Aim for the head.
This upcoming Tuesday (May 15, 2012), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will head down to the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Va., for its third visit to FUEL TV with an entertaining mixed martial arts (MMA) line up in tow. In the main event, fan favorites Chan Sung Jung will square off against Dustin Poirier in a battle that will most likely determine the next challenger for the Featherweight belt.
In addition, Lightweight bruisers Donald Cerrone and Jeremy Stephens will look to bounce back from recent defeats and climb back up the 155-pound ladder.
But, before all that, we've got a stacked set of "Prelims" loaded with up-and-coming talent and rising stars, set to be shown on Facebook. Dive in after the jump for part one of our UFC on Fuel TV 3 "Prelims" breakdown:
155 lbs.: T.J. Grant vs. Carlo Prater
After a brutal run at Welterweight that saw him matched up against the likes of Dong Hyun Kim and Johny Hendricks, T.J. Grant (17-5) made the journey down to 155 pounds where, after a series of injuries, he took on Shane Roller. Impressively, he utterly dominated the standout wrestler, latching onto an armbar in the third round that elicited a grunt of pain, prompting Mario Yamasaki to stop the bout.
Grant was originally slated to take on Jacob Volkmann at UFC 141, but injuries scuttled his return to the division until this Tuesday, where he’ll look to take another big step toward the top at Prater’s expense.
After putting four straight submission wins together, Carlo Prater (30-10-1) was ready and willing to step up and replace Siyar Bahadurzada against the streaking Erick Silva. Unimpressed with his courage, Silva blitzed Prater with strikes, dropping him with a knee to the body and finishing with punches in a grand total of 29 seconds. Unfortunately, Mario Yamasaki controversially awarded Prater the win based on alleged strikes to the back of the head, giving "Neo" his first victory in the UFC.
At his natural weight, Prater will be out to prove he’s UFC-caliber against Grant.
While Grant’s 4-3 record in the Octagon doesn’t seem that impressive, it’s worth noting that he took on two of the best grinders at 170-pounds in Kim and Hendricks and arguably won two rounds against the latter. He looked fantastic at 155 against a very good wrestler in Roller, completely dominating him in every aspect of MMA.
Prater, well, hasn’t looked so hot as of late. While he did beat some solid fighters on the regional circuit, the closest thing to Grant he fought in that time was Reza Madadi, who beat him rather soundly and had no trouble with his guard. He doesn’t have the grappling prowess of Ricardo Almeida, nor the powerful positional control of "Stun Gun," meaning Grant should have little to fear when shooting, and I doubt Prater can win this fight off his back. We may get some good scrambles out of it, but I expect one-way traffic for 15 minutes as Grant dominates from top position.
Prediction: Grant via unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Rafael dos Anjos vs. Kamal Shalorus
Renowned for his excellent submission game, Rafael dos Anjos (15-6) proved that you don’t have to be on your back to be in danger from him, blasting George Sotiropoulos onto Queer Street and putting himself on the lightweight map. Unfortunately, the size and wrestling prowess of Gleison Tibau proved more than he could handle, losing an entertaining decision to the enormous American Top Team-trained product at UFC 139.
Dos Anjos has demonstrated the skills needed to succeed at the division’s upper echelon, but will need to prove he can put everything together consistently with a victory over Shalorus.
After turning heads in World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) with a combination of impressive power and excellent wrestling, Kamal Shalorus (7-2-2) was matched up with Jim Miller in the former’s second UFC appearance. And after two fairly one-sided rounds, had his concrete jaw cracked for the first time by a brutal knee. His third effort in the world’s largest fight promotion sadly continued that trend, as after getting blasted with an enormous uppercut in the first round, the "Prince of Persia" was soundly outgrappled and eventually choked out by debuting Russian Khabib Nurmagomedov.
With his relatively advanced age, time may be running out for Shalorus to prove himself a contender, and he’ll need an impressive effort against dos Anjos if he wants to remain a factor at 155 pounds.
I like Shalorus. I really do. If he could just put everything together and realize that, with his power, he’d be better served swinging for contact than windmilling away, he could ruin a lot of lightweights’ days. The thing is, he’s shown no sign of improvement. Nurmagomedov’s chin was right there for the taking and he couldn’t find it, nor could he stop the Russian’s rather telegraphed shots. Shalorus’s weaknesses are now glaringly obvious for anyone willing to take even a cursory glance.
Even using his wrestling to grind out a win over dos Anjos is unlikely, as Kamal seemed incredibly uncomfortable with Miller’s ground game once he put the latter on his back and will probably avoid taking dos Anjos down. That just leaves him his wild punching which, considering that Tibau dropped everything and the kitchen sink on Rafael’s face in their fight, probably won’t be enough.
Shalorus has a puncher’s chance, and not even that significant of one. dos Anjos should have this fight won anywhere it goes, which will probably be on the feet for most of the time. Expect the Brazilian’s customary storm of leg kicks as he picks his foe apart for a clear-cut decision win.
Prediction: dos Anjos via unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Francisco Rivera vs. Alex Soto
After a disappointing 0-2 run under the ZUFFA umbrella that saw him stopped by Erik Koch and Reuben Duran, the hard-hitting Francisco Rivera (7-2) bounced back with two straight knockout wins in a combined 1:55, and after unbeaten Azamat Gashimov was forced to withdraw, the UFC knew just who to call. Despite his division’s stereotype of being full of weak punchers, "Cisco" has ended five opponents inside the first round with punches, and could inject even more excitement into the UFC’s growing 135-pound ranks.
While it’s impossible to fault Alex Soto’s (6-1-1) courage for stepping in against Michael McDonald on short notice, McDonald’s insane punching power cared not, and Soto found himself unconscious against the cage in under sixty seconds. The previously-unbeaten Soto, who has a draw against well-regarded Seiji Akao under the Deep banner, has yet to truly showcase his skills on the big stage, but will look to fix that against Rivera.
As awesome as instantaneous knockouts are, they make my job a pain in the rear, as I really don’t have much to go on when evaluating Soto. What I do know, however, is that his last fight was the sort of knockout loss that stays with a fighter for a long time, and with someone with Rivera’s punching power on the other side of the cage, it’s hard to forget the sight of Soto splayed against the fence. Sure, McDonald has massive power, but Rivera is no slouch himself, and despite the short notice, I expect him to lay the hammer down on Soto for a nasty stoppage in the early going.
Prediction: Rivera via first-round knockout
Stop by tomorrow for a look at the remaining fights on the UFC on Fuel TV 3 under card, featuring the likes of Brad Tavares and Cody McKenzie, among others.
See you then!
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of UFC on Fuel TV 3, beginning with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook scheduled for around 5 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 Tuesday.