With the all-heavyweight main card at UFC 146, the prelims inherited some outstanding match-ups.

In fact, there are a couple of fights on FX that are easily pay-per-view worthy. Fights like Edson Barboza vs. Jamie Varner and Dan Hardy vs. Duane “Bang” Ludwig are pretty much guaranteed fireworks, but you also have some compelling storylines on the card as well.

Storylines such as Jason “Mayhem” Miller’s UFC career. Miller will fight CB Dollaway in a fight that will have both fighters’ fate in the UFC hanging in the balance.

Not to mention you have the return of Diego Brandao on the card, and who could ever forget his UFC debut against Dennis Bermudez? After defeating Bermudez with a miraculous armbar at the end of the first round, Brandao will test his skills against Darren Elkins.

Those fights can be seen on FX while Kyle Kingsbury vs. Glover Teixeira, Jacob Volkmann vs. Paul Sass and Mike Brown vs. Daniel Pineda will be available for viewing via Facebook.

UFC 146 will begin with Facebook prelims at 6:45 p.m. ET, followed by prelims on FX at 8 p.m. ET. The pay-per-view broadcast will then begin at 10 p.m. ET.

Breaking down the prelim match-ups over here on The MMA Corner are none other than Bryan Henderson, Jesse Thomas and myself.

FW: Mike Brown (25-8) vs. Daniel Pineda (17-7)

Henderson: Ever since Mike Brown lost his UFC featherweight crown to Jose Aldo, he’s had a rocky road, winning three and also losing three.  Now, he’ll face a fighter in Daniel Pineda who held gold under the Legacy Fighting Championship banner and is off to a two-fight undefeated start inside the Octagon.

Mike Brown (R) (Jeremy Botter/Heavy MMA)

Both of these fighters have troubling records.  Brown’s performances since dropping the belt have been inconsistent.  Meanwhile, Pineda is on a seven-fight winning streak, but prior to that he dropped four of six, including a submission loss to an 0-1 fighter in under 90 seconds.  Pineda might have momentum, but at least Brown’s losses recently have come against top competition in Diego Nunes, Rani Yahya and, to a lesser extent, Manny Gamburyan.  Pineda seems to fit in line more with the fighters Brown has recently defeated—Anthony Morrison, Cole Province and Nam Phan.

Of Pineda’s losses, six have come via submission.  I think that’s what Brown will home in on when developing his strategy for this outing.  Assuming Brown’s head is back in the game, he should make quick work of Pineda by exposing that lack of submission defense.  I see Brown coaxing a first-round tapout from Pineda.

Thomas: Brown has seemingly lost his mojo that he carried so well with him back in his WEC days when he was the underdog seemingly in every fight. He’s definitely a different fighter and it has shown throughout his last several fights since dropping the WEC featherweight title to Aldo. Going 2-3 in his last five (against notably stiff competition I might add) has made him an afterthought in the MMA community.

Pineda since coming to the UFC by way of Legacy Fighting Championships has been on an tear. He has finished both of his UFC bouts by submission, and for his career—albeit a very inconsistent venture in itself—has only gone the distance once, giving way to the thought that this bout with Brown should at least be exciting to watch.

Daniel Pineda (R) (Tracy Lee/Yahoo! Sports)

In this fight, I give the obvious veteran’s edge to Brown, who has fought much tougher competition in his career. But I have to give the hunger edge to Pineda, who I believe to be out to prove something to the world. Brown has a wrestler’s edge and a cleaner striking style than Pineda, and since both men’s ground game is so well-rounded, I end up calling that a draw. This fight to me ends up with Pineda’s hand being raised simply from that hunger alone; not quite sure what Brown has left in the proverbial tank.

Pineda over Brown by way of second-round submission.

Martin: As both of my colleagues pointed out, Brown’s inconsistency is the storyline of this fight. Which Brown will show up?

Will it be the guy that defeated Urijah Faber twice or will it be the guy that was knocked out by Manny Gamburyan? Should the old Brown show up, his fight with Pineda shouldn’t last long.

