UFC 152 Preliminary Card Preview

 

 
By: Daniel Kendrick

 

 
Well, I think we can stop holding our breath and uncross our fingers, folks. With all the injuries plagueing the UFC as of late, we finally have a set card ready for take off this Saturday night. They say “when it rains, it pours.” Well, we finally have clear skies so let’s play ball!

 

 
 
Facebook Prelims

 

 
Welterweight
Kyle Noke (16-9-1) vs. “The Spaniard” Charlie Brenneman (15-4-0)

 

 
Australian native & former security guard for “The Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin, Kyle Noke squares off against an always game Charlie Brenneman to get the first of three free Facebook prelims kicked off. Both men are coming in off of losses, so it’s imperitive for each to come in with their game face on to move up the totum pole in the welterweight division. Noke will have the edge in power, having fomerly competed at middleweight and fighting to a draw with former Bellator middleweight champion and current UFC middleweight contender, Hector Lombard, while Brenneman will have the distinct edge in the grappling department from his much deeper wrestling pedigree.

 

 
Prediction: Brenneman by unanimous decision

 

 
 
Bantamweight
Mitch Gagnon (8-2-0) vs. Walel “The Gazelle” Watson (9-4-0)

 

 
The momentum of the evening doesn’t plateau anytime soon with the second of the three Facebook prelims between to ground warriors, Mitch Gagnon & Walel Watson. You don’t get tagged with a nickname like “The Gazelle” by moving at a snail’s pace. Seven of Watson’s nine wins have come by submission thanks to his purple belt BJJ status under third degree black belt and Carlos Valente product, Manolo Hernandez. Watson is coming in looking to get back in the ‘win’ category after dropping a unanimous decision to TJ Dillashaw back in February. Also coming in off of a loss in his last outing to Bryan Caraway, Gagnon also has enjoyed submission success. In fact, all of his professional wins have come via submission; five by guillotine. If you’re a ground fanatic, then this one’s right up your alley, but being as that it’s in the uber fast paced bantamweight division, it’s sure to  entertain no matter where the fight goes.

 

 
Prediction: Gagnon by 3rd round submission

 

 
 
Welterweight
Seth “Polish Pistola” Baczynski (16-6-0) vs. Simeon “The Grin” Thoresen (17-2-1)

 

 
Returning back to the welterweight division and rounding out the Facebook prelims, The “Polish Pistola,” Seth Baczynski goes heads up with Simeon Thoresen. Both are strong finishers and each man is coming in on a winning streak. Baczynski has finished all but one of his pro victories and out of 17 victories for Thoresen, 15 have come by submission. Action from bell to bell is always fun, but fans want to ultimately see finishes and this is highly likely to produce one. With all but 2 of his victories coming by way of submission, Thoresen is obviously comfortable with the fight hitting the mat. Baczynski is a little less choosy so it probably serves him best to test Thoresen in the standing department before attempting any grappling. One way or another, it should be a crowd pleaser.

 

 
Prediction: Thoresen by 2nd round submission

 

 
 
FX Prelims

 

 
Featheweight
Jimy “The Kid” Hettes (10-0-0) vs. “The Bama Beast” Marcus Brimage (5-1-0)

 

 
Classic grappler vs. striker match is how it segues over into the free FX prelims. Jimy Hettes brings an undefeated record into the fight piggybacked largely off of his brown belt judo pedigree having won9 of his 10 victories by submission. Meanwhile, his opponent, TUF 14 alumnist Marcus Brimage, presents a tricky challenge with an extraordinarily high takedown defense percentage along with very heavy hands. If Hettes can’t close the distance to utilize the throws and trips judokans are so well versed in to bring it into his submission world, he’s going to have his hands full with a guy who’s natural inclination is to throw punches with nasty intentions. What else would you expect from someone with a high admiration for Rampage?

 

 
Prediction: Hettes by 2nd round submission

 

 
 
Welterweight
Sean “The Punisher” Pearson (12-6-0) vs. Lance Benoist (6-1-0)

 

 
On paper, this one looks like a potential “blink and you’ll miss it” matchup. Both Sean Pearson and Lance Benoist have a high finishing rate and those finishes have come mostly in the first round. Pearson has been less discriminatory with the nature of his finishes while 4 out of 5 for Benoist have been by submission. Pearson could have the edge in confidence from his greater professional experience, very deep wrestling pedigree, and considering that he’s coming into the fight off of a win. Benoist lost his last outing against fellow UFC 152 participant, Seth Baczynski as well as dealing with the distraction from the recent death of his twin brother. On the flipside of that token, it could be a motivating factor for Benoist.

 

 
Prediction: Pearson by unanimous decision

 

 
 
Lightweight
TJ Grant (18-5-0) vs. Evan Dunham (13-2-0)

 

 
Submission grappling strengths look to be the theme of the lightweight throwdown between TJ Grant & Evan Dunham. Along with the deep BJJ backgrounds, both guys have a very healthy amount of cage experience. Neither guy is known for having a high finishing rate, especially by KO, but both are well rounded beyond their jiu jitsu game as well so a highly volatile chess match would be a safe assumption out of this one. Both are also riding the confidence of having won their last fight. Grant is thus far undefeated at lightweight and has an edge in wins over the more notable opponents, such as Shane Roller, but has come up short against the likes of top contender Johny Hendricks and Ricardo Almeida, albeit spirited efforts that went to the scorecards. Dunham has also gone the distance with some of the UFC’s toughest lightweight combatants, but was snuffed out back in January of 2011 by Melvin Guillard and having been put away in the more recent history between he and his opponent, may be more susceptable to it again, but I wouldn’t count on it.

 

 
Prediction: Grant by unanimous decision

 

 
 
Light Heavyweight
Igor Pokrajac (25-8-0) vs. Vinny “Pezao” Megalhaes (10-5-0, 1 NC)

 

 
The prelims get topped off by some big boys and another striker vs. grappler meeting. Mirko Crocop protege, Igor Pokrajac and high, HIGH level submission grappler Vinny Megalhaes bring the prelims to a close in a matchup that would be safe to assume probably won’t be determined by the judges. It goes without saying that when you’ve learned from Crocop that you don’t make a habit of coasting with a lead en route to decision victories. A KO finish will undoubtebly be atop Pokrajac’s priority list. Though Pokrajac also has eight submission victories, it’ll be on the opposite side of that priority list against Megalhaes, who has a plethora of submission grappling titles including being a 3x BJJ world champion and 2011 ADCC world champion, defeating Fabricio Werdum in the final. Yeah, Pokrajac wants to keep this standing. Fights between big boys generally produce higher finishing rates and with a high level striker versus a high level submission artist, that trend is likely to continue and take us into the main card on a high note.

 

 
Prediction: Pokrajac by 1st round KO.

 

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