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UFC on FOX 17: 3 Prelim Fighters to Watch

Josh Holmberg/ICON SMISt-Pierre won.

A busy UFC weekend just concluded, but the madness does not stop there. The UFC will hold another show this Saturday live from Orlando, Florida. UFC on FOX 17, which is the host of a UFC lightweight championship bout in the main event, comes live on free TV for all fans to watch this upcoming weekend.

As mentioned, 155-pound champ Rafael dos Anjos looks to defend his title for the first time when he takes on surging challenger Donald Cerrone. For dos Anjos, it’s a chance to prove his crowning moment over Anthony Pettis was not a fluke. For Cerrone, a win would complete a great run in the lightweight division, where he has been running roughshod.

Before that main event, though are the prelims, which are absolutely stacked. From the Fight Pass prelims to the FOX Sports 1 prelims, there is a ton of talent that will make the prelims an exciting affair. So with that, let’s take a look at three talents that you should keep an eye on during the preliminary card.

Josh Samman

The middleweight division has a problem on its hands and it comes in the form of fighter/writer/juggernaut Josh Samman. He is a wrecking ball that is using tragedy to fuel him inside and outside the cage. In all, it has made him one of the most dangerous men in the 185-pound division.

Samman is a powerful, athletic wrestler with big-time ground-and-pound. However, he has added some scary striking ability that has been knocking dudes out left and right. He even had a Knockout of the Year candidate last year when he bludgeoned Eddie Gordon with a vicious head kick. It looks to be the blueprint of his fights now.

He has another striker in Tamdan McCroy next, which should make for an entertaining bout. However, it should be another showcase for Samman and his skills. Keep an eye on this fighter come Saturday night.

Kamaru Usman

Fresh off a TUF 21 crowning, Kamaru Usman continues his journey in the UFC on the Fight Pass prelims. In looking at the matchup, it looks advantageous for the Blackzilian, as he takes on a striker in Leon Edwards.

Usman is a power wrestler with insane athleticism. Anybody whose takedown defense isn’t up to par is getting sent for a ride early and often. He is aggressive as well, so he doesn’t give you too much space to breathe. It’s this skill set that makes him one of best prospects in any UFC division right now.

As stated, a matchup with Edwards looks to be a showcase. There is the obvious event that Edwards could land something massive and knock Usman out. However, I think his skills will serve him well here, as he continues to march up the rankings and make his name known to bigger fish in the welterweight division.

Valentina Shevchenko

Late notice doesn’t always lend itself well to fighters, but Valentina Shevchenko is talented enough to compete with a top fighter like Sarah Kaufman even on a short camp. She is a Muay Thai world champion that has done very well in MMA thus far, running a  9-1 record. The one loss? That came to Liz Carmouche a long time ago.

She has power and technique, a deadly combo on the feet. When matching up with Kaufman who is a boxer, you can expect a striking battle which should be close. In short, this may not be the worst matchup in the world for Shevchenko. In fact, it’s probably one of the best she could have received in the UFC’s top 10.

She may not win and short notice may be tough for her, but she’s still somebody to look out for. There aren’t an abundance of prospects in the women’s bantamweight division, but she is certainly one of them. She will be a fighter that graces the UFC for time to come.

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