Pineda is a slick submission artist, but as Bryan pointed out, he isn’t on Brown’s level (well, at least the old Brown).

Despite his inconsistency inside the Octagon, I’m taking Brown in this fight simply because he has the experience and skills needed to take out a young and hungry Pineda. Give me Brown by decision.

LHW: Kyle Kingsbury (11-3) vs. Glover Teixeira (17-2)

Thomas: With just three losses on his record, I feel that I must go on record as saying Kyle Kingsbury has yet to reach full potential but is nearing it. He is a brutalizing force in the cage and has over time learned to control his power and pick his shots better. He is coming off a decision loss to TUF legend Stephan Bonnar at UFC 139 and, in my opinion, will learn greatly from that loss.

Kyle Kingsbury (James Law/Heavy MMA)

With that being said his opponent, Glover Teixeira, will be yet another strong, well-versed opponent; very strong on the ground (black belt under Luigi Mondelli) competing in Brazil’s ADCC. Add his training with John Hackleman at the famed Pit in San Luis Obispo, Calif., and Ruas Vale Tudo in Brazil, and his striking has greatly improved as well.

Teixeira doesn’t have the Octagon experience that Kingsbury has, but will make up for that with a more well-rounded skill set. I see both these guys coming out strong and trying to make statements, but Teixeira is just the stronger of the two. I see Teixeira trying to get this fight to the ground and finishing Kingsbury by way of submission. For Kingsbury to win this fight he needs to stay calm in the pocket, avoid the takedown and pick his spots and aggressive bursts and not get caught up in too many wild exchanges.

This fight is sure to be explosive, but my pick is Teixeira beating Kingsbury by decision.

Martin: I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit surprised to see Jesse pick the newcomer over Kingsbury, but it might not be a bad choice.

As Jesse pointed out, Kingsbury has yet to reach his full potential, but a fight against Teixeira benefits him.

Both men possess a brawling mentality, and more than likely, this fight will turn into a slugfest. That’s right up Kingsbury’s alley. He turned his bout against Fabio Maldonado into one, and he thrived in that setting.

Glover Teixeira (R) (Marcelo Alonso/Sherdog)

If Kingsbury can turn this fight into a war like his fight with Maldonado, I like his chances. Kingsbury does just that and wins himself a decision.

Henderson: It’s about time Teixeira made it to the Octagon.  I’ve been waiting years to see how well he can perform on the biggest stage of all.  My only concern here is Octagon jitters.

I just have a hard time seeing Kingsbury in the same league as Teixeira, though I will grant that it is hard to judge a UFC newcomer.  Some look great until they get to the UFC, then burn out in a big ball of flames.

Kingsbury turned his fight with Maldonado into a war, but Maldonado is more of a striker.  Ditto for another recent Kingsbury victim, Jared Hamman.  And his other two Octagon wins have come against guys who were lower level UFC competitors.  The difference between all of those fighters and Teixeira is a well-rounded game and a proven track record.

I think Kingsbury will end up on the wrong end of this fight.  Teixeira has demonstrated power in his hands in his MMA outings, and his submission game is top notch.  No matter where this contest takes place, I just see Kingsbury getting outclassed.  I’ll say Teixeira rattles Kingsbury’s brain a few times in the stand-up, but finishes the former Arizona State University football player on the mat via submission.

LW: Jacob Volkmann (14-2) vs. Paul Sass (12-0)

Martin: Don’t look now President Obama, but Jacob Volkmann is on a five-fight winning streak. Granted, they’ve all been by decision, but a win’s a win.

Jacob Volkmann (James Law/Heavy MMA)

Volkmann now turns his anti-Obama campaign and grind-em-out mentality toward his next opponent, Paul Sass. And unlike Volkmann, Sass finishes his UFC fights.

Sass’ two UFC victories have both come by way of submission, which has me hoping that this fight hits the ground. Both men scrambling on the ground could turn into another Joe Stevenson vs. George Sotiropoulos classic.

