Horiguchi is new to the UFC, serving as the organization’s next attempt at finding a Japanese star. He’s on a five-fight winning streak and has eight total finishes, so the potential is there on paper. However, Pague is tough and well-rounded. He may have lost his last three tilts but expect him to take advantage of Horiguchi’s inexperience in the Octagon and possible fatigue from travelling overseas to the event. / PREDICTION: Dustin Pague def. Kyoji Horiguchi via Unanimous Decision +1 to Fili for running with the nickname “Touchy” (i.e. “Touchy Feely”). The 23-year old is getting a crack at the big time after winning eight straight on the regional scene including five victories featuring some form of stoppage. While Larsen is solid, he’s susceptible to strikes and should see his chin tested by the up-and-comer. / PREDICTION: Andre Fili def. Jeremy Larsen via TKO Though Eye has shown a lot of potential in the past, she caught a tough break by drawing Kaufman. The former Strikeforce champion is slightly larger than Eye and can win fights with her stand-up or wrestling. Kaufman’s size and seasoning should be enough to overwhelm Eye in most of the exchanges, unless of course she somehow chokes under the pressure of a long-awaited UFC debut. / PREDICTION: Sarah Kaufman def. Jessica Eye via Split Decision This scrap serves as an excellent clash of styles between Waldburger’s grappling and Amagov’s powerful striking. Adding a little intrigue, five of Waldburger’s seven losses have involved a TKO. Since Amagov hasn’t been tapped out since his MMA debut in 2007 and has a little momentum behind him, he deserves a tentative nod even though Waldburger’s sweet submission skill can’t be dismissed. / PREDICTION: Adlan Amagov def. T.J. Waldburger via TKO Ferguson was looking like the next big thing to come off a TUF title before Michael Johnson got a hold of him in May 2012. “El Cucuy” hasn’t fought since, dealing with some injury issues, and now his future isn’t quite so bright. That could change with a convincing win over Rio, a tough but not unbeatable adversary. Ferguson’s got a good build for keeping Rio at bay with jabs and kicks from the outside, as well as the skill to back it up, and he’ll only need to stuff a few takedowns before “The Wolverine” lets his claws out and decides to strike. Such a scenario seems favorable for Ferguson and should open an avenue to victory. / PREDICTION: Tony Ferguson def. Mike Rio via Unanimous Decision This is a “must win” match-up for both fighters who are each currently dealing with a three-fight losing streak. Between the two, Noons has looked a bit better during his slide, losing a decision to Ryan Couture that could have gone his way and showing heart in point-based stumbles to Josh Thomson/Donald Cerrone. Comparably, Sotiropoulos has been KO’d in two of his defeats. Expect a third straight finish on Saturday night, as Noons’ stand-up and power are certainly capable of collapsing the Aussie’s chin. It was a good run in the UFC for the 36-year old Sotiropoulos but one that is about to end. / PREDICTION: K.J. Noons def. George Sotiropoulos via TKO Chances are a lot of people are overlooking Dollaway since he typically flies under the radar and isn’t beloved by any stretch of imagination. However, “The Doberman” has looked good in his last two tilts – decision wins over Daniel Sarafian and Jason Miller – and isn’t likely to get out-wrestled by Boetsch. Rather, “The Barbarian” could be the one on his back more often than not, struggling in the past against solid grapplers. He’s also dealing with the added pressure of losses in his last two Octagon appearances. Unless Boestch truly rises to the occasion, he may be on his way out into the world of WSOF/Bellator negotiations. In the end, expect Dollaway to grind out an ugly decision. / PREDICTION: C.B. Dollaway def. Tim Boetsch via Split Decision Lombard (Bellator) and Marquardt (Strikeforce) are both former champions with devastating techniques at their disposal but each is in desperate need of a win. Expect both to fight with a sense of urgency after recent stumbles in the Octagon, giving fans one helluva show. Marquardt’s best shot at winning involves keeping Lombard against the cage or taking him down. Given Marquardt’s own confidence in his striking, it seems likely he’ll instead engage Lombard in a stand-up war and end up going to sleep as a result. Lombard has been a beast at 185 pounds and, assuming his weight cut went well, should be a significant force as a welterweight. / PREDICTION: Hector Lombard def. Nate Marquardt via Knockout
The main card for
may have fans salivating but let’s not forget about the excellent undercard efforts destined to highlight Saturday night’s show. The preliminary portion of the lineup boasts eight bouts including a few sure to be featured towards the top of a Fight Night event such as UFC 166 Sarah Kaufman-Jessica Eye, Tim Boetsch-C.B. Dollaway, and Hector Lombard-Nate Marquardt. In general, the talent involved is Texas-sized to say the least, giving MMA enthusiasts plenty of reason to tune in early this weekend and enjoy the action unfolding inside the Octagon.