UFC 148 'Prelims' preview and predictions for 'Silva vs Sonnen 2' fights on Facebook/FX (Pt. 1)

Photo by Esther Lin via MMAFighting.com.

Here we go again.

UFC 148: "Silva vs. Sonnen 2" takes place this upcoming Sat., July 7, 2012, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, where Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen will once again do battle for "The Spider's" middleweight championship ... and there will be blood.

Sonnen has promised his usual promises, but an uncharacteristically enraged Silva has promised to beat Chael so badly he won't even be able to leave the Octagon under his own power. The badass Brazilian also claimed his arch nemesis will never fight again by the time he's done with him.

Intrigue!

In addition, Tito Ortiz and Forrest Griffin will collide in their trilogy's rubber match while Patrick Cote will make his triumphant return to the Octagon against Cung Le.

Because the UFC is offering a six-fight main card on pay-per-view (PPV), we've only got five prelims to set the stage. Stop by after the jump for a look at the first two.

155 lbs.: John "The Natural" Alessio (34-15) vs. Shane Roller (10-6)

Alessio, fighting out of Xtreme Couture, got his second shot at the UFC after six years away when Matt Wiman was forced to pull out of his bout against Mark Bocek at UFC 145. Despite having won 10 of his previous 11, the sole loss coming at the hands of Siyar Bahadurzada at 170-pounds, he had no answer for the wrestling and top control of Bocek, who ground him out for a unanimous decision victory. During his 10-1 run, Alessio beat the likes of Luigi Fiorivanti, Chris Clements, and War Machine.

Coming into the UFC on a 6-2 WEC run, which included a submission of Jamie Varner, Roller had high expectations behind him but has yet to truly look good in the Octagon. His impressive knockout of Thiago Tavares only came after he got his ass kicked for six minutes, and aside from a near stoppage of Michael Johnson in a fight he was otherwise dominated in, I struggle to remember a single impressive moment from him in his last three bouts. A loss here would be his fourth straight and almost assuredly result in his termination.

I don't know if he just got old in an instant or what, but it's just weird to see Roller so completely ineffective in the UFC after giving the likes of Anthony Pettis, Anthony Njokuani, and Jamie Varner everything they could handle back in the WEC. His forte, his wrestling, has been mediocre and his stand-up is essentially nonexistent aside from a surprisingly nasty one-two.

Even though Alessio probably isn't cracking the top 10 anytime soon, I can't imagine someone who has been as unimpressive lately as Roller taking home the win here. Alessio lights him up standing for a one-sided unanimous decision.

Prediction: Alessio by unanimous decision

155 lbs.: Rafaello "Tractor" Oliveira (14-5) vs. Yoislandy "Cuba" Izquierdo (6-1)

One can't fault Oliveira for his courage, taking on "The Lightweight That Ate Chicago" (also known as Gleison Tibau) on short notice in his return to the UFC, but his wisdom is still available to be questioned, as he was battered and choked out in two. He didn't fare much better against Yves Edwards at UFC on Versus 6, where he was stopped via strikes in two. The loss dropped his UFC record to 1-4, meaning he's most likely fighting for his job against young gun "Cuba."

Izquierdo impressed with his aggressive, technical striking against Reza Madadi's in the latter's home country back in April, but eventually succumbed to the latter's relentless takedown assault, falling to a second-round guillotine. The 28-year-old has finished four opponents, three of them with strikes, and is in only his third year as a professional.

Honestly, "Cuba" did much better than I expected him to against Madadi; I didn't expect him to have any luck at all stopping "Mad Dog's" takedowns. Without that fight, I'd pick Oliveira here in a heartbeat, but he can't handle Izquierdo standing and I'm no longer convinced he can get it to the ground.

Izquierdo's game once on the ground remains a major liability, but I don't anticipate Oliveira getting the chance to exploit it. Expect "Cuba" to keep it on the feet and wreck shop before stopping him in the second round.

Prediction: Izquierdo via second-round TKO

That's all for now, Maniacs. Be sure to check back tomorrow for a look at the remaining three UFC 148 "Prelims."

See you then.

Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of UFC 148, beginning with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook scheduled for around 6:45 p.m. ET. In addition, we will also provide LIVE, real-time results of the main card action as it happens throughout the evening this upcoming Saturday night.

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