UFC FIGHT NIGHT PRIMER: Ecochard’s preview of Bermudez vs. Korean Zombie, Grasso vs. Herrig

By Matt Ecochard, MMATorch contributor

The “Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung will be making his return to the sport for the first time since a title fight loss to Jose Aldo in August of 2013. Dennis Bermudez is a great test for Mr. Zombie in his return as he has struggled against the top end of the division but can beat just about anyone on the outside of the top 10 at featherweight. The majority of the card will be taking place on Fox Sports 1 and the card has some fun bouts lined up. The following are previews and predictions for the entirety of Saturday’s card:

UFC Fight Pass Early Prelims

Daniel Jolly (5-1) vs. Khalil Rountree Jr. (5-2) – Light Heavyweight Bout

A last ditch effort for two UFC light heavyweights will take place in the opening bout in Houston on Saturday night with Daniel Jolly taking on Khalil Rountree. Both fighters are fairly straight forward with their styles and physically their stats are similar. The big difference is size and age and both of those advantages go to Mr. Rountree. Rountree is only 26 years old and if he can start to put together his wrestling defense he really could be something special. The game plan of Jolly should be to take down Rountree and it might not be that difficult to do so, but if two fighters that are primarily strikers are facing off, I’m going with the harder hitter and more explosive fighter.

Prediction: Khalil Rountree Jr. via KO Round 1

Alex Morono (13-3) vs. Niko Price (9-0) – Welterweight Bout

Alex Morono used to primarily be a BJJ fighter, but has really turned into a more developed overall fighter. Wins over Kyle Noke and James Moontasri have proven that Morono is of UFC caliber. Niko Price is undefeated and is primarily a striker, but showed off his fight IQ and submission skills in a victory against Brandon Thatch in December. A short notice bout is now happening for him against a tough opponent, but Price may have the skill set to deal with the durable Morono. The domination against Thatch really proved that Price is here to stay and if he can have a strong showing against Morono on short notice he deserves a ranked opponent.

Prediction: Niko Price via Unanimous Decision

Fox Sports 1 Prelims

(#6) Tecia Torres (7-1) vs. Bec Rawlings (7-5)– Women’s Strawweight Bout

Top contender Tecia Torres looks to rebound from her first career loss in a bout with the gritty Bec Rawlings. Torres has good skills in all aspects of her game, but she needs to improve on her aggressiveness as it cost her against Rose Namajunas. Every fight of Torres’ career has gone the distance so stamina is not a concern for her. Bec Rawlings has a striking heavy style, but she gets sloppy and struggles against opponents who are more agile than her. Torres has the style to make the night a nightmare for Rawlings and she should be considered a heavy favorite.

Prediction: Tecia Torres via Unanimous Decision

Ricardo Ramos (9-1) vs. Michinori Tanaka (11-2) – Bantamweight Bout

Ricardo Ramos is 21 year old prospect who has an exciting style and is fairly tall for the weight class. Ramos prefers the ground game but has shown some nice striking to compliment his game. Ramos was found on Dana White’s looking for a fight and impressed by beating a well rounded Alfred Khashakyan with little struggle. Michiori Tanaka is a good first UFC opponent for Ramos as he is no slouch, but he isn’t a world beater either. Losses to Kyung Ho Kang and Rani Yahya have shown where Tanaka’s ceiling may be. Look for Ramos to come out comfortable and ready to impress and while Tanaka hasn’t been finished before, Ramos will still likely have him in some dangerous positions.

Prediction: Ricardo Ramos via Split Decision

Chas Skelly (16-2) vs. Chris Gruetzemacher (13-1) – Featherweight Bout

The gritty Texan Chas Skelly will look to make it two in a row with a victory over featherweight prospect Chris Gruetzemacher. Skelly is the much taller fighter with a four inch advantage and will have a significant edge when it comes to the grappling as he competed with the NAIA wrestling organization. Skelly has only lost twice and recently it was only to an even scrappier version of himself in Darren Elkins. Chris Gruetzemacher is most likely the better striker of the two and should be able to have some success on the feet. Skelly will most likely take down Gruetzemacher and have better luck with his submissions with his long frame and relentlessness. Skelly should put away Gruetzemacher before the final horn.

Prediction: Chas Skelly via Submission Round 2

Adam Milstead (8-1) vs. Curtis Blaydes (6-1) – Heavyweight Bout

Two heavyweights that have a high upside in the shallow division will be colliding with Adam Milstead taking on Curtis Blaydes. Milstead took out Chris de la Rocha in his UFC debut in May of last year. Milstead seems like a heavyweight that should be able to cut down to 205 lbs as he is far from the biggest in the weight class, but his only loss came in his first bout in 2011 and has been on a streak ever since. Curtis Blaydes has won every bout via TKO, he normally gets it done in the second round after wearing his opponents down. The only stoppage came from the monster Francis Ngannou, but as shown by his recent performances that isn’t anything to hang his head about. Blaydes should use his weight to take down Milstead and lay down some ground and pound to finish the bout.

