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UFC on Fox: Dos Anjos vs. Cerrone 2 - Idiot's Guide Preview to the Undercard

Before the Lightweight title is up for grabs, the usual mix of veterans and projects-than-prospects go toe-to-toe for our viewing pleasure at UFC on Fox 17 in Orlando, Florida.

Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

The usual assortment of veterans and maybe-prospects dual this December 19, 2015 at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.

The Line Up

Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 1)
Featherweight Charles Oliveira vs. Myles Jury
Middleweight C.B. Dollaway vs. Nate Marquardt
Women's Bantamweight Sarah Kaufman vs. Valentina Shevchenko
Middleweight Josh Samman vs. Tamdan McCrory
Lightweight Nik Lentz vs. Danny Castillo
Featherweight Cole Miller vs. Jim Alers

Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass)
Welterweight Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman
Welterweight Hayder Hassan vs. Vicente Luque
Heavyweight Luiz Henrique vs. Francis Ngannou

The Odds

Charles Oliveira +120 Myles Jury -140  
C.B. Dollaway -380 Nate Marquardt +315  
Sarah Kaufman -235 Valentina Shevchenko +195  
Josh Samman -170 Tamdan McCrory +150 
Danny Castillo -105 Nik Lentz -115  
Cole Miller +115 Jim Alers -135 
Kamaru Usman -230  Leon Edwards +190  
Hayder Hassan -125  Vicente Luque +105  
Francis Ngannou -105 Luiz Henrique -115

The Rundown

Featherweight Charles Oliveira vs. Myles Jury

Somehow this fight got packaged onto the undercard. I guess the suits of Fox Sports 1 are convincing. Well, that and Zuffa knows all too well what a Myles Jury fight looks like. If Jury were a wrestler, he'd get smeared by fans. Of course, what is aesthetically pleasing means nothing in relation to what is pugilistically pragmatic.

Jury was last seen getting dominated by Donald Cerrone, along with getting an earful for what Cowboy thought was a "disrespectful attitude" shown to Diego Sanchez. Meanwhile, Oliveira didn't get to fight Max Holloway for more than two minutes because he tore his esophagus.

At this point, I think we've seen what Oliveira has to offer. He's got another year or two of picking up the kind of wins that make look like the prospect we remember, but he's passed the point of development. I know that sounds harsh, but prospects typically reveal new tools at a much younger age than the one Charles last celebrated. This is also just an awful matchup for him; the kind of matchup that makes Jury look efficient. Oliveira is pressure via enthusiasm type offensive fighter. While he's fairly versatile, especially with his kicks, his technique never developed the way it needed to in order to make elite. Jury isn't a special striker, but he has special patience and timing. He should be able to fluster Charles with his jab, and right hand while keeping Charles off of him for the kind of ground scrambles Oliviera will need.

Middleweight C.B. Dollaway vs. Nate Marquardt

I completely forgot these guys fought this year. For a second I was wondering what DeLorean they fell out of. Thankfully they got paired up with each other, which means we'll get to see simultaneously the best and worst of their respective games.

As always, it's the defensive exploits that have them 0-2 in their last 2. Dollaway could never match his defensive grappling with his offensive prowess while his striking didn't develop until his 30's. Marquardt could only hide his lack of versatility behind his athleticism for so long. Sure Nate was well rounded, but he lacks defensive wrestling and boxing defense; it's kind of amazing that he got this far.

Marquardt's a great bet. His right hand is still absolutely sinister, and the way he leads with it is actually kind of special (his positioning conceals his pre-movement). But Dollaway is actually throwing combinations, and actually countering punches these days. With his strength and aggression he should be able to land push Nate back and either grind out the decision victory, or flat out catch with either a punch combo, or a potential guillotine.

Women's Bantamweight Sarah Kaufman vs. Valentina Shevchenko

Shevchenko is probably the closest thing to a prospect on the card. There will be plenty of comparisons to Holly Holm because analysts tend to be unimaginative. But it's easy to see where the comparisons are drawn: she's a patient counter striking southpaw. I could link you to her Finney fight but nobody's gonna watch that snoozefest so check out this Muay Thai bout against this overmatched piece of ectoplasm instead:

This is another fight with great odds for the betting man. I'm starting to feel like Kaufman is slowly becoming the K.J Noons of women's MMA: great looking fundamentals without the mixed martial art application. She's such a good boxer, but women's MMA is growing fast enough that even a fighter as solid as Kaufman should be looking over her shoulder. Kaufman isn't getting pink slipped or anything. But this is hellish fight for her.

