UFC on Fox 8 looks to take the Key Arena in Seattle by storm on Saturday, July 27. The free card will feature a title fight between two of the UFC’s top guys at 125 pounds when John Moraga challenges flyweight champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, who defends his title for the second time.

Johnson hasn’t lost at 125 pounds and has been nearly untouchable outside of a few minutes of action. Moraga may not be a household name to many MMA fans, but the former Rage in the Cage 135-pound champion has been nothing short of impressive in his two UFC showings. He demonstrated his dangerous striking game against Ulysses Gomez and then showcased his submission game against Chris Cariaso at UFC 155. Moraga is a dangerous opponent, but is he ready for the level of competition presented by Mighty Mouse?

Earlier in the evening, two welterweight contenders will look to earn a UFC title fight in the future. Jake Ellenberger and Rory MacDonald are both riding impressive winning streaks and will look to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. Ellenberger had an impressive knockout against Nate Marquardt at UFC 158 which also earned him “Knockout of the Night” honors. He has only lost twice in the UFC and those were to two top-level guys in Martin Kampmann and Carlos Condit. MacDonald, meanwhile, has been one of the top prospects in the UFC, but could soon shed that label and become a true contender if he can defeat Ellenberger. MacDonald presents a unique challenge since he’s proficient in all aspects of MMA. The big question on everyone’s mind is if MacDonald is “for real” and if he’s willing to set aside his friendship with Georges St-Pierre for a title shot.

Also on the card will be former UFC title contender and Strikeforce champion Robbie Lawler facing Bobby Voelker and Liz Carmouche welcoming Jessica Andrade to the Octagon. Lawler saw his career receive a nice boost after finishing Josh Koscheck at UFC 157, but will have a tough task ahead of him in Voelker, who will look to erase the disdain of losing in his UFC debut. Carmouche put up a tough fight against Ronda Rousey at UFC 157 and came close to finishing the women’s bantamweight champ. Andrade is a talented prospect who sports a healthy 9-2 record but will look to avoid the Octagon jitters against Carmouche in the main card’s opening bout.

The action begins at 4 p.m. ET with two bouts from the preliminary cards streamed live on the UFC Facebook and YouTube pages, then shifts to FX at 5 p.m. ET for the remainder of the prelims, before heading to Fox at 8 p.m. ET for the four-fight main card.

The MMA Corner ‘s Sal DeRose, Dan Kuhl and Kyle Symes break down the entire card in this edition of the Round Table.

Women’s BW: Jessica Andrade (9-2) vs. Liz Carmouche (8-3)

DeRose: The bout between Jessica Andrade and Liz Carmouche is a good fight to kick off the main card. Both fighters want to make statements here.

This is the first fight for Carmouche since her title loss to champion Ronda Rousey. Carmouche is very well-rounded and is a very tough fighter. Here though, her best option is to try to keep this fight standing and use her surprising size advantage against Andrade.

Andrade took this fight after Miesha Tate was removed from the match-up and inserted into a TUF coaching slot opposite Rousey. The Brazilian can take punishment and is constantly pressuring her opponents, whether it be with takedowns or strikes.

The most impressive aspect of Andrade’s resume is the fact that all nine of her wins come by either submission or knockout. On top of that, four of her five submission victories come by guillotine choke, her go-to move and her probable route to victory.

Andrade’s striking needs improvement and is certainly the area of weakness that Carmouche should look to exploit.

Despite this being Andrade’s first UFC fight, I’m inclined to pick her. Eventually, she will wear down Carmouche with takedowns and what not. Carmouche has never really fared well against the top talent in her division and Andrade, at age 21, is well on her way to being in that upper echelon. Andrade with the decision victory.

Kuhl: If nothing else, the battle between Carmouche and Andrade will be the first time in the history of the UFC that two openly gay fighters will face off in the Octagon.

Carmouche, a former U.S. Marine, fared pretty well in her UFC debut against Rousey. Even though she lost the same way every other Rousey opponent has, she lasted longer versus Rousey than anyone else, including Tate. As Sal pointed out, Carmouche is well-rounded, but so is Andrade. Rudimentary striking or not, the younger Brazilian is not afraid to stand and bang.

