Predictions! UFC Lincoln ‘Prelims’ Preview – Pt. 1

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a bevy of “Prelims” fights to both UFC Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1 this weekend (Sat., Aug. 25, 2018) when UFC Fight Night 135: “Gaethje vs. Vick” storms Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln, Nebras…

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a bevy of “Prelims” fights to both UFC Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1 this weekend (Sat., Aug. 25, 2018) when UFC Fight Night 135: “Gaethje vs. Vick” storms Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln, Nebraska. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg kicks off the UFC Fight Night 135 “Prelims” party with the first installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

Social media rivals Justin Gaethje and James Vick take center stage this Saturday (Aug. 25, 2018) when they headline UFC Fight Night 135 inside Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska. Meanwhile, 10 pounds south, Michael Johnson attempts to end his current slump at Andre Fili’s expense, while Angela Hill fights Cortney Casey and Jake Ellenberger attempts to finally breathe life back into his Octagon career against Bryan Barberena.

Before all that, though, seven “Prelims” undercard bouts will set the stage on UFC Fight Pass and then FOX Sports 1. So let’s work our way up, starting from the bottom:

125 lbs.: Joanne Calderwood vs. Kalindra Faria

The strong Invicta FC run for Joanne Calderwood (11-3) earned her the No. 2 seed on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 20, where she defeated Emily Kagan before falling to Rose Namajunas. She has since struggled to maintain consistency and enters the Octagon on the heels of losses to Jessica Andrade and Cynthia Calvillo.

This will be “Dr. Kneevil’s” first fight in 13 months.

Kalindra Faria (18-7-1) had faced a “Who’s Who” of women’s mixed martial arts (MMA) veterans on her road to the Octagon, including Claudia Gadelha, Vanessa Porto, Jessica Aguilar and Karolina Kowalkiewicz. She ultimately made her UFC debut on a three-fight win streak, but came up short against Mara Romero Borella and Jessica Eye.

Seven of her 12 stoppage wins have come via (technical) knockout.

When Calderwood is on, she’s a match for anyone in the 125-pound division in the standup. That’s the rub, though, as she’s underperformed in the past and seems to lack the venom in her strikes she had during her Invicta FC days. I do expect her to look a lot better at her natural weight class, though, and I wasn’t terribly impressed with Faria’s UFC efforts.

There’s always the worry of the layoff and Calderwood’s inconsistency, but I like the style match up here. She’s busier and cleaner than the Brazilian on the feet and shouldn’t have too much to worry about in the takedown department. JoJo gets back on track by pot-shotting her way to a decision win.

Prediction: Calderwood via unanimous decision

155 lbs.: Drew Dober vs. Jon Tuck

Drew Dober (19-8) has come into his own since a 1-3 UFC start, winning four of his last five bouts. He is coming off of a knockout win over Josh Burkman and subsequent Fight of the Night slugfest against Frank Camacho in Charlotte.

He will give up three inches of height and reach to “The Super Saiyan.”

Jon Tuck (10-4) — once a red-hot prospect going into TUF 15 — has yet to find his footing in the Octagon, going even (4-4) since injury cut short his run on the show. After consecutive split decision losses to Josh Emmett and Damien Brown, Tuck choked out what’s left of Takanori Gomi for his first win since 2015.

This will be his first fight in 14 months.

The book is out on Tuck. For five-to-seven minutes, he’s a fast, athletic beast with one-shot knockout power and a lethal grappling game. For the rest of the fight, he’s a plodding mess saved by top-notch durability. The guy’s had eight UFC fights and gassed in all but one of the ones that went past the first round, so I don’t think that’s something he can fix.

Unfortunately for him, Dober is ridiculously durable and is learning to put some real heat behind his punches. Expect Tuck to look like a world-beater in the first round, only to once again run out of steam and get pieced up on the feet.

Prediction: Dober via unanimous decision

135 lbs.: Rani Yahya vs. Luke Sanders

Rani Yahya (25-9) — who ended his World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) run on a two-fight losing streak — continues to chug along, winning six of his last seven. His current run includes consecutive submissions of Henry Briones and Russell Doane.

He has submitted 19 opponents by more than a half-dozen different methods.

Luke Sanders (12-2) hit quite the bad luck streak after a dominant debut, falling to Iuri Alcantara and Andre Soukhamthath despite strong starts against both. He finally managed to break the slump in April with a decision over Patrick Williams.

“Cool Hand Luke” has knocked out six professional opponents and has six first-round finishes overall.

Yahya has done extremely well for himself as a miniature Demian Maia, pushing hard for early takedowns and outlasting those opponents he can’t submit in the first two rounds. It makes his fights annoyingly hard to predict, as there’s no real middle ground between his style working or not working, but at least it keeps things interesting.

What has me picking him here against a strong wrestler is Sanders’ fight with Alcântara. Sure, he laid an unholy smackdown on the Brazilian, but he got caught in the most telegraphed leglock I’ve ever seen in the process. That’s a simply unacceptable lapse against someone like Yahya, who’s got the ground game of a bear trap with arms. Yahya drags him down in the first few minutes, takes his back as he tries to scramble up, and finishes him with a rear naked choke.

Prediction: Yahya via first-round submission

Four more UFC Fight Night 135 “Prelims” bouts remain to preview and predict, among them the return of Mickey Gall and the latest from Bantamweight prospect Cory Sandhagen. Same time as always, Maniacs!

Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 135 fight card this weekend, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” undercard bout at 6:30 p.m. ET, followed by the FOX Sports 1 “Prelims” undercard bouts at 8 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10 p.m. ET (also on FOX Sports 1).

UFC Lightweight Evan Dunham Retiring After UFC Sao Paulo

Evan Dunham has announced he will be retiring after UFC Sao Paulo. Dunham has gone 4-1-1 in his last six outings. That’s not bad at all considering that the Dunham Jiu Jitsu wiz was able to bounce back from a three-fight skid. Still, at the age o…

Evan Dunham has announced he will be retiring after UFC Sao Paulo. Dunham has gone 4-1-1 in his last six outings. That’s not bad at all considering that the Dunham Jiu Jitsu wiz was able to bounce back from a three-fight skid. Still, at the age of 36 and having had 26 professional mixed martial […]

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White: Now the UFC is worth $7 billion after ESPN deal

UFC President Dana White is optimistic about what the ESPN deal will do for the company’s overall value. When the Fertitta brothers decided to let go of the UFC, they sold the company for a total of $4 billion to bigwig talent agency WME-…

UFC President Dana White is optimistic about what the ESPN deal will do for the company’s overall value.

When the Fertitta brothers decided to let go of the UFC, they sold the company for a total of $4 billion to bigwig talent agency WME-IMG. But after the UFC’s new broadcast partnership with ESPN which was made official last May, company president Dana White is expecting a boost in that previous value.

“When you think about it we haven’t even scratched the surface yet of how big this thing can be,” White said in a recent interview with entrepreneur Tony Robbins (transcript via MMAjunkie). “We just did a TV deal with ESPN for $1.5 billion for five years. Now the company is worth $7 billion.”

White is essentially expecting that having UFC fights broadcasted over ESPN, a company that prides itself to be the “worldwide leader in sports”, the promotion will only get even more exposure in the United States alone.

“Obviously this ESPN deal is going to be massive for us, expose us to millions of people just here in the U.S. that haven’t been exposed to the UFC,” he said. “We’re going to continue to go into markets we haven’t been, we’re going to continue to find the best talent in the world.”

“I love to find up-and-coming talent. I love to find the next guy or girl. Continue to build the sport. That’s it. That’s my focus. It’s not rocket science, it’s nothing crazy. Just continue to do what we do and get bigger and bigger.”

The UFC-ESPN deal will officially begin on January 1st of the coming year.

Michael Chandler Open to Trilogy Bout With Eddie Alvarez

Michael Chandler wouldn’t mind doing battle with Eddie Alvarez one more time. Chandler finds himself as a free agent. The longtime Bellator lightweight is exploring his options in order to pick the right deal that best suits him. Chandler was las…

Michael Chandler wouldn’t mind doing battle with Eddie Alvarez one more time. Chandler finds himself as a free agent. The longtime Bellator lightweight is exploring his options in order to pick the right deal that best suits him. Chandler was last seen in action back in April 2018. He defeated Brandon Girtz via first-round submission. […]

The post Michael Chandler Open to Trilogy Bout With Eddie Alvarez appeared first on MMA News.

Romero Inks New UFC Deal, Won’t Fight Costa At UFC 230

Despite Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) announcing a fight between Middleweight heavy-hitters Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa, that fight simply isn’t happening. That’s according to “Soldier of God,” who tells ESPN’s Ariel Helwani — who r…

Despite Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) announcing a fight between Middleweight heavy-hitters Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa, that fight simply isn’t happening. That’s according to “Soldier of God,” who tells ESPN’s Ariel Helwani — who repeatedly declared the fight wasn’t set in stone — that he simply isn’t healthy enough to face Costa at the proposed date.

“I’m waiting. My manager is telling Dana, ‘Yoel can fight but not right now’ … maybe in four or five months,” he said. “I want to fight on this card, this show. But, I need to wait.”

Romero ended up getting pretty banged up following his five-round war against current UFC 185-pound champion Robert Whittaker at UFC 225 this past June. Despite a valiant effort, Romero came up short on the judges scorecards in the non-title fight. Romero ended up going under the knife to repair a broken orbital, which is the reason he is unable to face Costa in November.

Romero and his management company teased a move up to Light Heavyweight to challenge division champion Daniel Cormier, but “DC” didn’t think too much of the challenge, saying “Soldier of God” hasn’t done anything in the division to warrant a shot at his belt.

Despite his plans to go up, Romero says he won’t do so until he wins the 185-pound title. As for his pending return, Yoel — who says he inked a new eight-fight contract with UFC at the age of 41 — hopes it comes at the end of this year, possibly against Costa.

As for UFC 230, the promotion’s return to Madison Square Garden is now looking a little grim with the recent revelation, especially if Nate Diaz lives up to his word of not showing up to face Dustin Poirier.

Jon Jones to the rescue?

Yoel Romero Says UFC 230 Fight vs. Paulo Costa Off Amid Facial Injury Recovery

Yoel Romero won’t be fighting Paulo Costa at UFC 230 on Nov. 3. During an appearance on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show , Romero said doctors believe he will need at least four or …

Yoel Romero won’t be fighting Paulo Costa at UFC 230 on Nov. 3. During an appearance on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show , Romero said doctors believe he will need at least four or …