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UFC on FOX 30 predictions: ‘Alvarez vs Poirier 2’ Fight Pass ‘Prelims’ undercard preview

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Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a bevy of “Prelims” fights to both UFC Fight Pass and FOX this weekend (Sat., July 28, 2018) when UFC on FOX 30: “Alvarez vs Poirier 2” storms Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg kicks off the UFC on FOX 30 “Prelims” party with the first installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

One of the biggest anticlimaxes in recent mixed martial arts (MMA) memory gets rectified this Saturday (July 28, 2018) when Dustin Poirier and Eddie Alvarez duke it out once again, this time with five rounds to work.

UFC on FOX 30, which takes place inside Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, will also feature Jose Aldo in his first three-round fight since 2009, taking on Jeremy Stephens, and former women’s Strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk making her own return to the three-round ranks opposite Tecia Torres.

We’ve a hefty nine “Prelims” undercard bouts to preview and predict this time around, five on Fight Pass and the rest on FOX. Let’s begin.

155 lbs.: John Makdessi vs. Ross Pearson

John Makdessi (15-6) — owner of one of UFC’s great spinning knockouts against Kyle Watson — wound up on the wrong end of another legendary spin (watch it) when Lando Vannata knocked him cold with a wheel kick in Dec. 2016. “The Bull” returned to action 12 months later and claimed a much-needed victory over Abel Trujillo in his native Canada.

Nine of his 15 wins have come by (technical) knockout stoppage.

Ross Pearson (20-14) — who has now spent nine years competing in the Octagon — went from upsetting The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): “Nations” winner Chad Laprise to losing four straight, including a savage knockout loss to Dan Hooker. With his back against the wall, “The Real Deal” returned to the win column this past February by defeating gritty Japanese veteran Mizuto Hirota in Perth.

Pearson is 2-5 in his last seven bouts and has not won consecutive fights since 2013.

The key to this fight is distance. Pearson loves working in the pocket with his cross and left hook, while Makdessi prefers potshotting with his jab and lead leg. Stylistically, it looks to be well in ‘The Bull’s” favor, as his kicks make Pearson’s preferred inside slip too dangerous and Pearson doesn’t really have alternative means to get inside on rangier foes.

Both men have been inconsistent in recent years, only occasionally flashing greatness, but I have a bit more confidence in Makdessi’s ability to execute his ideal gameplan. Linear kicks keep Pearson at bay and allow Makdessi to rack up points on his way to a decision win.

Prediction: Makdessi via unanimous decision

125 lbs.: Alexis Davis vs. Katlyn Chookagian

Following a decision over Cindy Dandois, her fifth UFC victory, Alexis Davis (19-7) made the drop to the newly-minted women’s Flyweight division in Dec. 2017 against former foe Liz Carmouche. It went down to the wire, but “Ally-Gator” ultimately made it 2-0 against Carmouche with a split decision in Fresno.

She has submitted eight professional opponents, all by rear naked choke or armbar.

Katlyn Chookagian (10-1), sporting wins over Andrea Lee (in the amateurs) and Sijara Eubanks, enjoyed a successful UFC debut by defeating Lauren Murphy. A split decision loss to Liz Carmouche set her back, but she rebounded with close decisions over Irene Aldana and Mara Romero Borella, the latter at Flyweight.

She stands three inches taller than Davis at 5’9.”

I’m trying to come up with an appropriate adjective for Chookagian and nothing sounds better to me than “frustrating.” She’s towering for the weight and can throw an unreasonable number of punches over the course of 15 minutes, but she seems to have no sense of range (the Borella fight was downright farcical).

I’ll be pulling for Davis, as you might imagine, but I think Chookagian can “ish” her way to another decision.

Davis has just never developed the wrestling she needs to bring that killer jiu-jitsu game to bear. According to Fightmetric, she’s been taken down 11 times in her last three fights and landed just one of her own. That suggests that this will be a striking battle, one in which she’ll struggle to match Chookagian’s volume. Chookagian sprawls on Davis’ shots and outworks her for a decision win.

Prediction: Chookagian via unanimous decision

125 lbs.: Dustin Ortiz vs. Matheus Nicolau

Dustin Ortiz (18-7) has struggled to maintain consistency throughout his UFC career, but enters the Octagon this weekend having won three of his last four bouts. That run includes a 15-second knockout of Hector Sandoval and a decision over standout Alexandre Pantoja in Boston.