Andrade is an up-and-coming phenomenon. Training out of Parana Vale Tudo in Umuarama, Brazil, she brings nine wins, all by first- or second-round stoppage, to her promotional debut and is a very scrappy, aggressive fighter. Andrade may not have crisp striking, but she’s improving and has never been afraid to let her hands go.

Carmouche has faced some world-class fighters in Rousey, Kaitlin Young, Sarah Kaufman and Marloes Coenen, but this will be a different kind of fight because of Andrade’s “nothing to lose” fighting style. Even if Carmouche keeps this standing, there is no guarantee of a win, and on the ground, she will be in trouble.

Carmouche has a three-inch height advantage and has fought top opponents, but Andrade has that young “eye of a tiger” thing going, and I see her surprising many fans. I’ll agree with Sal that Andrade has this one, but I think she’ll submit Carmouche by the end of the second round.

Symes: I agree with my colleagues that this is a great way to kick off the evening’s festivities. Anyone who watches women’s fights on a regular basis knows that very few of the bouts disappoint, and I don’t see that trend changing with this one.

Andrade is a talented fighter and a promising young prospect, but I don’t see her beating Carmouche.

Although Carmouche has come up on the losing end most of the time when facing top competition, the experience of training and being in the cage against such skilled opposition is invaluable for Carmouche. There’s also the fact that Carmouche has already competed inside the Octagon, in the main event no less. We’ve seen the Octagon jitters play a big part in a fighter’s debut, and I’m anticipating them to affect Andrade’s performance. She has never competed on a stage anywhere close to the UFC, whereas Carmouche has competed in the big leagues for quite some time.

I’ll go against the grain and pick Carmouche due to her grittiness and experience under the bright lights. Carmouche via TKO.

WW: Robbie Lawler (20-9) vs. Bobby Voelker (24-9)

Kuhl: To the layperson, it could be confusing, with as deep as the UFC roster has gotten since the Strikeforce merger, as to why Robbie Lawler and Bobby Voelker are on the main card. Even to the seasoned fan, you have to wonder why TUF winner Michael Chiesa and Strikeforce crossover Jorge Masvidal are on the preliminary card. It is important to point out that Lawler was originally set to face Strikeforce welterweight champ Tarec Saffiedine and that Voelker is the second replacement after Siyar Bahadurzada was also forced out with an injury. Be that as it may, Voelker stepped up and this fight is going down on Saturday night.

Lawler has a fairly storied career, having fought some of the old-school veterans of the sport, like Frank Trigg, Evan Tanner, Jason “Mayhem” Miller, Nick Diaz and Renato “Babalu” Sobral. He spent some time in the Octagon, from 2002-2004, and upon making his return to both the UFC and the welterweight division after the Strikeforce merger, Lawler stunned everyone with a first-round TKO of Josh Koscheck in February. Lawler is a hard-hitting striker with 17 of his 20 wins coming by knockout. However, Voelker is no slouch on his feet.

Voelker is entering the Octagon for the second time after losing by unanimous decision to Patrick Cote in his UFC debut in March. He was on a three-fight winning streak in Strikeforce, taking out Roger Bowling by TKO twice in a row to finish his stint with that promotion. Voelker is also a striking-oriented fighter, earning 15 of his 24 wins by knockout, but the American Jujitsu fighter has proven on a few occasions that he is also proficient in submissions, something Lawler is not known for.

On two weeks’ notice or not, if Voelker comes in hungry and ready to scrap, he does have the ability to go the distance. However, Lawler is on a late-career surge of momentum following his win over Koscheck. Lawler was preparing for some much tougher fighters and should be able to take this one by first-round TKO, which has been his most recent MO for winning.

Symes: Lawler is enjoying a career resurgence after knocking out Koscheck at UFC 157. The win erased the “retirement” talk for the time being, but fans shouldn’t forget his mediocre record prior to that victory. Prior to the win, Lawler was 3-5 in his last eight bouts. He’ll always have knockout power, but it’s a question of whether or not he can keep the fight standing in order to use that power.

