Kamikaze Overdrive Prelim Prediction Archives

125lbs- Ryan Benoit (9-5-0) vs Ashkan Mokhtarian (13-2-0)

In the headlining bout, Ryan “Baby Face” Benoit takes on Ashkan “The Assassin” Mokhtarian in the Flyweight division. Benoit was last seen dropping a split decision to Brandon Moreno. Mokhtarian lost a decision in his UFC debut to former title challenger John Moraga- he had won 6 fights in a row.

Mokhtarian is an inch taller, but will give up an inch of reach. Benoit is the younger man by 4-years.

An equal opportunity finisher, Mokhtarian has split his 12 stoppages between knockouts and subs. He came out with a takedown-heavy attack in his debut, with almost no success. His striking looked a little awkward at times, throwing low kicks and limited combinations. Benoit knocked out Sergio Pettis, but he has struggled against more technical strikers. He has legit power in his hands and is a decent scrambler on the mat. Ryan’s biggest downfall has arguably been his TDD and gas tank.

Benoit is 7-0 in fights ended by knockout, but 2-5 when a contest ends any other way.

Mokhtarian struggled to offer much offence in his debut and routinely got the worst of the grappling exchanges. Benoit has the skills to counter any potential takedown attempts and the power on the feet to force Ashkan into some desperation TDAs. “Baby Face” is a flawed fighter, but Mokhtarian didn’t show enough to say he can compete at this level- my prediction is Ryan Benoit to defeat Ashkan Mokhtarian by decision.

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155lbs- Nik Lentz (28-8-2 1NC) vs Will Brooks (18-3-0)

Former Bellator champion “Ill” Will Brooks will try to end the first multi-fight losing streak of his career when he takes on Nik “The Carny” Lentz in the Lightweight division. Brooks debuted with a win over Ross Pearson, but has since dropped back to back to fights to Alex and Charles Oliveira. Lentz returned to Lightweight with a pair of victories before falling to Islam Makhachev via decision earlier this year.

Brooks is 2 inches taller than Lentz and will have a 4″ reach advantage. “Ill” Will is the younger man by 2-years.

A former NCAA Division 1 wrestler and BJJ Purple belt, Lentz has completed 30-takedowns over his last 6 wins. Conversely, in his last 5 losses- he has been on the wrong end of the takedown battle by a count of 20-4. When forced to compete on the feet, Lentz offers a short range striking attack before looking to clinch up. Brooks is a perfect 9-0 in decisions, but he has now been finished in all 3 of his defeats. A physical specimen, Will needs to find a way to better blend together his striking skills and his wrestling. He has struggled at times when put under pressure and his offensive output will trail off in more demanding fights.

Brooks has struggled to find his foot since coming to the UFC. He is the more athletically gifted fighter and will have a size advantage over Lentz, but he is going to struggled to deal with the constant aggression. Look for Lentz to push the pace early, keep Brooks on his back foot and grind him down along the cage and potentially on the floor- my prediction is [Body]Nik Lentz to defeat Will Brooks by decision.[/Body_1]

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265lbs- Rashad Coulter (8-2-0) vs Tai Tuivasa (5-0-0)

In a battle of big men, “Daywalker” Rashad Coulter welcomes Aussie Tai “Bam Bam” Tuivasa to the UFC’s Heavyweight division. Coulter put on an entertaining performance in his short notice UFC debut, losing to Chase Sherman via middle round TKO. Tuivasa is coming off a corner stoppage TKO victory over UFC veteran James McSweeney in defence of his AFC Heavyweight title.

Tuivasa will stand 2 inches taller than the 6’0″ Coulter and should weigh in close to 20-pounds heavier. Coulter, the older man by 12-years, will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. The Aussie has not fought for over a year.

Tai comes into this fight having finished all of his foes in the opening round, with only a single opponent going beyond the first 60-seconds. Tuivasa has decent power and captured the AFC title with a well place lateral elbow that wilted his opponent. On the negative side, he was breathing very heavy at the end of the first round against McSweeney. Coulter comes from a boxing background and has stopped all 8 of his wins by knockout- 6 in round 1. He showed his heart and toughness against Sherman, continuing to throw bombs despite a badly injured leg. He throws decent combinations, with a big right hand- but he will break down and brawl when the action gets heated.

McSweeney appeared focused on taking him down which could be an area of vulnerability. The play-by-play crewed suggested Tuivasa hasn’t been tested on the mat during his brief MMA career.

Both fighters hit very hard and it could come down to who lands that first big shot. Coulter has faced better competition and will get a full camp this time around. Tuivasa is returning off a long layoff, debuting, and has very limited MMA experience. Coulter has to avoid taking that big shot early and would be best served to look for an early takedown, but if Tai can’t get him out of there he is going to fade badly- my prediction is Rashad Coulter to defeat Tai Tuivasa by TKO.

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155lbs- Damien Brown (17-10-0) vs Frank Camacho (20-5-0)

In the Lightweight division, Damien “Beatdown” Brown goes toe to toe with Frank “The Crank” Camacho. Brown is coming off a KO loss to Vinc Pichel, snapping his 2-fight winning streak. Camacho had won a pair of fights prior to entering the UFC, where he dropped a decision to Li Jingliang by decision.

Camacho is moving back down to Lightweight after opening his UFC run at 170-pounds. Both men are 5’10”, but Camacho will have a 5″ reach advantage and is 5 years younger.

Camacho showcased his powerful right hand against Li, rocking him during an early exchange. He has finished 15 opponents by knockout, 3 by submission with 14 coming in the opening round. Brown is coming off a knockout loss and has been stopped on the feet twice. One fight prior, he earned a split decision win despite taking a significant amount of damage on the feet. Brown’s key to victory will be to drag this fight into the second half and test the questionable cardio of Frank “The Crank”.

Brown has 8 wins by submission, but he has also been subbed on 4 occasions and gave up 5 takedowns in his debut defeat. Camacho is a decorated BJJ Brown belt.

If Brown can press Camacho early, he could break him and earn either a wide decision or late stoppage. Conversely, Brown is simply not durable enough to trade hands with Camacho who holds the advantage in both power and technical skill. Camacho has the edge on the mat which will dissuade “Beatdown” from trying to put him on the floor- my prediction is Frank Camacho to defeat Damien Brown by TKO.

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115lbs- Alex Chambers (5-2-0) vs Nadia Kassem (4-0-0)

In the Women’s Strawweight division, TUF alumni Alex “Astro Girl” Chambers returns to action against the debuting Nadia Kassem. Chambers is coming off a submission loss to Paige Van Zant and currently holds a record of 1-2 inside the Octagon. Kassem pulled out of her initial debut due to injury and currently she holds a 4-0 record having stopped all of her adversaries via knockout in round 1.

Chambers hasn’t competed in 26-months and is 17-years older than Kassem. Nadia is 2 inches taller and will have a 4″ reach advantage.

Kassem’s record looks impressive considering she has knocked out all 4 of her opponents and never fought beyond the 90-second mark. A closer look at her competition reveals that her 4 victims currently have a combined record of 0-10. Nadia utilizes a Muay Thai base style and will throw a lot of kicks and knees when looking for the finish. Chambers has never been finished and is a Karate Black belt, but over her UFC tenure, she has struggled with pressure. Chambers has a tendency to slow down as the fight progresses, but it is almost certainly in her best interest to force this fight into the later stages.

Chamber’s only UFC win came in a fight that she was behind on the scorecards in before she snatched up a late submission win.

“Astro Girl” is pushing 40 and the layoff has been significant, especially considering how underwhelming she has been so far inside the Octagon. The big question surrounding Kassem is her lack of real competition or lengthy fight time. Regardless, her aggression should recreate the issues that Alex has had with pressure and keep her on the defensive, my prediction is Nadia Kassem to defeat Alex Chambers by TKO.

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125lbs- Jenel Lausa (7-3-0) vs Eric Shelton (10-4-0)

In the Flyweight division, Eric “Showtime” Shelton makes his third walk to the Octagon when he takes on “The Demolition Man” Jenel Lausa. Lausa fell via decision to Magomed Bibulatov in his split his UFC record at 1-1. Shelton is 0-2 in the promotion on the heels of a split decision loss to Jarred Brooks.

Shelton is an inch taller, but they will have the same 68″ reach. Shelton is the younger fighter by 3 years.

“Showtime” has had issues winning close fights. Both of his UFC defeats have been by split decision and overall he has dropped 3 of 4 of his career losses by split decision. Shelton is an athletic fighter that has shown signs of constant improvement since his time on the Ultimate Fighter. He offers a nice mix of speed, wrestling, and a decent striking attack. Conversely, Lausa is primarily a boxer with a heavy focus on remaining vertical. His counter wrestling has been better than expected, but he can become too focused on staying vertical and not attack enough.

Lausa has a reported undefeated 7-0 record as a pro boxer.

Lausa has power and if he can stay vertical, he has the skills to win this fight. That being said, Shelton simply has too much to offer. His mat game will both produce points and limit Jenel’s offensive production. Look for Shelton to transition between wrestling and striking, forcing Lausa to be constantly on the defensive- my prediction is Eric Shelton to defeat Jenel Lausa by decision.

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265lbs- Anthony Hamilton (15-8-0) vs Adam Wieczorek (8-1-0)

Ending a brief retirement, Anthony “Freight Train” Hamilton returns to action when he meets the debuting Adam “Siwy” Wieczorek in the Heavyweight division. Hamilton has lost 3 in a row and 4 of 5 with his only win during that span coming by 14-second knockout over Damian Grabowski. Wieczorek has rattled off 7 straight wins since dropping a 2011 decision to the streaking Marcin Tybura in just his second pro fight.

Hamilton is stepping in on a couple weeks notice, just over a month removed from his last knockout defeat. Conversely, Wieczorek hasn’t fought in just over a year. Both men are 6’5″, but “Freight Train” should tip the scales 5-10 pounds heavier. Wieczorek is the younger man by 12-years.

