Because this Saturday’s UFC on FOX show features three main card fights and seven preliminary fights, it seems a bit silly for me to cram all the prelims into one preview post. For that reason, I’m going to split them into two posts. In this post, I’m going to preview the first four fights: Chris Camozzi vs. Dustin Jacoby, Joey Beltran vs. Lavar Johnson, Michael Johnson vs. Shane Roller, and Charles Oliveira vs. Eric Wisely. In the second post, I’ll preview the other three prelim fights: George Roop vs. Cub Swanson, John Olav Einemo vs. Mike Russow, and Evan Dunham vs. Nik Lentz.
185 lbs: Chris Camozzi vs. Dustin Jacoby
Six of the preliminary fights are scheduled to be broadcast on Fuel TV beginning at 5:00 ET/2:00 PT on Saturday. The other is Chris Camozzi vs. Dustin Jacoby, and it’s not hard to see why. Both Camozzi and Jacoby were extremely uninspiring in their last fight. Camozzi took a bit of a beating en route to losing a decision, and Jacoby was hesitant and largely stifled against wrestler Clifford Starks.
Unfortunately, I’ve only seen two of Camozzi’s four UFC fights, which happen to be his two losses, both of which reflected very poorly on Camozzi as a fighter. My best guess is that Camozzi will want to take down Jacoby, because Jacoby is a very tall middleweight at 6’4″ and likes to use a lot of kicks. The problem with that is Camozzi has yet to land a takedown in a UFC fight. He may be able to land one or two on Jacoby, but it’s more likely that Camozzi will have to win by getting inside Jacoby’s range and utilizing some dirty boxing.
SILVA PREDICTION: CHRIS CAMOZZI (44.87) OVER DUSTIN JACOBY (42.51)
Camozzi’s biggest advantage here is Jacoby’s lack of professional MMA experience. Given that Jacoby has only been a pro MMA fighter for about 15 months now, he’s still developing his game, and he hasn’t shown the kind of transcendent talent of similarly inexperienced fighter like Jon Jones when he was just getting started. I think Camozzi out-points Jacoby in what may be a sloppy contest, and hopefully Jacoby will get a chance to refine his game more on the regional circuit, and come back to the UFC later.
265 lbs: Joey Beltran vs. Lavar Johnson
Joey Beltran is a perfect example of the kind of heavyweight fighter the UFC needs more of. If that sounds like a bizarre statement, let me explain a bit further. It’s commonly accepted that the heavyweight division in MMA is very thin, and a common criticism of heavyweight fights is that they tend to be less technical and more boring than fights in lighter weight classes. Beltran won’t knock your socks off with his technique, but he does provide very much needed depth along with exciting fights. All in all, he’s an average UFC heavyweight fighter who’s fun to watch.
Because Beltran is an average UFC heavyweight, he should be able to defeat Lavar Johnson on Saturday. Johnson represents what will be one of the less heralded transfers from Strikeforce to the UFC, and his record is not particularly inspiring. His top recent wins according to Victory Score were against Carl Seumanutafa and Dave Huckaba, and he fell short when stepping up in competition to face opponents like Shawn Jordan and Brian Olsen. This is not the resume of a fighter who’s going to invade the UFC and wreck its heavyweight division.
SILVA PREDICTION: JOEY BELTRAN (49.79) OVER LAVAR JOHNSON (29.84)
The only active UFC heavyweight SILVA would pick Lavar Johnson to beat is Rob Broughton. Still, Johnson does have some hope, given that four of his five losses are by submission, and Beltran doesn’t really do submissions. It should be an entertaining scrap, but I have to favor Beltran.
155 lbs: Michael Johnson vs. Shane Roller
Michael Johnson is a fighter who finds himself with his back against the proverbial wall in the UFC. At 1-2 in three UFC fights, Johnson lost a decision to Jonathan Brookins (after a very good start), beat Edward Faaloloto, but then was submitted by Paul Sass. I’m not sure there are opponents who say less about Johnson’s fighting ability than Faaloloto and Sass. I would argue Faaloloto is the worst fighter in the UFC right now (he needs seasoning on the regional circuit in a bad way), and being submitted by Paul Sass is something that happens to everybody. Still, Johnson is 1-2 in the UFC, and because he was the runner-up on the 11th season of The Ultimate Fighter, he can’t afford to lose another one.
His opponent will be Shane Roller, who has had a rough start to his UFC career as well. Roller is also 1-2 in the UFC, following a KO of Thiago Tavares with a quick KO loss to Melvin Guillard and a submission loss to T.J. Grant. As an outside observer, I’m honestly not sure what Roller’s identity as a fighter is. He doesn’t seem to have any particular specialty; he seems to have skill in all areas, but I have yet to be seriously impressed with any one aspect of his game. The effect of this would seem to be limited upside for Roller’s UFC career.
SILVA PREDICTION: SHANE ROLLER (55.29) OVER MICHAEL JOHNSON (19.69)
Then we get down to SILVA scores, where Roller is very respectable, but Johnson has the SILVA score of a fighter who simply cannot survive long-term in the UFC. The big difference here is that while Roller isn’t a fighter who will blow you away in any one area, he doesn’t have the same kind of glaring flaws that Johnson has either. Johnson at least has KO power, and he’ll need it, because if this fight goes to the ground, I have a feeling Shane Roller will win by submission soon afterwards.
145 lbs: Charles Oliveira vs. Eric Wisely
After getting embarrassed by Donald Cerrone in his last fight, Charles Oliveira is making a move down to the featherweight division, where he will take on Eric Wisely. It’s probably a good move for Oliveira, who was weighing in at about 153 pounds while a lightweight, and was visibly smaller than Cerrone. The ensuing weight cut is relatively small, which is good for a fighter like Oliveira, who is extremely aggressive and will need the ability to maintain a good pace throughout a fight.
His opponent, Eric Wisely, is not somebody I would simply dismiss, however. Wisely is a large underdog in this fight, but has had some success against former UFC fighters like Hermes Franca and Matt Veach. I’ll grant that those wins aren’t necessarily the stuff of legends, but it’s something that suggests Wisely could at least put up a fight.
SILVA PREDICTION: CHARLES OLIVEIRA (59.21) OVER ERIC WISELY (51.73)
SILVA still favors Oliveira, and Wisely’s SILVA score is inflated for the same reason I mentioned in my last post concerning Patricio Freire – Wisely “double dipped” against Hermes Franca. And let’s keep in mind that even though Charles Oliveira was smoked by Donald Cerrone, and was submitted by Jim Miller, he’s still the guy who schooled Efrain Escudero and was well on his way to beating Nik Lentz before landing an illegal knee. Against polished, veteran UFC fighters, Oliveira’s lack of fighting discipline can come back to haunt him, but against a lower-level opponent like Eric Wisely, Oliveira really is a good bet to win in decisive fashion.