For one, Kaufman's standard combinations will be easy to read from Valentina's perspective; Valentina throws a very strong right hook from her southpaw stance, and has a wicked left kick. Unlike Holm, she's a little quicker with her punches, and that quickness begets power. It helps that she's well rounded enough to actively look for takedowns, which Kaufman might not be prepared for. I just don't see Kaufman backing her up efficiently enough to avoid Valentina's strikes. Then again I could easily see this going suspensefully to the cards.

Middleweight Josh Samman vs. Tamdan McCrory

Who?! If you're like me, you're sounding exactly like Mr. Wu from Deadwood right now.

Because that name probably sounds so familiar, and yet so far. But yes, it's the return of the "Barn Cat"; a fighter even hardcores might have forgotten. Probably not Dustin Hazelett fans though. He's only had two fights since splitting from the UFC, but they were both wins in Bellator against very decent competition.

Unfortunately for him, Samman is just a bad stylistic matchup for him. Samman has continued to develop a striking game that favors metaphysics over mechanics; as in, the rhythm precedes his efficiency more than the mere output. He keeps his legs and hands active without maintaining a predictable stance or posture. McCory is aggressive, but active in a way that stutters his efficiency. Against, Samman, it'll be difficult to measure just how improved he is.

Lightweight Nik Lentz vs. Danny Castillo

Both are guys who reveal what makes the wrestle-boxer from ten years ago a little like the T-800. Although my pop culture analogies really break down here because the T-800 seems to beat all the newer models, whether using liquid nitrogen against the T-1000, or brass MRI knuckles against the Nanobotinator...

Anyway, they never became the transition fighters that wrestle boxers eventually evolved into. Yes, they can transition, but their transitions exist to succeed where facets of their game have failed. Lentz has probably improved more than Castillo, but only because he's built himself from such a lower foundation. Castillo still has quite a bit of sauce on his pugilism burger.

I felt Castillo made that fight with Tony Ferguson dangerously close given Ferguson's talent. He still has that strong right hand that Lentz won't be able to take much of. I just imagine Castillo able to accrue those bigger moments (slams, strikes, et cetera); the kind of fight where one guy does more with less.

Featherweight Cole Miller vs. Jim Alers

It's too bad we never got our Cole Miller vs. Conor McGregor bout. Not because Miller would have got anything other than destroyed, but because Miller is high strung enough to make their respective trash talk personal, and real. Frankly, I loved the way he reacted to beating Junie Browning (is there a worse indictment of MMA's judgment than Junie's "Life Coach" sketch at the MMA awards?). Very few Miller fights are givens (Nam Phan?), so I wouldn't be shocked if Alers won, but it's also clear who has the advantage in multiple areas.

Welterweight Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman

One of the few oddball stylistic matchups on this card with a pure striker versus grappler bout. Edwards will be able to lean on his polished striking against fighters who want to test their upright skills against Edwards, but that guy will not be Usman, who gets in fairly quick, manages distance fine for a shot-first fighter, and should be able to position himself on the ground for strikes and submissions once there. While Edwards isn't anything like Hassan, the same fight patterns will be on display.

Welterweight Hayder Hassan vs. Vicente Luque

Here are the highlights from their first match. Luque was the favorite the first time, and should be able to get it done in more emphatic fashion this time. Hassan looks the part of the power puncher, but he seems unsure at times of whether or not this is actually his calling. It's good that sometimes jabs, and displays technique but sometimes you want and need predictability in your game; it allows you to nourish every branch in the tree of violence. Think how Yoel Romero gets fighters to fall for his left hand. Luque will probably look to incorporate more takedowns to avoid a slugfest, and to that end, he'll be successful.

Heavyweight Luiz Henrique vs. Francis Ngannou

Francis is a pretty ridiculous athlete. As you can see:

But boy is he raw. He throws punches like he's overthrowing the Swisha House turn tables.

And that movement is so stiff. "KLB", or Luiz, is Antonio Silva without the acromegaly (that isn't incredibly dismissive and hurtful is it? Because I sure wasn't going for it). His movement seems like it's "burdened", but unlike Ngannou, he's quite fluid for a man of his size. Ngannou should be able to keep on the feet long enough to land one of those pissed off Guillard looking bolo punches.

Predictions

Jury by Decision

Dollaway by TKO, round 3

Shevchenko by Decision

Samman by TKO, round 2

Castillo by Decision

Miller by RNC, round 3

Usman by Guillotine, round 2

Luque by Decision

Ngannou by TKO, round 1