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Diggin’ Deep on UFC 207: Nunes vs. Rousey - Fight Pass preview

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Take a closer look at UFC 207’s lone Fight Pass contest between up-and-coming welterweights Tim Means and Alex Oliveira to kick off the final UFC event of the year.

MMA: UFC 202-Means vs Homasi Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports

Initially there was supposed to be three contests on the Fight Pass portion of UFC 207. Then a pair of high profile contests were pulled from the card, leaving us with single contest before moving to FS1… but what a contest it is! Admittedly, Tim Means and Charles Oliveira don’t have the name value that those at the top of the card have, but they are consistently exciting and entertaining, meaning there is a strong possibility the card will kick off with the FOTN.

The Fight Pass portion of the card begins at 7:30 PM ET/4:30 PM PT.

Tim Means (26-7-1) vs. Alex Oliveira (16-4-1, 1 NC), Welterweight

How many of you knew that Means has won six of his last seven contests? Quietly, Means has put together a nice stretch with his lone loss coming to Matt Brown. What is even more surprising is Means has done so in highly entertaining fashion with his last four victories all coming by stoppage. Then again, the biggest name he has earned a victory over has been John Howard, who was cut following their contest. This is Means opportunity to pick up a quality win.

Oliveira has a quality win under his belt, it just came when he badly missed weight to end up manhandling a much smaller Will Brooks at lightweight. Oliveira received a lot of backlash for his lackadaisical attitude toward his missing weight and mocking of Brooks following the stoppage. He now looks to repair some of the damage done from that contest while continuing to make a name for himself at his new permanent home of welterweight.

The move to welterweight may not hurt Oliveira as much as many expect. Sure, he has relied on his length and reach to pick apart his opponents, but he has fought four previous times at 170 and his 76" reach is still longer than most at his new home, including Means’ 75" reach. If that was all Oliveira had going for him, Means would tear him apart. But Oliveira is also a freak athlete who learns quickly despite his relative inexperience in the sport. Often staying on the outside while picking his spots to throw punching combinations, Oliveira’s true wheelhouse is in the clinch. He battered Brooks from that area, leveling him with brutal knees to severely injure Brooks’ rib.

What makes this so intriguing is that is where Means is at his best as well. Offering the same type of short punches and knees Oliveira offers, Means also delivers the most vicious elbows this side of the aforementioned Brown in close quarters. Oliveira has proven to be very strong in the clinch, even against natural welterweights, giving pause to the belief that Means’ experience would win out in that area. However, what Means does have is excellent cardio and a fast pace that is difficult to match. If Oliveira can’t grind Means against the fence, he’ll have a hard time winning rounds as he doesn’t come close to the amount of volume Means puts forth.

The grappling aspect is where Oliveira has the most room for growth. He was taken down pretty easily by Donald Cerrone and it wasn’t long before Cerrone passed guard and submitted him with a triangle. Then again, Oliveira was able to counter or get to his feet quickly when Brooks took him down. How much has he improved since that time and how much did that have to do with Brooks’ size? Means is no submission savant, but he did make a point to prove he is capable of dragging an opponent to the ground and choking them out if he wants to in his win over George Sullivan.

I really love this contest between up-and-coming welterweights. Means has the experience and nastiness on his side that always makes it difficult to pick against him. What he lacks is the athletic gifts possessed by Oliveira. Oliveira continues to look better in every contest and beating Brooks is no small feat, even if it came on uneven terms. I’m favoring Means if the contest goes to a decision, though I see Oliveira continuing to impress by finishing the tough as nails vet. Oliveira via TKO of RD3