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UFC 159 Prelims: Fight Picks

NEWARK, N.J. – The Prudential Center in Newark plays host to UFC 159: Jones vs. Sonnen on Saturday, April 27th. Anchored by a light-heavyweight title fight between champion Jon Jones and challenger Chael Sonnen, it also features a promising undercard that’s capable of plenty of excitement.

Of particular interest is the UFC debut of Olympic wrestler Sara McMann, who hopes to continue to impress and make a case for an eventual showdown with women’s champion Ronda Rousey. Also on the prelims is the Russian suplex machine, Rustam Khalibov, fresh off his fantastic debut win over Vinc Pichel.

Preliminary fights will again be broadcast in two parts. The first prelims air on Facebook with a second prelim card following immediately on FX. In case you can’t wait until Saturday, we have provided you with some predictions for UFC 159’s preliminary card. Check them out!


Steven Siler (21-10, 3-1 UFC) vs. Kurt Holobaugh (9-1, 0-0 UFC)

Siler, after starting his career with three consecutive wins in the Octagon, was last seen dropping a decision to Darren Elkins. In all four Octagon appearances, he has relied on solid, busy striking and an active submission game. Holobaugh, a Gracie Barra Jiu Jitsu player, has also shown he can strike, as evidenced in his last fight in his Strikeforce bout with Pat Healy. In the loss, he gave Healy major fits but was unable to stop the consistent takedown. Still, it won’t be enough for Holobaugh as Siler stays the busier fighter and outworks him, winning by decision.


James Head (9-3, 2-2 UFC) vs. Nick Catone (9-4, 3-4 UFC)

The last we saw of both men was at “The Ultimate Fighter 16” Finale in which both suffered disappointing losses. Head, who gave Mike Pyle all he could handle, was caught with a knee and finished in the first round. Catone, in his welterweight debut, lost to T.J Waldburger by arm-triangle submission. Each is a very solid Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner with Catone having a slight grappling edge due to his decorated wrestling background. However, Head wll be able to negate the wrestling and pick Catone apart standing, winning by TKO.


Leonard Garcia (15-10-1, 2-6 UFC) vs. Cody McKenzie (13-3, 2-3 UFC)

After having their fight in December scrapped due to an injury, the two featherweights will collide in preliminary action this Saturday as they both look to rebound from losses. Look for Garcia to initiate the action with his aggressive striking while stifling McKenzie’s submission game with some very capable jiu jitsu of his own. Garcia will terrorize McKenzie standing and, after landing some bombs, finishes with a TKO.


Rustam Khalibov (15-1, 1-0 UFC) vs. Yancy Medeiros (9-0, 0-0 UFC)

The Russian Khalibov looks to follow up on an impressive debut where he used three suplexes and follow-up strikes to make quick work of Vinc Pichel . Medeiros, a Hawaiian who hasn’t competed in more than two years, makes his UFC lightweight debut after having previously fought at light heavyweight and middleweight. While Medeiros also brings capable grappling as he was a wrestling standout in Hawaii and has been training in Stockton with the Diaz brothers for some time, it won’t be enough. Khalibov will outwork and overpower the Hawaiian en route to a decision win.

Light Heavyweights

Ovince St. Preux (12-5, 0-0 UFC) vs. Gian Villante (10-3, 0-0 UFC)

Former college football linebackers make their debuts as Tennessee Volunteer alumni, St. Preux, takes on Villante, a  football and wrestling standout at Hofstra. St. Preux, who looked very impressive in seven fights with Strikeforce, will look to show off his flashy striking. Villante hopes to shut that game down and wear St. Preux out with superior grappling. Unfortunately, the Hofstra standout will come up short as St. Preux uses his defensive wrestling to keep the fight standing and score the TKO victory.


Bryan Caraway (17-6, 2-1 UFC) vs. Johnny Bedford (19-9-1, 2-0 UFC)

With Erik Perez sidelined with staph infection, Caraway steps up on short notice to meet Bedford in this bantamweight contest. The men, former castmates on the “Ultimate Fighter 14”, both possess very solid grappling games. Bedford prefers to be on top to unleash heavy ground-and-pound while Caraway is comfortable from any position on the ground as he has shown with two submission wins in the Octagon. The difference-maker in this fight will be Bedford’s striking. He’ll be able to keep this fight on the feet and overwhelm his opponent with faster, more powerful combinations. Bedford finishes Caraway with strikes early.

Women’s Bantamweights

Sara McMann (6-0, 0-0 UFC) vs. Sheila Gaff (10-4-1, 0-0 UFC)

Undefeated Sara McMann, a silver medal Olympic wrestler, will make her long-awaited debut when she battles German Sheila Gaff, also making her debut. McMann will put her outstanding wrestling pedigree to use while Gaff hopes to showcase her striking. Look for McMann to put on a grappling clinic as she imposes her will and cruises to a decision victory to get herself one step closer to challenging Ronda Rousey for the women’s bantamweight title.


Photo by Gary A. Vasquez – USA TODAY Sports

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