Through thick and thin, the debut of the UFC on FX has somehow stayed together even with all the injuries that have occurred. The main card fights have remained the same for the most part, and this is a pretty solid card for a night of free fights.

Nashville has waited a long time to have MMA return to the Music City since 2009, when the UFC first traveled there. Bridgestone Arena will be loud on Friday night as many talented fighters will step into the Octagon to put on a show.

The main event is sure to live up to its potential, as two top lightweight contenders will look to get back on track. Melvin Guillard recently broke his winning streak by losing to Joe Lauzon at UFC 136, while Jim Miller is looking to make another run himself since losing to current No. 1 contender Ben Henderson. This fight is a huge bout in the division, where the loser could no longer be in the mix for a shot at the 155-pound belt.

The co-main event is a fight that should not get overlooked, as now-official record holder of the fastest knockout in UFC history, Duane “Bang” Ludwig, will try to work his way up the welterweight ranks. But first, he has to get past the tough Josh Neer, who is on a five-fight win streak.

Rounding out the main card will be Mike Easton welcoming newly announced opponent Jared Papazian to the Octagon, while two heavyweights will go to war in the opening bout as Pat Barry takes on Christian Morecraft.

The MMA Corner’s panel of Joe Atkins, Gregory Chase and Corey Adams will break down the four main card bouts in this edition of the Round Table.

HW: Pat Barry (6-4) vs. Christian Morecraft (7-2)

Chase: This fight has all the makings of being Knockout of the Night. Barry is coming off of two losses in a row, and in this company that means this is do-or-die. Barry is looking to bounce back from back-to-back losses to Stefan Struve and Cheick Kongo, both formidable opponents. This may or may not be the cutting block for him, since his competition has been tough and he has a great personality. The strength in his hands and if he can avoid blows himself will determine if this heavyweight can hang among the best still.

Morecraft is a little on the safer side, coming off of only one loss, but one loss is still one more than any fighter wants. Morecraft holds the ability to knock you out as well, but has a stronger submission game than Barry. Barry’s losses are primarily submissions, and if this goes to the ground, it may be an early night for Barry.

I see Barry being very motivated for this fight. He has the advantage on the feet, so I would give him a knockout victory. However, if it goes to the ground, it is all Morecraft. Officially, I will have to say Morecraft’s well-roundedness and longer reach will be tough for Barry to overcome, and Morecraft will be the victor.

Atkins: Barry desperately needs a win if he wants to keep his place in the UFC. Barry, to be frank, isn’t a well-rounded mixed martial artist. Once the fight wanders out of his comfort zone, he appears utterly helpless. He’s been training with Brock Lesnar and the guys at Team DeathClutch for some time now, but I’ve yet to see the fruits of his labour. That being said, he is one of the finest strikers in the heavyweight division, and if this fight stays standing, he will have a tremendous advantage.

Morecraft’s UFC career has been up and down so far, but he has potential. He’s a huge heavyweight, and will have a marked size advantage over the 5-foot-11 Barry. He has shown he’s vulnerable on the feet against better strikers, so I assume his game-plan will be to put Barry on his arse and submit him. Morecraft’s not great in any particular area, but he’s versatile and if he can avoid being clipped on the chin, he should win this fight.

Morecraft defeats Barry via submission in round one.

Adams: This is going to be Pat Barry’s breakthrough fight.

I agree with my fellow panelists that “HD” isn’t well-rounded at all, but my hunch is that his wrestling will be improved on Friday and will surprise some people. Knowing that he could get released with a loss, Barry will be focused coming into this one and will have a lot of emotion.

Morecraft could use a win here, as well. He has never been past the second round in his career, but has also been knocked out twice out of his last three fights. That’s not a good statistic when coming into a fight with a striker like Barry.

The logical choice would be to go with Morecraft here, but I’m gonna ride with “HD” by first-round TKO.

BW: Mike Easton (11-1) vs. Jared Papazian (14-6)

Atkins: Mike Easton had a good outing in his Octagon debut in October of last year when he defeated Byron Bloodworth via TKO. He’s a black belt in both taekwondo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, so he’s comfortable wherever the fight ends up. I think Easton is the more tested fighter. He has some good wins in his career so far, including a victory over TUF 14 winner John Dodson.

