UFC Fight Night: UFC on FOX Sports 2 Prelim Preview

Last week we got the debut of the UFC on FOX Sports 1. This week we get FOX Sports 2 on a Wednesday evening no less, with a pretty damn decent free card featuring Condit vs. Kampmann II in the main event, and Raphael dos Anjos and Donald Cerrone in the co-main event. In the prelims, which will begin on Facebook in the stadium the Indiana Pacers call home, we have a full card of up and comers with a few familiar faces at the lower weight classes. In the UFC Fight Night: UFC on FOX Sports 2 prelims, we get an extremely long title and main event consisting of middleweight finishers Dylan Andrews (16-4) and Papy Abedi (9-2). Dylan Andrews was the New Zealand standout on the last season of TUF, and his violence has actually carried over into the Octagon proper unlike Uriah Hall. He was last seen at the TUF 17 finale, decimating Jimmy Quinlan in the first round, while Abedi has dropped the last two out of three fights, but squeaked by Besam Yousef via split-decision at UFC on Fuel TV: Mousasi vs. Latifi. It hasn’t been easy for the 35-year-old judoka. He began his UFC career with back to back first round rear naked choke losses, to James Head at UFC 138 and Thiago Alves at UFC on Fuel TV: Gustaffson vs. Silva respectively. Abedi came into the UFC under the pretense that he was a devastating finisher; coming into the UFC finishing 7 out of 8 of his opponents by knockout or submission. Dylan Andrews has 11 knockouts notched on his belt, and even though his bread and butter may technically be wrestling, it’s his surprisingly sharp boxing that could be the hammer against Abedi. That said, Andrews didn’t display a very deep gas tank in TUF, so Abedi could drag this into deep waters if he survives the early onslaught. Next up are the welterweights, where TUF 13’s Justin Edwards (8-2) takes on surging prospect Brandon Thatch (9-1). Thatch has nine first round finishes on his fight history; 3 by sub, 6 by (T)KO. Now, temper all expectations, because Thatch got those impressive statistics from the independent circuit, just like the underwhelming Papy Abedi you read about above, and Justin Edwards is a solid opponent for any newcomer to the UFC with his completely decent stand up and ground game. Here’s the thing: Thatch has all of his finishes in the first round. All of which add up to about 9 minutes total cage time, which is impressive and worrisome. The only time Thatch couldn’t finish someone in the first round he lost, and that too is a real concern, as we know little about his cardio or ability to deal with adversity, especially on such a large platform. As far as skill, he obviously has ridiculously heavy hands and a good takedown to combat Edwards’ overall mediocre-ness. Down at featherweight, we see the return of Hatsu Hioki (26-6-2), the former Sengokou and Shooto champio, who haslost two in a row, one to Ricardo Lamas, deservedly, and a split-decision to Clay Guida at UFC on FOX: Johnson vs. Dodson, who this writer believes he absolutely won. Hatsu Hioki is known for his smothering grappling game in which he’s active from the top and bottom, but he was able to dominate Guida on the feet in his last match, perhaps meaning that his Muay Thai and boxing have improved since joining the UFC. Hioki has kind of dispelled the Japanese myth of complete and utter failure once crossing the Pacific. He will have his hands full against Darren Elkins, who has seemingly found a home at featherweight, winning five in a row before being destroyed by Chad Mendes at UFC on FOX: Henderson vs. Melendez. Elkins is a wrestler when forced to define him by one style, and that doesn’t bode well for the 29-year-old – you would rather not be in Hioki’s guard – and for once I can definitively say Hioki’s stand up is better than his opponent’s. Elkins is a tough dude, all wrestlers seem to be, but Hioki is a somewhat special talent, so it comes down to whether ¬†Elkins can somehow nullify Hikoi’s ground game with his own, which seems like a tall order. In the opening bout, Strikeforce vet, and man who succumbed to Erick Silva’s reverse triangle armbar at UFC on Fuel TV: Noguiera vs. Werdum, is Jason High (16-4) facing James Head (9-3) a 29-year-old grinder who was able to defeat the likes of Brian Ebersole and Papy Abedi with relative ease. Head is 2-2 in the UFC, with his best win outside the UFC coming against Gerald Harris, and his losses are to Mike Pyle at welterweight and Nick ring at middleweight. This is a fight for two men looking to stake a tent in the welterweight division for the time being, with Jason High brandishing strong takedowns and a killer guillotine, and Head being able to wear down his opponent into mistakes. Head traditionally has poor first rounds for the record, while High starts fast and then gets a bit sloppy.

Written by Jason Nawara

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