Predictions! UFC Denver ‘Prelims’ Preview - Pt. 1
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a bevy of “Prelims” fights to both UFC Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1 this weekend (Sat., Nov. 10, 2018) when UFC Fight Night 139: “Korean Zombie vs. Rodriguez” storms Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg kicks off the UFC Fight Night 139 “Prelims” party with the first installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.
With Frankie Edgar out of commission, it falls to Yair Rodriguez to meet “The Korean Zombie,” Chan Sung Jung, inside the Octagon this Saturday (Nov. 10, 2018) in Denver, Colo., headlining UFC Fight Night 139 on FOX Sports 1. The “Mile High” event will also feature a dynamite Welterweight battle between Mike Perry and Donald Cerrone, as well as the return of former women’s Featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie, who will face recent title challenger Raquel Pennington.
Seven “Prelims” undercard bouts have survived the surge of injuries. Let’s first look at the three on Fight Pass.
155 lbs.: Davi Ramos vs. John Gunther
Davi Ramos (8-2) made his UFC debut on short notice last year, moving up in weight and losing a narrow decision to fellow Brazilian jiu-jitsu great Sergio Moraes. He has since shown what he can accomplish with a full training camp by submitting Chris Gruetzemacher and Nick Hein.
He has submitted six professional foes and knocked out one other.
John Gunther (7-0) was one of the more memorable figures on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 27, but being a character didn’t save him from losing consecutive fights to Joe Giannetti and Mike Trizano. He had a bit more luck at the Finale, overcoming some hairy moments to defeat teammate Allan Zuniga.
He is one inch taller than Ramos and will have two inches of reach on him.
There are two things you can do with a fighter as charming and limited as Gunther: Either dig deep in your roster for winnable matchups or just throw him to the wolves. As there are only so many Allan Zunigas in the world, UFC appears to have chosen the latter — Ramos is better than Gunther in every conceivable facet of mixed martial arts (MMA).
Gunther’s only area of, well, competence is his top control, but even if he does manage to take down a superior wrestler, Ramos’ grappling pedigree blows his out of the water. Ramos wins in whatever fashion he wants, most likely by early rear-naked choke.
Prediction: Ramos via first-round submission
125 lbs.: Eric Shelton vs. Joseph Morales
Eric Shelton (11-5) unexpectedly reached the semifinals on TUF 24 before losing a close decision to Tim Elliott, then went on to lose split decisions to Alexandre Pantoja and Jarred Brooks in the Octagon. He returned to the win column with a decision over Jenel Lausa, only to lose another decision to the fast-rising Alex Perez.
“Showtime” has never been finished as a professional or amateur.
Jospeh Morales (9-1) got off to a red-hot start in UFC, submitting fellow unbeaten Roberto Sanchez and earning “Performance of the Night” in the process. He didn’t have quite as much luck against the surging Deiveson Figueiredo, who put him away with punches late in the second round.
Five of his seven professional finishes have come by either rear-naked choke or triangle choke.
Shelton’s ineffectiveness against Perez surprised me, but the latter’s subsequent thrashing of “Shorty” Torres has me thinking Perez is just a lot better than I thought he was. Shelton is still a durable, well-rounded Flyweight who should be able to exploit Morales’ shaky defense without getting caught by the younger man’s opportunistic submissions.
Morales’ ceiling will be determined by how quickly he can get his wrestling up to snuff. After his last performance, I’m not thinking nine months will be enough. Shelton outwrestles him and lands a fair share of significant strikes to take a clear decision.
Prediction: Shelton via unanimous decision
125 lbs.: Mark De La Rosa vs. Joby Sanchez
Mark De La Rosa (10-1) got no breaks in his UFC debut, which pitted him against the venerable Tim Elliott on short notice and resulted in his first career defeat. Dropping down to Flyweight, he welcomed Roufusport prospect Elias Garcia to the Octagon with a second-round rear-naked choke.
“The Bumblebee” has scored five of his six pro submission finishes by rear naked choke.
Following a 1-2 run in his initial Octagon tenure, Joby Sanchez (11-3) picked up a pair of victories before joining the “Contender Series.” His decision victory over Manny Vazquez in Season 1 wasn’t enough to get him a contract, but he returned 13 months later to knockout J.P. Buys and earn Dana White’s attention.
He steps in for the injured Jordan Espinosa on a week’s notice.
De La Rosa may have had some issues with Espinosa, as the latter is a long, lanky wrestler, but faces a much more winnable bout here. Sanchez remains a good striker, but his takedown defense consistently fails him and he’s dealing with a guy who’s historically had little trouble wrestling with Bantamweights.
Sanchez will need to land a game-changing strike early if he wants to set get De La Rosa’s respect and neuter his wrestling. More likely, though, “The Bumblebee” wrangles him to the mat and locks up a choke before long.
Prediction: De La Rosa via first-round submission
Four more UFC Fight Night 139 undercard bouts remain to preview and predict, featuring three “Contender Series” alumni making their Octagon debuts. Same time as always, Maniacs!
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 139 fight card this weekend, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” undercard bout at 6:30 p.m. ET, followed by the FOX Sports 1 “Prelims” undercard bouts at 8 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.