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The five-fight slate of prelims for UFC Fight Night 176 on Saturday in Las Vegas seems solid enough, particularly given the weak main card. It remains unclear why the Andre Muniz-Bartosz Fabinski middleweight clash draws featured duty, but there is something of interest in each of the other three bouts. Viviane Araujo’s flyweight tilt with Montana De La Rosa carries some legitimate stakes, and Alexander Romanov’s promotional debut opposite Marcos Rogerio de Lima provides all the heavyweight strangeness the main event lacks. Mix in the fun Cole Smith-Hunter Azure opener, and it makes for a strong appetizer.
Now to the preview for the UFC Fight Night “Overeem vs. Sakai” prelims:
MiddleweightsBartosz Fabinski (15-3) vs. Andre Muniz (19-4)
ODDS: Fabinski (-145), Muniz (+125)
This may not be entertaining to watch in practice, but it is still a well-made fight between middleweight hopefuls. Poland’s Fabinski has enjoyed a successful run in the UFC that has understandably stayed under the radar. Injuries have limited Fabinski to only four fights over the last five years, and “The Butcher” is a throwback in terms of his purely control-based grinding style. Even Fabinski’s striking is just a means to an end, as he charges forward with his offense in the hopes of leading to the clinch, where he can just coast out the rest of the round by pinning his opponent to the fence or the mat. He is defensively open in those moments, as Michel Prazeres showed via a surprisingly quick submission in 2018, though Fabinski did rebound with an impressive win over Darren Stewart in March. Fabinski takes on Brazil’s Muniz, a Dana White’s Contender Series alum who is looking to build off of a successful UFC debut against Antonio Arroyo in November. Muniz is another fighter who looks to spend as much time locked up with his opponent as possible, but he provides a stark contrast to Fabinski in that he is an aggressive submission artist who favors hunting for the finish over trying to keep control. This an interesting challenge for Fabinski, as he has not faced someone who is going to be as consistently dangerous as Muniz, but the Pole should have enough physical strength to control the fight. Plus, Muniz’s tendency to tire late means that things should get easier by the third round. It does not figure to be exciting, but the pick is for Fabinski to grind out the decision victory.
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