That will be easier said than done against Voelker, who has a grappling background. Voelker will look to finish the fight on the ground. The biggest detriment to him in this contest will be the fact that he is stepping in on extremely short notice. I expect Voelker to employ a safe strategy to not only avoid any conditioning issues he may face, but also to avoid Lawler’s dangerous power.

Lawler will look to turn this into a brawl, but Voelker won’t fall into the trap. Although Voelker has the tools to negate Lawler’s offense, he won’t be able to withstand Lawler’s power in the early rounds. Lawler via TKO.

DeRose: Looks like we can make it a unanimous decision on this fight.

Kyle mentioned a great point in that Voelker is taking this fight on extremely short notice. I’m not a fan of picking guys who do that. Lawler has been training and, like Dan mentioned, that training has been in preparation for tougher fights.

I won’t fully close the book on Voelker, though. Voelker’s jiu-jitsu could help him to take Lawler down and grind him out. It all depends on Voelker being able to get close enough to Lawler and avoid the big shot.

Lawler tends to surprise me, whether it be in a good or bad way, but I’ll pick him here, since I think his power will be tough to beat. The short notice for Voelker will certainly play some role, whether it be major or minor. Lawler by knockout in the second round.

WW: Jake Ellenberger (29-6) vs. Rory MacDonald (14-1)

Symes: Jake Ellenberger and Rory MacDonald meet in a bout that could prove pivotal in the welterweight title picture. Both men come into the fight on winning streaks that have propelled them within a step or two of contendership.

Ellenberger has won two straight and sports an impressive 8-2 record during his UFC tenure. His most recent outing, where he dropped former middleweight title contender Nate Marquardt in the first round of their UFC 158 bout and won “Knockout of the Night” honors, cemented his place among the welterweight elite.

Meanwhile, MacDonald comes into the fight having won four straight. The Canadian top prospect is coming off a dominant showing of his own against future UFC Hall of Famer B.J. Penn in December 2012.

Ellenberger is a powerful welterweight who can knock out his opponent on the feet or on the ground. Having a wrestling background, Ellenberger also has the ability to take the fight wherever he wants to. He’ll likely look to use both his wrestling and stand-up skills to keep MacDonald off base throughout the contest. Undoubtedly, though, Ellenberger will likely look to use his top game to hold MacDonald down.

MacDonald has shown he’s a special talent inside the cage. The Canadian continues to evolve as a fighter. He’ll need to bring good takedown defense in this match-up. He’s the more diverse striker and will look to utilize his kicks to keep Ellenberger at bay and avoid his dangerous punching power.

It’d be easy to pick Ellenberger in this match-up since he’s the better wrestler, but I’m sure Georges St-Pierre and the rest of Tristar gym have worked on MacDonald’s grappling ability. MacDonald’s footwork will negate Ellenberger’s takedown attempts, and he has the skills to out-point Ellenberger on the feet.

DeRose: Yeah, this fight definitely has some major implications for the welterweight division and it contains two of the top young fighters the division has to offer.

Like Kyle mentioned, Ellenberger is a powerful wrestler who possesses some deadly hands as well. Ellenberger is only an inch shorter than MacDonald, but MacDonald owns a three-inch reach advantage, which could help keep Ellenberger from landing one of his knockout punches.
Ellenberger will most likely try to push the pace to start, being aggressive and getting in MacDonald’s face before transitioning into his wrestling game to control the Canadian.

MacDonald doesn’t have the wrestling to bring this fight to the ground. Ellenberger’s wrestling will neutralize any threat MacDonald poses with his takedowns. The only way MacDonald ends up on top on the mat is either through a reversal or because of a punch that drops Ellenberger. That being said, MacDonald needs to make sure he keeps Ellenberger at a distance, utilizes the jab and works his striking defense. He may also seek to throw in some leg kicks to weaken Ellenberger’s takedowns.

Despite all of the factors in Ellenberger’s favor, MacDonald has some great striking and his work with St-Pierre will definitely help here. I think he’ll steal the decision win.

