Altantic City, New Jersey, welcomes back the UFC as two of the best finishing lightweights square off in the main event. Donald Cerrone is the slight favorite, Jim Miller is the native Jersey boy; one of them will remain relevant and in the hunt for a lightweight title fight, and the other may become somewhat of a doormat for the top 10 in the lightweight division. A lot is at stake in the main event, but that is not the only big occurrence happening inside the cage July 16th. The organization will debut their new highly anticipated women’s strawweight division; as one of the best in world, Claudia Gadelha, hopes to impress against Tina Lahdemaki. It has been known for sometime that the winner of the Ultimate Fighter Season 20 all women series will be crowned the new champion of that division, Claudia Gadelha could set herself up as the first number one contender for the title when the show concludes. A night full of action is highly anticipated as Dana White and company make history in New Jersey tomorrow night. Fight Pass kicks things off at 6:30 pm EST; switching over to FOX Sports 1 at 7 pm EST for the remainder of the prelims, and the main card.
#6 Donald Cerrone (23-6) vs. #7 Jim Miller (24-4) – Lightweight Bout Both riding win streaks into this lightweight contest; both need to pick up this win to establish themselves as one of the top five in the division, the loser may fall into potentially gate-keeper status. Neither of the two like to involve the judges, and both have some very dangerous submission skills; showcased in their respective professional careers. Cerrone has crisp Muay Thai, but does leave himself quite vulnerable throwing leg kicks; the “Cowboy” occasionally leaves his hands down and his body off-balance, leaving himself vulnerable for the take down if Miller so happens to go that route. Cerrone has the height, the reach, and the overall well-rounded game that should suffice and beat an opponent like New Jersey’s own, Jim Miller. UFC fans are in for a treat for this one, Cerrone and Miller are quite the exciting pair when those cage doors close. Donald Cerrone via Submission.
#13 Edson Barboza (13-2) vs. Evan Dunham (14-5) – Lightweight Bout If Dunham wants to make it out of this fight with a win, his superior wrestling and grappling skills need to shine. If given the distance, Barboza will tee off on Dunham’s legs, while completely out-classing him in the stand up game. Dunham is not a slouch by any means; but Barboza is as gifted, and as patient of a striker as there is in the lightweight division. This fight is all about how Barboza responds to his loss to Cerrone; with Dunham hoping to stop a two fight skid and continue fighting in the UFC. Edson Barboza bounces back here though, his precise striking game is just too hard to bet against in this fight. Edson Barboza via Unanimous Decision.
Rick Story (16-8) vs. Leonardo Mafra (11-1) – Welterweight Bout Someone please tell Leonardo Mafra that the fights are tomorrow night; not at the weigh ins, jeez. Rick Story is not exactly the guy to go ahead and pick that kind of fight, anyway. Since 2011 it has been quite the rocky road for Rick “The Horror” Story; but do not be mistaken though, Story has victories against some of the top welterweight fighters in the game, one of them being champion Johny Hendricks. Mafra has shown off some power since his only appearance in the UFC back in 2012, racking up five wins via knockout and technical knockout. The Chute Boxe fighter has plenty of potential, and is at the ripe age of 25; a win over the tested veteran Story would be a truly rewarding accomplishment in his career, and this is the exact time to catch Story. Leonardo Mafra via Technical Knockout.
Justin Salas (12-5) vs. Joe Proctor (9-2) – Lightweight Bout Justin Salas has the finishing touch, while Joe Proctor has solely relied on decisions during his stint in the UFC. Just based off that knowledge alone, it sounds as if Salas touches Proctor’s chin with anything resembling power, Proctor just may fall face first to the octagon floor. Justin Salas via Knockout.
#7 John Lineker (23-7) vs. Alptekin Ozkilic (9-2) – Flyweight Bout John Lineker made weight, that alone is a moral victory for one of the more prolific finishers in the flyweight division. Ozkilic may be 1-1 inside the octagon, but if he thinks he can win another decision over someone like Lineker, he is highly mistaken. Lineker is a highly regarded favorite in this fight for a reason; if not for that close decision loss to Ali Bagautinov, Lineker would have been the man fighting Demetrius Johnson for the championship not too long ago. John Lineker via Technical Knockout.
Lucas Martins (14-1) vs. Alex White (10-0) – Featherweight Bout Both Martins and White are very solid prospects, and an intriguing fight to start off the main card. Martins has 10 finishes to his 14 wins, while Alex “The Spartan” White has nine finishes out of his 10 victories. It is quite inspiring to hear White’s early story of survival, and a lifelong fight of adversity to make it where he is today. It makes it extremely hard to count that guy out of a fight, and even harder for the MMA Spotlight not to pick him to win this fight. Alex White via Technical Knockout.
In other notable fights on the prelim card, there are two women bouts taking place in Atlantic City. Jessamyn Duke fights the scrapper Leslie Smith, in what could lead to a potential fight of the night candidate. Also, Claudia Gadelha will take on the heavy underdog, Tina Lahdemaki; in the first ever women’s strawweight fight to take place in the octagon. For anything and everything UFC, follow the Guardian Liberty Voice as the MMA Spotlight section keeps the viewers up to date.
Commentary by Justin Huffman
Follow Justin’s coverage in the MMA Spotlight section
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer leading the coverage in MMA