International “Red, White and Fight” Week has concluded, and while MMA fans can catch their collective breath this coming weekend as they mourn for “The Prodigy” B.J. Penn’s departure from the sport and reflect on his puzzling final performance inside the Octagon that resembled a K-1 retirement match where the retiree would get embarrassingly destroyed, the UFC of 2014 won’t let up on its road to world domination for long. The promotion will be presenting a midweek Fox Sports 1 Fight Night card on Wednesday, July 16, from the Revel Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., headlined by a lightweight match-up between Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and Jim Miller that has the makings of a barnburner.

Both perennial contenders are looking to get back into the title picture, and either fighter getting a win over the other should make the beginnings of a strong case for title contention in the talent-rich lightweight division.

The rest of the main card is quite stacked by 2014 standards and features fan-favorite striker Edson Barboza against one-time contender Evan Dunham, almost-contender Rick Story against Brazilian newcomer Leonardo Mafra, lightweight wrestler Justin Salas against Lauzon protegé Joe Proctor, perennial contender and sometimes-flyweight Brazilian with a very un-Brazilian name John Lineker up against Alptekin Ozkilic, and kicking off the main card will be Brazilian Lucas Martins making his debut in his third weight class in just as many fights. Martins will face undefeated featherweight prospect Alex White.

The preliminary fights, most of which will also be aired on Fox Sports 1, will be headlined by lightweight gatekeeper and longtime UFC veteran Gleison Tibau against the scrappy Oregonian Team Quest product Pat Healy.

Also of note is the lone Fight Pass prelim, which will be the UFC’s first-ever women’s strawweight bout between Brazilian Nova Uniao product Claudia Gadelha and Finland’s Tina Lahdemaki.

The very first prelim fight will be shown on UFC Fight Pass at 6:30 p.m. ET, followed by the rest of the prelims on Fox Sports 1 starting at 7 p.m. ET. The main card will also be on Fox Sports 1 starting at 9 p.m. ET.

The MMA Corner’s Rob Tatum, RJ Gardner and Rob Young give their take on the entire card in this latest edition of the Round Table.

FW: Lucas Martins (14-1) vs. Alex White (10-0)

Tatum: Two very promising featherweight prospects will kick off the night’s main card. Undefeated Alex White steps in on short notice to take on the Brazilian Lucas Martins. Martins was originally slated to welcome Cage Warriors titleholder Jim Alers to the Octagon, but Alers was forced off the card just weeks before the event.

Alers’ loss may be White’s gain. The 25-year-old, Team Destruction fighter put on a show in his promotional debut back in April, knocking out Estevan Payan in less than 90 seconds. Just a few years ago, White was working at a fast-food restaurant and now he’s looking to extend his 10-fight winning streak that includes nine wins before the final bell. Although his most recent outings have resulted in wins via strikes, White is no slouch on the mat, where he has earned half his wins by submission.

Martins didn’t find the same success in his Octagon debut early last year, falling victim to countryman Edson Barboza via knockout. However, the Chute Boxe product bounced back with back-to-back wins over Jeremy Larsen and Ramiro Hernandez. The former Jungle Fight fighter possesses a strong Muay Thai attack, but he will be fighting outside his native Brazil for the first time in this contest.

White was both aggressive and precise with his striking attack against Payan, and he’ll need to do the same against a well-seasoned striker in Martins. If White can repeat his performance and force Martins to back up the way that Barboza did, he’ll rock the Brazilian and finish him off on the mat. White earns a late first-round submission win via guillotine choke.

Gardner: White just seems to have all the makings of being a “company” guy, a fighter who steps up on short notice and performs. His UFC debut came when he stepped in for an injured Mike Brown, and now he takes the cage again while filling in for an injured fighter. White has a very crisp striking attack, but he has an even better ground game.

Martins will be stepping into the Octagon for the fourth time in his young career. After getting off to a tough start against Barboza, he has stopped his last two opponents. Given that this is the first time Martins is fighting outside of his home country, you have to wonder if the travel will have an effect on his performance.

On the feet, Martins will have the advantage. Although White is no slouch on the feet, he will need to get this fight to the mat where he has the slight edge. White and Martins are well matched, so it will come down to either who gets caught or who makes a mistake. Since both guys are finishers, don’t expect to see this one go to the judges’ scorecards. White wins this one via second-round submission.

