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Jones vs Gustafsson 2 predictions: UFC 232 FOX Sports 1 ‘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. 29, 2018) when UFC 232: “Jones vs Gustafsson 2” storms The Forum in Inglewood, California.’s Patrick Stumberg continues the UFC 232 “Prelims” party with the second (and final) installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

The nightmare saga of UFC 232 concludes at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., this Saturday (Dec. 29, 2018) when Jon Jones rematches Alexander Gustafsson. In the pay-per-view (PPV) co-feature, Cris Cyborg throws down with fellow Brazilian knockout artist Amanda Nunes for the women’s Featherweight belt, while Chad Mendes squares off with Alexander in a pivotal clash of 145-pound contenders.

Four more “Prelims” undercard bouts on FOX Sports 1 remain to preview and predict (check out the Fight Pass portion here). Let’s get to it.

265 lbs.: Andrei Arlovski vs. Walt Harris

Once the terror of the Heavyweight division, Andrei Arlovski (27-17) is just 2-7 in his last nine fights, including four stoppage losses. Though he put together a two-fight win streak with decisions over Junior Albini and Stefan Struve, “The Pitbull” has since lost two straight to Tai Tuivasa and Shamil Abdurakhimov.

Walt Harris’ (11-7) decision to fight Fabricio Werdum on short notice got him tapped in 65 seconds, after which he cost himself what looked to be an easy win over Mark Godbeer by landing an illegal head kick. “The Big Ticket” returned to action seven months later, knocking out Daniel Spitz in the waning seconds of the second round. All 11 of his wins have come by knockout within two rounds.

Save for a few entertaining moments against Josh Barnett, Arlovski hasn’t looked good in a fight since thrashing Travis Browne in 2015. Even his wins were dull — Frank Mir and Junior Albini barely fought, while the extremely shopworn Stefan Struve had no answers for Arlovski’s wrestling. Admittedly, he hasn’t been knocked out in a while, but I’ve seen nothing to suggest he can handle Harris, who is probably the best fighter to go 4-6 in UFC.

“The Big Ticket” is bigger, faster and stronger than Arlovski, and though his takedown defense remains mediocre, Arlovski doesn’t have the gas tank consistently muscle him to the mat. Admittedly, Harris has an astounding ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, but there’s too much going his way. Arlovski, who turns 40 in February, goes down early.

Prediction: Harris via first-round knockout

145 lbs.: Megan Anderson vs. Cat Zingano

Megan Anderson (7-3) scored three consecutive (technical) knockouts to earn a crack at the Invicta interim Featherweight title, which she won in dominant fashion with a head kick finish of Charmaine Tweet. She was originally supposed to debut against Cris “Cyborg,” but instead took on Holly Holm, who exploited the Aussie’s shaky ground game to win a dominant decision.

She is six inches taller than Cat Zingano (10-3) and will have a four-inch reach advantage.

“Alpha” Cat had a rough go of things from Feb. 2015 to March 2018, fighting just three times and losing all three. She finally got back in the win column in July by snapping Marion Reneau’s four-fight unbeaten streak in Boise.

Half of her wins have come by (technical) knockout.

In the pantheon of prospect red flags, getting out-wrestled by Holly Holm is way up there. Not that the Jackson-Wink product can’t defend a takedown, but if she’s initiating the wrestling and torching you on the mat, something is deeply wrong with your game.

Something that can’t be fixed in six months.

Zingano showed against Reneau that she’s willing to bring her offensive wrestling prowess to bare, and even with the considerable size difference she’s facing, that’s enough for me to give her the nod. Unfortunately for Anderson, “Alpha” is a bit nastier from top position than Holm. Zingano pounds her out from top position sometime in the second.

Prediction: Zingano via second-round technical knockout

135 lbs.: Petr Yan vs. Douglas Andrade

Petr Yan (10-1) — the ACB Bantamweight Champion — made his Octagon debut in triumphant fashion with a knockout of never-before-KO’d Teruto Ishihara at UFC Fight Night 132. He was booked to face Andrade in November, but instead fought late replacement Jin Soo Son, battering the indestructible Korean in the evening’s “Fight of the Night.”

He will give up 1.5-inch of reach to Douglas Andrade (25-2).

Andrade, now 33, has fought just once a year in the UFC, going 3-1 since losing his 2014 debut to future brawl participant Zubaira Tukhugov. His most recent bout saw him score a mild upset over TUF: Latin America vet Marlon Vera in February. He’s scored 19 knockouts as a pro, including a 10-KO streak at one point.

This is a Fight of the Night sleeper pick. Yan is arguably the best prospect in the division and consistently puts on a show, while Andrade hits like a truck. Both have sufficiently good takedown defense to keep it standing of one or the other feels inclined to take it to the mat and the durability to punish one another for all fifteen minutes.

This may boil down to output; Andrade can be surprisingly passive despite his considerable power, and though Yan is a little linear and hittable, the Brazilian slugger is going to find himself deep in a statistical hole if he can’t hurt Yan early. “No Mercy” has a tougher time than expected, but ultimately outworks his foe to win a unanimous decision.

Prediction: Yan by unanimous decision

155 lbs.: B.J. Penn vs. Ryan Hall

B.J. Penn (16-12-2) — 2.5 years after his disastrous Featherweight debut against Frankie Edgar — returned to the cage in the main event of UFC Fight Night 103, where he was summarily destroyed by Yair Rodriguez. He then lost a majority decision to Dennis Siver despite dropping the veteran, increasing his current losing streak to five.

This will be his first fight in 18 months.

Ryan Hall (6-1) scored a pair of rapid heel hooks on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 22 before running into Saul Rogers, but got a spot on the Finale anyway after Rogers was found to have lied on his visa.

He will also be returning from a considerable hiatus, having last fought in Dec. 2016.

I mean, if you had to pick someone for Penn to fight who’s unlikely to give him further brain trauma, it’s Hall. Hall is unequivocally there to grapple, though he’ll land some decent ground-and-pound if given the opportunity. Penn’s the better striker by a huge margin, but Hall’s endless range kicking and takedown bait will make it difficult for “The Prodigy” to establish his boxing game.

The result? Black belt vs. black belt on the mat.

Penn’s credentials on the mat hold up to Hall’s, but at 40 years old with a history of beatings and cardio failure, one can’t reasonably expect him to keep up with Hall for all 15 minutes. Penn starts strong, but fades down the stretch as he always does while Hall establishes dominant position after dominant position, too tough to finish but too broken to compete.

Prediction: Hall via unanimous decision

This is a horrific mess, but hopefully it’ll at least be an interesting mess. See you Saturday, Maniacs!

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 232 fight card on fight night, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 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.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 232: “Jones vs. Gustafsson 2” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

Current UFC “Prelims” Prediction Record for 2018: 188-84-1

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