Although the UFC on Fuel TV prelims do not offer up any huge names, or highly anticipated newcomers, the undercard nonetheless offers some intriguing match-ups.

Perhaps the most intriguing match-up is between Justin Salas vs. Anton Kuivanen. This fight should draw the attention of fans for many reasons.

One, lightweights are almost always exciting. They are extremely fast and explosive with an immense amount of skill. Two, each fighter is a newcomer to the UFC and will be looking to make a mark, which usually creates fertile ground for a high-paced, intense fight. Three, each fighter is riding a significant winning streak – Salas is the owner of a five-fight streak, whereas Kuivanen has won nine in a row. Four, Salas handed Joe Ellenberger his only loss, going the distance in a five-round match-up and winning by unanimous decision, which means that Salas is the real deal. Five, Kuivanen is a gamer that can stand and trade or roll around on the mat, meaning that no matter where the fight ends up it should be competitive.

In order to check out Salas vs. Kuivanen and the other preliminary bouts for UFC on Fuel TV 1, log onto Facebook at 6:20 p.m. ET on Feb. 15.

The MMA Corner’s panel of Rob Tatum, Corey Adams and Chase Buzzell will break down the five preliminary card bouts in this edition of the Round Table.

LW: Tim Means (16-3-1) vs. Bernardo Magalhaes (11-1)

Adams: While the undercard portion of the event isn’t spectacular, the first fight of the night features two UFC newcomers who will look to put on a show worthy of earning themselves a multi-fight contract.

In one corner will be Means, who is a King of the Cage vet who hasn’t lost a fight since 2010. “The Dirty Bird” is known for his wrestling ability, which he likes to use to take his opponent to the ground and impose his will. What stands out about Means is that he has won 12 of his 16 fights by KO/TKO, with only one decision win. This will a huge factor in this fight.

Across the cage will be Magalhaes. The Australian-based fighter comes into the UFC with five straight wins under his belt while competing primarily with Cage Fighting Championships. While Magalhaes has only lost one fight, you have to look at his body of work. Out of those 11 fights won, nine came by decision. Against a guy like Means, Magalhaes may be at a disadvantage.

For Magalhaes to win, he’ll have to find a way to pull out a decision victory. But he won’t be able to get that done when facing Means. I have Means winning by first-round ground-and-pound.

Tatum: The opening match-up of the night is certainly intriguing, as both lightweights have had success on the regional circuit. As Corey pointed out, Means has largely torn through his competition, scoring 15 finishes in 16 wins. Meanwhile, the native Brazilian Magalhaes, largely competing at welterweight, has ground his way to victory in Australia.

An interesting fact about this fight is that while it was Magalhaes who fought in the 170-pound division, it is Means who will have a significant height and reach advantage. This, coupled with his stronger level of competition (including UFC vets Spencer Fisher and Luke Caudillo), could have all the makings of a win for the Jackson’s fighter.

I’ll echo Corey’s prediction that Magalhaes’ lack of finishing ability will be the deciding factor as Means scores an impressive first-round knockout.

Buzzell: This fight has been well covered by both of my colleagues, and although I agree with Corey that each fighter is looking to make a splash and earn a multi-fight deal, I find it highly unlikely either fighter will. I am not sure if the UFC thought this fight and its placement on the card all the way through.

To start a show, one usually wants to start off with a bang. Unfortunately, Bernado Magalhaes is the antithesis of exciting. Even on the regional circuit, Magalhaes has shown little explosiveness; rather, his game is relegated to controlling his opponent and hoping the judges’ cards are in his favor.

Means is not much better when it comes to the excitement category. Although more explosive and less interested in going to the cards, Means nonetheless is content with a slower pace, as he will look to wrestle his opponent to the ground and use some ground-and-pound.

Look for this fight to feature Magalhaes on his back trying to lock up Means and thwart his attack. If Magalhaes does secure top position, he will lay and pray. This fight will go to the cards and Means will prevail, simply from having a slight edge in talent.