Though Sass has done nothing but impress since arriving in the UFC, I’m thinking Volkmann gets himself another decision here. He’ll control the pace on the ground and eventually wear Sass down.

Henderson: Volkmann might control the pace, but I never trust a wrestler against someone as technically savvy with submissions as Sass has proven to be. And if Volkmann wants to bring politics into the Octagon, then my dream is to see Obama attend every UFC event Volkmann competes at…and actively cheer against Volkmann.  Maybe we can even have a post-fight staredown. But I digress.

Back on point, Sass has demonstrated how active and quick he is with his submission attempts.  He has finished all but two of his opponents in the first frame.  He also loves the triangle choke, which might be a wrestler’s second biggest nightmare right behind the dreaded guillotine.

Paul Sass (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

Volkmann is Sass’ toughest opponent to date, so I don’t see another quick win.  However, at some point during a 15-minute contest, Volkmann will end up in a bad spot.  And trust me, Sass will know how to capitalize on that.  Sass adds another triangle choke to his resume, tapping Volkmann late in the second round to remain undefeated.

Thomas: This may not be the fight of the night but that’s because the match-up is between two middle-of-the-rung guys out there fighting with skill sets obviously better than mine, but they will probably never be in the same cage as the Ben Hendersons and Frankie Edgars of the world.

These guys will still put on a show of some kind, and well, it’s free guys.

Jacob Volkmann—now cemented into his role as a lightweight—does in fact have five victories in a row, as Jake pointed out earlier, and yes his comments have been pointed, especially when aimed at our Commander & Chief, but his fight game is what leaves little to the imagination. Volkmann is a solid wrestler, a skill which will help bail him out of troublesome situations. His stand-up is okay, but where he lacks in traditional mixed martial art skills he makes up for with heart and determination, and that is enough to win fights (even five in a row).

Volkmann will be taking on Sass, a Liverpool native and a whirlwind in the cage. He is a submission specialist who owns eight victories by triangle choke. Sass uses a smooth combination of solid striking to set up takedowns just for the purpose of taking a limb off his opponent.

My pick for this fight is that Sass’s smooth submission skills and ground transitions result in him yet again tapping out another opponent—my guess, it will go down in the first round.

President Obama, Paul Sass says, “You’re welcome.”

WW: Dan Hardy (23-10) vs. Duane Ludwig (21-12)

Thomas: Dan Hardy and Duane “Bang” Ludwig, man what a fight this should be. You have on one hand the “The Outlaw,” Dan Hardy, who fights with such confidence and tenacity, and then there’s “Bang,” who is laser precise with his Muay Thai striking. A barn burner for sure—someone is getting knocked out.

Duane Ludwig (MMA Junkie)

Hardy is attempting to break out of his four-loss slump. All of the losses have been to tough opponents who are or were ranked somewhere near the top 10 in the UFC’s stacked welterweight division. Usually four losses is a death penalty in the UFC, but seeing how marketable Hardy is, cutting him was never really an option in my opinion. Let’s look at what he does well: he knocks people out, that about covers it. Hardy, I’m hoping, has progressed in his wrestling and jiu-jitsu; however, he probably won’t need much of that when in the middle of this fight. On the other hand, it could turn out to be an upper hand for him. His hands can carry him through an entire fight, so he will never be fully out of a fight unless finished himself; still, Ludwig is a tough draw for the popular Brit.

Ludwig is a kickboxing machine. A former middleweight kickboxing champion turned MMA athlete, he leaves very little in the cage. His style is hit first and hit a lot, and it works for the Colorado native. With some impressive victories on his resume and some not so impressive losses, Ludwig even now in a latter stage of his career looks more and more like a complete mixed martial artist than ever before. Last time we saw him in the cage he got a bit twisted by Josh Neer, but I expect Ludwig to come back more ready than ever before. Besides, how hard is it for a champion kickboxer to get excited for a heavy-hitting boxer in what will most likely be a stand-up brawl?

