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The UFC hits Fairfax, Virginia, with two featherweights vying to get back in line for a title shot. Ricardo “The Bully” Lamas steps in the cage against Chad “Money” Mendes for the main event of the night. With every thing to lose and gain by either in this bout, look for both to come out guns a blazing, with both trying to stamp their names down as the next title contender. In the co main event, two exciting lightweights meet as Jorge Masvidal and Al Iaquinta fight in hopes that either would climb up the UFC lightweight rankings with a victory. The prelims hit FOX Sports 1 at 11 am EST, and staying on the same channel for the main card at 1 pm EST. Fantasy implications and predictions needed for Draft Kings success, it is time to get right to it!
#1 Chad Mendes (16-2) vs. #4 Ricardo Lamas (15-3) Featherweight Bout – With possible UFC featherweight title implications at stake, both Lamas and Mendes will have to put their mutual respect aside for a shot at the title. Both have had a taste what at a shot at the belt against Jose Aldo, but neither have had the opportunity to step inside a UFC octagon with the highly confident, Conor McGregor. The only two losses by Mendes were at the hands of champion, Jose Aldo, which does not bode well for Lamas. Mendes packs a mean punch, and boasts some credible wrestling ability to dictate where this fight goes. Lamas is a pressure fighter, that needs to put out a high volume striking wise to win rounds. His power is underrated, and so are his submissions, Lamas is a very opportunistic finisher. Two out of the three losses have been by knockout for Lamas, which may become an issue against a power puncher like Mendes. The chances he gets caught are likely, and likelihood of these two exchanging from the opening bell is even more extreme. If there is anyone looking for a bell cow in Draft Kings, Chad Mendes is that guy. Chad Mendes via Technical Knockout.
#14 Jorge Masvidal (28-8) vs. #15 Al Iaquinta (11-3-1) Lightweight Bout – This may be the fight that steals the show in Virginia come Saturday night. Both highly skilled strikers, Masvidal and Iaquinta are bringing in three fight winning streaks into this high stakes UFC lightweight bout. Their styles match up perfectly, and could lead to some very exciting exchanges through three rounds. Unfortunately, exciting decision fights do not lead to fantasy victory in MMA. During Masvidal’s three fight win streak, they have all come by decision, and has only one finish since 2009. Iaquinta on the other hand, has finished his last three opponents in impressive fashion, and has really stepped up his game since his last loss. Finishes are what count in fantasy, and Iaquinta may give you the best opportunity of one in this fight; but do not count on it, Jorge Masvidal is a very tough out. Al Iaquinta via Unanimous Decision.
Michael Chiesa (11-2) vs. Mitchell Clarke (11-2) Lightweight Bout – Two submission machines these two are, but this may turn out to be a brawl on the feet. Chiesa was on the verge of a Fight of the Night performance against Joe Lauzon before the Doctor intervened, during the bout Chiesa showed some vastly improved striking and dangerous knees. Mitchell Clarke is almost considered a “go broke for the choke” submission fighter with 5 of his 7 submission victories coming by a variety of chokes. If Chiesa protects his neck, and comes in with a chip on his shoulder from his last UFC fight, he could very well walk through Mitchell Clarke. With 8 submission victories under his belt, Chiesa may be a good bet to finish this fight within three rounds. Michael Chiesa via Submission.
#13 Julianna Pena (6-2) vs. Milana Dudieva (11-3) Bantamweight Bout – Julianna Pena finally makes her return to the octagon, having not fought in the UFC since November of 2013. The first women’s winner on the ‘Ultimate Fighter’ series, Pena has 5 finishes to her resume, but may experience a little ring rust upon her return to the cage. Does not help much that she taking on a tough Russian with a three fight winning streak, Milana Dudieva. A strong submission game, and with much more experience, Dudieva may be too much for Pena to handle after a year-long lay off. Only time will tell how Pena responds to her knee injury, if there were a fight to avoid in fantasy, this may be the one. Julianna Pena via Unanimous Decision.
#12 Clay Guida (31-12) vs. Robbie Peralta (18-5) Featherweight Bout – The story of two inconsistent fighters whom cannot pull a streak together and move up the rankings. Both coming off losses, both Guida and Peralta will be hungry to get a victory under their belt. It is only coincidence that both lost their last fights by Rear Naked Choke, but one would figure Guida would know better. A veteran of over 40 fights, the experience at some point has to become a strength right? Guida continually loses by submission, yet is considered a grappling based fighter. Peralta is considered a banger by trade, and would much rather keep this fight on the feet then hit the ground for a wrestling match. His ground game is very underrated though, and could catch a non suspecting Clay Guida off guard. With only two submission victories throughout his career, it is very unlikely he will garner much danger on the ground while Guida grinds him out. Clay Guida via Unanimous Decision.
Dustin Poirier (16-4) vs. Diego Ferreira (10-1) Lightweight Bout – The main card opener for the UFC main card, Poirier and Ferriera should provide some crazy slugging exchanges to get things going. Poirier has shown issues of handling punches as of late, and Ferreira has shown he holds quite the power in his hands for being such a submission guru. With a win, either could hop right back into the UFC lightweight rankings, with this being Poirier’s return to the division. In order for “The Diamond” to be victorious, Dustin must incorporate movement with his striking, not standing still and trading. Ferriera must add some combinations and variation to his punches, in his last fight he became quite predictable. With the move up in weight and an already underwhelming chin, Poirier may not like what awaits him in his return. Diego Ferreira via Technical Knockout.
Other notable worthy fights on the card, there is more than just one women’s bout on this card, Liz Carmouche and Lauren Murphy butt heads on the prelims. Liz has last three out of her last four to some of the best in the UFC women’s bantamweight division; while Lauren Murphy suffered her first controversial defeat to Sarah McMann. Gray Maynard also returns, hoping to end his three fight losing streak and keep hold of a spot on the UFC lightweight roster. For live coverage and full results following UFC Fight Night, follow the MMA Spotlight.
Commentary by Justin Huffman
Follow Justin’s coverage in the MMA Spotlight section
Guardian Liberty Voice sports writer leading the coverage in MMA