UFC FIGHT NIGHT PRIMER: Ecochard’s preview of Swanson vs. Lobov, plus Ellenberger, Diego Sanchez, Lauzon, Dodson

By Matt Ecochard, MMATorch contributor

UFC Fight Night Nashville
Cub Swanson vs. Artem Lobov

UFC Fight Night: Swanson vs. Lobov Primer – Matthew Ecochard

Tennessee is welcoming back the UFC on Saturday night with a questionable headliner in top ranked Cub Swanson facing the unranked Artem Lobov. Familiar faces such as a returning Al Iaquinta fighting Diego Sanchez or names like Jake Ellenberger, Joe Lauzon, and John Dodson help to fill out the main card on Fox Sports 1.

The following are previews and predictions for the entirety of the card:

UFC Fight Pass Prelims (6:30 p.m. EST / 3:30 p.m. PST)

Hector Sandoval (13-3) vs. Matt Schnell (10-3) – Flyweight Bout

Taking a bout at bantamweight for his UFC debut was  risky for Matt Schnell and it didn’t pay off, but he now returns to his native flyweight to take on Hector Sandoval. Schnell is an exciting fighter and has really good scrambles for submissions while on the ground. At 27 years old and training with American Top Team, Schnell will continue to improve his skills. Hector Sandoval uses a scrappy style that results in mostly decision victories. Controlling Fredy Serrano was fairly easy for Sandoval, but he was dominated by Wilson Reis in his UFC debut. On the mat Schnell should be the dominate fighter and get his first UFC victory.

Prediction: Matt Schnell via Submission Round 1

Bryan Barberena (12-4) vs. Joe Proctor (11-4) – Lightweight Bout

Bryan Barberena is dropping back down to lightweight after a rough bout against a bigger and stronger Colby Covington. The power in the hands of Barberena is his biggest weapon and something that will be quite useful against Joe Proctor’s chin. Only having been submitted once, Barberena is really hard to finish. Proctor is going to have a hard time because if he can’t finish he will struggle to control the wild Barberena. The two ways this can go are either Barberena knocking out Proctor or controlling him and getting a decision, either way the fight should be his.

Prediction: Bryan Barberena via TKO Round 2

(#11) Alexis Davis (17-7) vs. Cindy Dandois (8-2) – Women’s Bantamweight Bout

A debuting Cindy Dandois is getting a tough test against the veteran Alexis Davis. Dandois has black belt in Judo and a purple belt in BJJ, showing off those skills with strong submissions and a pair of ground and pound finishes as well. The most recent loss came in her Invicta FC debut when she lost to now champion Tonya Evinger, but has since won three straight in impressive fashion. Davis was pretty heavily dominated by Sara McMann in her return fight after spending almost all of 2015 and 2016 sidelined. On the ground this should be a fun fight with both fighters’ grappling credentials. Dandois looks like she may be the better grappler if even just slightly.

Prediction: Cindy Dandois via Split Decision

Fox Sports 2 Prelims (8 p.m. EST / 5 p.m. PST)

(#14) Jessica Penne (12-5) vs. Danielle Taylor (8-2) – Women’s Strawweight Bout

Former Invicta FC champion Jessica Penne has struggled in the UFC so far going just 1-2 with her win being a close decision against Randa Markos. The bright side for Penne is that her losses came against two of the top three fighters at 115 lbs in the UFC in Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Jessica Andrade. Danielle Taylor is not the same striker as those two fighters are, yet she is very refined in her own right. Taylor is definitely a striker primarily, but her biggest weakness is fighting in a division that is too big for her. Fighting at 115 lbs and only being 5 feet tall has kept Taylor from setting up her rhythm. Taylor needs to get on the in inside to do any damage, but against someone like Penne who has a good clinch game she isn’t going to have much luck. Look for Penne to finally get back on track here, but don’ expect a finish against the durable Taylor.

