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UFC Fight Night 103 predictions: ‘Phoenix’ Fight Pass ‘Prelims’ undercard preview, Pt. 1

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More fights are coming to Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1 this weekend (Sun. Jan. 15, 2017) when UFC Fight Night 103: “Rodriguez vs. Penn” storms Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, Arizona. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg kicks off the UFC Fight Night 103 “Prelims” party with the first installment of a two-part undercard preview series.

He’s back … whether you want him or not.

More than two years after his third loss to Frankie Edgar, former Lightweight and Welterweight champion, B.J. Penn, returns to the Octagon this Sunday evening (Jan. 15, 2017) against Yair Rodriguez up-and-coming Featherweight phenom, Yair Rodriguez, in the main event of FOX Sports 1’s UFC Fight Night 101, which takes place inside Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, Arizona.

In addition, Joe Lauzon faces Marcin Held in a clash of Lightweight submission artists and Court McGee welcomes Ben Saunders back to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) once again.

UFC Fight Night 103 features eight “Prelims” undercard matches split evenly between Fight Pass and the aforementioned FOX Sports 1. However, UFC has not updated the line up at this time after the cancelation of Jimmie Rivera vs. Bryan Caraway (full details here); therefore, we will preview five “Prelims” below, one of which will likely be promoted to FOX Sports 1’s undercard. With further ado, let’s sift through the opening wave:

115 lbs.: Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger vs. Nina Ansaroff

Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger (6-3) punched her ticket to UFC with a five-round decision over former Bellator MMA tournament winner Zoila Frausto, earning RFA’s Strawweight title in the process. She’s yet to replicate that success in the UFC, losing competitive decisions to Tecia Torres and Randa Markos.

She will give up an inch of height to the 5’5″ Nina Ansaroff (6-5).

After facing the likes of Carla Esparza and Barb Honchak in her first four fights, Ansaroff rattled off four consecutive stoppage wins to stake her claim as a UFC-worthy Strawweight. Like Jones-Lybarger, she is winless (0-2) in the promotion itself, having lost a fair decision to Juliana Lima in her debut and a terrible decision to Justine Kish her next time out.

She owns four wins by (technical) knockout and one by submission.

Jones-Lybarger is tough, durable and totally outmatched. So long as Ansaroff can stay busy, her lateral movement and angles ought to work wonders against Ansaroff. Against Kish — a similar breed of pressure fighter — those skills should have earned her the win. Here, with the knowledge gained from that loss, they will.

Jones-Lybarger is just going to eat too many strikes, struggling with Amsaroff’s movement as she gets pot-shotted to an eventual finish.

Prediction: Ansaroff via unanimous decision

155 lbs.: Devin Powell vs. Drakkar Klose

The latest acquisition from Dana White’s “Lookin’ for a Fight,” Devin Powell (8-1) impressed UFC’s head honcho with a first-round submission of Jon Lemke in Aug. 2016. The win marked his sixth straight and followed a split decision win over Tommy Marcellino in World Series of Fighting (WSOF).

He owns three wins by submission and two via knockout.

The latest prospect out of MMA Lab, Drakkar Klose (6-0-1) got his first shots at the big time with fights in Tachi Palace Fights and RFA, going 1-0-1. He had previously knocked out four of five opponents, including one in just 31 seconds.

He replaces Jordan Rinaldi on three weeks’ notice.

Klose still has some work to do, but I’m just flat-out not impressed by Powell. His striking flows decently, but his wrestling is severely under-developed and his skill off his back won’t be enough against UFC-caliber grapplers. Klose’s wrestling pedigree alone makes him a hard counter to Powell, not the mention the sort of punching power that punishes lax defenses.

Powell’s opportunistic enough to threaten a couple finishes, but Klose’s fundamentals and athleticism have him outclassed. He pounds his way to a mid-round stoppage.

