Before UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and challenger Junior dos Santos make history on Saturday night, eighteen other warriors will step into the Octagon at UFC on Fox 1.

While those athletes will all be considered part of the preliminary card for the UFC’s inaugural effort on network television, it doesn’t mean that these fights should be overlooked. Among the evening’s combatants will be top lightweight contenders Clay Guida and Ben Henderson.  While Fox’s approach to showcasing the heavyweight title fight makes sense, it’s unfortunate that the network could not squeeze this fight onto the night’s broadcast.

The lightweight clash is but one of nine fights that will go down at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., prior to the history-making main event. Fans who are eager to see more than just two men lock horns on this momentous night can head to or the UFC’s Facebook page for the live stream, beginning at 4:45 p.m. ET.

The MMA Corner’s panel of Joe Atkins, Brian McKenna and Richard Wilcoxon share their thoughts on all nine preliminary bouts in this edition of the Round Table.

LHW: Aaron Rosa (16-4) vs. Matt Lucas (14-2)

Atkins: After losing a back and forth fight to Joey Beltran at UFC 131, Aaron Rosa has decided to drop back down to the light heavyweight division. Rosa weighed in at 261 pounds for his last bout, so it will be interesting to see how he handles such a dramatic weight cut.

This will be Matt Lucas’ first fight for the UFC, and at 37 years of age this could be his last chance at making an impact in the sport. He’s a well-rounded fighter with a good record, and it’s worth noting that the majority of his fights haven’t gone the distance.

This is a difficult fight to call. Rosa has fought at light heavyweight in the past, but he will be cutting a lot of weight for this fight. I think Lucas will wear Rosa out and win via TKO in the later stages of the bout.

Wilcoxon: While the weight cut could be a factor in the fight, I see this one going the other way. Physically, while Lucas is the former Rage in the Cage light heavyweight champion, he has also competed at middleweight in the past. He could be coming in at a big weight disadvantage. Also, at age 37, Lucas is past his prime while Rosa is still only 28.

The competition the two have faced are in completely different leagues. In Lucas’ most recent five-fight win streak, he only beat one fighter with a winning record. Meanwhile, Rosa has faced solid competition in Strikeforce and the UFC.

Matt Lucas (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Finally, mentally, Rosa has fought in the biggest organizations in the world while Lucas has only competed in regional shows. I just don’t see how Lucas can overcome all of these shortcomings. I look for Rosa to end it early with a submission.

McKenna: While Richard almost convinced me to go with Rosa in this fight due to him fighting better competition and with the pressure of fighting on a greater scale, I just can’t wrap my head around the massive weight cut that he will have to endure. There were rumors and speculation after the main event last weekend that Chris Leben was off because he had to lose twenty-something pounds the day before the weigh-in. I am not saying that Rosa would have to cut so much weight at the last minute, but I can’t imagine that he would be in the best fighting shape of his life after making such a drastic change in his diet.

On top of that, Lucas trains at Arizona Combat Sports where they breed fighters with great wrestling abilities. Considering that “Luke Duke” is wrestling with Ryan Bader and C.B. Dollaway on a daily basis, and that wrestling is such a tiring aspect of MMA, I have to agree with Joe and pick Lucas in this fight, most likely by decision.

WW: Mike Pierce (12-4) vs. Paul Bradley (18-3)

Paul Bradley (R) (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

Wilcoxon: I could write a long analysis to try to drum up interest in this fight, but it features one of the most underrated welterweights in the world today. Mike Pierce is a beast. He is a former collegiate wrestler with good striking and great KO power. He has gone 4-2 in the UFC. However in those two losses, Pierce nearly knocked out the consensus No. 2 welterweight in the world, Jon Fitch, and easily won the final round of their battle. His other loss was a controversial decision to Johny Hendricks.

Bradley, on the other hand, is only in the UFC because he came in on late notice to compete at UFC 133, where he lost in his debut. He is a collegiate wrestler, but lacks the crisp striking and power his opponent possesses. In fact, these two have met before in a smaller show and Pierce won via decision. This time look for him to knock out Bradley in the second.