LW: Justin Salas (9-3) vs. Anton Kuivanen (16-4)

Tatum: In another battle of lightweight newcomers, well-rounded wrestler Justin Salas takes on Finnish import Anton Kuivanen. Both enter the Octagon riding solid winning streaks, five straight for Salas and nine straight for Kuivanen.

Salas is a former Division I wrestler that trains out of the Grudge Training Center in Denver. Having witnessed the fighter numerous times firsthand, it came as no surprise that he bested UFC vet Rob Emerson and handed previously undefeated Joe Ellenberger his first loss in 2011. Salas brings a strong pace and is comfortable wherever the fight goes.

Kuivanen will step into the cage with a slight experience advantage to compliment his slick ground game. Largely competing in his native Finland, Kuivanen has scored submission wins in eight of his 16 victories.

Justin Salas (R) battles Rob Emerson (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

This fight comes down to how active Kuivanen can stay off his back. Salas is likely to pressure him from the opening bell and put him on the canvas. If Kuivanen is smart, he’ll attack from the bottom and look to score another submission win. I just don’t see that happening. Look for Salas to control the pace and the positioning, taking home a decision win.

Buzzell: To me, Salas has flown under the radar for too long in his life and 2012 will be his year of arrival. Even after being a perennial All-American high school wrestler and winning multiple high school championships, Salas went to the respectable but not big-time University of Wyoming. Then, after no amateur experience, Salas jumped straight to the pro MMA ranks and has posted some very impressive wins. Naturally, the wrestling background of Salas makes it comfortable for him to fight on the mat, but he can also stand and trade with both his hands and feet. Salas’ stand-up is surprisingly polished relative to his limited experience, which probably means he has a high ceiling.

Kuivanen is a slickster when it comes to his BJJ game and has a lot of confidence coming into this fight after nine straight wins. I agree completely with Rob that Kuivanen’s activity off his back will determine this fight. More than likely, the wrestling-based Salas will have Kuivanen on his back at some point, and if Kuivanen can act opportunistically and seek a submission, he could have Salas tapping early. Or, Kuivanen can play coy and wait until Salas is too comfortable in the top position and sneak a submission in late.

I believe this match-up will be closely contested and could go either way. However, Salas is too talented to not seize this opportunity, and I believe he will win via referee stoppage in the second.

Adams: I really like what Chase said: “2012 will be the arrival of Salas.”

Salas is as well-rounded as any fighter can be, with three knockouts, three submissions and three decisions wins. This makes me believe that Salas can win wherever and however long the fight goes. Also, the Grudge member is coming off two solid wins and will carry that momentum over to the UFC.

This won’t be an easy fight for Salas by any means though. His opponent, Kuivanen, hasn’t lost a fight since 2008 and has a solid grappling game while training with the crew at American Top Team. Like most of the other fights on the undercard, both fighters will look to get a win anyway they can, so I expect this to be one of the better fights of the night.

I’m going to agree with my fellow panelists and go with Salas. I don’t believe he gets the finish, but he will earn a dominant decision win.

MW: Buddy Roberts (11-2) vs. Sean Loeffler (25-5)

Buzzell: Buddy “The Vanilla Gorilla” Roberts is a surprisingly quick and striking-based middleweight. He is an aggressor who throws a one-two combo and can integrate kicks into his attack. Roberts demonstrates a good flow to his stand-up, while also displaying decent power. “The Vanilla Gorilla” is willing to go to the ground and is no slouch off of his back, but if given a preference Roberts is better fighting in top position trying to unleash ground-and-pound. Another factor that must be weighed in when analyzing Roberts’ chances in the cage: he is trained by Greg Jackson, which means he has trained with some of the best and will come with a game plan.

Sean “The Destroyer” Loeffler is a veteran of MMA, amassing 30 fights dating back to August 2000. Having endured the hard knock of life, Loeffler is now focused and has the experience and drive to challenge almost any opponent. He has a balanced mix of victories by both TKO and submission, but has publicly stated that he will be looking to land his right hand. Loeffler flaunts a rock-hard physique and looks well conditioned, but he has not been out of the first round in five years, which may become a factor in this fight.

