Melvin Guillard vs. Jim Miller: Both Guillard and Miller were on pace to earn title shots in succession as they got to the latter half of 2011, but both suffered losses in their last fights to halt those runs. For Miller, he fell victim to rising star - and former WEC Lightweight Champion - Ben Henderson, who turned heads last year en route to earning his own title shot next month. The loss in August to Henderson was just the third of his career, all of which have come by decision against top level opponents. Guillard's last loss, however, was another in a long line of submission losses in his career, halting perhaps his most impressive streak. Guillard absolutely has the striking skills to hurt Miller and end this fight early; however, Miller's overall game is excellent, and he's got the wrestling and submission game to make this a very difficult fight for Guillard. If Guillard doesn't catch him early and do to Miller what no one has ever done - stop him - then this is Miller's fight to lose. I like Miller by submission in the second round.
Duane "Bang" Ludwig vs. Josh Neer: This is just going to be a fun fight. Neer returned to the UFC with a violent and exciting brawl with Keith Wisniewski last year, and hopes to follow-up on that in this bout with Ludwig. "Bang" is riding high with the UFC recognizing his finish of Jonathan Goulet as the fastest in UFC history, not to mention a two-fight winning streak, and he's sure to give Neer the type of fight they'd both like to be involved in. This is a fight either can win, as they've both got heavy hands and have both taken a lot of punishment in their careers, but I think Neer's got the slight edge here. Neer by TKO in the second round.
Mike Easton vs. Jared Papazian: Papazian's had success recently at the regional level, but he's entering the fight against a good, hard-hitting bantamweight in Easton on very short notice. Easton made his UFC debut last October after almost exactly two years out of action, and after a slow start delivered a brutal finish in the second round against Byron Bloodworth. I don't know enough about Papazian's game to say "he has no chance" or "he'll absolutely pull it off", but I think taking the short notice of the bout into account, I definitely favor the more known commodity. Easton by TKO in the second round.
Pat Barry vs. Christian Morecraft: This fight hinges on how well Barry has actually improved his ground game. He says he has in his time with DeathClutch, which has moved to Minneapolis from Alexandria after the retirement of Brock Lesnar. If he can keep the fight standing, I absolutely favor his striking over Morecraft. If Morecraft can implement his will, however, and get the fight to the ground, he can grind Barry out throughout the three round fight. That said, I think Barry knows what he needs to do in this fight and what he needs to avoid, and I don't think he'll drop his third straight. Pat Barry via KO in the first round.
=====Preliminary Card Quick Picks=====
* Jorge Rivera over Eric "Red" Schafer via decision
* Kamal Shalorus over Khabib Nurmagomedov via decision
* Charlie Brenneman over Daniel Roberts via decision
* Tommy Hayden over Fabricio Camoes via submission in the second round
* Pat Schilling over Daniel Pineda via submission in the first round
* Nick Denis over Joseph Sandoval via TKO in the second round