I feel that Hardy can only win this fight by shutting off Ludwig’s lights early in the fight, but in order to do so he will have to get by all the leg kicks and stiff jabs (reminiscent of GSP vs. Hardy). Ludwig has the upper hand in my opinion and will take this fight either by decision or early (T)KO, and yes I am wavering about the finish but at least not the fight winner.

Henderson: At one time, Hardy was challenging for the title…how far he has fallen.  It’s going to be hard justifying his continued stay in the UFC if he loses five in a row, and that’s where we’re at right now.  What’s hard to believe is that Hardy has only fought eight times inside the Octagon.  The first four were wins, but once GSP exposed him, he has had trouble finding his way back to the win column.

The good news, as my colleague pointed out, is that Ludwig is a kickboxer and not a wrestler or grappler.  See, Hardy’s recent losses have primarily come against talented wrestlers (GSP, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson) or guys who can tie you in knots on the ground (Chris Lytle).  The only exception was a knockout courtesy of Carlos Condit.  For the most part, Hardy is relatively safe if he stays on his feet—the loss to Condit is his only defeat via knockout of the 10 career bouts he’s dropped.

Ludwig always seems to be a middle-of-the-road kind of guy.  While some could point to his six submission wins as an edge over Hardy, remember that a number of those submissions came due to strikes, and one due to exhaustion.  He’s also shown the weaker chin of the two, with five (T)KO losses.

Dan Hardy (center) (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

I think this might be a bout where Hardy can not only stuff takedowns, should Ludwig try any, but also holds the edge in offensive wrestling.  I don’t think he’ll use it too much though, as the ground game of Ludwig might still be just dangerous enough for the Brit to avoid.  I look for the two to stay standing and engage in a brawl.  We’ll see Ludwig employ more kicks, but Hardy will land his fair share of strikes.  Hardy’s power will test Ludwig’s chin, and I think the chin will fail.  Hardy takes this via a late knockout.

Martin: If you were to bet on which fight will take home “Fight of the Night” honors, look no further.

This fight is without a doubt going to steal the show because Hardy and Ludwig proved in their last fights that they’re willing to stand and bang no matter what. Heck, they’ve proved it their entire career.

Though he’s still a big draw and he’s had some great fights in the UFC, Hardy will still most likely lose his job should he lose to Ludwig. And that’s a tough break because I see no way Hardy can win this fight.

Sure, he has power, but Ludwig is one of the best strikers in the UFC. Hardy doesn’t have the wrestling ability to take this fight to the ground, so he will be forced to eat one kick after another from “Bang.” Ludwig gives Hardy his walking papers with a second-round TKO.

MW: Jason “Mayhem” Miller (23-8) vs. CB Dollaway (11-4)

Henderson: Following an unsuccessful conclusion to “Mayhem’s” season as an Ultimate Fighter coach, in which Miller lost via TKO to Michael Bisping, the colorful personality will meet a former TUF competitor in CB Dollaway who is seeking to snap a two-fight skid.

Jason Miller (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

I recall one of my first predictions involving a Dollaway fight—one in which he was rematching Amir Sadollah in the TUF 7 Finale.  I predicted that Sadollah would yet again catch Dollaway in an armbar, and so he did.  For as fancy as Dollaway can get with his own submissions, that’s just how little confidence I have in his ability to stay out of danger on the mat.

If there’s a dangerous veteran submission specialist out there in front of him, Dollaway is in trouble.  And guess what?  That’s Miller’s forte.

Dollaway’s losses to Mark Munoz and Jared Hamman came via some form of knockout, but this time he’ll need to be more concerned about his ground game.  Miller is a veteran who will take full advantage of his experience edge over “The Doberman.”  This one might not redeem Miller for his horrible showing against Bisping, but it’ll at least put him back in the win column as he submits Dollaway in the second round.

Martin: I’m going to be honest, I love me some “Mayhem.” I love his colorful personality, I love the peace signs he gave over in Japan during bouts, I love his amazing entrances and I love his fighting style.

