Welcome, fight fans, to our UFC 184 preview! This card has undergone a lot of changes over the course of its existence, but it has hung in there all the way and is deemed to be an exciting night of fights! In addition to being exciting, this is a huge night for women’s MMA as well as both the co-main event and the main event feature pivotal women bantamweight bouts. Before we can get to the action on the main card though, let’s take a look at what we can expect earlier in the night out of the prelims.

Masio Fullen vs. Alexander Torres

Starting the evening off at the Staples Center is a featherweight bout between Fullen and Torres – two debuting fighters who competed on TUF: Latin America. In this match-up, Fullen is going to have to really use his edge in striking and experience. Mexico’s Fullen has 10 fights more than his opponent, and that is a big difference to really materialize itself in this fight. Torres is going to be stepping into the cage as the stronger, more athletic fighter who is definitely better when it comes to getting takedowns and achieving top position however – this makes things very interesting. Provided that Torres doesn’t hang out too much on the feet, he should be able to seize takedowns and control the top game throughout the course of the fight. With that said, what Fullen lacks in physical tools he makes up for in craftiness. Expect Fullen to be able to fight off his back, get up, and put the pressure on Torres late in the fight to route a TKO victory.

James Krause vs. Valmir Lazaro

Next up, in the lightweight division, prospect James Krause gets his chance to get back into the win column after dropping a decision to Jorge Masvidal last September. He’s taking Nova Uniao’s Valmir Lazaro, who is still looking for his first UFC victory after his debut against James Vick. Both of these lightweights are very tall, and very good on the feet. They throw crisp striking combinations from range, and can mix in good kicks as well. I’d say Lazaro is the quicker of the two, but Krause is a giant at lightweight and is going to look to impose his physical tools. While Lazaro is quick and technical on the feet, he doesn’t have that much experience fighting on the ground, which is where I think Krause will look to take the fight. As long as Krause doesn’t get caught in the opening round, he’ll get comfortable enough to close up his length advantage, take the fight to the ground, and look for submissions. Coming from a great camp like Nova Uniao, it’s only fair that you expect him to have at least a decent BJJ game. For this reason, I don’t think Krause gets the finish, but he does win on points if not a ground-and-pound TKO.

Derrick Lewis vs. Ruan Potts

“The Black Beast” enters the Octagon once again in search for another highlight reel KO. He didn’t get it against Matt Mitrione, but he did previously in his first two UFC bouts. Now, he gets another chance as he takes on South Africa’s Ruan Potts, who is 0-2 in the UFC. With heavyweights, you really have to admire how hard some of them hit, but Derrick Lewis is an entirely different animal. Not only is he physically intimidating, but this guy hits like a freight train. While Lewis prefers to stand and bang, Potts prefers the ground game as long as he can get it there. Potts poses problems with submissions, as he is good with his legs in wrapping up triangles, armbars, and even leg locks. With that said, getting the much bigger, much stronger Derrick Lewis to the mat is going to be next to impossible. Provided that Potts hasn’t made any surreal improvements to his striking or his ability to take a punch, it’ll be Lewis getting a first round knock out. Expect it to come in the clinch as Potts will be desperately looking to close the distance, but won’t know what he’ll be getting himself into when he does.

Dhiego Lima vs. Tim Means

It seems like Tim Means might be making a career out of facing Brazilians as he steps into the Octagon against his third straight Brazilian opponent. Dhiego Lima, a middleweight finalist on TUF 19, looks to pick up another UFC victory after he decision’d Jorge Oliveira. Lima likes to rely on his athletic skills a lot as he’ll throw quick, powerful right hands from range, but will almost always be in search for a takedown and endless top control. Lima is big for the weight class which means he’ll be very hard to out from under. Tim Means, a long scrappy welterweight striker, doesn’t have the build needed to really defend Lima’s takedowns. While Means can still pose problems off of his back, once he’s down expect him to stay down. With that said, I expect Means to hold the striking advantage. Means is a tough guy who looks to deal damage at all costs, and has never been stopped from strikes. Look for Means to really put the pressure on Lima who will then have to resort to takedowns. It could be a frustrating fight for Means as he’ll most likely spend a lot of time off his back, but I expect him to make things interesting by doing damage on the feet, and off his back on the ground. It could be a close one, but I think the judges will favor Lima in a split decision to make a very upset “Dirty Bird”.

Roman Salazar vs. Kid Yamamoto

Next up, we get to see Japan’s legendary fighter, “Kid” Yamamoto search for some reason to keep fighting. At 37 years of age, Yamamoto’s best days are way behind him, but after coming off a temporary retirement, we might just see a refined Kid Yamamoto. He’s taking on Roman Salazar, who dropped his debut to Mitch Gagnon last October. Yamamoto used to be an explosive striker with equally as violent takedowns and ground and pound, but it’s a complete question mark as to whether or not he still has those skills. My guess is that he has declined physically, but still might pose some serious problems in speed and technique. Look for Yamamoto to be the crisper striker against Salazar, who prefers to get the fight on the ground. Kid’s takedown defense will be in serious question in this bout though. Expect this fight to go the distance in what could be a very close contest that will completely revolve around Kid’s ability to stay on his feet, as well as his remaining athletic ability. I like to favor Kid in a close unanimous decision, but wouldn’t be surprised if Salazar dominates a slow, sluggish Yamamoto en-route to a certain retirement for the Krazy Bee representative.

Mark Munoz vs. Roan Carneiro

To top things off on this action-packed set of prelims, we have the “Filipino Wrecking Machine”, Mark Munoz, challenging the mildly-anticipated return of Roan Carneiro. After losing a split decision to Ryo Chonan back at UFC 88, Carneiro left the UFC. Since then, he has compiled a 7-1 record including a 5-0 current win streak. Now, he steps back into the Octagon to take on a fighter in need of a successful return as well. Munoz, once a strong candidate for a title shot, is currently riding a two-fight losing streak at the hands of Lyoto Machida and Gegard Mousasi. With a loss also to Chris Weidman, one can make the conclusion that Munoz only loses to elite fighters. It’s unclear whether Carneiro has what it takes to thwart Munoz’s relentless wrestling and bombarding ground and pound, but it wouldn’t be that surprising. Munoz has definitely slowed down physically, while Carneiro looks to be the best he has ever been. Both fighters prefer to be in top position as both lack super technical striking, but Munoz likes to control and look for ground and pound while Carneiro watches for submissions. Provided that Munoz still has the gas for three rounds, look for Munoz to over-power Carneiro on the mat and dominate top control while defending sweeps and submission attempts. If the gas starts to deplete, we might see a third round comeback from Carneiro, but don’t count on it. I’m anticipated a fairly exciting grappling contest here, but being that these guys are veterans and most likely past their athletic prime, the excitement might only last a round or two. Look for Munoz to grind out a decision.