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Opening Round: It’s Always Sunny in the Octagon

The UFC is poised to make its debut tonight on FX with a respectable lineup featuring a number of polished veterans, as well as a handful of up-and-comers plus a few guys in their prime such as headlining lightweights Melvin Guillard and Jim Miller. Both 155ers were a win away from earning a title-shot before stumbling in their previous pairings and will be out to stake a new claim when they clash in the company’s infamous eight-sided cage.

Below you’ll find some quick picks for the evening’s earlier fights followed by a more detailed breakdown of the evening’s featured bouts including the headliner, as well as Duane Ludwig vs. Josh Neer and Pat Barry vs. Christian Morecraft.

After reading my predictions make sure to check back at MMATraining tonight starting at approximately 7:00 PM EST when preliminary results start rolling in to see if things unfolded as I’ve expected (or as you may have guessed instead depending on where your opinions differ from mine). You can catch the undercard on Fuel TV before things head over to FX at 9:00 PM EST.

Nick Denis def. Joseph Sandoval via TKO Round 2
Daniel Pineda def. Pat Schilling via Unanimous Decision
Tommy Hayden def. Fabricio Camoes via Submission Round 2
Charlie Brennenman def. Daniel Roberts via Unanimous Decision
Kamal Shalorus def. Khabib Nurmagomedov via Unanimous Decision
Jorge Rivera def. Eric Schafer via TKO Round 3
Mike Easton def. Jared Papazian via Unanimous Decision

Duane Ludwig vs. Josh Neer

This match-up has Fight of the Night written all over it. Ludwig and Neer are both seasoned competitors with nearly 20 years experience combined who like to strike and have fairly durable chins. I would be shocked if either shoots a takedown attempt or action hits the ground unless it’s based on one man getting knocked out. Because I have more confident in Ludwig’s stand-up I expect him to do enough damage to earn the judges’ decision, plus Neer cuts fairly easily and could look a bit more battered than “Bang” even if having the slight edge in terms of strikes landed.

Winner – Duane Ludwig def. Josh Neer via Split Decision

Pat Barry vs. Christian Morecraft

I’ve been hard on Barry in the past and for good reason. He’s too one-dimensional as a fighter in comparison to his peers and his height/reach makes it difficult for him to effectively use his most dangerous weapons. Sure, he’ll land some brutal kicks and score the occasional knockout, but if action hits the ground he’s in trouble and he’s also shown that his chin may not be glass but it sure ain’t Teflon either. Morecraft is underrated because he’s fairly vanilla in all regards – look, personality, and style. However, he’s effective and is a threat to submit an opponent or stop him with strikes. I think he’ll close the distance to negate Barry’s ferocious feet, then grapple with him to either drag action to the mat or lock in a Standing Guillotine Choke as he did against Sean McCorkle.

Winner – Christian Morecraft def. Pat Barry via Submission Round 2

Jim Miller vs. Melvin Guillard

Guillard is similar to Barry as far as his in-ring arsenal goes except faster and big rather than small for his divisional home. However, at the end of the day he’s only a threat while standing and a fish out of water on the ground. Comparably, Miller has decent boxing but light-years ahead of Guillard when it comes to BJJ. He also has a good jaw while Guillard has been dropped more than once in his career. In the end I see a good day and possible Submission of the Night award for Miller.

Winner – Jim Miller def. Melvin Guillard via Submission Round 1

What do you think about the subject on today’s “Opening Round”? Tell us on our Twitter account (@mmatraining)!

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