UFC on Fox: Dillashaw vs. Barao II – Idiot’s Guide Preview to the Fox/Fight Pass Prelims

The pugilism fun doesn't stop as the UFC puts on what feels like their 20th show in two weeks this July 25, 2015 at…

By: David Castillo | 8 years ago
UFC on Fox: Dillashaw vs. Barao II – Idiot’s Guide Preview to the Fox/Fight Pass Prelims
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

The pugilism fun doesn’t stop as the UFC puts on what feels like their 20th show in two weeks this July 25, 2015 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.

The Line Up

Preliminary Card (Fox)

Light Heavyweight Gian Villante vs. Tom Lawlor
Lightweight Jim Miller vs. Danny Castillo
Welterweight Kenny Robertson vs. Ben Saunders
Bantamweight Eddie Wineland vs. Bryan Caraway

Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass)

Lightweight Daron Cruickshank vs. James Krause
Lightweight Ramsey Nijem vs. Andrew Holbrook
Women’s Bantamweight Jessamyn Duke vs. Elizabeth Phillips
Welterweight Zak Cummings vs. Dominique Steele

The Odds

Gian Villante -225 Tom Lawlor +185 
Danny Castillo +115 Jim Miller -135
Ben Saunders +100 Kenny Robertson -120 
Bryan Caraway +120 Eddie Wineland -140 
Daron Cruickshank -150 James Krause +130 
Andrew Holbrook +110 Ramsey Nijem -130 
Elizabeth Phillips -175 Jessamyn Duke +155 
Dominique Steele +210 Zak Cummings -250

3 Things You Should Know

1. A ton of solid veterans will entertain and pick up victories, and a ton of solid veterans will entertain and pick up pink slips.

Villante vs. Lawlor

Is Goldberg doing commentary? If so, be prepared for a ton of references to Villante’s experience as a Long Island Linebacker. Maybe being part of the 2002 All Metro Team, and his Thorpe Award too. Ya know, football stuff, because that’s important history to know for this mixed martial arts bout.

Villante is, all things considered, quite the athlete. But he’s really just a massive LHW who probably won’t have much trouble with Lawlor, who will be moving up in weight to mixed results at best. Lawlor, when he’s not the willing experiment of sucker punch shenanigans, is like a low rent version of Jim Miller. He’s opportunistic on the ground, displaying excellent offensive awareness. But he doesn’t do much else. His boxing is journeyman like, and Villante, who isn’t all that technical, will be able to bully him on the feet, in the clinch, and on the ground. Lawlor  needed a hail mary guillotine to get passed Michael Kuiper.

Miller vs. Castillo

It’s rare that you find two solid veterans on a two fight losing streak punctuated by losses to minor names (no disrespect to Dariush and Felder, whose names will continue to grow). But here we are. For Castillo, it’s his limitations that are catching up to him. Unlike his AM peers, he never had the scramble acumen they had, so he ended up just kind floundering around against the elite with his archaic looking wrestle boxer style.

For Miller, quality of competition is becoming more of an uphill battle as he continues to rack up heavy fight mileage. I think this fight is a lot closer than fans think. In part, because I think they’re both losing elements of their striking game as their careers wind down: Castillo’s defense is getting sloppier, revealing his chin more often, while Miller’s offense feels a little less dynamic than it used to be, emphasizing a wane in the durability that was once his ultimate strength.

Robertson vs. Saunders

Robertson seemed like a castoff for a time, but he’s got a solid three fight winning streak going on. Robertson doesn’t look impressive in action, but he’s a solid technician. With nice, chopping leg kicks he incorporates into his combinations and a savvy ground game, he’s exactly the kind of fighter who enjoys being the underdog. Saunders is doing well for himself now 2-0 in his return to the UFC. His last bout against Joe Riggs didn’t tell us anything due to Riggs’ unfortunate neck injury. But Saunders continues polishing an already tight Muay Thai game.

I can’t divorce Saunders from his amusing laugh, or his words to Dan Barrera on the show, but he’s a handful for any WW competitor. Despite the odds, I favor Saunders. While his striking could still use some work at range, Robertson is a little too reactionary for his own good.

