The UFC once again ventures north of the border on Saturday night, when the promotion visits the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, for UFC 140.

The headline bout on the preliminary card features an adopted Canadian in the form of Krzysztof Soszynski, who is eager to continue his march up the light-heavyweight rankings.

Born in Poland, Soszynski moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada at the age of ten where his family eventually settled. Understandably, he feels a great affinity for the MMA community and fans in Canada and would love nothing more than to come away from the highly-anticipated event with a victory.

Following a stint on The Ultimate Fighter, Soszynski went on a three-fight tear before he was finally derailed by a bullying Brandon Vera at UFC 102. He then went on to face Stephan Bonnar twice, winning the first encounter rather contentiously, and dropping the second which turned out be a two-round war and Fight of the Night winner. Soszynski has looked to be in good form as of late though with dominant decision victories over Mike Massenzio and Goran Reljic.

Whilst Soszynski is virtually never in a boring fight, he needs to continue his trend of winning at all costs, even if it comes at the expense of technical moves or that kimura he’s so fond of going for. If he can come out and make a statement here against the Croatian Igor Pokrajac, maybe, just maybe, he will get the shot he needs at a title contender in his next outing.

The other three televised preliminary bouts, which will be shown live on ION TV, include a mixture of experienced combatants and raw talent. Actually, the most venerable participant Dennis Hallman, takes on the most unseasoned in John Makdessi. Point of fact, Hallman had fought sixty-one times before Makdessi ever competed in MMA. Who can say whether wisdom and familiarity will overcome youth and exuberance though?

The event itself kicks off with three initial preliminary fights, all of which will be shown live on Facebook. These contests will showcase some of the lesser-known North American talent, although a bout between home-town favorite Mark Bocek and Nik Lentz is a real treat for the fans to have so early on the card.

The MMA Corner’s panel of Corey Adams, Duncan Price and Rob Tatum break down all seven preliminary card match-ups in this edition of the Round Table.

LW: Mitch Clarke (9-0) vs. John Cholish (7-1)

Tatum: The opening bout of this event may seem like an intriguing match-up to the uninformed, as the undefeated Clarke takes on Renzo Gracie-trained submission artist Cholish. Both lightweights will be making their promotional debut.

John Cholish (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

However, Clarke’s record is very misleading. Although he has yet to taste defeat in his four-year career, the combined record of his opponents is only 30-43. His six submission wins indicate that he’ll be comfortable on the ground in this fight.

Cholish, meanwhile, is a former Cornell wrestler that trains under world-class BJJ practitioner Renzo Gracie. His only loss came in his MMA debut over four years ago and he has reeled off seven straight wins since. In the past year, he has submitted TUF 12 competitor Marc Stevens and WEC and Bellator vet Jameel Massouh.

The bottom line is that Cholish has faced tougher competition and that will translate to an early submission win over Clarke.

Adams: As Rob mentioned, this is an intriguing match-up for two men that prefer to fight on the mat rather than the feet.

Clarke is undefeated and Cholish has only been defeated once. But Cholish’s loss came in his MMA debut in 2007 and he has gone on to take out everyone in his way since. Clarke may very well deserve to be in the UFC, but I agree with Rob that Cholish is more accomplished as a fighter.

Cholish has submitted his last three opponents and I believe he makes it four with a third-round tapout of Clarke.

Price: Rob and Corey have pretty much covered all the aspects of this fight and to be honest they are probably in a better position to judge than I.

It will certainly be interesting to see if the fact that they are both submission guys means that one or both may prefer to take their chances on the feet.

I agree that Cholish has fought not only at a higher level, but also against tougher opposition. Look for him to get it done by submission in the second round.

WW: Rich Attonito (10-4) vs. Jake Hecht (10-2)

Adams: One of the more recognizable names on the Facebook undercard is Attonito, who competed in The Ultimate Fighter 11 reality show. He will welcome newcomer Hecht to the UFC in a welterweight contest.

Ever since Attonito’s time on the The Ultimate Fighter, my prediction was that he would be a solid competitor with the promotion. Currently having a record of 3-1 in the UFC, “The Raging Bull” has been a tough opponent to have to face. This will be his second fight as a welterweight and he will look to use his collegiate wrestling credentials to bully his opponent for three rounds.

Many people do not know the name Jake Hecht, as he has not competed in any major promotions, but he has faced current UFC fighter Che Mills and has come back to win his last three bouts. With the last few fights of his taking place in Ireland, it’s hard to critique Hecht’s fighting style. We will just have to wait and see how he performs against a guy like Attonito.

Rich Attonito (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Bottom line: This is Attonito’s fight to lose. He has the experience advantage, has faced better competition and will be the bigger fighter once they step into the cage. “The Raging Bull” wins by unanimous decision.

