Like other Fight Night shows in the past, tomorrow’s “Diaz vs. Neer” joint features an undercard packed with fresh faces (though there’s no guarantee those faces will be too fresh by the end of the night). Let’s take a look at some of the guys who will be trying to prove themselves in the Octagon for the first time — and who you might get to see in action if they’re on the giving or receiving end of a quick finish.
JOE VEDEPO (MW)
Experience: 7-1 record (3 TKOs, 3 subs), primarily in small, Iowa-based promotions. Last fight was a submission victory over Brian Green in June.
Will be facing: Alessio Sakara (12-7, 3-4 w/1 no-contest in the UFC)
Lowdown: The two questions that come to mind are “who?” and “why?”. We can’t really answer that last question, but we do know that Vedepo is a former standout high school wrestler who (for unknown reasons) turned down a spot on The Ultimate Fighter 7. The 25-year-old trains in Cedar Rapids with Team Hardrive MMA. The dude finishes fights, but may not be ready for the competitive leap into the UFC — even against the struggling Alessio Sakara.
JASON BRILZ (LHW)
Experience: 15-1-1 record (9 wins by submission), fighting all over the Midwest, including five appearances in the Iowa-based Victory Fighting Championships. Notable wins over Jason MacDonald and Alex Schoenauer; hasn’t lost a fight since September 2001. Last fight was a first-round submission win over Erik Jenks in May.
Will be facing: Brad Morris (9-3, 0-1 UFC)
Lowdown: Repping Omaha like Houston Alexander, Brilz was a state wrestling champ in high school who went on to be a four-year letterman at the University of Nebraska. The 33-year-old pays the bills as a firefighter and an assistant wrestling coach for U of N.
MIKE MASSENZIO (MW)
Experience: 10-2 record (last four wins via choke-submission), primarily in the New Jersey-based Reality Fighting and Ring of Combat promotions. Notable wins over Dan Miller and Dante Rivera. Last fight was a kneebar loss to Danillo Villefort at an IFL event in May.
Will be facing: Drew McFedries (7-3, 3-2 UFC)
Lowdown: Yes, he’s another high school/college wrestling champion; Massenzio’s past accomplishments include racking up a 75-1 record at Bergen Community College. He was also offered a spot on TUF 7, but decided to take some time off instead to heal up from injuries sustained during a grueling fight schedule in late 2007. The UFC just signed the top East Coast prospect to a five-fight contract.
DAN MILLER (MW)
Experience: 8-1 record (6 wins by 1st-round stoppage), in various New Jersey-based promotions and the IFL. His only loss was a split decision against Mike Massenzio in April 2006. Last fight was a submission win over Ryan McGivern in May that won him the IFL’s middleweight title. Miller didn’t have the opportunity to defend his belt before the IFl went tits-up.
Will be facing: Rob Kimmons (21-3, 1-0 UFC)
Lowdown: It must be a rude awakening to go from being the IFL’s champ to being stuck on the darkest of dark matches in the UFC — the lead-off spot on the undercard of a SpikeTV event. But if Miller can put on a good performance, he’ll re-emerge from the shadows. The 27-year-old AMA Fight Club/Renzo Gracie product was also formerly the Cage Fury Fighting middleweight champion. His guillotine-choke of Dave Phillips at the IFL 2007 semi-finals is one of the nastiest subs you’ll ever see.