A late scheduling change means that the four-fight main card of UFC Fight Night 50 this Friday will begin at 10pm ET on Fox Sports 1. Not that it makes much of a difference, as the five preliminary fights air on Fox Sports 1 as well beginning at 7pm. The one thing it does mean is that I get to talk about one more fights in this prelim preview, and it’s one of the best fights on the whole card. Unfortunately the bout between Charles Oliveira and Nik Lentz has been cancelled on the day of the event, as Oliveira fell ill and was unable to compete. A bout that was on the preliminary card right up until the TV schedule was modified late in the week is the flyweight contest between prospect Justin Scoggins (9-1) and former title challenger John Moraga (14-3), which will now serve as the lead-in to the main card. Both men are looking to rebound from losses suffered in their most recent bouts. Scoggins failed to get his hand raised for the first time in his career against Dustin Ortiz in a very nip/tuck affair that was scored for either man by onlookers. Since his unsuccessful title effort against Demetrious Johnson, Moraga rebounded with a very close decision of his own over Ortiz, but dropped his follow-up bout to John Dodson by way of a broken nose. Their well-rounded styles and competitive bouts against Ortiz would lead you to believe that this fight would be close as well, and it should be. That is not reflected in the betting lines however, as Scoggins sits as a -225 favorite (bet $225 to win $100) with the comeback on Moraga at +205 (bet $100 to win $205) at 5Dimes Sportsbook. The line more reflects the prospect status of Scoggins than anything, as many feel he is still capable of challenging for the flyweight title in the future, while Moraga has already been to the top of the proverbial mountain and could be considered on his way down. A lightweight bout between Al Iaquinta (8-3-1) and Rodrigo Damm (12-7) is not expected to be nearly as competitive by the general public or the sportsbooks. Iaquinta is the biggest favorite on the entire card, coming in at -570 with Damm returning +480 should he be the second consecutive underdog to topple the former ‘Ultimate Fighter’ runner-up. The only real trepidation towards Iaquinta stems from his last bout, a defeat at the hands of Mitch Clarke back in May. That bout was a similar stylistic test as this one, as Iaquinta held striking and wrestling advantages there as well. After dominating Clarke early, he looked to take the bout to the ground in the second round and found himself trapped in a choke. Should he avoid such an unnecessary blunder against Damm, it’s tough to find a way for the Brazilian to win despite the improvements – particularly in the striking game – that he has made since coming to the UFC. A loss for either man in this spot would be their second consecutive and would drop their overall UFC records to 3-3, which edges them closer to the chopping block, so the motivation should be there to put in a solid performance. Speaking of the chopping block, the proverbial ‘pink slip derby’ fight of the evening has to be the middleweight contest between Rafael Natal (17-6-1) and Chris Camozzi (19-8). Having lost their past five bouts combined (two for Natal, three for Camozzi), both men are in desperate need of a win. There isn’t much to separate them on the betting lines, as Natal sits at -155 with Camozzi +145 at the betting window. It’s tough to have too much faith in either man at this point. Natal has consistently shown that his chin, cardio and fight IQ can fail him, while Camozzi ends up on his back against nearly any opponent who tries to put him there. The gameplan for each man should be simple, but the execution will determine who gets to hang around in the Octagon. Natal will want to get this to the ground to shield his chin and take advantage of his superior grappling, while Camozzi will want to stay standing and wear the Brazilian down with his strikes. There won’t be much disagreement on where the bantamweight bout between Chris Beal (9-0) and Tateki Matsuda (10-5) takes place. Both men prefer to do their work on the feet, but their contrasting styles should make an interesting scrap. Beal is more of a forward-moving volume striker, while Matsuda stays on the back foot and likes to pick his spots to counter. Neither fighter possesses an incredible amount of power, but as Beal showed in his official UFC debut he can end a fight with the right shot. Finding that shot against Matsuda should prove more difficult in this bout. The Japanese export now living and training in Boston has never been stopped in his career, and has four TKO wins of his own. Beal does have quite a bit of hype stemming from his time on ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ where a hand injury derailed his chances at the title as much as anything, so it’s no shock to see him as a healthy -420 favorite. Matsuda’s relative anonymity and the fact that he accepted this bout on short notice are a big reasons why he is a +375 underdog. Kicking off the evening will be another fight featuring a short-notice competitor. Chas Skelly (12-1) fought just under two weeks ago, as he dispatched Tom Niinimaki with a neck crank in the first round at UFC Fight Night 49. Now on the Chris Leben schedule, he looks to pick up a second win in short order against Sean Soriano (8-1). Skelly’s gameplan shouldn’t change too much from his bout with Niinimaki, as he will surely be looking to take Soriano to the ground in this one in order to avoid the skilled hands of the Blackzilian fighter. Soriano was able to avoid the early takedowns of Tatsuya Kawajiri in his UFC debut, but quickly ran out of gas and Kawajiri was able to slip on a rear-naked choke in the second round. That bout was in Singapore on short notice, so hopefully a full camp and being closer to home will have the cardio issues sorted out for Soriano. The betting public still likes Skelly to continue building his momentum however, as he sits at -190 with Soriano at +175.
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