Prediction: Jessica Penne via Unanimous Decision

Scott Holtzman (9-2) vs. Michael McBride (8-2) – Lightweight Bout

Michael McBride is getting a much more winnable fight than in his debut when he faced off against Nik Lentz. Taking on Scott Holtzman, McBride should have a better chance of getting some control on the mat and going for his submissions which is the only way he has ever won a bout. Holtzman is much more multi-faceted than McBride and can finish the fight anywhere or win by decision. Being the shorter fighter will actually help Holtzman from being taken down and if he keeps the fight standing he should be able to control McBride fairly easily, he just can’t let up for a second if the bout goes to the ground.

Prediction: Scott Holtzman via Unanimous Decision 

(#8) Dustin Ortiz (16-6) vs. (#10) Brandon Moreno (13-3) – Flyweight Bout

A true test for Brandon Moreno comes in the form of the wrestle heavy Dustin Ortiz. The only losses for Ortiz in the UFC have come against John Moraga, Joseph Benavidez, Wilson Reis and Jussier Formiga. Losing against top competition has kept Ortiz on the lower end of the top 10 fighters, but his last bout was impressive when he out grappled Zach Makovsky. Moreno’s debut was impressive by catching Louis Smolka with a guillotine really early on and then proved he is definitely an exciting fighter in a fun, close bout against Ryan Benoit. Only 23 years old, Moreno is still improving, but his 5’7” frame gives him some physical advantages while the rest of his game catches up. Ortiz may want to keep the bout standing, because if he takes Moreno down he is going into his lair. Ortiz is better overall and he has never been finished. I just see him getting caught at some point against the younger, crafty fighter and Moreno will get big looks going forward.

Prediction: Brandon Moreno via Submission Round 1

(#11) Thales Leites (26-7) vs. (#13) Sam Alvey (30-8, 1NC) – Middleweight Bout

Two fighters try to make it into the top 10 with this bout. Thales Leites looked very impressive until he didn’t in a bout against Michael Bisping. Leites has a tendency to get complacent in his fights or if he gets controlled he just lets it kind of happen. Unless Leites looks like his former self it could be a rough bout against Sam Alvey for him. Alvey is a striker with some ridiculous power but has a similar issue to Leites in that sometimes he doesn’t put enough pressure on the pedal and lets fighters take control. Leites would be smart to takedown Alvey, although he has never been knocked out Alvey definitely has the power to stop almost anyone with a clean shot. Look for Alvey to turn up the pressure and fight his way towards a top 10 spot in the busy middleweight division.

Prediction: Sam Alvey via Unanimous Decision

Fox Sports 1 Main Card (10 p.m;. EST / 7 p.m. PST)

(#13) Jake Ellenberger (31-12) vs. Mike Perry (9-1) – Welterweight Bout

If this fight doesn’t end in a knockout I’d be shocked. Jake Ellenberger looked like a man reborn against Matt Brown, just destroying him in the first round of their fight. Unfortunately his last bout has a weird circumstance of his foot getting caught in the cage and rendering him defenseless. Ellenberger has always been a heavy-handed striker with a good wrestling pedigree. Mike Perry has an exciting style, winning every fight he has via KO or TKO. Perry was shown that if he can’t out-strike his opponent then he can gas out and lose a decision like he did against Alan Jouban. If Ellenberger fights like his job depends on it then he might just come out with a win, but Perry’s hands are just as heavy and I don’t trust Ellenberger’s chin at this point in his career.

Prediction: Mike Perry via KO Round 1

Joe Lauzon (27-13) vs. Stevie Ray (20-6) – Lightweight Bout

Stevie Ray looks to continue his climb up the lightweight ladder at the expense of another veteran in Joe Lauzon. Two submission specialists should lead to an entertaining scrap. Lauzon has never been known to have a boring fight and this should be a fun one. These two are great submission fighters, but both have lost via submission a few times. As of late Lauzon has been content to strike though and Stevie Ray has a similar approach. Lauzon has more heart than just about anyone and that might just give him the edge he needs. While Ray might have more left in him at 27 years and all of Lauzon’s mileage could be a weakness, Lauzon has proved he has fight in him.

