UFC 175 'Prelims' preview and predictions, Pt. 1

Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

More fights are coming to Fight Pass online digital network and FOX Sports 1 this weekend (Sat., July 5, 2014) when UFC 175: "Weidman vs. Machida" kicks off from Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. MMAmania.com's Patrick Stumberg kicks off UFC 175 "Prelims" party with part one of a two-part under card preview series.

Revenge or legitimacy?

In his first fight since twice felling the great Anderson Silva, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight champion, Chris Weidman, will take on "The Spider" stablemate, Lyoto Machida, in the main event of UFC 175, which goes down this Saturday (July 5, 2014) at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In the co-main event, unbeaten women's champion Ronda Rousey will take on Brazilian jiu-jitsu standout Alexis Davis in a clash of two of the 145-pound division's best grapplers. The towering Stefan Struve will also make his return on the pay-per-view (PPV) main card against Matt Mitrione in a Heavyweight showdown.

That's just the top of an 11-match card slated for "Sin City."

The six "Prelims" under card bouts are arranged such that the first two are on Fight Pass and the balance on Fox Sports 1. Let's see what's in store for the first three below:

135 lbs.: George Roop vs. Rob Font

The prognosis was not great when George Roop (15-10-1) decided to bring his 6’1" frame down to Bantamweight, but the results have been good so far. Since the Featherweight loss to Cub Swanson that prompted the drop, Roop has won three of four, including a technical knockout finish of former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) champ Brian Bowles.

Roop will enjoy a five-inch height advantage over Rob Font (10-1).

In Font’s second professional mixed martial arts (MMA) bout, he lost a decision to future Bellator standout Dez Green. He’s done a bit better since, picking up the CES featherweight title during his nine-fight win streak. He was originally slated to face Brazilian power-puncher Douglas Silva de Andrade in this, Font’s 135-pound debut.

Ah, George Roop.

He and Donald Cerrone are my Kryptonite, the two men whose fights I can’t pick with any sort of consistency. Half the time he looks like the division’s premier distance striker and the other half he’s all but inviting people inside those Slenderman limbs of his with milk and cookies.

Take everything I say as assuming that he’s the former.

Font does not seem to have the power to crack Roop’s inconsistent chin and his strategy for closing the distance seems to be to rush in and wing punches. The way he swings his head around as he does so also invites Roop’s kicks and knees to the bonce. Roop’s experience and long-range striking should carry the day as he eventually catches Font coming in with something nasty.

Prediction: Roop by second-round technical knockout

185 lbs.: Luke Zachrich vs. Guilherme Vasconcelos

Luke Zachrich’s (13-3) first shot at UFC stardom came on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 7, where he lost to Dan Cramer in the opening round. He got another shot this past April against Caio Magalhaes and had about as much success, losing via technical knockout in less than one minute.

He has finished 11 opponents, seven by submission.

Guilherme Vasconcelos (3-1) earned his way onto TUF: "Brazil 3" with a submission win in the elimination round, becoming Chael Sonnen’s final 185-pound pick. He had the unfortunate … fortune ... of facing Team Wanderlei Silva’s top pick, Ricardo Abreu, and lost a unanimous decision.

All three "Bomba" wins have come inside two rounds.

Here we have the classic battle of unimpressive versus untested. I’m going to be make many assumptions to explain it, but I say "Bomba" takes it.

There’s no shame in losing to "Demente," but getting starched by Caio Magalhaes is not a good sign. In addition, Vasconcelos’ recent training with Sonnen should bode well for his chances at imposing his grappling on Zachrich. Perhaps it’s simply my befuddlement that anyone in UFC could lose that badly to Magalhaes, but I do believe the Brazilian will earn the tap midway through the bout.

Prediction: Vasconcelos by second-round submission

185 lbs.: Kevin Casey vs. Bubba Bush

Despite nearly locking up an early submission, Kevin Casey (8-3) fell in his Octagon debut to TUF 17 castmate Josh Samman after eating a prolonged series of knees. He has done quite well for himself since, though, winning three straight and earning the RFA Middleweight title in the process.

The Rickson/Kron Gracie black belt has scored six first-round finishes.

Bubba Bush (8-2) has cut his teeth in the Legacy Fighting Championships promotion, competing in it for eight of his 10 career bouts. He has won four straight since a 2012 disqualification loss, earning and defending the promotion’s Middleweight title.

Bush has gone the distance just once, scoring four knockouts and three submissions.

Should he have the cardio to go three rounds, Casey could be a very respectable contender -- he’s physically powerful, a terrific grappler and seems to have some heat behind his punches. He’s also lost three of his five fights that have gone past the first frame. I know he’s got one great round in him, but whether he becomes a player at 185 pounds depends on whether he has three.

Not sure he’ll need it against Bush, though. Bubba seems to share the same wheelhouse and should be willing to engage Casey in the grappling department. There, Casey’s got the Brazilian jiu-jitsu chops to punish him in a hurry.

Therefore, five minutes ought to be enough.

Prediction: Casey by first-round submission

Three more fights tomorrow, including a pivotal Bantamweight clash to set the stage for the main card.

See you there!

MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 175 fight card on fight night (Sat., July 5, 2014), starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports 1-televised under card bouts at 8 p.m. ET and then main card PPV, which is slated to begin at 10 p.m. ET.

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