The UFC makes the trip back to the United Arab Emirates this weekend for their latest passport-stamping MMA crusade. Headlining at the du Arena in Abu Dhabi are heavyweights Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera and Roy Nelson, with featherweights Tatsuya Kawajiri and Clay Guida serving as the co-main event of the evening; and with this being a Fight Pass event, the quality of the event really starts to tail off around here.
However, a fight is not fought on paper and many of these bouts could spring a surprise or two when the cage door closes, and this is no truer than on the prelims. Here’s the Inside Fights prelim preview:
Jared Rosholt vs. Daniel Omielanczuk – 265lbs.
Jared Rosholt had a solid debut with the UFC during his last time out, but he hardly set tongues a wagging. Rosholt was dropped twice in the first round of his encounter with Walt Harris, but was able to survive an early onslaught to take home the decision victory thanks to his grit and superior wrestling.
Like Rosholt, Omielanczuk had a successful debut with the promotion in his last fight, scoring a KO win over Nandor Guelmino in the dying embers of their UFC 165 bout. Omielanczuk’s striking looked half-dangerous, but did not showcase much else in a fight that lacked more than it packed.
Omielanczuk is no slouch on the ground, but Rosholt’s wrestling capabilities will prove decisive here, with Rosholt gutting out a victory.
Prediction – Rosholt via unanimous decision
Rani Yahya vs. Johnny Bedford – 135lbs.
Rani Yahya will return to the bantamweight division for the first time since 2010, having scored a record of 4-2 in his six featherweight contests inside the Octagon. Yahya, a 2nd degree BJJ black belt, was last seen dropping a split decision to Tom Niinimäki back in November.
Johnny Bedford had been picking up a little steam in his most recent performances, with a three-fight winning streak compiled that included Frank Gomez, Louis Gaudinot and Marcos Vinicius. However, this form was snapped in Bedford’s last bout, as Bryan Caraway choked him out at UFC 159.
Bedford is a capable fighter, but not someone who will ever really make a splash in the UFC. Yahya is the kind of competitor that Bedford has struggled against before, and I do not see that changing.
Prediction – Yahya via unanimous decision
Thales Leites vs. Trevor Smith – 185lbs.
Thales Leites , a former UFC Middleweight title challenger, is currently enjoying his second stint with the promotion, having returned from exile back in August of last year. Leites has racked up two straight victories over Tom Watson and Ed Herman, extending his current win streak to five.
Unlike Leites, Smith has not been enjoying the same kind of success of late. Smith is currently 1-2 over his past three contests, but did record that lone win in his last outing with a split decision victory over Brian Houston earlier this year, having previously lost out to Tim Kennedy and Ed Herman.
Smith tends to favour a submission for his route to victory, but in Leites, Smith will be coming up against an altogether different animal when this fight hits the mat.
Prediction – Leites via submission
Chris Camozzi vs. Andrew Craig – 185lbs.
Chris Camozzi has been in the UFC since 2010, but he finds himself this far down a Fight Pass card because he is in a bit of a rut. Having lost out to Jacaré Souza and Lorenz Larkin in his last two contests, Camozzi is in desperate need of a win.
Andrew Craig had looked like he might have been able to put something together after his win over Chris Leben back at UFC 162, but his recent defeat to Luke Barnatt all but ended any hope of Craig doing any real damage in the middleweight division. Getting dropped twice and then subbed is never a good look.
Both men could do with a win, Camozzi more so than Craig perhaps. Personally I think this is going to be a pretty drab affair with Camozzi edging a forgettable decision.
Prediction – Camozzi via unanimous decision
Tags: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, clay guida, Mixed Martial Arts, Roy Nelson, Tatsuya Kawajiri, UFC