Michael McDonald is one of the sport's best young bantamweights. | J. Sherwood/Sherdog.com
The UFC Fight Night 24 preliminary card is examined by Sherdog.com staff. Five of the bouts will stream live on the UFC’s Facebook page.
Alex Caceres vs. Mackens Semerzier
Tomasz Marciniak: Every season of “The Ultimate Fighter” has contestants that get on the show largely thanks to their personality and then manage to parlay their stint in the TUF House into a UFC deal. Such was the story with Junie Allen Browning and Dave Kaplan, and such is the story with Caceres. Semerzier isn't likely to challenge for UFC gold, but he is skilled enough to tap out serious grapplers and has demonstrated standup skills that should carry him through this fight. This is the Virginian’s fight to lose; I reckon he picks up a submission victory.
Rob King: Caceres is jumping into the shark tank head first. Sure he fought in The Ultimate Fighter, but it's not the same as the big show. When Semerzier made his big show debut, he took full advantage of it with that shocking submission victory over Wagnney Fabiano. It's not going to be pretty, but I like Semerzier to take a decision.
Guilherme Pinheiro: Caceres is making a huge jump in competition. I think Semerzier is the better fighter. He will catch Caceres with a submission at some point during the fight.
Todd Martin: Despite three losses in a row, Semerzier hasn’t looked overmatched against UFC opposition at all. Caceres was very entertaining on the Ultimate Fighter, but he didn’t demonstrate himself to be a UFC-level fighter. Semerzier will stop him.
Mike Russow vs. Jon Madsen
Lutfi Sariahmed: It seems like it's been forever and a day since Russow knocked out then uber-HW propsect Todd Duffee. About 10 months later he's stepping back into the cage against Madsen in a bout of solid, but not spectacular heavyweights. I like Russow to win a decision.
Freddie DeFreitas: I'm going have to give the edge to Madsen over Russow strictly on the basis of activity. Russow has only fought twice in the last two years, while Madsen fought three times in 2010 alone. If a guy like Duffee couldn't stop Russow with strikes, there's no chance for Madsen to notch the TKO; but, he should outhustle the Chicago native and walk away with the decision after three hard-fought rounds.
Martin: Russow’s wins usually come via outwrestling low level opposition. When he can’t get on top of his opponent, he struggles. Madsen will win most of the wrestling exchanges, securing him the fight.
King: I think Russow should have been in the UFC long before he actually was. Madsen is 3-0 in the UFC, but those wins are over three so-so fighters. Russow can bang, but he likes his submissions, as well. Madsen on the other hand looks for the one-punch finish. Russow should be able to get inside, get the fight to the ground, and garnish a submission.
John Hathaway vs. Kris McCray
Tristen Critchfield: Hathaway's undefeated run was surprisingly halted by Mike Pyle at UFC 120, but the Brit remains an intriguing prospect. McCray, meanwhile, is probably on the promotion's chopping block after consecutive defeats. It should make for good theater, as both fighters enter the Octagon with something to prove. Despite the recent loss, Hathaway is trending upward. His ground-and-pound and the ability to threaten with submissions will ultimately doom McCray. Hathaway by TKO.
Tony Loiseleur: Barring a career hiccup in his last fight, dropping a decision to a solid vet like Pyle, I still think there's a fair bit of momentum behind the young Hathaway, who at 23 has already realized so much potential. Whether it's staying in close to hustle guys like Rick Story or handling a top ten talent and former title challenger in Diego Sanchez, Hathaway should have more than enough to dispatch of McCray within fifteen minutes. McCray hasn't been finished by anything other than submissions yet, but I think Hathaway bullies McCray on the feet with rangy punches before putting him on the ground to give him his first TKO, probably by round two.
Marciniak: Takedown defense has been McCray's undoing, and against a good wrestler like Hathaway it will likely be the key factor in the outcome of the fight. Though he has come down in weight since “The Ultimate Fighter,” I still think wrestling will be McCray's undoing. Pyle forced us to cool down on the Brit's hype, but McCray is not Pyle and will be put on his back. I like Hathaway on points.
Michael McDonald vs. Edwin Figueroa
Pinheiro: This is a very good fight between bantamweight prospects. However, McDonald is the better upstart and should win this one by technical knockout in the very first round.
Marciniak: McDonald is one of the most talented young bantamweights out there. Though his KO-laden record points to his striking prowess, he is no slouch on the ground since his loss to Cole Escovedo back in 2009. Figueroa, who's faced one opponent with a winning record and fought exclusively in Texas thus far, might be in over his head here. I like McDonald to finish it inside one round, probably by TKO.
Critchfield: Another matchup of prospects to help sort out the pecking order in the UFC's bantamweight division. McDonald offers solid striking, having finished seven of his 11 victories by knockout or technical knockout, and a brown belt in jiu-jitsu. He's also accumulated a decent resume at only 20 years old. None of the unbeaten Figueroa's fights have seen the judges' scorecards, but he hasn't been tested like McDonald. McDonald by TKO or submission.
Loiseleur: There's not much out there on either fighter at the moment, but what McDonald little media there is out there, it speaks strongly for him coming into this fight. McDonald's WEC 52 showing against Clint Godfrey indicates he's got good, quick striking, as well as lightening fast subs. He also has a TKO victory over former WEC featherweight champ Escovedo, a win that essentially got him a Zuffa contract. For the meantime, I'll be leaning toward him to give Figueroa his first loss in his UFC debut.