McKenna: Considering that Pierce has lost his only two UFC fights to Fitch and Hendricks tells me one thing: He struggles with wrestlers. To me, that is interesting because, as Richard noted, he himself is after all a former collegiate wrestler.

I look at this fight and see a lot of potential for Bradley, a strong NCAA Div. I college wrestler. First, he gets to enter the Octagon for the first time with a full fight camp behind him. Second, he gets an opportunity to avenge a loss. These two things are huge motivating factors on top of the fact that he probably realizes that if he doesn’t win the fight, he will likely go back to the minors.

Mike Pierce (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

Bradley will have studied a lot of film, especially the two UFC losses that Pierce suffered, and “The Gentleman” will find a way to get the job done. He will avoid the knockout power like he did before, but this time he will out-wrestle his opponent and earn the decision victory, his first with the promotion.

Atkins: Brian made the point that Pierce has difficulty fighting stronger wrestlers. He does, but I don’t think Bradley is at the same level as Fitch and Hendricks.

After losing a split decision to the previously mentioned Hendricks, Pierce will be looking to make a statement going into this fight. I believe he’s a good enough wrestler to stifle Bradley’s takedown attempts, and on the feet he holds a significant power advantage.

I’m finding it hard to pick against Pierce. He already owns a victory over Bradley, and since that fight he has improved a lot. I’ll agree with Richard and predict Pierce will win via KO.

BW: Alex “Bruce Leroy” Caceres (5-4) vs. Cole Escovedo (17-8)

Alex Caceres (Scott McKinley)

McKenna: One of the most memorable fighters in recent history to come out of The Ultimate Fighter will lead the way in a fight between two fighters who are desperately clinging onto their contracts. Alex Caceres is the guy who spent his time in the house mimicking the styles of Bruce Lee and has created his own alter ego, “Bruce Leroy” after him, right down to the yellow jumpsuit that Lee dawned in Game of Death and other outfits from other movies. What Caceres has left out of his model is the ability. Truthfully, I am surprised that he still has a contract with the UFC. His first fight was no easy task, as he took on Mackens Semerzier, but he had a better chance to win in his second outing, which was a loss to Jim Hettes. Starting your official UFC career with consecutive losses leaves a sour taste in the mouth, which is what “Bruce Leroy” has done.

On the other hand, we have another fighter who is also on a two-fight losing streak of his own, Cole Escovedo. The 30-year old has spent most of his career bouncing around fighting in various promotions such as WEC, IFL, Strikeforce and Dream before landing in the UFC. Escovedo had success fighting outside of the UFC, even acquiring the first-ever WEC featherweight championship belt. It wasn’t until he lost the belt to Urijah Faber that his troubles began. But despite it, he was able to spring back and fight his way into the UFC. Here though, the troubles resumed after losing consecutive fights to Renan Barao and Takeya Mizugaki.

The loser of this fight will more than likely receive their walking papers afterwards, which means that we should be in line for some fireworks. The big thing with me in this fight is that Escovedo has had success at the national level, something of which Caceres has not. Also, this fight will be Caceres’ bantamweight debut, a weight class in which Escovedo has fought before. Then, to mention that “Bruce Leroy” has been submitted in all four of his losses and that the “Apache Kid” has 10 submissions in his career, it would be very difficult to pick Caceres. That is why I am going with Escovedo in this fight, more than likely by submission.

Atkins: I don’t think Caceres is UFC material. Not yet, anyway.

Escovedo is the definition of a battle-tested bantamweight. In his last five fights, he has been pitted against some of the toughest fighters in the division, including rising stars Michael McDonald and Renan Barao.

Cole Escovedo (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

Caceres’ signature smile might just falter if he loses this fight, because as Brian mentioned, he’s likely to receive his walking papers.

Caceres’ most glaring weakness is his submission defense. I expect Escovedo to exploit this weakness and win via rear-naked choke in the first round.

