UFC on Fuel TV 3 Prelims: 5 Reasons to Care

By Mike Whitman May 14, 2012

Less than two weeks after the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s third effort on Fox’s flagship network, the Las Vegas-based promotion returns to Fuel TV for a featherweight main event between Chan Sung Jung and Dustin Poirier on Tuesday at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Va. Prior to the main card broadcast, however, the UFC will stream six undercard attractions live on Facebook.
Here are five reasons to tune in to the UFC on Fuel TV 3 “Korean Zombie vs. Poirier” prelims:

‘Prince’ or Pauper

While many World Extreme Cagefighting veterans have excelled since the promotion’s merger with the UFC, Kamal Shalorus is not one of them.

In fact, “The Prince of Persia” is still looking for his first UFC win after two ill-fated Octagon appearances saw him finished by both Jim Miller and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Regarded as one of the stronger competitors in the weight class, Shalorus’ inability to expand his offensive arsenal to include more than his sledgehammer hooks and elite wrestling base appears to have made him predictable in recent times.

Additionally, the Iranian-born competitor’s conditioning has never been regarded as his strong suit, as evidenced in both of his Octagon defeats, as well as his close call against Bart Palaszewski in Shalorus’ final WEC appearance.

One would think the odds are good on Shalorus receiving his walking papers if he records another loss, especially when considering the ultra-competitive division in which he fights. Though the lightweight’s exact age is anyone’s guess, his number of remaining rodeos is likely limited. With his back pressed against the wall, can the “Prince” earn his first UFC win, or will Rafael dos Anjos send him packing?

Time for Tavares

Despite suffering his first career defeat in his last outing, Brad Tavares is still a person of interest at middleweight. Arguably the promotion’s thinnest division, the 185-pound category needs up-and-coming talent to climb the ladder that Anderson Silva has thus far decimated.

Only 24 years old, Tavares is a veteran of “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 11, during which the native Hawaiian fought his way to the show’s semifinals before submitting to Court McGee. That exhibition loss notwithstanding, Tavares maintained his perfect professional record through his first two official Octagon appearances, outpointing Season 11 castmate Seth Baczynski in 2010 and following up with a first-round knockout of veteran Phil Baroni to kick off 2011.

His momentum would not last, however, as Tavares dropped a unanimous decision to Aaron Simpson at UFC 132 in July. The middleweight was expected to return to the cage in October against Tim Credeur, but he was sidelined by an injury. Stepping into the Octagon for the first time in 10 months, can Tavares reverse his momentum against Dongi Yang and show he belongs in a division desperate for viable contenders?

Grant’s Lightweight Legs

T.J. Grant File Photo

Grant had a strong debut at 155.
Seven months ago, T.J. Grant made a successful lightweight debut at UFC Live 6, but can he repeat the trick against Carlo Prater?

Previously competing at 170 pounds, Grant failed to find consistency in his first six Octagon outings, posting a 3-3 record that was capped by a loss to Ricardo Almeida at UFC 124 in December 2010. Following 10 months on the shelf, the slimmed-down Canadian took his first step as a lightweight, submitting former Oklahoma State University wrestling standout Shane Roller with a third-round armbar. Roller would protest the stoppage immediately afterward, pointing out that he did not tap out to the hold. In spite of the controversy surrounding the finish, Grant’s impressive performance could mark the beginning of a solid career at lightweight for the 28-year-old.

Will his bout with Prater signify the start of something substantial or serve as another letdown?

Rivera’s Return, Soto’s Second Chance

Two fine 135-pound competitors will step into the cage in Virginia, and neither one can truly afford to take a loss.

Francisco Rivera’s time under the Zuffa umbrella was brief. “Cisco” debuted in World Extreme Cagefighting in 2010, eating a nasty head kick courtesy of Erik Koch that spoiled a previously perfect professional record. Following the WEC merger, Rivera returned to the cage in June and fell by submission to Reuben Duran in a hard-fought bout at “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 13 Finale.

Likewise, Alex Soto suffered his first professional setback upon his UFC arrival, falling by knockout to rising prospect Michael McDonald in just 56 seconds in November.

Since his departure from the UFC, Rivera has won back-to-back bouts, knocking out McDonald’s younger brother, Brad McDonald, and Antonio Duarte under the Tachi Palace Fights banner. Meanwhile, Soto has not competed since eating that barrage of punches from “Mayday” at UFC 139. A pink slip could be on the line in this one. Which man will make a statement and show he belongs among the UFC’s growing bantamweight ranks?

LeVesseur’s Debut

Undefeated through his college wrestling career, Marcus LeVesseur makes his UFC debut as a four-time NCAA Div. III wrestling champion.

LeVesseur was called upon to replace Aaron Riley against Cody McKenzie on just three weeks’ notice and will now have the opportunity to prove himself on the big stage. The Minnesotan’s debut differs from those of many other highly touted amateur wrestlers, as he already owns 21 professional MMA victories against just five defeats.

Will LeVesseur’s considerable professional experience guide him to a victory over the wily McKenzie, or will the “McKenzie-tine” claim another victim too eager to score a takedown?

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