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UFC 188 Preview: The Prelims

UFC 188

The UFC will plant its feet in Mexico City for the second time in history this Saturday with UFC 188. With it, it will bring the UFC heavyweight champion, Cain Velasquez, into a title defense bout against the momentous Brazilian in Fabricio Werdum. While Cain will surely get the hometown crowd advantage, he will be stepping into the Octagon for the first time in almost two years. But before the heart-stopping action on the main card, UFC 188 brings a slue of prelims to warm the Mexican crowd up with. At its peak is the rising contender, Henry Cejudo, who will be celebrating his Mexican heritage as he brings his Olympic wrestling skills into a bout against the slick Chico Camus to potentially determine a top contender in the flyweight division. It’s all this and more here on MMAFrenzy, so stay tuned for more UFC 188 coverage! Here is what you can expect out of the UFC 188 prelims:

Gabriel Benitez vs. Clay Collard

To start the action off, we get TUF: Latin America contestant, Gabriel Benitez, against the fast-paced American in Clay Collard. A bout between Albert Tumenov and Andrew Todhunter was originally scheduled to start off the night, but the fight was cancelled after Todhunter was deemed “medically unfit” to fight after cutting weight. No worries though, because this bout between Benitez and Collard has the making to be a very entertaining contest. Both Benitez and Collard are aggressive fighter who are constantly in search of the finish. “Cassius” prefers high volume striking and forward movement. His takedown defense and ability to overwhelm his opponent makes this all plausible. Against Benitez, a very well-rounded fighter, Collard’s takedown defense is going to have to be on point as Benitez sports a majority of his wins by submission.

On the feet, Collard should have the edge with his volume and better mechanics, but Benitez is still dangerous on the feet. Should the fight go to the ground, look for Benitez to be ultra-aggressive and search for submissions. Collard is a strong fellow, and athletic, so he should be able to scramble up to his feet. All in all, this looks to be a fast-paced contest. Benitez’ cardio is questionable while Collard has the advantage in experience going a hard three rounds in his last two UFC bouts, and even a five-rounder outside the promotion. I favor Collard via decision.

Cathal Pendred vs. Augusto Montano

At welterweight, two UFC prospects Cathal Pendred and “Dodger” Montano square off in what should be a fun, wild, barn-burner of a contest. Pendred brings his 3-0 UFC streak into this bout after an unconvincing decision win against Sean Spencer; nevertheless, Pendred’s heart and will is without question as he has shown how durable of a fighter he is. His opponent, Montano, is a Mexican prospect who favors aggressive, powerful, albeit sloppy striking. Montano likes to charge his opponent with punches and follow up with knees immediately after as he showed in his first round stoppage of Chris Heatherly in his UFC debut. Both Pendred and Montano are large welterweights who both stand at 6’2″, but they both have clunky movement and lack the mechanic coordination it takes to throw smooth combinations on the feet.

Neither of them are very fluid on the feet, and they get by on their tough chins and durability. With that said, this fight has all the makings to be exciting because both are not prone to backing down inside the pocket. What separates these two is the ground game. Pendred has good takedowns and is strong in close-quarters. Montano prefers to strike his way out of the clinch game, and not rely on much wrestling. This might plague him against the takedown-driven game plan of Pendred. One can expect Montano to start fast and hard like he always does. Long punches, and knees to the body and head will be on the menu, but Pendred’s durability will get him through to the second half of the fight where his takedowns should come into play. Once Pendred gets this fight to the floor, look for him to tire the Mexican out en-route to a late submission victory for the Irishman.

Francisco Trevino vs. Johnny Case

More bright UFC prospects are on tap for this lightweight affair. The undefeated Texan, Francisco Trevino, tries to make it 2-0 in the UFC as he takes on Alliance MMA prodigy, Johnny Case. While Trevino has all of his 12 wins equally divided among knockouts, submissions, and decisions, Trevino favors his boxing. Trevino slings together slick body-head combos, and throws sharp kicks from a distance. Trevino has struggled to stay upright in his bouts – this might be the weakness that Case will try to exploit. Johnny is a much more well-rounded fighter as he has shown solid striking from his rangy frame, but has a dangerous ground game to go with it. On the feet, Case should be able to keep his distance and stay away from Trevino’s hands.

Expect lots of kicks back and forth as Case looks for an opening to take the fight to the mat. Once he does, it will be all Case as he should be able to pass positioning with ease, and soften Trevino up with ground and pound. I’d expect Case to cruise to a decision using this method, but because Trevino is a potent striker, and Case has been caught on the feet before, I’d say Trevino has a good shot at pulling off the win if Case gets too reckless. However, Trevino tends to be more of a volume striker than a power puncher, so even if he is able to land cleanly on Case coming in, it may not have any fight-ending intention. The pick here is Case by decision as long as he fights smart.

