-140 Glaico Franca (14-4) vs. +120 Gregor Gillespie (7-0)
Glaico Franca: TUF Brazil 4 winner Glaico Franca is looking to bounce back from a lackluster decision loss to James Vick at UFC 197. The loss was Franca’s first in the octagon, he was the better grappler in the fight but was unable to overcome a very unfamiliar reach advantage and was picked apart on the feet.
Glaico is a very large lightweight and maximizes his reach extremely well on the feet as well as on the ground. He has recently done some training in New Mexico with the Jackson/Wink team and at only 25 is still very much a elite prospect in the lightweight division.
Gregor Gillespie: Former Division I National Champion and 4x All-American Gregor Gillespie will make his long awaited debut in the opening bout of the night. He has fought all of his professional bouts in the Ring of Combat promotion where he is their 155 pound champion and has finished all but one of his seven wins.
Gillespie trains with fellow elite wrestlers turned mma fighters Dennis Bermudez, Ryan Laflare and Andre Harrison at New York’s Bellmore Kickboxing Academy. His wrestling credentials are without a doubt some of the best in the sport, but at 29 and only seven pro fights under his belt it will be interesting to see if he is ready for the big time.
The Fight: Gillespie’s originally scheduled fight against “Netto BJJ” would have been a much better match up for him. Franca is a very long and slick grappler, Gillespie should be able to get Franca down but he will be playing with fire on the ground. Franca will land shots on the feet after losing the first two rounds and secure an RNC on a exhausted Gillespie. Franca RNC 3rd
Vincente Luquoe (9-5-1) vs. Hector Urbina (25-9)
Vincente Luque: A stand out from the ATT vs Blackzilians season of TUF, Vicente Luque has proven to be one of the more well rounded young prospects in the welterweight division. Luque avenged his TUF loss to Hayder Hassan in December when he submitted Hassan with a anaconda choke in the first round of their rematch.
At only 24 Luque has a wealth of big fight experience including a win over rising star Thiago “Marreta” Santos. This will be Luque’s fourth UFC bout where he will be looking to pick up his third straight win and make a name for himself at 170 pounds as a young gun on the rise.
Hector Urbina: Urbina is a TUF vet probably best remembered for his back and forth brawl with Irishmen Cathal Pendred. Urbina lost the battle with Pendred, but showed immense heart and power earning him a fight against Edgar Garcia in the UFC’s first show in Mexico. He won the Edgar fight, but lost his following fight to Polish Judoka Bartoz Fabinski.
Urbina is game for an all out war, which are the type of fighters who usually hang around in the UFC, however if he falls to 1-2 it will be very difficult to justify keeping Urbina around in a absolutely stacked welterweight division.
The Fight: The UFC has given Urbina multiple unfavorable match ups, they should be putting him in there with guys that are willing to stand and trade, but instead they have matched him up with another dominant grappler which should spell the end of his days on the UFC roster. Luque Unanimous Decision
+155 Alan Patrick (13-1) vs. -180 Stevie Ray (19-5)
Alan Patrick: Jacare protégé Alan Patrick has shown unconventional, yet powerful striking in his three wins in the cage. 3-1 in the UFC he is coming off of a close decision victory over last minute Aussie replacement Damien Brown in March. He also holds a win over John Makdessi, however it was considered a very controversial decision.
It would be difficult to find a 3-1 fighter on the UFC roster with less fan fair than Patrick, he has not looked overly impressive in his wins and will need to take a few more risks in this Fightpass Prelims headliner if he is going to build a fan base.
Stevie Ray: 26 year old prospect Stevie Ray will be looking to add to his already rising stock. 3-0 in the octagon Ray has stopped two of his foes with strikes, including a performance of the night finish against TUF Brazil vet Leonardo Mafra in his native Scotland.
The Scottish southpaw has been inactive for the last year which included him pulling out of a bout with Jake Matthews due to injury this past July.Ray trains the majority of his camp with his Dinky Ninjas team in the UK, but also spends a few weeks preparing in Montreal with the Tristar team. Ray will be looking to reclaim some of the hype that he built in 2015 and fight his way on to the main card.
The Fight: Both of these guys have unorthodox striking methods, but it’s Ray who throws the higher percentage shots. Expect to see him land early and keep his 0 intact in the UFC. Ray TKO 1st
-155 Erick Silva (18-7-1) vs. +125 Luan Chagas (14-1-1)
Erick Silva: Always down for an all out scrap, Erick Silva has made a career in the UFC engaging in all out brawls with any opponent who is willing to trade with him. This fan friendly, kill or be killed style has made Silva must see TV, but it is also the reason he may be fighting to keep his spot on the roster in this fight.
Silva is 6-6 since he began fighting for the UFC in 2011, with only two of those fights making it to the final bell. At 32 years old Silva will have to start placing a stronger emphasis on his striking defense, because you do not see too many 35 year old .500 brawlers fighting in the UFC regardless of how entertaining they are.
Luan Chagas: Chagas surprised many when he fought world class BJJ fighter Sergio Moraes to a draw in his short notice debut at UFC 198. He started very strong against Moraes, but faded late and a draw was the best possible out come for him in the fight.
