This Wednesday, the UFC comes to the Omaha Civic Auditorium in Omaha, Nebraska for the first fight night card on Fuel TV. UFC on Fuel 1 features a potential contender fight between Diego “The Dream” Sanchez and Jake “The Juggernaut” Ellenberger, as well as a very tall heavyweight bout between Stefan “Skyscraper” Struve and Dave “Pee Wee” Herman.
Before the main card gets underway on Fuel TV tomorrow night, the preliminary card on Facebook will be rocking with four fights, featuring several competitorss making their promotional debut, as well as some fighters looking to make a statement in their respective divisions.
Here is a look at what to expect on the card Wednesday afternoon as well as my pick in each bout:
Tim Means (16-3-1) vs Bernardo Magalhaes (11-1)
King of the Cage veteran “The Dirty Bird” Tim Means makes his debut in the Octagon this Wednesday, and fans of KotC will have all eyes on the former champion. With thirteen finishes in his last fourteen wins, Means blasted Tye Brown in just 30 seconds less than a month ago and looks to build on his impressive seven fight win streak.
Riding a five fight winning streak of his own, Magalhaes is a grinder, though with nine decisions in his eleven wins he’s not necessarily known for his finishing ability. The Australian “Trekko” is a long time Cage Fighting Championships veteran who will look to impose his will against Means.
Despite stepping in on short notice, I like Means in this fight. He has a very clear striking advantage, and if he can stay off of his back he should be able to make Magalhaes pay. If not, it’s going to be a long night for Means. That said, Means takes this in the first five minutes.
Winner – Tim Means defeats Bernardo Magalhaes via TKO Round 1
Anton Kuivanen (16-4) vs Justin Salas (9-3)
Hailing from Helsinki, Finland, Kuivanen enters the Octagon on the strength of a nine fight winning streak. With victories over Tim Radcliffe and Thiago Meller to his credit, the well-rounded Finn brings a solid striking game as well as some good ground skills into this fight.
With three KO/TKOs, three submissions, and three decisions in his nine wins, former wrestler Salas steps into the Octagon with wins over Joe Ellenberger and former UFC fighter Robert Emerson. Despite a bumpy start to his career, Salas has come into his own in the last two years and looks to capitalize on making his UFC debut on a major card.
As with many European fighters, Kuivanen’s bane of his MMA game is his takedown defense. Against a wrestler like Salas that could be his downfall. I fully expect Salas to avoid much of Anton’s striking, take him to the mat, and win a dominate, albeit boring, decision.
Winner – Justin Salas defeats Anton Kuivanen via Unanimous Decision
Buddy Roberts (11-2) vs Sean Loeffler (25-5)
Jackson’s MMA fighter Roberts is, like many of the evening’s fighters, making his UFC debut on the card. Having not fought since July 2011, Roberts looks to build on his five fight winning streak with a big victory against Loeffler. While he hasn’t really faced any high level mixed martial artists, the same can be said for his opponent despite having more experience.
With 30 professional fights to his credit, Loeffler’s been around the block and back. He most notably made an appearance at Bellator 16, losing in under three minutes to Bryan Baker. While Loeffler hasn’t fought much high level competition in his career, he has managed to rack up an impressive 25 wins featuring 24 finishing performances.
Roberts has experience against bigger fighters, has been victorious in a five round battle, and likely has a higher ceiling than the experienced Loeffler. I’m going to go with the underdog here and pick Roberts, as I just have a hard time buying Loeffler as a legitimate threat. His record is padded with less than stellar fighters, and his fights against mid-level competition have ended badly for him. I expect Jackson to appropriately prepare Roberts for a war and see him getting the nod by TKO or decision.
Winner – Buddy Roberts defeats Sean Loeffler via Unanimous Decision
Jonathan Brookins (12-4) vs Vagner Rocha (7-2)
Winner of The Ultimate Fighter 12, Brookins returns to the Octagon in his second post-show appearance. Known for his heart, wrestling, and BJJ, the long-haired Brookins has a lot more potential than most people give him. Although he suffered a decision loss to Erik Koch in his last outing, he proved he could hang with one of the best in the division.
Rocha, a former Bellator fighter who is 1-1 in the UFC, comes into this fight with some confidence in his grappling ability. The ADCC competitor most recently defeated Brookins’ friend and training partner Cody McKenzie at UFC Fight Night 25. Known for his deadly submission skills, an ability leading to five of his seven wins coming by tap-out, Rocha is looking to propel himself in his featherweight debut.
Both men are not necessarily adept in the striking game with the slight edge going to Brookins. While Rocha is a better straight BJJ practitioner, Brookins is a great grapple who also has a strong wrestling game to his credit. Of course, anything can happen in MMA, especially with two great grapplers in the cage, but to me this should be a clear cut decision win for TUF champ.
Winner – Jonathan Brookins defeats Vagner Rocha via Unanimous Decision
The preliminary card is set to start airing at 6:00 PM EST on Facebook before the main card starts up two hours later. Check back tomorrow for my breakdown of the night’s featured fights.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC