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Diggin’ Deep on UFC Sydney: Werdum vs. Tybura - FS1 prelims preview

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Get the inside scoop on UFC Sydney’s televised prelims on FS1, featuring a contest of former teammates between ex-Bellator lightweight champion Will Brooks and UFC mainstay Nik Lentz.

MMA: TUF Finale-Team Brooks vs Team Person Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports

There isn’t much narrative in the televised prelims from UFC Sydney. Three of the four contests feature fighters hovering near the bottom of their respective divisions. Not too much to look into their, unless you deem Adam Wieczorek to be a prospect worth looking into. Otherwise, the only intriguing contest is the lightweight contest between Nik Lentz and Will Brooks. Brooks was a high priced free agent acquisition from Bellator who has struggled since crossing over to the UFC, owning an unimpressive 1-2 record. If he can’t get past an aging Lentz, it’ll be interesting to see what the UFC does with him next.

The FS1 prelims begin at 8:00 PM ET/5:00 PM PT on Saturday.

Ryan Benoit (9-5) vs. Ashkan Mokhtarian (13-2), Flyweight

Benoit is one of the hardest hitters in the flyweight division. However, he’s never been able to climb the ranks due to his one-dimensional nature. Granted, Benoit has shown the ability to adapt over the course of a fight to his opponent’s tendencies and land a power punch or two that either swings the contest in his favor or ends it. However, there isn’t a lot of variety to his striking besides his boxing and he doesn’t offer much of a ground game. He’s also shown a questionable gas tank at times, a potential death knell in the flyweight division.

Mokhtarian appears to have the physical skills to take advantage of Benoit’s weaknesses. However, he’s also fought a much lower level of competition on the Australian scene and was embarrassed by John Moraga upon his UFC debut. Despite wrestling being Mokhtarian’s base, Moraga controlled him on the ground from bell to bell, indicating Mokhtarian may not have the skills and/or experience to compete in the UFC. Despite owning a stiff striking game, there is potential there as he possesses a lot of raw power in his sturdy frame.

Neither Benoit or Mokhtarian have proven themselves to be anything more than a member of the roster. Benoit’s extensive experience against a higher level of competition has revealed his talent while it’s a bit unfair to judge Mokhtarian only off his contest with Moraga. Benoit is the pick as I like his ability to adapt on the feet, but I’m doing so with much trepidation. Benoit via decision

Nik Lentz (29-8-2) vs. Will Brooks (18-3), Lightweight

Perhaps these former teammates will finally do the damn thing. Originally scheduled for UFC 216, Lentz was forced to pull out after Brooks already weighed in due to a medical issue.

As partially explained in the introduction, Brooks’ UFC career has been disappointing to say the least after a dominant reign as the Bellator lightweight champion. Part of the problem has been that his style is tailor-made for five round fights, figuring out his opponent’s strategy and grinding them out over the long haul. As you can guess, Brooks has struggled to come out of the gate strong. A very technical wrestler with underrated boxing, Brooks has been struggling in the clinch of late, though Lentz – a former featherweight -- doesn’t have the size or length of either Alex Oliveira or Charles Oliveira, Brooks’ last two opponents.

Lentz has long been one of the top grinders in the UFC, not just the division. Even when the cut to 145 cut into his gas tank, Lentz always found a way to dig deep and keep the pressure on his opponents, either dragging them to the mat with his wrestling or pressing them against the cage. However, he’s been fighting for over a decade now and the former collegiate wrestler was beat at his own game by Islam Makhachev. Is he at his rope’s end? Lentz’s striking is largely dependent upon him closing the distance with his short punching combinations to get to the clinch, though he could struggle to find success given Brooks’ massive edge in athleticism.

Brooks is on the verge of being a major free agent bust. Neither Oliveira represents a bad loss, but the expectations for Brooks were high and rightfully so. If this fight were taking place three years ago, I’d consider this to be a close contest. However, Lentz has struggled when his opponent has a clear cut athletic advantage… just like the one Brooks has. That Lentz appears to be slowing down too doesn’t help. Brooks via decision

Anthony Hamilton (15-8) vs. Adam Wieczorek (8-1), Heavyweight

Wieczorek received threats from a group of fans who cheered for a rival team to the football – or soccer for the American folk – team Wieczorek supports. Thus, this fight was removed from the Gdansk card and subsequently ended up on this card.

Hamilton has become a bit of a punch-line as of late, losing three straight with all three losses coming in the first round. It’s clear his chin isn’t strong enough for him to hang with the best of the big boys, but the rest of his physical attributes are solid. Hamilton can do a little bit of everything and is a better athlete than you’d expect upon first glance at his doughy frame. Hamilton has found his best success being the aggressor, blitzing his opponent with a flurry of strikes before they know what hits them. Though he tends to get tired quickly, Hamilton maintains a steady pace despite his fatigue.

At 6'5", the debuting Wieczorek owns a long and lanky frame that he’s still figuring out how to best use to his advantage. He’s does know how to leverage his height in the clinch, wracking his opponent with knees or snake a leg behind them to trip them to the ground. Though he can be reckless at times, Wieczorek has an aggressive ground game featuring a submission game that’s already above average for UFC heavyweight standards. Then again, it isn’t like the bar is very high in that field.

I originally picked Hamilton when they were first supposed to square off, but I’ve been having doubts. Sure, Wieczorek keeps his chin high, meaning Hamilton should be able to touch him up quite a bit. But I thought the same thing with Daniel Spitz and Spitz took Hamilton out in 24 seconds. When the chin is gone, it isn’t coming back. Hamilton’s chin appears to be gone. Wieczorek scores a successful UFC debut. Wieczorek via TKO of RD1

Damien Brown (17-10) vs. Frank Camacho (20-5), Lightweight

Most expected Brown to wash out of the UFC in quick fashion when he filled in for a rescheduled Chad Laprise against Alan Patrick two years ago. Instead, Brown showed more than just the grit and toughness that everyone knew he possessed. His Muay Thai striking has been more functional than originally anticipated, largely due to the unexpected pop he has shown in his fists. However, he has shown very little attention to defense, nor has he shown much in terms of his wrestling, being taken down at will by his opponents.

Fortunately for Brown, it’s unlikely Camacho will look to take the fight to the ground. A brawler with a stout chin, Camacho wants nothing more than to engage in a firefight that excites the crowd and bears a high likelihood of providing him with a monetary bonus. With 75% of his victories coming by way of KO/TKO stoppage, Camacho has an inordinate amount of power in his fists for the lightweight division. However, he also dies by the sword with three of his five losses coming by way of KO.

Though most aren’t familiar with either Brown or Camacho, this contest is not one fans will want to miss. Brown is willing to let his opponent dictate where the fight takes place and Camacho has complete trust in his abilities to win a slobberknocker. Expect these two to swing until one of them goes down. Camacho via TKO of RD1