Johnson vs Moraga undercard preview
Before UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson defends his title against John Moraga on FOX, Seattle's KeyArena will play host to a compelling lineup of prelims live on FX.
Here's what we can expect from the UFC on FOX 8 preliminary card.
Preliminary Card (FX):
Michael Chiesa (9-0) vs. Jorge Masvidal (24-7)
"The Ultimate Fighter 15" winner Chiesa risks his unblemished record against the well-travelled Strikeforce veteran Masvidal.
Chiesa, 25, won the reality show last year, submitting Al Iaquinta in the finals. In his sophomore Octagon appearance, Chiesa submitted Anton Kuivanen this past February.
The Washington native is now anchored at Team Alpha Male, where he trains with strong wrestlers to build on his submission base, which includes a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Masvidal, 28, has already fought over 30 times, including runs with Strikeforce, Sengoku and Bellator. He made his UFC debut this past April, earning a hard-fought unanimous decision over Tim Means.
The American Top Team disciple has competed at 170 pounds for the majority of his professional campaign, though he's excelled primarily as a lightweight. Since his debut in 2003, Masvidal has racked up wins over the likes of Joe Lauzon, Keith Wisniewski, Yves Edwards, Satoru Kitaoka, Billy Evangelista, K.J. Noons and Justin Wilcox.
Masvidal challenged Gilbert Melendez for the Strikeforce lightweight title in December 2011, dropping a competitive five-round decision, his first lightweight loss since 2009.
Chiesa is a slick submission specialist, while Masvidal threatens foes with a sharp boxing pedigree. We've seen Masvidal succumb to submissions in the past, but his advantage in the striking department should be the critical difference maker. After all, every fight begins standing.
Danny Castillo (15-5) vs. Tim Means (18-4-1)
In lightweight action, Team Alpha Male's Castillo tangles with the rebounding Power MMA product Means.
Castillo, 33, a BJJ brown belt and former NAIA All-American wrestler, stifled Paul Sass' submission wizardry when they crossed paths in February, falling back on his suffocating wrestling style to prevail by decision.
The San Francisco native has achieved mixed results during his WEC and UFC runs, earning key wins over Ricardo Lamas, Dustin Poirier, Joe Stevenson, Anthony Njokuani and John Cholish, while dropping fights to Michael Johnson, Jacob Volkmann, Anthony Pettis, Shane Roller and Donald Cerrone.
Means, 29, had his winning streak snapped against Jorge Masvidal in April. The former King of the Cage two-division champion was coming off UFC victories over Bernardo Magalhaes and Justin Salas.
The Oklahoma native served a prison sentence after a 2-3 start to his MMA career, but he's been on a roll ever since, knocking out 13 of his 18 career victims.
Means packs significant power in his shots, while Castillo's strategy involves more output and a pressuring wrestling game. The big show experience should serve Castillo well as he'll look to grind out the win with takedowns.
Mac Danzig (22-10-1) vs. Melvin Guillard (30-12-2)
An exciting lightweight showcase of longtime UFC staples pits "The Ultimate Fighter 6" welterweight winner Danzig against the explosive "TUF 2" veteran Guillard.
Danzig, 33, will look to rebound from a closely contested split decision loss against Takanori Gomi last November. Since winning the popular reality show, Danzig has gone on to defeat Mark Bocek, Joe Stevenson and Efrain Escudero, while coming out on the losing end against Matt Wiman, Jim Miller, Josh Neer and Clay Guida.
The Cleveland native has submitted 11 career foes, a testament to his ground game, although he also possesses fight-ending power, as evidenced by his first-round finish of Stevenson in December 2010.
Guillard, 30, a representative of Grudge Training Center in Colorado, tries to snap a two-fight losing skid against Jamie Varner and Donald Cerrone.
Inconsistency has been the primary criticism of Guillard's UFC run. Despite impressive wins over Dennis Siver, Gleison Tibau, Jeremy Stephens, Evan Dunham, Shane Roller and Fabricio Camoes, the Louisiana native has often succumbed to submissions, including losses to Miller, Joe Lauzon, Nate Diaz, Rich Clementi and Stevenson.
Guillard's speed and power shots always pose a major threat, but submission defense remains his Achilles' heel. Raw power and underrated scrambling ability should be major assets as he copes with Danzig in close quarters, ultimately looking to land one of his signature bombs.
Yves Edwards (42-19-1) vs. Daron Cruickshank (12-3)
In 155-pound action, the 62-fight veteran Edwards battles the taekwondo specialist Cruickshank.
