This weekend’s UFC Fight Night 124 card features a fantastic lineup to kick off 2018 and that includes these three preliminary bouts that are sure to please fight fans. The prelims are where we see up-and-coming prospects fight to earn their way onto a UFC main card slot, or crafty veterans looking for a career resurgence.
James Krause vs. Alex White
The first must-watch preliminary bout featured is “The James Krause” taking on Alex “The Spartan” White. James Krause is a highly skilled UFC veteran featuring a very well-rounded MMA game incorporating a slick stand-up style and black-belt level BJJ posting 14 career wins by submission. Many MMA fans may know Krause from his time on The Ultimate Fighter 25: Redemption. He was a heavy favorite to win the competition due to being the only fighter who was on the UFC active roster. Despite this, he fell to Jesse Taylor in the semi-finals but did bounce back on the TUF 25 finale showcasing his talent as an MMA striker against Tom Gallicchio. As for his upcoming bout, he told The Body Lock that he guarantees a first-round TKO of Alex White.
Alex “The Spartan” White is one of those fighters which has shown his potential but has yet to fully realize it. He will have an opportunity to do just that when he takes on his biggest test of his career in James Krause. White has led a tough life beginning at the age of four when he accidentally took a gulp of gasoline which hospitalized him and was nearly fatal.
This left him with permanent damage to his vocal chords and a speech impediment which caused him to be a victim of bullying as a child. He began training MMA in 2008 and hasn’t looked back. He signed with the UFC in 2014 and has scored wins over Conor McGregor’s longtime friend and training partner Artem Lobov and most recently Mitch Clarke.
These two fighters will both want to win the standup as their preferred strategy but both are also well versed in the grappling game as they both combine for 19 submission victories.
Thiago Alves vs. Zak Cummings
The second must-watch preliminary fight at UFC Fight Night 124 features two highly skilled and evenly matched UFC veterans in Thiago “The Pitbull” Alves and Zak Cummings. In Thiago Alves we see a true legend of MMA and a real trailblazer for many current and future Brazilian fighters. He has been a staple of the UFC roster since 2005 and has fought the very best including names such as Georges St-Pierre, Jon Fitch, Carlos Condit, Matt Hughes and Josh Koscheck to name a few.
His explosive and relentless striking has set him apart from so many others to compete inside the octagon and he is known as one of the most talented fighters to never win a UFC belt. Despite already having a full-fledged UFC career, Alves is still only 34 years old and is still hungry to achieve more in the sport. His most recent victory over Patrick Cote at UFC 210 shows that the “Pitbull” has much more left in the tank.
The other half of this preliminary contest Zak Cummings is a very talented BJJ black belt who owns a respectable 6-2 record inside the UFC octagon. A pro since 2007, Cummings also possesses considerable experience facing names such as Tim Kennedy, the late Ryan Jimmo, Gunnar Nelson, Santiago Ponzinibbio though he has lost to all four mentioned.
He has shown real promise as a fight finisher with 11 submission victories and 5 knockouts including a first-round stoppage of Dominique Steele. Cummings will look to take advantage of a fantastic opportunity against a legend like Thiago Alves. With a win against Alves, he could look to position himself for a run in the UFC’s welterweight division.
On paper, this looks like a classic striker vs. grappler matchup but it will be much more than just that. Alves will surely have an advantage on the feet as Cummings will have one on the ground but both men are well versed in all aspects of MMA. Cummings has just as much of a chance of catching Alves on the feet as Alves does pulling off a submission or just controlling the fight on the mat. This is one of a few toss-up fights on this card and is again a fight that you can’t miss.
Darren Elkins vs. Michael Johnson
The last featured preliminary bout before the main card starts is sure to please all fans of Mixed Martial Arts as we see the ridiculously tough Darren Elkins welcome the speedy Michael Johnson to the 145-pound division. Darren “The Damage” Elkins possesses a true warrior spirit that is more remarkable than many of the fighters on the UFC roster.
The fight that showcased this more than any other was his spectacular bout against Mirsad Bektic at UFC 209. In the first two rounds of this fig, t we saw Elkins get dominated in all aspects losing striking exchanges and getting dominated on the mat. He did not give up at any point of the fight and scored a dramatic comeback KO over his opponent and was universally praised by the MMA community. Now, Elkins is riding a five-fight win streak and a win over the dangerous Michael Johnson will move him towards the elite of the featherweight division.
Michael “The Menace” Johnson is one of the most entertaining fighters in the UFC. A man who has really fought the who’s who of the lightweight division, he has always delivered an exciting fight and a scary matchup for his opponents with the exception of being dominated by Khabib Nurmagomedov. However, Johnson has lost four out of his last five fights and is looking for a breath of fresh air for his career.
He is hoping that moving down a weight class will provide him a big size and power difference. Also, he is looking for a new challenge in his career and the featherweight division features many opponents that Johnson has yet to face and that includes Darren Elkins. With a win over “The Damage”, Michael Johnson is sure to get matched up with a top-five featherweight and move closer to potentially squaring off against 145 champion Max Holloway.
This matchup is definitely the most exciting fight on the prelims and is sure to deliver fireworks in one way or another. Johnson has lightning fast hands and power that can catch any opponent he is up against. However, his cardio and grappling is sure to be tested against the durable Darren Elkins. Elkins is no slouch on the feet either so this fight will provide exciting action and answers to questions that many have going into the contest. Out of all the fights covered, this one is for sure a fight that you can’t miss.