B/R MMA Staff Predictions for UFC 156 Preliminary Card

Andrew Saunders@SaundersMMACorrespondent IIJanuary 31, 2013

B/R MMA Staff Predictions for UFC 156 Preliminary Card

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    On Saturday night, the UFC returns to Las Vegas for a supercard headlined by Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar battling over the UFC featherweight championship. 

    Also fighting that night are former world champions Rashad Evans and Alistair Overeem, as well as notables like Lil Nog, Jon Fitch, Demian Maia and Joseph Benavidez.

    However, the night kicks off with a preliminary card full of outstanding fights, including a lightweight war between three-time Fight of the Night winner Evan Dunham and wrestling machine Gleison Tibau that promises to thrill. 

    For every event, B/R MMA offers our predictions on every fight that goes down before the main card kicks off. Staff writers Scott Harris, Riley Kontek, James MacDonald, Dwight Wakabayashi and myself, Andrew Saunders, offer our picks on the upcoming preliminary bouts at UFC 156.

    Feel free to give us your predictions in the comments below.

Edwin Figueroa vs. Francisco Rivera

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    Andrew Saunders: If this fight stays on the feet, and there is little indication that it won't, Rivera has a lot of power and can use it to put Figueroa to sleep. However, Figueroa was able to go the distance with Michael McDonald, so I'm not positive that he will find himself napping at the end of this contest.

    Rivera, KO, Rd. 3

    Riley Kontek: Since his cut from the UFC in his first run, Francisco Rivera has looked extremely dangerous with his striking (despite failing a drug test at UFC 149). Edwin Figueroa would have lost to Alex Caceres in his last outing, had Caceres not lost two points for groin strikes. Rivera batters Figueroa en route to a clear-cut decision.

    Rivera, Unanimous Decision

    James MacDonald: Although Figueroa is currently on a two-fight win streak, that can partially be attributed to the fact that Alex Caceres was penalized two points for assaulting his testicles with the kind of ferocity that makes one wonder whether he is opposed to the idea of Figueroa ever reproducing. Still, I feel that the Texas native will have too much for the returning Francisco Rivera.

    Figueroa, Unanimous Decision

    Scott Harris: These guys are both tough, but Rivera could be the hardest hitter in the bantamweight division.

    Rivera, TKO, Rd. 2

    Dwight Wakabayashi: Figueroa is on a two-fight streak although his last win over Alex Caceres was helped by Caceras' inability to avoid attacking his package. Rivera is on a nice streak as well, but he got busted for a banned substance after his UFC 149 win and it got overturned to an NC. I think Rivera has better hands and should get the win.

    Rivera, Unanimous Decision 


    Staff Picking Rivera: Saunders, Kontek, Harris, Wakabayashi

    Staff Picking Figueroa: MacDonald

Chico Camus vs. Dustin Kimura

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    Andrew Saunders: This is a battle of styles that will ultimately be dictated by whoever can control the fight's location. Considering that the undefeated Kimura has a connection to the Gracie family, I'm leaning slightly in his direction.

    Kimura, Unanimous Decision

    Riley Kontek: I am very high on newcomer Dustin Kimura, who has dominated the Pacific regional scene. That being said, I think Chico Camus is an excellent prospect with more well-rounded skills and more meaningful experience. He will edge Kimura in a fun fight.

    Camus, Unanimous Decision

    James MacDonald: This is an intriguing bout between two decent prospects. Kimura has looked good against sub-UFC competition, but there's no guarantee that he will continue his run of success against stiffer opposition. Still, I'm going to side with the UFC newcomer and predict that Kimura upsets Chico Camus.

    Kimura, Unanimous Decision 

    Scott Harris: Dustin Kimura's last name is "Kimura." How can you pick against that? Especially when he's up against an absurdist philosopher. Sound the upset alarms.

    Kimura, Split decision

    Dwight Wakabayashi: These two men are very evenly matched, but Camus has the advantage of having one UFC win under his belt, and that may be the difference in this one. Tough to go against a guy with a name like Kimura, but I'm taking Camus to win.

    Camus, Unanimous Decision


    Staff Picking Camus:  Kontek, Wakabayashi

    Staff Picking Kimura: Saunders, MacDonald, Harris

Yves Edwards vs. Issac Vallie-Flagg

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    Andrew Saunders: Edwards has a considerable experience advantage in this fight, although Vallie-Flagg has the always-brilliant Greg Jackson in his corner. I feel that there is so much tape on Edwards that Vallie-Flagg enters this contest with an excellent game plan and scores the upset.

    Vallie-Flagg, TKO, Rd. 3 

    Riley Kontek: Isaac Vallie-Flagg is a good-looking prospect making the move over from Strikeforce, but he is meeting a longtime veteran who is on the rise again in Yves Edwards. Being a Greg Jackson guy, Vallie-Flagg may bring a "safe" approach to this fight, but Edwards will tap the less-experienced prospect midway through the fight.

    Edwards, Submission, Rd. 2

    James MacDonald: Isaac Vallie-Flagg has been around for quite a while, but in Yves Edwards he is coming up against an extremely skilled 16-year veteran of the sport. I expect the "Thugjitsu Master" to have too many tools for the Strikeforce import.

    Edwards, TKO, Rd. 3

    Scott Harris: Vallie-Flagg might have his day. It's just not going to be Saturday. Yves Edwards doesn't lose to guys like him.

