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UFC on FX 3 'Prelims' preview and predictions for 'McCall vs Johnson' fights on FUEL TV (Part 1)

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Leonard Garcia (L) and Matt Grice (R) collide this weekend on the UFC on FX 3 "Prelims" under card.
Leonard Garcia (L) and Matt Grice (R) collide this weekend on the UFC on FX 3 "Prelims" under card.

Let’s try this again.

After a Three Stooges-level mixed martial arts (MMA) mix up in their first battle that saw a "sudden death" round get implemented (laughed at as unnecessary, and turn out to be necessary) only for an Australian ringside judge to fail basic mathematics, Flyweight standouts Ian McCall and Demetrious Johnson will head back into battle once again this Friday (June 8, 2012) night at the Bank Atlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida.

UFC on FX 3 will also feature Anderson Silva training partner Erick Silva, who will look to get "back" in the win column against the wrestling attack of Charlie Brenneman in the co-main event of the evening.

However, before all that jazz, we’ve got a hearty dose of "Prelims" under card bouts coming your way via FUEL TV.

Check out part one of our UFC on FX 3 "Prelims" breakdown after the jump:

135 lbs.: Dustin Pague vs. Jared Papazian

Dustin Pague (10-5) made a name for himself with his willingness to eat a cockroach and solid grappling abilities on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 14, where he was awarded "Fight of the Season" for his victory over Louis Gaudinot. Unfortunately, no amount of insectile gourmandism could save him from the ground-and-pound of T.J. Dillashaw or the punching power of John Albert, the latter of whom defeated "The Disciple" in the first during the show’s Finale.

Pague had previously won five straight and has ten stoppages to his credit, seven of them submissions.

Jared Papazian (14-7) wasn’t given much of a chance against Dominick Cruz training partner Mike Easton, but apparently nobody informed him of his supposed doom, as "The Jackhammer" gave Easton a fantastic phone booth scrap before losing a narrow decision. Despite an ugly record, Papazian’s only losses in his last ten bouts have been to solid fighters in Jimmie Rivera and the aforementioned Easton. He owns a win over Abel Cullum and was the KOTC 135-pound champion before his entrance into the UFC.

This may be an unpopular opinion, but I scored the Papazian-Easton fight narrowly for the former. His takedown defense was on point and he did a great job, in my opinion, of staying out of the way of Easton’s heavy hooks.

And frankly, Easton is on a whole different level from Pague.

"The Disciple’s" grappling is solid, but he’s at a big disadvantage standing against Papazian, and while the latter isn’t the best finisher, he’s got enough pop there to have Pague looking for a takedown which he most likely won’t wind up getting. Papazian should control the action on the feet and shrug off Pague’s takedown attempts for a pretty clear-cut decision if not a late punch stoppage.

Prediction: Papazian via unanimous decision

145 lbs.: Leonard Garcia vs. Matt Grice

Since putting down the hard-hitting Hiroyuki Takaya and Jens Pulver back in 2008, things have been rather interesting for Leonard Garcia (15-8-1). His record after those victories is 3-5-1, although there are arguments to be made that he should be 0-9. His propensity for swinging wildly and hypnotizing the judges has become a running gag in MMA, but his tenacity has kept "Bad Boy" employed through his turbulent ZUFFA career.

Matt Grice (14-4) started his career 9-0 and recently went on a 4-0 streak, but has so far struggled on the big stage, going 1-4 in the UFC with four first-round stoppage losses. Grice has not competed since June of last year, when he got blasted by contender Ricardo Lamas. "The Real One" was forced to pull out of a fight with Nam Phan at UFC 136, which prompted the latter’s rematch with Garcia.

I’m going to say it right now: I don’t like Garcia. I don’t like how he fights, despite all the people who will praise him for being willing to "get in and scrap." I don’t like how, despite swinging like a lunatic, his power is effectively nonexistent (three knockouts, two against people with notoriously shaky chins). I don’t like how he gets rewarded because judges keep forgetting that EFFECTIVE aggression is supposed to score points, not mindless flailing.

He’ll still win, though.

