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Diggin’ Deep on UFC on FOX 26: Lawler vs. dos Anjos – Fight Pass preview

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Get the scoop on the Fight Pass prelims from UFC on FOX 26, featuring a clash of former upstarts Erick Silva and Jordan Mein, plus former professional boxer Danny Roberts.

The Fight Pass prelims this week are… interesting. Usually relative newcomers or fighters no one cares about receive these spots, but that isn’t quite case here. A few years ago, Jordan Mein and Erick Silva had sizeable hype trains, particularly Silva. Their trains have now vanished, but many still recognize their names. Some may consider Danny Roberts to be a prospect – and I will grant he hasn’t seen his best days yet – but at age 30 with four fights in the UFC, is it appropriate to label him that way? I’ll let you decide.

The Fight Pass prelims begin at 4:00 PM ET/1:00 PM PT on Saturday.

Jordan Mein (29-12) vs. Erick Silva (19-8, 1 NC), Welterweight

Go back almost five years ago and both Mein and Silva’s name would be on the tips of anyone’s tongue when talking about the future of the welterweight division. Now when their names are brought up, people think about wasted potential. Though it’s unlikely they’ll ever match the potential they once flashed, they can still be dangerous.

Once among the most reckless fighters in the sport, Silva has reigned in some of his wildness once he realized he couldn’t bowl over the top athletes of the sport as he did lesser competition. Along with a calmer style, he has developed better technique and the ability to remain effective deep into a fight as he isn’t immediately burning up all of his energy. Silva is still capable of spurts of violence that leaves the audience’s jaws hanging, even if it isn’t quite as spectacular as it once was. However, he’s also just as prone to getting laid out himself as his chin has faded far quicker than his athleticism.

Mein never possessed the physical gifts possessed by Silva, though that hardly means he’s a poor athlete. Coming into the sport at the tender age of 16, Mein was forced to employ a technical striking game to hand with his elder compatriots. Though his power soon followed, his emphasis on technique never faded. He does tend to shy away from his jab from time to time and look for power shots, but the bigger concern in recent fights has been his inability to handle pressure and avoid gassing late.

Neither fighter is what they once were, making this a difficult fight to call. Mein’s love for the sport can be called into question as he returned from a brief retirement just a year ago and hasn’t shown any fire in his belly since returning. Despite that, Silva has never performed well outside of Brazil. Damn…. I’m unhappy with whoever I pick here. Eh, what the hell…. Mein via TKO of RD1

Nordine Taleb (13-4) vs. Danny Roberts (14-2), Welterweight

After being unable to win a single contest in two stints of TUF, Taleb has greatly exceeded expectations throughout his UFC run, securing a 5-2 record with wins over Li Jingliang and the aforementioned Silva. Large for a welterweight, Taleb utilizes a very technical kickboxing game with excellent use of a jab and heavy kicks. Though he is fairly labeled a tough dude, Taleb’s underrated defensive skills – footwork and distance work – are what have kept him afloat in the UFC thus far as opposed to him being able to eat ridiculous amounts of damage.

Much has been made of Roberts’ professional boxing experience, which doesn’t give his all-around striking enough credit. Yes, he’s fundamentally sound in the pocket with fast hands, but he does more damage with his hard kicks. Though his wrestling has yet to fully evolve into a functional part of his game, Roberts has become a more than competent grappler, showing an active guard and good sweeps to find his way back to his feet.

Though there isn’t any name appeal in this bout, it does present a nice bit of matchmaking as it should produce excellent action. Taleb’s proven to be a better wrestler than most anticipated upon his UFC entry, which gives him a clear avenue to victory given Roberts’ struggle to prevent his opponents from taking him to the ground. Despite that, Roberts’ youth, athleticism, and technical striking should allow him to consistently find ways to penetrate Taleb’s strong defense. Don’t be surprised to see a split decision. Roberts via decision

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