The UFC and Fox are slowly starting to make changes, as the first full year of their partnership winds to a close. One of the first adjustments they’ve made has been moving the UFC on Fox preliminary card to FX.
While the prelims for Fox events were doing fine on Fuel TV, the cards always felt a little less important than their PPV counterparts that had a lead-in from FX, a problem the UFC will try to solve starting this weekend.
With a three-hour, six-fight lead-in to the stacked main card on Fox, the prelims on FX should set up an epic night of fights, and feature a few awesome matchups of their own.
Impressive performances in his first two fights have Tim Means slowly moving up the UFC lightweight ladder, but “Dirty Bird” is going to have to keep the momentum going if he wants to get noticed in the UFC’s most competitive division.
Means will make his third trip inside the Octagon this year when he fights promotional newcomer Abel Trujillo.
One of these two will suffer their first UFC loss this weekend.
Trujillo fights out of the quickly growing Blackzilians camp with UFC veterans like Rashad Evans and Melvin Guillard among his teammates. He’s riding a four-fight win streak heading into his Octagon debut.
Means has brought some excitement to the cage in his first two UFC fights, and he’ll need to put on another fun performance to move up in the division.
After a huge knee from James Vick ended his chances at becoming an Ultimate Fighter, Daron Cruickshank needed a big win over Chris Tickle in order to earn his spot on the UFC roster.
Fortunately for Cruickshank, he got the job done in his UFC debut. His return to the cage will come against a tough fighter in Henry Martinez.
Martinez has gone 1-1 in his UFC career thus far, rebounding from a debut loss at welterweight to Matt Riddle by dropping to 155 pounds and earning a close decision at UFC on FX 3.
With both fighters coming into this bout with a bit of momentum, this should be a close matchup.
If Martinez comes to brawl, it could even become a fight-of-the-night candidate.
For the 14 people that have watched every season of The Ultimate Fighter, it’s always kind of cool when two random alumni end up fighting in the prelims.
Both Ramsey Nijem and Joe Proctor had a fair amount of success on their respective seasons of TUF. But after coming up short, they’ll have to earn big fights the hard way and win a few prelim bouts.
Since getting knocked out by Tony Ferguson in the finals of TUF 13, Nijem has easily handled both Danny Downes and C.J. Keith in his two Octagon wins. A third straight win, over Proctor, would likely push Ramsey into a fight with a slightly bigger name.
It won’t come easy, however, as Proctor has shown he’s no slouch when it comes to the ground game, which is Nijem’s specialty as well.
Proctor, a teammate of fellow lightweight Joe Lauzon, was impressive in his two wins on TUF Live this summer. His knockout win in the finale over Jeremy Larsen gave him a chance to show off his improved striking, something he may need against Nijem.
Mike Easton has had to train for three separate opponents heading into his bout with Raphael Assuncao this weekend. The bantamweight contender will need to be in top form against the BJJ expert this weekend.
Easton’s big win over Ivan Menjivar earlier this year solidified his spot as a top contender. But if “The Hulk” wants to get anywhere near a bantamweight title shot, he’ll need to keep earning wins while he works his way up to a match against a top-five fighter.
That win will be tough to come by here, against a tough veteran in Assuncao. The Brazilian looked dominant in his two fights since dropping to bantamweight.
Easton will need to use his effective striking and takedown defense to pick apart his opponent and keep this fight on the feet. If the fight hits the floor, Assuncao will have a great chance at pulling off the upset.
This fight may be a bit further down the card than most of the bouts on this list, but I have no doubt that Scott Jorgensen and John Albert will put on a show this Saturday.
Jorgensen has been one of the most entertaining fighters in the bantamweight division for a while now, with fight-of-the-night battles with Brad Pickett, Takeya Mizugaki and Eddie Wineland already on his resume. But his recent two-fight losing streak has pushed him to the back of the line of title contenders.
“Young Guns” has a chance to get back to fighting well-known opponents if he can get past the relatively unknown Albert, but the TUF 14 veteran has proven to be a tough fight for anyone at 135.
Albert’s back-and-forth battle with Ivan Menjivar earlier this year was one of the most fun one-round battles the UFC has had in 2012. Despite the loss, Albert came out looking like a fighter to watch in the bantamweight division.
With all three of his Octagon appearances ending inside the first round, Albert’s go-for-broke style has made him incredibly fun to watch. When thrown into the cage with another fun fighter like Jorgensen, fireworks are likely.
After Eddie Yagin was forced out of his scheduled bout due to a scary brain injury, fan favorite Nam Phan agreed to step in on short notice and take a tough matchup against Dennis Siver.
Siver made a successful featherweight debut by defeating Diego Nunes in a close bout back in April, but the German-based fighter’s chance to build on that momentum was taken away when UFC 151 was cancelled earlier this year.
With the bout rescheduled and a new opponent in place, Siver finally gets his chance to make another statement, this time against Phan, who will be looking to play spoiler in this matchup.
Phan is a seriously talented fighter, as his UFC wins over tough guys Leonard Garcia and Cole Miller have proven. But he has struggled against top competition his entire career, a hurdle he’ll have to overcome against Siver.
Both of these fighters consistently find themselves in entertaining fights. There’s little doubt that they’ll deliver once again this weekend.
I’ve got to admit, it was a brilliant play by the UFC to move this fight into the main event of the FX card once they had to reshuffle due to injuries.
There’s no other fight on the card with as much potential to be a straight slugfest as this lightweight tilt between Yves Edwards and Jeremy Stephens. If the UFC wants to draw casual viewers from FX to Fox, this fight should leave a good final impression.
After John Cholish was forced out of his fight against Edwards, Stephens agreed to step in on short notice, setting up a bout that was originally supposed to take place back at UFC on FX 5 in October.
Unfortunately, Stephens’ legal troubles forced both fighters to be pulled from the card that night, but the matchup was so good on paper that it was going to pop back up eventually.
Edwards and Stephens are both sitting near the middle of the pack at lightweight and need an exciting win to move them back into fringe contendership.
I expect both of them to come out looking to make a statement in this fight.