Prediction: Klose by second-round technical knockout

265 lbs.: Walt Harris vs. Chase Sherman

Walt Harris (8-5) washed out of UFC his first time around, then got pounded out by Soa Palelei upon his return. “Big Ticket” finally secured his first win in the promotion with a knockout of Cody East in April 2016, then dropped a decision to Shamil Abdurakhimov six months later.

All eight of his wins have come by first-round knockout, six of them in two minutes or less.

Chase Sherman (9-2) — who thankfully didn’t go for the usual low-hanging nickname fruit that is “Tank” — scored nine first-round knockouts in nine wins and lost only to Alex Nicholson before joining UFC. Once there, he struggled with former boxer Justin Ledet’s steady jab and eventually lost a decision.

In addition to his three-year professional career, Sherman went perfect (4-0) as an amateur.

This could be fun! Harris and Sherman are cut from a similar cloth, both big, athletic Heavyweight fighters in need of serious technical refinement. While it may just come down to whomever lands the first big punch, I’m leaning towardHarris.

“Big Ticket” has been around the block quite a bit more than his opponent has and, while he may have a pretty damn spotty record on that block, experience is valuable. Further, Sherman doesn’t have the sort of wrestling that Harris has struggled with in the past nor the constant lateral motion Abdurakhimov used to great effect.

Harris’ edge in speed and top-tier experience should carry him to the knockout victory.

Prediciton: Harris via first-round knockout

205 lbs.: Bojan Mihajlovic vs. Joachim Christensen

Serbia’s Bojan Mihajlovic (10-4) brought a 10-fight win streak into his UFC debut, a main card showdown with Francis Ngannou on FOX. He had no answer for the Cameroonian giant, suffering a technical knockout loss 94 seconds into the first round.

He will give up four inches of height to the 6’3″ Joachim Christensen (13-4).

Christensen fought a “Who’s Who” of the European circuit, including Stepan Puetz, Max Nunes and Jonas Billstein on his way to UFC. In his debut, he dropped Luis “Frankenstein” with a knee in the second round but fell victim to an armbar.

He owns five wins by submission and four by knockout.

Dropping to 205 pounds is the right move for Mihajlovic — he looked fairly soft against Ngannou at 228 pounds and he’s fairly quick. He’ll still lose here, but it won’t be the blowout his debut was.

Christensen is more proven against quality opposition, is likely the better striker and can at least hold his own in the grappling. There’s also the chin advantage — Christensen ate some solid shots from Henrique and didn’t flinch. He outstrikes the Serb from the outside on his way to a decision win.

Prediction: Christensen via unanimous decision

265 lbs.: Dmitry Smolyakov vs. Cyril Asker

Before joining the world’s largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion, Dmitry Smolyakov (8-1) rampaged through the Russian circuit with eight first-round finishes, including four within the first minute. The early finish wasn’t there against Luis Henrique, who overpowered him on the mat and choked him out in the second.

His wins are split evenly between knockouts and submissions.

Cyril Asker (7-2) entered UFC as a well-traveled competitor, earning the EFC Heavyweight title in South Africa back in Oct. 2015. He debuted last April against Jared Cannonier, who knocked him stiff midway through the first round.

Three of his professional wins have come by form of knockout.

Smolyakov looked like another Konstantin Erokhin against Henrique — just a bad, bad performance. His wrestling wasn’t there and his gas tank looked flat-out abysmal. Even as mediocre as Asker is, Smolyakov is toast if he comes in in that kind of shape again.

Asker can wrestle a bit and has experience going three rounds, which by itself may be enough to guarantee victory. His chin’s a bit shaky and it wouldn’t surprise me all that much if Smolyakov blitzed him, but the more likely outcome is that Asker survives the early onslaught and steadily overpowers him on the ground to secure the stoppage.

Prediction: Asker via second-round technical knockout

We’ve got more UFC Fight Night 103 “Prelims” to preview and predict tomorrow, including John Moraga vs. Sergio Pettis in FOX Sports 1’s featured undercard match. Same time as always, Maniacs!

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 103 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, and then the remaining under card balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the FOX Sports 1 main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

Source:: mma mania