yes, a good amount of it is owed to his LW champion brother Anthony Pettis, but Sergio is pretty good in his own right. He's undefeated in 9 pro fights, and didn't lose his 4 amateur bouts either.

Making his Zuffa return is Campuzano, who WEC marks may remember for his blistering but sloppy fight with Cody Wheeler, or his brief firefight with Damacio Page. Campuzano lost his last two in the UFC when the WEC merged, but is currently on a 5 fight winning streak, his last victory (and a questionable one) was over Japanese veteran (and action hero), Hideo Tokoro.

What both men can do: Sergio draws a lot of comparisons to his brother because he fights a lot like his brother. Both guys are tricky on the feet beyond being fundamentally sound. Sergio likes to switch stances a lot, and yet seems to throw with just as much precision moving from one position to the next. He has a sharp jab that fires consistently, and quick snapping body kicks, and his power comes mostly from his right hand be it a hook in southpaw, or the straight right from traditional.

His grappling is fluid, and persistent. and he's constantly moving his hips, very similar (yea I know this will get old) to Anthony. As for Campuzano, he's your MMA everyman. He knows what to do, and how to do it, and that's about it. He's got pretty solid scrambling skills, and can scrap pretty well if a bout turns into a firefight on the feet. Him and Page were absolutely swinging. The funny thing is that his boxing is actually solid, but he doesn't fight up to his 5'10 frame, opting to swing strikes in close, where he's not better served.

What both men can't do: Despite the hype surrounding Pettis, he's got a lot to prove. His last five opponents have had winning records, but he's still showing flaws (like his brother). For one, he's extremely susceptible to the takedown. It was his bout against Tom McKenna I believe where Tom went for a takedown that didn't even come close to scoring, but that he managed to finish from his hands to knees because Sergio's ankles were still there for the taking.

In addition, he doesn't have much power. Not a real concern so long as he stays technical on the feet, but still worth noting. In a way this is the perfect matchup for Pettis. Campuzano doesn't do one thing especially well, which means Pettis won't pay for his mistakes. I expect Pettis to soundly outbox Campuzano, but it won't be an extraordinary performance. However, that's not to say Pettis won't turn into a special fighter. He's already very very good.

X-Factor: N/A

Prediction: Sergio Pettis by Decision.

Gian Villante (10-4) vs. Cody Donovan (8-3) Light Heavyweight

When we last left our heroes...This is basically a battle of Ovince St. Preux leftovers, which means the loser gets a pink slip signed by Ovince St. Preux himself.

Donovan lost via KO, while Villante took a decision loss in an unspectacular but competitive bout. MMAth wins this one, or at least that's my prediction going into this one.

Villante is 3-1 in his last four, as is Donovan. Spitting images...

What both men can do: I boxing professional fighters into cliches, but Villante is a cliche of brute strength. He's just a big guy with good takedowns who wins by attrition and raw power. He always looks like he's punching downward even when attempting a straight right, but he's proven himself effective in his brief career.

Though he won't need takedowns against Donovan. Donovan is a journeyman, but a journeyman who understands the transition game well. He mixes in his right hands with takedowns, and does so well enough to not be underestimate. And yea...that's all I got...

What both men can't do: It's a miracle Donovan even won that Penner fight. He was dropped twice before scoring the knockout because he wades in for a takedown so recklessly and predictably, it's impossible for him not to get hit coming in. it's a weakness I'd expect Villante to exploit, even if all he needs to do is punish Donovan on the ground. This will not end well for Cody.

X-Factor: N/A

Prediction: Gian Villante by KO, round 1.