Before the main card goes live on FX at 9 p.m. (ET), featuring a main event rematch between Demetrious Johnson and Ian McCall, there are several evenly matched bouts on the preliminary card for Friday’s UFC on FX 3 event that will be televised on FUEL TV starting at 6 p.m. In welterweight action, Mike Pierce (13-5) will be taking on Carlos Eduadro Rocha (9-1). Pierce is coming off a controversial, split-decision loss to Josh Koscheck in February and opened as a -260 favorite (bet $260 to win $100) according to the MMA odds. He’ll look to use his clinch work and boxing from close range against the +200 underdog (bet $100 to win $200) in Rocha, who’s last fight was against Jake Ellenberger in what was also a close, split- decision loss. Since that fight, the dangerous ground specialist broke both of his hands and has been out of action for 16 months. In a battle of up-and-coming 170-pounders, undefeated Lance Benoist (6-0) will throw down with Seth Baczynski (15-7). Benoist last fought against Matt Riddle, where he upset The Ultimate Fighter alum to score a unanimous decision. This time, the well-rounded St-Louis, Missouri native finds himself opening as a very slight betting favorite at -120. Baczynski, meanwhile, is on a four-fight winning streak, with the two most recent wins occurring in the UFC’s Octagon. He is also well-rounded welterweight but prefers to fight on the mat and opened as a tiny -110 underdog. In a pairing that could see the loser receiving his walking papers, Leonard Garcia (15-8-1) will take on Matt Grice (14-4) at featherweight. Garcia opened as a small -165 favorite and has not fought since losing a unanimous decision to Nam Phan nine months ago. The +135 dog Grice is also coming off a long layoff, as he has not fought since a technical knockout loss to Ricardo Lamas in June of last year. This should be an interesting clash of styles, with Garcia looking to keep the brawl on the feet while Grice will attempt to grind him out with wrestling. In another loser-leaves-town type of matchup, Jared Papazian (14-7) will duke it out with Dustin Pague (10-5) in a battle of bantamweights. Papazian is 0-1 in the UFC but surprised many in his debut against Mike Easton, losing a competitive decision in a fight that was supposed to be a showcase for Easton. He was a large underdog there but finds himself as a small -145 favorite versus the +115 underdog Pague, who previously appeared on TUF 14. Pague is also 0-1 in the Octagon but wasn’t impressive in the loss, as he was quickly TKO’d by John Albert last December. With both men fighting for their jobs, this should be an entertaining scrap as Papazian’s speed and athleticism could create an interesting foil for Pague’s reach and versatility. Click here to preview the first four preliminary card fights
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