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UFC 196: McGregor vs. Diaz - Idiot's Guide Preview to the Fox Sports 1/Fight Pass Prelims

From Brandon Thatch to Diego Sanchez, the usual collection of sort of-prospects and definite veterans do war for UFC 196 at the MGM in Vegas.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Some old prospects and old veterans do the octagon tango this March 5, 2016 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The Line Up

Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 1)
Welterweight Brandon Thatch vs. Siyar Bahadurzada
Welterweight Erick Silva vs. Nordine Taleb
Middleweight Vitor Miranda vs. Marcelo Guimaraes
Featherweight Darren Elkins vs. Chas Skelly
Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass)
Lightweight Diego Sanchez vs. Jim Miller
Lightweight Justin Salas vs. Jason Saggo
Featherweight Julian Erosa vs. Teruto Ishihara

The Odds

Brandon Thatch -310 Siyar Bahadurzada +255 
Erick Silva -230 Nordine Taleb +190
Marcelo Guimaraes +260 Vitor Miranda -320 
Chas Skelly -155 Darren Elkins +135 
Diego Sanchez +120 Jim Miller -140
Jason Saggo -210 Justin Salas +175 + 
Julian Erosa -200 Teruto Ishihara +170

The Rundown

Welterweight Brandon Thatch vs. Siyar Bahadurzada

The word "bust" isn't used often. But in Thatch's case, his whirlwind start and fashion in which he beat his opponents provides a sensation with roots in 'bust territory'. However, Brandon's age should have kind of denied him that status altogether, Stephen Thompson notwithstanding. Both guys are 0-2 in their last two bouts.

Part of the problem with Thatch is that we never got a sense of the breadth of his acumen. His fights were too short. Before we knew it, he was fighting former title holders and contenders. He's still a solid fighter in the division. His clinch work, knees, and general violence in the Muay Thai shark tank are worth the price of admission alone. Siyar is exactly the kind of fighter to accentuate Thatch's strengths; with a plodding but aggressive striking style that only pays off against the less talented and athletic, Thatch should have no problem dictating the pace in thundering fashion.

Welterweight Erick Silva vs. Nordine Taleb

Speaking of sort-of-prospects, who better than to represent this unique demographic than Erick Silva? I can't even remember who he beat to receive such brief hype, but going to wikipedia won't satisfy me. Silva is coming off a loss to Neil Magny, and has a pretty erratic career in the UFC, overall. He's kind of a punchline when it comes to prospect status, but that's not to his abilities are a punchline.

He'll be facing Taleb, who is a clean 3-1 in the UFC. Taleb isn't uniquely gifted in any one area. He's rare in that he's been on TUF, twice, but that's about it. I would argue that working with Tristar, he'll be well coached and will have scouted Silva's flaws. If this fight is back and forth and heading towards a third round, all things being equal, Taleb should actually have a modest advantage. Silva still hits hard enough to be the x-factor long enough to secure a victory.

Middleweight Vitor Miranda vs. Marcelo Guimaraes

This is a pretty classic striker versus grappler matchup. Guimaraes has a sort of tone-deaf approach to wrestling in the modern era, unable to truly transition between the two, but perfectly capable on their own respective axis of doing damage. In that way, Miranda has the nominal edge given how hard he can strike, and how quickly he can add, subtract, multiply, and divide with them.

Featherweight Darren Elkins vs. Chas Skelly

Elkins is still kicking, winning fights some fans would prefer he didn't, doing things Jon Fitch used to do when he began to struggle in the UFC but still had a place in it. Elkins is coming off a win over Robert Whiteford. Elkins' brand of striking to stay alive, and grappling to stay on edge has taken him far enough to look back on his 13 fight UFC career thus far, and be proud of it.

He'll need more than Pride to beat Skelly, who does a lot of things similar to Elkins, but with a little more silk and sprite. Normally I'd go with youth here, but Skelly is only a year younger than Elkins. Both guys grind it out in places people don't talk about at parties. But for both men, they need that clinch on that wall. And so close quarter combat will be the rule of law for the day. I feel like Skelly's striking in close should be the difference, but these aren't the kind of strikes that catch the judge's attention, so a bad decision (after the last UFC, we're all but desensitized at this point) could be in order.

Lightweight Diego Sanchez vs. Jim Miller

Sanchez is functionally done. His bizarre, ff kilter demeanor used to be kind of charming. But he's in an admittedly scary phase of his career, where all of the stories of indiscretions and personal mistakes seem fueled by more than just personal judgment, and stupidity. I'm kind of done watching him fight ironically.

Apologies if I'm being the party pooper, and I say this as someone fully acquainted* with brain trauma yet still accepts the inherent yet specific hazards that grown men must be made aware of. But Diego is just done. The hallmark of any shot fighter is the inability to accrue offense while shell defending. And this is basically what Diego does these days; intervals of offense and then nothing else. Jim Miller, who has had a much tougher strength of schedule, at least remains competitive in moments. This would have been a great fight four years ago. Today it's just Jim Miller's to lose.

Lightweight Justin Salas vs. Jason Saggo

Saggo is the guy who made me acutely aware of just how limited Paul Felder was before he ever started riding the coattails of Irishdom. Saggo made a real game of it, dragging Felder down with persistence, and minimizing the damage Felder could inflict. Still, Felder's a good fighter obviously and certainly better than Justin Salas, who got knocked out by Joe Proctor recently. It will be competitive in spots, but expect Saggo to drag Salas down as much as possible, utilizing confident, but slick movement to top control his way to victory.

Featherweight Julian Erosa vs. Teruto Ishihara

With Erosa's height, I have a hard time seeing anything other than Erosa winning this one fairly comfortably. Teruto has the hands to punish Erosa in close, but with coaching the way it is in Japan, Teruto ends up like a lot of Japanese fighters; as fluid, organic, and violent in a vacuum as they come, but without the minds for how to transition from one violence scene to the next. This could be a solid action fight of Erosa gets caught playing with his food, but I doubt it. Teruto's hands will command his respect, and with that respect, victory will follow.

Predictions

Thatch by TKO

Silva by TKO,

Miranda by KO

Elkins by Split Decision

Miller by TKO

Saggo by Decision

Erosa by Decision

*This is basically how I ended up here, because it sure as hell isn't for these previews. Thanks science!