As already mentioned, Hamilton has knocked out just a month ago and promptly retired. That should raise some questions about his current mindset and how could he possibly be clear to compete again. Either way, his chin is gone and that trumps whatever asset he does have to offer. Wieczorek is pretty green and relies heavily on his mat game to secure victories. That being said, he has shown enough on the feet to at least consider him a threat to add to Anthony’s mounting finishes.

There are avenues to victory here for Hamilton, but its hard to see past his diminishing durability. Wieczorek is young and aggressive which should be enough to put him in position to challenge Hamilton and eventually land something on his chin- my prediction is Adam Wieczorek to defeat Anthony Hamilton by TKO.

135lbs-#8 John Dodson (20-8-0) vs #9 Marlon Moraes (18-5-1)

Capping off the undercard, a huge fight in the Bantamweight division will feature the former WSOF champion Marlon Moraes taking his second shot at a UFC win when he meets multi-time Flyweight title challenger John “The Magician” Dodson. Moraes had won 13 straight fights including 5 title defences prior to dropping a contentious split decision to Raphael Assuncao in his Octagon debut. Dodson is coming off a win over Eddie Wineland which followed a close split decision loss to John Lineker- he is 5-2 over his last 7 fights.

Moraes is 3 inches taller than Dodson and will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. The Brazilian is the younger man by 4 years.

Moraes is a dangerous striker, but he would have benefitted from an increase in output during his narrow debut defeat. At his best, he offers a variety of devastating kicking techniques and has stopped opponents with his kicks. Moraes can also work on the mat, recording 6-wins by submission, but he is going to be hardpressed to take Dodson off his feet. Dodson has knockout power in his left and deploys it effectively based on his speed and ability to close the distance. In his loss to Lineker, John failed to consistently close the gap and land enough strikes to edge a narrow decision. Instead, he pursed the counter game and spent too much time backtracking.

If Dodson can land his left hand, he can finish just about anyone. If not, his lack of variety and linear approach to attacking can make him predictable. Moraes might not be quite as fast, but he has more tools and should be the aggressor for the majority of the exchanges. The former WSOF champ puts on a better performance, increasing his output and outworking the former UFC title challenger- my prediction is Marlon Moraes to defeat John Dodson by decision.

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115lbs- Tatiana Suarez (5-0-0) vs Viviane Pereira (13-0-0)

In the second to last undercard fight, TUF 23 Strawweight winner Tatiana Suarez will go toe to toe with surging Brazilian Viviane Pereira in the 115-pound division. Suarez submitted Amanda Cooper in the TUF tournament final to remain undefeated, but she has yet to compete since. Pereira earned an upset win over Valerie Letourneau in her debut and followed it up by defeating Jamie Moyle- also by decision.

At 5’5″, Suarez is 4 inches taller than Pereira to go along with a 4″ reach advantage. Pereira is the younger fighter by 3-years while Suarez hasn’t fought in roughly 16-months.

Traditionally, both winners and other TUF competitors tend to show a decent jump in skill between their time on the show and their foray into regular competition. Suarez could very well fit the bill here. She is a talented wrestler and augments her takedowns with a solid submission game. Pereira’s success against Tatiana will hinge on her counter wrestling. She found success keeping Moyle vertical and deploying her striking offence. Pereira has stopped 4 opponents by TKO and packs some solid power in her right hand to go along with a solid jab.

Including her trio of TUF bouts, Suarez has not fought beyond the 2nd round of a fight since her pro debut in 2014.

If Suarez can put the Brazilian on her back early and often, this is her fight to win. Pereira is the superior striker and when combined with her shorter stature and physical strength- she will make it difficult for the TUF champ to wrestle her. Pereira will utilize her jab to back Suarez up, force her to work hard on her TDAs and eventually start to distance herself on the feet- my prediction is Viviane Pereira to defeat Tatiana Suarez by decision.

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155lbs- Sage Northcutt (8-2-0) vs Michel Quinones (8-2-0)

In the Lightweight division, “Super” Sage Northcutt goes head to head with Michel “El Capo” Quinones. Northcutt’s surge has been slowed with 2 losses in his last 3 fights- most recently getting subbed by Mickey Gall. Quinones made an unsuccessful debut against Jared Gordon, suffering a middle round knockout- he had won 5 in a row.

Sage is 2 inches taller, but will give up 2 inches of reach to Quinones. Northcutt is the younger fighter by 12-years. Sage has not fought in in almost 12-months. Quinones’s last fight was at 145-pounds while Sage last fought at Welterweight.

A fighter known for his quick finishes, Quinones came out aggressive in his debut, throwing a wide variety of techniques. He had finished 4 straight opponents in the opening round prior to his final n0n-UFC fight. Michel is a striker by trade with just a single submission win on his record. This should be a blessing for Northcut who has been submitted in both of his UFC losses and appears to be quite vulnerable on the floor. When able to remain on his feet, Northcutt is a talented- but still developing fighter. Similar to his opponent, he offers a nice variety of kicks- but Sage should have the power advantage over his foe.

The layoff for Northcutt should serve as an opportunity to for him to round out his attack and grow as a mixed martial artist.

Sage is still a work in progress and while Quinones will give him the striking battle he desires, look for Michel to really push him early. Northcut tends to rely on single strikes and needs time to set up his offence- Quinones will not afford him that. Michel sticks right in the face of Northcutt and makes this fight dirty- my prediction is Michel Quinones to defeat Sage Northcutt by TKO.

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115lbs- Angela Hill (7-3-0) vs Nina Ansaroff (7-5-0)

In the Women’s Strawweight division, former Invicta Strawweight champion Angela “Overkill” Hill takes on “The Strina” Nina Ansaroff. Hill is coming off a decision win over Ashley Yoder to improve her UFC record to 2-3. Ansaroff got off to a slow start inside the Octagon at 0-2, but she secured her first UFC win with a submission of Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger in her last outing.

Ansaroff is 2 inches taller than Hill, but they have the same reach and are the same age.

Hill returned to the UFC with a much improved striking attack, built around better movement and defence. Despite the loss to top contender Jessica Andrade, she held her own on the feet and showed impressive durability. Ansaroff, a BJJ Purple belt, is coming off her second UFC submission win. She found a lot of success putting her foe on the floor and should attempt to engage Hill on the mat. Angela has struggled when pressed by a grappler. Nina does offer a varied striking attack with decent power resulting in 4 career knockouts.

Hill has given up at least 1 takedown per fight inside the Octagon, amounting to 10 TDs over 5 contests.

This bout has the potential to be very close unless Ansaroff remains committed to her ground attack. She has the skills to hang with and beat Angela on the feet, so she may only need to find minimal success on the floor- my prediction is Nina Ansaroff to defeat Angela Hill by decision.

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170lbs- Court McGee (19-6-0) vs Sean Strickland (18-2-0)

In the Welterweight division, TUF 11 tournament winner Court “Crusher” McGee takes on Sean “Tarzan” Strickland. McGee is coming off a tough loss to Ben Saunders and has alternated wins and losses over his last 6 fights. Strickland fell to Kamaru Usman by decision to snap his 3-fight winning streak.

Both fighter formerly competed at Middleweight, but Strickland is the taller man by 2 inches and he will have a 1″ reach advantage. Strickland is 7-years younger than Court.

McGee’s strength has been his cardio, pressure, and volume. Unfortunately, the last aspect of that trifecta has been absent from his attack, failing to surpass the 60-strike mark in any of his last 5 fights. Conversely, Strickland has picked up his output since moving to Welterweight, working behind a pretty consistent jab. That being said, at times he is too willing to rely on his jab and lacks urgency in his attack.

Both men could look to take this fight to the floor and both have been susceptible at times to being taken down.

Strickland should have the edge in both durability and power along with being the superior athlete. Unless Court returns to form with his volume he will struggle to match the impact of Strickland’s offensive attack- my prediction is Sean Strickland to defeat Court McGee by decision.

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205lbs- Jake Collier (10-4-0) vs Marcel Fortuna (9-2-0)

In the continuing shuffle of non-ranked Light Heavyweights, Jake “The Prototype” Collier takes his second UFC fight at 205-pounds when he squares off with Brazil’s Marcel Fortuna. Fortuna is coming off a loss to Jordan Johnson to snap his 6-fight winning streak that included a Heavyweight upset of Anthony Hamilton in his debut. Collier is 2-3 since coming to the Octagon, most recently dropping a decision to Devin Clark in his Light Heavyweight debut.

At 6’3″, Collier is 2 inches taller than Fortuna and will have a 4″ reach advantage. Jake is the younger man by 3-years.

Despite the end result of his debut, Fortuna relies heavily on his ground game. A BJJ Black belt, Marcel has submitted 5 opponents- most by some form of choke. During his TUF run, his ineffective pursuit of the takedown compromised his cardio and cost him his final fight. Collier has proven susceptible to being taken down, giving up 9 takedowns over his last 3 fights. He will need to focus on his defence against Fortuna and then forcing him to work hard on the feet. Collier has been finished twice via TKO, but he is willing to step into range and trade blows.

Fortuna’s debut came with a nearly 50-pound weight disadvantage at Heavyweight while Collier has spent most of his career competing as a Middleweight.

Fortuna’s ground game will allow him to both score points on the floor and deter Collier from taking him down. Jake needs to push Marcel and force him to work hard on the feet and in pursuit of the takedown. Regardless, Fortuna should be able to find success with his ground game and/or throwing the heavier strikes- my prediction is Marcel Fortuna to defeat Jake Collier by submission.

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185lbs- Darren Stewart (7-1-0 1NC) vs Karl Robertson (5-0-0)

To raise the curtain on UFC Fight Night 120, “The Dentist” Darren Stewart returns to action to face Tuesday Night Contenders graduate Karl Robertson in the Middleweight division. Stewart lost his rematch with Francimar Barroso last time out after his initial victory was overturned. Robertson scored a 15-second knockout on the third edition of Dana White’s fight series to remain undefeated.

