UFC 161 will get off to an exciting start. The two Facebook preliminary bouts feature entertaining fighters and a nice matchup of styles. They also feature desperate competitors.
There is a good chance that the loser of these matches will see his time in the UFC come to an end.
This June 15 event will be held at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. It will hit a crescendo when headliners Dan Henderson and Rashad Evans take to the octagon, but it is the preliminary bouts that have a chance to steal the headlines.
I see both the Facebook prelims going the distance. Read on to see what else these opening matches will have in store for us.
Mitch Clarke vs. John Maguire
Featuring two desperate fighters, this should be an intense and entertaining fight.
Both fighters have lost two bouts in a row heading into this matchup, and a third would almost certainly mean they were bounced from the UFC.
Maguire dropped down to lightweight for this fight, and it should be a nice move for him. His consecutive losses have both come against strong wrestlers Matt Riddle and John Hathaway. Maguire looked overwhelmed in both.
It's not that the Brit was beat up in those matchups—he just couldn't make up the size difference. That won't be a problem this time.
After entering the UFC with an undefeated record, Mitch Clarke has lost his first two fights. Clarke knows how to grapple, and he has a similar skill set to Maguire. The Canadian will also have the backing of the crowd.
Clarke knows how to earn submissions, but he is going to have a tough time getting in position in this fight. Fighting at the right weight, Maguire will be able to let his natural strength shine, and he will control this match from the get-go.
Clarke is going to try and maul his way to a victory, but Maguire's power advantage will not allow that to happen.
Maguire via decision
Yves Jabouin vs. Dustin Pague
The relentless Yves Jabouin will be attempting to quickly get his career back on track. The 34-year-old was on a three-match win streak before falling to Brad Pickett this past September.
It had to be a heartbreaking loss in what was the biggest fight of his career. It wasn't much of a contest either. Jabouin was hit with some big shots early and was eventually knocked out.
That kind of outcome is always a concern for Jabouin when he gets rocked early. He is not the most overpowering fighter, but he is tenacious. He needs the upper hand early to set the tone for his fight.
He will undoubtedly attempt to do that against Dustin Pague and will go for volume attack. He will try to wear his opponent out.
This could be a risky strategy against Pague, who is nine years younger. Pague is going to be desperate for this fight. He has lost two matches in a row, and he is just 1-3 in the UFC. There won't be any quit in Pague.
Pague is a limited fighter who would benefit from an enhanced diversity of attacks. This could be a severe problem against the more experienced Jabouin.
I'm not convinced Jabouin will ever get his career back to the point it was just before he was knocked out by Pickett, but I am convinced he will be sound and smart enough to win this one.
Jabouin via decision