UFC Fight Night 48 Preliminary Card Preview

004—006 FNM2014 Poster v2Hardcore MMA fans, early risers, and insomniacs rejoice, as the UFC will have six fights starting at 6:30am ET on UFC Fight Pass to get your Saturday morning started right. Or at least as right as anonymous Chinese fighters are capable of. The prelims for the UFC’s latest trip to Macau are hardly the most compelling television the organization has aired on Fight Pass. However, there are definitely some potential bright spots worth catching live (or during the excessive commercials that will be aired during UFC Fight Night 49 on Saturday night). Normally this spot would be reserved for whatever prelim was going on last before the main card airs, but the structure of this card deserves a different approach. Welterweight prospect Colby Covington (5-0) is the fighter to watch on these prelims. The two-time Pac 10 wrestling champion and All-American has been honing his skills at American Top Team alongside fighters like Jorge Masvidal, and makes his UFC debut on Saturday. His opponent, Wang Anying (2-0) was a semifinalist on TUF China despite never winning a fight on the show. At the TUF China Finale back in March, Wang made a successful UFC debut, defeating the other semifinalist who didn’t win a fight on the show, Albert Cheng. Covington will have massive wrestling and overall grappling advantages over Wang, which have made him the biggest favorite on the card at -400 (bet $400 to win $100). The second-most intriguing bout on the card is also in the welterweight division, as a pair of UFC newcomers meet. Alberto Mina (10-0) was supposed to make his UFC debut earlier this year against Zak Cummings, but because of Cummings missing weight badly the bout was scratched. He now takes on Shinsho Anzai (8-1), a powerful Japanese striker. Mina is a grappler first and foremost, holding a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but he also has serviceable striking which has resulted in four TKO finishes. His other six wins have all come via submission. Anzai isn’t as well-rounded as he has used his heavy hands to do almost all of the work throughout his career. Six of Anzai’s eight wins are by TKO, which is made even more impressive since all of his previous fights have taken place at either 185 or 205. This being his first cut to 170 is a bit worrisome, but he looked fine on the scales and could be very dangerous if he brings the same power down to welterweight. Mina definitely has a bit more hype and is getting more respect at the betting window however, as he sits at -210 on Several Bookmakers with the comeback on Anzai at +190 (bet $100 to win $190). The other interesting bout on the preliminary card is in the bantamweight division, as Roland Delorme (9-3, 1 NC) looks to bounce back from consecutive UFC losses against the debuting Yuta Sasaki (17-1-2). Sasaki is unbeaten in his last 11 bouts, and his grappling game has been the primary reason. A former ADCC competitor, Sasaki is very slick on the ground, and is willing to take chances in order to find submissions. That can be a bit of a double-edged sword once Sasaki starts facing the higher competition he’ll see in the UFC though. In his efforts to find submissions, he sometimes puts himself in unenviable positions. Whether Delorme can capitalize on those mistakes by submitting Sasaki or keeping him in those spots will be what determines this fight, as both men should be more than willing to take things to the ground. This is currently the closest line on the Macau card, with Sasaki a -145 favorite and Delorme a +135 underdog. Danny Mitchell (14-5-1) and Wang Sai (6-5-1) will be the lead-in bout to the main card, as the pair look to rebound from losses in their UFC debuts. Mitchell was summarily outgrappled by Igor Araujo in his last outing, while Wang was edged out in the TUF China welterweight finale by Zhang Lipeng. This is a grappler vs. striker bout that will probably end up in the grappler’s realm, much like Wang’s last bout. Chinese fighters in general simply don’t have the wrestling fundamentals to stay on their feet against anyone who wants to get them to the ground, and Wang is no different. He will have an edge as long as this stays on the feet, and with Mitchell having a bit of a questionable chin could even do some damage, but Mitchell’s advantage on the ground is even bigger. Oddsmakers and the public seem to agree that Mitchell has the overall edge as well, as he sits at -200 with Wang a +185 underdog. One-time UFC veteran Elizabeth Phillips (4-2) will welcome Milana Dudieva (10-3) to the Octagon in a women’s bantamweight bout. Phillips dropped a close decision to Valerie Letourneau in her first appearance in the UFC, but it should be noted that she took that bout on approximately ten days notice. Her short preparation time seemed to affect her, as Letourneau came back to win rounds two and three primarily due to superior cardio. With a full camp, Phillips should show improved conditioning and give onlookers a chance to see her true potential. Dudieva has shown plenty of potential thus far in her career. The 25-year-old Russian has a very aggressive and impressive ground attack, and combines that with some power punching on the feet to make her dangerous everywhere. Her style carried her to an eight-fight win streak before dropping back-to-back contests to Jessica Andrade and highly-touted women’s prospect Pannie Kianzad. She has since come back with two more wins and looks to continue that momentum in the UFC. This is another close one on the books, at Dudieva is -150 and Phillips is +130 as of this writing. Kicking the morning off will be the much anticipated return of Royston Wee (3-0). Okay, maybe not much anticipated, but somewhat anticipated. Maybe. By his friends and family. Or just his mom. Wee returned to MMA after a two-year hiatus to pick up a decision win over Dave Galera in what was a truly dreadful affair. He isn’t taking much, if any, of a step up here against Yao Zhikui (1-1). Zhikui was a semifinalist in the featherweight bracket of TUF China, but should really be fighting in the flyweight division. Given that he is primarily a grappler, as is Wee, that could pose some problems fro Zhikui in the form of simply getting outmuscled. With Wee being the lone Singaporean fighter on the UFC roster and the organization having numerous Chinese fighters under contract now, they are probably hoping for a second UFC victory so that Wee will remain a selling point when they return to Singapore. Oddsmakers tend to agree, as Wee sits at -290 with the comeback on Zhikui at +260.

Written by Brad Taschuk

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