Kuhl: Ellenberger and MacDonald are set to put on one of the best welterweight match-ups of 2013, and, as both of my colleagues pointed out, this has title implications. Currently, these guys are ranked No. 5 and No. 6 in the welterweight division, and one of them is going to get a huge bump after this epic battle.

Ellenberger was an NCAA Division II wrestler out of the University of Nebraska-Omaha, has a twin brother who is 14-1 as a pro, and has 35 pro fights of his own. The former IFL competitor has only been stopped once in his four-year UFC career, and he has beaten the likes of Jake Shields, Diego Sanchez and Marquardt. In his last five Octagon matches, he has earned three “of the Night” honors. As a power wrestler and striker, he has the perfect skill set to stop the phenom, MacDonald.

MacDonald, on the other hand, is one of the most closely watched up-and-comers in the sport as a whole. As my colleagues pointed out, not only is he rangy with his tremendous reach advantage, but he also has one of the top camps in the world getting him ready for this bout. MacDonald hasn’t shown much in the way of submission grappling prowess since his early days as a pro, but it is never wise to sleep on this aspect of his game, because if he gets those long, anaconda-like arms around Ellenberger’s neck, it’s “goodnight, Irene.”

Both of these fighters got their pro starts in 2005, but Ellenberger is the more battle-tested of the two. MacDonald, while still being a phenomenal fighter, is starting to gain a certain air of arrogance that could easily get him bit on this one. While hype tells me to agree with my fellow panelists, I’m going with my gut on this one and predicting Ellenberger to take the fight to the Canadian, like he has yet to see. Ellenberger by first- or second-round TKO.

FlyW Championship: Demetrious Johnson (17-2-1) vs. John Moraga (13-1)

Kuhl: Finally, for the first time since January, we have a flyweight battle worth watching. For the main event of the evening, the UFC brass brings us Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson defending his title for the second time against The MMA Lab’s John Moraga. Moraga, in only his third fight under the UFC banner, will get his shot at UFC gold, but he better be prepared for a five-round war, because Johnson wouldn’t have it any other way.

Johnson is coming off his seventh decision battle since the merger of WEC and the UFC. He is a very elusive fighter, has great lateral movement, and isn’t afraid to take the fight wherever it goes. With a solid background in wrestling, he’s been able to hold off guys like Joseph Benavidez, but has also used his quick striking game to top guys like Ian McCall and John Dodson. In a bout where he was picked to lose, he showed complete domination over a much taller, rangier fighter in Miguel Torres.

Moraga is an NCAA Division I wrestler out of the highly acclaimed Arizona State University program that has given the UFC guys like Ryan Bader, C.B. Dollaway and current heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez. His first two fights in the promotion ended with stoppages of Chris Cariaso and Ulysses Gomez, an opponent that was highly favored to win.

Johnson is quick, moves well and has tremendous durability, whereas Moraga has great wrestling skills and is very aggressive. This match-up is really one that could go either way, but that’s where experience comes into play.

The champ has faced McCall, Benavidez and Torres, in addition to UFC bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz, Brad Pickett and Damacio Page. He has been active since 2007, even though he is only 26 years old. Moraga is 29, and other than his two opponents in the UFC, he has fought John Dodson a few years back and that’s about it. Moraga may have a more featured training camp with guys like Benson Henderson and Efrain Escudero, but Johnson is no stranger to battling amazing camps.

Although I really believe that Moraga has the best chance of anyone to end Johnson’s reign, I just can’t bet against the champ. Johnson will add another 25 minutes of cage time under his belt to make this his second successful defense of the UFC flyweight strap.

DeRose: I don’t agree that this is the first flyweight fight since January worth watching, but I digress.

Johnson’s game is pretty much the prototypical 125-pound game. If you’re a 125er, you pretty much strive to have Johnson’s high-activity, high-movement tactics. Johnson will wear you down with quick takedowns, he can come in and pop off a few shots and before you know it he is back on the outside.

