The UFC shares the limelight with the Super Bowl this weekend, as UFC 169 comes to us from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The main card is stacked and the prelims are looking pretty solid too, with some especially big up-and=coming international names.
In the FOX Sports 1 preliminary main event, we get lightweight John Makdessi (12-2) facing red-hot Alan Patrick (11-0). Makdessi is known for his superlative striking and solid takedown defense, but the 28-year-old Canadian will have his hands full with Patrick, a BJJ fighter at heart who has some good hands. Makdessi will be at the disadvantage reach-wise, as Patrick has three inches on him. Granted, that might not matter because Patrick will likely turn this into a grappler vs. striker match, as Makdessi absolutely wants to keep this fight standing no matter what. If it stays standing, Patrick has knockout power, brandishing stoppages via strikes on his resume to Makdessi’s eight, but Makdessi should be able to outpoint him. Also keep in mind the difference of competition in their careers. Makdessi has faced far better fighters overall.
The flyweights are next, as WEC veteran Chris Cariaso (15-5) looks to build on his TKO win over Iliarde Santos in October of 2013. He faces promotional newcomer Danny Martinez (16-4) who failed to make it into the house on The Ultimate Fighter: Rousey vs. Tate after losing to David Grant via an armbar. Martinez is a newcomer, but legit. He made it to the WEC for a single fight in 2008, lost to Joe Benavidez via unanimous decision then toiled in the independent scene for a while. Cariaso went on a good run in 2011 and 2012, putting together a three-fight win streak, but has lost two out of his last three fights. Cariaso has been around for a long time, fighting tough competition for just as long, and this is the toughest fight Martinez has ever taken outside of the Benavidez fight. Still, Martinez has nothing to lose, taking this fight on short notice, and he is a good wrestler that could take the well-rounded Cariaso to the mat and hold him there.
Tom ‘Kong’ Watson (16-6) was supremely hyped leading up to his UFC debut, but has gone 1-2 since, sandwiching a TKO win over Stanislav Nedkov in between decision losses to Brad Tavares and Thales Leites. Watson is a good sprawl-and-brawler, who has a tendency to get gassed. Hopefully he’s ready, because Nick Catone (9-4) is a grinder in the truest sense of the word. He embraces his wrestling and holds good wins over Costa Phillippou as well as Jesse Forbes. He could be fighting for his job, however, as he’s lost his last two fights in a row. The first to Chris Camozzi and the second to TJ Waldburger. This could be a fight of the night contender, as both men will be desperate to win and do it in impressive fashion. Their jobs could be on the line. Catone will be looking to bring the fight to the ground early and often while Watson is always looking for the clean shot on the feet. This could be a great battle for position, or a quick night for Catone, who has trouble with fighters like Watson. That said, dragging Watson into deep waters is how you beat him, and Catone has the skill-set to do that.
Lightweights are featured next, as Al Iaquinta (7-2-1) will be looking to extend his winning streak to three over newcomer Kevin Lee (7-0). Both men are looking to make this a short and sweet fight, as both have developed a reputation for finishing fights. Iaquinta earned his stripes on TUF, earning knockout of the season and has proved his worth in the UFC with wins over Ryan Couture and Piotr Hallmann, while Lee has fought and torn through all of his indie competition. Iaquinta will likely be looking for the knockout while Lee will have his ground game to rely on. This should be a hotly-contested battle on the ground as Lee does everything he can to get Iaquinta off his feet and out of his comfort zone.