As the UFC continues to put a bow on 2016, they still have one slot left for a FOX event. That will be filled next weekend, as the Octagon travels to Sacramento for an event featuring perhaps the two most well-known fighters from to city’s most successful gym, Team Alpha Male. In the main event, Paige VanZant looks to build off of her highlight reel KO of Bec Rawlings back in August. That win came at the perfect time for her, as it was the first fight she had since coming off of ‘Dancing With The Stars’, and probably had a larger dedicated audience than anyone else on that card. It also was a nice rebound for VanZant after suffering the first loss of her UFC career to Rose Namajunas before taking time off to film her show. VanZant will be taking on former Invicta atomweight champion Michelle Waterson. Since dropping her Invicta title and deciding to move up to 115, Waterson has had just one fight in the UFC, a third-round submission victory over Angela Magana in July of 2015. Since then, she’s had a pair of bouts fall through and will have a layoff in excess of 17 months when she finally steps into the cage. This card seems very much geared at the casual fan, as Sage Northcutt is featured in the co-main event against CM Punk’s conqueror, Mickey Gall. Northcutt has been bouncing between lightweight and welterweight of late, and this bout takes place at the higher of the two, a weight where Gall has spent his entire career. Northcutt has been a heavy favorite in each of his UFC bouts thus far, but that will likely change in this bout, as Gall has a fair bit of hype behind him as well. The main card also features a matchup between two aging veterans in Urijah Faber and Brad Pickett. Faber will always have a big following in Sacramento, and this could be an excellent opportunity for him to pick up one last win. Pickett is the rare fighter who is both older than Faber and on a worse recent run. While the 37-year-old Faber has lost three of his past four (albeit to top competition), 38-year-old Pickett has lost four of five, and most believe he should have lost the fifth as well. Finally, before all the fighters the UFC is trying to push and the local stars step in the cage, there will be a fight that can be aptly be predicted as pure carnage. ‘Platinum’ Mike Perry — MMA’s broiest bro this side of Brennan Ward — will look to move his UFC record to 3-0 against fellow aggressive striker Alan Jouban. Not only is the winner of this bout due for a step up at welterweight, but they’ll almost assuredly be walking out of Sacramento with an extra $50,000. MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened the betting odds for the entire UFC on FOX 22 event today at Several Bookmakers. Take a look at a lines for the 13-fight card below: ——————– UFC on FOX 22: VanZant vs. Waterson DECEMBER 17, 2016 Golden 1 Center | Sacramento, California MAIN CARD (Fox, 8pm ET) Michelle Waterson +140 Paige VanZant -180 Over 4.5 -190 Under 4.5 +150 – Sage Northcutt +100 Mickey Gall -140 Over 1.5 +100 Under 1.5 -140 – Brad Pickett +280 Urijah Faber -400 Over 2.5 -150 Under 2.5 +110 – Alan Jouban +100 Mike Perry -140 Over 1.5 +100 Under 1.5 -140 – ——————– PRELIMINARY CARD (Fox Sports 1, 6pm ET) Paul Craig +220 Luis Henrique da Silva -300 Over 1.5 +130 Under 1.5 -170 – Mizuto Hirota -120 Cole Miller -120 Over 2.5 -130 Under 2.5 -110 – Bryan Barberena +235 Colby Covington -315 Over 2.5 -210 Under 2.5 +160 – Alex Morono +110 James Moontasri -150 Over 1.5 -180 Under 1.5 +140 – Scott Holtzman +170 Josh Emmett -230 Over 2.5 -180 Under 2.5 +140 – Leslie Smith +170 Irene Aldana -230 Over 2.5 -185 Under 2.5 +145 – ——————– PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 3:30pm ET) Takeya Mizugaki +175 Eddie Wineland -245 Over 1.5 -195 Under 1.5 +155 – Hector Sandoval +130 Fredy Serrano -170 Over 2.5 -175 Under 2.5 +135 – Sultan Aliev +160 Bojan Velickovic -210 Over 1.5 -180 Under 1.5 +140 – ——————– Brad’s Analysis: There’s a reason Michelle Waterson used to fight at atomweight. While she’s a skilled, capable striker and a solid submission grappler, which will be enough against the Angela Maganas of the world, her physical limitations will show up when she faces top strawweights. Paige VanZant is far from perfect technically, and Waterson can win if VanZant plays the same ranged striking game she did against Bec Rawlings. However, I expect VanZant to get back to her strength, which is getting in close range and simply putting a pace on opponents that they cannot withstand. In grappling exchanges and scrambles, her pure energy and athleticism can best most of the women at 115, and I believe that’s how she beats Waterson. Sage Northcutt is a more dynamic striker than Mickey Gall, but his struggles on the ground have been extremely apparent even against the likes of Enrique Morin. Even more worrisome is the lack of improvement he’s made in that area. Against Gall, who has shown he will aggressively pursue the takedown, Northcutt will never get a chance to work at the range he wants. Once this fight hits the ground, I expect Gall to find a sub rather swiftly and continue his interesting rise to stardom. Urijah Faber is still an elite athlete in the bantamweight division, and that coupled with his experience in virtually every situation will carry him to victories against all but the top five or so at 135. Brad Pickett hasn’t fit into that group in a long time, if ever. Faber will be able to get his one-off punches to land on Pickett without repercussions, where Jimmie Rivera was able to land counters. Faber