While I think taking down Moraga will be a tough bet considering Moraga’s wrestling pedigree, I also thought he would have a tough time taking down Dodson and yet he was able to accomplish that.

Johnson loves the five-round fights and it really is nothing to him. He can probably go another three after it’s all said and done.

Moraga really needs to utilize his wrestling in this one and do what McCall did in the third round of his first fight with Johnson. Moraga must land his takedowns, since his striking isn’t good enough to win him the battle here. Achieving and retaining top position will be crucial for Moraga.

Johnson should be able to ward off Moraga and utilize his patented high-octane style to win a unanimous decision.

Symes: As with everyone else on the panel, I’ll be making myself comfortable for this fight since it will surely go all 25 minutes. Johnson has employed a strategy that involves footwork and speed thus far in his UFC career and for the most part it has worked. I anticipate it working once more against Moraga.

Moraga has shown in his first two UFC bouts that he’s a dangerous opponent by dropping the heavily favored Gomez with a nasty combination and following that up with a submission of Cariaso. As pointed out by Dan, Moraga also features a good wrestling background and works with one of the best camps in the country down in Arizona. Unfortunately for Moraga, it won’t be enough come Saturday.

Johnson is far more experienced and has been in the cage with some of the best bantamweights and flyweights in the world. He also faced some adversity when Dodson managed to hit him hard in their contest. Moraga, on the other hand, has only fought twice in the UFC. Although he’s looked great, does anyone consider a guy coming off a win against Caraiso and a victory over a guy who has already been cut by the UFC to be considered a No. 1 contender? It’s the best fight the UFC could offer, seeing as how Johnson has already beaten McCall and Benavidez rather easily, but I don’t believe Moraga is on the same level as Johnson.

The difference in this fight will be Johnson’s speed and diversity of attack. Yes, Moraga is the better wrestler on paper, but I see Johnson mixing in his striking with some takedown attempts. Johnson will keep Moraga off balance throughout the contest, and the challenger won’t be able to keep up with the pace set by “Mighty Mouse.” Johnson by unanimous decision.

Preliminary Card
BW: John Albert (7-4) vs. Yaotzin Meza (19-8)

DeRose: Here is the obligatory “fight for your job” fight that airs on the prelims. John Albert is on a three-fight losing skid, having dropped fights to Scott Jorgensen and Ivan Menjivar. Yaotzin Meza, on the other hand, was obliterated by Chad Mendes in his UFC debut. Honestly, I haven’t seen much of Meza outside of that fight. It isn’t like Albert is losing to the low talent in the division, so I’ll take the man with the better experience here and pick Albert to win by decision.

Symes: Sal has a valid point: Albert may have lost quite a few, but most of those were against stiff competition. Meza had no business being in a cage with Mendes for his UFC debut, and it likely earned him a “pass” from the UFC. He’ll need it here, as I see Albert pulling out the victory.

Kuhl: The one thing I would like to point out that my colleagues missed is that Albert’s second-to-last loss (against Erik Perez) was the infamous “Kim Winslow stopping the fight after nobody tapped” incident. However, even with that correction to his record, he would still be 1-3-1 in UFC action with all four of his career losses coming by way of first-round submission. Meza is a supremely well-rounded fighter with a deep arsenal of attacks from any position, which is consistent with any competitor coming out of The MMA Lab. I echo Kyle and Sal in thinking that Mendes was a tough draw for Meza’s UFC debut, but that gives me that much more confidence that he will earn the victory by submitting Albert.

LW: Aaron Riley (30-13-1) vs. Justin Salas (10-4)

Symes: Aaron Riley will be fighting for the first time since having his jaw broken against Tony Ferguson in September 2011. That’s nearly two years outside of the cage. Although I expect Justin Salas to have some cage rust as well (he hasn’t fought since July 2012), I’ll take the guy who’s fought more recently.