Alejandro Perez vs. Patrick Williams

TUF: Latin America winner, Alejandro Perez, gets a chance to pick his first “legit” UFC win as he faces American, Patrick Williams, who has yet to taste victory in the Octagon. Perez is a well-rounded fighter who throws powerful punches and kicks, and combines that with some good basic wrestling and grappling fundamentals. Overall, he’s a young guy with a lot of experience, and a lot of upside. Across the cage he’ll be facing Williams, who got knocked out by the infamous flying knee courtesy of Chris Beal over a year ago. It’s be quite a long lay off for Williams, that could be an x-factor in this contest. Williams is a movement-based fighter, he likes to circle and then dart in with punches or a takedown. Williams wrestling game is very solid as he is from Arizona State. He doesn’t always look for the finish on the ground; he is more prone to holding position, but he does have two submissions to his credit. I would favor Perez in the grappling exchanges though, as long as he is in position to do so. My brain tells me to pick Williams by a grinding decision, but Perez has some momentum coming off winning The Ultimate Fighter, and being in front of his home crowd in Mexico has got to favor him. I’m picking Perez by TKO as he has shown a bit better striking skills.

Efrain Escudero vs. Drew Dober

Drew Dober steps into hostile territory once again to face “Hecho en Mexico”, Efrain Escudero. Following a no-contest performance against Leandro Silva in Brazil, Dober will look to pick up his second win in the promotion by facing the TUF 8 winner. Escudero is now on his third attempt at a UFC career after failing to live up to the hype he created for himself when in The Ultimate Fighter. With that said, this will be Escudero’s first time fighting in Mexico while in the UFC.

Dober is a real talent in the striking department. The throws punch-kick combinations with sharp technique, and has a strong clinch game to go along with it. The problem Dober has had is staying on his feet long enough to showcase his Muay Thai skills. Escudero on the other hand is a scrappy fighter who is down to fight any where the fight goes. On the feet, Escudero throws rangy punches with some good power, but tends to leave himself exposed more often than not. Escudero has some good wrestling skills, and is relentless on the ground. Submissions are also on the table for both fighters; Dober instinctively went for the choke against Varner rather than ground and pound, and Escudero has 12 submissions to his name. I see this being a fun, back and forth contest. Dober should have a massive edge in speed and technique on the feet, but Escudero’s power can change that in a second. Escudero also has the possibility for takedowns. Dober’s takedown defense has improved drastically, but they’re still there. All in all, I see this being a very close fight. Dober got the short end of the stick in his last fight, so I think he’ll get the nod here against Escudero.

Henry Cejudo vs. Chico Camus

UFC 188’s premiere prelims scrap features two surging flyweights in pair. Henry Cejudo, an Olympic gold medalist, entered the UFC with a bit of hype behind him due to his credentials, but his performances have exceeded expectation. In addition, the Arizonian sports a charismatic personality, and a well-rounded skill set that seems tailor made to dominate the division. Across the cage is a very underrated test however in Chico Camus. The “King” is coming off a career-making victory against Brad Pickett where Camus showcased a newly developed striking game to out-point and out-slick the Brit. Camus is a Roufusport prodigy, so one can expect him to be fully prepared for this important flyweight bout.

Cejudo, despite being one of the best wrestlers in the game today, has equally as dangerous striking. Punching combinations come natural to him as he throws tight, short punches with technically solid mechanics. Cejudo also throws kicks without any caution because of his confidence in his wrestling; allowing him to load up on leg and body kicks to no avail. Cejudo’s wrestling is absolutely stellar, although he hasn’t really had to use it much. He sports explosive entries, but favors slams and trips in the clinch as well. From top position, he is an immovable boulder. While I would like to see him a bit more aggressive with his ground and pound, Cejudo relies on short elbows and hammerfists as his main port of damage – enough to keep the fight where he wants it. It’ll be interesting to see how Cejudo’s bull-nosed approach pays off against Chico’s matador-like style. Chico is a movement-based striker who glides around the perimeter with his hands down, and relies on his speed and precise counter-striking to get him out of the way of danger, but also offer some back as well. While I think Chico could give Cejudo some problems on the feet due to a potential speed advantage, he doesn’t offer much off his back; which is where Cejudo will look to put him.

Even though Cejudo has the momentum and spotlight on him coming in, don’t surprised if this turns out to be a very close contest. Cejudo has great striking and takedowns, but Chico’s movement could give Henry lots of problems. Cejudo will have to cut the cage off in order to get close enough for a takedown because shooting from a distance will leave grasping nothing but air. I’m picking Cejudo to win a tight unanimous decision, but wouldn’t be surprised if it goes to a split – for either man. While Camus may keep out of trouble, moving backwards never looks as good as moving forwards on the scorecards.

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