Price: Now that Attonito has dropped to welterweight, he is an entirely different prospect for any foe. Dropping down from being a relatively small middleweight, he now has the size and strength to bully anyone at 170 pounds. Attonito’s skill set is based around his wrestling ability, but make no mistake he can pack a powerful punch should the opportunity arise.

Hecht really has nothing to lose in this contest. He stepped in on late notice after Attonito’s original opponent was bumped up the card to replace an injured fighter, so no-one is going to make up their mind on him based on this one fight. Having said that though, a strong showing can only enhance his reputation.

Attonito looked good against Daniel Roberts and Hecht has never competed at this level before, so it’s tough to give the underdog even a slim chance. This will be over quickly as Attonito knocks Hecht out in the first.

Tatum: As both Corey and Duncan have alluded, Hecht is likely in for a rough night against Attonito. If he can at least hang in for a round or two, he’ll likely get a second bout, having stepped in on late notice. Having trained with Marc Fiore, the Missouri-based welterweight should be able to wrestle with Attonito.

Attonito has slightly more experience, but with his last four bouts coming inside the Octagon, he should be more comfortable in this fight. His mixture of heavy hands and strong top control should lead him to victory in this bout.

Look for Attonito to set up an early takedown with his hands and pound Hecht until the referee is forced to intervene, early in the first stanza.

LW: Mark Bocek (9-4) vs. Nik Lentz (21-3-2)

Price: Whenever an elite-level BJJ practioner comes up against a powerful wrestler, there will always be a lot of questions about the possible outcome and this bout is no exception.

This time, in front of his hometown crowd in Toronto, Mark Bocek is not going to want to go away empty handed. Last time out at UFC 129, also held in Toronto, Bocek was dominated by current No. 1 lightweight title challenger Ben Henderson, losing via clear-cut unanimous decision. His flaws on the feet were exposed for all to see and that is likely an area his opponent will attempt to capitalize on when they meet on Saturday night.

The game plan for Bocek will almost certainly be to get the action to the ground, as there is no way he is going to have the advantage on the feet or in the clinch. As with all BJJ specialists, he will look for that one significant opening to enable the proud Canadian to give the fans what they want.

Also in search of redemption is Nik Lentz, after his most recent bout with Charles Oliveira was eventually ruled a no-contest. Many observers gave the frenetic first round to Oliveira and he started strongly in the second only to hit Lentz with an illegal knee which went unnoticed by the referee. Oliveira subsequently finished Lentz off by rear-naked choke, but there was no doubt about the turning point of the contest.

Officials later saw sense, but a lot of fans, and Lentz himself, were left wondering what could have been.

Whilst that tilt may have exposed a possible weakness against top-level jiu-jitsu, Lentz is a solid all-arounder, possessing wins by all three traditional methods. With Bocek looking to go to the mat at any opportunity, it would be sensible for Lentz to use his wrestling in reverse to take his opponent out with strikes.

This is a tough one to call because Bocek’s ability is such that if he gets one small shot at a submission he won’t let go until he gets the tap. However, the advantage overall in my opinion goes to Lentz, who simply has more routes to victory. It may be the less glamorous option, but I’ll take Lentz to grind out a hard-fought unanimous decision.

Tatum: While Duncan’s covered the majority of the strengths and weaknesses of each of these lightweight grapplers, I have to point out that Lentz’s striking is just as big of a hole as Bocek’s.

Having witnessed Lentz’s fight against Waylon Lowe in person, Lentz’s ability to stop a jab is nonexistent. If not for a last-ditch guillotine in the final round that forced Lowe to tap, Lentz would’ve lost a lopsided decision. Couple that with the Oliveira “loss” and the controversial win over Tyson Griffin, and Lentz’s last few bouts have failed to impress.

Bocek’s standup is certainly a work in progress, but his level of competition (Henderson, Jim Miller, Frankie Edgar, etc.) is something that cannot be overlooked. While all three fights resulted in losses, only Edgar was able to finish the Canadian.

I’m going to agree with Duncan’s prediction of a decision, but I’m going to roll the dice and go with Bocek to take the judges’ nod. His strong submission game should be enough to prevent Lentz from mounting much offense, even if he gets on top.

Adams: As both of my fellow panelists are torn between this match-up of lightweights, I am left with the final verdict. After researching both Bocek and Lentz and reading over what has been said, I’m going to also roll with Bocek, as Rob did.

Bocek hasn’t made a major impact in the division, but has faced some of the best fighters at 155. As many know already, Bocek is as good of a submission specialist as the UFC has in the lightweight roster and trains at American Top Team.

Lentz does have good wrestling ability, but I see Bocek being able to counteract that and stand with Lentz for the majority of the fight before taking it to the ground. I’ll predict he gets the submission in the third round in front of his home crowd.

BW: Yves Jabouin (16-7) vs. Walel Watson (9-2)

Adams: A bantamweight tilt between a hard-hitting veteran and a young, explosive fighter will open up the Ion TV portion of Saturday’s card.