Kuhl: I really don’t know what to expect from Riley’s jaw. Not that Ferguson doesn’t pack jaw-breaking power in the first place, but two broken jaws in half a decade makes you wonder. Salas entered the UFC on a win over Jake Ellenberger’s twin brother, Joe, who was cutting weight for the first time since being diagnosed with a rare blood disease. Even though Ellenberger claims differently, he was clearly not 100 percent. Salas won by decision, then went to a decision in his UFC debut with Anton Kuivanen on short notice, before losing by TKO to Tim Means in just over a minute. Riley is rusty and Salas is unproven, but I have to go with Riley to make a big splash in his Octagon comeback with a decision win.

DeRose: Making his return to the Octagon, Riley doesn’t stand as the easy pick. I remember that fight with Ferguson, and it was just a brutal way to end a fight. Salas fought more recently and isn’t coming off an injury like Riley’s, so I’ll take Salas by decision.

Women’s BW: Germaine de Randamie (3-2) vs. Julie Kedzie (16-11)

DeRose: This is certainly a battle of strikers. Germaine de Randamie is a former kickboxing champion and Julie Kedzie is a third degree black belt in Taekwondo and displayed excellent skills against Miesha Tate in her last fight. Kedzie might try to take this fight to the ground, where she has the edge in grappling, but I think de Randamie’s size and reach advantage keep this fight standing and give her the TKO win.

Kuhl: Sal points to the credentials of both Kedzie and de Randamie, but let’s be realistic. A black belt in Taekwondo for a 5-foot-5 fighter means nothing against a 5-foot-11 undefeated kickboxer with 37 wins under her belt, 14 of which came by knockout. Kedzie’s best chance to win is to use her 27 fights worth of pro MMA experience to get it to the ground, because she should know she would be senseless to keep this one standing. Unfortunately, the Jackson’s MMA fighter hasn’t submitted anybody in five years. I have de Randamie scoring a ton of points standing to take this one by unanimous decision.

Symes: I understand why my two colleagues are picking de Randamie to defeat Kedzie. She has the height, the reach and better striking credentials to boot. One thing I’m not sure she’s ready for is the pressure that Kedzie will put on her. De Randamie will make it interesting on the feet, but I see Kedzie doing just enough with takedowns, wall-and-stall and top control to take it via split decision.

MW: Ed Herman (20-9) vs. Trevor Smith (10-3)

Kuhl: Longtime UFC veteran Ed Herman and promotional newcomer Trevor Smith are both 32-year-old, 6-foot-2 middleweights who are proficient in BJJ and tough to knock out. In fact, Herman’s only TKO loss came when he accidentally injured his knee against Aaron Simpson. Twenty-two of their combined 30 wins are by submission. Herman’s biggest advantage is that he is a “leave it all in the cage”-type of fighter, but it’s also hard not to say the same thing about Smith, since he has never been to a decision. While this is sure to be an exciting match, I see Herman delivering a mid-fight submission to disappoint Smith in his UFC debut.

Symes: Dan’s right to say that both these guys are tough-as-nails fighters. With that being said, I believe Herman’s experience will play a big role in this fight. I’ll take Herman via unanimous decision.

DeRose: This is Smith’s first time setting foot inside the Octagon, and although he may have the prettier record and stats, I’ll join Kyle in picking Herman’s experience to be the deciding factor in winning him the fight. Herman via submission in the third.

LW: Daron Cruickshank (12-3) vs. Yves Edwards (42-19-1)

Symes: This has “Fight of the Night” written all over it. Daron Cruickshank and Yves Edwards are two of the most exciting fighters in the lightweight division. Expect some crazy striking exchanges in the early going, but look for Edwards to utilize his “Thugjitsu” to take a wild decision victory.

DeRose: I agree that this could involve some crazy exchanges on the feet. Edwards tends to win those battles. Add in the fact that Edwards has a better grappling game and you have a recipe for a decision victory in favor of Edwards.

Kuhl: Edwards has been around forever. This guy is easily one of the most underrated and seasoned guys in the UFC as a whole, let alone in this division. Edwards is a well-rounded animal. Cruickshank is 2-1 in the promotion, and with two of those fights going to decision, he has hardly cemented his standing. I really think Edwards knows the implications of this fight and will do what he needs to do to secure a decision victory.