Prediction: Joe Lauzon via Submission Round 2

(#7) John Dodson (19-8) vs. (#10) Eddie Wineland (23-11-1) – Bantamweight Bout

Moving to bantamweight has had mixed results for John Dodson so far going just 1-1 with a brutal win over Manvel Gamburyan and close loss to John Lineker. The speed and power of John Dodson is what carries him through fights, with half of his victories by way of knockout. All of his losses are by decision so he has incredible durability. Eddie Wineland has looked good in his last two fights last year with knockouts over Frankie Saenz and Takeya Mizugaki. A true mixed-martial artist, Wineland has heavily favored his kick-boxing style throughout his career. Height and reach advantages go to Wineland, but power and speed go to Dodson. Wineland has looked good, but Dodson will be able to close the distance and land on Wineland until he takes him out.

Prediction: John Dodson via TKO Round 1

(#8) Ovince Saint Preux (19-10) vs. Marcos Rogerio De Lima (15-5-1) – Light Heavyweight Bout

Ovince Saint Preux needs to win here and win dominantly to be considered a top fighter after losing three in a row. Nothing about Marcos Rogerio De Lima screams to me that he has what it takes to beat Ovince Saint Preux. De Lima is not a bad fighter by any means, but out of his four losses he has been finished three times. This bout should be exciting though as both men enjoy going for a finish.  Both men enjoy standing and striking, but OSP can also take it to the mat. The extra five inches of reach should leave OSP with plenty of range to land strikes at will and pick apart De Lima. Whether it be on the ground or on the feet, the match will likely play out in favor of OSP.

Prediction: Ovince Saint Preux via Submission Round 2

(#14) Al Iaquinta (12-3-1) vs. Diego Sanchez (29-9) – Lightweight Bout

A win over Marcin Held really proved that Diego Sanchez has some fight left in him after almost 40 fights and at the age of 35. He enjoys standing and striking, but has shown he knows to take down fighters when he needs to. If he stands and trades he doesn’t fair as well as he isn’t as quick as he used to be. Al Iaquinta will bring the war out of Sanchez. Iaquinta is returning to the UFC for the first time since April of 2015. At that point Iaquinta had won four straight against some solid competition, but does he still have what it takes after two years off. If Iaquinta keeps the fight on the feet he should be able to fairly easily pick apart Sanchez en route to a decision.

Prediction: Al Iaquinta via Unanimous Decision

(#4) Cub Swanson (24-7) vs. Artem Lobov (14-12-1, 1NC) – Featherweight Main Event (5 Rounds)

Normally three to five paragraphs are necessary for a full breakdown of a main event in the UFC, if not more. When Cub Swanson takes on Artem Lobov, I just don’t see any real way that Lobov wins this bout. Swanson and Lobov are both strikers, but Lobov is much less skilled than Swanson is. Swanson’s only UFC losses have been to Ricardo Lamas, Frankie Edgar and Max Holloway, while Lobov has lost to Ryan Hall and Alex White. The caliber of opponents in wins and losses should tell the story enough. There is only 1 knockout loss for each fighter so a finish might not be likely, although Swanson’s striking arsenal is deep enough that he could hand him a second TKO loss. Unless Lobov has improved his movement and striking technique enough in the last few months, there really should be no way at all he comes out with the win. Look for Swanson to pick apart Lobov and since this is a five round fight, by the fourth round get a TKO.

Prediction: Cub Swanson via TKO Round 4

NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS UFC PREVIEW: UFC on FOX 24 PRIMER: Ecochard’s preview of Saturday’s event including Demetrious vs. Reis, Namajunas vs. Waterson

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