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UFC 152 Preview: A Fan's Guide to the Full Fight Card

Scott HarrisFeatured Columnist IVOctober 10, 2016

UFC 152 Preview: A Fan's Guide to the Full Fight Card

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    What we've got here is a failure to titillate.

    You can argue the merits of the main event at UFC 152 going down this Saturday in Toronto, but you can't debate its status as a foregone conclusion of a fight. There will be no intrigue. Jon Jones is going to beat Vitor Belfort. The rest of the event narrative unspools from that.

    In fact, I can't recall two consecutive UFC pay-per-views that were topped with such blatant fait accomplis. Remember that Anderson Silva and Stephan Bonnar now headline UFC 153; taken together, these two events represent a climax of anticlimax.

    So how do we get excited for UFC 152? Well, it's actually a pretty good card, if you're into that sort of thing. In fact, this is one of the densest fight cards in a while, thanks to all the refugees fleeing the rubble field of UFC 151.

    Anyway, to help you preemptively separate the wheat from the chaff, here is the entire UFC 152 fight card ranked from least exciting fight to most exciting fight. Viewing information and various predictions sprinkled liberally throughout.

12. Sean Pierson vs. Lance Benoist

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    Welterweight bout
    See it on: FX

    This isn't necessarily a dull matchup style-wise, but it's completely and utterly implicationless. That's my least favorite kind of fight.

    At 24, Lance Benoist is still a pretty young dude. He's talented, but he won't have enough to overcome Sean Pierson's caginess and hometown advantage.

    I probably just have Nick Ring on the brain, but I'm sensing a controversial outcome here. I'll be sure to return from my sandwich-making activities in time to catch the decision.

11. Kyle Noke vs. Charlie Brenneman

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    Welterweight bout
    See it on: Facebook

    Two likeable guys. One unlikeable fight.

    It's probably not quite "win or go home" yet for Charlie Brenneman, but it's getting there. Evidence? He was Mr. Main Card not long ago. At UFC 152, he's the first fight of the night. A win over Rick Story and a friendship with Snooki advances a man only so far.

    Kyle Noke has enlivened his share of undercards, but after losing two straight he found himself in dire straights. So he split his aces and played the weight card; this is his first fight at 170 pounds. 

    Both these men are ground fighters first, and The Spaniard has the chops to stifle the Aussie's submissions. Let's all bid "g'day" to Kyle Noke's UFC career.

10. Mitch Gagnon vs. Walel Watson

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    Bantamweight bout
    See it on: Facebook

    This is the part where I'm supposed to be all happy because Mitch Gagnon gave Bryan Caraway all he could handle. Is that supposed to get me pumped up? Hanging with the fighter most famous for being a girl fighter's boyfriend? Because I'm not very pumped up about that.

    In other news, the 5'11" Walel Watson is the Stefan Struve of the bantamweight division. That's just like me. I'm the Arian Foster of my flag football league. 

    So, ehh, Watson by TKO then? Works for me.

9. Matt Hamill vs. Roger Hollett

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    Light heavyweight bout
    See it on: Pay-per-view

    I know Matt Hamill's a "feel good" story and all. But feeling good ain't good enough for me. Not when I'm shelling out 50 bucks for the privilege of watching you.

    Seriously though. Do you really want to see him fight? Is that something that piques your interest? He got taken apart by a disinterested Quinton Jackson. Then he was handled by Alexander Gustafsson. Then he retired. Everyone admired his 10-4 pro record and his accomplishments on behalf of hearing-impaired people everywhere. Standing ovations and curtain calls all around.

    Now he's back. It's like the big send-off after a wedding, but 10 minutes later the groom comes back because he forgot his keys, but then he stands around waiting for everyone to fawn over him some more.

    We already fawned, bro. Go enjoy your spoils. Because, if I may ask, what's the goal here? Keeping in mind that "I missed it" is not a goal.

    And as the gravy on the cake, I don't know who Roger Hollett is. I believe, though, that he's the long, lost sixth member of The Moody Blues. You know the tambourine part on "The Story in Your Eyes?" That was Roger Hollett.

8. Seth Baczynski vs. Simeon Thoresen

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    Welterweight bout
    See it on: Facebook

    This is the main event on Facebook for a reason. They don't just hand that slot out, you know.

    I like me some Seth Bazinski (as his last name will forthwith be spelled, for SEO and laziness purposes). The dude just fights. He just goes out there and gets after it. And he's 3-0 during this, his second UFC tour of duty.

