Before the six fight main card of UFC Fight Night 35 airs on Fox Sports 1 this coming Wednesday, fans will have a chance to kick back and watch six preliminary fights — four of which will also air on FS1 — as an appetizer. Normally there can be a fairly large gulf in talent between main and undercard fights, but in this case perhaps the most intriguing bout of the entire card sits on the preliminary portion. That bout is between #4 flyweight John Moraga and #15 Dustin Ortiz. Why the UFC keeps burying these talented 125ers on undercards is a complete mystery, but that has been their approach throughout the division’s history. If you recall, Moraga received a title shot after fighting twice consecutively on Facebook prelims. The preliminary card doesn’t feature much in terms of name value, but hopefully that will be offset by the competitive nature of the fights. Today, MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened betting lines on all six undercard bouts at Several Bookmakers. Take a look: ——————– MAIN CARD (Fox Sports 1, 7pm ET) Luke Rockhold -405 Costas Philippou +285 Lorenz Larkin -210 Brad Tavares +160 Charlie Brenneman -245 Beneil Dariush +175 TJ Dillashaw -230 Mike Easton +170 Yoel Romero -245 Derek Brunson +175 Cole Miller -165 Sam Sicilia +125 ——————– PRELIMINARY CARD (Fox Sports 1, 5pm ET) Ramsey Nijem -170 Justin Edwards +130 Elias Silverio -125 Isaac Vallie-Flagg -115 John Moraga -270 Dustin Ortiz +190 Trevor Smith -155 Brian Houston +115 ——————– PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 4pm ET) Vinc Pichel -150 Garett Whiteley +110 Alp Ozkilic -300 Louis Smolka +220 ——————– Brad’s Analysis: Nijem/Edwards was probably the most difficult fight for me to break down on this card. Not because it’s a particularly interesting style matchup, or I was looking at a potential bet heading in, but simply because I couldn’t find a reason to care about it. All of the other prelims here, I’m either excited to see one (or more) of the fighters, or strongly considering a bet depending on line movement, but this seems like the perfect fight to walk my dog during and replay after if it turns out to be any good. Of their five combined wins, only one has come against a fighter still in the UFC (Nijem over Joe Proctor). That’s never a great sign. As far as the actual fight, it may be entertaining, as Edwards has shown the ability to get quick finishes, and Nijem has been finished in all three of his UFC losses. On the other hand, Nijem is the better round winner. So if this one goes inside the distance, it should be Edwards and if it goes to decision, Nijem will likely get his hand raised. The next bout between Silverio and Vallie-Flagg intrigues me, as looking around at other line movement for this card, there could very well be a bet to make on Flagg. Silverio is a fine Muay Thai fighter, but he’s most effective when moving forward, has a propensity to get pushed up the cage, and doesn’t have great footwork to avoid the advances of his opponent. He also slows down noticeably after the first half of the fight. Those characteristics fit perfectly into what Flagg wants to do. He’s not as technical a striker, but he pushes forward, fights at a high pace and wears opponents out. That’s exactly what I see happening in this one. Skill-wise, I do believe Silverio is better, but Flagg will have the better conditioning, better gameplan, and I believe he’ll get the win because. As mentioned earlier, I think Moraga/Ortiz is the best fight on the entire card. Because Moraga was rushed into a title shot, he gets more credit than he deserves as a fighter, although he is a solid fighter. He doesn’t really have a weakness as a fighter, but at the same time isn’t superb in any aspect of MMA. The same could be said for Ortiz as well, who sports solid striking and grappling games. On the feet, I expect it to play out very much like Moraga’s fight against Chris Cariaso, or Ortiz’s fight against Ian McCall. Both were very competitive, and it would shock me if this was any different. I also expect this fight to take place primarily standing, as both men have good wrestling and scrambling abilities (although admittedly the edge goes to Moraga there). The best path for Moraga to win is to get in close, even if he can’t get the fight to the ground, as that’s where Ortiz is most vulnerable. If he chooses to do that, he can make this fight swing a bit more clearly his way, but if these guys stand at range and trade, it’s going to be extremely tight. Knowing that the public is going to be parlaying the crap out of Moraga, I’m thinking of taking a stab at Ortiz here with a small play. What a difference one kick makes. Brian Houston was touted coming into the UFC, but got clipped with a head kick by Derek Brunson and finished early. Now it seems like all public sentiment in favor of Houston has disappeared, which in my eyes is great. Why? Because he’s facing a guy who has notoriously poor cardio, extremely porous striking defense, and is really only a threat on the ground. Despite most of Houston’s victories coming early, he showed solid cardio in his pro debut, has the vastly superior striking here, and his movement and takedown defense should allow him to keep this on the feet. There is danger, of course, but at even money or better, I’m on Houston. This is the real question mark of the prelims. Both guys are coming off of KO losses in their UFC debuts, and although we’ve seen more of Vinc Pichel on ‘The Ultimate Fighter’, we still really don’t know what to make of Garett Whiteley. As such, this is almost assuredly a pass for me, but I do lean Pichel in the fight due to his superior chin, proven cardio, and higher level of opposition. Finally, another flyweight fight buried as Alp Ozkilic looks to build upon an impressive UFC debut against newcomer Louis Smolka. Smolka is somewhat similar to Will Chope who debuted on the Singapore card in that he’s extremely long for the division, and that has allowed him to catch some submissions early in his career. His striking defense still leaves much desired however, and Ozkilic can keep this one on the feet while exploiting that. Alternately, he could take Smolka down and work from top position. Either way, I see the ‘Turkish Delight’ moving to 2-0 inside the Octagon, and he is one of the few fighters on this card I’d feel comfortable parlaying.