Papazian has earned a call to the Octagon. He’s won his past three fights, and at just 23 years old, he has the potential to go far in the sport. However, the bright lights and the main card attention could prove unnerving for the young fighter. Jared, like his opponent, is a fairly balanced mixed martial artist, but four of his six losses have been by submission, so I can only assume he’ll be at a disadvantage if the fight goes to the ground against Easton.

I’m going to predict Easton beats Papazian via submission in the second round.

Adams: Out of the four main card bouts on the card, this fight is without a doubt the most lackluster. Not saying that these two young guys won’t put on an exciting fight, but many fans aren’t going to know who Easton and Papazian are.

I did not know that Easton had defeated John Dodson until Joe mentioned it, and then when looking at the 27-year-old’s record, I also saw that he earned a close win over Chase Beebe. Easton does have some solid wins in his career, has only lost once before, and should be the favorite in this fight.

Stepping in for an injured Ken Stone will be Papazian. What stands out to me is that “The Jackhammer” has eight of his 14 victories by decision, and that’s against mid-level competition outside the UFC. It will be interesting to see how Papazian performs in the main card spotlight against Easton.

Papazian won’t be a walk-over, but Easton is going to get the best of him. I’m going with Easton by third-round TKO.

Chase: Have to agree with Joe that Easton is the more tested fighter. While Papazian is coming off of three wins, Easton himself is on a six-fight winning streak. Easton made his debut back in October, and put on a good show for his first fight in the Octagon, but Papazian is making his debut with this fight.

As Joe and Corey have pointed out, being on the main card and making his Octagon debut, to me, already puts Papazian at a disadvantage mentally. It could mean the opposite, but more often than not, newcomers have some issues adjusting. This is not a huge pay-per-view event, but the card is still not too shabby with a great headliner.

I am going with the majority here as well, Easton will walk out of the cage victorious. He has the better experience, and Papazian is not one to finish the fight that often. His losses have primarily come by submission, and that is perfect for Easton to execute in their fight. While not having many submission victories under his belt, Easton still possesses the ability to submit his opponents and will have the ground advantage here. Easton wins via TKO in the second round, or a sub in the first.

WW: Duane Ludwig (21-11) vs. Josh Neer (32-10-1)

Adams: While this fight may not sound like a huge co-main event, this is a bout that I am really looking forward to, however.

The Denver native Ludwig is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the welterweight division. “Bang” specializes in using a high-level Muay Thai approach that is difficult to defend, but also has a lot of power in his hands, along with an underrated jiu-jitsu game. He is also a long-time veteran of combat fights, both in MMA and kickboxing. The 33-year-old is currently on a two-fight win streak as well, and has a few solid years left in him to make a run in the division.

“The Dentist” Neer has never been as consistent as right now, winning in his last five fights, including a UFC win over Keith Wisniewski in October. Neer has beaten top guys in the sport, including Melvin Guillard and Mac Danzig, but just hasn’t been able to string together multiple wins to earn himself a UFC title shot. At this point, it’s going to take a lot of work for the Iowa native to reach the top of the heap, but at only 28 years old, it’s possible.

But with that said, it will be difficult for Neer to take out Ludwig. In his five recent wins, none of those guys Neer faced has had the talent “Bang” possesses. Ludwig has a good mindset right now on his fight career and is just going out there comfortable and looking to have fun.

If Neer decides to stand and trade with Ludwig, he may be in for a long night. I don’t believe Ludwig will finish “The Dentist,” but he will get his hand raised by earning a unanimous decision.

Chase: I agree with Corey: this fight has all the makings to be a really great fight. Neer is on a five-fight winning streak and has been looking good while doing so. He is a very well-rounded, just as Ludwig is.

This fight intrigues me because it is not style versus style, but truly two well-rounded fighters, versed on the ground and standing (and efficient at it), that will be going toe-to-toe on Friday night. Ludwig is on a two-fight winning streak, so his momentum is good, but not that of Neer’s. Both of his wins, though, were decisions, so it is not as motivating as Neer’s last eight wins not leaving the second round, and many finished in the first. Based on his performances lately, I would have to say a finish win could go to either, but Neer has the better chance of pulling it off.

I am going to have to go with Neer winning this one by TKO or submission.

Atkins: This fight should be an excellent scrap. It’s going to boil down to what’s more effective, Ludwig’s technical striking or Neer’s grittiness?

