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UFC 183: Silva vs. Diaz - Idiot's Guide Preview to the Fight Pass/FS1 Prelims

David Castillo breaks down the prelims/undercard for UFC 183, and the three things you need to know about a name-filled series of fights that could up being just as exciting as the recent undercard in Sweden.

Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate looking like a human Go board.
Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate looking like a human Go board.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

UFC 183 is a solid-ish card from top to bottom. It's got that weird mixture of name value and unpredictability. But before the main event begins and Anderson Silva vs. Nick Diaz takes center stage January 31st this weekend, the undercard will be the first to plot your UFC hashtag chart with its abundance of names and even former title contenders.

The Line Up

Women's Bantamweight Miesha Tate 15-5 vs. Sara McMann 8-1
Middleweight Ed Herman 22-10 vs. Derek Brunson 12-3
Flyweight Ian McCall 13-4 vs. John Lineker 24-7
Middleweight Rafael Natal 18-6-1 vs. Tom Watson 17-7
Featherweight Diego Brandão 18-10 vs. Jimy Hettes 11-2
Middleweight Richardson Moreira 7-2 vs. Ildemar Alcântara 20-7
Middleweight Thiago Santos 9-3 vs. Andy Enz 7-2

The Odds

Miesha Tate +175 Sara McMann -210 
Derek Brunson -550 Ed Herman +425 
Ian McCall -230 John Lineker +190
Rafael Natal -175 Tom Watson +155
Diego Brandao -170 Jimy Hettes +150
Ildemar Alcantara -175 Richardson Moreira +155 
Andy Enz +150 Thiago Santos -170

3 Things You Should Know

1. We have two official former title contenders in Tate vs. McMann, one functional title contender in McCall (semifinalist in the Flyweight tournament to crown a champ, but close), and another would-be contender if he'd more consistently make weight in Lineker. Do I have to spell it out? These are good fights. You'd be kind of crazy to miss them.

Miesha Tate's last outing was "interesting". Even I didn't really know what to expect leading up to her bout with scantily clad insect whisperer, Rin Nakai. But afterward it was hard to dissect. Miesha was able to do little except conserve her ammunition, and bore the crowd. For that matter, her opponent didn't set the world ablaze with her apple pie smile either; Sara had a tough challenge against Lauran Murphy but did so with little in the way of flare or excitement.

It's hard to know what to make of this one. I'm still a firm believer in McMann. Well, more like a malleable believer in McMann. I think she has all the tools to make Rousey sweat for her gold. Against Tate she'll be fighting someone adept in the grappling department. I think this fight favors McMann in a big way. Tate doesn't have the chops to maneuver out of Sara's top control, and on the feet, I think Sara's simmering (but not boiling) power should be enough for a decision. It should be a war though. Tate does a good job of forcing her opponents to really battle for real estate, so  FOTN contender, these women are Joe.

McCall was scheduled to face Lineker November 8th, at UFC Fight Night 56, but had to pull out just hours due to a blood infection. One of the question marks that always surrounds McCall, at least for me, is his mental state. He strikes me as a fighter who truly relies on his emotional wavelength. He's had a tough journey, and this bout will be its own chapter given Lineker's power. John is coming off a big win over Ozkilic, who is a solid little fighter that has struggled a bit. The fight itself was impressive, but I think it left some fans wanting.

McCall is a comfortable favorite. He's much more well rounded, and has never been knocked out, which is John's only method of victory. However, don't be surprised if Ian gets hurt with something. While his striking is crisp on the feet, Lineker's understated variety and body attack would be enough to fell anybody. Ian's takedowns, overall grappling prowess, and movement will seal the deal when all is said and done, however.

2. The rest of the Fox Sports 1 portion of the undercard involves some aging veterans in fights that will end violently.

I'm never too excited for the final four worth talking about on the FS1 prelims, but Joe Silva did a really good job of putting them in matchups that will very likely not go to a decision. I'm always still a little surprised that Ed Herman remains in the UFC; there was just never anything dramatic about his skillset. Maybe people would only remember his 'Tito didn't pick me' mindset. Instead he's carved out a decent UFC career for himself, currently 5-2-1 in his last eight. Derek Brunson is a rigid test though.

Brunson is a little like Herman in that he doesn't seem to have the overall skillset to take over, and win more than he loses, but so many aspects to Brunson's game are polished. Just ask Yoel Romero if Derek can't kick. I like Burnson in this bout due to his power and ability to fend off Herman's takedowns. While Herman is persistent, he's not terribly athletic, and he struggles too much on the feet to make Brunson feel confused as to how to decipher Herman's game. On top of that Ed has developed a windmill habit to his striking, going with a more open approach that will handicap him against Brunson.

Then there's Natal vs. Watson. I could have sworn that they had already fought. Guess not. Natal always seemed so much more talented than he actually is, but now we know that this was never the case. The guy isn't that talented, period. That's not to be as harsh as it sounds, so let me clarify. We so often assign the word "talent" to fighters that are offensively gifted. There is something about offense, and the ability to be active to seems natural in principle. But I think it's silly to ignore defensive shortcomings, or think of defensive flaws as artificial. Natal just isn't a good defensive fighter, and Watson's strength on the feet, with his assortment of kicks and combinations should be enough to put away the aging Mark Dacascos clone.

3. The Fight Pass portion is assorted with the usual interchangeable American and Brazilian names. You could skip this one and not miss much.

"Rick Monstro" (Morreira) made an impression in his UFC debut. It just wasn't the type of impression he had in mind, getting knocked out a mere 20 seconds into the fight against Marcos Lima. I think the Team Nogueria fighter has a little more to offer but he has a really tough matchup against Alcantara, who has racked up solid wins in the UFC with a 3-2 record; a record that includes a win over Albert Tumenov. Expect Alcantara's top control style to be the difference against Morreira, who prefers to be in top control as well but who does not Alcantara's polished(ish) method of getting it to the ground in the first place.

Hettes is coming off a tough loss to Dennis Bermudez, and now he's rewarded with fighting the guy that beat him. Thankfully for him, Brandao is a wildcard from fight to fight. However, Diego's last two fights are to Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor; it's no surprise that he lost, but it does make you wonder how badly he overcooked Joe Silva's birthday churrasco.

I do like Hettes' chances against Brandao because I think he can get it to the ground if we can work his Judo trips, but Hettes is just as raw as Brandao. I know Brandao is a lunatic, but you can always rely on effort. Meanwhile, I would argue that the best Hettes has ever looked was against Alex Caceres and Nam Phan, back in 2011. This is an excellent fight to bet on, and also the worst, depending on who you put money on because it will either make you look very smart, or very stupid.

Finally there's Thiago Santos vs. Andy Enz. Santos has had some pretty tough matchups for a newcomer. At 1-2, those two losses have come to Uriah Hall and Cezar Mutante Ferreira. He's a reasonable fighter who hunts a lot using a snapping left kick to the body, but Enz will be looking to take it to the ground wherever possible. If he can take that weapon away and force a battle in the clinch, and eventually towards the ground, it's a reasonable upset pick.


McMann by Decision.

McCall by RNC, round 3.

Brunson by TKO, round 2.

Watson by TKO, round 2.

Alcantara by Decision.

Hettes by Guillotine, round 3.

Santos by Decision.

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