The highly anticipated UFC 159 is rapidly approaching, featuring a light heavyweight championship bout between Jon Jones and challenger Chael Sonnen. The two coached opposite one another for the 17th installment of The Ultimate Fighter.
Also, two grudge matches in Alan Belcher versus Michael Bisping and Vinny Magalhaes versus Phil Davis will grace the main card, in addition to two other bouts. However, the main card, while stacked with talent, isn't the only place to catch high-level MMA.
The preliminary card will provide some fun action from veterans and up-and-comers alike. Here are the predictions for the prelims for UFC 159.
Siler struggled in his last outing.
Featherweights kick off the card on Facebook, when TUF veteran Steven Siler meets Strikeforce import Kurt Holobaugh in an intriguing affair of prospects.
Siler has been a pleasant surprise since losing in the TUF tournament. He put on an impressive three-fight surge under the UFC banner, knocking off Josh Clopton, Cole Miller and Joey Gambino before a slip-up in his last outing with Darren Elkins.
Siler is a good striker with solid takedown defense and a good chin. He would like to make this a barnburner on the feet, as it would definitely favor him against the less experienced Holobaugh.
Holobaugh is young in his career, but he gave Pat Healy fits in his last fight, which was on short notice. Previous to that respectable loss, he was undefeated with six submission victories.
Siler is vastly experienced and will have the privilege of having fought in the Octagon multiple times now. He will batter Holobaugh on the feet in an exciting bout, pulling out a decision against the scrappy newcomer.
Prediction: Siler def. Holobaugh via decision
In what looks like a "loser leaves town match," New Jersey's own Nick Catone will meet James Head in a crucial welterweight bout.
Catone recently made the drop to 170 pounds, looking to maximize his performances in the Octagon. Since that drop, he was submitted by TJ Waldburger to lose his second straight UFC bout.
Catone is highly reliant on his wrestling, which is why he has seen mixed results in the UFC. Anybody with good takedown defense and a scouting report can hold him off from achieving top position.
Head has seen mixed results himself in the Octagon. He has defeated Papy Abedi and Brian Ebersole but faltered in matches against Nick Ring and Mike Pyle.
Head has good takedown defense and superior striking to Catone. He should use that defense and superior striking to outpoint Catone, possibly hurt him and maybe even submit him in Catone's home state.
Prediction: Head def. Catone via decision or late submission
In what could be the fight of the night, featherweight brawlers Leonard Garcia and Cody McKenzie will meet to see who is more mediocre than the other.
In his five fights since returning to the UFC, Garcia has lost four, all of which are on his current losing streak. Another loss for Garcia would likely end his employment with the company.
He usually enters the cage with a game plan, but that flies out the window when he gets tagged. He has powerful striking, though there is not much technique to it.
As for McKenzie, he is 2-3 so far in his UFC career and has used his patented guillotine choke in both wins. His wins over Aaron Wilkinson and Marcus LeVesseur have been overshadowed by losses against Yves Edwards, Vagner Rocha and Chad Mendes.
This is going to be a wild brawl between to middlers in the company. Garcia is the better striker and will likely stay off his back to earn a late knockout.
Prediction: Garcia def. McKenzie via TKO
The human suplex machine Rustam Khabilov makes his anticipated return to the UFC when he takes on Strikeforce import Yancy Medeiros in the lightweight division.
Khabilov's debut in the UFC was nothing short of spectacular, as he rag-dolled Vinc Pichel all over the cage. He knocked out his opponent using multiple German suplexes and announced his arrival at 155.
He has great sambo as well as solid striking. His ground game is his prized possession and he should use that to put away Medeiros.
Medeiros makes the drop from light heavyweight to lightweight for this fight. Yes, you read that right: Medeiros is dropping from 205 to 155 for his UFC debut.
Medeiros is undefeated at 9-0, owning six of his wins by knockout. He would be best to keep Khabilov on the feet, as Yancy has the advantage striking.
Khabilov will use his takedowns to rag-doll Medeiros and put him in bad positions. He will earn a tap at some point and continue his ascent.
Prediction: Khabilov def. Medeiros via submission
The third female bout in UFC history takes place next, as former Olympic silver medalist Sara McMann takes on German import Sheila Gaff, who moves up from flyweight to get her chance in the Octagon.
McMann is undefeated thus far while beating some solid competition. Her wrestling has been elite in the cage, as showcased against Shayna Baszler, Hitomi Akano and Tonya Evinger.
As for Gaff, the former flyweight lives up to her "German Tank" nickname with her powerful striking and all-around game. Her wins over Jennifer Maia and Aisling Daly were especially devastating performances.
McMann's wrestling and top-game will be way too much for Gaff. She will smother her en route to a late submission or decision.
Prediction: McMann def. Gaff via late submission or decision
Light heavyweight Strikeforce imports and former collegiate football players collide when University of Tennessee standout Ovince St. Preux takes on Hofstra alum Gian Villante.
St. Preux is powerful and athletic as well as a solid striker. His wins in Strikeforce have come against the likes of TJ Cook, Antwain Britt and Jason Day.
His power striking is what will carry him in this fight. He must use his quickness and athleticism to stay on the feet against the potential takedowns of Villante.
As for Villante, he is also a good striker with good power. He is on a three-fight surge, beating Derrick Mehmen, Trevor Smith and Keith Berry.
This fight could be a barnburner, as both men are power strikers and athletic. St. Preux should do enough to earn a win in the judges' eyes.
Prediction: St. Preux def. Villante via decision
On very late notice, Bryan Caraway steps up to fight former TUF 14 castmate Johnny Bedford in an important bantamweight bout.
Caraway is a submission grappler who finds himself 2-1 in the UFC. After beating Dustin Neace and Mitch Gagnon, Caraway lost a close decision to Takeya Mizugaki in Japan.
Bedford's UFC career has been successful so far, going 2-0 in the organization. After rushing through Louis Gaudinot in his debut, Bedford manhandled Marcos Vinicius in his last outing.
Caraway would be wise to get Bedford down, but Bedford is tall, long and has good all-around skills. Bedford will outpoint Caraway en route to a somewhat forgettable decision.
Prediction: Bedford def. Caraway via decision