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UFC 166 Prelims: Breakdown & Predictions

I hope you like watching fights early!  With eight prelims beginning at 6:15PM EST, the UFC is giving us tons of action on Saturday with UFC 166 in Houston, TX.  Plus, with the exception of George Sotiropoulos and KJ Noons, every fight has a meaningful narrative.

Tim Boetsch vs CB Dolloway (Middleweight)

Boestch’s success at middleweight was pretty unexpected, and it’s pretty well agreed the Okami fight was a fluke.  Dolloway has been a bit of a wildcard since his appearance on TUF 7, and is coming off two upsets in a row over Jason Miller, and TUF Brazil’s Daniel Sarafian in Brazil.  Expect the two wrestlers to cancel each other out, and Boetsch’s striking to be the difference maker, leading to a close decision victory.

Hector Lombard vs Nate Marquardt (Welterweight)

A year ago this fight could have headlined a free card, but both have had mixed success as of late.  If anyone is chasing takedowns, it’s probably Lombard, but expect this to be a mostly standup contest, with Lombard finding a knockout midway through the second round.

Sarah Kaufman vs Jessica Eye (Women’s bantamweight)

Kaufman got a fortunate split decision in her last contest against Leslie Smith, while Eye is coming off a quick upset over then Bellator champion Zoila Gurgel.  Eye is athletic, but Kaufman has all the experience against better opposition at 135 pounds.  Expect Kaufman to outpoint Eye with her boxing and win a dominant decision.

George Sotiropoulos vs KJ Noons (Lightweight)

Sotiropoulos was once 7-0 in the UFC, and Noons was once the EliteXC champion after a win over Nick Diaz.  Those days are long gone, as both now find themselves on three fight skids, albeit against decent opposition.  This one could go either way, but Sotiropoulos has the tools to win this one by submission, and I think he’ll find a second round kimura.

TJ Waldburger vs Adlan Amagov (Welterweight)

This one’s pretty close to pure striker versus pure grappler.  Amagov can win by knockout at any moment, or pick Waldburger apart from the outside.  Expect Waldburger to impose his wrestling, and threaten multiple submissions, ultimately finding one in the first round.  UFC experience counts for a lot.

Mike Rio vs Tony Ferguson (Lightweight)

Ferguson hasn’t fought since losing a one-sided decision to TUF 12’s Michael Johnson in May 2012.  Rio has gone 1-1 in the UFC since his stint on TUF 15.  Regardless, Rio is effectively a one dimensional wrestler, and Ferguson should be able to keep it standing and knock Rio out.  He’s the better fighter, period.

Jeremy Larsen vs Andre Fili (Featherweight)

Despite being 0-2 in the UFC since TUF 15, Larsen managed to hold onto his UFC slot with a fight of the night performance against Lucas Martins.  Fili is making his UFC debut, and fighting out of Alpha Male.  Expect Fili to impose his wrestling, and find a choke submission midway through the fight.

Kyoji Horiguchi vs Dustin Pague (Bantamweight)

‘Kid’ Yamamoto’s protege, Horiguchi, is finally making his UFC debut against TUF 14 veteran Dustin Pague.  Pague has looked surprisingly good in his last two defeats, nearly finishing both by submission.  Horiguchi has the wrestling advantage, and should be able to stay out of submission trouble.  Expect a very competitive fight, with Horiguchi winning a controversial decision based on top control.