Evenly matched from a physical standpoint, Robertson is an inch taller but they share the same reach and were born within a couple of months of each other. Both men are also moving to Middleweight after competing at 205-pounds in their last contest.

Despite taking his last fight at Light Heavyweight, Robertson made short work of his much bigger opponent- landing hard elbows on route to a 15-second knockout. He has finished each of his last 4 opponents early in the opening round after going the distance in his debut. He comes from a strong kickboxing background. Stewart will give him a striking based fight as he boasts a finish heavy record as well. “The Dentist” tends to brawl which could produce positive results against a technically superior striker. Unfortunately, his aggression also limits his ability to fight deep into matchups as he tends to fade.

Both fighters know how to finish, but Robertson is the more technically refined striker. Remaining technical will allow him to deal with the aggression early and remain the fresher fighter should this bout go beyond the opening frame- my prediction is Karl Robertson to defeat Darren Stewart by TKO

155lbs- James Vick (11-1-0) vs Joe Duffy (16-2-0)

In the headlining bout of the undercard, James “The Texicutioner” Vick goes head to head with Ireland’s own “Irish Joe” Joe Duffy. Vick has won back to back fights since suffering the first loss of his career- he scored a TKO win over Marco Polo Reyes in his last bout. Duffy is 4-1 inside the Octagon and is also riding a 2-fight winning streak, picking up wins over Mitch Clarke and Reza Madadi.

A very tall Lightweight, Vick is 6’3″ and will be 5 inches taller than Duffy to go along with a 3″ reach. Duffy is the younger fighter by a year.

Vick is developing a well-rounded attack. His striking is solid, incorporating his reach and movement to augment his ever-increasing volume game. He averages just over 4 SLpM compared to 3.38 SApM. The Texas-native is hittable and Beniel Dariush blasted him several times prior to scoring the stoppage. Vick is also a capable grappler, utilizing his long limbs to set up submissions. Unfortunately, he lacks a strong takedown to get his foe to the floor and he has been taken down on multiple occasions. Duffy struggled with the wrestling of Dustin Poirier in his only UFC loss, but he is a pretty solid grappler in his own right. On the feet, he is a smooth striker with good head movement and footwork. Leading with a sharp left jab and following with a power right, his combination striking is strong and he packs good power in his hands. Joe is coming off just his 5th career fight to go beyond the first frame- he is 3-2 in those bouts.

Vick will have the physical advantages and can operate both on the feet and the mat, but his glaring defensive issues will be his undoing. If he had a better wrestling attack, he could put Duffy on the floor, where he might have the edge. Look for “Irish Joe” to work inside the reach of Vick and outbox him, eventually cracking him on the chin- my prediction is Joe Duffy to defeat James Vick by TKO.

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265lbs- Walt Harris (10-5-0) vs Mark Godbeer (12-3-0)

In a fight that was originally scheduled to take place at UFC 216, Walt “The Big Ticket” Harris looks to get back on track when he takes on Mark “The Hand of” Godbeer. Godbeer most recently defeated Daniel Spitz at UFC 209 to rebound from his debut loss to Justin Ledet. Harris stopped both Chase Sherman and Cyril Asker prior to suffering a 65-second submission loss to former Heavyweight Champion Fabricio Werdum when he stepped up to the main card at UFC 216.

At 6’5″, Harris is an inch taller than Godbeer, but they will share the same 77″ reach. They are the same age.

This fight will most likely be decided on the feet with both men packing significant power. Harris has finished all 10 of his career wins via knockout- 9 in the opening round. Not to be outdone, Godbeer has stopped his foe via knockout in 9 of his 12 wins- only 3 in the opening round. Harris has looked increasingly more comfortable with his striking offense and the results have been devastating. Godbeer is a capable striker, but he is going to struggle with the speed and athleticism of Harris.

While Harris has far more opening round finishes, he appears to have the superior cardio which will play a role if this fight goes beyond the opening. Either way, look for him to routinely beat Godbeer to the punch and land the more impactful strikes when doing so. Despite the loss to Werdum, this fight should still play out as previously expected to- my prediction is Walt Harris to defeat Mark Godbeer by knockout.

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205lbs- #6 Ovince Saint Preux (21-10-0) vs #7 Corey Anderson (10-3-0)

In a battle of top 10-ranked Light Heavyweights, former title-challenger Ovince Saint Preux takes on Corey “Overtime” Anderson. OSP has won back to back fights, submitting both Yushin Okami and Marcos Rogerio de Lima by Von Flue choke. Anderson is coming off a loss to Jimi Manuwa by knockout, but he has won 4 of his last 6 fights.

Saint-Preux is stepping in to replace Patrick Cummins on roughly 2-weeks notice. Both men are 6’3″, OSP has an inch longer reach and Anderson is the younger man by 6-years.

Anderson is coming off his second knockout loss and it is becoming apparent that his chin is a clear vulnerability. Nonetheless, he is still a capable striker utilizing a lot of movement and averaging an impressive 5.01 SLpM. A former NCAA D3 wrestler, “Overtime” does a good job of mixing in his wrestling having secured 25 takedowns over his combined 6 UFC wins. While OSP has proven himself to be a crafty submission fighter from top position, he also struggled when his opposition has looked to take him down. Most notably, Glover Teixeira beat him up on the floor prior to scoring the choke. OSP is an impressive athlete and is dangerous on the feet, but his striking tends to be a little stiff and can result in him slowing down in more demanding fights.

OSP’s short notice will not help his already questionable cardio. Additionally, he has had issues with wrestling and clinch heavy fighters which is a style that Anderson has employed in previous fights. Corey needs to utilize his movement and jab to close the distance and then force Ovince to a close quarters fight to both score points and tire him out. Anderson might be able to score a top position stoppage, but my prediction is Corey Anderson to defeat Ovince Saint Preux by decision.

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170lbs- Mickey Gall (4-0-0) vs Randy Brown (9-2-0)

In the Welterweight division, CM Punk slayer Mickey Gall returns to action to take on fellow Dana White talent search recruit Randy “Rude Boy” Brown. Brown is coming off of a decision loss to Belal Muhammad and is 3-2 inside the Octagon. Gall has yet to taste defeat in his brief pro career, submitting both the aforementioned Punk and Sage Northcutt in his last 2 UFC fights.

At 6’3″, Brown is 1″ taller, but he will have a 4″ reach advantage. Gall is the younger fighter by 2-years.

Brown comes into the fight having finished 2 of his 3 UFC wins- and has stopped 8 of his 9 opponents overall. He has some decent pop in his hands and is improving his use of his reach to keep his opponent on the outside. If his opponent closes the distance, look for “Rude Boy” to clinch up and employ damaging elbow and knee strikes. A BJJ purple belt, Brown has shown a willingness to work on the mat but has also go himself in some trouble on the floor. Gall has an excellent back take and has finished all 4 of his pro opponent’s by submission, all by rear-naked choke. He can do damage with strikes from top position, but we haven’t seen a lot of his vertical striking offense.

Brown has more experience than Gall and appears to have the more well-rounded skill set. That being said, Gall’s strength is Brown’s biggest area of vulnerability. Gall’s wrestling and BJJ games should be more than enough to exploit the holes in Brown’s defensive grappling- my prediction is Mickey Gall to defeat Randy Brown by submission.

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205lbs- Michael Oleksiejczuk (12-2-0) vs Ion Cutelaba (13-3-0 1NC)

In the Light Heavyweight division, Ion “The Hulk” Cutelaba takes on short notice replacement Michael “Lord” Oleksiejczuk. Cutelaba has alternated wins and losses dating back to his UFC debut, he is coming off a 22-second knockout of Henrique Da Silva. Oleksiejczuk has won 9 straight fights including a 2-0 mark in 2017.

Oleksiejczuk is replacing Gadzhimurad Antigulov with roughly a month to prep. Cutelaba is an inch taller and will have an inch reach advantage. UFC newcomer is the younger fighter by a year.

Cutelaba is a is coming off of his 10th career knockout win, but just his first in the UFC. Against Da Silva, he came out aggressive and plugged him with several heavy hooks before finishing him on the mat with a brutal sequence of ground and pound. In his loss to Jared Cannonier, he showcased his wrestling skills scoring 6 takedowns prior to gassing out. His cardio has been an issue as he has slowed down in longer fights. Not to be outdone, Oleksiejczuk has finished 8 opponents by knockout and 3 by sub- 5 in the opening round. He throws very hard when pressing forward, but he is also quite hittable. In his most recent bout, he was dropped during an early exchange prior to getting the finish. He has been finished once each by knockout and submission.

For however long this contest last, it should be exciting. Cutelaba’s cardio isn’t great, but his chin is solid and should be able to withstand the Polish fighter’s power. Cutelaba will walk him down, pressing forward behind heavy-handed combinations until something connects- my prediction is Ion Cutelaba to defeat Michael Oleksiejcuk by TKO.

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265lbs- #9 Oleksiy Oliynyk (52-10-1) vs #12 Curtis Blaydes (7-1-0 1NC)

In the Heavyweight division, rising prospect Curtis “Razor” Blaydes takes on 63-fight veteran Oleksiy “The Boa Constrictor” Oliynyk. Blaydes is on a 3-fight undefeated streak, most recently picking up a decision victory Daniel Omielanczuk. Oliynyk is coming off a submission of the fast fading Travis Browne and is an impressive 13-1 over his last 14 fights.

Blaydes is 2 inches taller and should weigh roughly 20-25 pounds heavier. They have the same 80” reach and Blaydes is the younger fighter by 14-years.

The aging Oliynyk continues to find success on the strength of his submission game. He has finished an astounding 43 opponents via some form of tap out. Averaging 3.71 takedowns per fight, he has showcased some decent wrestling in his Octagon run. Against Browne, he survived the early exchanges and capitalized on Travis’s faltering cardio prior to securing the sub. On the feet, he has decent power but tends to be a little stiff with his technique. Blaydes has good power in his hands, but he primarily focuses his attack on his wrestling. He completed 15-takedowns over his first 3 fights but is coming off a victory spent almost entirely on the feet. Once he does get the fight to the floor he can do a lot of damage with his top position strikes.

