MMA Analysis: Making Sense of UFC 132 Prelims

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Fresh off a stellar weekend that included professional MMA on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights our collective minds are all but awash in cage fighting euphoria.  But like a junkie who keeps longing for their fix our collective withdrawals will soon be put to rest as this Saturday will feature a very, very, very intriguing UFC 132 card headlined by the bantamweight title fight between Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber. 

For all intents and purposes this is one of the more stacked UFC cards in the company’s history and this fact is due in no small part to the intriguing bouts comprising the night’s prelims. 

Andre Winner vs. Anthony Njokuani

You hate to say it but this bout very well be the proverbial “loser leaves town” type of match.  With Winner coming off of two consecutive loses (to Nick Lentz and Dennis Siver respectively) it’s hard to envision the UFC allowing the former TUF runner-up to hang around on the roster if he doesn’t do something Saturday to make himself a viable commodity.  Njokuani is in a similar situation following a loss to Edson Barboza back at UFC 128 in his last contest.  Njokuani, a WEC import, has had mixed success going 4-3 in the WEC and 0-1 in the UFC.  However, I will say that Winner is in the more precarious situation given that the Njokuani seems to consistently deliver “Fight of the Night’ performances.  What sucks for both fighters is that this is the type of fight that seems to be custom made for both combatants as both Winner and Njokuani have superb kickboxing which is sure to create dynamite.  It’s a shame that both will likely be fighting for their UFC careers. 

Melvin Guillard vs. Shane Roller

Ah, now this is a fight that should pique the interest of fight fans.  Both Guillard and Roller are considered rising contenders in the UFCs lightweight division following some very prolific wins.  Guillard is coming of an extremely impressive victory over highly-touted prospect Evan Dunham where he stopped Dunham with some brutal knees at UFC Fight for the Troops 2.  Roller, likewise, is riding high following his highlight reel “Knockout of the Night” victory over Thiago Tavares at UFC Live 3.  Both fighters match up well as Roller’s wrestling will be put to the test by Guillard’s freakish athletic ability.  It should stand to reason that the winner of this contest should be injected into the lightweight title picture. 

Rafael dos Anjos vs. George Sotiropoulos

Let’s label this bout a fight for UFC redemption.  Rafael dos Anjos has been on the shelf for almost a year with injury and whatnot and didn’t fare too well in his last fight losing to Clay Guida by submission due to injury.  George Sotiropoulos saw his winning streak halted at the hands of Dennis Siver back at UFC 127.  Both fighters are trying to get back into lightweight title contender status and a win for either would go a long way in getting their careers back on track.

Takeya Mizugaki vs. Brian Bowles

In this bantamweight matchup between WEC imports Brian Bowles will look to get himself another crack at a bantamweight title should he emerge victorious against Takeya Mizugaki.  Mizugaki is consistently inconsistent alternating wins and losses in his WEV career.  He’s not someone I would put a lot of stock in achieving a title shot but he will offer Bowles some stiff opposition and his slugger mentality will make for an entertaining scrap to say the least.  But with a relative top-heavy bantamweight division both Bowles and Mizugaki could get a shot at the belt with an impressive performance.

Brad Tavares vs. Aaron Simpson

It’s hard to get a good bead on either fighter’s career trajectory.  Simpson has the wrestling skill and solid fight team to suggest he has the higher ceiling at middleweight, but he hasn’t exactly set the world on fire with his performances in the Octagon.  Tavares, on the other hand, is still as raw as a tuna roll.  However, he seems to be the more dynamic striker and has a pretty marketable personality which would appease the UFCs media hype machine.  It’s a good matchup for both fighters as it will inevitably serve as a sort of litmus test for both fighters.  Is Simpson as good as advertised?  Does Tavares represent the “New School” influx of talent into the UFC?  These questions may find answers at UFC 132.

Donny Walker vs. Jeff Hougland

A battle between two fighters making their UFC debuts can break one of two ways.  One, it can give us a valuable glimpse at legitimate talent on the rise.  Or, two, it can be an excruciating non-entertaining affair as both fighters freeze under the bright lights of the UFC.  I don’t know much about either fighter but we’ll see what their mettle is come Saturday night.