Chagas striking is flashy and unorthodox, which will leave him vulnerable to the take down once he reaches higher levels of competition. He has had some success on the feet but seems to be the most well versed on the ground with eight of his fourteen wins coming by way of the submission.
The Fight: Chagas will have the benefit of a full camp for this fight which should help with the cardio issues he faced in his debut. Unfortunately for Chagas I do not see cardiovascular fitness playing a role in this fight. It should be a stand up war and I like Silva’s chances of being the one to land the knockout blow. Silva KO 1st
-185 #3 Jussier Formiga (18-4) vs. +160 #12 Dustin Ortiz (15-5)
Jussier Formiga: Formiga will be returning to action for the first time since his November title eliminator split decision loss to Henery Cejudo. This was Formiga’s third title eliminator fight, but unlike the first two fights this one was very close through out and it could have very easily been Jussier who earned the shot at “Mighty Mouse”.
Now nearly a year removed from the number one contender fight, Formiga will be fighting to keep his spot in line for the 125 pound title shot. An opportunity briefly offered to Wilson Reis, a man who Formiga holds a 2015 victory over.
Dustin Ortiz: Rofussport’s most talented flyweight Dustin Ortiz is also coming off of a defeat, he dropped a unanimous decision to the aforementioned Wilson Reis in January. Reis received a title shot after his win over Ortiz, which might give us some insight into how much potential the UFC’s higher ups think Ortiz has.
Ortiz’s 3-3 record does not properly represent how talented this 27 year old is. He has dominant wrestling and has showed improved striking in every performance. Now one of the flyweight division’s more veteran fighters, Ortiz can quickly become a title contender in a division that is in dire need of new faces at the top of the division.
The Fight: This is going to be Ortiz’s breakout fight, he has all the skills to be elite but has always come up short in one area. He is the more athletic of the two and what he lacks in technique he will make up for with strength and speed. Ortiz controls the stand up and most of the ground work, while defending most of Formiga’s sweeps and all of his submission attempts. Ortiz Unanimous Decision
-140 Rani Yahya (22-8-0 1NC) vs. +120 Michinori Tanaka (11-1)
Rani Yahya: When you talk about a Jujitsu specialist in mma, Rani Yahya has to be one the first names to leave your mouth. Out of his 22 professional wins 19 have come by way of submission, including his most recent arm-triangle victory over UFC newcomer Matthew Lopez in July.
At 7-2 in the UFC, it would be difficult to find a more underrated fighter than this dangerous Brazilian. A win over a talented prospect like Tanaka would surly be enough to earn Yahya a spot in top 15 of the UFC’s bantamweight division for the first time.
Michinori Tanaka: Team Alpha Male Japan fighter Michinori Tanaka has won many accolades in his young career including 2011 Shooto rookie of the year and PXC Bantamweight champion. But the 25 year old’s back and forth January victory over former title contender Joe Soto has to rank up there at the top.
Tanaka could very easily still be undefeated with his only loss coming via split decision to Kyung Ho Kang in a fight of the night performance. His style is very similar to his American Alpha Male counterparts, strong wrestling, fast and very well rounded. A skill set that is going to make him a tough out for many years to come.
The Fight: Tanaka will have advantage in almost every physical aspect of this fight, but Yahya will have a massive BJJ advantage, making him very dangerous from the bottom. However if there is one thing Alpha Male fighters are good at, it’s not getting submitted. Tanaka will be able to use his power and anti submission skills to land enough damage and rack up enough control time to eek out a victory. Tanaka Split Decision
Gilbert Burns (11-1) vs. Michel Prazeres (20-2)
Gilbert Burns: 4x BJJ World Champion Gilbert Burns rebounded nicely from his first professional loss to Rashid Magomedov, by submitting tough Polish prospect Lukasz Sajewski in the first round. Burns showedcased why many believe this 30 year old BJJ legend may be in the the lightweight title picture in the very near future.
Magomedov exposed Burns’s striking deficiencies, but he has worked tirelessly with his Blackzilians fight team to fine tune his strikes, as displayed in his latest bout. Burn’s BJJ is so good he does not have to become an elite striker to be a champion, his hands just need to be a factor enough to prevent his opponents from totally focusing on their ground defense.
Michel Prazeres: Prazeres edged out promotional newcomer and last minute replacement J.C Cottrell in a decision his last outing. The win improved his octagon record to 4-2, with his biggest win coming over Chechen on the rise Mairbek Taisumov in a fight that saw Taisumov lose two point for grabbing the fence.
Prazeres is built like a fire hydrant and will have a significant strength advantage over most of the lightweight division. His smothering top game and hay maker heavy striking have been good enough to earn him a few close decisions, but it will be difficult for him to make the jump up to the next level of competition with fights so close at the bottom of the division.
The Fight: Burns will have the advantage in every aspect of this match up. If Prazeres goes to his wrestling he will be submitted and in a stand up match Burns is the much more technically polished striker. Prazeres only shot would be landing a one punch knockout. Burns wins this one and gets in some valuable striking experience. Burns Unanimous Decision