Walel Watson (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

Jabouin will play the veteran role in this bout. “Tiger” has competed since 2001 and is known for his 11 knockout victories on his record. But the problem for Jabouin is whether or not he should be considered as a top-tier bantamweight or at the bottom of the list. When looking at his recent opponents faced, he has taken on solid fighters, but lost to those men, and has only beaten the likes of Brandon Visher and Ian Loveland. This is a key fight for Jabouin to get his career moving in the right direction.

Across the cage from him will be “The Gazelle,” who made his UFC debut in his last fight against Joseph Sandoval, and went on to earn a TKO early in the fight. All of his nine victories have come by way of either knockout or submission, so expect Watson to look to end the fight early.

But when facing a striker like Jabouin, Watson has to be careful. This is a tough fight to call because I could see either man finishing the fight, but I’m going to go with the veteran, Jabouin, by knockout.

Tatum: Corey pretty much hit the nail on the head with this match-up. Jabouin’s experience and heavy hands are going to be a huge test for the lengthy Watson.

Jabouin’s win over Loveland at UFC 134 proved that the 135-pound division is his home. He was able to overcome the wrestling stalwart with pinpoint striking.

Watson’s UFC debut was very impressive, as he overwhelmed Sandoval. Unless he can catch Jabouin in a submission, he’ll end up on the wrong end of a decision as Jabouin moves to 2-0 at bantamweight.

Price: Whilst Watson appears to be a good prospect, I’m not sure he’s quite there yet. Admittedly, he performed well in his first Octagon fight, but looking at his record it is safe to say that Watson has never faced anyone at the level of Jabouin.

Jabouin has had his ups and downs across the WEC and UFC, but his most recent win against former WEC champion Ian Loveland was probably his most impressive in my eyes.

I think it will be a close fight and agree with Corey in that it could go either way. Watson has the higher ceiling in the UFC for my money, but this fight has come maybe six months too soon. Jabouin wins by unanimous decision.

LW: John Makdessi (9-0) vs. Dennis Hallman (50-14-2)

Tatum: In a true clash of styles, undefeated Karate specialist Makdessi will welcome grizzled veteran Hallman to the lightweight division.

Dennis Hallman (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

Makdessi has quickly gained fans in his two bouts in the UFC with his flashy striking arsenal. His spinning backfist KO of grappling stalwart Kyle Watson at UFC 129 is one of the most devastating finishes of the past year.

The former welterweight Hallman drops to the 155-pound division for his 68th professional fight. A strong grappler, Hallman holds 39 career submission wins, including two over UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes.

The experience advantage that Hallman holds should not be ignored in this fight. Hallman easily neutralized Muay Thai striker Ben Saunders last year and will pressure Makdessi from the opening bell. While Makdessi has the power to end this on the feet, I believe he’ll find himself on his back early and often as Hallman finds a 40th career submission in the second round.

Price: I am inclined to agree with Rob on this one, although as we all well know, one punch can change a whole fight.

Makdessi is a solid prospect and his striking ability cannot be ignored. However, he is relatively inexperienced and has really never come up against anyone at the level of Hallman. This will be a tough test in just his tenth career fight.

Whilst Hallman may be advancing in years, he still retains the enthusiasm and knowledge to defeat almost any opponent. Quite clearly his advantage in this bout would come on the ground, but don’t put it past the wily veteran to attempt a submission from a standing position.

Anything can happen, but I think this is a step too far for Makdessi at the moment; Hallman wins by submission in the first round.

Adams: A victory for the veteran Hallman is likely in this one, but I’m going to go with the underdog Makdessi to pick up a big win over “Superman.”

If Maksessi has any chance of winning this fight, he has to make it a brawl and force Hallman to trade with him. If the fight hits the mat, Hallman will walk away with a submission or decision win.

But my hunch is that the 26-year-old will play it safe and stay on the feet. Makdessi makes it eight knockout wins with a first-round TKO.

MW: Jared Hamman (13-3) vs. Constantinos Philippou (8-2)

Price: Both men are flying under the radar in the middleweight division at the moment, so this could be a match-up which shapes their individual UFC careers.

Dropping to 185 pounds is probably one of the best decisions Hamman has ever made. After a somewhat inauspicious start to his UFC career, losing twice in three contests, Hamman moved down a weight class to meet CB Dollaway at UFC Live 5. He weathered the initial storm in the first round and grasped the initiative in the second, unleashing a barrage of strikes from side control to stop Dollaway mid-way through the frame. It is fair to say that Hamman would probably prefer a striking battle, although he has trained with Vladimir Matyushenko and his grappling is a powerful tool that he will use if required.