Sean McCorkle vs. Christian Morecraft
Jordan Breen: Morecraft is seen as a bit of an afterthought in the UFC's heavyweight division, but I'm not sure how appropriate it is. After all, prior to being knocked out by Stefan Struve, he was absolutely crushing the vertically-inclined Dutchman in round one. Morecraft has more firepower on the feet than McCorkle, and should be able to avoid the takedown. McCorkle would be keen to pull guard, as he did against Mark Hunt, to get the fight to the ground where he excels. However, Morecraft is still likely to tire out and possibly stop McCorkle in the same fashion that Struve was able to. However, a part of all of us likely roots for McCorkle, strictly on the hope of more good one-liners in the UFC.
Brian Knapp: Morecraft was enjoying a coming out party at UFC 117, right up until Struve knocked him cold. Carelessness cost him in that fight, and it costs him again here, as McCorkle submits him.
Critchfield: Both fighters are looking to bounce back from recent setbacks at the hands of Struve. It's always good to have McCorkle around for pre-fight hype, but how he will fare against increasingly difficult competition remains a question. He should find the current matchup to his liking. Morecraft has been less active lately than McCorkle; expect "Big Sexy" to come out on top in a quick but entertaining affair. McCorkle by first-round TKO.
Loiseleur: Morecraft is certainly aggressive, but he's also pretty reckless; heedless of defending punches on the feet, as well as submission and sweep attempts when he has an opponent grounded. Equally aggressive is McCorkle however, who has decent striking and grappling ability relative to Morecraft. It should be an entertaining first five minutes in which both men will try to set the pace for the rest of the fight by landing the first big winging shot. At the moment, I'm inclined to pick Morecraft if only because I can see him blitzing McCorkle with an early killshot, but that's not to say that McCorkle can't catch the reckless Morecraft in a sub before then either. Either way, I don't see this fight reaching the final bell.
Johny Hendricks vs. Anthony Waldburger
Sariahmed: Poor Waldburger. Here you are, preparing for your second fight in the UFC against Dennis Hallman. You're moving your way up the ladder with a possible 2-0 start staring at you in the face. 2-0 in the UFC at least buys you another several more bouts. But then Hallman gets injured and in steps Hendricks. Such is life in the UFC. The former Oklahoma State star will use his wrestling to frustrate Waldburger all fight and win by TKO.
DeFreitas: Hendricks may not be the most technical striker in the division, but there's no question he has legitimate knockout power in both hands. Add a top-tier wrestling game into the mix and you've got a long night ahead for Waldburger Hendricks will rebound from the loss to Story -- the first of his career -- with a third-round stoppage of his prey.
Knapp: Hendricks pairs his excellent wrestling skills with heavy hands, keeps the fight standing and stops Waldburger on punches inside the first round.
Breen: Waldburger impressed the pants off of me in his win over David Mitchell, one of the most underrated UFC fights in ages, and one that set the all-time Octagon mark for the most submission attempts in a fight. Hendricks is a different animal all together, however: his boxing is developing, but still beyond Waldburger's, and his wrestling will give him the ability to stick his opponent on his back, shut down his sweeps, and beat him up. Whether Hendricks can bring out the firepower necessary to get a stoppage remains to be seen, but he should at the very least win this fight on the scorecards.
Aaron Simpson vs. Mario Miranda
Martin: For a pair of fighters who have lost a collective four out of their last five fights, I’m a believer in the skills of Miranda and Simpson. Miranda’s size is tricky to deal with and he presents dangers wherever the fight goes. Simpson hits really hard and has a great wrestling base. I worry about Simpson’s ability to deal with Miranda’s youth and reach, but I still give him the tentative nod. I think he’ll keep the fight close and beat up Miranda on the inside.
Sariahmed: In Simpson's last five fights he's gone 3-2. The pattern in each one of those fights? He's lost to the superior striker with takedown defense. Miranda, though still a formidable prospect, is neither at this point. I'll take Simpson via decision thanks in large part to his wrestling.
King: If you only bet on Arizona State wrestlers every time out, your bank account would probably be pretty healthy these days. Sure Simpson has lost his last two, but his wrestling is still a million times better than Miranda's. Miranda has submissions and I suppose there is a chance he could catch Simpson on the ground while he is grounding-and-pounding, but I don't see it happening. Simpson will take a decision by a wide margin.
DeFreitas: The task at hand for Simpson in this fight is quite simple; avoid any significant damage from Miranda on the feet, place the AMC Kirkland product on his back round after round and the decision win should come easily for the "A-Train."
Nik Lentz vs. Waylon Lowe
Marciniak: Both are good wrestlers and base their strategies on taking the opponent down. Lowe is more dangerous in the striking department, thanks to his power and better technique. On the other hand, Lentz has proven his takedown mettle against better wrestlers. Even if the Minnesotan didn't deserve the nod against Tyson Griffin, he still had success in getting the fight to the ground. Of the two, I think Lentz will avoid trouble standing and pressure Lowe with his wrestling to win another decision.
King: Lowe is running into a road block here, as Lentz's wrestling should be more than enough to earn a TKO stoppage on the ground and hopefully get him onto the main card.
Pinheiro: We all know what we are getting with Lentz. IÂ´m expecting more of the same as he will use his wrestling to control Lowe against the fence on his way to another decision win.
Martin: Over the course of his UFC career, Lentz has demonstrated a more well developed and complete MMA game than Lowe. With Lowe’s wrestling background, I expect him to fight Lentz tough. However, Lentz should get the better of exchanges and grind out another decision win.
Tomasz Marciniak 42-18
Brian Knapp 41-19
Guilherme Pinheiro 39-21
Rob King 39-21
Jordan Breen 39-21
Tristen Critchfield 38-22
Tony Loiseleur 38-22
Todd Martin 37-23
Lutfi Sariahmed 35-25
Freddie DeFreitas 35-25