Top MMA News Breaks Down UFC 149: The Preliminary Card
The UFC finally arrives to Calgary as they enter the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday, July 21st. The preliminary card will include six bouts, all of which include Canadian fighters. Four bouts will be aired live on Sportsnet in Canada and FX in the US. The remaining two bouts will be aired live on Facebook.
Now for the breakdown:
Nick Ring (12-1) vs. Court McGee (14-2)
After meeting back in 2010 during the 11th installment of The Ultimate Fighter, Nick Ring and Court McGee are ready to go at it once again. Ring previously got the better of McGee via decision on the show but it will be a much tougher fight this time around. Ring has always been a popular prospect within the Canadian ranks but he has looked less than stellar since his return from injury during his time in the UFC. Many had him pegged as the next Ultimate Fighter but because of his injury, it caused him to pull out of the competition and it paved the way for Court McGee to get back into the race and win the reality television show.
McGee has matured greatly since his stint on the show and despite his recent loss to Costa Philippou, he has looked impressive and has showed a strong balance of skill. Ring prefers to keep the fight standing as he throws a solid variety of kicks and punches. His weakness, as proven since he started in the UFC, may be his grappling, as he looked very poor against Tim Boetsch and in his controversial victory against Riki Fukuda. McGee must avoid allowing Ring get into a rhythm as he allowed Philippou. He has the ability to push forward and make the fight a frustrating one for his opponents with his unorthodox style. Ring must keep his distance and use a variety of leg kicks to slow down McGee if he wants to win the fight. Unfortunately for the Canadian, he has not looked the same since beating McGee. The Ultimate Fighter winner should be able to come out with the tight decision victory.
Prediction: McGee via Unanimous Decision
Roland Delorme (8-1) vs. Francisco Rivera (8-2)
Canadian Bantamweight, Roland Delorme returns to the Octagon as he goes up against Francisco Rivera. Delorme is coming off of a spectacular first round submission victory over Nick Denis where he was able to overcome adversity and impress with his striking and submission ability.
Rivera struggled in his original two opportunities under the Zuffa banner, including a knockout loss to Featherweight contender Erik Koch; however, despite the early struggles, he looked very impressive in his return to the UFC as he dominated his way to a decision victory over Alex Soto. Rivera has knockout power for a Bantamweight and it shows as five of his eight victories have come via knockout (all in the first round).
Delorme is a well rounded fighter with great submission skills but the key for him in this bout is his chin. He is not one to go down without a fight as he proved against Denis. He will move forward and absorb the punishment that Rivera will give and he will be more than happy to give it right back as they trades punch for punch. Delorme should be able to frustrate Rivera throughout the duration of the fight as he manages to eventually clinch and get the fight to the ground where he should be able to dominate and finish via submission.
Prediction: Delorme via Rear Naked Choke Round 2
Ryan Jimmo (16-1) vs. Anthony Perosh (13-6)
After he had to pull out of his previously scheduled UFC debut, Ryan Jimmo finally arrives as he takes on Australian veteran Anthony Perosh. Jimmo has been on a dominant streak, winning 16 straight fights and has been the consensus best fighter in the Canadian circuit for a few years.
Standing across from him will be Perosh, who has had a successful Light-Heavyweight run in the UFC, finishing Tom Blackledge, Cyrille Diabate and Canadian prospect Nick Penner. Perosh will immediately want to take this to the ground as he always does considering his striking is arguably bottom of the pack in the division. His grappling is extremely impressive when he does get top position. He is excellent at controlling his opponent as he proved against Penner and he transitions using a mixture of technique and power to get into his dominant positions.
Jimmo is the better overall fighter. He will want to keep the fight standing and avoid being on his back. With an aggressive and relentless grappler like Perosh going after him, Jimmo will need to have faith in his takedown defense. For Jimmo to succeed against a tough opponent, he will need to grab onto Perosh when he is attacking and pin him up against the cage to utilize some dirty boxing. If he is able to keep his distance, he should be able to pick him apart. It should be a hard fought battle but Jimmo should be successful in his UFC debut against a good opponent.
Prediction: Jimmo via Unanimous Decision
Mitch Gagnon (8-1) vs. Bryan Caraway (16-5)
After struggling with visa issues back in January, Mitch Gagnon is ready to finally make his UFC debut against Ultimate Fighter veteran Bryan Caraway. Gagnon is one of the more highly touted prospects out of Canada and he is looking to make a statement against a tough veteran like Caraway. Both fighters are solid grapplers with a strong Brazilian jiu-jitsu base which could potentially be cancelled out. Gagnon’s eight wins have come via submission which will be tough to duplicate considering Caraway and his Team Alpha Male teammates are well known for this submission defense.
What is fortunate for Gagnon is his aggressive style frustrates a fighter like Caraway. Their styles clash but what may differentiate the two is the inability for Caraway to respond to pressure. It is not easy to distinguish who the more talented fighter is although Caraway has went up against the much better competition. Gagnon is a tough fighter that will not back down and will make sure he takes out Caraway with any opportunity he is given. If Gagnon can be the aggressor, he will cause Caraway to buckle under pressure and come out on top.
Prediction: Gagnon via Unanimous Decision
Antonio Carvalho (13-5) vs. Daniel Pineda (17-8)
Coming off of a tough loss in his UFC debut in Brazil, Antonio Carvalho returns as he takes on Daniel Pineda. Carvalho is a skilled and well rounded fighter with an impressive background in a variety of disciplines but he was unable to impress in his debut loss to Felipe Arantas. He is going up against a very tough and talented fighter in Pineda, who has two impressive submission victories in the UFC but is coming off of a set back against former WEC Featherweight title holder Mike Brown. Carvalho was originally slated to fight George Roop but he may be stuck in a worse position against a tougher opponent. Carvalho is a patient fighter that will look to pick his spots but he is about to be in a real fight against a true finisher that will aggressively take the fight to him. Carvalho must not hesitate to attack or he could be finished. He is the better Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner and he has the better overall skill set of the two so this fight comes down to the intangibles.
Pineda is a phenomenal offensive fighter but he is such an aggressive fighter that it leaves his defensive game with many flaws. Carvalho must move in and take advantage of those openings to come out victorious but it will be an uphill battle to do so. Pineda will likely get the better of the exchanges as Carvalho struggles against the talented young fighter.
Prediction: Pineda via TKO Round 2
Mitch Clarke (9-1) vs. Anton Kuivanen (16-5)
After losing in his UFC debut, Mitch Clarke makes his return against Finnish prospect Anton Kuivanan. Clarke had a disappointing debut against a very game opponent in Josh Cholish. Despite the tough debut, Clarke still has plenty of potential but he has a long way to go in terms of a well-rounded game. Kuivanen looked impressive in his debut but his poor takedown defense may have been his flaw. Clarke will want to get the Finnish fighter to the ground and dominate from top position.
Kuivanen is the better striker and will want to keep the fight standing. Neither fighter should risk giving up dominant position as both do have solid BJJ though Clarke has the advantage on the ground. He is the stronger grappler with a better base and if he is able to take top position, he could finish the fight or grind out a victory. Kuivanen must keep the fight standing and should prepare to sprawl if and when Clarke shoots. Clarke should be able to work takedowns off the cage as he gets into dominant positions and gets the judge’s decision.
Prediction: Clarke via Unanimous Decision