Wilcoxon: Escovedo and Caceres will both enter this bout fighting for their jobs. Both fighters are just 1-4 in their last five fights. The difference is that Escovedo’s losses have come under the Zuffa banner while Caceres’ are split between the UFC and smaller regional promotions.

Anyone who has read these previews before knows I am an Escovedo fan, so it won’t be a surprise that I agree with my colleagues. Caceres just doesn’t belong in the UFC, as evidenced by the fact he has never won a UFC fight. Escovedo will send him packing with a first-round submission.

FW: Mackens Semerzier (6-3) vs. Robert Peralta (15-3)

Wilcoxon: This is a classic striker versus grappler battle. Peralta is the striker, with 11 of his victories coming via KO. He holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. On the other hand, Semerzier has a wrestling background and has won five of his fights via submission.

Semerzier has the bigger name because he has been under the Zuffa banner longer and he shocked the world when he submitted former IFL champion Wagnney Fabiano. Unfortunately, he went on a three-fight losing streak before he beat Alex Caceres in his last outing.

Peralta held multiple titles in the Gladiator Challenge before making the jump to Strikeforce and then the UFC. He is currently on an eight-fight win streak.

I generally take grapplers in these type of fights, but I have been so underwhelmed by Semerzier that I am going the other way. I am taking Peralta to win this by either a late TKO or a decision.

Atkins: After losing three consecutive fights, things were looking bleak for Semerzier. Fortunately, he matched up favourably against Caceres in his last fight and earned himself a much needed victory.

Semerzier’s record is misleading, he’s actually a pretty decent fighter. He was awarded “Upset of the Year” in 2009 after submitting third degree black belt Fabiano in the first round of their fight.

Peralta has won his last eight fights, and owns a split decision victory over DREAM featherweight champion Hiroyuki Takaya. As Richard said, he’s primarily a striker and a proven finisher, but his takedown defense will be tested in this bout.

I’m picking Semerzier to win via decision.

McKenna: Typically, the UFC has a three-strikes policy when it comes to their fighters. Losing two consecutive fights is bad, and losing three straight is usually when you’re issued your walking papers. But for some reason, Zuffa hung onto Semerzier despite losing three straight while fighting in the WEC. Not that the WEC was a weak promotion, but I think the promotion was more generous about hanging onto him because of the fact that at the time it was indeed the WEC. Sure, he won his UFC debut, but taking down Caceres isn’t exactly something to brag about because, after all, he should have defeated him.

On the other hand, we have a big up-and-coming prospect in Peralta. Like Joe mentioned, he is on a big winning streak and also proved that he can fight under the bright lights of the big time promotion, holding one victory while fighting with Strikeforce and once for the UFC. The only knock on Peralta appears to be his ground game, which is something that “Da Menace” thrives at.

This fight goes the distance, and Peralta will have his hand raised at the end. The Californian will land the punches and score the takedowns, but won’t be able to submit Semerzier, which will be the reason that he will be ahead in the scorecards when it is all said and done.

BW: Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto (18-4) vs. Darren Uyenoyama (6-3)

Atkins: “Kid” Yamamoto should beat Uyenoyama. He might not have looked great lately, losing three of his last four fights, but he still possesses the ability to put anyone away. A win over Uyenoyama should restore some of “Kid’s” confidence.

"Kid" Yamamoto (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

Uyenoyama is simply outmatched going into this fight. Yamamoto is the better striker, the better wrestler and he has fought better competition. Uyenoyama is a good grappler, but I don’t think he will be able to get the fight to the ground.

Has the UFC signed Uyenoyama because they think he will be an exciting addition to the bantamweight roster, or because they think he will lose to Yamamoto?

“Kid” via KO.

McKenna: Uyenoyama will look to make a splash in his UFC debut, but will have a difficult task with the opponent that is lined up across from him. Uyenoyama has previously fought under the Strikeforce banner, going 3-0, but not really fighting tough competition. Yamamoto will be by far the biggest fighter he has ever squared off with, which does not bode well for “BC.”

