According to the UFC’s website, this Wednesday’s UFC on Fuel show will be televised at 8:00 ET/5:00 PT. Prior to the main card on Fuel TV, there will be five preliminary fights broadcast on Facebook. Based on the rule of thumb of 30 minutes per fight, I would estimate that the Facebook fights would start at 5:30 ET/2:30 PT, but check early to be sure.
155 lbs: Bernardo Magalhaes vs. Tim Means
Bernardo Magalhaes and Tim Means represent two out of six fighters making their UFC debut on the prelims of the UFC’s first show on Fuel TV. Now, contrary to what you might believe (or perhaps reinforcing what you might believe?), I am not an encyclopedia of information about all MMA fighters. When a fighter I’ve never seen before, and who has no Fight Metric data to look at, enters the UFC, finding insightful things to say about that fighter can be a daunting challenge. In cases like this, I generally examine each fighter’s record, as I do have SILVA, and Victory Score, my proprietary metric estimating the quality of a fighter’s wins and losses.
This fight is no exception. I’ve never seen either Bernardo Magalhaes or Tim Means fight, and neither man has any data available on Fight Metric’s website, so all I have to evaluate is their respective records. Bernardo Magalhaes has an interesting profile, in that nine of his 11 wins are by decision, a very high rate for anybody, but especially somebody who’s been taking on lower-level opposition on regional circuits. Of Magalhaes’s 12 career MMA fights, seven are against opponents experienced enough to be measured by Victory Score; Magalhaes is 6-1 in those fights, including two wins against a decent opponent in Adrian Pang, a win over another decent opponent in Robert Lisita, and a 1-1 record against a third decent (but not great) opponent in Rob Hill.
SILVA PREDICTION: TIM MEANS (57.59) OVER BERNARDO MAGALHAES (46.74)
For the purposes of making a prediction, Magalhaes’s record isn’t good enough to choose him to beat Tim Means, who earns a surprisingly high 57.59 SILVA. This is based on a record featuring wins over Bobby “King” Green (a fighter whose style was once described as “hood,” but he is a good opponent) and Dom O’Grady, wins of higher quality than any on the record of Magalhaes. And unlike Magalhaes, Means has only gone to decision once in 20 fights, finishing 12 of his opponents by KO/TKO. From what I can infer, I don’t think Means has a particularly high ceiling in the UFC, but he does belong in the promotion for sure, and he is the better pick to win this fight.
155 lbs: Anton Kuivanen vs. Justin Salas
Two more debuting lightweights will compete in the second preliminary fight, as Finnish lightweight Anton Kuivanen will be taking on Grudge fighter Justin Salas. What jumps off the page right away about Salas is that not only has he lost three times, he’s been finished in all three of those losses, including a nine second KO loss to Eddie Pelczynski. Salas does have a decision win over the previously undefeated Joe Ellenberger, but after that and a win over former UFC and TUF fighter Robert Emerson, there’s not a whole lot to be impressed with.
There is strong evidence that this fight isn’t going to decision, because while Salas has been finished in all three of his losses, his opponent, Anton Kuivanen, has been finished in all four of his losses as well. After that, however, all indicators point to a Kuivanen win here. Kuivanen has more experience beating decent opponents, enters this fight on a 9-fight winning streak, and has a win over previously 18-2 Ivan Buchinger, a win that trumps Salas’s win over Ellenberger.
SILVA PREDICTION: ANTON KUIVANEN (54.94) OVER JUSTIN SALAS (30.73)
I can see why the UFC made this match. There are some similarities in the records of Kuivanen and Salas; namely, their finish losses and their having decision wins against their toughest career opponents. The big difference here is that Kuivanen just has a lot more experience, as Salas is just 4-2 against experienced opponents. Since I have no personal knowledge to add, I’ll go with SILVA and I’ll take Kuivanen to win by submission.
