Gabe Killian’s Dive into the Prelims for UFC Fight Night in Abu Dhabi

Chris CamozziThe Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to Abu Dhabi for UFC Fight Night 39, on Friday, April 11th with nine scheduled bouts, including a five-fight preliminary card that will be streaming live at 11:50am ET on UFC Fight Pass. If interested in wagering on the match-ups on this card, you can do so at 5Dimes Sportsbooks. Getting the action started for the outdoor mixed martial arts event in sunny Abu Dhabi will be a match-up between a pair of featherweights making their Octagon debut. It will be a classic striker vs grappler match-up, when Iraqi scrapper Alan Omer takes on an American grinder in Jim “The Beast” Alers. Both featherweights will be looking to impress, though I am not expecting a finish in this fight. Both fighters are very capable of finishing fights, but I think this one goes the distance more often than not. Omer will be looking to keep it on the feet, and Alers will be looking to take it to the mat. We’ll find out which gameplan is successful on Friday morning. Omer is the betting underdog in this bout at +220, while the line for the favorite Alers is currently at -260. Next up on the preliminary card is a middleweight tilt between The Ultimate Fighter season 11 contestant Chris Camozzi and former Legacy FC middleweight champion Andrew “Highlight” Craig. This is a big fight for both middleweights, as they are in need of a win. Camozzi has dropped back-to-back fights to Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Lorenz Larkin, respectively, and Craig is coming off a submission loss to Luke Barnatt. Now five months after being stopped by Barnatt in a ‘Fight of the Night’-award winning outing, he looks ahead to an equally tough challenge in Colorado’s Camozzi. This is another fight that has ‘Fight of the Night’ written all over it, and I expect it to be entertaining for however long it lasts. Despite Craig getting hurt standing by Barnatt, he has a pretty good chin, and excellent recovery. Both middleweights are durable, but I could see this fight playing out similar to the Barnatt fight, with Camozzi’s getting the better of Craig on the feet, and ultimately catching him with strikes. The betting odds slightly favor him to win this fight, as he is -135, with Craig being a slight underdog at +115. The following bout on the preliminary is another middleweight fight in the form of Thales Leites vs Trevor “Hot Sauce” Smith. The Brazilian is not getting a step up in competition in this match-up after his two consecutive Octagon victories, and it appears as if the UFC is giving him this fight just to keep him busy. With dominant unanimous decision victories over Tom “Kong” Watson and Ed “Short Fuse” Herman under his belt now in his second stint with the promotion, the former UFC middleweight title challenger will be looking to keep his streak alive against Smith with hopes of entering the title picture after a couple more wins. “Hot Sauce” himself will be looking to stay in the W column, coming off his split decision victory over Brian Houston. Leites will hold advantages in every aspect of this fight, from the stand-up to the ground game to conditioning. Rightfully so, the Brazilian is a heavy favorite at -440 heading into this match-up, with the Strikeforce veteran being a big underdog at +350. Next on the UFC Fight Night in Abu Dhabi preliminary fight card is a bantamweight bout that will see The Ultimate Fighter season 14 veteran “Brutal” Johnny Bedford take on submission specialist Rani Yahya, who after going 4-2 in the featherweight division will be making his return to 135 pounds. This should be a fun fight between two finishers, and one I expect to end inside the distance, whether it’s a submission by Yahya, or “Brutal” earning a TKO stoppage. Bedford is coming off a third round submission loss to fellow TUF 14 cast-mate Bryan Caraway nearly a year ago, and Yahya last saw action at the TUF 18 finale four months ago, where he was outgrappled by the larger Tom Niinimaki for a split decision loss. Both fighters will be looking to get back to their winning ways, with the Brazilian entering the bout as a -175 favorite, and the return on the underdog Bedford being +155. Headlining the preliminary card for UFC Fight Night 39 will be a heavyweight match-up between two fighters getting ready to step foot into the Octagon for the second time in their professional mixed martial arts careers. It is a classic striker vs grappler match-up, and I could see this resulting in a fun fight, or being a complete snooze-fest. If Rosholt successfully employs his wrestling from the get-go, we could be in for a very boring 15 minutes of action. I think that is the most likely outcome for this fight, but there is also the slight chance that Omielanczuk could knock Rosholt out early, before he gets a chance to implement his wrestling. Rosholt should avoid standing with Omielanczuk at all costs, as he made a similar mistake in the first round of his last bout and ended up nearly getting finished by Walt Harris. Omielanczuk took out Nandor Guelmino in his promotional debut five months ago, scoring a knockout in the third round of action. Rosholt will be the best grappler he has yet to face, so I expect him to be looking to stop takedowns while searching for his chin. Due to his big advantage in the grappling department, Rosholt is currently a -235 favorite, with Omielanczuk being the underdog at +195. This isn’t exactly a great pairing, but it is one I saw being put together, as the UFC’s heavyweight division is razor thin. Personally, this would not have been the fight I would choose to headline the preliminary card. I think the correct, no-brainer move would have been to go with Camozzi vs Craig. Even Bedford vs Yahya would be a better lead-in to the main card, but I don’t think any MMA fan could argue that on paper, Camozzi vs Craig is, by a longshot, the best scrap on the prelims.

Written by Gabe Killian

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