There was a lot of hype behind the signing of Yamamoto, and Demetrius Johnson took all of the wind out of those sails when he defeated the Japanese fighter in his UFC debut. Now, realizing that it may be now or never for “Kid,” he will have to bring his “A game” to this fight, and I have no doubt that he will indeed do that.

The biggest shot that Uyenoyama will have in this fight is by adding a fourth submission victory to his docket, but that will not happen as Yamamoto has never been submitted before. I agree with Joe: While “BC” will be working for a takedown, “Kid” will be setting up the fight-winning knockout.

Darren Uyenoyama (Taro Irei/Sherdog)

Wilcoxon: If this was 2007 and before “Kid” Yamamoto’s elbow injury, this would be a much easier pick. Yamamoto missed a year and half of action and hasn’t looked the same since his return. Before the injury he was 17-1 with 12 KO victories, but since his return he is just 1-3. While Yamamoto has not performed as well since his return, two of his losses were against the current Bellator featherweight champion Joe Warren and former UFC bantamweight top contender Demetrious Johnson.

While “Kid” has faced some struggles, Uyenoyama has had some recent struggles himself. He is just 2-2 over his last four outings entering this fight. That is no way to enter the Octagon for the first time. Uyenoyama hasn’t faced the same level of competition in his career and his style is tailor-made for Yamamoto to beat.

WW: DaMarques Johnson (12-9) vs. Clay Harvison (9-3)

McKenna: Two men who know what it is like to live in The Ultimate Fighter house will square off with one another in a welterweight war. Season nine runner-up DaMarques Johnson will oppose Clay Harvision as both fighters look to keep themselves from landing two consecutive losses on their record. Both of these fighters are well-rounded, proving that they can win the fight both by submission and knockout, but also not being afraid to grind out a decision.

If you look at what these two have done with their time with the promotion, something jumps out at me. Johnson has had relative success, holding an average 3-3 while Harvision has one win and one loss, with the victory coming by split decision. It wasn’t that “Heavy Metal” struggled in that particular fight, but he didn’t exactly shine during it either. The fact that he hasn’t had great success in the Octagon is sticking out to me, even though “Darkness” hasn’t dominated by any means.

I see this fight being a fight where both fighters really need to grind and work, but because they are both well-rounded, I don’t see this fight being stopped by either fighter. The winner of this fight will be Johnson by decision.

Wilcoxon: To be perfectly blunt, I am not sure either of these guys belong in the UFC. Johnson is 3-3 in the UFC. All three of his victories are against guys who are no longer in the organization. Harvison is just 1-1, and the only guy he beat is now 1-2 in the organization.

With that said, that means that both of these guy are on a pretty even level and this could turn out to be a good fight. I think Johnson is the better athlete and a little more explosive. When skill level is close to even, the better athlete usually wins. I will take Johnson to win this with a second-round stoppage.

Atkins: On the feet, these two fighters match up quite well, but I’m not convinced that’s where the fight is going to take place.

Despite being only a blue belt, Johnson’s jiu-jitsu has earned him multiple wins in the past, including a particularly impressive body triangle submission over savvy veteran Mike Guymon.

Harvison can win this fight if he keeps it standing and puts pressure on Johnson, but if he can’t finish him, he will need to steer clear of the ground game for fifteen minutes. I think the fight will hit the mat at some point, and that’s where Johnson is going to have the most success.

Like Brian, I believe Johnson will win this fight, but I think he will win via triangle choke in the first round.

FW: Cub Swanson (15-4) vs. Ricardo Lamas (10-2)

Atkins: Cub Swanson has shared the Octagon with some of the best featherweights in the world, including current No. 1 contender Chad Mendes and current champion Jose Aldo. He’s an entertaining fighter to watch when he’s not being smothered on the ground.

