UFC on FOX 10 Preliminary Card Preview

UFC on FOX 10 takes this place this Saturday at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois and the main event is match-up between premier lightweights as Benson Henderson is scheduled to take Josh Thomson.UFC on FOX 10 Poster

The card also features a notable preliminary portion that has four important bantamweight bouts, the debut of two promising welterweight prospects, a battle between Ultimate Fighter alumnus, and a heavyweight scrap that isn’t expected to go past the first round.

To prepare you for the action taking place this Saturday, here’s my breakdown of every bout on the preliminary card of UFC on Fox 10.

Sergio Pettis (10-0) vs Alex Caceres (9-5, 1 NC)
Between Joe Rogan’s constant praise and tough, under the radar opponent in Will Campuzano, Sergio Pettis underwhelmed in his UFC debut. At least from a main stream perspective stand-point. What Pettis has accomplished at just 20 years of ago is outstanding. We didn’t learn anything new about Pettis in the fight against Campuzano. Pettis had the better striking and submission arsenal, but he struggled in the wrestling department.

In his UFC debut back in 2011, Alex Caceres looked as green as can be. Since then, he has developed nicely into a bantamweight on the fringe of breaking into the top fifteen of the division. Caceres excels on the ground with his jiu-jitsu. Caceres also has an open, unorthodox striking style that flourishes because of his long reach but lacks consistent striking defense.

When you examine the strengths of each fighter, Pettis and Caceres are similar to one another. Both are talented in the striking and grappling areas with a deficiency in their wrestling. I would favor Caceres slightly on the ground, but Pettis is clearly the better striker in my mind. He’s so fundamentally sound and talented from a technical standpoint that it’s fun just to watch him pick apart his opponents. In what will likely be a stand-up fight, I favor Pettis.

My Pick: Sergio Pettis via decision

Eddie Wineland (20-9-1) vs Yves Jabouin (19-8)
To say Eddie Wineland has been thrown to the wolves in the UFC would be a massive understatement. Don’t be fooled by his 2-3 record in the promotion, Wineland has had tough match-ups against Renan Barao, Urijah Faber, and Joseph Benavidez. The reason Wineland has consistently faced that high level of competition is because of how talented he is (also: injuries to other bantamweights). Wineland has one of the best boxing games in Mixed Martial Arts, and he’s troublesome to takedown.

As Wineland’s record has been muddied by difficult tests, Yves Jabouin has faced a far less stringent group of combatants. Jabouin’s recent UFC victories have come against Dustin Pague (close decision), Jeff Hougland, Walel Watson, and Ian Loveland. Like Wineland, Jabouin’s forte is on the feet. He’s a speedy striker that relies on a kick-heavy attack as well as a sharp ability to pop in and out of the pocket.

Wineland’s takedown defense should make this fight a striking battle. Jabouin’s speed does present some problems for Wineland’s striking defense. And the spinning back kicks from Jabouin may bring back bad memories from the Barao fight, but Eddie Wineland’s heavy boxing has impressed me more and more in recent fights. I expect to get back on the winning track in what should be a great fight for television.

My Pick: Eddie Wineland via 2nd KO/TKO

Chico Camus (13-4) vs Yaotzin Meza (20-5)
2012 was a big a year for Chico Camus. The Roufusport product went 3-0 on the regional MMA scene (that 3-0 stretch includes a victory over Alptekin Ozkilic) and won his UFC debut against Dustin Pague. What Camus showed in that stretch was an effective, grinding grappling attack. What Camus showed in an up-and-down year in 2013 was defensive deficiencies in that aspect of his game. After the winning the first two rounds against Dustin Kimura, Camus was caught in a rear-naked choke, and despite beating Kyung Ho Kang at UFC 164, Camus was taken down rather easily by the Korean fighter.

In contrast, Yaotzin Meza has consistently looked brilliant on the ground. He’s a really talented grappler that is certainly dangerous even off of his back. The issue with Meza is his stand-up. He just doesn’t do the best job of piecing together strikes, and his striking output tends to be predictable from time to time.

The trouble I have with picking Camus in this one is his grappling defense. His takedown defense leaves more to be desire, and he isn’t a fantastic grappler off of his back. With that being said, Camus’s offensive wrestling and improved stand-up should lead the way for a victory.

