International Fight Week has come and mostly gone, with only one event left to cap it off. After a mixed bag of fights in the TUF: Redemption Finale which ended with the best fight of the year when Michael Johnson and Justin Gaethje engaged in an absolute war for nearly ten minutes, UFC 213 is a card that, while it should easily top the TUF Finale’s undercard, will have the extremely daunting task of topping that epic Gaethje/Johnson bout.
While that is a tough thing to ask, and as unlikely as it may be for any of the UFC 213 fights to top that one, it’s still a stacked card. That includes the prelims which, while not loaded with big names, is chock full of fights that are sure to entertain. Full of prospects and finishers galore, the prelim slate for tonight’s card should result in plentiful amounts of entertainment to satiate the appetite of of fight fans before the main card can even get underway. With that, let’s preview the entire seven-fight prelim slate set to take place later tonight in Las Vegas.
Fight Pass prelims (6:30/5:30c, UFC Fight Pass)
Trevin Giles (9-0) vs. James Bochnovic (8-1)
The opening bout of the card probably doesn’t mean much to casual fans. To hardcore fans, however, it’s a big-time fight that could easily headline any regional MMA card, including LFA. The fight was added late, which is why the two career Middleweights will be partaking in a Light Heavyweight bout. It matters not though, since that simply means that neither man will be drained from a possible weight cut, and makes what should be a great fight even more likely to be just that.
Giles, a top prospect who’s spent the majority of his career with Legacy FC and was slated to fight for the LFA Middleweight title before getting scooped up by the UFC just a week or so ago, is unbeaten with eight finishes in his first eight bouts, including five via submission. While four of his wins have come in the first round, he’s also shown he’s got a pretty good gas tank. If he can improve his striking defense, his potential is sky high.
As for Bochnovic, the submission specialist would easily pass as an ideal test for Giles had Giles stayed in LFA, won the Middleweight title and needed a challenger. Alas, they’re going to do battle in the UFC on a big card, even though they both deserve better than to be on the opening bout of the Fight Pass prelims. Bochnovic has never escaped the opening round, so his gas tank is unknown as of yet. What is for sure is that he’s an elite submission specialist, winning eight fights in that fashion and having won eight straight overall. He may even be better than Giles in that regard, so a ground battle could end with Bochnovic claiming victory. However, I can see Giles keeping it standing, and he has the better hands of the two for sure. This should be a fun battle while it lasts, and while a decision isn’t completely out of the question, I see Giles peppering Bochnovic with strikes, causing Bochnovic to gas out and ultimately get tko’d in the process. Prediction: Giles via tko, round 2.
Terrion Ware (17-5) vs. Cody Stamann (13-1)
The next bout, like the previous one, was added late to the card after Cerrone vs. Lawler got scrapped and postponed. Unlike the Giles/Bochnovic bout, this one’s not expected to be nearly as fun and enjoyable. Ware has fought for a variety of promotions in his career, most notable RFA, with whom he amassed a 3-1 record. While he has finishing ability, having finished nine fights and six via knockout, he also has eight decision wins, with five of his last seven fights overall going the distance.
Like Ware, Stamann has fought for a variety of promotions in a five-year career to date, and has one more finish than decision wins. He’s decisioned six opponents, knocked out five and submitted two. Also like Ware, Stamann has gone the distance five times in his last seven fights. That adds up to a fight that could end via finish, but seems likely to go the distance. Stamann might have been fighting longer and have a better record, but Ware is more tested, has fought for more notable promotions and against better competition, and is more aware of his skillset than Stamann is of his own. Stamann winning will be far from a shock, and I actually have a feeling he’ll get it done too. Conventional wisdom points slightly to Ware, who I’ve doubted in the past and have been proven wrong multiple times. I might as well pick him, in what should be a solid fight that likely goes the full 15 minutes. Prediction: Ware via decision.
Rob Font (13-2) vs. Douglas Silva de Andrade (24-1, 1 NC)
The headlining Fight Pass prelim bout should be a blast. De Andrade has won all but two of his 26 career fights, has 19 knockout wins, nine first round finishes and always goes for the kill. Font isn’t as much of a finisher, but has finished nine of his 13 wins. He’s 3-1 in the UFC, with all of his UFC wins coming via knockout. The former CES champion has seven first round finishes to date, and also has quite a chin, as he showed by going the distance against another great Brazilian striker in John Lineker. This fight will be fast-paced, action-packed and a blast to watch. De Andrade can end anyone’s night with a single shot, but I’ll go with Font due to his experience against better opponents and gas tank. This should be an absolute treat to watch. Prediction: Font via tko, round 2.