Blades is the bigger man and better athlete. If he opts to take Oliynyk down, he has the tools to muffle his submission game- but it still brings him into Oleksiy’s area of strength. Look for the American to use his wrestling in reverse to force the striking exchanges early and if he is unable to score the stoppage, he may opt to wrestle later in the bout- my prediction is Curtis Blaydes to defeat Oleksiy Oliynyk by TKO/
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135lbs- Aiemann Zahabi (7-0-0) vs Ricardo Ramos (10-1-0)

In the opening fight of the night, Canadian fighter Aiemann Zahabi makes his sophomore appearance when he takes on Brazil’s Ricardo Ramos. Zahabi scored a decision victory over Reginaldo Vieira in his debut in early 2017 to remain undefeated. Ramos has secured back to back wins, including a victory over Michinori Tanaka in his Octagon debut.

Ramos is an inch taller, but will have a slightly more pronounced reach advantage of 4 inches. The Brazilian is 8-years younger.

Zahabi got off to a slow start in his debut, giving up a couple of early takedowns in the first round. Once his opponent started to slow down, he began to find more success with his defense and provided just enough offense to get the nod. At distance, he will utilize feints to draw out his opponent’s attack and he offers a decent striking attack. From the clinch, Aiemann will deploy elbows and knees with the option to change levels for a takedown. Ramos has won the majority of his fights by submission but relied more on his striking in his win over Tanaka. While he did mix in some crucial top position time on route to victory- it was his counter striking and overall activity rate that was the difference. Ramos effectively slid back when put under pressure and dropped his foe with a well-placed counter strike.

This is a difficult fight to predict considering both men are making just their second UFC outing and both men are still early in the pro careers. Zahabi is technical, but he lacks urgency in his striking. The aggressive push of Ramos will give him trouble and if Ricardo opts to take the fight to the mat he should have the grappling edge- my prediction is Ricardo Ramos to defeat Aiemann Zahabi by decision.

170lbs- Vicente Luque (11-6-1) vs Niko Price (10-0-0 1NC)

In the headlining fight of the undercard, Vicente “Silent Assassin” Luque picks up a short notice opportunity when he takes on the always dangerous Niko “The Hybrid” Price. Price is coming off a TKO win over Alan Jouban to pick up his 2nd UFC win- he is 2-0-0 1NC inside the Octagon. Luque is coming off his first UFC loss since his debut; he dropped a decision to Leon Edwards to end his 4-fight winning streak.

Luque is taking this fight on roughly 3 week’s notice. Price in an inch taller and will have a 1″ reach advantage. Luque is the younger man by 2-years.

The Brazilian is an absolute killer having finished all 4 of his wins in the UFC splitting his 10 career stoppages evenly between knockouts and submissions. He has finished 8 foes in the opening round compared to a 2-6-1 record in fights that go beyond the opening round. He started out well against Edwards, but faded after the opening round. Offensively, He offers a dangerous striking repertoire based in Muay Thai and his wrestling couples well with his submission game. Price is also a dangerous finisher, recording 7 of his 9 wins by knockout. Price has also finished 8 foes in the opening round, but he also has a trio of stoppages beyond the 5-minute mark. Price is an aggressive striker, willingly moving forward to engage his opponent and often relying on his durability to get the better of the exchanges.

This fight should be entertaining, but despite each man’s high finishing rates- it could very well come down to who has the superior cardio. Luque is the more technical striker and has the edge on the mat, but his cardio and record beyond the opening round are major areas of concern. Look for Price to survive the early exchanges, possibly lose the opening frame, but then take over the fight as Vicente fades- my prediction is Nike Price to defeat Vicente Luque by Decision.

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185lbs- Antonio Carlos Junior (9-2-0 1NC) vs Jack Marshman (22-6-0)

In the first of a trio of Middleweight bouts on the card, TUF Brazil winner Antonio Carlos Junior takes on Welsh knockout artist Jack “Hammer” Marshman. Carlos Junior has won a trio of fights since suffering a disappointing upset loss to Daniel Kelly. Marshman got back in the win column with a decision victory over Ryan Janes- he is now 2-1 in the UFC.

The Brazilian is 2 inches taller than his opponent and will have a 6″ reach advantage. He is also the younger man by a year.

A BJJ Black belt, Carlos Junior has melded together a serviceable takedown game with his already elite level grappling skills. ACJ averages 3.79 takedowns per fight and has submitted 6 opponents- 3 by RNC. His striking is still a work in progress and a pathway to setting up his grappling attack. Marshman packs some serious power, stopping 13 by TKO/KO. He is at his best when he can close the distance and strike from the inside, but he is far less effective when working at distance. Marshman is a BJJ Purple belt and has never been submitted, but he did give up 4 takedowns over his first 2 UFC fights.

This fight will come down to whether or not Carlos Junior can put Marshman on the mat and keep him there. Additionally, the manner in which he faded against Kelly is also a concern considering how scrappy Jack is. The need for “Hammer” to close the distance in order to be effective on the feet will allow Junior to counter with his takedown game and set up his submissions- my prediction is Antonio Carlos Junior to defeat Jack Marshman by submission.

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155lbs- Hacran Dias (23-5-1) vs Jared Gordon (13-1-0)

A pair of fighters who failed to make the Featherweight maximum last time out move to Lightweight as Hacran Dias meets Jared “Flash” Gordon. In his debut, Gordon scored a middle round knockout of Michel Quinones to extend his current winning streak to 4. Dias has dropped back to back fights to Andre Fili and Cub Swanson to see his UFC record fall to 3-4.

The younger man by 4-years, Gordon is an inch than his foe, but Dias will have the 1″ reach advantage. Hacran is returning after just over a year away from active competition.

Dias has built a reputation for his grinding style. He relies heavily on his ability to score takedowns and maintain top position. Over his 3 UFC wins he has record 13 completions compared to 7 over his 4 defeats. Against Fili, he completed 4 takedowns, but failed to build on his positional gain and lost the striking battle. On average, he gets hit just under 1 strike more per minute then he is able to hit his opponent. Gordon has also relied on his wrestling skills to win fights. He completed 4 takedowns in his debut and stopped the fight on the mat with strikes. He is a scrappy fighter, pushing forward and constantly engaging on the feet. His key to success here will be his defensive wrestling and ability to force Dias into a striking centric fight.

Dias doesn’t do enough on the feet to win a fight without some prolonged top control and he hasn’t finished an opponent since 2011. A questionable decision in Brazil is certainly a possibility, but Gordon appears to have the superior cardio and striking output to edge this one out. Dias will either get shutout on his TDAs or fade after the opening round and get beat on the feet- my prediction is Jared Gordon to defeat Haran Dias by decision.

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170lbs- Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos (17-5-0) vs Max Griffin (13-3-0)

In the Welterweight division, a pair of heavy hitters go head to head as Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos takes on Max “Pain” Griffin. Dos Santos has won a trio of fights since his debut defeat, he most recently defeated Lyman Good by split decision. Griffin lost his UFC debut to headliner Colby Covington but rebounded with an abrupt knockout victory over Erick Montano.

Both men are 5’11”, but it will be Griffin with a 3″ reach advantage. Dos Santos is the younger man by a year.

Coming from a kickboxing background, Griffin earned his 7th career win by knockout, hurting Montano on the feet and swarming him for the finish on the floor. If he is unable to finish his opponent, Griffin is 4-2 in decisions including a 2-2 record in fights that end in split decisions. The Brazilian should be more than willing to throw hands, having finished 12 foes by knockout. Offering decent volume over a full 15-minutes, Dos Santos throws a variety of striking techniques complimenting his boxing with a good kicking attack. Arguably the best aspect of Elizeu’s game has been his ability to get stronger as his fights progress.

Both men have had issues on the mat and if either can find an edge on the floor it could be their path to victory. Griffin’s issues separating himself in close fights is concerning considering he is heading into Brazil. Dos Santos has a solid chin, hits hard, and will continue to push forward as the fight progresses. Look for Griffin to start to fade after the early exchanges when the damage begins to pile up, my prediction is Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos to defeat Max Griffin by TKO.

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125lbs- Deiveson Figueiredo (12-0-0) vs Jarred Brooks (13-0-0)

In a battle of undefeated fighters, Deiveson Figueiredo takes on fellow promotional sophomore Jarred “The Monkey King” Brooks in the Flyweight division. Figueiredo stopped Marco Beltran between rounds back at UFC 212. Brooks took a closely fought split decision win over Eric Shelton in his first UFC showing at UFC 214.

The Brazilian is 2 inches taller than Brooks and will have a 6″ reach advantage. Brooks is the younger man by 6-years.

Figueiredo is an aggressive striker, picking up his 6th knockout in his debut. He relied heavily on his ground game in his debut, scoring a pair of takedowns and remaining active on top. On the feet, he is incredibly aggressive throwing heavy leather with minimal focus on defense. While he has yet to lose, he has been hurt when cracked with big shots. Brooks comes from a strong wrestling pedigree, but he is still working to meld his skills to MMA. The majority of his offense, either striking or wrestling based, tends to be single note techniques with limited setup. If Brooks can get on top, he can hold position which will negate the striking skills of his opponent and grind out crucial points.

Figueiredo is the more dangerous striker, but his aggression is going to walk him into the takedown attack of Brooks. The bigger issue here is what appeared to be a sizeable struggle for Figueiredo to make weight. If he is unable to get his opponent out of there early and Brooks does get on top, Deiveson is going to fade quickly- my prediction is Jarred Brooks to defeat Deiveson Figueiredo by decision.

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265lbs- Marcelo Golm (5-0-0) vs Christian Colombo (8-2-1)

Opening the card, Marcelo Golm makes his UFC debut across the cage from Danish fighter Christian “Godzilla” Colombo in the Heavyweight division. Golm is undefeated over is brief 5-fight career, including a pair of wins in 2017. Colombo fought to a majority draw in his debut, but fell via submission to Luis Henrique in his sophomore appearance.