Cub Swanson (Tracy Lee/Combat Lifestyle)

Although Ricardo Lamas won his last fight via TKO, I don’t think his game plan will be to stand and trade with Swanson. He has a strong wrestling background and a brown belt in jiu-jitsu, so look for him to employ a strategy similar to the one that Mendes used to defeat Swanson back at WEC 50.

This should be a close fight, but when in doubt, bet on the wrestler. I expect Lamas to avoid Swanson’s superior striking by taking him down and keeping him on his back.

Lamas wins via unanimous decision.

Wilcoxon: I have missed Swanson. He is an entertaining fighter that makes every fight fun, but he has been out of action for nearly a year. He is a well-rounded fighter who is comfortable both on his feet and on the ground.

While Lamas does have some wrestling background, he competed at the Div. III level. I don’t think he has the power of dominant top control wrestling to implement Mendes’ game plan. Both he and Swanson are well-versed in submission, so if he does get Swanson down this could become a ground battle.

Smart money may be on Lamas to ride out a decision, but I am going the other way. I may be picking with my heart instead of my head, but I think Cub ends this fight earlier.

McKenna: When looking at the career of Swanson, what stands out to me is that he struggles against top competition. During his time with the WEC, he only lost three times. Once to Jens Pulver, once to Aldo, and once to Mendes. Really, his only impact victory during his time on the blue mat was when he took down Hiroyuki Takaya, who went on to win the Dream featherweight title afterwards.

Then, when you break down what Lamas has done, you learn that he isn’t exactly shooting under par by any means either. Other than the Bart Palaszewski victory, not much else really stands out. I realize that you have to fight the guy that the organization puts in front of you, but overall his victories have not really been too impressive.

Lamas has the feel of a guy who Swanson should be able to handle. Not a top competitor, but someone who is definitely in the upper half of the division. Because of this, I will agree with Richard and take Swanson in this fight, most likely by knockout.

FW: Dustin Poirier (10-1) vs. Pablo Garza (11-1)

Wilcoxon: Poirier burst onto the public consciousness when he replaced champion Jose Aldo on late notice against then No. 1 contender Josh Grispi and dominated him. He followed that victory up with another nice win. Poirier showed very technical striking, solid wrestling and is a purple belt in BJJ.

Dustin Poirier (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

Garza is no slouch though. In his two UFC victories, he has won with highlight reel finishes: A flying knee KO over a four-time BJJ world champion and a flying triangle over a kickboxer. While he looked like he was susceptible to a loss in both fights, he found a way to win.

I think this fight is a little bit of a toss-up because of Garza’s ability to snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat. However, I don’t think I can bet on another flashy victory. I will go with the steady and technically sound Poirier to win by a late TKO.

McKenna: These two fighters bring a surprising amount of experience to the cage despite their collective youth. While Garza has been more flashy lately by winning a “Submission of the Night” and a “Knockout of the Night” in his last two fights, Poirier took his last two fights the distance and cruised to unanimous decision victories in each.

But what “The Diamond” may have lacked in recent flash, he makes up for in all-around skill. This is a guy who is more than willing to stand up or go to the ground. With five victories by knockout and three by submission, the featherweight division needs to be on the lookout for this kid, because even though he is just 22-years-old, he is a force to be reckoned with.

There is a little bit of added pressure on the shoulders of Poirier in this fight because of the movie “Fightville” being about him, and the last thing he wants to do now is lose after everyone has learned about the guy. Also because of this movie, he wears a target on his back, which is why the fight will be closer than one may expect. “The Diamond” will likely win this fight by late TKO like Richard said, but don’t be surprised if it ends up going the distance. Either way, Garza will be defeated by the young Louisiana native.

Atkins: Poirier made it clear that he’s a serious competitor in his fights against Grispi and Jason Young. He beat both men via unanimous decision and showed he is competent fighting on the feet and on the ground.

Pablo Garza (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

Garza, a 6-foot-1 featherweight, made good use of his rangy limbs in his last fight, winning via flying triangle choke. It was definitely fun to watch, but it’s not a technique I can see working against Poirier.

