UFC 157 fight card: Court McGee vs Josh Neer fight prediction, preview and breakdown

Photo by Esther Lin via MMA Fighting

Welterweights Court McGee and Josh Neer will do battle tonight (Feb. 2, 2013) inside the Octagon at UFC 157, with both men looking to return to the win column. Will McGee be successful in his welterweight debut or will Neer avoid losing three-straight for the first time in his career? Jason Probst for MMAmania.com breaks it all down.

Court McGee vs. Josh Neer was promoted to the UFC 157 main card on pay-per-view (PPV) after Manny Gamburyan pulled out from the event due to injury and his scheduled featherweight bout against Chad Mendes was scratched from tonight's (Feb. 23, 2013) event at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.

The misfortune of the featherweights opened the door for McGee and Neer to step on to the big stage and now "The Crusher" will make his welterweight debut on the biggest stage the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has to offer.

The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season 11 drops down to take on grizzled veteran Josh Neer, who is coming off back-to-back first-round losses and will be hungry to get back into the win column and avoid a third consecutive loss for the first time in his 46-fight career.

Check out a complete breakdown of the UFC 157 main card bout between Court McGee vs. Josh Neer below:

The Breakdown

McGee always impressed me as one of the more finished products to emerge from "The Ultimate Fighter," as his blend of hard-nosed wrestling reminded me of Jon Fitch, and his standup was polished and crisp. He also has shown composure and a strong chin. That's why his drop to 170 could be interesting, and he's getting one of the most wily veterans in the game here in Neer.

Operating forever on the cusp of mainstream recognition, with mad respect from hard-core fans, Neer always brings the fight and stays busy on the small-show circuit rebuilding himself back into the big stage when he gets released from it.

McGee probably didn't deserve to lose both of his previous bouts - tough decisions against Kostya Philippou and Nick Ring, so the drop to welter is probably not a dead end if it doesn't work out.

The weight cut is a huge factor here, as McGee was a sizeable 185-pounder and has a legit middleweight frame. You always have to be skeptical when guys drop a weight class, as it often takes a couple fights to see if their body can get acclimated to it (a la Rich Franklin, who looked terrible in his middle debut against Jorge Rivera) or it simply isn't feasible given their natural size (think Jason Black and James Irvin, both of whom were terribly emaciated on the scales when dropping down to 155 and 185, respectively).

However, even if he's got a reduced gas tank, McGee still has the wrestling chops to dominate early, which is critical, as it basically gives him an option to put his weight on Neer and force Josh to work while expending relatively little energy. Need's standup is serviceable but not a major threat, and McGee's solid chin should carry him through any glitches in the standup exchanges. McGee can be especially effective when he throws combinations and then pushes in for tie-ups and makes opponents work, as he seems to relish hard-nosed exchanges, and often fights back harder when hit.

Neer is game and willing as any, but he's definitely outsized here. He will have to wait and try and bait McGee into a mistake on the ground, and then pounce. It's hard to see him winning an extended standup battle, and he isn't likely to get top position on the ground. Also, he gets into wars often enough, and cuts relatively easy, to make you wonder if he isn't heading right into another bloodbath here.

The Pick

Assuming McGee isn't completely killed at the scales, he should have enough size and persistence to push through a tough debut at welter here.

Using his jab, combos and pressure, he'll force Neer into strength-sapping exchanges on the feet, and crushing top pressure on the ground. From the top position, he'll rain down strikes and bloody up Neer in the first, repeating the trick after a takedown in the second.

Neer will battle back valiantly, but fall behind by the third, absorbing big punches and elbows while pinned against the cage, hanging on to lose a one-sided and clear-cut unanimous decision.

Court McGee by unanimous decision

Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the UFC 157 PPV main card action, which is slated to start promptly at 10 p.m. ET. Up-to-the-minute updates and fight-by-fight coverage will begin to flow earlier than that, however, around 6:30 p.m. ET with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook and FX.

Jason Probst can be reached at twitter.com/jasonprobst

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