Young: My fellow panelists said all there really is to say about this match-up.

Martins and White are both great strikers with similar skill levels, but White has the advantage on the ground, which is a place where I can see him taking this fight. I’m going to join both my colleagues in predicting a submission win for White, and I’ll pick the second round.

FlyW: John Lineker (23-7) vs. Alptekin Ozkilic (9-2)

Gardner: John Lineker is a very talented flyweight prospect who is 4-2 in his UFC career, but he is on thin ice in the promotion, nonetheless, because he has missed weight three times in those six fights. Missing weight is unacceptable at any level, but it is grounds for dismissal in the UFC. Lineker needs to prove that he can make weight if he wants to continue to compete in the world’s biggest promotion.

Alptekin Ozkilic will also be fighting for his UFC life in this bout, but for a different reason. He is 1-1 in the UFC and has looked less than impressive in the Octagon. Ozkilic doesn’t necessarily need a win—the flyweight division is still extremely thin, after all—but he does need to put forth an impressive performance.

When you look at these two fighters, there is one thing that sticks out: Lineker has more ways to win. The Brazilian can hold his own on the ground. On the feet, he is a killer who owns 11 career knockout victories. Lineker wins this one via second-round TKO.

Young: Contrary to RJ’s assessment, Ozkilic actually impressed me in his UFC debut on short notice against a very underrated flyweight in Darren Uyenoyama. Their fight is in the books as a split decision victory for Ozkilic, but it can be viewed with UFC Fight Pass, where you can see how it should’ve been a clear 30-27 across the board for Ozkilic. Ozkilic dominated the fight via his wrestling and general positional dominance in the first two rounds, then really turned it up in the striking department in the third, getting a few clean shots in and even rocking Uyenoyama at one point. It was also a fight where Ozkilic displayed competent takedown defense, only giving up two takedowns out of 13 attempts from Uyenoyama. The judges’ scores in this fight were all over the place—30-27 Ozkilic, 29-28 Uyenoyama and 29-28 Ozkilic—but again, this should’ve easily been a 30-27 fight for Ozkilic with a 29-28 score going his way being barely acceptable.

Needless to say, I was quite bullish on the Turk’s chances going into his next fight against Hawaiian newcomer Louis Smolka. While Ozkilic had his moments in the first round and even won that round on the scorecards most likely due to his takedowns and time on top, the rangy Smolka was picking him apart in the stand-up portion, which continued into the second round. Ozkilic appeared to gas out and just allowed Smolka to run through him for the rest of the fight in every possible way. It seemed like Smolka set a pace way too feverish for Ozkilic to keep up with, and that led to Ozkilic’s first loss in the UFC.

American Top Team’s Lineker shares this card with teammate Gleison Tibau, who is known for cutting massive amounts of weight to make 155 pounds and has only missed weight once in the UFC (his opponent, Jeremy Stephens, also missed weight that day, as did others on that same card, for what it’s worth). Fighting on the same card as Tibau should bode well for Lineker in his battle with the scale, which RJ touched on. Lineker probably has the most dangerous hands in the flyweight division and is capable of knocking out anyone, but he appears to have cardio issues later in the fight, especially when dealing with a wrestler who wants to take him down, like Ali Bagautinov. Unlike Bagautinov, however, Ozkilic does seem to be hittable, and was rocked by Smolka early in their fight.

I see this fight playing out in one of two ways. Either Lineker gets the knockout early in the first round, or Ozkilic gets the takedown early and often, wearing the Brazilian out to get a decision win. It seems like a bit of a coin toss, but seeing how often Ozkilic did get hit cleanly in his last two fights, I’m going to pick Lineker to win by first-round TKO.

Tatum: As RJ pointed out, Lineker’s first fight will be against the scales. Since his promotional debut, the Brazilian has repeatedly struggled to reach the flyweight limit and he’s certainly on thin ice.

Ozkilic’s first two Octagon appearances were polar opposites. I share Rob’s recollection of his impressive performance against Uyenoyama, but I cannot ignore the egg he laid against Smolka. Smolka was able to frustrate Ozkilic with forward pressure in the later rounds and tire him out.

