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UFC Fight Night 55 'Prelims' preview, predictions for 'Bisping vs Rockhold' in Sydney

More fights are coming to Fight Pass-only this weekend (Fri., Nov. 7, 2014) when UFC Fight Night 55: "Bisping vs. Rockhold" kicks off from AllPhones Arena in Sydney, Australia.'s Patrick Stumberg kicks off UFC Fight Night 55 "Prelims" party with a full under card preview.

Chris Hyde

Michael Bisping is back! And this time, it's personal ... just like all the other times.

After thoroughly throttling Cung Le in his last bout, the former The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 3 winner is heading "Down Under" to face Strikeforce's Middleweight champion Luke Rockhold in the main event of UFC Fight Night 55, which goes down this Friday evening (Nov. 7, 2014) from AllPhones Arena in Sydney, Australia.

In addition, resurgent Englishman Ross Pearson -- coming off a career-best win over Gray Maynard -- will face rising Serra-Longo prospect Al Iaquinta in the co-main event, while local favorite Robert Whittaker moves up to 185 pounds to face TUF 17 veteran Clint Hester.

The whole event, including the seven "Prelims" matches, will air on UFC's "Fight Pass" service. Let's see what's in store before the main card kicks off:

155 lbs.: Jake Matthews vs. Vagner Rocha

Australia’s Jake Matthews (7-0) exited TUF: "Nations" early, losing to eventual runner-up Olivier Aubin-Mercier in the quarterfinals of the Welterweight tournament. Dropping to 155 pounds for his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)  debut in June, the young Aussie showed impressive skills, dominating Dashon Johnson before locking up a third-round triangle.

At 20, he is more than 10 years’ his opponent’s junior.

Vagner Rocha's (11-3) first UFC run produced mixed results, as he went 1-2 with authoritative losses to Donald Cerrone and Jonathan Brookins before being released. He has since won four straight bouts, three by submission, to earn another shot at the big time.

He was originally set to return against Joe Ellenberger before falling victim to whatever freakish curse caused him and four others to each pull out of that bout.

Matthews’ win over Johnson has lost a bit of its luster, true, but the young man still seems like a quality prospect whose size and grappling make him a threat at Lightweight. Rocha, while a terrific grappler, has not rounded out his game enough to be a contender. The only person in UFC he was able to impose his grappling on was Cody McKenzie, who tried to engage him there.

Against someone of Matthews’ size, a repeat performance is unlikely.

This fight should be a good way to get a sense of where Matthews’ striking is, as engaging Rocha on the mat from any position is unwise. No telling how dominant it will be, but I am confident Matthews wins a decision on the feet.

Prediction: Matthews via unanimous decision

205 lbs.: Anthony Perosh vs. Carlos Augusto Filho

Following his seven-second loss to Ryan Jimmo, Anthony Perosh (14-8) returned one year later against ace grappler Vinny Magalhaes, knocking cold TUF runner-up in just 14 seconds. He couldn’t keep up that momentum against Ryan Bader, however, suffering a prolonged beating in front of his countrymen in Dec. 2013.

Perosh has never gone the distance in victory, submitting nine.

Assorted injuries, some reportedly caused by Alistair Overeem, delayed the Octagon debut of Carlos Augusto Filho (6-3), a.k.a. Guto Inocente, until July, where he faced Derrick Lewis at Heavyweight. Filho struggled with the size and power of "Black Beast," who knocked him out from top position in the first round.

Filho, who has finished five opponents, is 14 years his opponent’s junior.

I know Perosh is the butt of a lot of jokes for his chin, lack of striking and general slowness, but he really is an excellent grappler. If he can achieve top position, he passes very well and can finish from mount and the back. If Filho can’t crack his chin before Perosh wrangles him down, "The Hippo" could very well hand him his second straight loss.

"Inocente’s" kickboxing is far superior and, as mentioned, Perosh has the unfortunate combination of being slow and fragile. I have faith on the old Aussie, however, and believe he’ll bring down Filho and apply the rear-naked choke in the first round.

Prediction: Perosh via first-round submission

185 lbs.: Dylan Andrews vs. Sam Alvey

Dylan Andrews' (17-5) run on TUF 17, which included a stoppage of top pick Luke Barnatt, came to a halt at the hands of Uriah Hall in the semifinals. In UFC proper, he knocked out Jimmy Quinlan and Papy Abedi in his first two appearances before suffering a shoulder injury against former teammate Clint Hester in Dec. 2013.

He has knocked out 12 opponents in his professional career and submitted another three.

Sam Alvey (23-6) came up short in his run on TUF 16, but quickly established dominance on the regional circuit, earning and defending the MFC Middleweight title. He debuted against Tom Watson in August, falling to "Kong" despite an impressive rally early in the third round.

Alvey has never been knocked out and has put down 14 foes of his own via strikes.

As of this writing, Alvey is occupying the underdog position and I’m not entirely clear why. Andrews has good power and decent wrestling, but seems to have a major issue with being too passive. In addition, Alvey’s jaw has never failed him, making the possibility of an Andrews knockout remote.

No elite Middleweight should struggle with Abedi to the extent that Andrews did. If the Kiwi lets Alvey unload with his blitzes, things will end poorly for him. Alvey keeps it standing and puts Andrews away with punches late in the second round.