Edwards, 36, is coming off a split decision loss to Isaac Vallie-Flagg at UFC 156 in February. In a career that dates back to 1997, the Bahamian pioneer has defeated the likes of Pete Spratt, Rich Clementi, Josh Thomson, Hermes Franca, Cody McKenzie, Rafaello Oliveira and Jeremy Stephens.
At this stage of his career, the American Top Team member is primarily a gate keeper, but his well-rounded arsenal and pivotal Octagon experience make him a threat on any given night.
Cruickshank, 28, was outpointed by John Makdessi when they clashed at UFC 158 in March. After a surprising knockout loss against James Vick on the 15th season of "The Ultimate Fighter," Cruickshank rattled off back-to-back wins over Chris Tickle and Henry Martinez.
The Michigan native also benefits from an NCAA Division III wrestling background, which he blends well with his dynamic kickboxing.
Cruickshank should have his hands full, replacing an injured Spencer Fisher on short notice, but he should be up for the task as he looks to punish Edwards with superior technical striking.
Ed Herman (20-9) vs. Trevor Smith (10-3)
In a middleweight battle of Washington natives, the BJJ black belt Herman returns to the Octagon to greet the UFC newcomer Smith.
Herman, 32, returned from nursing a knee injury in 2011, amassing a trifecta of wins over Tim Credeur, Kyle Noke and Clifford Starks. Most recently, the Team Quest product was submitted by Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza in January.
Herman is no stranger to high-level opposition, having fought the likes of Demian Maia and Jake Shields, even beating Glover Teixeira in 2005, but he can hardly afford to look past his debuting opponent on Saturday night.
Smith, 32, will attempt to return to the win column following a third-round submission setback at the hands of Tim Kennedy in January. During his Strikeforce run, Smith earned wins over Keith Berry and T.J. Cook.
Smith has finished the majority of his fights by submission, but he'll be hard-pressed to catch the savvy veteran. Herman will look to maintain constant pressure, while controlling the positional exchanges over the course of three rounds.
Julie Kedzie (16-11) vs. Germaine de Randamie (3-2)
Debuting female bantamweights will kick off the prelims as the highly experienced Kedzie takes on the relative novice de Randamie.
Kedzie, 32, is one of the true female pioneers of fighting. Since debuting in 2004, the Chicago native has fought 27 times, including wins over Kaitlin Young, Sarah D'Alelio, Jan Finney and Julia Berezikova.
The Greg Jackson-trained 3rd degree taekwondo black belt will look to snap a two-fight losing streak against Miesha Tate and Alexis Davis under the Strikeforce banner.
De Randamie, 29, bounced back from a loss to Julia Budd when she outpointed Hiroko Yamanaka at Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman last August.
The Dutch striker trains at San Jose's American Kickboxing Academy and she'll certainly benefit from competing at 135 pounds, a more fitting weight class. De Randamie's 37 consecutive kickboxing victories is a women's record.
De Randamie is unquestionably the superior pure striker, but Kedzie will threaten wherever the action spills. Kedzie's experience and multifaceted offense should be the difference makers as she closes the distance and bullies "The Iron Lady" in the clinch.
Preliminary Card (Facebook):¿
Aaron Riley (30-13-1) vs. Justin Salas (10-4)¿
The gritty southpaw Riley will compete for the first time since 2011 when he meets the rebounding Salas in a lightweight tilt.
Riley, 32, a product of Greg Jackson's New Mexico-based camp, suffered a first-round TKO loss against Tony Ferguson at UFC 135. The Pride veteran returned to the UFC in 2008, defeating Jorge Gurgel, Shane Nelson and Joe Brammer.
Salas, 31, a representative of Denver's Grudge Training Center, was stopped by Tim Means in the first round of their bout last June. Salas outpointed Rob Emerson and Joe Ellenberger to earn his UFC shot and he made the most of his debut, defeating Anton Kuivanen by unanimous decision.
Riley can finish a fight anywhere, but Salas should benefit from his NCAA Division I wrestling experience before he made the full-time MMA transition. Critical takedowns could determine the outcome of the fight if it goes all three rounds.
John Albert (7-4) vs. Yaotzin Meza (19-8)
Bantamweights will collide as the Washington-based Albert takes on The MMA Lab product Meza.
Albert, 26, is getting another shot despite a three-fight losing streak as he turned in admirable losing efforts against Ivan Menjivar, Erik Perez and Scott Jorgensen. The Nevada native recorded a first-round stoppage of Dustin Pague in his December 2011 promotional debut.
Meza, 32, a training partner of UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson, suffered a first-round knockout loss against Chad Mendes in his UFC debut this past December.
Meza could have an edge in the wrestling department, but Albert's striking and killer instinct could be the determining factors as all 11 of his professional outings have finished inside the distance. If Albert finds his rhythm, he could make Meza his eighth victim.