Lineker will bring a very different approach. “Hands of Stone” will coming out firing and looking for the knockout. That could play in Ozkilic’s favor in the opening round, so long as he can avoid being hit. Based on his fight with Smolka, that’s a big if.

Both fighters have shown a tendency to fade as fights wear on, but like my colleagues, I can’t ignore Lineker’s pure finishing ability. I’ll take the Brazilian by highlight-reel knockout in the first round.

LW: Joe Proctor (9-2) vs. Justin Salas (12-5)

Young: This is Joe Proctor’s fourth fight in the UFC. But outside of dropping a decision to Ramsey Nijem, we haven’t really seen him get put to the test in the big show yet. His wins are a knockout of Jeremy Larsen, who is winless in the Octagon, and a unanimous decision over Cristiano Marcello, who is a severely limited fighter. Proctor trains with the Lauzon brothers, so he does have a good team behind him, and in his pre-UFC career, he was able to get mostly submission wins over lesser opponents. However, it appears that his submission game may not be good enough to pull it off in the big leagues.

Justin Salas has alternated between wins and losses in the UFC, and his wins are over pretty good competition. He comes from a wrestling background and appears to have the necessary skills to do well in the Octagon, but he has fallen short against a couple of tough veterans who are both arguably better than their records suggest. The level of competition Salas has been up against is much higher than that which Proctor has faced.

Considering Salas has some submission losses on his record, there is a possibility that Proctor could get the submission. However, with Salas’ decent wrestling base and recent level of competition, I’m going with Wyoming native to take the unanimous decision in this fight.

Tatum: My fellow panelist (and namesake) has done a solid job of pointing out the two biggest factors in this fight: Proctor’s opposition and Salas’ wrestling.

Since his appearance on The Ultimate Fighter: Live, Proctor has been fed a steady diet of TUF alums. The Boston fighter passed with flying colors against Larsen and Marcello, but he was clearly overmatched by Nijem’s aggression and, you guessed it, wrestling. Proctor does possess a boxing base on the feet, but he prefers to attack on the mat, as evidenced by his four wins via submission.

Salas certainly has faced tougher opposition, but he’s struggled against a superior grappler in Thiago Tavares and a much larger opponent in Tim Means. The former Wyoming wrestler has shown improvements in his stand-up attack with each outing. Coupled with his well-timed takedowns, the Colorado-based fighter has been able to overcome well-traveled veteran Aaron Riley, Australian Ben Wall and recent UFC debutant Joe Ellenberger.

As Rob pointed out, Salas’ wrestling will be the difference here. He’ll be able to dictate where this fight takes place and prevent Proctor from finding a rhythm. I’ll echo Rob’s prediction and take Salas by unanimous decision.

Gardner: The two Robs have been quick to point out Salas’ wrestling chops as a huge advantage heading into this fight, and I have to agree. Salas is a very savvy wrestler with great control. I look for him to impose his will on Proctor from the onset.

Proctor has some real talent. If Salas leaves an opening, Proctor can finish the fight. Yet, he just isn’t on Salas’ level. When you consider how much Proctor struggled against the wrestling of Nijem, you have to believe he will experience similar results against Salas.

Salas hasn’t won back-to-back fights since 2011, so he needs to show that he can consistently compete with UFC-caliber competition if he wants to move up the ranks. As long as Salas doesn’t get sloppy or overconfident, he should overwhelm Proctor. Salas wins this one via unanimous decision.

WW: Leonardo Mafra (11-1) vs. Rick Story (16-8)

Gardner: Just over three years ago, Rick Story was riding a six-fight winning streak, including a win over current UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks. He looked destined for a UFC title shot, but then his train came off the tracks. Since that time, Story is a dismal 3-5 in the Octagon and has struggled against mid-level talent.

Standing across the Octagon from Story will be Leonardo Mafra. Mafra is returning to the Octagon for the first time since his TKO loss to Thiago de Oliveira Perpetuo two years ago. Mafra comes in riding a five-fight winning streak with all five wins coming by way of knockout.