For Philippou, this will be his first fully scheduled bout, as he has stepped in as a late replacement or been bumped from his original slot in both of his UFC appearances so far. In his most recent outing, he was brought in on short notice to fight Rafael Natal at UFC 133 only to be moved up the card to face an arguably tougher opponent in Jorge Rivera. Despite the shift, Philippou performed well, particularly in the first two rounds, imposing his will against the wily veteran en route to a split decision victory. Philippou fights out of the Serra-Longo Fight Team, so it is safe to say he possesses ability on the mat, but so far in his career he has seemed content to strike, scoring four of his eight wins by knockout.

I have a feeling this fight will remain on the feet for the most part. Neither competitor is afraid to strike and I think their abilities on the ground, whilst not identical, will probably cancel each other out. It’s a tough one to pick, but Hamman has the greater experience and has fought higher level opposition. His additional size and strength should be enough to guide him to a unanimous decision win over a spirited Philippou.

Adams: Both of these men earned surprising victories in my eyes in their last fight and are now paired up to see which one will move up in the middleweight ranks.

When Hamman fought Dollaway, I expected Dollaway to win that fight, but I was wrong as Hamman dominated him. Hamman is a larger middleweight after moving down from 205 and can now make a huge impact in the division.

My hunch was that Philippou would lose in his last outing, but he surprised many with a win over veteran Jorge Rivera. Even though it was by spilt decision, a win is a win.

I see this one going Hamman’s way. He has power in his hands to end the fight at any time and will take out Philippou in round two by knockout.

Tatum: On paper, it may appear that Philippou’s background would pose trouble for Hamman. However, after watching Hamman dismantle Dollaway, I have to give the former light heavyweight the advantage, like my colleagues.

Hamman looked explosive at 185 pounds and although he is just 2-2 with the promotion, his future looks bright. Now training at Grudge Training Center in Denver, Hamman’s ability to finish is something that Philippou should not ignore. His ten knockouts in 13 wins is enough for anyone in the middleweight division.

Like Corey, I did not expect Philippou to beat Rivera, but the Team Serra product showed a ton of heart and grit to take the decision win. He’ll need a repeat performance against Hamman, but he will struggle against the more athletic Hamman.

Look for Hamman to do a ton of damage in the opening frame before ending the fight early in the second round with strikes.

LHW: Krzysztof Soszynski (26-11-1) vs. Igor Pokrajac (23-8)

Tatum: Veteran 205-pounders Soszynski and Pokrajac were originally slated to lock horns at UFC 131 in June, but an injury to Pokrajac forced him out of the bout.

Soszynski hopes to pick up his third straight win. The TUF veteran has a well-rounded attack. The former professional wrestler trains with Dan Henderson at Team Quest in Southern California.

The Croatian Pokrajac is a teammate of Pride legend Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipović. Like Soszynski, he is a well-rounded fighter, but has struggled to find consistency under the UFC banner.

I think this fight will be closer than most. Soszynski’s size and strength will prove to be the difference as he will gain top position and ground-and-pound his way to victory with a third-round TKO.

Adams: When I think of Soszynski, I go back to the two wars he had with Stephan Bonnar back in 2010. As for Pokrajac, I don’t get the same kind of vibe with him.

Ever since the Bonnar fights, Soszynski has gone 2-0 with decision wins over Goran Reljic and Mike Massenzio. “The Polish Experiment” has a total of 21 finishes in his career (10 knockouts, 11 submissions) and will look to add another against Pokrajac.

Pokrajac’s career in the UFC has been a roller coaster. He is just 2-3, but did get a much-needed win in his last outing against Todd Brown in March. While primarily known as a striker, “The Duke” is also very capable of fighting on the ground as well.

Igor Pokrajac (Ken Pishna/MMA Weekly)

But in my eyes, this one’s not going to the ground. Soszynski will look to make this a war and if Pokrajac tries for a takedown, Soszynski will stuff it and get a TKO to make it three wins in a row.

Price: Some people may see this as a little harsh, but I’ve never really been all that impressed with Pokrajac. For a fighter that is supposed to be a striking machine and former training partner of Cro Cop, the biggest KO of his career is probably his recent one against Todd Brown, a man who was released by the promotion after two fights and two straight losses. If he doesn’t hold a striking advantage and he doesn’t hold a grappling advantage, then I don’t see a clear route to victory for him.

Soszynski has faced much higher competition, and defeated them, than his opponent. Although he has been a little inconsistent in the UFC, he is a powerful striker, a solid wrestler and has submissions in his arsenal. Those three key strengths should be enough for Soszynski to handily dispatch Pokrajac.

I actually see this as a bit of walkover for Soszynski, I’m that confident. Whether he’ll play it safe and out-grapple Pokrajac I’m not sure, but for my money he comes out guns blazing, dominates the first and then scores the TKO in the second round.

Top Photo: Krzysztof Soszynski (Daniel Herbertson/Sherdog)