UFC 162 is possibly the biggest event of the year for the UFC. Not only is its best fighter in Anderson Silva competing on the card, but it is the Fourth of July card it puts on every year, which is among its most successful.
Further than a stacked main card and main event, the event has a solid preliminary show with lots of up-and-coming talent. These men are future main carders that are looking to establish themselves and give their career a boost.
Here are those preliminary card predictions.
Rodney Dangerfield must love Mike Pierce. No matter what he accomplishes, he still finds himself low on UFC cards and seemingly gets no respect.
Seriously, how is this guy leading off the entire card? He is 8-3 in the UFC, on a three-fight win streak and has only lost to the following (former) contenders: Jon Fitch, Josh Koscheck (arguably won) and Johny Hendricks.
Pierce is a dynamite wrestler who has developed his hands. Not only is he a wrestler, but he has some submission ability, as seen with his straight armbar of Amilcar Alves.
David Mitchell is a great submission fighter in his own right but is 1-2 in the Octagon. He has not faced anyone near the talent level that Pierce is, which means this step up could be troublesome for the California native.
Prediction: Pierce def. Mitchell via decision.
Staying in the welterweight division, former The Ultimate Fighter competitor and UFC veteran Seth Baczynski welcomes Strikeforce import Brian Melancon to the Octagon.
Baczynski revitalized his UFC career after returning from two fights outside the organization, which included winning the interim Ringside MMA welterweight title. The Polish Pistola rattled off four straight wins, including submissions of Matt Brown and Clay Harvison, as well as a knockout of Simeon Thoresen. He lost to Mike Pierce by unanimous decision in December.
Melancon went 1-1 with Strikeforce before moving to the UFC, losing to Isaac Vallie-Flagg while defeating Felipe Portela. He has never been finished and will be looking to impress UFC officials with an impressive performance.
Unfortunately, Baczynski is more well rounded and experienced, which will lead to a submission win for the veteran.
Prediction: Baczynski def. Melancon via submission.
Kicking off the FX prelims will be a lightweight confrontation, as Edson Barboza meets countryman Rafaello Oliveira, who stepped up on late notice for John Makdessi.
Barboza is a muay thai assassin and is one of the best prospects in the division. He is 5-1 in the UFC with his only blemish being an upset knockout at the hands of Jamie Varner.
He possesses incredible kicks with good movement and combinations. He will be headhunting on Oliveira, an inferior striker.
Oliveira is a jiu-jitsu practitioner that will need to get this fight to the ground. He is in his second tour of duty with the UFC and finds himself with a 1-2 record. A loss could send him packing, so he needs to put Barboza on his back and work his submission game.
Barboza will stay upright and fish for a bonus check.
Prediction: Barboza def. Oliveira via knockout.
The big boys are set to compete next, as American goofball Dave Herman looks to preserve his employment against former Brazilian contender Gabriel Gonzaga.
Herman opened his UFC career with a bang, knocking out John-Olav Einemo in a Fight of the Night performance before going 0-3. In addition to that, he has failed a pre- and post-fight drug test, which really has his head under the guillotine blade.
Gonzaga is a high-level jiu-jitsu fighter looking to right the ship. After being expelled by the UFC, he was brought back on late notice and has gone 2-1 in his current term.
Herman has been finished in all three of his UFC losses to Roy Nelson, Stefan Struve and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. He doesn't believe in jiu-jitsu, which will be bad since he is facing a high-level guy like Gonzaga.
Prediction: Gonzaga def. Herman via submission.
Moving back to the lightweight division, we see international stars collide as British TUF winner Norman Parke takes on Japanese fighter Kazuki Tokudome.
Parke dominated his season of the long-running reality show with his ground game. In his UFC debut, he won the TUF title with a workmanlike performance over Colin Fletcher. This is his return fight, and he will need to use his strong ground game to control a good boxer like Tokudome.
Tokudome made his UFC debut in Japan with an impressive win over Cristiano Marcello. The Japanese fighter has experience in the big show, as he has also fought for Sengoku and Pancrase in the Land of the Rising Sun.
As impressive as Tokudome was in his debut, Parke is a more effective takedown artist than Marcello. He will grind away a win in a forgettable bout.
Prediction: Parke def. Tokudome via decision.
In the main attraction of the undercard, middleweight fan favorite Chris Leben will meet Andrew Craig in an attempt to stay relevant.
Leben has not looked the same in his last two bouts, a dominating loss to Mark Munoz and an embarrassing wind-fest to Derek Brunson. Leben is known for his legendary jaw, dynamite power and ability to put on a great fight with whomever stands opposite of him.
There is nothing flashy about Craig. He is a tough kid that never quits and is dangerous at any point in a fight. However, making this a cardio fight is a must, as Leben showed he may not be in the best shape at this point in his career.
Based on respect and power, I will say Leben will get a win here. Don't be surprised if Craig steals this one though.
Prediction: Leben def. Craig via TKO.