Televised prelims (8/7c, FS1)
Jordan Mein (29-11) vs. Belal Muhammad (11-2)
Speaking of fun fights, the televised prelim opener should fit that bill perfectly. Mien already has 40 fights despite being just 27, with 23 finishes including 16 knockout wins. The Canadian fought six times in 2006 to begin his career, and followed up by fighting seven times in 2007, four times in 2008, three times in 2009, six times in 2010, five times in 2011, and three times in 2012 before getting signed to the UFC. He fought just five times between his UFC debut in March 2013 and February 2015, going 3-2 with the UFC before retiring after losing to Thiago Alves in January 2015. He then returned last December, losing a decision to Emil Weber Meek, and this is his first fight since then. The Tristar product is 3-3 with the UFC, and if he loses tonight, he might not get cut, but it could put him on the verge of release.
Belal Muhammad, like Mien, needs a win. Impressing many in his UFC debut on short notice against Alan Jouban last July, this is already Muhammad’s fourth fight since then. In his first four UFC bouts, the former Titan FC Welterweight champion has gone 2-2. Unlike Mein, Muhammad tends to go the distance more often than not. In 13 career fights, Muhmmad has gone the distance eight times, going 7-1 in fights that have gone the distance. Mein has more power and finishing ability, but he’s also fought an exorbitant amount of times, considering his age. He’s also fighting for just the second time since January 2015, while Muhammad is fighting for the fifth time in 366 days. Many signs point to Muhammad winning. My gut tells me Mein will take it, but I can’t be sure. This is a tough one to predict for sure. Head pick: Muhammad via decision or late tko. Gut pick: Mien via tko, round 2.
Gerald Meerschaert (26-8) vs. Thiago Santos (14-5)
Up next is a bout that was originally scheduled to take place on Fight Pass, but got moved up when Cerrone vs. Lawler was removed from the card. As much as losing that fight hurts, the fact that Meerschaert and Santos are going to be on tv now helps ease the wounds. Meerschaert is one of my favorite fighters, having win 11 of his last 12, with ten of those wins coming via finish and nine coming via submission. He’s a submission specialist, having won 19 times in that fashion. He’s also got knockout power, having prevailed five times that way. He’s never been knocked out in 34 career fights, and is already fighting for the third time despite only being in the UFC for eight months. He’s the kind of fighter I can easily root for due to a bevy of reasons.
Meanwhile, Santos is more of a knockout artist, ending nine of his 14 wins in that manner. The former TUF: Brazil 2 quarterfinalist has been in the UFC since August 2013, having gone 6-4 with the company to date. That said, he’s lost two of his last three, and a a loss here could put him on the verge of getting cut. Each of those latter two losses came via first round finish, and he’s been finished four times overall in five career losses. While he can knock many guys out, he’s facing a guy who’s managed to not get knocked out even once in 34 career fights. This has the makings of a finish for Meerschaert, and even though Santos has the power to shut out the lights at any time, I believe that his night is the one that will end prematurely at his expense tonight. Prediction: Meerschaert via submission, round 2.
Chad Laprise (11-2) vs. Brian Camozzi (7-3)
As can be seen by the length of this prelims article and what I’ve written about the other fights, this is a prelim slate that I’m really looking forward to. That said, this is the one prelim bout I care the least for. Laprise won the Welterweight tournament on TUF: Nations in April 2014, but has gone the distance in four of his six UFC bouts, has lost two of three, and is a forgotten man for the most part. He’s got six knockouts to his credit, but only one of them came after July 2011. If he loses this fight and gets cut thereafter, barely anyone will notice. As for Camozzi, the 26- year-old former RFA Welterweight champion is looking to get his first UFC win, after losing his debut against Randy Brown in the second round in December 2016. It was the younger Camozzi brother’s first loss via finish, but in contrast he’s finished all of his wins. Whether he got called up to the UFC too soon or not remains to be seen. He needs the win though, and while I’d love to see him get it, I think he’ll lose a decision here. I’d love an upset, but I just don’t see one happening here. Prediction: Laprise via decision.
Travis Browne (19-6-1) vs. Oleksiy Oliynyk (51-10-1)
The headlining prelim should be quite a hoot. Browne is younger and has a lot less fights, while also having lost four of his last five as his world’s turned upside down outside the octagon as well. And yet, everyone thinks he’ll win here. I get why, seeing how he’s definitely more athletic than his opponent here, younger, still possesses great power to this day, has 14 knockout wins, and was still viewed as a contender as recently as a year ago.
However, I’m picking the upset here. Unlike Browne, Oliynyk’s career and life have not been put through the woodshed in recent years. While Browne is a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Oliynyk has a fourth-degree black belt, a multitude of Sambo and submission grappling tournament wins, and a whopping 42 submission wins. That’s right, 42 submission wins, with a whopping 36 of them coming in the very first round. He’s also got a bevy of scarf hold headlock, Ezekiel choke and heel hook wins. If this fight goes to the ground, Oliynyk takes it. Even on the feet, he has some knockout power and has only been knocked out four times in 62 career fights, with his last knockout loss coming in 2011. I get why everyone’s picking Browne, but I think Oliynyk will find a way to take the fight to the ground and submit Browne. Prediction: Oliynyk via submission, round 1.