Sean Loeffler

Neither fighter has fought high-quality opponents and both are making their UFC debut. Roberts is surrounded by talent and his fight resume shows that it is rubbing off onto him. Loeffler, on the other hand, looks to be on a mission and make a name for himself in the UFC. I see Loeffler getting absolutely jacked before the fight and bringing the fury on Roberts early and often. Loeffler, first-round KO.

Adams: Chase laid this bout out perfectly with the way both men like to fight. As mentioned, both haven’t fought high-level competition before and this will be huge for either man to get a win.

The guys at Jackson MMA will have a game plan laid out for Roberts, but I believe Loeffler may be able to overcome that. “The Destroyer” may not train out of a spectacular camp, but it’s all about how to compete once you step into the Octagon.

As far as experience, Loeffler has fought in Bellator once, back in 2010, so he has competed in the spotlight of a major event, unlike Roberts. This is going to be a fight where both men are going to come out firing, looking to get a win any way they can. It may come down to whose chin can withstand the longest.

In the end, I’m going to lean towards Loeffler to earn a knockout over Roberts in round two.

Tatum: This middleweight battle is tough to break down, as both fighters have stellar records against sub-par competition. While a lot has been made of Roberts’ win over Tony Lopez, personally, I don’t think that holds much weight. On the other hand, Loeffler’s lopsided loss to Bryan Baker is just as concerning.

As Chase alluded to, having the strength of Jackson’s MMA in his corner is sure to help Roberts with his game plan, but he’ll still have to go out and execute. Having largely fought in heavier divisions in the past, it will be interesting to see how he matches up with Loeffler on the feet.

There’s no doubt what Loeffler’s game plan is going to be; he’s going to be headhunting from the get-go. While more than half of his wins have come by submission, Loeffler loves the knockout.

Whether this fight goes more than a round is ultimately on whether Loeffler can connect. The longer it goes, the more if favors Roberts, but I’ll echo Chase’s sentiments and take Loeffler by KO in the first round.

FW: Jonathan Brookins (12-4) vs. Vagner Rocha (7-2)

Tatum: The Ultimate Fighter season eleven winner Jonathan Brookins returns to the cage for the first time since dropping a decision to rising contender Erik Koch. In his way will be grappling ace Vagner Rocha, coming off his first Octagon win over Cody McKenzie.

Brookins possesses two things: strong grappling and an iron chin. He’s finished eight of his 12 wins by submission and has only been finished by current featherweight champion Jose Aldo. Even more impressive was Brookins’ TUF crown, as he was forced to compete at lightweight and took out a bigger and more athletic Michael Johnson.

Rocha’s UFC debut came on late notice against Muay Thai wrecking machine Donald Cerrone. Surprisingly, Rocha went the distance, but was clearly overmatched. He rebounded with a strong showing against TUF alum McKenzie and now looks to make his mark at 145 pounds.

Jonathan Brookins (L) battles Erik Koch (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

While Brookins has the bad habit of leaving his chin exposed, it won’t make much of a difference against Rocha. Brookins is a much more complete fighter and will be comfortable even if the fight hits the mat, where Rocha wants it. Look for Brookins to score with his striking, cruising to a decision win.

Adams: Stepping in for Rani Yahya will be Rocha, who will take on a very tough test in Brookins, who is looking to get back on track after the loss to Koch. Brookins will have a bit of an experience edge coming into this fight and will be the favorite with his grappling background, as Rob alluded to.

Rocha is no slouch, however, even coming in on short notice. This 29-year-old Brazilian submitted one of the best grappling fighters in the division in McKenzie, so look for Rocha to attempt to take out another when he fights Brookins.

In this fight, I believe we’re going to see Brookins at his best. I just don’t see him losing back-to-back fights and he will make a statement on Wednesday night. I have Brookins winning by unanimous decision as well.