Current record aside, Story is an animal. The guy is one of the strongest fighters in the welterweight division, he is a powerful wrestler and he comes forward like a charging rhino. The constant forward motion could prove to be his downfall in this fight, though, as Mafra is a violently powerful Muay Thai striker with devastating knee strikes. Story has never been finished, but Mafra has the power to put anyone to sleep. Mafra wins this one via second-round knockout.

Tatum: I hate to blow holes in my colleague’s argument, but he set it up well and came to the wrong conclusion.

Story has fallen on tough times. You have to go back to 2011 to find the last time he won back-to-back fights, but the 29-year-old has faced highly ranked opponents in his defeats and his last two losses came via split decision. The Oregon native is a pressure fighter who throws strikes with reckless abandon and has a granite chin.

Mafra, meanwhile, is every bit the dangerous striker that RJ described. The Chute Boxe fighter has heavy hands and isn’t afraid to throw them, wildly. The biggest concern with Mafra is his level of competition. He has feasted on lesser foes in his native Brazil, leading to his current winning streak. But during his time on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, he was submitted by Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira and lost his lone UFC appearance against Perpetuo.

Unless Story gets extremely careless and allows Mafra to stay at range, the American will use his grinding pressure to overwhelm the Brazilian. Story by unanimous decision.

Young: I have to side with my fellow Rob for this match-up.

Crushing cans in the regional circuit in a country like Brazil, where most of his opponents were most likely wrestling deficient, doesn’t come anywhere close to convincing me that Mafra will have anything for a fighter like Story, who has proven he belongs in the UFC.

I see Mafra getting taken down repeatedly and grinded out for a scorecard of 30-27 in favor of “The Horror.”

LW: Edson Barboza (13-2) vs. Evan Dunham (14-5)

Tatum: The night’s co-main event features two lightweights looking to get back in the win column after falling victim to submissions from headliner Donald Cerrone in each of their most recent outings.

After taking the division by storm with his flashy striking, Brazilian Edson Barboza has come back to Earth over the last two years. Despite compiling a gaudy record in the world of kickboxing, Barboza’s chin has been become suspect over his last five fights. First came the shocking upset loss to Jamie Varner, then he was rocked badly by Danny Castillo (before ultimately recovering and winning the fight), and was rocked badly by Cerrone before getting submitted. The 28-year-old brings a devastating kicking arsenal, but he does not respond well to pressure.

Evan Dunham will step into the cage badly in need of a win. The 32-year-old has dropped three of his last four fights, albeit against top-10 opponents. Dunham is tough as nails. The former University of Oregon wrestler has developed a solid boxing attack during his time with Xtreme Couture, but he hasn’t shown consistent finishing ability with his stand-up. He’s only been finished twice, once by Melvin Guillard and once by the aforementioned Cerrone, and in both cases Dunham elected to brawl with superior strikers.

Dunham’s willingness to brawl could be the deciding factor in this fight. He could drag Barboza into a firefight and test his chin, or he could end up on the wrong end of a highlight-reel finish. Despite Dunham’s wrestling background, this fight will likely take place on the feet. Look for Barboza to use his leg kicks early and often to slow Dunham’s movement, before ultimately finishing Dunham with a liver kick in round two.

Young: My colleague hit the nail on the head here. Dunham tends to trade blows with fighters when he shouldn’t be doing so. Barboza is one of those fighters.

Although Barboza does have the aforementioned suspect chin, I don’t see Dunham being capable of capitalizing on it. In fact, the only ways I see him winning are via submission or a close decision.

The most likely outcome is Barboza catching Dunham with a knockout blow during some kind of furious exchange. I also have Barboza winning via TKO in the second round.

Gardner: Much like the night’s main event, this bout features two of the most exciting lightweight fighters in the UFC. Barboza and Dunham are both in need of a win here, though, if they want to remain relevant in the upper echelon of the UFC lightweight division.

Dunham has an excellent skill set with solid striking and an excellent grappling attack, but he has shied away from his grappling and it has hurt him in the win department. Barboza, on the other hand, doesn’t try to go out of his comfort zone. He is a striker, plain and simple.

If Dunham can put the pressure on Barboza and get back to his grappling roots, then he will prevail. However, I don’t see that happening. Dunham has fallen in love with brawling, and against Barboza, he just doesn’t stack up. Barboza wins via second-round TKO.

