UFC 184’s lineup has taken a bit of a beating. After a wrath of injuries and rescheduled fights, it’s lost some seriously appealing matchups.
First, we waved goodbye to an appealing middleweight clash between Yoel Romero vs. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. Then, even more disappointingly, we lost the card’s original main event, a middleweight title fight between Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort. Even last weekend’s main event between Frank Mir and Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva was once scheduled for UFC 184’s main card. Really, there’s no denying UFC 184 is a shell of its former self. And though it’s still a very appealing event thanks to the pairing of Ronda Rousey and Cat Zingano, and the much-hyped debut of Holly Holm, you don’t have to look far to uncover a widespread disappointment in the card’s current state. If the tweets, Facebook comments and forum posts are any indication, some fans just aren’t digging it.
But let’s take a moment to appreciate what we do have. Yes, the pay-per-view portion of the card has lost some great matchups—enough that some fans might think twice about buying it—but in addition to a strong main event and some cool main card fights, UFC 184 also boasts a seriously awesome preliminary card. Complete with comebacks, Fight of the Night candidates, probable slugfests, and even the last stand of an MMA icon, the event’s early bouts should truly not be missed. And best of all, they’re free.
The night kicks off with a bout between UFC debutants Alexander Torres and Masio Fullen, a Mexican prospect who competed on The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America. Both are young and untested, and will undoubtedly look to make a statement as they enter the world’s premier MMA organization.
Next up, we’ve got a fight between Valmir Lazaro and James Krause. The former is a Brazilian striker who has won 9 of his 12 fights by knockout. The latter, who has fought 4 times in the UFC, has also fought for Bellator, WEC, Resurrection Fighting Alliance and Titan Fighting Championship, and has finished all but 2 of his 21 career victories—a figure that doesn’t account for the finishes he amassed as an 18-1 amateur. It’s a fight between two lightweight finish-machines, and the prelims only get better when it wraps up.
The second portion of the UFC 184 early show, which airs on Fox Sports 1, kicks off with a must-win heavyweight bout. On one side of the canvas will be Ruan Potts, a South African prospect who is yet to win a UFC bout. Across from him will be Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis, an absolute wrecking machine who has finished all but one of his victories by knockout, and looks to rebound from a recent loss to Matt Mitrione. Both hulking heavyweights have their backs against the wall, which means they’re likely to throw with that special kind of pepper that we only see when jobs are on the line. Heavyweight bouts are never a good time to blink, and that’s bound to be truer than ever in this one.
Up next is a bona fide Fight of the Night contender between Dhiego Lima—brother of Bellator welterweight champ Douglas Lima—and towering finisher Tim Means. Both fighters will be looking to make statements, as simply winning isn’t enough in the crowded welterweight division. And well-roundedness of both, it’s likely to unfold with back-and-forth action that sees both men in trouble.
The second last bout of the preliminary card is, for hardcore fans at least, one of the most anticipated fights of the night—and while Roman Salazar, one half of the bout, is a talented fighter, the excitement doesn’t have much to do with him. Most eyes will be on his opponent, oft-unheralded MMA legend Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto.
Kid, for all his past accomplishments, is currently neck-deep in an ugly three-fight skid, having lost of all his UFC bouts. If he loses his one, it’ll likely mean a return to MMA’s B-leagues or a heartbreaking, defeat-marred retirement. Of course, if his supporters get their way, the Japanese icon will return to glory with a blistering knockout victory—the kind that has separated 13 men from their senses. Either way, UFC 184 might be the last time we see Kid Yamamoto fight, whether he rides off into the sunset on a vintage win, or wanders back to his Tokyo gym with his head down.
As if the last stand of one of MMA’s most beloved fighters wasn’t enough to convince you to tune in, the UFC 184 prelims offer one final matchup: a middleweight clash between Mark Munoz and Roan “Jucão” Carneiro. At this stage, most fans are familiar with Mark Munoz, a hard-hitting wrestler who has been near the top for years. His opponent, however, who returns to the UFC for the first time since 2008, is a little less of a household name. But that doesn’t make him any less of a badass.
Actually, Jucão is about as badass as they come. A BJJ black belt and veteran of 28 pro fights, the Brazilian most recently competed in Battleground MMA’s one-night, eight-man tournament. And after defeating Randall Wallace (by armbar), Trey Houston (by TKO) and Brock Larson (by decision), he won the whole thing. If beating up three professional fighters in a single evening isn’t enough to earn a UFC comeback, it’s hard to say what is. Now, Jucão looks to prove he belongs on the big stage by taking out Munoz—who will certainly have other plans.
Yes, all of this goes down while Ronda Rousey, Cat Zingano, Holly Holm and Raquel Pennington are still warming up and getting their hands wrapped—and so long as you’ve got access to cable and UFC Fight Pass, it won’t cost you an additional nickel. So perhaps, instead of mourning the loss of all the cool fights that once called UFC 184 home, we should celebrate the evening’s intriguing prelim card—packed with Munoz’s power, Jucão’s comeback, Kid’s last stand, and a whole lot more. It’s a hell of a lineup, and after all, what’s not to like about free MMA?
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