UFC 129 Weigh-In on April 29, 2011 in Toronto, Canada. (Photos from Al Bello/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

UFC 129 St. Pierre Vs. Shields Fight Card Preview: The Preliminary Fights

Before Georges St. Pierre or Randy Couture take to the cage at UFC 129: St. Pierre vs. Shields, the UFC is putting on a series of excellent under card fights. All of them can be viewed live on Facebook. But before that happens, SB Nation MMA will be breaking all of them down with previews and predictions.

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UFC 129 Fight Card: Claude Patrick Vs. Daniel Roberts Preview

Of all the fights on the under card for UFC 129: St. Pierre vs. Shields, this one has the most hardcore MMA fans buzzing. Daniel Roberts, training partner to fighters like Nick and Nate Diaz as well as Jake Shields, enters this bout with considerable improvement over his inauspicious beginning in MMA. Claude Patrick, by contrast, has shown excellent submission savvy in the UFC en route to today's fight.

Here's how Bloody Elbow handicapped this fight:

What have these guys done lately?

Patrick: W - James Wilks (UD) | W - Ricardo Funch (SUB) | W - Matt MacGrath (SUB)
Roberts: W - Greg Soto (SUB) | W - Mike Guymon (SUB) | W - Forrest Petz (SD)

How did these guys get here?

Claude Patrick built his career in Canada (outside of one regional show in Moline, Illinois) compiling an 11-1 record before signing with the UFC. He submitted Ricardo Funch with a guillotine choke at UFC 115, and went on to defeat James Wilks by unanimous decision at UFC 120.

Daniel Roberts won his first nine fights in regional promotions in Oklahoma before signing with the UFC. He made his debut at the UFC's first show on cable channel versus, dropping a fight by knock out to John Howard. Roberts bounced back with three straight victories, defeating Greg Soto by kimura in his last fight at UFC 125.

Why should you care?

With a combined 2 losses in 27 fights, Patrick and Roberts are two fighters worth keeping an eye on.

They've got similar skill sets and are in similar points in their career. They generally tells me the fighter will either be cautious or exceptionally hungry to move to the next stage.

This fight will also air on Facebook.


UFC 129 Fight Card: Yves Jabouin Vs. Pablo Garza Preview

As part of the UFC 129 fight card, featherweights (145lbs) Yves Jabouin and Pablo Garza will lead off the preliminary portion of the card. Jabouin, a noted striker and training partner of Georges St. Pierre, looks to make a strong impression in his UFC debut. Garza had a rough start in Zuffa, but rebounded with a ferocious knockout of Fredson Paixao.

Here's how this fight breaks down:

As you'll see me indicate in the video, here's another fantastic under card bout at UFC 129: St. Pierre vs. Shields. The fight doesn't necessarily hold significance for the card or featherweight division, but creates intrigue given how the fighters' games match up. Yves Jabouin vs. Pablo Garza is a featherweight (145lbs) bout. Jabouin is a technical striker, although he on occasion eschews purposeful strategy in favor of striking exhibitions. Garza is a moderately well-rounded fighter, but is tall for the weight class (6'1") who knows how to use his length. He also isn't much of a set up fighter, preferring instead to attack early with bullish intent to finish.

Neither Jabouin nor Garza are fighting for contendership. Garza might have more upside in that regard. He is coming off a bomb of a win over Fredson Paixao, but he's got a long climb even if he gets by Jabouin.

Still, this fight is interesting for a couple of reasons. Jabouin is the better striker generally, but might have precision issues particularly because of Garza's length. Garza also isn't necessarily the best wrestler, so while he has an advantage of the ground it is not a foregone conclusion he can drag the fight there. It's much more likely this fight will come down to what extent Garza employs length and manages real estate.

I spoke to Garza recently. I worry about his preparation, but believe he'll ultimately be able to make the fight more his than Jabouin. The Canadian is an excellent striker, but lacks discipline in keeping the fight on a strategic path.


UFC 129 Fight Card: Ivan Menjivar Vs. Charlie Valencia Preview

Ivan Menjivar vs. Charlie Valencia, a bantamweight fight (135lbs) arguably has the greatest potential to be exciting among all of the other fights. Menjivar is a high-octane offensive output machine. Valencia, no slouch in that regard either, is also a grizzled veteran with most of his losses coming against the elite of the division.

Here's how this fight breaks down:

I explain more in the video above, but Menjivar is the fighter I have my eye on here. He's got a special relationship with UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre (again, watch the video), but that's not exactly why I care. I prefer Menjivar more for his high octane, hard offensive output style. Menjivar assaults opposition and not with reckless abandon, although he can sometimes improvise instead of sticking to a gameplan. But he's strong, he's technical, he's good almost everywhere and creates excitement when he fights.

Valencia is exciting as well and will prove to be an excellent foil to Menjivar. He's less exciting to me, though, because he's a little shopworn and can stumble in the face of focused pressure. It's fair to say, however, that it's not clear where Menjivar's current level of ability lies. He's historically been a strong competitor, but this is only his third fight since semi-retiring.