Both men have the potential to go far in the sport, but in this fight I can see Poirier bullying Garza. Poirier is a talented striker, and I expect him to keep the fight on the feet where he holds an advantage.

Garza is a ground fighter, but he lacks the wrestling ability to take the fight where he wants it, and that’s why I’m picking Poirier to win via TKO.

LW: Clay Guida (29-11) vs. Ben Henderson (14-2)

McKenna: The last fight on the undercard of the historic evening will pit Clay Guida against Ben Henderson. It is very weird to write that sentence, as this fight could be the main event of a pay-per-view card if the UFC so desired. This fight will unofficially be for the No. 1 contender spot for Frankie Edgar’s lightweight title, and I couldn’t think of two better guys to be the suitors for it.

Clay Guida (R) (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

In the last year, the landscape of the lightweight division has been a blur. The WEC roster merged with the UFC roster, providing the promotion with new contenders such as Anthony Pettis, Ben Henderson and Donald Cerrone on top of the already crowded division which featured B.J. Penn, Jim Miller, Dennis Siver and more. After everything played out, the cream has risen to the top, which has left us with with the two men fighting here.

The true shame of Henderson’s career was losing the WEC lightweight title to Pettis. The only thing that people appear to remember from that fight was the “Showtime kick” landed on the chin of Henderson, rather than a fantastic 24-minutes of fighting leading up to it. True MMA fans knew that even in defeat, Henderson looked sharp and should be a beast in the future. Well, he bounced back wonderfully by winning his first fight afterwards and then by completely manhandling then top dog, Jim Miller. The loss at the hands of Pettis definitely added more drive to “Smooth” and he has taken the bull by the horns.

Guida will always be known as a guy who brings a lot of intensity to the cage and his legendary cardio is one of the driving factors. “The Carpenter” is one of those fighters who never appears to get tired, which definitely helps him considering his scrappy style. However, don’t let this fool you into thinking that Guida may lack the necessary skills to be a top fighter, because his 15 submission victories speak for themselves.

Even though Guida has a lot of submission victories, Henderson has only been submitted once and if you saw the five-round war that “Smooth” had against Cerrone at WEC 43, you would know just how difficult it is to submit him. I think that this will frustrate Guida, as Henderson is able to then pick apart “The Carpenter” en route to a decision victory.

Atkins: Guida is a perpetual destroyer of hype, and his last three fights are evidence of this. Pettis, Takanori Gomi, and Rafael dos Anjos were all been stymied by “The Carpenter.” Is Henderson’s hype-train the next to be derailed? I’m not so sure.

Henderson really made a splash in the lightweight division when he dominated Jim Miller back in August. In the past he has demonstrated great wrestling, the uncanny ability to avoid submissions and a chin of granite.

Guida’s striking has been gradually improving, but when fighters like Pettis and Cerrone can’t put Henderson away, it’s difficult to imagine Guida will have any success on the feet. He will want to take Henderson down to the ground and keep him there. No easy task.

This is Henderson’s fight to win. He matches up well with Guida, and whilst I don’t think he will stop him, I predict he’ll earn a unanimous decision victory.

Wilcoxon: It is a shame that these lightweights couldn’t be showcased on the Fox broadcast. It would give fans a completely different perspective of what MMA is.

Ben Henderson (MTX)

These two fighters are almost carbon copies of each other. Both have strong wrestling and decent striking. Both fighters use their striking to set up takedowns where they can either submit their opponents or use ground-and-pound.

Guida is always in perpetual motion. He seems to have endless cardio and is constantly moving in a fight, while Henderson is more methodical in his approach. Guida will need to use his motion to pick apart Henderson in the stand-up to really have a chance in this fight. He will need to sprawl and brawl to use his speed advantage.

However, Guida has struggled with the top wrestlers he has faced. Henderson will need to get this fight down to the mat. I think he will do that enough times to score points to win rounds. I don’t think he can finish Guida, but I have to agree with my colleagues that Henderson will win this by decision.

Top Photo: Clay Guida (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)