Wineland vs. Caraway

It’s taken a very long time, but Caraway might be getting respect at last as a professional pugilist instead of a “Why Miesha why?!” first thought from crude fans. He’s a limited fighter, but a strong one dimensional threat who knows how to minimize the deficiencies only better fighters can pronounce with their own tactics. He’s an excellent grappler with great instincts for positional maneuvering. Despite the awkwardness of his striking, he actually displays good timing with his punches. Not being a great athlete makes him look worse than he is, even if his striking is still mediocre against most in the division. He’s a great bet against Wineland, who is coming off a KO loss.  Wineland is a tough stylistic matchup for Caraway, hence the odds. Hes got stout takedown defense, and some killer boxing. I think part of what has limited Wineland’s success is that his striking, for all of its variety and power, is a little too linear. He fights like he’s in Virtual Fighter’s polygon square platform, keeping his movement and fluidity somewhat limited. It’s kind of hard to explain, but if Caraway gets him on the ground, the fight could be over quick. Caraway’s only been knocked out once, by doctor stoppage, in his professional debut. Not only is he more talented than fans give him credit for, but he’s tougher too. Caraway is as good an upset pick as you’ll find.

2. A couple of fighters better than their prior losses would indicate, and an undefeated prospect cap off the Fight Pass portion of the prelims.

Cruickshank vs. Krause

As good as Dariush is, it was still a little surprisingly to see Cruickshank handled like that. Although it probably shouldn’t have been. Daron is the most consistent fighter you’ll find with inconsistent results. His striking game is still unique to the division, and will provide him a future in the UFC. Krause is a massive LW who still underwhelms despite his size. Krause is versatile enough that he can win this bout and kind of hack his way through Daron’s flashy spinning attack with either powerful strikes of his own, or through top control but I think despite Daron’s recent failures, still has plenty to offer. His background as a two time NCAA Division III national qualifier is used to great effect in most fights, where he’s tough to take down. Oddly enough, it’s his striking that has failed him in recent defeats, but I wouldn’t expect that to be the case here.

Nijem vs. Holbrook

The 29 year old Holbrook is undefeated with all of his pro wins coming by way of submission. Still, 29 years old seems like a red flag. But his lack of wrestling skills is the real clincher. It’s not an indictment though. He’s athletic enough, and moves well on the ground while hounding his opponent with potential submissions on the ground as well as the feet. As you can see:

He’s got a really tough opponent in Nijem who is just a stylistic nightmare for him. Holbrook has yet to display a real striking game in addition to his lacking wrestling. Nijem, meanwhile, is a stout wrestler with very heavy hands. Nijem redefines the punchline ‘Swiss Cheese’ defense, and he’s got the melodramatic looking knockouts to prove it, but this is his fight to lose.

3. What’s left of the four horsewomen lingers from their self imposed apocalypse, and don’t forget the opener between Cummings and the pornier sounding Dominique Steele.

Duke vs. Phillips

There’s a totally inappropriate joke in here about beating a dead horse, and the self appointed crew of doom, but at this point it’s old hat. It was foolish in the first place, so we can leave it at that. A good nickname is an earned nickname, and Duke has earned only grace at 1-2 in the UFC. Part of the problem is that she still doesn’t use her reach well, nor is she able to use her range defensively. She’s got decent mechanics, and of all the four horsewomen besides Rousey, she’s the only one who could conceivably have some modest success (granted, by default really) in the UFC, but she needs proper coaching and a way to hone her instincts. In a way, Phillips is as easy a matchup as she’s gonna get, but only from a stylistic point of view, and assuming Duke fights to her strengths; Phillips is no push over, and could easily grind out a grapple-centric decision. The x-factor is whether or not Duke’s trainers, and coaches can coax better habits out of her.

Cummings vs Steele

Speaking of unearned nicknames, don’t get too excited for “Non-Stop Action Packed”. Steele is prone to bouts of inertia, and possesses little in the way of counter grappling. See for yourself:

Cummings should be able to take Steele down with throbbing pressure and penetrating takedowns for a spunky climax. Wait…that came out wrong…*


Villante by Decision

Miller by Decision

Saunders by TKO, round 3

Caraway by RNC, round 2

Cruickshank by Decision

Nijem by TKO, round 2

Duke by (Split) Decision

Cummings by Decision.

*Forgive me. I can only be so creative with these Evil Dead fingers caused by Zuffa’s hectic as the Necronomican schedule.

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David Castillo
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