Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will make its third trip to Mexico this Saturday evening (Nov. 21, 2015) with UFC Fight Night 78 at Arena Monterrey in Monterrey, which will headlined by a clash between rising Welterweight contenders Neil Magny and Kevin Gastelum.
In addition, Ricardo Lamas will welcome Diego Sanchez to the Featherweight division, while former Olympic gold medal-winning wrestler, Henry Cejudo, faces former top Flyweight Jussier "Formiga" da Silva.
As usual, the "Prelims" undercard will be split between Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1.
Check out the online line up:
155 lbs.: Valmir Lazaro vs. Michel Prazeres
Valmir Lazaro (13-3) joined UFC having won 11 straight, eight of them by way of knockout, but struggled with the length of James Vick en route to a unanimous decision loss. "Bidu" re-entered the win column at UFC 184 with a narrow win over James Krause.
He will enjoy a six-inch height advantage over the 5’6" Michel Prazeres (18-2).
Prazeres suffered the first loss of his career in his Octagon debut opposite Paulo Thiago, who narrowly edged "Trator" via decision. Prazeres then dropped to 155 pounds and picked up two straight wins, one over fast-rising Mairbek Taisumov before running afoul of Kevin Lee and dropping a unanimous decision.
I’ve been flip-flopping on this one. Prazeres is a tank of a man whose loss to Lee seems less and less damning in retrospect, while Lazaro’s UFC run has been rather disappointing -- I personally felt he lost his fight with Krause. At the same time, the style clash favors "Bidu," who packs Nova Uniao’s trademark takedown defense and a massive height advantage. In addition, while his striking has been terribly underwhelming, it’s still better than Prazeres’ mechanical swings.
While writing this, I switched my pick from Prazeres to Lazaro. I get the sense I’m going to feel stupid for doing so, but here we are.
Prazeres’ cardio, which seemed fixed during his rout of Taisumov, looked iffy against Lee. After a strong first round from "Trator," Lazaro’s punching power and takedown defense take over as he batters his way to a decision win.
Prediction: Lazaro via unanimous decision
170 lbs.: Erick Montano vs. Enrique Marin
Erick Montano (6-3) -- brother of fellow UFC Welterweight Augusto "Dodger" -- won his first fight in The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Latin America" 2 house when Marco Olano posted while being taken down, suffering a nasty fracture in the process. "Perry’s" second fight, thankfully, featured no such catastrophe, dropping and submitting Vernon Ramos via rear-naked choke.
He has never gone the distance as a professional, submitting four opponents.
Despite an early surge from his opponent, Enrique Marin (8-2) used precise combinations to earn his first win on the show at the expense of Kevin Medinilla. In the semifinals, he needed hardly any time to submit fellow Team Gastelum member Hector Aldana with a rear-naked choke. "Wasabi" has tapped his last four opponents and five overall.
Montaño appears to share his brother’s lackluster technique, but lacks the overwhelming physicality "Dodger" uses to compensate. His striking is best described with a noncommittal "eh" and his fight with Ramos was basically a documentary on awful back control. Marin, by contrast, has some crisp hands, good work in the clinch, and solid grappling overall.
All three of Montaño’s professional losses have come by submission and Marin is well-equipped to hand him a fourth. Marin controls the striking for however long he wants until he grounds Montaño and chokes him out.
Prediction: Marin via first-round submission
170 lbs.: Vernon Ramos vs. Alvaro Herrera
Vernon Ramos (3-0), representing Panama, faced Honduras’ Wilmer Fernandez in the opening round, getting off the canvas to win a hard-fought unanimous decision. He wasn’t quite as lucky in his second fight, where he tapped to a rear-naked choke from Erick Montaño the first round.
He will give up three inches of height to the 6’0" Alvaro Herrera (8-3).
Mexico’s Herrera, representing Team Escudero, faced off with Team Gastelum’s Hector Aldana in the opening round of the show. Though he managed to score an early takedown and move to the back, Herrera soon ran out of steam and wound up losing a unanimous decision.
"Sport Billy" has never gone past the second round in his seven-year career.
On a whim, I went over to MMA Playground and Tapology to see who’s picking who, and Ramos appears massively favored. I’m not entirely sure why. Sure, Herrera has only ever beaten one man with a win on his record, and that win was over Herrera, but Ramos’ three professional opponents currently have a combined record of 1-4. On the show, neither stood out -- Herrera gassed out almost immediately and Ramos showed a shaky chin and -- despite a history of submission wins -- some pretty lackluster positional grappling.
It’s something of a coin flip, and I’m leaning toward Herrera.
"Sport Billy," whatever the hell that means, showed some decent skills before his cardio betrayed him, while Ramos just looked sloppy. Plus, he took a beating in both of his fights on the show. Herrera drops him and polishes him off with strikes before his gas tank has a chance to empty.
Prediction: Herrera via first-round technical knockout
Four more UFC Fight Night 78 "Prelims" fights to preview and predict tomorrow, capped off by the return of Erik Perez after 1.5 years away from the sport.
See you there, Maniacs!
Remember that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 78 fight card, starting with the "Prelims" matches online at 6:30 p.m. ET and then the FOX Sports 1-televised undercard bouts, which are scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports 1 main card at 10 p.m. ET.