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UFC 219 predictions: 'Cyborg vs Holm' Fight Pass 'Prelims' undercard preview

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a bevy of "Prelims" fights to both UFC Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1 this weekend (Sat., Dec. 30, 2017) when UFC 219: “Cyborg vs. Holm” storms T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.'s Patrick Stumberg kicks off the UFC 219 "Prelims" party with the first installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

Alternative View - UFC Fight Night: Hunt v Bigfoot Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images

The Baddest Woman on the Planet will be determined this Saturday evening (Dec. 30, 2017) as UFC women’s Featherweight champion, Cris Cyborg, squares off with boxing legend and former UFC Bantamweight queenpin, Holly Holm, in the main event of UFC 219.

The pay-per-view (PPV) card, which takes place inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, will also feature an A+ Lightweight clash between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Edson Barboza, as well as the return of Carlos Condit against Neil Magny.

UFC 219 features just six “Prelims” udnercard bouts this time around, split 4-2 between FOX Sports 1 and Fight Pass. Let’s dig in!

135 lbs.: Tim Elliott vs. Mark De La Rosa

Tim Elliott (14-8) made a strong return to UFC’s ranks by giving Demetrious Jonson a quality test, then defeated Louis Smolka in what was basically a 15-minute scramble. Less than two months later, he faced Ben Nguyen, who took advantage of his reckless grappling to choke him out in just 49 seconds.

He was last booked to fight just weeks ago against Pietro Menga, who flubbed his weight cut so badly he had to be hospitalized.

Mark De La Rosa (9-0) — husband of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 26 competitor Montana De La Rosa — picked up a pair of regional titles to earn a shot at the Legacy FC Bantamweight belt last year. He ended up no-showing the fight and heading to Combate, where he picked up a pair of submission wins.

Five of his nine wins have come by submission.

Legacy shenanigans aside, De La Rosa is an excellent pickup for UFC. He’s quick and slick on the feet, plus more than capable on the mat. Elliott has struggled with mobile strikers before, including Ali Bagautinov and the aforementioned Johnson, and is stepping up in weight, which initially had me leaning toward an upset.

On closer examination, however, De La Rosa has weighed in below the Bantamweight limit multiple times. In addition, he visibly slowed against Arthur Oliveira last year when the Brazilian kept the pressure on him. If nothing else, Elliott makes opponents work, and he’s more than durable enough to walk through De La Rosa’s best. He survives a rough first round to put the pace on him in two and three.

Prediction: Elliott via unanimous decision

185 lbs.: Marvin Vettori vs. Omari Akhmedov

First-round finishes of veterans Jack Mason and Igor Araujo punched Marvin Vettori’s (12-3) ticket to UFC, which he made the most of by submitting Alberto Uda in his promotional debut. Antonio Carlos Junior proved too much to deal with his next time out, but he did manage to overwhelm “Shoeface’s” fellow TUF: “Brazil” finalist, Vitor Muranda, in June.

He owns eight wins by submission and another two by (technical) knockout.

Omari Akhmedov’s (17-4) impressive UFC start (3-1) gave way to consecutive knockout losses to Sergio Moraes and Elizeu Zaleski, both of which saw Akhmedov start strong but fade badly in the later rounds. The Dagestani grappler has since gotten back on track with decisions over Kyle Noke and Abdul Razak Alhassan, defying 2:1 odds to beat the latter.

He owns seven wins by form of knockout and has earned two “Fight of the Night” bonuses in UFC.

If this fight was at Welterweight, I’d take Akhmedov in a heartbeat. Vettori doesn’t pack enough heat in his hands to crack Akhmedov’s shaky jaw and is ostensibly on the wrong end of the wresting battle. Fifteen pounds is nothing to shake a stick at, though, and two solid performances can’t erase the memory of Akhmedov’s cardio failures.

Still, heavy hands and heavy hips go a long way. It’ll be close and probably packed with some wild scrambles, but Akhmedov spends enough time controlling the clinch and punching from top position to edge out the win.

Prediction: Akhmedov via split decision

Four more UFC 219 “Prelims” bouts to preview and predict tomorrow, including top prospects Marc Diakiese and Khalil Rountree Jr.. Same time as usual, Maniacs! will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 219 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the pay-per-view (PPV) main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

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