In a perfect world with perfect abilities, Menjivar is the more talented overall fighter. You can also make the case he won his fight against Brad Pickett in his last WEC bout. Still, his layoff from MMA is something to be aware of. I'll go with Menjivar here, but wouldn't be overly shocked if Valencia pulled it out.

This fight will air on Facebook.


UFC 129 Fight Card Preview: Jason MacDonald Vs. Ryan Jensen

As part of the UFC 129: St. Pierre vs. Shields fight card, Canadian Jason MacDonald will take on American Ryan Jensen. It's not a hugely important fight, but is good filler on the card. It's also probably do or die for either fighter if for their inconsistency more so than than any losing streak.

Here's how this fight breaks down:

This is a middleweight fight (185lbs) and will take place on the under card. It's not of huge importance and MacDonald's Canadian nationality in part is helping him to get a spot on the card. Still, it's a competitive affair and worth taking a deeper look into for clarity about the larger card.

MacDonald is a fantastic athlete, but doesn't possess brute strength and isn't necessarily the best endurance athlete. I wouldn't go as far as saying his cardio is lacking, but he's taken sufficient damage in his fights enough to say whatever reserves he does have they are often depleted less by distance and more by absorbing punishment. Notwithstanding, he possesses a dynamic guard and has notable submission wins over Chris Leben and Ed Herman. Both MacDonald and Jensen have a common loss in Wilson Gouveia.

My issue about MacDonald is that his best place to win the fight will be on top of Jensen, but that's going to be hard to achieve positionally. Jensen isn't the best wrestler in MMA, but he's capable particularly on the defensive end of the equation. He's also likely stronger than MacDonald and more savage in his aggression. That spells trouble for MacDonald, especially early.

Yet, Jensen isn't so technically sound that he's free from error on opponents he can physically and positionally control. Jensen's gas tank is somewhat of an issue as he starts strong and fades. From there he becomes defensively lax. If MacDonald can weather a storm he should be able to take advantage of a fatigued Jensen in the second or third round.

If I'm leaning somewhere here, I'm leaning MacDonald. I was initially leaning Jensen, but I don't trust his gas tank or submission defense over the long run.

The fight will air on Facebook.


UFC 129 Fight Card Preview: John Makdessi Vs. Kyle Watson Preview

I love this fight and here's why:

One of the under card fights of UFC 129 is a lightweight tilt between John Makdessi and Kyle Watson. Watson should be somewhat familiar to UFC fans. He was a cast member of season 12 of Spike TV's 'The Ultimate Fighter' and is the BJJ coach at H.I.T. Squad, Matt Hughes' team in Granite City, Illinois. He's a brown belt in BJJ and a black belt in Jeet Kune Do.

Makdessi, by contrast, is a striker training out of Tri-Star Gym in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Makdessi has an extensive kickboxing background with deep experience in Shotokan Karate and Tae Kwon Do. He's undefeated in MMA and made his UFC debut against Pat Audinwood at UFC 124. Makdessi positively dominated that fight, controlling distance and using a wide arsenal of unconventional kicking attacks - as well as sensational takedown defense - to rout Audinwood for all three rounds on all the judges' score cards.

I explain how each fighter needs to compete in order to win, but it isn't much of a mystery. It's classic striker vs. grappler. The big ifs are whether or not Makdessi can keep the fight standing, how good Makdessi's ground game is and if Watson coming in late notice will affect the final outcome. Also worth noting: will Makdessi lower the volume of kicks in order to avoid being taken down?

It's not a mystery on what each guy needs to do. I view this more as a test for Makdessi than any sort of real start for Watson. I'm curious to see the takedown defense of Makdessi tested. I also want to see the TKD specialist's hands. Either way, it should be a fantastic affair.


UFC 129 St. Pierre Vs. Shields Fight Card Preview: The Preliminary Fights

Throughout the day today, SB Nation MMA will be bringing you previews of every single fight on the UFC 129: St. Pierre vs. Shields fight card. For this StoryStream, we'll be breaking down the entire fight card portion airing on Facebook. Each of these fights features one Canadian per match-up. Several are intriguing, as some offer young prospects the chance to evolve while others promise fireworks.

Can John Makdessi use his Tae Kwon Do while avoiding the submissions of Kyle Watson? Is Claude Patrick on the verge of a breakout performance? What does Ivan Menjivar really have left? We'll answer all of these questions and more throughout the day.

Claude Patrick
(169.5lbs) vs. Daniel Roberts (170.5lbs)
Ivan Menjivar
(136lbs) vs. Charlie Valencia (135.5lbs)
Jason MacDonald
(185lbs) vs. Ryan Jensen (185lbs)
John Makdessi
(155.5lbs) vs. Kyle Watson (155lbs)
Yves Jabouin
(146lbs) vs. Pablo Garza (145lbs)

As allows, follow me, Luke Thomas, on Twitter for live updates if you're mobile. I'm live in Toronto for the event and will be bringing as much behind-the-scenes action as possible.

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