UFC 203 is finally here, and it’s a pretty damn good card. The main card is very intriguing, and the prelims aren’t too shabby either. Okay so they’re far from great, but they do have the potential to be pretty good, even without the surefire Fight of the Night candidate between Ray Borg and Ian McCall that got scraped a few nights ago. There’s some fights that look like duds, some that could be great, and only two unknown fighters. Regardless, here are my picks for tonight’s prelim fights.
Fight Pass prelims (7/6c, UFC Fight Pass)
Drew Dober (16-7, 1NC) vs. Jason Gonzalez (10-2)
The first fight seems like a foregone conclusion upon first glance. Dober is a UFC veteran, while most people have no idea who Gonzalez is. Well, Gonzalez is a finisher who’s never gone the distance. He’s been knocked out and submitted once, has four knockout and six submission wins, and has won six straight fights.
Dober is 2-3 inside the octagon with a no contest, so he needs a win here. He’s got the experience edge, and nine submissions to boot, but something tells me he’s going to lose tonight. I’ll go with an upset right from the get go, to potentially set the tone for the evening. Prediction: Gonzalez via tko, round 2.
Yancy Medeiros (12-4, 1NC) vs. Sean Spencer (12-5)
The next fight promises to be a fun one, especially since both fighters need a win. Medeiros has finished nine of his 12 wins, but has gone 3-4 with a no contest inside the octagon.
Spencer tends to go the distance, having done so in 10 of 17 bouts, including eight of his 12 career wins. He’s lost three of his last four, and the main reason he hasn’t been cut yet is because two of those losses were controversial decisions, and his last one was a Fight of the Night where he got finished with just 35 seconds remaining in the bout. He needs the win more, and my gut tells me he’ll somehow pull it off. Prediction: Spencer via split decision.
Televised prelims (8/7c, FS1)
CB Dolloway (15-8) vs. Francimar Barroso (18-5)
The first televised bout of the evening was originally a Fight Pass bout, until Ray Borg vs. Ian McCall got scrapped because the former backed out of the fight. That’s a big loss for both men and the fans too, because that fight was a surefire entertainer. This one? Well, not really.
Dolloway has lost three straight and four of six, while Barroso, once a feared finisher with 14 finishes in 15 non-UFC wins, has been a complete dud inside the octagon. He’s 3-2 inside the octagon, with the first four fights being super boring decisions, while his last fight was a submission loss to Nikita Krylov. Either this fight will end via shocking finish or be a dreadful fight. I’ll go with the latter sadly, and pick Dolloway because Barroso needs to go. Prediction: Dolloway via decision.
Brad Tavares (13-4) vs. Caio Magalhaes (9-2)
Middleweights take the stage next, with both men fighting for the first time in over a year. Magalhaes last fought in July 2015, has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and has three knockout, submission and decision wins apiece. He’d won four straight bouts since losing his UFC debut, before disgracing himself in the weight ins against Josh Samman, then losing via 1st round submission in his last fight.
Tavares last fought in May 2015, getting knocked out in 44 seconds by Robert Whitaker. He’s lost three of four since winning seven of his first eight UFC bouts. I still think he’ll find a way to win, in what should be a solid scrap with a few fun moments. Anything can happen, but my gut tells me that Tavares will find a way to win. Prediction: Tavares via decision.
Nik Lentz (26-7-2, 1NC) vs. Michael McBride (8-1)
Nik Lentz will take on a short notice opponent next, after his initial opponent, Mairbek Taisumov, had to bow out following visa issues. McBride might not be near Taisumov’s level, but he’s no joke either. All of his wins have come via submission, six of which went down in the first round. He’s won four straight, and will look to kick off his UFC career with a bang.
Meanwhile, Lentz is a tough fighter to get excited about. He’s got 10 submission and six knockout wins, but his only finishes inside the octagon came in 2011 and 2012, both against relatively unknown fighters. He’s 10-4-1 with a no contest inside the octagon, and his last eight wins have come via decision. He’s 5-2 in his last seven, and whenever he gets a post-fight bonus, it’s usually a Fight of the Night in a loss. I want to pick McBride, but I can’t convince myself, so I’ll have to reluctantly go with my third straight decision prediction. Prediction: Lentz via decision.
Jessica Eye (11-5, 1NC) vs. Bethe Correia (9-2)
In the headlining prelim, we get two Bantamweight women who probably shouldn’t be on the roster anymore, and the loser is sure to be cut afterwards. Eye is from Ohio, and if she loses, she likely gets cut. She’s 1-4 with a no contest inside the octagon, with the only finish being a doctor’s stoppage, and has gone the distance in 12 of 17 career fights. She’s feisty and sort of fun, but a loss tonight should result in a release.
Meanwhile, Correia elicits nothing positive from me. She got a title shot last year after beating three women who subsequently got cut or retired shortly after they fought her, she got trashed in 34 seconds of her title fight, lost a controversial decision in her last fight, talks too much, and has become a nuisance in the minds of many MMA fans. She’s 3-2 inside the octagon, and yet, Eye is arguably the second or third best fighter she’s ever fought. If she loses tonight, her UFC tenure should be over. I think Eye will wind up dominating as the fight goes on, and win a one-sided decision, to cap off a slate of decisions. Prediction: Eye via decision.