    Norway's Simeon Thoresen, though, is an up and comer. He trains with his sport's most prominent countryman—the great Joachim Hansen—though he doesn't share his mentor's nose for knockouts. He's a submissions man, with 15 already on his record. Bazinski also likes to hit the mats, but could put Thoresen's lights out if given the chance. I'd expect either a high-level chess match on the ground or a flash TKO from Bazinski, quite possibly coming on the end of a knee.

7. Cub Swanson vs. Charles Oliveira

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    Featherweight bout
    S
    ee it on: Pay-per-view

    Cub Swanson is the poor and lighter man's Chris Lytle. He comes to brawl, but never quite gets over the hump against the better guys. 

    Ergo, this match is a test of Charles Oliveira's true merits as a featherweight, where he is 2-0. He's still just 22, so it's not like this is his last chance. If he wants to take that step from prospect to bona fide good fighter, then the door, as they say, is open.  

6. T.J. Grant vs. Evan Dunham

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    Lightweight bout
    See it on: FX

    This fight will say a lot about who's for real in the middle ranks of the lightweight division.

    T.J. Grant opened my eyes with a submission win over Shane Roller in his debut at 155. Against Carlo Prater, he showed a more complete game, including much smoother striking.

    Most hardcore fans know Evan Dunham. Or did, before he fell off the face of the Earth. But he's back now, evidently.

    Both men employ a jiu-jitsu base, so in the ground phase they may cancel each other out. Under that scenario, the knee-jerk is to give Dunham a stand up edge. But I like Grant there, too. He's got a great motor and is on a roll since dropping to lightweight. Wait. Are those...are those upset alarms I hear in the distance? Indeed they are. Sound them and let them echo through the streets. T.J. Grant by TKO.  

5. Igor Pokrajac vs. Vinny Magalhães

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    Light heavyweight bout
    See it on: FX

    The main event of the FX card is a terrific lead-in for the pay-per-view. Two charismatic guys that it would be good for the MMA-watching populous to get to know. And it's a perfect submissions-versus-striking matchup.

    If Vinicius Magalhaes gets the takedown, he wins. That's it. But like many pure jiu-jitsu players, he has trouble getting guys horizontal. That only becomes harder as the fight wears on. And extra pressure comes from Pokrajac, who I hear tell will knock you out if you get in his range. He will do it, dude. He will knock you right out. 

4. Jimy Hettes vs. Marcus Brimage

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    Featherweight bout
    See it on: FX

    Jimy Hettes likes to submit people. Marcus Brimage isn't so comfy with people trying to submit him.

    Yes, it feels like a mismatch on paper. That feeling stems largely from the fact that it's a mismatch. Hettes will get those long arms around Brimage and drag him down like a giant squid on a schooner.

    Submission of the Night right here. Just mark Hettes down for the tap and then give him someone good already.

3. Jon Jones vs. Vitor Belfort

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    Light heavyweight bout (for UFC light heavyweight championship)
    See it on: Pay-per-view

    It's not a matter of if. It's a matter of how.

    Especially because Jon Jones is gonna be mad. We've been poking him with sharpened sticks for a month now. And his only means of retaliation was saying stuff about how he was Jesus and how everybody should get a life and so on.

    He'll have a new communications channel at his disposal Saturday night. I can't wait for Belfort to land one of those trademark power flurries, then look down at his hands in bewilderment when it has no effect. Then he tries again, but this time Jones blocks it and then kills him.

    I'm going with Beardy here, by way of Big Leg Drop. 

2. Michael Bisping vs. Brian Stann

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    Middleweight bout
    See it on: Pay-per-view

    Lots of sentiment lining up for Michael Bisping. He's underrated, this is his big chance, and what not. I don't disagree with any of that, but he still hasn't proven he can take a power shot. Which could be important, given that Brian Stann will be attempting to give him a power shot.

    I also have no faith that Bisping will try and take the fight to the ground, despite having a sizable edge there. Nope, he's going to kickbox with Brian Stann. And Brian Stann's gonna tag him. Knockout of the Night, right here.

1. Joseph Benavidez vs. Demetrious Johnson

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    Flyweight bout (for inaugural UFC flyweight championship)
    See it on: Pay-per-view

    After what these two have done in the Octagon lately, I have no doubt these are the best flyweights in the world. 

    Both men are very well-rounded. Joseph Benavidez is probably the strongest man in the weight class. Demetrious Johnson is probably the fastest man in the sport. Benavidez has ultra-strong wrestling; Johnson has a deep background in pankration. No matter where it goes, this is going to be frenetic, and it's going to be a war.

    May the best man win; I think the audience wins no matter the outcome.

    Follow Scott Harris on Twitter

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