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UFC 195: Lawler vs. Condit - Idiot's Guide Preview to the Fight Pass/Fox Sports 1 Prelims

Robbie Lawler defends his belt against Carlos Condit. But before he does, here's everything you need to know about the Fight Pass/Fox Sports 1 Prelims in Vegas.

Esther Lin

Before Robbie Lawler defends his belt against Carlos Condit, lots of familiar names in unfamiliar matchups ignite the event this January 2, 2016 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The Line Up

Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 1)
Bantamweight Michael McDonald vs. Masanori Kanehara
Welterweight Kyle Noke vs. Alex Morono
Women's Strawweight Justine Kish vs. Nina Ansaroff
Lightweight Drew Dober vs. Scott Holtzman
Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass)
Lightweight Dustin Poirier vs. Joseph Duffy
Bantamweight Joe Soto vs. Michinori Tanaka
Welterweight Edgar Garcia vs. Sheldon Westcott

The Odds

Masanori Kanehara +425 Michael McDonald -550  
Alex Morono +250 Kyle Noke -300  
Justine Kish -265 Nina Ansaroff +225  
Drew Dober +140 Scott Holtzman -160 
Dustin Poirier +165 Joseph Duffy -190  
Joe Soto -110 Michinori Tanaka -110 
Edgar Garcia +140 Sheldon Westcott -160

The Rundown

Bantamweight Michael McDonald vs. Masanori Kanehara

The last time McDonald graced the octagon, it was this month, two years ago in 2013. Since then he's had to deal multiple surgeries affecting his hands and wrists. For a guy who relies on punching power, things couldn't have gone much worse for him. He's coming off a loss to Urijah Faber. His opponent is the underrated but stout DEEP/World Victory Road/ZST veteran, Kanehara.

Kanehara is 1-1 in the UFC, and is a solid litmus test for McDonald. Kanehara didn't really make a name for himself until 2009. He fought six times, and in that time beat names like Chan Sung Jung, Michihiro Omigawa, Kid Yamamoto, and only losing to Hatsu Hioki. Despite the nature of some of the decisions, it was a good year by any measure. And he got it done like he always has; with a straight forward approach to wherever the fight takes place.

He's a good kickboxer who relies in patient offense to offset heavy pressure. He doesn't have great defense per se, but he can contain opponents enough to avoid getting cracked. McDonald is a terror on the feet, making use of his sinister power with a vicious uppercut (how he finished Miguel Torres) to compliment his combinations. McDonald is well rounded, and hard to put on his back. Kanehara isn't some confident, imposing wrestler so I can't help but envision him getting hurt at some point. As good as McDonald is, he's even better pressuring a hurt fighter. Kanehara couldn't handle Sandro's power. He won't be able to handle McDonald's.

Welterweight Kyle Noke vs. Alex Morono

This is a fight alright. Noke looked pretty good in his last outing, though Sobotta isn't much of a challenge these days despite some limited skills. He'll be taking on the 25 year old LFC Welterweight champ Alex Morono.

Morono is kind of a Chris Lytle type; he's well rounded, tough, but doesn't always fight to his advantage. I'm not surprised he got a UFC contract, but I am surprised he got one this soon. Beating Derrick Krantz isn't exactly passing the midterm. I wouldn't completely rule out Morono's chances; he's young, and swings hard despite some questionable technique. Noke is prone to an uneven performance as well. But this is Noke's fight to lose. Noke typically has trouble with fighters who are either striking specialists (not Morono), or fighters who can match his grappling acumen. Morono doesn't fit either bill.

Women's Strawweight Justine Kish vs. Nina Ansaroff

Even though Kish was selected on TUF, she never got a chance to fight. Which is a shame not only because it reveals just how much depth was in Season 20, but because Kish would have been a nasty little darkhorse pick. In case you're unaware, she beat Randa Markos and looked like a beast in the process:

It's a good fight on its own worth watching. Kish was sidelined with a serious knee injury, so if there's an x-factor here, it's just how much the injury has affected her. Otherwise she's pretty much a bull in the cage. Her punches aren't clean, but they're straight, and she mixes up standing elbows in there to go along with an active soccer game.