LW: Donald Cerrone (23-6) vs. Jim Miller (24-4)

Young: This match-up between Donald Cerrone and Jim Miller has fireworks written all over it.

Miller is definitely one of the best lightweights in the UFC, but he has come just short of a title shot a few times in his career. He is very well rounded, with a good wrestling base, competent striking and a great submission game. Two of his three recent losses (counting the Pat Healy no-contest as an actual loss for the purposes of this discussion) were against guys whose wrestling was at about the same level as Miller’s wrestling, and that’s where he seems to have the most difficulty. Although Miller’s aforementioned submission game is definitely top notch, he also has shown that can be submitted by the very top-level submission fighters at lightweight. Case in point being the memorable loss via guillotine to Nate Diaz where he lost his mouthpiece and looked like he was biting through his tongue while everyone was watching The Avengers, or Healy’s marijuana metabolite-fueled rear-naked choke victory over him at UFC 159 which was overturned due to said metabolites.

Cerrone is very much like Miller, in that he has experienced a great deal of success in the UFC by defeating many of the top fighters in the lightweight division, but losing to the very best ones. His Muay Thai-based striking is some of the best stand-up in the division, and he is also very skilled in the submission department. The knock against Cerrone used to be how slow of a starter he was, but he appears to have rectified this as of late in his current three-fight winning streak that includes a thrilling first-round, head-kick knockout of Adriano Martins, who we just saw on the TUF 19 Finale. Another knock on Cerrone seems to be his inconsistency. When he was up against Dennis Siver, he was controlling the whole fight, completely running through the German fighter in a shockingly one-sided affair that famously had coach Greg Jackson overly excited and screaming out, “GO GET SOME, DO-NALD CER-RO-NAY!” from his corner. But against Nate Diaz, Cerrone seemed to almost allow Diaz to pick him apart in a lopsided decision loss.

The outcome of this fight is going to come down to which Cerrone shows up, and how he reacts to the pressure Miller puts on him. It could easily go either way, but I’ll go with the more consistent fighter and pick Miller to win by submission in the second round.

Gardner: If you aren’t excited for this match-up, then you are not a true MMA fan. Miller and Cerrone are two of the most exciting and talented lightweight fighters in the world. They have 15 “Fight Night” bonuses between them. Win or lose, these guys know how to put on a great show.

Heading into the match-up, Miller and Cerrone are a combined 5-0 with all five of their combined wins coming by way of stoppage. Regardless of where this fight ends up, both men have the ability to end it in a flash. However, Cerrone is the more technical striker and Miller has a slight advantage in the grappling department.

Cerrone can be a slow starter, and that will prove to be pivotal against Miller, who comes out of the gates fast and furious. If Cerrone comes in on point from the start, he will have the edge. However, he has shown time and time again that he struggles out of the gates. Because of this, Miller will set the tone and keep Cerrone off balance all fight with a mix of striking and takedowns. Miller wins via unanimous decision.

Tatum: Five rounds of two of the most reliable finishers in the UFC? Sign me up.

I’m going to quickly jump in as the voice of dissent against my fellow panelists. Cerrone and Miller have a combined 35 finishes in 47 wins, but it’s Cerrone who has the tools to finish on the feet and on the mat. Miller is a capable striker, but he’s going to be outgunned in the striking department.

Both my colleagues pointed out Cerrone’s slow starts, but that has a lot to do with his Muay Thai background. He patiently finds his range and then punishes his opponents with smooth combinations. His 15 wins via submission are misleading because many of them were set up by rocking his opponent on the feet.

Miller’s best asset is his grit. He’s not afraid to march forward and make his opponent uncomfortable. Combine that with a slick submission game and he’s as dangerous as any lightweight in the division. But Miller will face both a height and reach disadvantage against a much more seasoned striker in Cerrone.

Rob mentioned Miller’s loss to Diaz. Honestly, that fight should serve as a great preview of how this fight plays out. Miller can apply pressure with the best of them, but it’s not going to help him overcome Cerrone’s superior striking. Cerrone will catch Miller with a counter right hand in the second round, rocking the New Jersey native. From there, Cerrone will take Miller’s back and finish him off with a rear-naked choke.

