UFC on Fox 8 Preliminary Card Predictions
The UFC on Fox marks the company's return to network TV, as flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson defends his title in the main event against unlikely challenger John Moraga. It will be an exciting match, despite the lack of possible "star power" it brings to the casual fan.
Further than the main card that also boasts names like Rory MacDonald, Jake Ellenberger and Robbie Lawler, there is a preliminary card that promises to bring some fun fights. You know when guys like Melvin Guillard and Yves Edwards are fighting previous to the main card, you have a great overall card.
Here are the predictions for this UFC on Fox 8 preliminary card.
John Albert vs. Yaotzin Meza
The first fight of the night takes place on Facebook when Ultimate Fighter 14 alum John Albert takes on Yaotzin Meza in the bantamweight division.
Albert has a reputation as a fun fighter, but he is in danger of being cut since he is on a three-fight skid. The knock on Albert has been his submission defense, which he has been working on noticeably since he took part in the FILA grappling tournament in Canada (took third place).
Meza is in a similarly dangerous position, as he dropped his UFC debut quickly to Chad Mendes. While he took the fight on short notice against a perennial top contender, you have to believe his job isn't safe, as are those of many who are currently in the loss column.
Meza is a ground fighter, but Albert is far more well-rounded. Albert should use a balanced attack to run a decision that saves his job.
Prediction: Albert def. Meza via decision
Justin Salas vs. Aaron Riley
The other Facebook fight takes place in the lightweight division, when long-time vet Aaron Riley makes his return against young gun Justin Salas.
Riley is a skilled veteran of the sport, but he has not fought since 2011 when he got his jaw broken by Tony Ferguson. Before that, his last fight was in 2010, so Riley has not been staying busy. This is a big concern.
Salas is a wrestling-based fighter with good top pressure and good ground-and-pound. He will want to get Riley to the ground so he doesn't have a repeat of his fight with Tim Means in his latest outing.
Riley is a good striker with solid takedown defense. However, his lack of activity concerns me, so I will take Salas via scorecards.
Prediction: Salas def. Riley via decision
Germaine De Randamie vs. Julie Kedzie
Leading off on the FX portion of the card are the females, as pioneer of the sport Julie Kedzie takes on former featherweight Germaine de Randamie at 135 pounds.
A top-notch kickboxer, de Randamie has made a solid impression on the MMA scene with her vicious striking and improving all-around game. Her work with American Kickboxing Academy is paying off, as Daniel Cormier is helping de Randamie with her wrestling and ground game to become a future contender.
Kedzie is one of the ladies who really got women's MMA early attention, so it is great she is going to get some attention from a wider audience. She is a jack of all trades that has never been knocked out and likes to strike.
Kedzie wants to get this fight down, but as seen in the Hiroko Yamanaka fight, de Randamie will not go down easily. Look for the Dutch fighter to pepper Kedzie, whose chin holds up, en route to a decision.
Prediction: de Randamie def. Kedzie via decision
Ed Herman vs. Trevor Smith
Moving on to the middleweight division, Ed Herman looks to welcome Strikeforce vet Trevor Smith to the company in an important 185-pound affair.
Herman took a late-notice bout in Strikeforce against Ronaldo Souza in his last fight—a bout that saw Herman get utterly dominated. You have to commend him, though, as the once-resurgent submission specialist took a fight nobody wanted to take.
Smith is a surprising import from Strikeforce, as he lost his last two fights with the company. He also fancies himself a submission specialist, as most of his wins have come via tapout.
While Smith is a good ground guy, Herman is the better ground guy. That said, Herman is also the better all-around guy. Look for him to earn a stoppage.
Prediction: Herman def. Smith via submission
Yves Edwards vs. Daron Cruickshank
Next up, the lightweights will battle, as late-replacement Daron Cruickshank meets long-time vet Yves Edwards in a striker-versus-striker battle.
Edwards is a really inconsistent fighter, as a different Yves can show up from night to night. The guy who handed Jeremy Stephens his first knockout loss can show up one night, or the guy who got labeled by Sam Stout can also appear.
He is a striker by trade, but he does have some ground skills. However, against Cruickshank, if they go to the ground, Edwards will only have the advantage on top.
Cruickshank has an interesting skill set that has proven a benefit and curse in his UFC tenure. He is a good wrestler with a dynamic striking background that has seen him blister Henry Martinez with a nasty head kick. Cruickshank sometimes hangs his hands, however, which saw him get caught on TUF by a knee at the hands (or legs) of James Vick.
Cruickshank made the mistake of not using a balanced attack against John Makdessi, so I expect him to bring the 360-degree skill set to this bout. Using clinch, striking and takedowns, he takes a decision in a bout that was almost too close to call for me.
Prediction: Cruickshank def. Edwards via decision
Mac Danzig vs. Melvin Guillard
Sticking in the lightweight division, TUF veterans collide as season two's Melvin Guillard takes on season-six winner Mac Danzig.
Guillard is 1-4 in his last five fights, so a win is a must here. The power-punching, larger-than-life personality has been getting tapped more than a judge's gavel in an unruly court room.
Danzig won his season of TUF but has failed to find consistency with the company. He has good boxing skills, but one would assume Danzig would want to demonstrate his superior ground game against the shaky submission defense of Guillard.
Guillard's athleticism and strength allow him to have solid takedown defense while his cardio is still in tact. He will look to counter Danzig's shot, eventually tagging Danzig hard enough to get a decision.
Prediction: Guillard def. Danzig via TKO
Danny Castillo vs. Tim Means
In yet another lightweight bout on FX, Team Alpha Male's Danny Castillo looks to continue his impressive UFC career as he takes on the scrappy and entertaining Tim Means.
Means is a poor man's Carlos Condit, which would make sense since he trains with the same guy that started off Condit early in his career. Means is aggressive and technical with his strikes, but must look to do better in terms of takedown defense than he did against Jorge Masvidal.
Castillo is a power wrestler with good ground-and-pound and decent knockout ability. Just how Means must look to stay off his back, Castillo needs to get this fight to the ground or he could have a Michael Johnson fight revisit, where his clock was cleaned in the stand-up department.
Means is a great striker, but I trust Castillo's wrestling and experience more at this point. That does not mean Means doesn't have a great future in the sport.
Prediction: Castillo def. Means via decision
Michael Chiesa vs. Jorge Masvidal
In the main attraction of the prelims, lightweights are on a collision course as Strikeforce vet Jorge Masvidal meets TUF 15 winner Michael Chiesa.
Chiesa is undefeated because he is a grinder with a good chin and solid wits in the cage. Both of his wins have come via submission in the UFC, as he has utilized rear-naked chokes over the likes of Al Iaquinta and Anton Kuivanen. This is a big step up in competition for him here, though.
Masvidal is a veteran journeyman of the sport that is always looking for a fight. He made a successful debut in the UFC when he decisioned Tim Means. Masvidal is a striker with solid ground, but his toughness may be his best quality.
Masvidal is scrappy, but Chiesa's ground game, aggression and charge should be a concern for "Gamebred." I see a takedown, smother, rinse-and-repeat performance from Chiesa en route to a decision.
Prediction: Chiesa def. Masvidal via decision