Gabe Killian’s Sneak Peak into UFC Fight Night 35’s Prelims

John MoragaUFC Fight Night 35 will be live from The Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, G.A. on Wednesday, January 15th 2014. There are currently twelve bouts scheduled to take place at the event, including a six fight preliminary card. The first two bouts of the evening will be streamed live via UFC Fight Pass, which is the promotion’s brand new online network. Kicking things off for the evening will be a lightweight match-up between former UFC welterweight Charlie Brenneman and promotional newcomer Baneil Dariush. Dariush was set to square off against Jason High, who was been removed from the card due to injury and replaced by Brenneman. “The Spaniard” has gone 4-0 at 155 pounds since being released from the promotion, and will look to get his first win in the UFC’s lightweight division at Fight Night 35. Dariush was stepping in for Adlan Amagov to face High, and was going to fight at welterweight, but since Brenneman replaced High, they agreed to fight in their natural weight class of 155 pounds. This match-up went from a weltereight contest between High and Dariush to a lightweight contest between Dariush and Brenneman. I think this is going to be a grappling-heavy affair between two talented grapplers. I give the edge to Brenneman, but would not be surprised if Dariush pulls off the sub. The next fight on the online stream portion of the card will be another bout in the lightweight division, between Vinc “From Hell” Pichel and Garrett Whitely, who each share a 7-1 record, with each of their losses coming inside the Octagon in their promotional debuts. Pichel hasn’t seen action in over a year, since suffering a devastating knockout at the hands of Rustam Khabilov. A knockout artist in his own right, Pichel looks to get back on the winning track as he takes on the Indiana native in Whitely, who owns six of his seven career victories by first round finish. Like Pichel, Whiteley suffered a first round knockout in his UFC debut, which came against the Brazilian Alan Patrick nearly three months ago. This is a fight between two finishers, and one I am expecting a finish in. The first bout on the FOX Sports 1 preliminary card is one of the latest additions to the card, which is a flyweight contest between recently signed Alptekin Ozkilic, and promotional newcomer Louis Smolka. Ozkilic was just successful in his own promotional debut, as he outpointed Darren Uyenoyama (who was coming off a KO loss) en route to a split decision victory. Now he looks to make a quick turnaround and make it two in a row inside the Octagon, as he gets ready to take on the undefeated Hawaiian in Smolka. Sure, Alptekin vs Smolka is a good fight, but it is not the match-up I would have made for this card. Here’s why: Justin Scoggins is another flyweight who recently made his Octagon debut; just a week before Alptekin’s, in fact. Unlike Alptekin, Scoggins finished his opponent Richie Vaculik, who had never been finished before. I think Scoggins’ win was more impressive than Alptekin’s. After his win, he pleaded with the UFC to give him a fight on this UFC Fight Night 35 card, which is in his home state of Georgia. What did the UFC do? Instead of giving him what he asked for as a reward for his impressive debut, they give Scoggins’ wish to another flyweight on an even shorter notice than it would have been for Scoggins. Unless Scoggins suffered some sort of injury in training after his fight, this move by the UFC just does not make any sense to me. This was a real spot to give the kid a fight he was pleading for, and if I were him, I wouldn’t be able to help but take it as a slap in the face. I think it should have been Alptekin vs Scoggins, or even Scoggins vs Smolka. Next up is a middleweight contest between Strikeforce import Trevor Smith and Nebraska’s Brian Houston. Smith is on a two-fight skid, but is coming off a “Fight of the Night”-winning performance against Ed Herman at UFC on FOX 8. Houston made his promotional debut nearly two months ago, dropping a submission loss to Derek Brunson at only 48 seconds in the very first round. Brunson hurt him with a headkick, and then secured his back for the choke. This is another preliminary bout in which I am expecting a finish, either way. Wrapping things up for the preliminary portion of the evening are back to back lightweight contests. The first sees Team Jackson-Winklejohn MMA’s Isaac Vallie-Flagg take on the Brazilian Elias Silverio. Vallie-Flagg was successful in his Octagon debut nearly a year ago, when he upset the veteran Yves Edwards by split-decision. Silverio is also 1-0 inside the Octagon, as he picked up a unanimous decision over fellow countryman Joao Zeferino four months ago. I expect this to be an exciting fight. The preliminary “headliner” will be a bout between two contestants of season 13 of The Ultimate Fighter, as Ramsey Nijem takes on Justin Edwards. Nijem is coming off back-to-back losses where he suffered a second round KO against Myles Jury, and a first round submission against James Vick. After upsetting Josh Neer via first round guillotine choke, “Fast Eddy” faced the extremely talented rising welterweight prospect Brandon Thatch, and was TKO’d in the first frame of action. This is likely a “loser goes home” match-up, and I expect both fighters to give it their all. Nijem has been competing at lightweight since being on the reality series, but this will be Edwards’ first time dropping down to 155 pounds. A bout that was formerly on the prelims, but has recently been shifted to the main card in the wake of Jason High’s injury is another flyweight contest that pits recent title challenger John Moraga against Roufusport product Dustin Ortiz. Moraga started his run in the UFC with back to back finishes over Ulysses Gomez and Chris Cariaso, then got a crack at Demetrious Johnson and his 125 pound gold. He came up short against Johnson, as he was submitted in the tail end of the fifth round. Ortiz recently made his debut in the Octagon against Jose Maria, and scored a come-from-behind TKO victory over the Brazilian. This is a flyweight match-up I cannot wait to see.

Written by Gabe Killian

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