Preliminary Card
Women’s StrawW: Claudia Gadelha (11-0) vs. Tina Lahdemaki (5-0)

Tatum: It’s really frustrating that the first women’s strawweight bout in UFC history is relegated to a stream on UFC Fight Pass, but I digress. The Brazilian, Claudia Gadelha, is the consensus No. 3-ranked 115-pound fighter on the planet and was twice expected to challenge for Invicta gold before succumbing to an injury and then an infection. Gadelha trains at Nova Uniao alongside Jose Aldo and Renan Barao and possesses a strong grappling game, including a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Finland’s Tina Lahdemaki may not be as well known as Gadelha, but the 26-year-old has strung together five straight wins as a flyweight and will be looking to play spoiler in her first bout outside of Europe. Unfortunately for Lahdemaki, Gadelha is the cream of the crop at 115 pounds. Had she not opted out of The Ultimate Fighter 20 due to concerns about repeatedly making weight, she would have been one of the favorites to claim the show and the division’s inaugural title. Gadelha puts on a show, scoring a second-round armbar.

Gardner: I, too, am very frustrated with the fact that the first UFC women’s strawweight fight will take place on UFC Fight Pass and not the main card, where it belongs. Gadelha and Lahdemaki are more than deserving, and both fighters will be making their debuts with undefeated records. Gadelha is one of the best women’s fighters in the world. She is a three-time world BJJ champion and her grappling is simply amazing. Lahdemaki is a game opponent who has a very bright future ahead of her, but Gadelha is on another level. Gadelha wins via first-round submission.

Young: My fellow panelists have heaped on enough praise of Gadelha that I don’t really need to reiterate or rephrase it, but this definitely has all the makings of a squash match. Nova Uniao produces killers, and “Claudinha” looks to be cut from the same cloth as Aldo and Barao. I implore anyone who has UFC Fight Pass to watch this fight and witness the UFC debut of potentially the second strawweight champ. Gadelha wins via submission in the first round. That is, if she actually makes it to the fight this time.

LW: Yosdenis Cedeno (9-3) vs. Jerrod Sanders (14-1)

Gardner: In a lightweight battle, Yosdenis Cedeno looks to get his first career UFC win against newcomer Jerrod Sanders. Cedeno had won six straight before dropping his UFC debut to Ernest Chavez at UFC 170. He is going to have his hands full with Sanders. Sanders is an elite wrestler who qualified for the U.S. World Team in 2005. Sanders wins via unanimous decision.

Young: Cedeno was originally set to face Leo Kuntz, but news of Kuntz pulling out of this match-up due to injury broke on June 30 and Sanders, who normally fights at featherweight, was selected as the late replacement in this lightweight bout. Sanders was set to fight Alexandre Pimental at featherweight on the undercard of the World Series of Fighting event that aired on NBC on July 5, but he was released from his contract for this short-notice opportunity in the UFC. It should be pointed out that while Sanders was previously set to fight at 145 pounds just last Saturday, he has fought at lightweight before in his career. He may end up coming in a bit smaller than he would like to at lightweight due to the short notice, but he was already training for a fight, so many of the short-notice caveats won’t apply to this match-up, other than him possibly having peaked too early.

Cedeno is a flashy striker with a karate-based style. He is a complete fish out of water on the ground and possesses mediocre takedown defense. His fighting style is very energy intensive and he doesn’t seem to have the cardio to keep it up over three rounds, especially with an opponent who is trying to take him down. Sanders, a decorated wrestler, will certainly be hunting for the takedown. This fight should be a walk in the park for Sanders, who should be able to get the fight on the ground with minimal effort and grind out Cedeno for the unanimous decision.

Tatum: Cedeno was certainly a victim of Octagon jitters in his promotional debut. The Cuban failed to showcase anything that would warrant a pick in this match-up…unless Sanders falls victim to the same scenario. My fellow panelists have highlighted the wrestling prowess of Sanders, and this fight is tailor-made for him. His lone defeat came via submission under the Bellator banner. That happens to be Cedeno’s biggest weakness. Look for Sanders to take Cedeno to the mat at will and lock up a fight-finishing arm-triangle choke early in round two.

