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UFC 226 video: Top 3 ‘Hidden Gem’ fights to watch this weekend

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A heart wrenching, butt puckering, back-and-forth battle might be hidden on the UFC 226 ‘Prelims’ undercard.

Max Holloway was removed from his Featherweight title co-main event spot opposite of Brian Ortega just three days prior to UFC 226. While I’m crestfallen that we don’t get to see what many fight fans were looking forward to as the top top fight this weekend, I’m relieved that this list is looking past the well-known fighters and to the top three fights to watch that might be overlooked.

This is the point where you either click the video above to learn where the hidden gems lie on this card or read on if you prefer to silently consume the content.

#3. Paul ‘The Irish Dragon’ Felder vs. ‘Platinum’ Mike Perry

Felder is making his 170-pound debut on 10 days short notice. That, in an of itself, makes the fight intriguing. Add to it that he is coming off of three (technical) knockout victories in a row where he earned a “Performance of the Night” bonus after two of those highlight finishes and we’ve already got ourselves a must-watch contest regardless of Felder’s assigned foe.

It just so happens that his opponent is also someone who deserves as many eyeballs on him as possible each time he enters the Octagon. Perry, whether you love him or hate him, is one of the most entertaining brawlers currently under contract with the world’s premiere mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion.

Pairing these two combatants together for an unexpected Welterweight bout was a great idea by the matchmakers. Presumably, Perry will have an overall size advantage despite not having the height advantage. Felder has shown the more diverse and well-rounded MMA attack with better in-fight adjustments during his UFC tenure.

I truly can’t fathom how this one is anything other than thrilling.

#2. Uriah ‘Primetime’ Hall vs. Paulo ‘The Eraser’ Costa

Hall has shown glimpses of brilliance in his career. So much so that Chael Sonnen once said he has the potential to be greater than Anderson Silva. Sadly, he doesn’t always live up to his potential and occasionally seems hesitant to inflict violence. Guessing which version of him will enter the cage is almost as fun as watching him hit majestic flying or spinning techniques to remove his opponents from consciousness.

Paulo “Whatever His Nickname Is This Week” is devilishly handsome and possesses mischievously powerful striking skills. He has never been to a third round, while finishing nearly every opponent via (technical) knockout. Only once did he show mercy and finished his opponent via submission. If his skill set catches up with his raw athleticism and explosiveness the guy could be a future champion.

If the violent version of Hall shows up or Costa continues his reign of terror, one of these two men will likely be getting a fight-night bonus check.

#1. Lando ‘Groovy’ Vannata vs. Drakkar Klose

I’m not exactly sure how many fighters on UFC’s roster have a 100 percent post-fight bonus rate, but Vannata is one of them. Whether he is hitting mind-blowingly smooth wheel kick knockouts or participating in heart wrenching, butt-puckering, back and forth Fight of the Night (FOTN) battles, he is sure to keep fight fans on the edges of their seats.

Vannata is flashy, which is something that Klose has a knack for stymieing. Klose had already defeated a loose and flowy striker who had a lot of hype behind him in Marc Diakiese. I don’t have a ton of reasons for why Klose belongs in this spot other than he is the perfect nemesis for Vannata in this scenario. He has a straightforward — yet effective —approach to MMA that I believe Vannata might have trouble dealing with.

Even if “Groovy” has trouble with the stylistic match up here I have little doubt that he will attempt to put on the greatest show of the night to keep his post-fight bonus streak alive. Don’t get me wrong there are a ton of fights happening this weekend that are fantastic, so If you’re most anticipated fight didn’t make my list it’s not because I’m not looking forward to that one as well.

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MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 226 fight card on fight night (click here), 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 PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.