Time for some wrasslin' ...
After a questionable win over Josh Thomson, former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight champion, Ben Henderson, is out to prove he still belongs among the 155-pound division elite. Standing in his way is Dagestani suplex machine Rustam Khabilov, who will face Henderson in the main event of UFC Fight Night 42, which will emanate from Tingley Coliseum, Albuquerque, N.M., this Saturday evening (June 7, 2014) on FOX Sports 1.
In addition, Diego Sanchez will face Ross Pearson on the main card, while John Dodson takes on John Moraga at Flyweight.
That's not all.
Before the primary UFC Fight Night 42 action begins, a handful of "Prelims" matches will grace Fight Pass online digital network and FOX Sports 1. There are just five "Prelims" this go-round, however, so let's cover them all in one shot.
Here we go:
135 lbs.: Yaotzin Meza vs. Sergio Pettis
After a less-than-successful short-notice debut against Chad Mendes, Yaotzin Meza (20-9) returned to the Bantamweight division, choking out John Albert for his first Octagon victory. He could not overcome the wrestling of Chico Camus in Jan. 2014, however, dropping a unanimous decision.
He will have a three-inch height advantage over Sergio Pettis (10-1).
Pettis, younger brother of UFC Lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, debuted in Nov. 2013, defeating veteran Will Campuzano in an entertaining back-and-forth affair. He survived a second-round knockdown against Alex Caceres and seemed en route to picking up the decision win, only to tap to a rear-naked choke in the waning seconds of the fight.
Six of his wins have come via stoppage, split evenly between knockouts and submissions.
Pettis is not the offensive typhoon like his brother is ... at least not yet. What he is is an extremely sound technical striker with a potent ground game to back it up. Though his wrestling is not quite up to snuff, I don’t see Meza having too much success on the mat or any of note on the feet.
Meza is a decent all-around fighter, but isn’t an adept enough grinder or submission opportunist to recreate the success Campuzano and Caceres had against the junior Pettis.
Pettis pounds him out late in the second.
Prediction: Pettis via second-round technical knockout
170 lbs.: Bobby Voelker vs. Lance Benoist
Bobby Voelker (24-11) has struggled to establish a foothold in UFC after his solid Strikeforce run. After losing an arguable decision to Patrick Cote in his debut, "Vicious" has been on the wrong end of utter beatdowns courtesy of Robbie Lawler and William Macario.
Fifteen of his wins have come by form of knockout.
Lance Benoist (6-2) opened his UFC career with a win over Matt Riddle, but seems to have stalled out lately. He has not competed since losing close decisions to Seth Baczynski and Sean Pierson, the latter bout having occurred in Sept. 2012.
All of his pre-UFC wins came via stoppage inside the first round.
Whether Voelker wins this fight depends entirely on how much is left of his confidence. Getting trashed by Lawler on the feet is nothing to be ashamed of and "Patolino" is growing into a monster. That said, it’s hard to imagine those sorts of demolitions not having an impact on him.
Benoist is a skilled grappler, though a two-year layoff is troubling, especially when considering Voelker’s tendency to come on late. So long as Voelker can pull the trigger, I expect him to survive a rough opening round to stop Benoist late.
Prediction: Voelker via third-round technical knockout
125 lbs.: Scott Jorgensen vs. Danny Martinez
The final WEC bantamweight title contender, Scott Jorgensen (14-9) began his run in UFC with two straight wins. He has struggled badly since, losing five of his last six fights, though a headbutt may be to blame for his most recent defeat.
He has submitted five opponents and knocked out two.
Danny Martinez (16-5) entered UFC on short notice, replacing Kyoji Horiguchi against Chris Cariaso. Though the fight was close, "The Gremlin" was unable to consistently impose his wrestling, losing a unanimous decision.
He was a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 18, losing to eventual finalist Davey Grant in the elimination round.
As rough as Jorgensen’s had it recently, it’s worth noting that none of his defeats came against bad fighters. He’s fought well against elite bantamweights his whole career, while Martinez is a very limited fighter. The latter’s entire gameplan seems to be "wing punches until I get close enough to clinch and work from there," which doesn’t seem bound for success against a superior wrestler like Jorgensen.
Though Jorgensen’s time at the top is at an end, he’s still a level above the likes of Martinez and should win both on the feet and on the mat without too much difficulty. "Young Guns" takes home the decision.
Prediction: Jorgensen via unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Jon Tuck vs. Jake Lindsey
Jon Tuck (7-1) -- the first native of Guam to enter UFC -- lost in his bid on TUF 15 after breaking his toe against Al Iaquinta. He still impressed enough to earn a place in the world’s largest fight promotion, going 1-1.
Six of his wins have come by first-round stoppage.
The unbeaten Jake Lindsey (9-0) enters this bout as a late replacement for the injured Yosdenis Cedeno. He has scored three straight knockouts, most recently taking out journeyman Ted Worthington in Feb. 2014.
Seven of his professional wins and all four of his amateur victories have come inside the distance.
This ought to be a fun fight -- Tuck’s got some heat in his hands and a solid ground game, while Lindsey has likewise shown power. Neither of them are elite wrestlers, so we should have an entertaining mix of scrambles and brutal punches.
Tuck’s submission prowess should be the deciding factor.
Tuck’s punches are a bit cleaner than Lindsey’s, but the striking exchanges should still be close. If Tuck can secure the takedown, though, I feel he’s got the grappling chops to take it. I don’t think we’ll see either of these men in the elite of the division but this still should be fun.
Tuck chokes him out in two.
Prediction: Tuck via second-round submission
205 lbs.: Patrick Cummins vs. Roger Narvaez
Patrick Cummins' (4-1) big mouth did him no favors against Daniel Cormier in Feb. 2014, lasting just 79 seconds against the former Olympian. He had previously score four first-round stoppages on the local circuit.
Though his opponent is coming up from Middleweight, the former wrestling standout will be the shorter man by one inch.
Roger Narvaez (6-0) was scheduled to fight for the Legacy Fighting Championship Middleweight strap before an injury to Francimar Barroso earned him a call to the big leagues. He had won his first appearance under the banner in September, going to a decision for the first time in his career.
All four of his amateur bouts and his first five pro bouts ended inside two rounds.
For all the derision rightly thrown Cummins’ way, his wrestling pedigree is legit -- not being ready for Cormier after four pro fights doesn’t make you a bust. Against a Middleweight coming in on short notice whose record is as empty as Cummins’, he should dominate.
In other words, I don’t really see Narvaez having anything for him.
Hyperbole aside, Cummins has the background to be something special in UFC. Beating Narvaez isn’t exactly a giant leap toward stardom, but it’s a start.
Cummins clobbers him early.
Prediction: Cummins via first-round technical knockout
Someone is going for a ride -- See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Remember: MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 42 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" match online, which is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports 1 under card action at 8 p.m. ET and the the FOX Sports 1 main card at 10 p.m. ET.
Current UFC "Prelims" Prediction Record 2014: 79-35 (1 NC)