BW: Aljamain Sterling (9-0) vs. Hugo Viana (8-1)

Young: Undefeated Aljamain Sterling is coming out of the Serra-Longo fight team, which has been producing some great fighters as of late. He looked great in his short-notice debut against Cody Gibson. My memory is a tad fuzzy on the specifics of the fight, but I do remember being very impressed at the time. Sterling will have his hands full with Hugo “Wolverine” Viana, who has done pretty well in his post-TUF career, going 3-1 with his only loss being to the current champ, T.J. Dillashaw. Given Sterling’s pedigree, however, I’m going to pick him to win a unanimous decision.

Tatum: This fight may actually come down to which fighter connects first. Both men have showcased wild and flashy striking. Although Viana sports just one knockout win and one loss on his record, both came via his willingness to brawl recklessly. The New York-based Sterling has drawn his praise through his first nine outings, but he was taken down multiple times against Gibson in his debut. However, he showcased strong submission defense and a high work rate. If Sterling can stay disciplined with his stand-up, he’ll get the better of the exchanges with the Brazilian. If things get wild, Sterling may finish Viana, but, like my colleague, I’ll take Sterling on the scorecards.

Gardner: Sterling was taken down by Gibson in his UFC debut, but that doesn’t mean anything in this match-up, because Viana doesn’t have the wrestling chops to get this fight to the ground. Viana does have an experience advantage, though. He has fought in the Octagon four times. Meanwhile, Sterling has the more well-rounded skill set. Sterling wins this one via second-round submission.

Women’s BW: Jessamyn Duke (3-1) vs. Leslie Smith (6-5-1)

Gardner: Leslie Smith might not have an impressive record on paper, but she can flat out scrap. Just like her fellow Cesar Gracie teammates, she is aggressive, throws a ton of strikes and can hold her own on the ground. However, it’s hard to know just how good she really is because she is fighting outside of her natural weight to compete in the UFC. Jessamyn Duke is still a very raw fighter, but training with UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey has allowed her to develop at an accelerated pace. Duke needs to learn how to use her length better if she wants to really make waves in the women’s bantamweight division, but she has the tools to get past Smith. Duke wins this one via unanimous decision.

Tatum: Smith really took a step backward in her last fight against Sarah Kaufman. Yes, it was on very short notice, but instead of the aggressive, volume striking that helped her gain recognition under the Invicta FC banner, we saw sloppy brawling. As RJ pointed out, Duke is still raw, but her training with Rousey and fellow veteran Shayna Baszler has helped her grow. She fell short against an aggressive Bethe Correia, but Duke’s length is a huge weapon. Smith is too crafty to finish, but Duke will use her height and reach to claim the win on the scorecards.

Young: Watching Duke’s fight against Correia was agonizing. As I remember it, Duke did literally nothing in the cage that night and Correia walked away with an easy decision win before memorably utilizing the promotional softball lobbed to her with the “Four Horsewomen” gimmick that noted pro-wrestling connoisseurs Rousey and Baszler had been bandying about. Duke has been presumably training with Edmond Tarverdyan alongside Rousey. Rousey’s stand-up game has improved leaps and bounds as of late, so I’m expecting some kind of improvement from Duke this time around. As for Smith, I’m going to chalk up her subpar performance against Kaufman to Octagon Jitters, as well as to fighting Kaufman. Considering all of this, I’m going to pick Smith to win by a close decision, but I’m still expecting to see more fight from Duke.

LW: Pat Healy (29-19) vs. Gleison Tibau (28-10)

Tatum: This fight is a win-or-go-home contest for Pat Healy. The veteran has had a rocky return to the promotion. After dazzling with a submission win over Jim Miller at UFC 159 (that was subsequently overturned to a no-contest due to marijuana), Healy has dropped three straight against top-15 ranked fighters. His road isn’t getting any easier, as he meets the well-traveled Gleison Tibau, who is also looking to get back in the win column after getting knocked out by Michael Johnson. History tells us that Healy and Tibau are well rounded, durable and crafty on the mat. It’s going to come down to who can convince the judges that they did enough for the win. Look for Healy to use the motivation of a potential pink slip to eke out a hard-fought decision over Tibau.