Nina is a decent journeywoman with good power in her straight right, but that's the extent of her abilities. Kish should be able to takedowns, and even on the feet, I don't expect her to be outmatched in any way shape or form. Nina's best hope is to land a rocket, and that's rarely worth banking on.

Lightweight Drew Dober vs. Scott Holtzman

Dober has led one of the oddest UFC careers in recent memory. His fight with Jamie Varner was, well...something. And his fight with Leandro Silva was something-er. Losing to Efrain Escudeo in his last outing in under a minute goes without saying I guess.

It doesn't get much easier. Despite his flawless 8-0 record, Holtzman is no spring octagon chicken. But he's a very solid fighter. He's not a strong boxer. He's actually kind of plodding. But he throws good stiff punches to get in close where he likes to clinch, and try to get top control from there. It's not clear cut by any stretch, but I see Scott winning the standup enough to take the decision.

Lightweight Dustin Poirier vs. Joseph Duffy

This is on Fight Pass?!?

The UFC is usually pretty good at promoting their Irish prospects so this is kind of strange; especially against a former contender like Dustin. Duffy was successful in his last two UFC fights. Not only is he versatile on the feet (if not overly aggressive in spots), but his ground game is a legitimate threat against most opponents. The hallmark of any good submission fighter is being able to chain submission attempts without using B and C to get from A to D. He's quick to apply pressure in top control.

However, this feels like a bridge too far. Poirier was last seen kicking Yancy Medeiros around like a cabbage patch kid. Which doesn't tell us much about where he's at as a lightweight. I'm almost inclined to pick Duffy here. Dustin has traditionally had trouble with durable, aggressive specialists; think Swanson, Jung, and Conor. All of his wins are a collection of good, but not great fighters (or green fighters, as was the case with Max Holloway back in 2012). Part of this comes from his ability to chain dynamic offense in intervals. He's an excellent puncher, but not a great boxer. He's a versatile submission finisher, but not a great grappler. This is why he seems so confounded in certain matchups; like a poor man's Donald Cerrone, if he can't be the bully in the fight, he's simply less effective.

Duffy isn't an elite lightweight fighter, but he fits the bill of the durable, aggressive specialist. Duffy won't be all that successful pressuring Dustin with his left kick or anything, but I could see him landing it. In addition, he pressures well enough to neutralize Poirier's striking. On the ground Poirier has always been less effective from his back than in top control.

Bantamweight Joe Soto vs. Michinori Tanaka

Fight Pass gets a pretty good run of fights as this is a solid scrap too. Soto is a really talented fighter; we saw this against T.J. Dillashaw. But he's also inconsistent. We saw that against Anthony Birchak. He's fighting a young 25 year old prospect in Tanaka, so who knows.

On the surface, it favors Soto. Joe has solid hands at range, and in close where he lets combinations sign the contract. He's also good on the ground, where his wrestling background has served him well defensively as well as offensively. However, Tanaka is one of the shiftier grapplers in recent memory. He's not some lights out submission killer or anything. But he's constantly working for reversals, and shifts in momentum.

The problem with Tanaka is his predictability. Trying to turn every bout into Metamoris will cut his UFC career short if he's not careful. Luckily for him, he's incredibly quick with his movements, and there's a shocking amount of IQ present in the way he feints and swivels around on the feet. With more commitment on the feet, he could be a real force, but he's got a long way to go and grow.

Welterweight Edgar Garcia vs. Sheldon Westcott

Westcott is the guy Dan Kelly made look like a former Judo Oympian.

He's also 0-2 in the UFC so far, which is at least better than Garcia's 0-3 UFC record. If there's a silver lining to a fight involving two contestants who haven't won any of their UFC fights, it's that this bout should be over in relatively short order. Westcott is a huevos to the muro type of fighter, and Garcia will be happy to engage him on the feet where Edgar hopes it stays.

Predictions

McDonald by TKO, round 2

Noke by RNC, round 2

Kish by Decision

Holzman by Decision

Duffy by Decision

Soto by Decision

Westcott by TKO, round 3