Prediction: Alvey via second-round technical knockout

125 lbs.: Richie Vaculik vs. Louis Smolka

Richie Vaculik's (10-2) first UFC test proved too stiff as he fell in the first round to hot prospect Justin Scoggins in Dec. 2013. His sophomore appearance proved more successful, a unanimous decision over unbeaten Filipino Roldan Sangcha-an that saw Vaculik demonstrate an aggressive grappling attack.

He will give up three inches of height to Smolka.

Louis Smolka (7-1) scored an impressive upset in his Octagon debut, outlasting decorated wrestler Alptekin Ozkilic for a unanimous decision victory. Four months later, he faced recent title challenger Chris Cariaso, losing a split decision to the American striker despite a solid effort.

Smolka is a late replacement for the injured Neil Seery.

I liked the Seery fight a lot, so I’m a bit disappointed we get this mismatch instead. Smolka is not only much taller than Vaculik, he’s likely the better striker and is ostensibly superior in Vaculik’s wheelhouse, the grappling department. Smolka will likely be the better wrestler as well, giving "Vas" very few avenues of victory.

Though the short notice is worrying, Smolka figures to be an all-around superior fighter to the extent that I remain confident in his victory. The Hawaiian taps Vaculik in the second round.

Prediction: Smolka via second-round submission

170 lbs.: Vik Grujic vs. Chris Clements

Vik Grujic (7-3) earned an impressive knockout in the quarterfinals of TUF: "Nations" before falling to Canada’s Sheldon Westcott in the semifinals. After losing to Nordine Taleb on what was effectively the Finale, he earned his first UFC victory in June by knocking out tough-as-nails teammate Chris Indich late in the first round.

He stands two inches taller than his Canadian opponent.

Chris Clements (11-5) -- an understudy of the late Shawn Tompkins -- earned a split decision over Keith Wisniewski to open up his UFC career, his first-ever trip to the judges. After an overturned submission loss to Matt Riddle, Clements returned to action a year later against Stephen Thompson, succumbing to "Wonderboy’s" striking prowess in the second round.

This will be his first fight in more than 13 months and just his second since July 2012.

Clements had a long layoff and struggled with grapplers. Luckily, Grujic isn’t the wrestler Matt Riddle is and should be forced to oblige Clements on the feet. Clements owns 10 knockouts in 11 wins. And against a striker without the talent of "Wonderboy," I expect him to find success.

Picking someone coming off a layoff and (technically) two losses is risky, I admit. I do believe, however, that he can out-slug Grujic for his first UFC stoppage win.

Prediction: Clements via first-round technical knockout

185 lbs.: Luke Zachrich vs. Dan Kelly

Though Luke Zachrich (14-3) came up short in his bid on TUF 7, 10 wins in 11 bouts earned him a second shot in UFC. After an early knockout loss to Caio Maglhaes in his debut, Zachrich out-dueled Chael Sonnen protege Guilherme "Bomba" in July, picking up a unanimous decision win.

He is two inches taller and three years younger than Kelly.

Dan Kelly (7-0) -- a four-time representative of Australia in Olympic Judo -- carried his country’s banner once again on TUF: "Nations." He had the misfortune of facing eventual finalist Sheldon Westcott in the opening round, tapping to an arm-triangle in the first, but managed to get a shot in the UFC proper after another win on the regional circuit.

He has stopped six opponents, including one by (and I quote), "Thrown from the ring."

Those expecting another Hector Lombard upon seeing "Australia-based Olympic judoka" are going to be sorely disappointed. Watching Westcott manhandle Kelly does not instill me with much confidence, even against a somewhat uninspiring opponent like Zachrich. Zachrich should be the better striker and ought to be the one dictating position.

Despite Kelly’s home-court advantage, Zachrich’s wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu should carry him to victory. Submission win for the Ohioan.

Prediction: Zachrich via first-round submission

135 lbs.: Jumabieke Tuerxun vs. Marcus Brimage

Regarded as one of the best fighters in China, Jumabieke Tuerxun (14-3) joined UFC in March, taking on unheralded Team Lakay member Mark Eddiva. Despite his wrestling pedigree, Tuerxun struggled to take him down en route to a decision loss, subsequently submitting to jiu-jitsu champion Leandro Issa in his next appearance.

Tuerxun stands two inches taller than "Bama Beast."

Marcus Brimage (6-3) enjoyed surprising success early in his UFC career, upsetting Maximo Blanco and Jim Hettes in his first two post-TUF Finale appearances. A knockout loss to Conor McGregor sent him down to Bantamweight, where he lost a contentious split decision to Russell Doane (which he is still not happy about).

He has scored two knockouts in his professional career.

Tuerxun showed against Issa that he can, in fact, wrestle and Brimage has zero punching power. Still, Brimage did a solid job staying on his feet against Doane after a rough first round and seems to be the crisper boxer on the feet. It’s not the lock the current odds suggest, but I do believe Brimage can strike his way to a unanimous decision.

Tuerxun looked completely lost against Eddiva when he couldn’t score a takedown. Though the possibility of him grinding Brimage down is less remote than his current +350 odds would indicate, I believe Brimage has the skills to repeat the Filipino’s performance, stuffing takedowns and landing shots in the clinch and at medium range for a decision victory.

Prediction: Brimage via unanimous decision

Remember, it's a double-header this weekend. We'll have the UFC Fight Night 56 "Prelims" for the Uberlandia, Brazil, card tomorrow evening right here.

See you there, Maniacs!

Remember, too, that will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 55 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, right on through the Fight Pass-only main card at 10 p.m. ET.

Current UFC "Prelims" Prediction Record 2014: 159-66 (1 NC)

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