While UFC 162’s main card may be receiving bundles of attention, the top-heavy fight card is also complimented with solid prelims that are set to start the night off right. With heavy-handed brawlers like Chris Leben to dangerous Muay Thai strikers like Edson Barboza and even BJJ black belts like Gabriel Gonzaga; UFC 162’s prelims are due for excitement.

Mike Pierce vs. David Mitchell

Starting off the night is a battle between recent rank-riser Mike Pierce, and experienced grappler David Mitchell. Mike Pierce is on a 3-fight win streak, and looks to break into the upper half of the stacked welterweight division with another win. Pierce is a brute-force wrestler who prefers to bully his opponents in the clinch and in top position, but is also known to have extremely powerful hands. His opponent, David Mitchell, will be performing in his 4th UFC bout and will be looking to get his second win in the promotion.

An interesting note about Mitchell; he was known to be an absolute killer outside of the UFC when he finished nearly all of his fights by submission, but since entering the UFC he’s been on 3 straight decisions. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that this fight will go the distance, especially considering Pierce also has only finished one fight out of his last 5.

Stylistically, this match-up favors Pierce dramatically. He’s the more powerful striker as he packs a lot of power in his hands, and he’s also a highly touted wrestler with a lot of physical strength. Mitchell, being a grappler, is going to rely on tie-ups and real close-quarter combat to find the opportunities to pull off a submission. I’m going to go with Pierce in a decision victory as he out-muscles Mitchell in the clinch, on the ground, and stays clear of any offensive grappling attempts that might take him off guard.

Mike Pierce via Unanimous Decision

 

Seth Baczynski vs. Brian Melancon

This welterweight match-up will feature Seth Baczynski, who will rebound after a tough loss to Mike Pierce which halted a 4-fight winning streak, against UFC newcomer Brian Melancon. For those who don’t know, Brian Melancon is a Ricco Rodriguez protoge who has a brief history fighting for Strikeforce.

Honestly, I view this fight has a pick-me-up fight for Baczynski who is a true talent in the welterweight division; he has potential to become an elite fighter, but has just had some hard roads to cross. Look for him to overwhelm Melancon (who relies on aggressive striking and takedowns) on the feet using a much more experienced arsenal, and then score submission later. I see Baczynski’s range, size, and experience giving him the win Saturday night.

Seth Baczysnki via 2nd Rd Submission.

 

Edson Barboza vs. Rafaello Oliveira

Speaking of potential, the devastating stand-out striker Edson Barboza will return to the Octagon and face hard-nosed competitor Rafaell Oliveira who is replacing the German striker Dennis Siver.

There is no doubt here that Barboza is going to have the edge on the feet. In my opinion, his technique, precision, speed, and overall style can’t really be matched by anyone in the lightweight division and Rafaello Oliveira isn’t an exception. For Rafaello to pull off the upset here, he’s going to need to push an incredible pace that keeps Barboza off balance. But here’s where things go from bad to worse for Oliveira; Barboza has shown his explosive defensive ground game before against Terry Etim and isn’t going to let Oliveira gain any control. I see Barboza blasting Oliveira on the feet with his powerful leg kicks and stiff striking, and avoiding any pressure from Oliveira to TKO him later in the opening stanza.

Edson Barboza via 1st Rd TKO

 

Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Dave Herman

Set to try and score his first win since June of 2011, Dave Herman will take on long-time UFC veteran Gabriel Gonzaga who is trying to rebound since his disappointing KO loss to Travis Browne.

Dave Herman, a brash slugger known for his KO power, is most likely going to look to do the exact same thing Travis Browne did; defend takedowns and try to knock Gonzaga out as soon as possible. It’s known that Gonzaga isn’t necessarily difficult to knock-out, so expect Herman to be loading on big shots right from the get-go. Proving that Gonzaga doesn’t get sucked into a slugfest with Dave Herman, you can count on him scoring a takedown against the taller man and grinding him down on the mat. Once Gonzaga is settled on the ground, a submission should ensue quickly.

Gabriel Gonzaga via 1st Rd Submission.

 

Norman Parke vs. Kazuki Tokudome

Up next is an interesting lightweight tilt between TUF: The Smashes Winner, Normal Parke, and proven MMA veteran Kazuki Tokudome who is 1-0 in the UFC. Both of these guys are known for their grappling abilities, and should make a very competitive and evenly matched bout.

When deciphering who has advantages where, a blaring strength for Norman Parke in this match-up is going to be his size. Parke is extremely big at 155, and incredibly strong as well. Against a grappler like Tokudome, his size advantage will play dividends for him in establishing control and dominance early on. That being said, Tokudome is a very strong athlete as well, but that’s not where he shines. Tokudome has a very large feather in his cap by way of his latest bout; a decision win over Cristiano Marcello. Marcello, who has some of the best grappling credentials in the lightweight division, was taken down and stifled by Tokudome’s superior size and defense. The very same could be done to Parke.

Ultimately, there is one thing that makes me hesitant to pick Tokudome in this match-up; the fact that he has yet to fight outside of Japan. While it may not seem like anything big, it is. The athletic commissions are different, and that means the judges are different. I see this fight being a very close bout, but with the US judges siding with the bigger, stronger fighter in Norman Parke.

Parke via Split Decision

 

Chris Leben vs. Andrew Craig

The return of the “Crippler”. For Chris Leben, it seems like all he has been doing is trying to turn his career around. After being decimated by Brian Stann, he looked to be one of the best fighters on the planet by stopping Wanderlei Silva within a minute. Then, he was smashed by Mark Munoz, failed a drug test, and was grinded out by Derek Brunson in a lack-luster performance. Now, he faces the hard-nosed slugger Andrew Craig, who also is wanting to get back in the win column.

This fight is really going to come down to how smart Andrew Craig fights this fight. If he takes his time, frustrates Leben, and uses takedowns to sap the life out of him, then he could very easily grind him out in a less-than stellar performance. But let’s be real, Craig is a guy who want to fight, and against Leben, he’s going to get one. Very few people can stand and bang with Leben, and unfortunately, I don’t see see Craig being one of those guys. He may hang in the pocket for a round, but once Leben gains momentum, he’s going to run with it and prove once again why he’s called “The Crippler”.

 

Chris Leben via 2nd Rd TKO