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UFC Fight Night: Cowboy vs. Oliveira - Idiot's Guide Preview to the FS1/Fight Pass Prelims

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This weekend, UFC Fight Night: Cowboy versus Cowboy starts out with a ranch whimper as there's not much to be excited about on the undercard.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

A bunch of fights you'll barely remember get the UFN 83 party started this February 21, 2016 at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The Line Up

Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 1)
Welterweight Alex Garcia vs. Sean Strickland
Middleweight Daniel Sarafian vs. Oluwale Bamgbose
Middleweight Anthony Smith vs. Leonardo Augusto Guimarães
Welterweight Jonavin Webb vs. Nathan Coy
Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass)
Women's Bantamweight Marion Reneau vs. Ashlee Evans-Smith
Heavyweight Anthony Hamilton vs. Shamil Abdurakhimov

The Odds

Alex Garcia -105 Sean Strickland -135  
Daniel Sarafian -210 Oluwale Bamgbose +160  
Leonardo Augusto Guimaraes +120 Anthony Smith -160 
Jonavin Webb -260 Nathan Coy +180  
Ashlee Evans-Smith +150 Marion Reneau -190  
Anthony Hamilton +100 Shamil Abdurakhimov -140

The Rundown

Welterweight Alex Garcia vs. Sean Strickland

Strickland is still somewhat of a prospect. At 24 years of age, he's got growing to do but at this point you have to wonder just what his ceiling projects to be. He doesn't have the raw speed to be a sudden and violent fighter. And he doesn't seem to have the cage personality to fight like an 'Alpha Male'.

Across from him will be the 28 year old Dominican out of Tristar, Alex Garcia. Garcia has had a solid career for himself thus far. His only blemish outside of the UFC is to a UFC fighter in Seth Baczynski. And even in defeat, he displayed a talent that might have been able to overcome Seth had he used a better strategy.

Both guys will engage in the clinch, and potentially find their way into scrambles at some point. Garcia isn't an active striker, but he's a strong interval puncher. As in, he's aware of his limitations, and strings punches together in pockets at a time. It's not his bread and face melting butter, but he's not lost on the feet even if he's more uncomfortable there than he should.

It's hard to say how these two will respond to each other's styles. Strickland is the more fluid grappler while Garcia is the more invasive. What's unfortunate about Strickland's development is that his striking has, at least in my opinion, regressed. Before he had good counterpunching qualities and excellent clinch tactics via strikes. Now he's trying to simplify his game too much and it's constipating instead of liberating. I can't glean much from Garcia's win over Swick, as Swick is done. But I feel like Garcia's strength should gain just enough advantages through the fight to offset Strickland's conservative style.

Middleweight Daniel Sarafian vs. Oluwale Bamgbose

Sarafian missed all of last year thanks to injuries. The year before wasn't exactly a holiday. He couldn't put away Belfort's protege, who everyone has been putting away, and he got 'caught' by Kiichi Kunimoto.

Sarafian seemed like a decent prospect but it's clear he's a gatekeeper at best. Being a gatekeeper isn't a bad way to make a living. And he'll try to continue making a living against the freewheeling Bamgbose. Bamgbose was last seen losing to Uriah Hall because a) Bamgbose is kind of limited and b) it was an awful stylistic matchup.

Bam likes to position himself below sea level, and then unleash winging shots with both hands. Theoretically, Sarafian should be able to close the distance and deal with Bamgbose on the ground. He's a solid fighter on the ground when he's able to close the distance, and find himself in top control. I actually expect him to have a little trouble early going (Bam isn't a mindless striker even though his strikes look mindless at times), but once the five minute mark hits, I expect Sarafian to take over with his grappling.

Middleweight Anthony Smith vs. Leonardo Augusto Guimarães

Anthony Smith is a 27 year old veteran fighter who has had some nice tilts with Josh Neer. He's coming in on very short notice to take on Leleco. Both guys are fighters who can sort of switch things up wherever they see fit. Leleco is capable on the ground, where I'd argue he's more comfortable. Yet he fights in a way that betrays his ability. For example, he looks comfortable on the feet, yet his skills are pretty average. He's got decent pop in his hands, and is more than willing to make the fight as dirty as possible. But he needs to fight to his strengths. Smith, short notice or not, is a big middleweight who can chamber that right hand quick enough to catch Leleco getting too comfortable.

Welterweight Jonavin Webb vs. Nathan Coy

Good fight. Both guys fight with conviction in their respective areas so it'll be interesting to see who goes full tilt. Coy has been around for awhile, and his strength is the grappling department, where he's all about top control wrestling. He has a few sneaky, quick, even powerful punches from his southpaw stance, but he tries to sneak them in rather than threaten, counter, or pressure with them.

On the other side is Webb. He's an excellent grappler, but he's an opportunistic one. He has a good pedigree outside of MMA, but in the cage it hasn't translated to steady control throughout his bouts. He'll have the edge in striking. Like his grappling, he's opportunistic. He strings his punches together quickly, and with relative animus. He's particularly good at winging shots in the pocket, but part of this comes from efficiency via bludgeoning. Both fighters are still somewhat raw. It's a close fight. I don't like the way Coy seems to eat shots despite how quickly he's able to swoop in for takedowns, which tells me that he's telegraphing too much. He's a solid bet, but Webb has the advantages on the whole.

Women's Bantamweight Marion Reneau vs. Ashlee Evans-Smith

I felt like Holly Holm wasn't given enough credit for beating Reneau, who is probably one of the more underrated female fighters in the division. Marion put up a decent fight against Holm, all things considered and certainly moreso than Ronda Rousey (ignoring the obvious comparison to their respective outcomes). Well, not sure I'd use the word 'decent', but she was durable.

Reneau is 2-1 in the UFC thanks to her stout posture. She chambers strong kicks low, middle, and high. While she's prone to chasing with her punches, her technique is serviceable in combination with her stature. I expect her to be able to deal with Evans-Smith, who fights a little too raw. Ashlee puts together punches in bunches, and showed serious moxie against Fallon Fox. But I don't expect her brand of barfly besieging to get it done.

Heavyweight Anthony Hamilton vs. Shamil Abdurakhimov

Finally, a Heavyweight fight! Wait. Oh right, a heavyweight fight. If one of these guys should fight for a title before Conor McGregor gets a shot at the belt. I want you guys to have totally expected it.

Shamil is a big guy who is much quicker than he looks. He paws with his left jab and lands good, lightning fast right hands at midrange. He mucks it up in the clinch pretty good as well. He'll be facing off against Hamilton, who likes to sungraze with his right hand. Shamil is the more durable fighter, and should be able to land his right hand quicker than Todd Duffee did.

Predictions

Garcia by Split Decision

Sarafian by RNC, round 2

Smith by Decision

Webb by TKO, round 3

Renau by Decision

Abdurakhimov by TKO, round 1