The UFC is back in New Jersey with their upcoming pay-per-view being less than 48 hours away. The show is headlined with light heavyweight champion Jon Jones looking for a record fifth title defense against Chael Sonnen. Before that, there’s still the preliminary card which features seven bouts.
UFC 159 is April 27 from the Prudential Center in Newark. FightLine will be there with the play-by-play and news that follows.
Below is a breakdown of the 14 fighters who will be featured on the first half of UFC 159.
Featherweight: Steven Siler vs. Kurt Holobaugh
The opening contest of the card has Steven Siler looking to get back to his old ways. Following a 3-0 start for the UFC, the eight year veteran lost a decision to Darren Elkins in November. Kurt Holobaugh had one appearance in Strikeforce and it was enough to land him a chance with the UFC. He’s 9-1, losing to former contender Pat Healy on a short notice fight.
Welterweight: James Head vs. Nick Catone
Welterweights make their only showing with James Head looking to stay above .500. He dropped to welterweight last year, submitting Papy Abedi and earning the split-decision to Brian Ebersole. Mike Pyle made quick work of him in December. Nick Catone was unable to do much in 2012, suffering back-to-back losses. A cut on Catone’s forehead forced his Chris Camozzi fight to end and he was choked out by TJ Waldburger in his welterweight debut.
Featherweight: Leonard Garcia vs. Cody McKenzie
The Facebook end closes with Leonard Garcia fighting for his job. With four straight losses, the former WEC contender knows he must win and do so in a dominate way. His only UFC win was in 2010 with a split-decision against Nam Phan. Cody McKenzie struggled at lightweight, so he dropped to featherweight. In his only featherweight fight, the highly ranked Chad Mendes required 31 seconds before a body shot sent McKenzie to the ground.
Lightweight: Johnny Bedford vs. Bryan Caraway
The FX portion begins with Bryan Caraway making a quick turnaround from his last fight. After submitting Dustin Neace and Mitch Gagnon, the Washington native lost a split-decision when the promotion returned to Japan. That was in March to Takeya Mizugaki. This will be the first time Johnny Bedford competes on a UFC event that isn’t associated with The Ultimate Fighter. He took knockouts to Louis Gaudinot and Marcos Vinicius on the finales of season 14 and 16.
Women’s Bantamweight: Sara McMann vs. Sheila Gaff
For the third time in UFC history, a women’s contest is set. Sara McMann has her 6-0 record with a silver medal from the 2004 Olympic Games to match. She defeated Shayna Baszler in her previous fight for Invicta FC. Sheila Gaff comes from Germany and is one of the least known females on the UFC roster. With a 10-4 record, she enters the Octagon with a pair of Cage Warriors victories. The most recent was a 10 second knockout of Jennifer Maia.
Light Heavyweight: Ovince St. Preux vs. Gian Villante
Gian Villante will take his Ring of Combat and Strikeforce experience as he debuts for the UFC. Following a shaky Strikeforce start, which saw Chad Griggs and Lorenz Larkin beat him, the times have changed. Villante has won three straight and hopes the almost year long layoff won’t affect him. Ovince St. Preux also makes his UFC debut out of Strikeforce. Of six fights for the promotion, only Gegard Mousasi was able to solve the puzzle and beat Preux.
Bantamweight: Rustam Khabilov vs. Yancy Medeiros
The preliminary card concludes with Rustam Khabilov looking for that second UFC win. In his debut, he used several suplexes to knock Vinc Pichel out cold. Before that, he had a lengthy run in M-1. Yancy Medeiros is undefeated with nine wins, five of which haven’t escaped round two. He hasn’t fought since June 2010, when he stopped Gareth Joseph.
Check back tomorrow for a breakdown of the main card.