Fifty-six combined wins, 49 via stoppage.
Two of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight division’s most devastating figures lock horns this Saturday evening (Sept. 10, 2016) when division champion Stipe Miocic faces the decorated Alistair Overeem inside Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
Deposed kingpin Fabricio Werdum helms UFC 203's pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event against late replacement Travis Browne, C.M. Punk finally makes his mixed martial arts (MMA) debut opposite Mickey Gall, and Urijah Faber looks to halt the rise of Jimmie Rivera down at Bantamweight.
But, first things first.
The latest PPV will feature seven "Prelims" undercard matches, the latter four of which you can catch on FOX Sports 1 (check out the Fight Pass portion here). Here’s what’s in store on free television.
135 lbs.: Jessica Eye v. Bethe Correia
Jessica Eye (11-5) choked out Bellator MMA tournament winner Zoila Frausto as part of a seven-fight win streak that brought her to UFC. In the promotion itself, she’s gone 1-4 (1 NC), her decision over Sarah Kaufmann overturned because of marijuana metabolites.
"Evil" stands two inches taller than the 5’4" Bethe Correia (9-2).
"Pitbull" punched her way through three foes on her way to a title shot, including two of Ronda Rousey’s fellow "Horsewomen." Said title shot ended with a Rousey right hand 36 seconds in, after which Correia lost a competitive fight with Raquel Pennington in April.
She owns two wins via knockout.
Eye’s UFC record is, well, kinda terrible on paper, but it’s not like she has lost to bad opponents. Her three-fight losing streak came against Miesha Tate, Julianna Pena and Sara McMann. Of Correia’s three UFC wins, the best is probably her questionable decision over Julie Kedzie (beating Jessamyn Duke and Shayna Baszler is nothing to write home about).
Stylistically, Eye’s jab and combination work are well-equipped to run circles around Correia’s toothless brawling, much as they did in her one-sided drubbing of Leslie Smith. Correia doesn’t have the wrestling skills that Eye has struggled with, either, which ought to allow Eye to strike with impunity. Expect her to handily outclass Correia in the boxing for a one-sided decision win.
Prediction: Eye via unanimous decision
185 lbs.: Brad Tavares vs. Caio Magalhaes
Despite falling short on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 11, Brad Tavares (13-4) found great success early in his UFC career with seven wins in eight fights. He has since gone 1-3 with losses to division standouts Yoel Romero, Tim Boetsch and Robert Whittaker.
He will give up two inches of height to the 6’1" Brazilian.
Grappling and punching power -- combined with a healthy dose of punches to the back of the head -- carried Caio Magalhaes (9-2) to a four-fight win streak after losing his debut. His streak came to an end when Josh Samman choked him out and his decision to spit on Samman afterward led to the Nevada State Athletic Commission suspending him for six months.
His wins are split evenly between knockouts, submissions and decisions.
Magalhaes is a classless, dirty fighter -- his fight with Trevor Smith featured some of the most blatant shots to the back of the head I’ve ever seen and his antics with Samman were just pathetic. Luckily, Tavares is here to show him what’s up.
By winning a decision. I’ll take what I can get.
Tavares has the wrestling advantage and superior kickboxing technique, as Magalhaes usually prefers wading in with power punches. In terms of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Magalhaes doesn’t offer much off of his back, certainly not enough to deter Tavares should he elect to bring it to the mat. I have some concerns about the state of Tavares’ chin, but he has the edge in enough areas that he should take the decision.
Prediction: Tavares via unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Nik Lentz vs. Michael McBride
The drop to Featherweight for Nik Lentz (26-7-2) paid quick dividends as he went on a 4-1 streak, the sole loss to Chad Mendes. After losing his rematch with Charles Oliveira, he returned to 155 pounds with a decision win over Team Alpha Male’s Danny Castillo in Dec. 2015.
"The Carnie" has submitted 10 professional foes, three of them via punches.
The ground game of Michael McBride (8-1) has carried him to considerable success, including a successful Bellator appearance in 2014. In fact, all eight of his wins have come by one of five different submissions. He replaces Mairbek Taisumov -- whose visa issues forced his withdrawal -- on less than two weeks’ notice.
Full disclosure: I have found bugger-all footage of McBride out there, so all I have to go on is his record. And said record says he’s in for it.
This isn’t the kind of fighter he can overpower early and often or bank on submitting off of his back. This is Nik Lentz, grinder extraordinaire. While his takedowns may not be that effective at Lightweight and while he may be slowing down a bit, the only person to tap him in the last decade was Charles Oliveira. McBride, on short notice and with only one fight since Oct. 2014, is not up to the task. Lentz wins in classic Lentz fashion with a dominant decision.
Prediction: Lentz via unanimous decision
125 lbs.: Ian McCall vs. Ray Borg
Once the No. 1-ranked Flyweight in the world, Ian McCall (13-5-1) has not fought since an overweight John Lineker handed him his third UFC loss in Jan. 2015. "Uncle Creepy" was set to return against Justin Scoggins at UFC 201, only for "Tank" to bungle his weight cut and scrap the bout at the last minute.
He has scored seven wins by stoppage, four via form of knockout.
Ray Borg (9-2) burst onto the UFC Flyweight scene by pushing Dustin Ortiz to his limit in his debut and rattling off three impressive wins in subsequent fights. This set up a showdown with fellow prospect Justin Scoggins, who shut down Borg’s grappling en route to a decision win.
"The Tazmexican Devil" has submitted six foes, five by rear-naked choke.
McCall is an excellent wrestler with great jiu-jitsu and a decent striking attack. Borg is that, too, only nine years younger and constantly improving. Sure, he got bodied by Scoggins, but I had "Tank" pegged to do the same to McCall before the incident mentioned above.
I still have high hopes for Borg, who I’m confident could handle McCall even at the latter’s best. With "Uncle Creepy’s" huge layoff and persistent injury issues, it’s all "Tazmexican," who comes out on top of an entertaining 15-minute grappling battle.
Prediction: Borg by unanimous decision
C.M. Punk shenanigans aside, there are some darn good match ups in store at UFC 203 this weekend. See you Saturday, folks!
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 203 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. ET, and then the remaining under card balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.