At 6’5″, Colombo will stand a pair of inches taller than Golm to go along with a 5″ reach advantage for the big Dane. The Brazilian is the younger man by 12-years and took this fight as a short notice replacement with roughly a month to prep.

While Golm’s opposition are far from a battle-tested bunch, he has finished them all in timely fashion. Marcelo has never fought beyond the opening round, ending all contest by some form of knockout. Coming from a BJJ background, the majority of his wins have come on the ground via top position strikes. His standup is still a work in progress and appears to be a little stiff, but he does have some power. Colombo has been subbed twice and struggled to defend the takedowns in his last fight. A striker by trade “Godzilla” has finished 5 foes by knockout and put up a respectable 76-significant strikes in his debut. As previously mentioned, he has issues with the takedowns of Henrique and struggled to fend off the clinch attack of his debut opponent.

Colombo has to keep this fight standing and would be best served by dragging Golm beyond the opening round in an effort to test his cardio. That being said, Christian is slow and hittable. This should create a multitude of opportunities for the Brazilian to close the distance and plant “Godzilla” on the mat. Once on the ground, Golm will go to work with his GNP or look for a possible submission opportunity- my prediction is Marcelo Golm to defeat Christian Colombo by TKO.

 

155lbs- Marcin Held (22-7-0) vs Nasrat Haqparast (8-1-0)

In the headlining fight of the under, former Bellator title challenger Marcin Held continues his search for his first UFC win when he takes on short notice replacement Nasrat Haqparast in the Lightweight division. Held is 0-3 inside the Octagon with losses to Diego Sanchez, Joe Lauzon and most recently a KO defeat to Damir Hadzovic. Haqparast has gone undefeated over his last 8 fights after losing the first pro fight of his career.

Haqparast is 1″ taller and will have a 1″ reach advantage. He is the younger man by 3-years, but he is also replacing an injured Teemu Packalen  on less than 2 weeks’ notice.

Held is a submission specialist, but he is roughly 2-years away from his last victory by tap out. Over his last 2 fights, he has shown a solid takedown game, securing 9 completions- but losing both matches. The Polish fighter is still working to round out his striking attack, but does a decent job when closing the distance to set up his grappling attack. Haqparast has power, ending all 8 of his victories by knockout- 6 in the opening round. His level of competition is a bit of a question mark as the majority of is early wins came against inexpereined opposition. Over his last 2 fights, while he has still been victorious, he has experienced longer fights against better competition.

Held is desperate for a win and fighting at home against a late noticed replacement who is taking a major step up in competition. Held’s takedowns and submission attack will serve a solid counter to the aggressive striking attack of Haqparast. If Nasrat can land his big left, he could pull off the upset, but my prediction is Marcin Held to defeat Nasrat Haqparast by submission.

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265lbs- Anthony Hamilton (15-8-0) vs Adam Wieczorek (8-1-0)

Ending a brief retirement, Anthony “Freight Train” Hamilton returns to action when he meets the debuting Adam “Siwy” Wieczorek in the Heavyweight division. Hamilton has lost 3 in a row and 4 of 5 with his only win during that span coming by 14-second knockout over Damian Grabowski. Wieczorek has rattled off 7 straight wins since dropping a 2011 decision to the streaking Marcin Tybura in just his second pro fight.

Hamilton is stepping in on a couple weeks notice, just over a month removed from his last knockout defeat. Conversely, Wieczorek hasn’t fought in just over a year. Both men are 6’5″, but “Freight Train” should tip the scales 5-10 pounds heavier. Wieczorek is the younger man by 12-years.

As already mentioned, Hamilton has knocked out just a month ago and promptly retired. That should raise some questions about his current mindset and how could he possibly be clear to compete again. Either way, his chin is gone and that trumps whatever asset he does have to offer. Wieczorek is pretty green and relies heavily on his mat game to secure victories. That being said, he has shown enough on the feet to at least consider him a threat to add to Anthony’s mounting finishes.

There are avenues to victory here for Hamilton, but its hard to see past his diminishing durability. Wieczorek is young and aggressive which should be enough to put him in position to challenge Hamilton and eventually land something on his chin- my prediction is Adam Wieczorek to defeat Anthony Hamilton by TKO.

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135lbs- Brian Kelleher (17-8-0) vs Damian Stasiak (10-4-0)

In the Bantamweight division, Brian “Boom” Kelleher prepares to take on Poland’s own Damian Stasiak. Stasiak went the distance in defeat against Pedro Munhoz after picking up back to back wins in his first 2 fights at 135-pounds. Kelleher upset Iuri Alcantara in his debut via sub, but then suffered his own upset loss by submission when he took on Marlon Vera last July.

The American is an inch taller, but Stasiak will have a 4″ reach advantage and is the younger man by 4-years.

Stasiak has had some issues with his defensive wrestling, giving up at least 2 takedowns in all but 1 of his UFC fights. That being said, he is quite capable on the mat and is a decent submission fighter. In addition to being tapped by Vera, Kelleher had been submitted 4-times prior to entering the Octagon. For a wrestler that relies on takedowns and top control, that is concerning. On the feet, Stasiak comes from a karate background and relies on his kicking attack which when coupled with his reach could give the American trouble.

Fighting at home will certainly help Stasiak in this fight, especially if it comes down to a close decision. Damian held his own on the feet with Munhoz and if Kelleher opts to change levels for a takedown, look for Stasiak to go offensive with his submission game- my prediction is Damian Stasiak to defeat Brian Kelleher via submission.

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185lbs- Sam Alvey (31-9-0 1NC) vs Ramazan Emeev (15-3-0)

In the Middleweight division, “Smile’n” Sam Alvey returns to action replacing Trevor Smith on short notice to take on Russia’s Ramazan Emeev. Alvey is coming off a narrow split decision win over Rashad Evans to secure his 5th win over his last 6 outings. The M-1 Global Middleweight champ, Ramazan Emeev has won 4 straight fights dating back to his only loss over his last 13-appearances.

At 6’2″, Alvey is 4 inches taller than his opponent and he will have a 2″ reach advantage. Emeev is the younger man by a year and Alvey is stepping in on less than 2-weeks notice.

Alvey is dealing with short notice and a sizeable weight cut while Emeev hasn’t fought in roughly 10-months and his making his debut. Alvey can be a frustrating fighter to watch. While he has big power, his tendency to sit back and counter can result in a deficit on the scorecards. Emeev is aggressive in his forward push looking to land power strikes and set up his takedown game. Once on the mat, Emeev has a decent submission game and isn’t afraid to go for the finish.

If Alvey fades, he is going to struggle to overcome the constant forward pressure of Emeev. Conversely, Alvey’s defensive wrestling and counter striking will be his keys to success. Emeev is too dependent on pushing forward and he is hittable when he does so- my prediction is Sam Alvey to defeat Ramazan Emeev by knockout.

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145lbs- Artem Lobov (14-13-1) vs Andre Fili (16-5-0)

In the Featherweight division, Artem “The Russian Hammer” Lobov looks for his 3rd win in his last 4 fights when he takes on Team Alpha Male’s Andre “Touchy” Fili. Lobov dropped a decision to Cub Swanson after securing back to back wins over Teruto Ishihara and Chris Avila. Fili has alternated wins and losses over his 8-fight UFC career- he suffered a sizeable upset loss to Calvin Kattar just one fight removed from upsetting Hacran Dias.

Fili is just 2 inches taller than Lobov, but he will have a massive 9″reach advantage. Fili is the younger man by 4-years.

Lobov’s UFC career looked to be a short one, but he has since put together a decent run to keep his career afloat. Artem thrives on pressuring his opponent and forcing them to fight off their back foot. His early struggles were tied to a lack of striking output, but more recently he has let his hands go and is coming off a 123-strike effort against Cub. Fili will be more than willing to oblige Artem on the feet, throwing hard power strikes and utilizing his sizeable reach advantage. The key to this fight could very well be the wrestling of both men. Fili has used his offensive wrestling with mixed success, but the lack of a takedown threat from Lobov should allow the TAM fighter to settle in and let his hands go.

Fili’s has struggled with consistency since joining the UFC. He needs to punish Lobov’s willingness to move forward, but at the same time remain aware of Artem’s ability to counter strike. Fili’s workrate and reach will be the difference here as he lands more strikes and avoids giving up the takedowns that have cost him in the past- my prediction is Andre Fili to defeat Artem Lobov by decision.

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170lbs- Salim Touhari (10-1-0) vs Warlley Alves (11-2-0)

With Jim Wallhead out due to injury, Polish-born Salim “Grizzly” Touhari takes his shot against TUF Brazil 3 tournament winner Warlley Alves. Touhari has picked up 5 consecutive defeats since suffering the first and only defeat of his career back in late 2013. Alves has lost back to back fights to Kamaru Usman and Bryan Barberena after winning the first 11 fights of his career- 4 in the UFC.

Salim is stepping in with just a week to prepare for his UFC debut. Alves is the taller man by an inch and is 2-years younger.

The Brazilian is a dangerous fighter in all areas, but he has had some cardio issues of late. Touhari isn’t known for making long runs into fights, fighting beyond the opening round on just 3 occasions. Alves has a submission-heavy record and is known for his ability to lock up a tight guillotine at a moment’s notice. Finishing 6 opponents by knockout, Touhari will almost certainly want to keep this fight on the feet to avoid the ground game of his opponent.

Touhari is taking a major step up in competition and doing so on very short notice. Alves has to be careful not to look for the finish early and then fade late if unsuccessful. Touhari will eventually find himself on the ground and overmatched by the slick BJJ of his counterpart- my prediction is Warlley Alves to defeat Salim Touhari by submission.

