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UFC Fight Night 51 'Prelims' preview and predictions, Pt. 1

More fights are coming to Fight Pass online digital network this weekend (Sat., Sept. 13, 2014) when UFC Fight Night 51: "Bigfoot vs. Arlovski" kicks off from Nilson Nelson Gymnasium in Brasilia, Brazil. MMAmania.com's Patrick Stumberg kicks off the UFC Fight Night 51 "Prelims" party with part one of a two-part under card preview series.

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"Heavy Artillery," Part 2.

After a battle in Strikeforce four years ago, powerful Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight veterans Antonio Silva and Andrei Arlovski will fight once more this Saturday (Sept. 13, 2014) in the main event of UFC Fight Night 51 from Nilson Nelson Gymnasium in Brasilia, Brazil.

In addition, Gleison Tibau will try to earn his fourth win in five fights against Polish standout Piotr Hallmann, while The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Brazil 2" winner Leonardo Santos faces the returning Efrain Escudero.

That's just the top of an all-Fight Pass event.

Before the Fight Pass main card can begin, however, five "Prelims" under card matches will first take place. Let's look at the first three on the online docket:

155 lbs.: Francisco Trinaldo vs. Leandro Silva

Francisco Trinaldo (14-4) joined the inaugural Ultimate Fighter: Brazil as a middleweight, falling in the quarterfinals to Thiago "Bodao" because of exhaustion. He has since enjoyed mixed success in UFC, going 4-3 with two losses in his last three fights.

The former Jungle Fight Lightweight champion was originally scheduled to face Efrain Escudero before an injury to Lukasz Sajewski bumped Escudero up to the main card.

Leandro Silva's (16-1-1) first Octagon appearance came on short notice against the towering Ildemar Alcantara. Though Silva lost the decision, he has done well for himself since, winning five consecutive fights.

"Buscape" is two inches taller and more than seven years younger than his opponent.

I’m a major Trinaldo fan, but this is getting old. Nobody’s cardio should be this consistently bad. And no matter how much he likes being the biggest 155-pound fighter around, it’s embarrassing to see him gas so predictably.

Still, he’s solid for the better part of two rounds and a 29-28 is still a win.

Silva didn’t seem to have an answer for the physicality of Ildemar Alcantara. Trinaldo -- though not quite that gigantic -- is a powerhouse in his own right and lacks the awkwardness that kept Alcantara from doing damage. He should be able to impose his will in the striking and grappling department.

Whether he gets the early finish or gasses again after racking up enough of a lead, Trinaldo ought to come out on top.

Prediction: Trinaldo via unanimous decision

170 lbs.: Paulo Thiago vs. Sean Spencer

After one of the most impressive Octagon debuts in recent memory and victories in two of his next three bouts, Paulo Thiago (15-7) looked poised to make a real impact in the Welterweight division. Unfortunately for the BOPE officer, things went downhill quickly, resulting in six losses in his last eight fights.

He has scored 10 finishes overall ... eight of them via submission.

Sean Spencer (11-3) went up in weight on short notice in his UFC debut, a submission loss to Rafael Natal. He proceeded to win two straight at welterweight before losing a close, entertaining bout with the heavily-favored Alex Garcia.

He has finished four professional opponents.

Thiago is a bonafide badass and a skilled fighter, but his time is up. Whatever is holding him back, it seems he can no longer compete above the middle tier of the division. Though Spencer is not a finisher, he should be able to piece up Thiago on the feet at this stage in the latter’s career.

If Thiago wants to be a factor in the current 170-pound division, he needs to shore up his wrestling and impose his Brazilian jiu-jitsu -- he doesn’t have the power to make his haymakers a viable tactic. Spencer has the defensive grappling to stay on his feet and the activity to edge Thiago on the scorecards.

As much as I hate to say it, it’s the end of the road for Thiago as a factor at 170 pounds unless he makes drastic improvements before this fight.

Prediction: Spencer via unanimous decision

135 lbs.: Rani Yahya vs. Johny Bedford

Rani Yahya (19-8) opened his UFC career 4-1, the sole loss coming to Chad Mendes. After a loss to Tom Niinimaki in an entertaining ground battle, Yahya met Bedford for the first time, only for an errant headbutt to force a no-contest.

Fifteen of his pro victories have come by form of choke.

Johnny Bedford's (19-11-1) UFC career began in a fashion befitting his nickname as he beat down Louis Gaudinot and Marcos Vinicius. Unfortunately, he has since hit a slump, suffering stoppage losses in two of his last three bouts with the Yahya "No Contest" sandwiched in between.

He stands three inches taller than his opponent.

I’m not as high on Bedford as I was before his slide, but I still think he’s a bad match up for Yahya. Bedford is a huge Bantamweight with the wrestling ability and heavy hands to punish Yahya on the feet, not to mention his length advantage.

So long as he makes no attempts to engage Yahya on the ground, he should be able to batter him standing.

Bedford’s chin and submission defense make him too much of a glass cannon to reach the upper echelon of the division, especially considering the riskiness of his aggression. Still, I think he’s got the goods to finish Yahya with strikes midway through the second round.

Prediction: Bedford via second-round technical knockout

Two more "Prelims" fights to preview and predict tomorrow, both featuring Brazilian TUF veterans.

See you there, Maniacs!

MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 51 fight card on fight night, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 5:45 p.m. ET, right on through the Fight Pass main card that will start at 8 p.m. ET.