Ludwig has been steadily improving as a mixed martial artist, and he showed in his last fight against Amir Sadollah that he’s capable of keeping the fight where he wants it. He is a better striker than Neer, but he can’t risk rushing his attack and getting countered by Neer’s wild punches. Ludwig will likely want to control the distance with his jab and teep, and gradually chop away at Neer’s legs with kicks.

Neer possesses an incredible chin, and also an unshakable desire to win. I don’t think Ludwig will be able to stop Neer with strikes, no matter how ugly it gets. Neer will be wanting to get in Ludwig’s face and put him on his back foot. He can win this fight if he shoves Ludwig up against the fence and beats him up, or takes him down and crushes him with ground-and-pound. I don’t think he will do either of those things though.

Neer’s going to stand toe-to-toe with Ludwig for three rounds and lose a unanimous decision.

LW: Melvin Guillard (29-9-2) vs. Jim Miller (20-3)

Chase: When I first heard about this fight, I was ecstatic. Here is a shining example of two styles going head to head. This is ground vs. striking in a big way, and thus should provide a great fight. This is another fight that has the potential to win any of the “of the Night” bonuses. First, you have Guillard, who is coming off a disappointing loss where his emotions got the best of him. He is an explosive striker who I see coming into this fight as very focused and motivated.

Miller is an excellent submission artist and a very hard man to put away. He is currently 20-3, with more than half of those wins coming by way of submission and, most noteworthy, has never been finished. He is coming off a loss as well, and will be looking to re-establish himself.

This division is very deep in talent and has many people clamoring for the title shot. Both cannot afford a second loss in a row, and both want to get back to their top contender status they were at prior to both of their last fights. It is very worthy to note that Guillard has nine losses, and only one came by decision. The others were all submissions.

This leads to, once again, if it stays standing, Guillard wins. If it goes to the ground, Miller walks away victorious. I will have to side with Guillard for this fight. I think he has been humbled by his last fight, is aware of the danger Miller poses, and has something to prove. I will predict Guillard wins via TKO sometime in the first round.

Adams: This is such a difficult fight to predict and, as Gregory stated, has the makings of winning bonuses, as both guys love to put on exciting fights.

Guillard is arguably one of the most dangerous fighters in the lightweight division. He can put away his opponent with his explosive striking and quickness. I also believe “Young Assassin” will come in very confident and focused for this fight and will have a different attitude than he had against Lauzon, where he lost in the opening round.

The New Jersey native Miller is one of those guys who isn’t exceptionally talented standing and doesn’t have a ton of explosiveness, but sure does know how to find a way to defeat the best guys in the sport. Miller was on a seven-fight win streak until he met Ben Henderson. Henderson was able to pick him apart on the feet and pulled out a unanimous decision.

I’ve been going back and forth in this fight, but in the end I think Guillard will be too much for Miller to handle on the feet. This one shouldn’t go to the judges’ scorecards and Guillard will get back on track by earning a TKO in round two.

Jim Miller (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Atkins: Guillard’s loss to Lauzon can be attributed to two things: Overconfidence, and a poor ground game. It’s no secret that Guillard struggles against submission specialists, but it seemed for a while that he’d engineered a strategy to avoid fights ending up on the mat. He’ll be wanting to put that same strategy into use against Miller, because the New Jersey native has no doubt spotted that weakness in Guillard’s game.

Miller’s no slouch on the feet, but he’ll be wanting to get this fight to the ground as soon as possible. I believe his striking is almost as good as Guillard’s, but he’s not as quick and he doesn’t hit as hard, so he’ll be doing himself a disservice if he doesn’t try to take him down. Miller, as we all know, is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He had no problem submitting Charles Oliveira, so I fancy his chances of catching Guillard in some sort of choke.

Jim Miller wins via submission.

Top Photo: Jim Miller (Dave Mande/Sherdog)

About The Author

Corey Adams
Staff Writer

Corey Adams didn't grow up watching mixed martial arts, considering the UFC was just getting started the year he was born, but in his teenage years, witnessed the action and has fallen in love with the sport. Corey was the first to join The MMA Corner staff -- other than founder Josh Davis -- and has been writing for the site ever since. Corey attends Austin Peay State University, where he majors in Communications with a focus on journalism. When he's not covering MMA, Corey is still writing on many sports with both local and campus newspapers. His favorite sports teams are the Atlanta Braves and Denver Broncos. Follow him on Twitter at the link below.