He is one inch taller than Nicolau, but will give up reach in both the arms and the legs.

Despite exiting the TUF: “Brazil” 4 in the semifinals, Matheus Nicolau (13-1-1) has excelled in UFC, going undefeated (3-0) and beating some notable names. After tapping castmate Bruno “Korea” in his debut, Nicolau won decisions over veterans John Moraga and Louis Smolka, though he had to deal with USADA issues between the latter two bouts.

He has knocked out and submitted four professional opponents apiece.

Ortiz will never be a title contender, but he’s proven himself capable of giving almost anyone in the decision a headache. He’s looked rock-solid in his last three wins and was beating Brandon Moreno before getting clipped with a head kick, showing off solid power, relentless offense, and top-notch scrambling.

Though Nicolau is a dangerous striker with quality submissions to back it up, I’m not sure he can keep Ortiz off of him or dissuade his endless takedown attempts. Unless he can catch Ortiz coming in, expect him to get outworked and ground to dust against the cage for fifteen minutes.

Prediction: Ortiz via unanimous decision

115 lbs.: Randa Markos vs. Nina Ansaroff

Randa Markos’ (8-5) Cinderella story on TUF 20 saw her defeat Tecia Torres and Felice Herrig before falling to Rose Namajunas in the semifinals. Since then, she’s alternated losses and wins, most recently defeating fellow wrestler Juliana Lima in January.

She stands one inch shorter than Nina Ansaroff (8-5) at 5’4”.

“The Strina” got off to a rough start in the Octagon, dropping decisions to Juliana Lima and Justine Kish in her first two appearances. She has since rebounded, however, choking out Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger and outstriking Angela Hill to establish herself as a top Strawweight.

Her six stoppage wins include four by (technical) knockout.

I still believe Ansaroff deserved the win against Justine Kish — and even though Markos is deceptively skilled and powerful — I see her taking the win here. As heavy as Markos’ right hand is, her striking game doesn’t extend far beyond that, and Ansaroff’s footwork ought to preclude Markos’ takedown attack.

That said, Markos has a habit of coming up big with the odds against her and Ansaroff has struggled off of her back. It’ll be close and I expect a bit of controversy, but “The Strina” should land enough strikes to offset Markos’ top control.

Prediction: Ansaroff via unanimous decision

155 lbs.: Devin Powell vs. Alvaro Herrera

Devin Powell (8-3) put together a six-fight win streak, capped off with a successful appearance on Dana White’s “Lookin’ for a Fight,” to earn a spot in UFC. He has yet to taste victory in the Octagon, however, dropping decisions to Drakkar Klose and Darrell Horcher.

He will give up one inch of reach to “Chango.”

Despite losing to Hector Aldana in the opening round of TUF: “Latin America” 2, Alvaro Herrera got the opportunity to join UFC itself, which he made the most of by flattening Vernon Ramos in 30 seconds. He has since suffered consecutive submission losses to Vicente Luque and Jordan Rinaldi, the latter of whom finished him with a von Flue choke in little more than two minutes.

He has never seen the judges as a professional, his victories and defeats all coming inside of two rounds.

Well, this is a roster-trimming fight if I’ve ever seen one. Neither of these two have looked UFC-worthy during their brief Octagon careers and they haven’t been particularly entertaining in defeat, either. That said, Powell did give Horcher a decent fight, while Herrera had nothing for Luque or Rinaldi.

Herrera is the younger of the two and is training at Jackson-Wink, so it wouldn’t be too surprising to see some improvement on his end, but I’m just not sure there’s all that much potential in him to maximize. Powell catches a choke in transition.

Prediction: Powell via first-round submission

Four more UFC on FOX 30 “Prelims” fights to preview and predict tomorrow, including what should be an absolutely bonkers showdown between Gadhimurad Antigulov and Ion Cutelaba. Same time as always, Maniacs!

Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on FOX 30 fight card this weekend, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” undercard bouts at 4 p.m. ET, followed by the FOX “Prelims” undercard bouts at 6 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10 p.m. ET (also on FOX).