UFC 175: Preliminary Card Predictions

Riley Kontek@@BigRIlesMMAFeatured ColumnistJuly 3, 2014

UFC 175: Preliminary Card Predictions

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The biggest weekend of the year for MMA is upon us, and leading the way is UFC 175. Headlined by two championship fights, the event has a big feel to it and could go down as one of the great events in UFC history.

    Chris Weidman defends his title against Lyoto Machida, while Ronda Rousey defends her strap against Alexis Davis. Before those main features, though, we have a stacked preliminary card full of promising prospects and established vets.

    Last weekend, I was just above the .500 mark. After a solid 4-2 start in New Zealand, I tapped the brakes a bit with a meager 2-3 record in San Antonio.

    It's time to bring my record back up. Here is a look at the preliminary card for UFC 175.

    2014 Riley's Record: 88-57

    Last Event: 6-5 (UFC Fight Night 43/44)

Kevin Casey vs. Bubba Bush

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Kicking things off on the Fight Pass portion of the prelims are the middleweights, as returning The Ultimate Fighter 17 vet and RFA middleweight champion Kevin Casey welcomes Legacy FC champ Bubba Bush to the Octagon.

    Casey is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who has improved his striking since leaving the UFC. Since his loss to Josh Samman and his departure from the UFC, Casey went undefeated in the RFA organization, beating the likes of Casey Ryan, UFC vet Eddie Mendez and Andrew Sanchez.

    As for Bush, the 8-2 fighter is on a four-fight surge, including a submission of Alfonso Gonzales in his most recent outing for the LFC title. Bush is well-rounded, excelling in all facets of the sport. However, it is his top game on the ground that seems to be his best weapon.

    This is going to be a close, entertaining fight. However, Casey's improvements and strength of schedule make him the pick here, as he fights off a resilient Bush for a possible finish.

    Prediction: Casey def. Bush via TKO

Luke Zachrich vs. Guilherme Vasconcelos

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    Reinhold Matay/Associated Press

    Next up, we stay in the middleweight division, as Luke Zachrich makes his sophomore effort with the UFC against TUF Brazil 3 vet Guilherme Vasconcelos.

    Known as "Bomba," Vasconcelos is a jiu-jitsu fighter who is not the most experienced fighter at 3-1. On the reality show, where he made his most recent appearances, he choked out Markus Perez to get into the house before losing an entertaining two-round decision to Ricardo Abreu. He has been training in America in preparations for this fight.

    As for Zachrich, he looks to erase the memory of a short debut, where he had his clock cleaned by Caio Magalhaes. Zachrich will be the bigger fighter, but he has shown holes in his striking and does his best work on the mat, where he will have a disadvantage against Vasconcelos.

    Despite inexperience and a size disadvantage, Vasconcelos could be in good shape with this fight. Stylistically, he matches up well with Zachrich and could pull off the upset despite the fact he should be fighting at welterweight.

    Prediction: Vasconcelos def. Zachrich via submission

George Roop vs. Rob Font

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    Isaac Brekken/Associated Press

    Kicking things off on the Fox Sports 1 portion of the prelims are the bantamweights, as newcomer Rob Font gets welcomed to the UFC by scarecrow and behemoth 135er George Roop.

    An East Coast fight vet and member of Team Sityodtong, Font has been one of the best lighter weight prospects outside the UFC. Riding a nine-fight win streak, he is well-rounded, owning powerful striking and underrated grappling for a guy who is coming out of a striking camp.

    As for Roop, he has been solid since dropping to 135. Despite a hiccup to the powerful Francisco Rivera at UFC Fight for the Troops, Roop has defeated Reuben Duran, Brian Bowles and Dustin Kimura in pretty impressive fashion. He is a striker who uses his range well and has solid takedown defense.

    I really want to take Font here, as I think he is a great prospect. However, this is a stiff first test for him, and Roop has been around the block a few times.

    Prediction: Roop def. Font via decision

Chris Camozzi vs. Bruno Santos

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    Felipe Dana/Associated Press

    We move on to the middleweight division, as muay thai fighter Chris Camozzi looks to defend his home country turf against Bellator tournament vet and one-time UFC fighter Bruno Santos.

    Camozzi is in a must-win situation here, as the entertaining striker has dropped two straight against top fighters Lorenz Larkin and Ronaldo Souza. Previous to that, he was on a good winning streak over the likes of Dustin Jacoby, Nick Catone, Luiz Cane and Nick Ring. He is a technical striker with good takedown defense, something that should come in handy against the Brazilian.

    Santos is a grinder who enjoys clinching and taking opponents down. He came into the UFC as an undefeated prospect but took a setback in his premiere with the company, getting outpointed by Krzysztof Jotko. He would be wise to close the distance on Camozzi, who will probably strike from a distance.

    Camozzi's stand-up and takedown defense are intriguing here. His strength disadvantage is countered well with a height and length advantage. He should use that to outpoint the Brazilian via striking.

    Prediction: Camozzi def. Santos via decision

Kenny Robertson vs. Ildemar Alcantara

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Next up, we move on to the welterweight division, as wrestler Kenny Robertson looks to end the winning ways of Ildemar Alcantara. 

    Ildemar, the brother of Iuri, has been pretty successful since entering the Octagon. He has taken a loss to Igor Araujo but also owns victories over Albert Tumenov, Leandro Silva and Wagner Prado (at light heavyweight). He is very well-rounded but does his best work from top position on the ground.

    Robertson is a wrestler with underrated striking. He is 2-2 since returning to the UFC, including awesome submission wins over Thiago Perpetuo and Brock Jardine, the latter of which came via Suloev Stretch (Google it!). He also does his best work from top position, making this a tactical chess match.

    Alcantara does not really have an advantage here. On the feet, Robertson has a slight edge, and in the grappling, he has superior wrestling to gain better position. The American earns the win here.

    Prediction: Robertson def. Alcantara via decision

Urijah Faber vs. Alex Caceres

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    Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images

    Headlining the prelims are the bantamweights, as former WEC champion and UFC title challenger Urijah Faber takes on rising star Alex Caceres. 

    Faber has seven losses in his career, all of which have come in title fights. That means his track record in non-title fights is that of an undefeated fighter.

    He has many advantages in this bout. He is the more powerful striker, is probably quicker, is stronger and has vastly superior wrestling. His strength of schedule trumps that of Caceres, and he has beaten many men who are better than the young prospect.

    That said, Caceres is unbeaten in his last five fights. He is a flashy striker with nifty submission skills, which could be an interesting matchup with Faber. On his current streak, he owns wins over Sergio Pettis, Roland Delorme and Damacio Page.

    I like Caceres, but he is in way over his head here. Faber is better in every facet of the game and will prove it.

    Prediction: Faber def. Caceres via TKO