My Pick: Chico Camus via decision

Hugo Viana (7-1) vs Ramiro Hernandez (13-5)
In his last fight, Hugo Viana had the opportunity to measure his ability against one of the top bantamweights in the world. Viana may we want to remeasure as T.J. Dillashaw absolutely thrashed Viana in every aspect of the game in a performance that could either work to motivate Viana in the future or crush his confidence.

We’ll find out where Viana’s head at against a well-rounded and polished opponent in Ramiro Hernandez. A 6-1 run outside the UFC earned Hernandez a shot in the promotion, but he failed to capitalize on that opportunity. Hernandez was rocked early on and promptly submitted by Lucas Martins at Fight Night 28.

Viana’s stout takedown defense and Hernandez’s confidence in his striking makes me assume that a dominant portion of this fight will play out on the feet, and if that’s the case, Viana gets the nod in my opinion. Sure, Viana’s striking looked human against Dillashaw, but prior to that fight, Viana stand-up has been one of the highlights of his game. Viana just does a great job of working outside the line with overhands and hooks. I expect him to win the fight in decision fashion.

My Pick: Hugo Viana via decision

Daron Cruickshank (13-4) vs Mike Rio (9-3)
The last time we saw Daron Cruickshank and Mike Rio in the UFC, they were both soundly beaten and submitted by their opponents. Now, both fighters will have a chance to rebound at the cost of one of them extending their losing streak.

This fight breaks down rather simply. Cruickshank has the striking advantage. His stand-up hasn’t looked stellar in recent fights, but it’s still scrappy enough to get the nod over what Rio brings to the table. Cruickshank’s striking arsenal thrives on his ability to land crushing leg kicks to the leg, body, and head of his opponent’s. Other than that, Cruickshank has shown solid movement and an apt ability to counterstrike.

Rio, on the other-hand, will look to wrestle. His success and lack of success inside the UFC has been directly attached to how successful he is with his takedowns. Rio isn’t the type of fighter to test his skills on the feet, and eventually work his wrestling. It shouldn’t be too long before Rio ties a takedown attempt onto the end of a striking combination.

In his last four fights, we have seen Cruickshank face wrestling in the UFC against Adrian Martins and Henry Martinez. Martins was successful with his takedowns of Cruickshank (albeit, Cruickshank was rocked by Martins’s powerful left hands at the time), while Martinez struggled to put Cruickshank on the canvas. Looking at this fight, I get the sense that we’ll see a repeat of the Martinez fight, rather than the Martins one.

My Pick: Daron Cruickshank via decision

Mike Rhodes (6-1) vs George Sullivan (14-3)
When the dust settles in this one, UFC’s welterweight division with have yet another promising prospect. Following a devastating loss to Brandon Thatch at RFA 7, Mike Rhodes dramatically rose up the prospect rankings in his next two RFA wins – the latter of those victories saw him claim the promotion’s welterweight strap. George Sullivan climbed up the ranks in CFFC where he won that promotion’s championship and went 6-0 within the company.

Both fighters are talented strikers, but the edge in the stand-up department would have to go Sullivan. Sullivan has had more opportunities to display his stand-up against better competition. The problem with Sullivan is that he is a late starter which could be troublesome against his opponent as Rhodes showcased his wrestling in his last fight against Alan Jouban.

My expectation for this fight is that Rhodes will secure the first round with his wrestling, only for George Sullivan to find his range and turn it on in the second frame.

My Pick: George Sullivan via 2nd KO/TKO

Walt Harris (5-2) vs Nikita Krylov (15-3)
While Nikita Krylov is a massive underdog heading into this fight, the biggest possible surprise in this fight would be a bout that lasts longer than a round. In the 25 professional fights between both men, 88% of them have culminated in the first period.

Walt Harris has used his striking to achieve the majority of his finishes. The southpaw striker has a powerful lead right hook, great speed and composure on the feet, and technically advanced boxing skill-set. Krylov is no slouch when it comes to finishing fights with power on the feet, but he really thrives with his grappling game.

After a few violent exchanges, I expect Krylov to look to wrestle Harris down. Unfortunately for Krylov, Harris has solid wrestling defense (in the first round at least). Harris should be able to clip Krylov with a right hook in the clinch to get a quick victory.

My Pick: Walt Harris via 1st KO/TKO