Buzzell: Brookins is a cerebral fighter that is constantly aware of his opponents conduct in the ring. Originally a wrestling prodigy in high school, Brookins turned his full attention to MMA after being dismissed from his collegiate program…good move. Brookins has taken his wrestling background into MMA and built more aspects to his game. Now, Brookins utilizes a stiff straight jab that is effective, but as Rob stated, he tends to leave his chin exposed and his overall striking defense is questionable. Brookins has added a strong BJJ game to his wrestling and will most likely look to fight on the mat.

Rocha is accustomed to fighting on the mat as well, rarely using striking as an effective attack, so it will most likely be a submission battle. Rocha did recently defeat McKenzie, however his overall fight resume is not littered with top-end talent.

Brookins’ greatest weakness is his unorthodox stand-up defense, but Rocha has virtually no ability to expose this. Thus, it is reasonable to believe that Brookins can stand and trade with Rocha with no fear of being clipped. However, despite my belief that Brookins is more talented and well-rounded, I am going to go against conventional wisdom and declare that the Rocha will pull off an upset over Brookins. Rocha, second-round submission.

BW: Ivan Menjivar (23-8) vs. John Albert (7-1)

Adams: Albert will be making his second appearance inside the Octagon since living in The Ultimate Fighter house. In his finale fight, he defeated Dustin Pague in just 69 seconds to earn himself a big fight that will test him. Albert is a well-rounded fighter, with all wins coming by either knockout or submission, and will have a height advantage in this fight. But the question is, will this match-up be too much of a step up for the 25-year-old?

When looking at Menjivar’s resume, he has fought some of the best lighter-weight fighters in the world, a long list of names ranging from Urijah Faber to Joe Lauzon. While he may not have defeated some of those names, Menjivar will use that experience advantage against Albert. With two consecutive UFC wins to his name, he’d love to make it three with an impressive performance.

With that said, I see Menjivar getting it done on Wednesday. The toughness and experience will be too much for Albert to handle. Menjivar wins by unanimous decision.

Buzzell: The experience of Ivan “Pride of El Salvador” Menjivar is probably unparalleled when compared to any other fighter in the bantamweight division. However, Menjivar’s experience was acquired in many different weight classes and often against larger opponents. Perhaps this fight history has contributed to Menjivar’s struggles with injuries, evidenced by his four-year hiatus. Thus, his experience comes with some downside; only 29 years of age, but how many ring-years has he endured? Despite the adversity, since Menjivar returned to MMA he has gone 3-1 and has displayed the same attributes that brought him significant respectability in the sport. He is an extremely quick and powerful fighter that can stand and trade or roll around on the mat and finish an opponent with a slick submission.

John Albert (L) celebrates after defeating Dustin Pague (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

Whether it is on the ground or standing, John “Prince” Albert likes to work fast and finish his opponent. He has never experienced a third round and has only lost once. However, that loss came at the hands of a nobody with an sub-.500 record. Every fighter would like to use a mulligan on their record and I imagine this loss is one of them. As my colleague Corey stated, Albert is well-rounded, but I feel he’s short on quality experience.

Menjivar has too many tools for Albert to handle. Menjivar, submission, first round.

Tatum: While both of my colleagues have painted a good picture of this fight, one thing they failed to point out is the size differential between these two bantamweights. Menjivar is suited for the division, or possibly even flyweight, at just 5-foot-6, while Albert has competed at featherweight in the past with his 5-foot-9 frame.

Certainly Menjivar’s experience is enough to overcome the size disadvantage, but he’ll have to be smart about it. He’ll possess a significant speed advantage and will have to attack from inside Albert’s range. If he can weather the early storm, he’ll be able to utilize his superior ground game.

For Albert, it’s simple. Keep the fight standing and use his length to batter Menjivar. Can he do it for a full fifteen minutes against a crafty veteran? That’s to be determined.

Despite Albert’s bright future, I see him coming up short. As with Chase and Corey, I see Menjivar securing victory, likely by submission.

Top Photo: Ivan Menjivar (R), in his last outing against Nick Pace (James Law/Heavy.com)

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