But he was completely outclassed by Bisping at the TUF 14 Finale. It was an embarrassing performance, and that simply wasn’t the same Miller that I’ve watched for years.

However, it’s redemption time, and though a victory over Dollaway won’t erase that horrible image of him gassing out against Bisping, it’s a step in the right direction. Dollaway is a mid-tier level guy at best, and if Miller can get this fight to the ground, he shouldn’t have a problem submitting him.

C.B. Dollaway (Fight! Magazine)

Miller gets back on the right track with a first-round submission over Dollaway.

Thomas: “Mayhem” has now gotten his second chance at life following a very strange exit from Strikeforce. He entered the Hexagon and attempted to ask Jake Shields for a title shot just moments after Shields won a fight against Dan Henderson, causing a melee between him and the Skrap Pack boys. The UFC saw an investment in Miller and offered him to coach the 14th season of The Ultimate Fighter; however, that didn’t go well as he was pummeled nearly right back out of the Octagon by Bisping. Miller now has a chance to redeem himself as he faces Dollaway in what really can be labeled as a “Last Chance Fight” for both men.

Miller has the ground game down pat. He is very well versed in jiu-jitsu and that’s just how he wins fights, grappling and submitting his way to victory. His stand-up, however, leaves little to the imagination, and he must work hard in that aspect to reach even the middle tier of the UFC’s middleweight division.

Dollaway, a TUF alum, seems to have issues with grapplers (Sadollah is not as well-versed on the ground as Miller and subbed Dollaway twice in the same season of TUF). Dollaway has always been a work in progress and still has work to be done. He has pulled off a few impressive victories, but in defeat has shown little growth in this sport. He will have his hands full with a grappler of Miller’s pedigree.

I see “Mayhem” pulling off a not-so-spectacular, but nice, unanimous decision victory in this fight and then probably saying something crazy, like he wants Anderson Silva next.

LW: Edson Barboza (10-0) vs. Jamie Varner (19-6-1)

Martin: I can’t describe how crushed I was to hear Evan Dunham was pulling out of this fight with Edson Barboza. That fight had fireworks written all over it, and I was anxiously anticipating that showdown.

With Dunham going down with an injury, the UFC searched for a replacement and found a pretty good one in Jamie Varner. For those that never watched the WEC, Varner was once its lightweight champion, and he had some great battles with UFC greats Benson Henderson and Donald Cerrone.

Jamie Varner (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

Varner pushes forward consistently, but going against Barboza, he might want to use his wrestling skills to try to get this to the ground. There’s not a more exciting striker in the division than Barboza.

Barboza is coming off of what will be the knockout of the year against Terry Etim. His spinning wheel kick KO has put the division on notice, and he’s out-pointed great strikers like Ross Pearson and Anthony Njokuani during his 10-0 MMA stint.

Varner won’t be able to get this fight to the ground because of Barboza’s fantastic hips, and Barboza will pick Varner apart for three full rounds to get the decision victory.

Thomas: Varner and Barboza. Wow, what a match-up! This has “Fight of the Night” written on it, and it’s an undercard fight! But seriously, both of these guys are very athletic and have quick hands and feet. I’ll start with the veteran here, Varner.

Varner was WEC’s electric lightweight champion, defeating the likes of Rob McCullough and “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone, but he eventually ran into Benson Henderson and lost his title via submission. Varner began his path back to glory, but lost steam as he fought to a draw with Kamal Shalorous and then battled numerous injuries before another loss and his exit from the WEC.

Barboza’s story, on the other hand, is a bit more uplifting. Since signing with the UFC in 2010, he has been a monster, an absolute showstopper. His leg kicks are out of this world, his striking is extraordinary (needless to say I won’t be surprising anyone with my fight winner).

