UFC 168 Preview for ‘Weidman vs Silva 2’ Preliminary Card on Fox Sports 1 Tonight (Dec. 28)

Uriah HallThe biggest card of the year gets an equally big prelims coming to us from the MGM Grand Garden Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. We’ll look at the stacked prelims below. In the prelim main event found on Fox Sports 1, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season one legend Chris Leben (22-10) looks to stop his three-fight losing skid, but has stiff competition in current TUF legend, Uriah Hall (7-4). Both of these men are meeting in the Octagon with something to prove. Hall has been a disappointment since coming out of the TUF house, where he was shown to be a veritable monster in his abilities, sending multiple men to the hospital. Leben is the brawler we all know and love, but has slowed down greatly in recent years. He still has a puncher’s chance in every fight, but he’s looked slow and plodding in his losses to Derek Brunson and Andrew Craig. Hall hasn’t looked slow, just tentative, like he’s afraid to do any damage. This led to decision losses against John Howard and Kelvin Gastelum, both fights he should have won. This adds up to what could either be a barnburner, or the opposite of a barnburner, which is either a normal barn that is completely undamaged and shows great structural integrity, or an underwater barn. I don’t know which. Lightweights are up next, with Gleison Tibau (28-9) riding a two-fight winning streak into the Octagon, with Michael Johnson (13-8) standing across from him. Johnson was heading towards a pink slip, losing two in a row until he absolutely dominated Joe Lauzon in August of this year. His striking and cardio has looked much improved, and it seems like Johnson learned a lot from his losses to Myles Jury and Reza Madadi. Tibau is a veteran of 20 UFC fights, and has never been able to string together more than a three-fight win streak. Tibau has had trouble with gassing in the past, and his blown up frame doesn’t bode well for a long fight, but he’s as dangerous as they come in the first round. Both men are well-trained, with Tubau holding the BJJ edge. Tibau also has the power edge, but Johnson has all the tools to outwork him with superior cardio and movement. Next up are veteran featherweights, with Manny Gamburyan (13-7) coming off a controversial win over Cole Miller from UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs. Sonnen and hopes to make it two in a row against Dennis Siver (21-9). Siver’s last fight was a war against Cub Swanson that saw Siver finally succumb to Swanson’s diverse strikes in the final minutes. Gamburyan was arguably finished against Cole Miller in the first round, but some questionable refereeing allowed him to be taken care of by his corner longer than normally allotted, and he dug deep to come back and win. Siver is a kickboxer who has developed a decent ground game, while Manny is a judoka first, striker second and falls back on wrestling third. This could be a dogfight, as both fighters are notoriously hard-nosed, but Siver has the edge on the feet. If Gamburyan can work his way inside, then go for a trip, the fight could change dramatically in his favor. Opening the FOX Sports 1 card is John Howard (21-8), winner of seven out of his last eight fights since leaving the UFC in 2011 and late-replacement at middleweight against Uriah Hall in August. He took the fight against all odds, with Uriah Hall hyped to destroy everything in his path, but Howard was able to mix up striking and takedowns to his usual advantage. Siyar Bahadurzada (21-5-1) is a fierce knockout machine who spent most of his time fighting lackluster competition in Sengoku and Glory. His first fight in the UFC helped his hype train after he destroyed Paulo Thiago in 42 seconds at UFC on Fuel TV: Gustaffson vs. Silva. Injuries kept him out of training for nearly a year, and Dong Hyun Kim handled him easily, stuffing any offense on the feet and dragging the striker to the ground often. We could be seeing this same dynamic with John Howard, as “Doomsday” will likely not want to spend any time on the feet with Siyar, but then again, Howard was on his feet against Hall at a heavier weight. This is very much a grappler vs. striker match, and all the usual rules apply.

Written by Jason Nawara

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