The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) rematch "everyone" has been waiting for is almost here!
Nevertheless, T.J. Dillashaw shocked the mixed martial arts (MMA) world when he battered and stopped dominant Bantamweight champion Renan Barao earlier this year at UFC 173. And now he has to do it again this Saturday evening (Aug. 30, 2014), rematching the Brazilian standout in the main event of UFC 177, which will emanate from Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, California.
"Sac-Town" will also play host to a clash of surging Lightweight veterans when Team Alpha Male's Danny Castillo faces The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 13 winner Tony Ferguson in the pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event.
We've got five "Prelims" this time, the first on Fight Pass and the rest on FOX Sports 1. Let's get started:
South Africa’s Ruan Potts (8-2) entered his UFC debut having won three straight fights, all by first-round submission and at least two inside the first minute. Despite these accomplishments, he had no answer for Soa Palelei, who knocked him out from mount after an early takedown.
All eight of his wins have come inside the distance, split evenly between knockout and submission.
Following two straight losses in 2012, Anthony Hamilton (12-3) embarked on a six-fight winning streak, defeating prospect Smealinho Rama and Ultimate Fighter 10 vet Darrill Schoonover in the process. He could not make it seven in his debut, however, losing to Russian submission ace Alexey Oleinik in San Antonio, Texas.
Half of his professional victories are by knockout.
I was quite disappointed by Hamilton’s performance against Oleinik, but I do expect him to smash Potts. He’s the bigger man, has the better wrestling, fights out of a better camp in Jackson’s MMA, and has a significantly better strength of schedule. He ought to be able to dictate position and control the fight both standing and on the ground.
Hamilton has every advantage here; therefore, expect an early finish from strikes, either standing or from top position.
Prediction: Hamilton via first-round technical knockout
Joe Soto’s (15-2) career seemed to be on the ropes in 2011 following losses to Joe Warren and Eddie Yagin and a nasty eye injury suffered against the former. He has since bounced back well, winning his last six fights and earning the Tachi Palace Fights (TPF) Bantamweight title along the way.
He has not gone the distance since his sixth pro fights and owns eight wins by submission.
Anthony Birchak (11-1) has won his last five fights, becoming the Maximum Fighting Championship (MFC) 135-pound champ in the process. The freestyle and Greco-Roman stylist earned finishes in four of those bouts and nine of his 11 victories.
He will have a two-inch height advantage over Soto.
Both men are wrestling specialists, meaning there’s a good chance of some entertaining scrambles. Though it’s difficult to gauge their relative prowess in that area, a few things have me leaning toward Soto. In addition to his experience advantage, Soto excels at timing shots on advancing opponents, while Birchak plows his way into the clinch with power strikes.
Birchak’s aggression seems liable to play directly into Soto’s hands.
Hopefully, we’ll get some fun grappling rather than a stalemate against the cage. Either way, Soto should control enough of the fight to earn the judges’ favor or a late tap.
Prediction: Soto via unanimous decision
Chris Wade (7-1) opened his career in the Ring of Combat promotion, winning his first five. After a loss to Ozzy Dugulubgov in World Series of Fighting, Wade returned to ROC, picking up two wins since.
He is three inches shorter than Cain Carrizosa (6-0).
Carrizosa joined TPF in his fourth professional bout, earning a decision win in Aug. 2013. He has since competed in Bellator and once more in TPF, finishing both opponents.
His victories are split exactly between knockouts and submissions.
There is pretty much no footage of Carrizosa within the last two years, so that just leaves us with Wade. Wade is a very skilled wrestler, but seems to lack the physicality to impose his will. That said, reading old play-by-plays indicates Carrizosa isn’t too difficult to put on his rear, which bodes ill for him.
I do know that Carrizosa is extremely aggressive with his submissions and potentially overeager to sacrifice position for the sake of their pursuit. Wade should have the grappling ability to avoid this and grind Carrizosa down for the full 15 minutes.
Prediction: Wade via unanimous decision
Two more UFC 177 "Prelims" matches to preview and predict tomorrow, including the Octagon debut of an Olympic wrestling gold medalist and an intriguing clash of Middleweight hopefuls.
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 177 fight card on fight night (Sat., Aug. 30, 2014), 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-televised under card bouts at 8 p.m. ET and then main card PPV, which is slated to begin at 10 p.m. ET.