UFC FIGHT NIGHT 98 PREVIEW: Peterson’s fight-by-fight preview of Saturday’s show headlined by Dos Anjos vs. Ferguson, Lamas vs. Oliveira

By Matthew Peterson, MMATorch contributor

This Saturday, we start another UFC event streak that runs all the way to Christmas.  It kicks off in Mexico with an amazing fight that has former champion Rafael dos Anjos taking on the surging Tony Ferguson.  The card also includes fighters such as Charles Oliveira, Ricardo Lamas, Diego Sanchez, and Beneil Dariush.

Rafael dos Anjos vs. Tony Ferguson (155 lbs)

Tony Ferguson continues his run towards a title shot and gets a big step up when he takes on Rafael dos Anjos.  Dos Anjos had a good run of his own, dominating Anthony Pettis to earn the lightweight title and knocking out Donald Cerrone in his first defense.  He was demolished by Eddie Alvarez in the first round but looks to get back on track with a win over Ferguson.  Dos Anjos has a sharp game in all areas and utilized pressure and speed to stifle Anthony Pettis when he took the title.  He took advantage of Cerrone’s notorious slow starts to blitz him in the first minute and knock him out for the win.  Ferguson is also solid in all areas and will mix in flashy and risky moves for the win.  He took the fight to Edson Barboza and submitted him in a burnburner and followed it up with a hard fought win against newcomer Lando Vannata.  It should also be noted that dos Anjos recently announced a split from longtime coach Rafael Corderos, the man who dos Anjos notched some of biggest moments while training under.  It will be interesting to see if Ferguson’s high risk, high reward gameplan can succeed against the well-versed veteran that is dos Anjos.  I’m a big fan of Tony Ferguson but I’m calling this fight as too much, too soon for him.  Dos Anjos via split decision.

Martin Bravos vs. Claudio Puelles (155 lbs)

With the UFC’s new owners looking to cut costs, this may be one of the last Ultimate Fighter’s we ever see.  Both fighters are early in this MMA careers and joining the UFC would be a large step up in competition.  Both men possess rudimentary striking, nothing flashy but enough to lay on some pressure.  Bravos looks to be the better ground fighter, having shown flashes of solid top control and GNP following takedowns.  I look for both men to open the first round striking and Bravos looking to take the fight to the ground after that.  Bravos via decision.

Diego Sanchez vs. Marcin Held (155 lbs)

Diego Sanchez continues on in his lengthy UFC career, his win over Jim Miller at UFC 200 giving his fading star a bit of gas for the time being.  He takes on the UFC newcomer Marcin Held, a Bellator veteran and leglock specialist.  Sanchez may be 4-4 in his last eight fights, but the win over Miller remains the only one that that wasn’t highly contested.  The damage taken in his career seems to be catching up and his high energy brawling style leaves him wide open for technical opponents to dismantle.  Held is a crafty fighter that has only lost to high level competition and could be a true contender in the UFC’s packed lightweight division.  Held is too smart of a fighter to get baited into a firefight with Sanchez and should be able to pace himself and wait for openings.  There is a chance that Sanchez could overwhelm Held early and gain enough of a lead to earn the win but I’m not holding my breath.  Held will pick Sanchez apart standing or utilize his ground game to attack Sanchez with his signature submissions.  Sanchez is a fun fighter to watch but his time has come and gone.  Held via unanimous decision.

Ricardo Lamas vs. Charles Oliveira (145 lbs)

Lamas was originally scheduled to headline the fight card in the Philippines against BJ Penn but was rescheduled when Penn was injured and the event was cancelled.  He now takes on featherweight standout Charles Oliveira who is looking to rebound from his loss to Anthony Pettis.  Both men are high level fighters who need a win to remain relevant in the title picture.  Lamas is a good boxer that likes to lay on the early pressure but truly stands out when he can use his wrestling to control his opponent and work them down with ground and pound.  Oliveira is a crisp striker with great kicks and possesses one of the best submission games in the UFC.  Look for Lamas to pressure Oliveira early to keep him from finding his range and Oliveira looking to drag Lamas to the ground.  An Oliveira submission is a truly amazing sight but Lamas has a good enough game to defend against the attack.  Lamas via 2nd round TKO.

Beneil Darush vs. Rashid Magomedov (155 lbs)

Darush was on an amazing win streak that ended with a disappointing submission loss to Michael Chiesa.  He roared back with a vicious KO win over James Vick and now looks to earn another win over Russian standout Magomedov.  Magomedov is 19-1, having won his first four UFC fights and a win over Darush could insert him near the top 10.  Darush is a standout grappler and BJJ black belt who is just starting to show his striking and KO power.  Magomedov is an efficient striker that also possesses a stifling wrestling game.  I expect Magomedov to hang around the UFC for a while yet but Darush is the best fighter he’s fought and it’s Darush’s fight to lose.  Darush via 2nd round KO.

Alexa Grasso vs. Heather Jo Clark (115 lbs)

Alexa Grasso comes into this fight with a perfect 8-0 record and is fighting at home.  Heather Jo Clark is coming off a tough loss to title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz.  Clark fought hard against Kowalkiewicz and remained tough until the end, but was outworked and outclassed by the younger fighter.  Grasso is a BJJ fighter that lays on the pressure quickly from the opening bell.  Clark could outwork Grasso for the fight and overwhelm the UFC newcomer but Grasso looks to be the younger and more dynamic fighter.  Grasso via decision.


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