UFC 103 Undercard Preview
After an excellent UFC Fight Night on Wednesday, we’re already being treated to a big time UFC event. UFC 103 takes place in Dallas, Texas, and here’s a look at the fights you may not get to see.
Thankfully, UFC is showing two undercard fights for free on Spike before the main event. Fans will get a chance to see Ultimate Fighter season 8 winner Efrain Escudero (11-0) take on Ultimate Fighter season 5 contestant Cole Miller (15-3) in an exciting lightweight matchup. I look for Escudero to use his wrestling advantage to wear down Miller, who is a Brazillian jiu-jitsu blackbelt.
One thing to think about is ring rust. It’s been a full year since Efrain has performed in the octagon, while we last saw Miller crush UFC bad boy Junie Browning with a first round guillotine choke this past April.
The other undercard fight being shown on Spike will surely provide fireworks. Heavy-handed middleweight strikers Drew McFedries (8-5) and Tomasz Drwal (16-2-1) will match up in a fight that could very well produce an exciting KO. Don’t let McFedries’ record deceive you, he has faced much stiffer competition in his UFC stint, and has managed to stick around because he puts on exciting fights with flash knockouts. Both fighters won the “Knockout of the Night” bonus in their last bouts, so I don’t expect this fight to go past the first round.
The remainder of the fights will only be seen on the UFC 103 card if they were an exciting fast finish. UFC veteran Jim Miller (14-2) takes on UFC newcomer Steve Lopez (12-1) who is a last minute replacement for the injured Thiago Tavarez. I don’t know much about Lopez, but Miller is a banger who is capable of ending the fight standing, on the ground or via submission. His only losses are to UFC lightweight contenders Gray Maynard and Frankie Edgar, so I give Miller the edge here.
In a battle of UFC newcomers, Rafaello “Tractor” Oliveira (10-1) will take on Nik “The Carny” Lentz (16-3-1). Oliveira was brought in when Affliction folded and is primarily a BJJ specialist. Lentz trains out of the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy with power wrestlers Sean Sherk and Brock Larson. I don’t expect anything less from Lentz, this one could go either way.
In a matchup of two welterweight wrestlers, UFC newcomer Brian Foster (12-3) will battle Rick Story (7-3). Foster trains his wrestling with the H.I.T. squad with Robbie Lawler and Matt Hughes, while Story trains with Mike Pierce, who just outwrestled Brock Larson on the Fight Night 19 undercard. Story has a couple bigger wins than Foster, so I’m leaning in his direction for this one.
Ultimate Figher season 8 contestent Eliot Marshall (8-1) takes on UFC vet Jason Brilz (17-1-1) in a light heavyweight contest. Marshall is primarily a BJJ expert while Brilz is considerably more well-rounded. Brilz should have the experience advantage as he is coming off a strong performance over a very game Tim Boestch at UFC 96 and I believe he can walk away with the win here as well.
In another light heavyweight battle, Vladimir “The Janitor” Matyushenko (21-4) looks to make his UFC return against the Mirko Cro Cop protégé Igor Pokrajac (21-5). Pokrajac has an eight year youth advantage against the 38 year old Matyushenko, who once fought Tito Ortiz for the light heavyweight UFC title, and both fighters have solid grappling experience. This is a big step up for Pokrajac, who’s competition has not been nearly as strong as “The Janitors” but I have a feeling he will get the upset victory here with his (hopefully) better conditioning.
Lastly, and possibly one of the most exciting undercard matchups, Ultimate Fighter season 5 vet Rob Emerson (8-7-0-1) takes on BJJ black belt Rafael Dos Anjos (11-4). Both fighters have put on spectacular fights in their UFC action thus far (who can forget Emerson’s lightning quick KO of Manny Gamburian or Dos Anjos’ calf slicer on Tyson Griffin?). While Dos Anjos has lost his only two UFC fights, he may be on his last straws with the organization if he fails to get a win here. I believe he’ll finally get that reclusive first UFC victory via some crazy submission against a tough opponent in Emerson.