Prediction: Curtis Blaydes via TKO Round 2

Fox Sports 1 Main Card

(#5) Jessica Andrade (15-5) vs. Angela Hill (6-2) – Women’s Strawweight Bout

While away from the UFC and in Invicta FC, Angela Hill became their strawweight champion, far surpassing what was thought possible from her. Her striking and conditioning have really improved in the sport of mma. Hill will look to take out the dangerous Jessica Andrade and move into the top end of the rankings with a win. Andrade was struggling at bantamweight, but dropping down to this weight class puts her at a more at the size she should be. Her striking is strong, but not as strong as Hill’s, but she will have a definite advantage on the ground. Andrade also hits harder than Hill might with her punches. The fight should be a very fun one no matter where it takes place, but Andrade just has more weapons at her disposal and has looked like a different animal at strawweight than when she was a bantamweight.

Prediction: Jessica Andrade via Submission Round 1

Anthony Hamilton (15-6) vs. Marcel Fortuna (8-1) – Heavyweight Bout

Anthony Hamilton is really consistent so far in the UFC in the way that he has alternated wins and losses every bout and is 3-4 so far in his UFC career so far. The submission defense of Hamilton leaves a lot to be desired as he has allowed himself to be submitted twice so far, but he does possess decent stand up. Marcel Fortuna is going to be the much smaller man coming into this bout as he normally fights at 205 lbs, but is taking a fight a weight class up to get into the UFC. Fortuna is going to have a large edge on the ground though in terms of being a much better BJJ fighter. If Fortuna can get the fight to the ground fast, he can definitely submit Hamilton. One x-factor here is Fortuna not fighting in over a year and a half, making it difficult to confidently pick him in his debut fight here.

Prediction: Anthony Hamilton via Unanimous Decision

(#6) Ovince Saint Preux (19-8) vs. Volkan Oezdemir (12-1) – Light Heavyweight Bout

Ovince Saint Preux looked like he had the potential to really be a champion, going five rounds with Jon Jones, but fell fairly hard when he was knocked out by Jimi Manuwa in October. OSP is a creative fighter the way he mixes in his wrestling and kickboxing. Volkan Oezdemir has a very strong record coming into this bout with OSP, but his wins aren’t against the highest level of competition. The striking of Oezdemir is his strongest weapon against Saint Preux, but I don’t think that OSP will allow him to get comfortable. Look for OSP to use his strong suit and wrestle Oezdemir to the ground and make it a rough debut for the Swiss native.

Prediction: Ovince Saint Preux via Submission Round 2

Abel Trujillo (15-6, 1NC) vs. James Vick (9-1) – Lightweight Bout

  The aggressive striker Abel Trujillo has put together a three fight win streak for the first time since 2012. Trujillo can be out wrestled and out grappled, but if it stays to a striking battle he will always have a solid chance. James Vick lost for the first time in his career against the technical Beneil Dariush. Vick has huge leverage over most opponents at lightweight due to his frame, standing at 6’3” tall and having a 76 inch reach. The submission skills are the best aspect of Vick’s game and should allow him to out perform Trujillo. Trujillo may finally be putting his game together though and he could put on a clinic against Vick. Vick doesn’t like to be hit and Trujillo hits hard, so as long as he stays calm, cool and collected Vick will be picked apart and taken out fairly early.

Prediction: Abel Trujillo via KO Round 1

(#12) Alexa Grasso (9-0) vs. Felice Herrig (11-6) – Women’s Strawweight Bout

Young gun Alexa Grasso will be taking on veteran Felice Herrig in a coming of age bout that will really show if Grasso has what it takes to become a staple of the women’s strawweight bout. Grasso’s striking is her bread and butter and she looked smother as the fight went on against Heather Jo Clark. Felice Herrig is 2-1 thus far in her UFC bouts, but has looked fairly strong in her wins. Herrig should be able to test out Grasso’s ground game, but if she decides to strike she may be in for a hard night’s work. Grasso will certainly look to keep the bout standing as she will have the advantage there. The young prospect Grasso will continue to grow as she is only 23 and already amassing a 9-0 undefeated record.

Prediction: Alexa Grasso via Unanimous Decision

(#9) Dennis Bermudez (17-5) vs. Chan Sung Jung (13-4) – Featherweight Main Event (5 Rounds)

Dennis Bermudez has one of the best bases a fighter can have in mma with a NCAA Division I wrestling pedigree. Over the course of his UFC career, he has proven to have some strong and crisp hands paired with improving BJJ skills. His struggles have come against top five competition, but he really has been able to beat anybody besides Ricardo Lamas and Jeremy Stephens in the last four years. Bermudez is short and stocky and will need to utilize his wrestling to the best of his ability against the dangerous Chan Sung Jung.

The “Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung was a crowd favorite in the UFC before leaving to fulfill his mandatory 2 years of military service for South Korea. A three fight win streak  against Leonard Garcia, Mark Hominick and Dustin Poirer gave him a chance to fight for the featherweight title against Jose Aldo. While Jung has one of the best chins you will find and loves to stand and trade, his best aspect is his submissions.

While Bermudez wants this fight on the ground, no matter where it goes Jung should be able to keep this fight interesting and threaten Bermudez with submissions or heavy hands. Three full years and change is a long time for any fighter, but if anyone could come back and prove to be an interesting challenge it is Chan Sung Jung. Bermudez will be the favorite, but Chan Sung Jung will surprise and come out without missing a beat.

Prediction: Chan Sung Jung via Submission Round 2

NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS FIGHT PREVIEW: UFC ON FOX 23 PRIMER: Ecochard’s preview of Shevchenko vs. Pena, Cerrone vs. Masvidal, Arlovski vs. Ngannou, Marquardt vs. Alvey

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