In a very rare occurrence, the UFC was forced to recommission a numbered pay-per-view event as a free ‘Fight Night’ card following injuries to the two original main event participants. UFC 196 was set to be the promotion’s annual Super Bowl weekend card, and was supposed to feature the rematch between Fabricio Werdum and Cain Velasquez for the heavyweight title. Unfortunately, Velasquez dropped out of the bout with a back injury, and then Werdum pulled out against replacement opponent Stipe Miocic with a foot ailment. At that point, the title match was simply scrapped and the card was moved from PPV to Fox Sports 1. Former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks has been elevated to the main event against rising contender Stephen Thompson. The co-main event will now be Roy Nelson taking on Jared Rosholt, in one of the most contrasting matchups possible at heavyweight. Ovince St. Preux vs. Rafael Cavalcante and Joseph Benavidez vs. Zach Makovsky round out the bouts that have been lined thus far. Light heavyweight prospect Misha Cirkunov makes his second UFC appearance, and Mike Pyle vs. Sean Spencer round out the now six-fight main card. MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened the remaining betting lines for UFC Fight Night 82 today at 5Dimes Sportsbook. Take a look: ——————– MAIN CARD (Fox Sports 1, 10pm ET)
——————– PRELIMINARY CARD (Fox Sports 1, 8pm ET)
——————– PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 7pm ET)
——————– Brad’s Analysis: Alex Nicholson’s record looks impressive on paper, as his last four opponents have had a combined record of 25-1, and he’s stopped all four inside of two rounds. Still, heavyweight MMA — particularly at the regional level — is extremely hard to gauge, and I think Cirkunov is a massive step up in competition for Nicholson. I’ll have to see how Nicholson looks outside of the first round again, as he’s just 1-1 in those bouts so far, but I don’t think we’ll get a chance to do that here, as Cirkunov’s wrestling and ground game should be too much for the newcomer. Mike Pyle and Sean Spencer were supposed to fight at UFC 187 back in May, but Spencer was forced out with an injury. That leaves him with more than a year layoff heading into this bout, and that’s rarely a good thing. Pyle was tasked with Colby Covington as a replacement that night and lost a decision by being outwrestled. He won’t have to worry about that against Spencer, as he will hold the massive grappling advantage. On the feet, Pyle’s chin is always a concern, but Spencer doesn’t have the greatest power, and I think Pyle can navigate his way into his grappling to pick up the win. Josh Burkman and KJ Noons at 155 is a complete crapshoot. Burkman had one of the most solid granite chins in MMA before Patrick Cote rocked him multiple times and then put him out in their bout. Now he’s dropping to 155, a move that often doesn’t help the chin. Noons has struggled at times to even make 155, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see these two decide to enter the cage at 170 like Noons did with Sam Stout. Also, like that bout, Noons likely won’t have to worry about being taken down, and with Burkman’s chin potentially fading, I’m willing to take a shot on Noons as a dog here. Damien Grabowski has long been one of the better heavyweights outside of the UFC, and at 35 he finally gets his shot. It will be too late for him to make any sort of run, but he can win a few fights in the division, and this is one of them. This result just depends where the fight takes place, or more importantly, if Derrick Lewis ends up in top position. If that happens, Lewis probably takes a TKO, but if the fight takes place anywhere else, I think Grabowski can pull it off. Justin Scoggins has a tendency to not fight the smartest fights, while Ray Borg does exactly what he should do when he steps in the cage. For both men, that normally results in a grappling match, and Ray Borg is one of the best grapplers at the flyweight division. I expect consistent top position and guard passing from Borg, and a decision victory, at the least. He may even find a submission. Noad Lahat has exceeded my expectations after a disappointing UFC debut, and this almost seems like a setup fight for him. Diego Rivas is young and improving, but he’s got a long way to improve before he’s able to match Lahat’s grappling skills in any area. I still haven’t seen much to be impressed by anyone from TUF Latin America, and I don’t think Rivas is the guy to change my tune on the show. I have no idea who Mickey Gall or Mike Jackson are, and I have no interest researching a fight where the end goal is CM Punk. Sorry, not sorry. Good for them for getting a payday in the big show though. I’ve seen too many of Artem Lobov’s fights from the regional circuit to buy into the UFC’s tagline of him being a big puncher. He’s a tough guy who can outlast opponents with bad cardio and struggles against anyone who doesn’t fade or who has superior skills. While White does fade a bit and has some poor defense, I still think his overall skills are far beyond what Lobov brings to the table. There’s a reason Lobov had basically a .500 record before he even made it to the UFC, and it’s not because he deserves to be in the Octagon.