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135lbs- Lina Lansberg (7-2-0) vs Aspen Ladd (5-0-0)

In the first of 2 Women’s fights on the card, Lina “Elbow Princess” Lansberg welcomes UFC newcomer and Invicta veteran Aspen Ladd to the Octagon. After losing her debut to Cyborg, Lansberg went on to win her second UFC bout over Lucie Pudilova via decision. Ladd was scheduled to fight Jessica Eye but pulled out of the fight on fight day- he has fought her entire career under the Invicta banner.

Lansberg is an inch taller than Ladd, but Aspen will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. Ladd is 13-years younger.

As her nickname would indicate, Lansberg has a pension for closing the distance and landing short elbows on the inside. She is at her best in close, working over her opponent on the wall. She doesn’t offer much of a range striking attack and her wrestling leaves a lot to be desired. Ladd carries a much steadier pace and will look to exploit what appears to be Lina’s questionable gas tank. Ladd has finished all but 1 of her opponents- 3 by TKO. She should have the advantage of taking the fight to the mat if the vertical exchanges are not going in her favour.

This fight should come down to the activity and cardio of Ladd. If Lansberg is unable to get ahead early, she is going to struggle to match the American later in the fight. Ladd comes out strong, pushes her Swedish counterpart and widens the gap as Lansberg begins to slow down- my prediction is Aspen Ladd to defeat Lina Lansberg by decision.

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145lbs- Felipe Arantes (18-7-1 2NC) vs Josh Emmett (11-1-0)

The opening fight of the night will feature a couple of divisional changes as Felipe Arantes moves back up a division to face Josh Emmett who is cutting down from Lightweight to 145-pounds. Arantes dropped a split decision to Erik Perez to snap a 2-fight winning streak in his last fight. Emmett is coming off the first loss of his career, coming up short also via split decision at UFC 210 against Des Green- he is 2-1 in the UFC.

The Brazilian is 2 inches taller than his opponent and will have a 3″ reach advantage. Arantes is also the younger man by 3 years.

There are a variety of scenarios to consider in this fight. Arantes is moving back up a division and hasn’t fought in nearly a year. For Emmett, he is making his inaugural attempt to cut to Featherweight and is coming off the first defeat of his career. In the cage, Arantes is a good kicker but is far from an overwhelming volume striker. His guard game is sound, but he has had some issues with his TDD over his career. In his victory over Scott Holtzman, Emmett completed 8 takedowns to go along with a solid counter-striking game.

Emmett’s gas tank let him down against Green and its hard to determine how the weight cut will impact him. In previous bouts, Arantes has relied too much on his BJJ to overcome his opponent’s wrestling and he lacks the striking volume to make up for any time spent on his back. Emmett will come out strong on the heels of his first career loss and secure some key takedowns later in the fight- my prediction is Josh Emmett to defeat Felipe Arantes by decision.

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135lbs- Tom Duquesnoy (15-1-0) vs Cody Stamann (15-1-0)

France’s Tom “Fire Kid” Duquesnoy shares the headlining spot of the undercard with Michigan-born Cody Stamann in the Bantamweight division. Duquesnoy stopped Patrick Williams in his debut to extend his current winning streak to 6- he has finished all but one opponent during his current streak. Stamman took a decision win over Terrion Ware in his debut and has now won 8-straight fights dating back to his only career defeat.

Duquesnoy is an inch taller than Stamann and he will have a 4″ reach advantage. The Frenchman is 4-years younger than Stamman.

“The Fire Kid” was under attack early in his debut, but he remained composed and eventually turned the tide in his favour. His aggressive attack opens him up to taking damage, but also makes him difficult to deal with on the feet. He offers a nice variety of offense- attacking both at range and on the inside. Everything he throws has fight-ending power. Stamman leaned heavily on his wrestling in his debut, landing 8 takedowns over 15-minutes. The American has excellent cardio to allow him to carry his attack deep into the fight without letting up. His striking is decent, mixing together hard kicks, punches, and knees on the inside.

This is going to a major test for Duquesnoy. He struggled early with the wrestling of Williams before he gassed out. Stamman won’t do that. Conversely, Cody will need to be mindful of the counter striking of Duquesnoy when he looks to push forward and close the gap. Look for the wrestler to stick with what works and put his opponent on the mat early and often, nullifying the reach and striking advantage held by Duquesnoy – my prediction is Cody Stamman to defeat Tom Duquesnoy by decision.

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155lbs- Will Brooks (18-3-0) vs Nik Lentz (29-8-2 1NC)

Former Bellator champion “Ill” Will Brooks will try to end the first multi-fight losing streak of his career when he takes on Nik “The Carny” Lentz in the Lightweight division. Brooks debuted with a win over Ross Pearson, but has since dropped back to back to fights to Alex and Charles Oliveira. Lentz returned to Lightweight with a pair of victories before falling to Islam Makhachev via decision earlier this year.

Brooks is 2 inches taller than Lentz and will have a 4″ reach advantage. “Ill” Will is the younger man by 2-years.

A former NCAA Division 1 wrestler and BJJ Purple belt, Lentz has completed 30-takedowns over his last 6 wins. Conversely, in his last 5 losses- he has been on the wrong end of the takedown battle by a count of 20-4. When forced to compete on the feet, Lentz offers a short range striking attack before looking to clinch up. Brooks is a perfect 9-0 in decisions, but he has now been finished in all 3 of his defeats. A physical specimen, Will needs to find a way to better blend together his striking skills and his wrestling. He has struggled at times when put under pressure and his offensive output will trail off in more demanding fights.

Brooks has struggled to find his foot since coming to the UFC. He is the more athletically gifted fighter and will have a size advantage over Lentz, but he is going to struggled to deal with the constant aggression. Look for Lentz to push the pace early, keep Brooks on his back foot and grind him down along the cage and potentially on the floor- my prediction is Nik Lentz to defeat Will Brooks by decision.

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155lbs- Lando Vannata (9-2-0) vs Bobby Green (23-8-0)

In the Lightweight division, Lando “Groovy” Vannata attempts to continue his recent climb in popularity when he takes on Bobby “King” Green. Green has lost a trio of fights, most recently losing via split decision to Rashid Magomedov. Vannata dropped an entertaining scrap to Tony Ferguson before finishing John Makdessi and then losing a decision at UFC 209 to David Teymur.

Green is the taller man by an inch, but they will share the same reach. Lando is 6-years younger than “King”.

Vannata got off to a quick start against Teymur, but his early push might have cost him as he slowed a bit and was out-landed 90-76 over 15-minutes. He throws a lot of unorthodox techniques including a nice variety of kicks. While he put his durability and counter striking skills on display, at times he was too willing to trade strikes. Green is also a striking based fighter, holding his hands low and relying on speed and head movement to slip and counter as his opponent attacks. While he hasn’t shown much lately, Green could opt to look for a takedown and score some key takedowns in a close fight.

Both men are unorthodox strikers, but Green appears more capable carrying his attack deeper into the fight. Lando’s willingness to take damage is going to cost him against Green’s head movement and ability to slip punches. “King” should find some success with his wrestling as well, adding to his offensive options- my prediction is Bobby Green to defeat Lando Vannata by decision.

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115lbs- Pearl Gonzalez (6-2-0) vs Poliana Botelho (5-1-0)

UFC sophomore Pearl Gonzalez will take a second stab at her first UFC win when she welcomes Poliana Botelho to the UFC’s Strawweight division. Gonzalez was submitted by Cynthia Calvillo in the late stages of an entertaining fight at UFC 210 to snap her 6-fight winning streak. Botelho has won a trio of fights outside of the UFC since a 2014 loss to Viviane Pereira.

Botelho, who hasn’t fought since 2015 after her initial UFC debut was scrapped, has formerly competed at Flyweight. She is the younger fighter by 2-years and will stand 4 inches taller than Gonzalez.

Botelho is an incredibly aggressive striker, pushing forward behind wild flurries of offense. In her most recent fight, she scored a TKO victory due to retirement but she found herself hurt and on the defensive on a couple of occasions. Look for her to attack the body, hurting multiple opponents with a brutal turning side kick to the midsection. She has finished 5 opponents by knockout, 3 in the opening round. Gonzalez has snapped up 4 finishes by sub- all by armbar and completed a pair of takedowns in her debut. Pearl did a decent job of dealing with the early pressure of Cavillo, shelling up when under fire before reengaging. She throws a decent jab, but needs to find an uptick in offensive output.

There are a lot of x-factors that could impact this fight. Botelho is debuting and returning after a more than 2-year layoff. She is also making her divisional debut. Her aggressive style and history of finishes suggest she could have issues if she is unable to end this fight quickly. Gonzalez will need to deflect the early aggression of Botelho, but look for her to utilize her jab and a couple of well-timed takedowns to take over after the early interactions- my prediction is Pearl Gonzalez to defeat Poliana Botelho by submission.

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265lbs- Walt Harris (10-5-0) vs Mark Godbeer (12-3-0)

In the Heavyweight division, the suddenly surging Walt “The Big Ticket” Harris looks to add to his 2-fight winning streak when he takes on veteran Mark “The Hand of” Godbeer. Godbeer most recently defeated Daniel Spitz at UFC 209 to rebound from his debut loss to Justin Ledet. Harris has stopped both Chase Sherman and Cyril Asker and has been victorious in 3 of his last 4 fights.

At 6’5″, Harris is an inch taller than Godbeer, but they will share the same 77″ reach. They are the same age.

This fight will most likely be decided on the feet with both men packing significant power. Harris has finished all 10 of his career wins via knockout- 9 in the opening round. Not to be outdone, Godbeer has stopped his foe via knockout in 9 of his 12 wins- only 3 in the opening round. Harris has looked increasingly more comfortable with his striking offense and the results have been devastating. Godbeer is a capable striker, but he is going to struggle with the speed and athleticism of Harris.

While Harris has far more opening round finishes, he appears to have the superior cardio which will play a role if this fight goes beyond the opening. Either way, look for him to routinely beat Godbeer to the punch and land the more impactful strikes when doing so- my prediction is Walt Harris to defeat Mark Godbeer by knockout.