Edson Barboza (L) delivers a spinning back kick (Heavy MMA)

Barboza has excellent hand speed and is a very precise striker with that un-natural ability to strike from odd angles and make it look like poetry in motion. Varner has experience—he has been a world champion and has fought the toughest of competition, but fought them in a different time in the fight game. If Varner was to complete a trilogy fight with Cerrone now, Cerrone would leave him in stitches for a month. Varner was a great champion and will always have a warrior’s heart, but simply cannot match up with the likes of Barboza.

At this point in time of both men’s careers, I can definitely see Varner sticking around the UFC for a while and still putting on good performances, but this match-up is severely lopsided. I cannot see where Varner matching Barboza’s speed and striking ability. I have Barboza by second-round TKO.

Henderson: Not only would Cerrone likely defeat Varner ten times in ten tries nowadays, but “Cowboy” also stands as the highest level opponent Varner has beaten. Even in more recent competition, Varner dropped a fight to Dakota Cochrane, a prospect who failed to win a qualifying fight for the current season of The Ultimate Fighter. If Varner can’t make it past someone like Cochrane, what would lead us to believe he can hand a loss to a rising star such as Barboza?

Short answer: nothing.

Sure, Varner has an experience edge, but his best days are behind him and he doesn’t have one overwhelming skill with which to dominate Barboza. I see Varner getting bloodied in this one, as Barboza scores the TKO.

FW: Diego Brandao (14-7) vs. Darren Elkins (13-2)

Henderson: Diego Brandao has stormed into the UFC following a run on The Ultimate Fighter 14 that ended with a win over Dennis Bermudez to capture the reality show’s featherweight championship for the season.  Now, in his first fight since that victory, he’ll meet Darren Elkins, a fighter who has won two straight over Michihiro Omigawa and Tiequan Zhang.

Although Brandao impressed on TUF and in winning the featherweight crown for the series, his overall record is troubling.  He’s dropped a number of fights to guys you would expect an Ultimate Fighter winner to easily defeat.  Elkins, meanwhile, has grinded out decisions over some tough competition recently.

Darren Elkins (R) (James Law/Heavy MMA)

I like how Elkins handled Omigawa and Zhang, as well as how he has also posted wins over Pat Curran and a veteran in Gideon Ray.  Elkins has been a more consistent competitor and if he can avoid Brandao’s initial surge, I think he can grind out another decision win here.

Thomas: Brandao is a fireball of crazy athleticism. He had quite the success on The Ultimate Fighter reality series, but the tough fights start now.

Elkins has to be sick of being the underdog in every fight, I don’t care what these guys tell you, being the underdog simply means that not many believe in your ability to win fights. This guy has beaten current Bellator featherweight champion Pat Curran along with Duane Ludwig (though injury to Ludwig’s ankle played into that) and even Michihiro Omigawa, and still the underdog label sticks with him.

In this fight, Brandao has the upper hand in the total package kind of way. He’s very explosive and powerful, good at just about every aspect of the game, but I am pulling the underdog card in this fight. If Elkins can avoid Brandao’s explosive start, he will take this fight and win a decision.

Diego Brandao (L) secures an armbar (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

If Brandao catches him early, it will be good night sweetheart for Elkins, but I suspect that won’t be the case, and Brandao’s first fight in the cage outside of The Ultimate Fighter will end up being a learning experience in controlled rage.

Martin: Though Brandao’s overall record is troubling, as Bryan pointed out, I still believe this guy is a future champion.

All too often in sports, we get carried away with stats and go by what we read rather than by what we see. I try to distance myself away from that as much as possible, and Brandao is a great reason to do so.

If you watched Brandao on The Ultimate Fighter, it wasn’t hard to see that this guy possesses the skills and mentality required to be a champion.

Mark my words, Brandao will make a statement against Elkins Saturday night, and he’ll continue to climb the ranks following his first-round knockout victory.

Top Photo: Diego Brandao (L) secures an armbar (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

About The Author

Jake Martin

Jake attends Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La., where he studies Mass Communication in print and public relations. He is also the sports editor of his school newspaper, The Nicholls Worth. Jake works at the Concordia Sentinel in Ferriday, La. during the summer.