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Diggin’ Deep on UFC Liverpool: Thompson vs. Till - Fight Pass prelims preview

Get the inside scoops on the contests in the early morning hours of UFC Liverpool, featuring fan favorite Elias Theodorou looking to dispose of gritty vet Trevor Smith.

If you’re wondering whether you should wake up early on Sunday morning to partake in the Fight Pass portion of UFC Liverpool, I’d ask how much you cherish your sleep. Elias Theodorou is the biggest name and though he has developed a nice fan base, it hasn’t been on the basis of his fighting abilities. If you feel I’m being harsh, name one fight of his that sticks out in your mind. Can’t do it, right? The other contest is a woman’s bantamweight bout, which about all you need to know as that division has been devolving more than evolving and the contestants are closer to the bottom of the division than the top.

The Fight Pass prelims begin at 10:00 AM ET/7:00 AM PT on Sunday.

Elias Theodorou (14-2) vs. Trevor Smith (15-7), Middleweight

One of the more entertaining personalities in the sport of MMA, Theodorou’s talent has yet to catch up to his wit. That doesn’t mean Theodorou is a poor fighter. He’s actually very good. It’s that he sets such a high bar with his Twitter account and forages into being a ring boy that anything short of being a contender falls short.

Theodorou has proven to be a very intelligent fighter, switching up his approach fight to fight in order to attack his opponent’s weakness. He’s found varying degrees of success with it as he has yet to develop an effective striking game outside of pot-shotting opponents from the outside with his jab and kicking arsenal. When it comes to biting down on his mouthpiece in the pocket and throwing fisticuffs, Theodorou isn’t winning any firefights. Fortunately, he does have an aggressive game centered on grinding out his opponent against the cage and on the ground, but he also has gassed himself out in the process when an opponent doesn’t want to be controlled.

Smith, a former light heavyweight, is more of a traditional grinder in the sense that he’ll lean against his opponent, using his big frame to wear them down with a lot less activity than what Theodorou produces. Smith is also a more accomplished grappler, owning nine submission victories to his name. However, he hasn’t secured one since his days on the regional scene in 2012 as he has struggled to finish his takedowns since arriving in big leagues.

Smith does have some advantages in this contest. He has displayed enough power in his fists that Theodorou has to respect Smith’s striking. Plus, he’s the bigger and stronger fighter without a history of gassing. However, he’s also proven to be inconsistent in a brawling environment, exceling at times while going down in less than a minute on two other occasions. Regardless, his lack of speed will be painfully obvious against Theodorou and his takedown defense has been questionable. It probably won’t be very pretty – which completely belies Theodorou’s looks – but it will be a clear win for the Canadian. Theodorou via decision

Lina Lansberg (7-3) vs. Gina Mazany (5-1), Women’s Bantamweight

Nobody is mistaking either of these two for potential contenders, but the flood of fighters into the newly created flyweight division opened up opportunity for anyone remaining at 135… including Mazany and Lansberg.

After a complete shellacking by Sara McMann in her UFC debut, Mazany rebounded with a solid effort against Yanan Wu, taking down the newcomer from China at will to put her wrestling chops on display. Fortunately for Mazany, Wu didn’t have much of a wrestling game herself as Mazany doesn’t have much beyond that.

Where Mazany is fortunate is Lansberg is one-dimensional too. What’s unfortunate for her is Lansberg’s one dimension is in the clinch… where Mazany needs to operate to secure her takedowns. Lansberg is known as the Elbow Princess thanks to her work in close quarters. Given space, she can put together rudimentary punching combinations, but not without getting pieced up in return as she may have the worst striking defense in the division.

Neither Mazany nor Lansberg is very athletic, but I’d give Mazany a slight edge in that department. Despite that, Mazany isn’t going to be able to outmuscle Lansberg, nor will she be able to make Lansberg pay from the outside consistently enough to make me believe she’s the favorite. Regardless of who wins, expect this contest to take place in close quarters and to be sloppy. Lansberg via decision