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UFC 207 predictions: 'Nunes vs Rousey' Fight Pass 'Prelims' undercard preview, Pt. 1

More Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) action is coming to Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1 this weekend (Fri., Dec. 30, 2016) when UFC 207: “Rousey vs. Nunes” storms T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.'s Patrick Stumberg kicks off the UFC 207 "Prelims" party with the first installment of a two-part undercard preview series.

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

One more for the road ...

This God-awful nightmare of a year is finally on its deathbed and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is here to help us send it off. UFC 207 hits the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevade, this Friday evening (Dec. 30, 2016) with Amanda Nunes vs. Ronda Rousey in the pay-per-view (PPV) main event and Dominick Cruz vs. Cody Garbrandt one co-featured fight of the night.

In addition, T.J. Dillashaw faces John Lineker with a potential Bantamweight title shot on the line and Ray Borg dukes it out with Louis Smolka in a clash of Flyweight prospects.

The five UFC 207 "Prelims" undercard matches are split 4:1 between FOX Sports 1 and Fight Pass. Here’s what the early birds with an Internet connection and a subscription get to look forward to:

170 lbs.: Alex Oliveira vs. Tim Means

Three consecutive victories paved the way for a tumultuous 2016 for Alex Oliveira (16-4-1), which kicked off with a loss to Donald Cerrone in the first-ever UFC main event for the Brazilian "Cowboy." He proceeded to dominate James Moontasri and upset Will Brooks, although he grievously missed weight in the latter.

He is three inches shorter than the 6’2" Tim Means (26-7).

Means has made the most of his second shot at UFC stardom, going 6-1 since a loss to Neil Magny in 2014. After missing out on a shot at Donald Cerrone because of United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA)-related issues, "Dirty Bird" returned in August to batter Sabah Homasi into submission at UFC 202.

Eighteen of his professional wins have come by knockout.

This is a phenomenal fight, one that should have the winner knocking on the door of the Top 15. While Means has the edge in the feet in terms of slickness, length and strike variety, I’m leaning toward Oliveira. The key here is the wrestling of "Cowboy" -- none of the six men Means smashed during his current run had any sort of takedown prowess. Oliveira is durable enough to survive on the feet and I’m not sure that Means -- who can slip into cruise control at times -- will throw enough volume to overcome the time he spends on his back.

Means is scary in the clinch and could certainly punish Oliveira if he gets too eager, but Oliveira’s brutal pace and ground control are just too much. He controls the fight on the mat to take the decision win.

Prediction: Oliveira via unanimous decision

170 lbs.: Brandon Thatch vs. Niko Price

(Note: This was today promoted to the FOX Sports 1 "Prelims," but will keep it here to we can preview more than just one fight).

Once touted as the future of the Welterweight division, three consecutive submission losses leave Brandon Thatch (11-4) fighting for his UFC life. His first main event turn saw him tap to Benson Henderson, after which "Rukus" was dropped and stopped by Gunnar Nelson and submitted by Siyar Bahadurzada (of all people).

All of his wins have come by first-round stoppage, eight of them knockouts.

Niko Price (8-0) opened his career with an armbar win, then proceeded to knockout his next six opponents. His last fight, in August, saw him go to the judges for the first time after six first-round finishes and one in the second. He steps in for Sabah Homasi in short notice.

Honestly, the Henderson and Nelson losses were understandable -- "Bendo" is a former champion and Nelson has really come into his own of late. Against Bahadurzada, though, Thatch just looked helpless. No part of his game worked. Indeed, his striking was powerless, his takedown defense woeful, and he did absolutely nothing to defend against the finishing arm-triangle.

This is a fight he both can and has to win. Though I’ve yet to find any recent footage of Price, he looks like the sort of slow, flat-footed bruiser who Thatch ought to beat to a pulp. Of course, the exact same could be said of Bahadurzada and Thatch still struggled.

I’m giving "Rukus" one more chance. If there’s anything left of the confident, aggressive bulldozer who once enthralled the fans, he smashes Price in one round.

Prediction: Thatch via first-round technical knockout

Three more UFC 207 "Prelims" matches to preview and predict, three of them at Welterweight. Same time tomorrow, Maniacs! will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 207 fight card right here, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, and then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

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