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While the main card for UFC 252 on Saturday in Las Vegas remains strong, late changes have mostly gutted the prelims. Manel Kape was initially slated to debut against Rogerio Bontorin before both men were injured, and the fascinating John Dodson-Merab Dvalishvili tilt was bumped up to the pay-per-view portion of the card. As always, there is still some stuff to like. Jim Miller returns for his record 36th fight inside the Octagon, and there are some surprisingly crucial strawweight bouts featuring the return of Felice Herrig and the latest test for former Invicta Fighting Championships titleholder Livinha Souza.
Now to the preview for the UFC 252 “Miocic vs. Cormier 3” prelims:
LightweightsVinc Pichel (12-2) vs. Jim Miller (32-14)
ODDS: Pichel (-120), Miller (+100)
This will Mark Miller’s record 36th fight inside the UFC, and he proved in June that he is still as dangerous as ever. Over the last few years, the book on Miller is that he is no longer a three-round fighter. Well over a decade of wars and some well-documented battles with Lyme disease have taken a lot out of him, so the New Jersey native has essentially had to rely on a quick finish before he fades down the stretch. However, in his last bout against Roosevelt Roberts, Miller showed that he can even derail a top prospect in that strong first round, as he quickly clamped on an armbar and got the win in about two and a half minutes. Less than two months later, Miller is back against Pichel, one of the most underrated fighters in the UFC’s lightweight division. Pichel is probably still best known for his UFC debut against Rustam Khabilov back in 2012—Khabilov won by suplexing Pichel into unconsciousness—but the Californian has since put together a strong campaign despite constantly getting derailed due to injuries. “From Hell” missed all of 2013 due to injury, and after seemingly getting his career on track in 2014, Pichel suffered another cascade of injuries that kept him out of action for over three years. Thus far, Pichel’s only losses have come to Khabilov and Gregor Gillespie. However, the story of Pichel’s UFC career is summed up by the fact that this will only be his eighth fight in as many years under contract. This is a bit of a hard one to call, given that Pichel is usually in the position of being the stout veteran test, and despite being the older fighter here, he is certainly not the veteran of the two. His skill set is usually defined in terms of being able to neutralize and deal with younger and more athletic prospects like Roberts or Joaquim Silva, the men against whom Pichel’s two most recent wins came. Miller could just prove once again to be the better fighter and either blast Pichel or tap him fairly quickly, but “The Ultimate Fighter 15” semifinalist has proven to be quite sturdy and durable; and if nothing else, Pichel is the much more reliable fighter in terms of being able to keep a pace for three rounds. The pick is Pichel via decision.
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