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125lbs- #11 John Moraga (17-6-0) vs #15 Magomed Bibulatov (14-0-0)

Former title challenger John Moraga prepares to take on the undefeated Russian Magomed Bibulatov in the Flyweight division. Moraga had lost 3 consecutive fights prior to upending the debuting Ashkan Mokhtarian last June. Bibulatov made a successful debut at UFC 210 winning via decision over Jenel Lausa to remain undefeated.

Moraga is an inch taller and will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. The Russian is the younger man by 4 years.

A fast rise into title contention has been followed by a swift drop for Moraga. At his best, he blends together a decent boxing attack along with a serviceable takedown game. Unfortunately, he has struggled when faced with superior wrestlers; giving up 7 takedowns over his last 4 defeats and 12 in his loss to the Champion. This should be the area that the Russian looks to exploit. Bibulatov has a strong wrestling game and has proven himself as a capable submission artist as well. On the feet, he will throw a lot of kicks and this should serve to keep Moraga out of boxing range.

This is a step up for Bibulatov, but he appears to offer the same type of skill set that Moraga has struggled with in the past. When shooting in, Magomed needs to be mindful of Moraga’s guillotine. Look for the Russian to score key takedowns and limit John’s success on the feet- my prediction is Magomed Bibulatov to defeat John Moraga by decision.

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185lbs- #13 Thales Leites (27-7-0) vs Brad Tavares (15-5-0)

Former Middleweight title challenger Thales Leites looks for his second win in as many fights when he squares off with Hawaiian-born Brad Tavares. Tavares defeated Elias Theodorou and has won back to back fights since struggling through a 1-3 stint. Leites has won 2 of his last 3 outings after grinding out a decision win over Sam Alvey.

Both men are 6’1″, but Leites will have a 4″ reach advantage. The American is the younger man by 6-years.

Tavares is coming off of a fight where he spent the majority of the action on the defensive, but he was able to mix in just enough offense to get the win. Brad mixes together a decent Muay Thai attack with a workable wrestling game. Tavares could potentially be forced to rely on is striking, as he will struggle to get the better in the grappling department against Leites. Thales has given up just a single takedown over his last 13 UFC fights and is very good at generating his own takedowns from the clinch. The BJJ Black belt’s recent resurgence has had a lot to do with his improved striking attack. He has some decent pop in his hands and showcased heavy leg kicks in his win over Alvey.

Tavares is not known for his finishing ability and is far from an overwhelming striker. Leites’s cardio is a bit of a question mark, but Brad doesn’t carry the pace that will force him to exert himself. Tavares will find success landing the heavier strikes before clamping down Tavares in the clinch and eventually holding some key top position time- my prediction is Thales Leites to defeat Brad Tavares by decision.

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125lbs- Matt Schnell (10-4-0) vs Marco Beltran (8-6-0)

In the opening fight of the night, Matt “Danger” Schnell takes on TUF Latin American alumni Marco “Psycho” Beltran in the Flyweight division. Schnell has dropped back to back fights since debuting in the UFC, most recently moving down to Flyweight and getting knocked out by Hector Sandoval. Beltran made the cut to 125-pounds in his last fight and 2nd round TKO loss after his corner stopped the fight- he is 3-2 in the UFC.

Both men are 5’8″, but it will be Schnell that has a slight 1″ reach advantage. The American is the younger man by 4-years.

Schnell has secured 5 wins by submission in addition to picking up an opening round tap out on his season of the Ultimate Fighter. He is a good scrambler, but he has had issues with wrestling heavy opponents. The biggest concern when Matt is on the feet is his chin. He has been knocked out in back to back fights and in his last fight, he didn’t appear to get hit with a big shot before going down. Beltran isn’t an overwhelming striker, but he does a decent job of limiting his opponent’s offense. On the mat, he has picked up a 4-pack of submissions but has also been subbed 3-times.

Schnell’s lack of durability is concerning, but so is Beltran’s submission defense issues. Beltran is making his second cut to 125-pounds and will most likely be in better physical conditions. The grappling exchanges should be entertaining, but look for Beltran to eventually find the mark on the feet and put the American down- my prediction is Marco Beltran to defeat Matt Schnell by knockout.

170lbs- Keita Nakamura (32-8-2 1NC) vs Alex Morono (13-4-0)

In the final fight on the undercard, “K-Taro” Keita Nakamura battles it out with “The Great White” Alex Morono in the Welterweight division. Nakamura lost a narrow decision in his last fight, evening his current UFC run at 2-2. Morono suffered a brutal knockout defeat against Niko Price, only to have the loss overturned after Price tested positive for marijuana.

Both men are 5’11”, but Nakamura will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. Morono is the younger man by 6-years.

Recording 18-wins by submission, 15 by rear-naked choke, Nakamura’s primary objective is to get his foe on the mat and start working towards their back. “K-Taro” is a good scrambler and has solid top control once on the floor. Surprisingly, he has lost the takedown battle 3-0 in his last 2 victories, but completed 8 takedowns in his 2 defeats. He is far from an overwhelming striker when it comes to volume and he has been on the wrong end of the striking totals in all 7 of his UFC fights. Nakamura has only been knocked out once in 43 career fights.

Morono offers an unorthodox striking attack, averaging 4.98 SLpM including his UFC-best 111 strikes against James Moontasri. He was getting the better of the exchanges against Price both in quality and quantity of strikes, prior to getting knocked out. He trends towards a brawling style and uses constant forward pressure while winging overhand strikes to keep his opponent on the defensive. He has 5 submission wins on his record, but has yet to complete a takedown inside the Octagon. During his time on the regional circuit, he did have some issues with his TDD.

Nakamura is 27-1-1 when fighting at home in Japan. He lacks the volume to win this fight if it is solely contested on the feet. If Morono can keep moving forward without allowing “K-Taro” to get his hands on him, this is his fight to win. That being said, Nakamura should find success tying him up in the clinch and dragging Alex to the floor with regularity- my prediction is Keita Nakamura to defeat Alex Morono by decision.

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125lbs- #5 Jussier Formiga (19-5-0) vs Ulka Sasaki (20-4-2)

In the Flyweight division, perennial contender Jussier Formiga looks to get back on the winning track when he takes on talented Japanese prospect, Ulka Sasaki. Formiga has alternated wins and losses over his last 4-fights having faced 3 title challengers over that span. Sasaki is coming off an upset victory over Justin Scoggins to improve to 2-1 since moving to 125-pounds.

At 5’10”, Ulka is the taller man by 5 inches and he will have a 4″ reach advantage. Sasaki is the younger man by 4-years.

Both men are primarily grapplers, with the majority of their wins coming either by submission or ground-based decision wins. Formiga, a BJJ Black belt, has a deadly back take which has accounted for 6 wins by rear-naked choke. Despite an improving striking attack, the Brazilian’s takedown game has been crucial to his success. In victory, he has completed 12 takedowns over 5 victories compared to zero completions over 4 defeats.

Recording 10 of his 11 submission wins by RNC, Sasaki has proven himself equally as capable of ending a fight once on his opponent’s back. Sasaki’s takedown numbers have been slightly stronger, including a 4-completion effort in his submission win over Willie Gates. Conversely, he was on the wrong end of the Wilson Reis’s grappling attack and was submitted by Leandro Issa.

Ulka’s opportunistic grappling attack will struggle to find an opening for him to exploit against an elite level grappler like Formiga. Jussier has been rounding out his striking attack, but he shouldn’t find much opposition from Sasaki if the Brazilian attempts to take the fight to the ground. The grappling exchanges and ensuing scrambles should prove entertaining, but my prediction is Jussier Formiga to defeat Ulka Sasaki by submission.

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115lbs- Syuri Kondo (5-0-0) vs Chanmi Jeon (5-1-0)

In the Women’s Strawweight division, the debuting Syuri Kondo takes on the promotional sophomore Chanmi Jeon. Jeon made her debut at UFC Fight Night 110 and dropped a decision to JJ Aldrich. Kondo has yet to suffer defeat as a pro, winning all 5 of her bout since turning pro back in 2016.

Jeon is an inch taller than Kondo and will have a 1″ reach advantage as well. Jeon, who missed weight in her debut, just turned 20 years old and is 8-years younger than her opponent.

South Korea’s Jeon built her regional run on ground-based finishes over relatively low-level competition. Despite her reliance on her wrestling, Jeon attempted no takedowns in her debut fight. Despite ending the majority of her fights early, her cardio held up well over the full 15-minutes and she landed 92 significant strikes. She showed the framework of a developing striking attack, but also absorbed a lot of her opponent’s offense and lost the fight as a result.

Fighting her entire career in Pancrase, Kondo captured the organization’s Strawweight title in her last fight, improving her record on the scorecards to 4-0. She has finished just a single opponent. She has faced decent competition with her last 3 opponents combining for a 12-6 record. Coming from a kickboxing background, Syuri throws a nice left jab and solid right hand, driving through her opponent’s guard with some decent pop. Kondo can also work in the clinch where she will land hard knees.

Jeon might look to go back to her takedown-heavy approach, but Kondo has shown decent counter wrestling. Both girls are going to willingly move forward and engage with limited focus on defense. Kondo appears to have the crisper striking and will use her strong jab and straight punches to routinely beat Jeon to the mark. This fight will be a tight one, but the quality of Kondo’s offense will be the difference- my prediction is Syuri Kondo to defeat Chanmi Jeon by decision.

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170lbs- Shinsho Anzai (9-2-0) vs Luke Jumeau (12-3-0)

The second of 2 Welterweight fights to open the card, Shinsho “Animal” Anzai finally returns to action after a long layoff when he takes on New Zealand’s Luke Jumeau. A UFC sophomore, Jumeau defeated Dominique Steele via decision in his debut and has now won 7 fights in a row. Anzai dropped his first UFC foray via TKO to Alberto Mina, but got back on track with an injury-related TKO win over Roger Zapata in his last fight.

Jumeau is the taller man by 4 inches and will have a 2″ reach advantage. Luke is the younger fighter by 3-years while Anzai is closing on 2 years of inactivity.