Young: My first time seeing Healy fight was back in 2010, in his No. 1 contender match-up with Josh Thomson in Strikeforce, and it was a performance that left an indelible impression on me that lives on to this day. It was a fight Healy lost, but it was much closer than expected. Healy had Thomson in trouble on a few occasions, which was much more than anyone expected from the Team Quest-trained fighter. Healy is the prototypical MMA grinder who doesn’t do anything pretty but has an iron will and seems to never stop attacking, however slow and unrefined that attack may be. Tibau is going to prove difficult to grind out, but Healy will be up to the challenge. Two of Healy’s losses in his recent skid were to explosive strikers who were too fast for him, and the other was to Khabib Nurmagomedov where he got out-grappled. I don’t see Tibau doing either of these things. This fight is going to the ground, and I’ll pick Healy to dominate Tibau in that area and take a clear unanimous decision.

Gardner: Healy will definitely be coming into this bout with a lot of motivation. Healy is a loss away from the regional circuit, but Tibau is a tough out for anyone. The one thing I will mention here is that Tibau and Healy are two monstrous lightweights who know how to use their size to grind opponents down. It will be interesting to see who can win the physical match-up. At the end of the day, Healy is just a little bit better. He wins this one via unanimous decision.

About The Author

Rob Young
Staff Writer

Born in London, Ontario and raised in Los Angeles, Rob Young has been following the sport of MMA since discovering it through the Ultimate Fighting Championship game for the Sega Dreamcast in 2000. In a previous life he produced hip hop music under the pseudonym Polyhedron and now works a day job in sound mixing for TV and film.

  • Joe

    Your logic is beyond flawed. It helps to watch the fights before you reference them.

    There is not a person in the mma scene who thinks Cerrone was “thoroughly dominating” Barboza prior to the finish. It is a general consensus by those of us blessed with eyesight that Barboza was handing him his ass and then got caught and submitted. Every single media outlet with concur with that description of the fight as Edson outstruck him almost 4-1. Cerrone himself said to quote, “I ate about 28 unanswered shots, I got a headache but its all good, just one more shot of whiskey”.

    Cerrone is the man and his chin won him the fight. However, he did not dominate anyone.

    • Joe,

      You might want to go back and watch that fight yourself. Barboza connected with a big right hand early, but beyond that, it was his jab and kicks from distance that led to the stats you’re referring to. And if you’re going to be so critical, you should take the time to actually look up the stats. Barboza landed a total of 28 strikes to Cerrone’s 11… that’s far from 4-to-1. In fact, it’s not even 3-to-1. This was a three-minute fight that saw Cerrone rock Barboza and submit him. The whole point of the reference was to question Barboza’s chin since it was the third time in the last two years that he had been rocked by an opponent (Varner, Castillo, Cerrone).

      • Joe

        That was my mistake my bad. Still, if Barboza was “only landing jabs and kicks” beyond the first combination, that still beats what Cerrone was landing until the fight ending jab.

        I respectfully disagree with the chin talk. These things are largely situational. To question his chin because he was rocked three times in two years is fragmentary thinking. By that logic, one of the best chins lightweight has ever seen in Diego Sanchez, has been rocked three times in two years (including against Pearson who’s power Barboza’s chin handled)

        Varner has hurt every one he’s fought in the UFC save for his injured foot fight.

        Castillo nearly finished Michael Johnson prior to facing Barboza and nearly decapitated his next opponent with the same punch Edson survived.

        As far as Cerrone’s jab, in my opinion (as a fan, not a fighter), it is not always so much about how hard the punch lands except its more about when it lands. Jack Slack released an interesting article about how Barboza’s chin talk was unwarranted because the punch landed with Barboza closing his eyes and loading up his right. He never saw the jab coming and those are the ones that hurt.

        • Barboza is still one of the most technical strikers in the UFC. Regardless of the questions about his chin, all three of our panelists picked him to beat Dunham by strikes. He’s still one of the most exciting fighters to watch in the UFC.

  • Rocky

    Do you have any ideas on who will win the Tavares vs. Peralta fight?
    What Round?
    How They Won? @TheMMACorner:disqus

    • Rocky, that fight is schedule for UFC Fight Night 47 in Maine on Aug. 16. We’ll have a full preview of that card roughly a week before it takes place.

      • Rocky

        Oh um ok well it was scheduled for fight night 45 according to ufc pickem