    Edwards, TKO, Rd. 1

    Dwight Wakabayashi: Vallie-Flagg moves over from Strikeforce for his debut and gets thrown a huge test in resurging veteran Yves Edwards. Edwards is coming off a sweet knockout of Jeremy Stephens in December. The biggest risk for Edwards here is in taking the newcomer lightly.

    Edwards, TKO, Rd. 2

    Staff Picking Edwards: Kontek, MacDonald, Harris, Wakabayashi

    Staff Picking Vallie-Flagg: Saunders

Jacob Volkmann vs. Bobby Green

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    Andrew Saunders: There is no scenario where I see a blue-belt like Green getting his way out of the tough positions that Volkmann will put him in. This fight will not be pretty, but it will certainly be decisive.

    Volkman, Unanimous Decision 

    Riley Kontek: Bobby Green is another example of a great prospect coming over from Strikeforce getting thrown to the wolves early. He has the potential to grow with each fight, but Jacob Volkmann is not the guy you want to measure yourself against, especially early in your career. Expect a win and potential Obama rant for the chiropractor.          

    Volkmann, Submission, Rd. 2

    James MacDonald: I'm not a huge fan of Volkmann's contrived anti-government persona, nor do I think his fighting style is particularly compelling. That said, the dude can seriously grapple. I expect Volkmann to take Green down and eventually catch him in a submission.

    Volkmann, Submission, Rd. 3

    Scott Harris: Jacob Volkmann said in an interview Monday he was looking forward to uncorking another one of his patented post-victory screeds. Apparently he's got it all planned out and everything. Tough to go against that kind of confidence, especially when the opponent hasn't faced a wrestler of Volkmann's caliber.

    Volkmann, unanimous decision

    Dwight Wakabayashi: This fight is much like the last one, in that Green comes over from Strikeforce and gets an established veteran right away. There may be a surprising outcome in this one, as Green is streaking, confident and well-rounded. Volkmann could be in for a surprise.

    Green, Unanimous decision


    Staff Picking Volkmann: Saunders, Kontek, MacDonald, Harris

    Staff Picking Green: Wakabayashi

Tyron Woodley vs. Jay Hieron

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    Andrew Saunders: Tyron Woodley is a less-skilled version of Ben Askren. He wants to utilize a top-heavy wrestling game in order to grind his way to victory. Jay Hieron did a great job of handling Askren's attacks and beat him, despite the scores rendered by judges. This time, the scorecards will be reflective of the action inside the cage.

    Hieron, Unanimous Decision 

    Riley Kontek: I have this distinct feeling that many are already giving Tyron Woodley this fight blindly, but upon examination, this is a very though matchup for him. Hieron is extremely well-rounded and experienced, and arguably beat Ben Askren, a better version of Woodley, in Bellator not long ago.

    Hieron, Unanimous Decision

    James MacDonald: I'm very much looking forward to this fight. Despite losing to Nate Marquardt last time out, Tyron Woodley showed more promise in that fight than in any of his wins. It won't be easy for "T-Wood" to impose his will on the experienced and well-rounded Jay Hieron. However, I think he will do enough to scrape a decision.

    Woodley, Split Decision

    Scott Harris: I'm still a bit bummed about Erick Silva's withdraw, but Woodley is clearly a capable welterweight in his own right. Still, Woodley will be at a disadvantage on the feet. Taking a fight with a veteran as wily as Hieron on short notice won't help him either. Hieron gets his first win in the UFC.

    Hieron, unanimous decision

    Dwight Wakabayashi: This is a very intriguing fight between two men looking to establish themselves among the stars of the division and promotion. Hieron has been close before, and Woodley is one of the best fighters transferred over from Strikeforce. I think Woodley freezes a bit in his debut but still has enough game to edge out Hieron.

    Woodley, Unanimous Decision

    Staff Picking Woodley: MacDonald, Wakabayashi

    Staff Picking Hieron: Saunders, Kontek, Harris

Gleison Tibau vs. Evan Dunham

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    Andrew Saunders: Dunham has better striking in this fight and likes to threaten with submissions against those who look to take him down. This is his fight to lose. Feel free to check out the Head-to-Toe Breakdown of this fight.

    Dunham, Unanimous Decision

    Riley Kontek: Evan Dunham is an enigma; he is winning fights we don't expect him to and then losing fights we expect him to win. Gleison Tibau is a huge lightweight and very consistent. Expect a grinding decision from the Brazilian that sends Dunham back to the bottom of the ladder.

    Tibau, Unanimous Decision

    James MacDonald: Evan Dunham is a hugely talented fighter. He looked to be on his way to the top of lightweight division until he unexpectedly had his momentum halted by Sean Sherk Isaac, a fight that most think he won. He hasn't really looked the same fighter since. However, I do expect Dunham to show some of his old promise against the cartoonishly muscular Gleison Tibau. The Brazillian looks like a 155-pound version of Rousimar Palhares. But despite having the strength advantage, Tibau won't have enough tools to overcome Dunham's well-rounded skill set.

    Dunham, TKO, Rd. 2

    Scott Harris: My knee-jerk reaction was to give the nod to a bigger, stronger fighter in Tibau. But Dunham has very good grappling and better striking than Tibau. The big Brazilian won't be able to bully him.

    Dunham, unanimous decision

    Dwight Wakabayashi: Tibau is a handful for anyone at 155 right now, and it's pretty straightforward what you are going to see from him every time he steps in the cage. He's a monster who can smother and bully with the best of them, and I just don't see the sliding Dunham stopping him.

    Tibau, Unanimous Decision


    Staff Picking Tibau: Kontek, Wakabayashi

    Staff Picking Dunham: Saunders, MacDonald, Harris