155 lbs: Edward Faaloloto vs. Michael Johnson
The first fight on the prelims of UFC’s fourth Versus event will be contested between TUF 12 runner-up Michael “The Menace” Johnson and WEC holdover Edward “Falo” Faaloloto. Faaloloto has a remarkable life story. Abandoned by his parents as a baby, Faaloloto grew up with his grandparents taking the role of parents; after his grandfather suffered a stroke, he met his mother and family for the first time. His story is told very well in this article by Neil Davidson; Faaloloto is a man who’s had to grow up a lot faster than most people.
Unfortunately for Faaloloto, his Zuffa debut didn’t go particularly well, as he was completely out-struck by Muay Thai striker Anthony Njokuani, ultimately being stopped in the second round by TKO. His upcoming opponent, Michael Johnson, isn’t nearly as technical a striker as Njokuani is, but he could still be a very tough opponent. Johnson has a fairly traditional skill set as a wrestler with power striking. Johnson has two main problems. One is that his ground game is somewhat weak: four of his five career losses are by submission, and he lost a fight against Jonathan Brookins that he very well could have won if he had a stronger ground game. The other problem, possibly related to the first, is that Johnson’s cardio is very suspect.
The big problem with this fight, from a predictions standpoint, is that Faaloloto is listed by the UFC as 5-1, but listed by Sherdog’s Fight Finder as 2-1. Fighters with fewer than five career professional fights do not qualify to be awarded a SILVA score, so unless Sherdog adds fights that I don’t know about, I have to judge Faaloloto by what his record shows. And both of Faaloloto’s credited wins are against opponents making their MMA debut. From a purely objective, statistically-minded standpoint, I simply cannot get behind Faaloloto to win this fight. No SILVA prediction for this one, but my personal pick is Johnson.
145 lbs: Matt Grice vs. Ricardo Lamas
The second preliminary fight will be a featherweight battle, as Matt Grice makes his return to the UFC to fight another WEC holdover in Ricardo Lamas. Grice is half of the answer to the trivia question “who fought in the first fight of UFC 100?” Unfortunately, Grice tapped out at 2:36 of the first round to a Shannon Gugerty guillotine choke. This ended an unfortunate 1-3 UFC run for Grice, who according to Fight Metric landed more significant strikes than all four of his UFC opponents. In fact, Grice landed far more strikes than his opponents, but since he was submitted twice and knocked out once, the striking edge did him no good.
His opponent, Ricardo Lamas, enters the UFC following a 4-2 run in the WEC. Lamas is a fighter who, according to SILVA, has twice been on the cusp of statistical greatness. Both times, he fell short, being stopped by Danny Castillo and knocked out by Yuri Alcantara. Besides a KO win over Bendy Casimir, all of Lamas’s WEC wins occurred in relatively close fights, as Lamas won three unanimous decisions and now has five decision victories among nine wins overall.
SILVA PREDICTION: RICARDO LAMAS (36.07) OVER MATT GRICE (30.16)
Lamas gets a pass because his losses were to very good opponents in Castillo and Alcantara. Grice, meanwhile, has two red flags flying: one is the loss to Gugerty, who is not really a UFC-quality fighter, and the other is that his first eight wins were all against average or worse opponents. If history holds up in this fight, Grice will start strongly, out-striking his opponent in Lamas, but it’ll be Lamas who ends up with his hand raised when all is said and done.