Viewers Guide to the Undercard: UFC 170 Edition

UFC 170 sees the return of the UFC’s biggest ever star, Dana White’s words not mine, as UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey steps back inside the Octagon less than two months removed from her successful title defence against Miesha Tate back at UFC 168 in December. Sara McMann plays the role of challenger this time around in the evening’s main event, making this the first time that two former Olympians have shared a cage in the UFC.

The co-main event of the evening carries the bad blood aspect as Daniel Cormier, making his 205lbs debut, will square off with late replacement and former wrestling training partner, Patrick Cummins. Cummins claims to have made Cormier cry during practice for the 2008 Olympics, a claim which Cormier has backed, but has been incensed that Cummins broke ‘wrestling code’ in detailing what went on behind closed doors.

Rounding out the main card is a trio of welterweight bouts as Rory MacDonald takes on Demian Maia, as well as Mike Pyle vs. TJ Waldburger and Robert Whittaker vs. Stephen Thompson.

Now, onto the prelims.

Alexis Davis vs. Jessica Eye – 135lbs.
Alexis Davis has taken to the UFC like a duck to water, carrying her undefeated run in Invicta in to the Octagon where Davis has defeated all of her foes to date. After a dominant debut victory over Rosi Sexton, Davis was given a leap in competition and was paired off with former UFC title challenger, Liz Carmouche. Davis was able to upset the applecart in claiming a unanimous decision victory over Carmouche and will have her eyes firmly fixed on a title shot of her own with a win over Jessica Eye.

It’s safe to say that Jessica Eye has hardly had ideal preparation leading up to this bout, with Eye’s most recent performance against Sarah Kaufman the main source of contention. Originally given a split decision victory over Kaufman back at the climax of their contest last October, earlier this month Eye had her victory overturned to a No Contest as it turns out that Eye tested positive for marijuana in a post-fight drug test. Eye has now been fined and placed on a year-long probationary suspension. How this will affect Eye is anyone’s guess but prior to and including the Kaufman fight, Eye had began to show great improvements in her all-round MMA game and has been undefeated since June 2011.

The outcome of this bout will likely go a long way in determining who gets the next shot at the gold. However, all of this is likely dependant on the health of Cat Zingano and who emerges with the belt after Rousey/McMann. Davis will want to drag this one to the mat, whereas Eye will look to keep this one firmly on the feet. This isn’t to say that either of these girls are uncomfortable in any other facet of MMA, but it’s clear that one competitor holds a slight advantage over the other. This will be close, but I’m going to call this one for the grappler, Davis.

Prediction – Davis via unanimous decision

Raphael Assunção vs. Pedro Munhoz – 135lbs.
With UFC Bantamweight Champion Renan Barao slowly but surely cleaning out the 135lbs division of viable challengers, it may take just one or two more victories for Assunção to find himself in a title fight. Assunção has won all five of his last contests, with his most recent victory coming by way of split decision over #5 ranked bantamweight, TJ Dillashaw.

Pedro Munhoz will be the one looking to halt Assunção’s charge towards the belt having stepped in for an injured Francisco Rivera on less than one month’s notice. The undefeated Munhoz will be making his UFC debut this Saturday having competed almost exclusively on regional shows up to this point. Munhoz’s signature victory of his career so far has been former WEC, Strikeforce and Bellator veteran, Jeff Curran which secured the RFA Bantamweight title.

Munhoz has so far shown himself to be somewhat of a prospect and is definitely someone to look out for in the future, just not in this fight. I think that with a full training camp, Munhoz could have made a real go of this opportunity, but unfortunately without the proper amount of time to prepare, I can only really see one outcome against someone of Assunção’s quality.

Prediction – Assunção via submission

Zach Makovsky vs. Josh Sampo – 125lbs.
Makovsky had a dream UFC debut last time out. Not only did the former Bellator Bantamweight Champion defeat Scott Jorgensen in upset fashion, he also did so on only 10 days notice as an injury replacement for Jorgensen’s original opponent, John Dodson. Makovsky now holds a three-fight win streak heading in to UFC 170.S

Josh Sampo also made his promotional debut in his last contest, and like Makovsky, he was successful. Sampo tapped out Ryan Benoit at The Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale back in November, which increased his current winning run to five.

Sampo has shown solid striking defence, as well as an improving ground game in his most recent fights. However, Makovsky is just an all-round better, stronger and more experienced fighter that will take some beating at this weight.

Prediction – Makovsky via unanimous decision

Rafaello Oliveira vs. Erik Koch – 155lbs.
Oliveira will be making his first appearance since having his legs pulverized at the hands (and feet and shins) of Edson Barboza, where the referee called off the bout as Oliveira could hardly stand as a result of Barboza’s onslaught. That defeat took Oliveira’s UFC record to 1-3.

Koch will be making a jump in weight class, as the former 145lbs title hopeful will be entering the UFC’s lightweight division on Saturday after suffering back-to-back defeats for the first time in his career. Koch’s most recent performance, and loss, was against Dustin Poirier back at UFC 164.

While Oliveira will look to pressure Koch from the get go, a tactic that could pay dividends considering Koch’s less than stellar chin, I still feel that Koch will be far too dynamic on the feet for Oliveira.

Prediction – Koch via KO/TKO

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