For lack of a better word, Grice just isn’t very good. He’s been on some solid streaks, but has no wins against anybody of note. Garcia could be picked apart by a life-sized Rock-Em Sock-Em Robot, but Grice doesn’t strike me as capable of doing enough to break the spell of the HypnoGarcia. Doesn’t matter if Garcia wins in the cage, he’s going to win in the judges’ eyes.

Prediction: Garcia via (what else?) split decision

170 lbs.: Mike Pierce vs. Carlos Eduardo Rocha

Mike Pierce (13-5) may be 1-2 in his last three, but that statistic is incredibly deceiving: both those losses (to division standouts Johny Hendricks and Josh Koscheck) were split decisions that could have easily gone Pierce’s way. Outside of those fights, Pierce is 4-1 in the UFC with that "1" coming courtesy of Jon Fitch. Mixing solid punching power with an effective wrestling game, Pierce has yet to look bad In the UFC but has thus far been unable to take the final step into contendership despite his obvious ability.

Despite a nasty kneebar defeat of Kris McCray, expectations weren’t high of Carlos Eduardo Rocha (9-1) when he was scheduled to take on Jake Ellenberger. Impressively, "Ta Danado" put Ellenberger on his back with a beautiful kimura sweep, though he was unable to capitalize and wound up dropping a slow-paced unanimous decision. Unfortunately for the Team Nogueira fighter and the fans, however, Rocha (who has no decision wins and eight first-round stoppages) has been sidelined by injuries since, though a solid win over Pierce could put him high in the welterweight rankings.

I like Rocha, but this doesn’t strike me as a good matchup for him. As soon as Ellenberger got it in his head not to mess around with Rocha on the floor, Rocha didn’t demonstrate the ability to take it there himself or succeed on the feet. Pierce may not have the huge power that Joe Rogan likes to attribute to him, but he’s got some decent sizzle in his punches and is a much better wrestler.

What makes wrestling so valuable to have in one’s arsenal is that it makes it so you have to be better on the feet OR on the ground. The one with the wrestling disadvantage has to be better in both places. Rocha could certainly handle Pierce on the floor, but if he can’t get it there, that’s a moot point. Ring rust and a more limited striking game will spell doom for "Ta Danado," who will find himself battered as he tries and fails to bring the fight into his world.

Prediction: Pierce via unanimous decision

170 lbs.: Seth Baczynski vs. Lance Benoist

A veteran of TUF 11, Seth Baczynski (15-7) has been on fire since dropping a close decision to Brad Tavares on the show’s finale. He hasn’t even seen the third round since, blasting big-time prospect Alex Garcia under the Ringside MMA banner and making short work of Clay Harvison and Mat Brown in the UFC. Despite 15 victories, "The Polish Pistola" has never seen the judges, with 10 submissions among them.

Lance Benoist (6-0) may not have had the most impressive resume before his debut against Matt Riddle, but he showed some serious skills, outgrappling Riddle and surviving a late surge to win a unanimous decision. Benoist had not gone out of the first round until the bout with Riddle, scoring four submissions and a head kick knockout in that time.

Let me just put this out there: Seth Baczynski is a badass. Against Tim McKenzie, McKenzie broke Seth’s arm with an armbar, only to get pounded into oblivion once the latter wormed his way into top position. Alex Garcia was one of the top prospects at welterweight, but the Tristar product was flatlined by Baczynski.

I don’t think this finish’ll be that dramatic, but he should find himself coming out on top again.

Both men rely heavily on their submission games, so this probably won’t spend too much time on the feet, but the groundwork should be plenty exciting. Benoist may find himself on top more often than not, but the size and ability of Baczynski should allow him to give him one hell of a headache while there, eventually latching onto something nasty during a scramble.

Prediction: Baczynski via second-round submission

The remaining four "Prelims" bouts are on the docket for tomorrow evening.

See you then!

Remember, too, that will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of UFC on FX 3, beginning with the "Prelims" bouts on FUEL TV scheduled for around 6 p.m. ET. In addition, we will also provide LIVE, real-time results of the main card action as it happens on FX throughout the evening this upcoming Friday night.