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UFC 252 predictions: ‘Miocic vs Cormier 3’ ESPN+ early ‘Prelims’ undercard preview

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a bevy of “Prelims” fights to both UFC Fight Pass/ESPN+ and ESPN this weekend (Sat., Aug. 15, 2020) when UFC 252: “Miocic vs. Cormier 3” takes over UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg kicks off the UFC 252 “Prelims” party with the first installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Smith vs Teixeira Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Heavyweight division once again hosts a pivotal grudge match this Saturday (Aug. 15, 2020) when champion Stipe Miocic once again throws down with Daniel Cormier inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. The latest ESPN+-streamed pay-per-view (PPV) show will also feature a clash between Bantamweight finishers Sean O’Malley and Marlon Vera, as well as a sure-fire slugfest pitting Junior dos Santos against Jairzinho Rozenstruik.

UFC 252 features six “Prelims” undercard bouts before then, though, two on ESPN+/Fight Pass and the rest on ESPN proper. Let’s begin with the former:

145 lbs.: Herbert Burns vs. Daniel Pineda

Herbert Burns (11-2) — two fights removed from consecutive losses in ONE FC — dazzled on “Contender Series” with an impressive triangle finish of Darrick Minner, earning himself a contract in the process. He’s been equally impressive in the UFC, dispatching Nate Landwehr and Evan Dunham in 4:03 combined.

“The Blaze” will have two inches of height and four inches of reach on Daniel Pineda (26-13).

“The Pit” left UFC in 2014 in the midst of a 1-4 stretch, then went on to win eight of his next 10 bouts. His efforts earned him a spot in PFL’s 2019 season, which saw him knockout tournament favorite Movlid Khaybulaev and choke out UFC vet Jeremy Kennedy before a failed drug test erased his efforts.

All of his professional wins have come inside the distance, 18 of them by submission.

I sorely underestimated Burns against Dunham, assuming that the Brazilian’s historically average wrestling would prove insufficient against a grappler of that caliber. Instead, he took the back and wrapped up the submission without issue, and I expect him to do the same to Pineda. Though “The Pit” is always dangerous, he’s not the caliber of wrestler that’s troubled Burns in the past and isn’t quite lethal enough on the feet to make up for that.

Pineda’s best chances lie in either catching Burns on the feet or hurting him in transition as the Brazilian hunts for a takedown, and neither seems particularly likely against Brazilian jiu-jitsu of this caliber. In short, Burns ensures Pineda’s UFC career picks up where it left off with another one-sided defeat.

Prediction: Burns via first-round submission

145 lbs.: T.J. Brown vs. Danny Chavez

T.J. Brown (14-7) capped off a four-fight win streak by choking out Dylan Lockard on “Contender Series” to earn himself an Octagon contract. He looked to be in firm control in his promotional debut opposite Jordan Griffin, only to land in a fight-ending guillotine late in the second.

He has ended 13 of his 14 professional wins inside the distance, including every one since 2016.

Danny Chavez (10-3) — who first debuted in 2010 — spent two years on the shelf after consecutive losses to Jason Soares and Adi Alic. He returned in 2018 to score three consecutive first-round knockouts, the most recent of which came just last month.

He stands one inch shorter than Brown at 5’8.”

I’m going to be honest: I couldn’t find a single recent Chavez fight that wasn’t locked behind a paywall. The most useful available footage is a 48-second clip of him kicking his most recent opponent in the head; therefore, I’m essentially flying blind here.

That said, there’s enough on paper for me to confidently pick Brown. Though “Downtown” is a bit fragile, he’s far more proven and is versatile enough to hold his own wherever the fight ends up. He takes down “The Colombian Warrior” early and puts him away on the mat.

Prediction: Brown via first-round submission

We’ve got four more UFC 252 “Prelims” undercard bouts to preview and predict tomorrow, including two intriguing Strawweight match ups and a clash of debuting Heavyweights. Same time tomorrow, Maniacs.

Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 252 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN+/Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN+/ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 252: “Miocic vs. Cormier 3” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.