can score takedowns if need be, and perhaps even find his guillotine or a rear-naked choke in a scramble. Depending on how much of his legendary durability remains, Pickett could stick this out to a decision, but Faber is an all-time great finisher so I’m torn on the method, but he wins. We’ve seen Alan Jouban rocked in fights before. Thus far in his career, Mike Perry has taken shots like they’re Jagerbombs on South Beach. We know both guys will come forward and throw with reckless abandon. I just think Perry’s chin holds up better and he scores his ninth TKO in nine pro fights. Thus far in his career, the “Bearjew” Paul Craig has used his length to snatch submissions in short order. His wrestling game isn’t much to write home about, and that’s a recipe which will simply stop working at this level before long. Craig’s length can normally force opponents into uncomfortable situations, and that mitigates some of his wrestling woes, but that won’t happen against “Frank Waisten” who almost matches his size, but is a significantly better striker with no reason to take this down. We’ll learn how Craig reacts in a tough spot here, but without seeing it first, I’ll have to side with Henrique da Silva. Does Cole Miller care about fighting anymore? His last performance certainly imtimated not, but maybe it could act like a wakeup call. It’s really hard to envision that, since most fighters only go further out the door rather than back in it, however Mizuto Hirota’s style could give Miller a shot here. In a grappling match, Miller can catch a sub even if he’s on the bottom, but he’ll be outpaced on the feet and it’s difficult to bank on a fighter winning from their back in 2016. If I can get one more dog price on fading Miller at this point, I’m taking it. Bryan Barberena is tough and durable. As fights go on, he turns into a round winner if his opponent is the type who tires. His skills are secondary to those traits, and unfortunately for him, that’s a problem against Colby Covington. Covington’s physical skills are superior to Barberena, and his wrestling is obviously the biggest difference in this match. I don’t see Barberena being able to stuff enough of Covington’s takedowns early to be able to really take over late. So maybe he wins the third round, but a 30-27 seems more likely. Something about Alex Morono has never impressed me, and getting a wholly underesved split decision over a faded Kyle Noke did nothing to asuage those doubts. James Moontasri is a far better striker here, and neither man really relies on their grappling. I think in a striking battle Moontasri’s cardio won’t be an issue, and he carries his technical advantage throughout the fight if he doesn’t score a stoppage earlier. If Josh Emmett’s UFC debut was over someone other than Jon Tuck, it would mean a lot more to me. Luckily, his follow up fight is against Scott Holtzman, who I’ve also never been high on. Holtzman doesn’t provide the opportunity for excellent lines that he once did, and I think Emmett is too big of a favorite here, but I think the Team Alpha Male product nullifies Holtzman’s athleticism and gets the win regardless. This is more of a learning fight for me in regards to Emmett than anything. Leslie Smith hasn’t had a relevant win in nearly three and a half years, isn’t nearly as durable as she once was, and seems to be on a physical decline. Hyped favorites in women’s fights are often overpriced, and I believe Irene Aldana is here, but at the same time I have no reason to suspect that Smith can stand up to her striking ability. Aldana’s cardio has been questionable in the past, but I think this fight is out of reach for Smith by the time that becomes a factor, if it does at all. I expect Eddie Wineland’s new lease on a top ten run at bantamweight to continue against Takeya Mizugaki. Wineland’s distance management does an excellent job of takedown defense before all but his most difficult opponents can ever get much going in the wrestling game, and his striking is well beyond what Mizugaki offers. I don’t think Wineland scores a stoppage against Mizugaki, but I hardly considered that a possibility against Frankie Saenz in his last fight, and he looked excellent. Hector Sandoval has fought three fighters who are (or were, at the time) capable of competing in the UFC. His record is 12-3, with all three losses coming by stoppage in the first two minutes. Want to guess who he suffered those three losses against? He seems like the definition of a guy who is good enough to make it to the big dance, but can’t stick around. Fredy Serrano is seven years older than Sandoval, but I believe he belongs here. I don’t expect him to score a sub-two minute stoppage — or perhaps even a stoppage at all — but at worst, his wrestling can carry him to a clear decision. Sultan Aliev is one of those guys where you go, “Oh. He’s still on the roster?” It’s been nearly two years since he got knocked out by Kenny Robertson in his only UFC bout, and it’s been nearly four years since he first came on the scene and looked good in a Bellator tournament, before getting absolutely hosed by the judges against Doug Marshall. None of that changes that he seems less effective as a welterweight than he did as a middleweight (and higher). Even with all of the weight cutting, he’ll still be at a size disadvantage against Bojan Velickovic who began to show what he’s capable of against Mike Graves, and should continue to do the same here. I think Velickovic overpowers Aliev to a ho-hum decision worthy of being the opening Fight Pass bout.