185 lbs: Sean Loeffler vs. Buddy Roberts
Here we are, fight number three, and debuting UFC participants number five and number six. Sean Loeffler enters this fight with a professional record of 25-5, which I’m sure sounds terrific, but cases like Loeffler are a great example of why I’ve developed SILVA in the first place. What matters isn’t how many wins you have, but who you’ve managed to beat. Just as Jason Reinhardt built a 18-0 record fighting nobodies in the Midwest (only to lose badly when given a shot in the UFC), Loeffler’s record is mostly smoke and mirrors. The wins themselves may look impressive – a 7 second KO of Marquis McKnight, a 14 second head kick KO of Reed Rutherford – but every single win was against an average or worse opponent. That’s average in terms of the universe of mixed martial arts; an average MMA fighter would be terrible in the UFC.
When Loeffler stepped up in competition, he lost by first-round TKO to Bryan Baker in Bellator, and I have a feeling he might meet the same fate against Buddy Roberts. Roberts is not a world-beater, but unlike Loeffler, he has some real, quality wins on his resume. Chief among those is a decision win over Tony Lopez, a name likely not familiar to most MMA fans, but a fighter who has enjoyed a lot of success in his career, mostly in King of the Cage. After Lopez, the names Roberts has defeated aren’t overwhelming, but at least they’re respectable.
SILVA PREDICTION: BUDDY ROBERTS (53.60) OVER SEAN LOEFFLER (24.81)
Loeffler’s SILVA score places him between Eric Schafer and James Head in the middleweight division, while Roberts’s SILVA score places him between Alan Belcher and Rafael Natal. I don’t know about you, but I’d pick Alan Belcher to beat Eric Schafer, and unless Loeffler wins by KO in the first 20 seconds, I’m picking Buddy Roberts to beat him.
145 lbs: Jonathan Brookins vs. Vagner Rocha
Thank goodness, a fight between fighters I’ve actually watched before! This is actually a pretty interesting one because of each man’s strengths and weaknesses. TUF 12 winner Jonathan Brookins has a very clearly defined skill set. He’s very good on the ground, but when he stands and strikes with his opponents, he’s in a lot of trouble. Brookins has porous striking defense, and was tagged often by Michael Johnson in the TUF 12 finale, so he needs to take his opponents down to be successful.
One problem: his opponent, Vagner Rocha, is excellent on the ground, and likely better at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in MMA than Jonathan Brookins is. Now, being in top position is a great equalizer, but Rocha is the kind of fighter who may well be able to either sweep or submit Brookins from the bottom. Like Brookins, Rocha is weak in the striking game, and so the motivation will likely be for Rocha to take this one to the ground himself.
SILVA PREDICTION: JONATHAN BROOKINS (39.85) OVER VAGNER ROCHA (36.82)
I want the ground battle, but I’m a realist… it’s likely we’re going to be treated to a bad striking match between these guys. In that kind of fight, I’m honestly not sure who would win. I hope I’m wrong, because the ground is really where these guys shine.
135 lbs: John Albert vs. Ivan Menjivar
Ivan Menjivar has enjoyed quite a bit of success in his UFC run after being transferred from the WEC. After taking out Charlie Valencia with a vicious elbow at UFC 129, Menjivar followed up with a pretty good performance against Nick Pace. However, if Pace seemed like a step down from Valencia as an opponent, get ready to scratch your head, because Menjivar will be taking on TUF 13 competitor John Albert on Wednesday.
I don’t mean to bury Albert, who had a nice 69 second TKO of Dustin Pague at the TUF 13 Finale, but he’s largely unproven as a fighter, as Pague represents by far his best victory. It’s a bit surprising to see a veteran of the MMA game like Menjivar taking on somebody as inexperienced as Albert. A look at SILVA might reveal the reason why this fight is taking place.
SILVA PREDICTION: IVAN MENJIVAR (33.68) OVER JOHN ALBERT (26.25)
Yes, despite the wins over Charlie Valencia and Nick Pace, Menjivar is not rated very well at all by SILVA. The reason is that, in his recent career, those wins are really the only quality ones for Menjivar, while he’s lost to Caol Uno, Bart Palaszewski, and Brad Pickett. Before Menjivar is ready to be tested against tougher opponents, he’ll need to show the ability to consistently win against fringe-level UFC opposition. While John Albert certainly has potential to improve, at this point he represents that exact kind of opponent, and while SILVA seems to think this is a very competitive match, I still like Menjivar to win it handily.