LW: Mac Danzig (21-10-1) vs. Melvin Guillard (30-12-2)

Kuhl: To call TUF contestants Melvin Guillard and Mac Danzig veterans is a ridiculous understatement. It’s easy to dwell on the long, 77-combined-fight history of Guillard and Danzig, but it’s important to understand that Guillard has one win in his last five fights and Danzig has two. Both men are strong strikers, but Danzig has a much better ground game. If Guillard doesn’t win on his feet, he loses, which is why it’s very interesting that he moved to Trevor Wittman’s Grudge Training Center in Wheat Ridge, Colo., with Wittman being a kickboxing coach, first and foremost. I see Danzig taking this one by his first submission in five years to get back to his old ways.

DeRose: This will either be a great battle on the feet or a one-sided grappling clinic put on by Danzig. I think both guys possess the striking to beat the other, but if I had to choose I’m inclined to give Danzig the slight edge. I think Danzig starts out striking, but, like Dan, I think he finishes with a submission.

Symes: I’m not sure why either of my fellow panelists are anticipating a striking battle between these two. Guillard has next to zero ground game, whereas Danzig has a fairly decent ground game to compliment his stand-up. Everyone knows the blueprint for taking out Guillard, so expect Danzig to follow it. Danzig via submission.

LW: Danny Castillo (15-5) vs. Tim Means (18-4-1)

DeRose: Danny Castillo has a slick wrestling and striking style that earned him a big unanimous decision victory over Paul Sass in his last fight. The only way I see Tim Means winning this fight is on the feet, but I think Castillo’s takedowns certainly get the best of Means here. Castillo by unanimous decision.

Symes: Castillo is one of those fighters struggling to get out of the mid-tier level of fighters. He’s talented and has proven that he can win on the biggest stage. Means may look to overwhelm him early, but I see Castillo’s wrestling being the difference. Castillo by unanimous decision.

Kuhl: Means rolled through King of the Cage like a bulldozer and continued right into the UFC with his quick TKO of Justin Salas in June 2012. While he dropped a unanimous verdict to Jorge Masvidal in April, I still think he will be a force to be reckoned with in the Octagon. Having followed WEC from early 2007 until the end of the promotion, I’m very familiar with Castillo, but he’s really hard to predict—like when he was beating Michael Johnson but got cold-cocked to lose the fight. Castillo is still 5-2 in the UFC and really has to make a statement here. This is one of the toughest fights to pick on this card, but I’m looking at Means to take it via decision and get back in the win column.

LW: Michael Chiesa (9-0) vs. Jorge Masvidal (24-7)

Symes: I’m still confused as to why this bout wasn’t added to the main card given the records of both guys. Michael Chiesa is an Ultimate Fighter winner and Jorge Masvidal is one of the division’s experienced veterans. Chiesa comes into the fight undefeated, but I don’t see him leaving the cage with his unblemished record intact. Masvidal is too experienced and too good for Chiesa at this moment in his career.

Kuhl: I really think Chiesa has a bright future in the UFC and has a chance at keeping his winning streak alive, but Masvidal will be his biggest test yet. As many TUF winners soon realize, fighting TUF guys is great for a while, but eventually you have to graduate to the next tier, and Masvidal is in a tier above anyone Chiesa has ever faced. Between Strikeforce, Bellator, BodogFight and his original AFC promotion, he has never left a promotion with more than one loss. Furthermore, most of his losses are to guys like Gilbert Melendez, Paul Daley, Rodrigo Damm and Raphael Assuncao. With 31 fights under his belt, a deep set of striking skills, and American Top Team in his corner, Masvidal is sure to hand Chiesa his first professional loss by TKO.

DeRose: Yeah, I think Masvidal has this one in the bag. Chiesa is simply not at the level of Masvidal just yet. Masvidal wins the featured fight of the FX prelims via TKO.

Top Photo: Demetrious Johnson (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Kyle Symes
Staff Writer

Kyle is a recent graduate of Aurora University, where he obtained a Bachelor's in Communications. Kyle resides in Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He played baseball and football in both high school and college, but is now focusing on an amateur MMA career.