Memorial Day Weekend is always a time that’s alright for fighting, and tonight (May 24, 2014) we have a fairly-stacked UFC 173 card with a host of up and comers on the preliminary card. Let’s dive right in. In the main event of the FOX Sports 1 prelims, Michael Chiesa (10-1) will take on the massive lightweight, Francisco Trinaldo (14-3). Let me get this out of the way: Trinaldo once competed at middleweight. Alright, with that said, I’ll try to not mention his size anymore, even though it’s a huge factor in these lightweight fights. You’ll remember Chiesa from that time he won TUF 15. He’s a grinder with great cardio and is becoming visibly more well-rounded with each fight. He hit a roadbump when he lost to the vet Jorge Masvidal at UFC on FOX: Johnson vs. Moraga, but losing to Masvidal has looked to be a learning experience for Chiesa. Trinaldo is 4-2 with a recent win over Jesse Ronson at Mousasi vs. Machida, and holds losses against Gleison Tibau and Piotr Hallmann. Chiesa has truly become proficient in the grappling department, but Trinaldo will look to nullify that, get on top of the wrestler and overpower him into submission. On the feet, it’s a fairly even fight, with Trinaldo actually giving up nearly 6 inches of reach to Chiesa. Could this be the fight in which Chiesa utilizes his length to avoid Trinaldo shots and power punches? We’ll see. Chiesa has a nasty habit in making fights tougher than they should be, and Trinaldo plays the roll of beefy Brazilian wingin’ bombs well. TUF 13 winner Tony Ferguson (14-3) has his second fight in 2 years after a long layoff, hoping to follow-up on his first-round submission over Mike Rio at UFC 166 back in October. His opponent in this lightweight bout is Katsunori Kikuno (DEEP never die) (22-5-2). The 32-year-old Japanese judoka is 1-0 in the UFC after coming off a decision victory Quinn Mulhern at Fight Night: Saffiedine vs. Lim, and is currently on a six-fight winning streak. Ferguson is a solid boxer with good power and strong wrestling. He doesn’t get the takedown often, but his size and speed allows him to physically impose his will on many opponents, and allow him to tee off on them as they get frustrated by his length. I would be surprised if Kikuno gave him any respect, however. He can make fights ‘ugly’ with his unorthodox striking, wading his way into the clinch then getting the takedown. This should be a fun fight with neither man wanting to give an inch, considering their personalities. This is a very close fight, with position dictating the advantage, naturally. On the feet, they are pretty damn even, with Kikuno’s wild strikes possibly getting nullified by Ferguson’s solid boxing. On the ground, Ferguson can do damage if he’s on top, but Kikuno can neutralize quite a bit of his offense, and he’s solid from every position. Hey! It’s another TUF winner. This time, it’s bantamweight Chris Holdsworth (5-0), the winner of TUF 18, taking on Chico Camus (14-4). This is a good test of the young Team Alpha Male member’s skills, as Camus is a grinding fighter who has decent stand up and a good ground game complimented by some solid ground and pound that keeps opponents guessing. Holdsworth has never been to the judges, going 5-0 with five submissions. On the feet, this is pretty much even, maybe with a slight edge going to Camus, but on the ground Holdsworth is quite the sight. I like to think he’s the bantamweight version of Josh Barnett. He has a great submission wrestling game, and his technique is brilliant. A fascinating watch, no doubt. Camus is a tough test for Holdsworth, who finished all of his opponents by submission on TUF. If this doesn’t go to the ground, he could be in trouble, but he is the type of talent that can absolutely sink in a submission win from anywhere. And to open the televised prelims, we actually don’t have a TUF winner, but, we do have a runner-up. Al Iaquinta (8-2-1), who is on a three-fight winning streak since falling to Michael Chiesa at the TUF 15 finale. His opponent in this lightweight bout is Mitch Clarke (10-2). The 28-year-old Clarke avoided losing 3 fights in succession after he decisioned John Maguire at UFC 161. This is a good fight for both men, with the advantage going to Iaquinta. He’s a Renzo Gracie pupil, and if you looked at him, you would think he’s a mini-Chris Weidman. He fights like one too. His stand-up has really come along, and his ground game, mainly wrestling is damn solid. His BJJ, of course, is proficient, coming from Renzo. Clarke trains with Ben Henderson at the MMA Lab in Arizona, and he fights like him too. I would give the edge in every category to Iaquinta, especially the strength department. Clarke got a good win against Maguire, but he may be on the outs here.