Born in Saitama, Anzai has split his 8 finishes evenly between submissions and knockouts- 6 in the opening round. He is aggressive, throwing big power in his hands and working in some hard low kicks. In his debut, he willingly moved forward while taking punishment and looking to attack- ultimately he slowed and was finished inside the first 5-minutes. In his last fight, he called upon his wrestling background as he routinely changed levels and shot on his opponent. He landed just 2 takedowns, but control the position on the cage.

Jumeau has shown solid finishing skills on the regional scene, stopping 9- 5 by knockout. Luke likes to hold his hands low, sit back, and let his opponent push forward where he can land counter strikes. When initiating, he throws a decent 1-2 and will work in some kicks to the legs and body. In his final pre-UFC fight he struggled with the wrestling of his opponent and gave up an early takedown against Steele. As the fight advances, he appeared to tighten up his defense.

Anzai needs to find success with his wrestling early and often. The prolonged layoff could affect both his execution and his cardio. The countering skills of Jumeau will help him deal with the aggressive forward push of Shinso and overall Luke is the cleaner strike. Jumeau might be on the defensive early, but as Anzai slows down from his pursuit of the takedown, the New Zealander will take over- my prediction is Luke Jumeau to defeat Shinso Anzai by TKO.

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170lbs- Daichi Abe (5-0-0) vs Hyun Gyu Lim (13-6-1)

In the opening fight of the night, South Korean knockout artist “Ace” Hyun Gyu Lim welcomes the debuting Daichi Abe in the Welterweight division. Lim has lost back to back fights, both by TKO to Neil Magny and the surging Mike Perry. Abe has finished 4 of his 5 opponents, including a pair of wins in 2017 both ending by knockout.

A massive Welterweight, Lim stands 6’3″- 4 inches taller than his opponent. Lim will also have a sizeable 6″ reach advantage. Abe is the younger fighter by 5 years.

From the onset of the fight, Lim is looking for the finish. He has knocked out 10 opponents. He is incredibly aggressive, working by a stiff jab and firing a hard left hook or uppercut. “Ace” augments his offense with a heavy kicking attack and has stopped multiple opponents with well-timed knee strikes. Lim TDD is decent, but not perfect and he usually works his way back to his feet. Coupled with his size and difficult weight cut, Lim’s constant forward pressure does create issues with his cardio. He is still dangerous, but clearly not the same fighter in the second half of a fight.

Abe has spent the majority of his career competing under the Pancrase banner. He is low on overall experience with just 5 pro bouts and his last 3 opponents have a combined record of 39-41. He has finished 4 foes by knockout, 3 in the opening round with just a single fight to last beyond the 30-second mark of the middle frame. In his last win, he floored his adversary with a well-timed counter left upper and finished the show with a left hook shortly after. In more recent action he has opted to slow down his aggression and utilize a more calculated approach.

This fight should be fun for however long it lasts. Lim is dangerous, but his window for stopping his opponent is limited by his cardio. The 13-month layoff off could further impact his endurance. Abe is younger and has taken far less damage. Look for Abe to be the more technical fighter, avoid the early onslaught and take over as the fight progress- my prediction is Daichi Abe to defeat Hyun Gyu Lim by TKO.

155lbs- Tony Martin (12-3-0) vs Olivier Aubin-Mercier (10-2-0)

In the headlining fight of the undercard, Canada takes on the USA as a pair of promising grappler square of in Olivier Aubin-Mercier and Tony Martin. Martin has won 3 consecutive bouts, most recently taking a decision over Johnny Case. OAM has won back to back fights submitting both Drew Dober and Thibault Gouti.

The American is 3 inches taller and will have a 3″ reach advantage over Aubin-Mercier.

Martin began his career with a reputation for his questionable cardio preventing him from fighting effectively in longer fights. It would appear that Tony has cleaned up his cardio issues which in turns makes his grappling skills and above average size even more impressive. Martin’s striking has also improved, built around an active jab and above average power. Aubin-Mercier recorded 14-takedowns over his first 4 UFC wins and has submissions in 4 of his 5 victories overall. Conversely, when he has been forced to remain vertical and rely on his striking- he is not nearly as effective. OAM is improving on the feet, relying on his kicking attack, but it is still a secondary aspect of his offense.

This is the type of fight where each man’s respective grapping skills, offensively and defensively, will cancel each other out. Unless Martin’s cardio issues return, OAM is going to struggle to find much success on the floor with him. Martin’s improve striking attack will be the key here as he will routinely get the better of the exchanges- my prediction is Tony Martin to defeat Olivier Aubin-Mercier by decision.

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170lbs- Mike Perry (10-1-0) vs Alex Reyes (13-2-0)

The removal of Thiago Alves from the co-main event has opened the door for the debut of California-born Alex Reyes to square off with the hard-hitting “Platinum” Mike Perry. Perry is coming off a brutal knockout victory over Jake Ellenberger after suffering the first loss of his career. Reyes lost the first 2 fights of his career, but has since rallied to win 13 consecutive fights.

Reyes is listed as a Lightweight which should help him to hit the 170-mark on just 3-days notices. He is the taller man by an inch and will have an inch reach advantage. Perry is the younger fighter by 5-years.

Perry is a legit knockout artist having stopped his opponent via knockout in all 10 of his pro-wins. Traditionally an aggressive fighter, Perry likes to walk forward behind single strikes and look to land the fight altering blow. In his most recent fight, he opted to utilize a more compose and strategic approach prior to scoring the finish. Reyes has also finished all of his opponents, 9 by knockout. The King of the Cage Lightweight champion, doesn’t have a lot of long fight experience going beyond the opening round on just a couple of occasions. He is an aggressive fighter that is willing to go to the mat when needed.

Reyes is in a pretty tough spot considering the short notice, debut, and lack of long fight experience. Perry hits hard and should find success backing Reyes up, if “Platinum” Mike can’t get him out of there early, look for him to capitalize as Reyes begins to slow down- my prediction is Mike Perry to defeat Alex Reyes by knockout.

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265lbs- Anthony Hamilton (15-7-0) vs Daniel Spitz (5-1-0)

In the Heavyweight division, Anthony “Freight Train” Hamilton takes on UFC sophomore Daniel Spitz. Spitz dropped his shot notice debut to Mark Godbeer via decision, the first defeat of his brief pro career. Hamilton is coming off a loss to Marcel Fortuna via knockout, he has just 2 wins in his last 6 fights.

A towering 6’7″, Spitz will stand 2 inches taller than his foe and have a 6″ reach advantage. Spitz is the younger man by 10 years.

Spitz struggled through the second half of his debut, slowly down significant and dropping a decision. Prior to his debut, he fought outside the opening round just once. For the most part, he was unable to find an answer for the power striking of Godbeer, who landed at will for the majority of the contest. Spitz throws a lot of half power strikes, looking to work volume over power. Hamilton’s biggest point of concern is his chin. He has been KOed on 3-occasions. A fighter that relies heavily on his clinch and takedown game, Hamilton is at his best when he can limit his opponent’s movement and unload short range strikes.

Hamilton’s chin is a major point of concern, but Spitz is going to struggle to maintain enough distance to find the mark. Daniel was unable to utilize his reach to keep Godbeer on the outside and this should allow Hamilton to set up his close range attack. Hamilton’s superior cardio will show up if the fight moves into the middle roun and beyond- my prediction is Anthony Hamilton to defeat Daniel Spitz by TKO.

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185lbs- #10 Krzysztof Jotko (19-2-0) vs #14 Uriah Hall (13-8-0)

In the Middleweight division, Polish prospect Krzysztof Jotko looks to maintain his top 10 spot in the division when he takes on the TUF Finalist Uriah “Prime Time” Hall. Jotko is coming off of a split decision loss to headliner David Branch, he had won 5 consecutive bouts prior to the defeat. Hall has dropped a trio of contests, most recently falling via TKO to Bellator-bound Gegard Mousasi.

Jotko is an inch taller but will give up 2 inches of reach to “Prime Time”. The Polish fighter is the younger man by 5-years.

Hall offers a dangerous striking attack, but he can’t seem to land with enough consistency to make it work. Even more concerning, he has now been knocked out 3-times, including in each of his last 2 defeats. Uriah has finished his opponent in 4 of his last 5 wins, but he is a telling 1-4 in his last 5 fights to go the distance. Jotko is a fighter on the rise that mixes together an evolving striking game and serviceable ground attack. He hasn’t put up big numbers on the mat, but he has scored crucial takedowns to help score points in close fights.

This fight comes down to functionality over flash. Jotko’s activity rate will allow him to hang at distance, but he needs to close the gap and tie Hall up in the clinch to go along with a couple of well-timed takedowns. Jotko has to avoid getting cracked with something significant as he has a far better track record when it comes to winning fights on the scorecards- my prediction is Krzysztof Jotko to defeat Uriah Hall by decision.

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155lbs- Jason Saggo (12-3-0) vs Gilbert Burns (11-2-0)

Opening the card, Canada’s Jason Saggo looks to test his grappling attack against Brazilian BJJ ace Gilbert Burns. Saggo’s 2-fight winning streak ended against Russian suplex machine Rustam Khabilov via decision, he is now 3-2 in the UFC. Burns has dropped 2 of his last 3 fights after opening his Octagon career with a trio of wins.

Saggo is an inch taller than Burns, but they will share the same 71″ reach. Burns, who has been out of action for nearly a month is the younger fighter by a year.

The Canadian is a grappling-first fighter. Saggo has relied heavily on his mat game in victory and his struggles to find success on the floor have led to defeat. At range, Jason will throw a lot of kicks but he is far from an overwhelming striker. While he shows his opponent a number of different looks on the feet, he has passed the 30-significant strike mark on just a single occasion. Burn’s recent difficulties appear to be directly related to his inability to put his opponents on the mat. An elite level ground fighter, Burns has won by submission in all 3 of his UFC wins. Conversely, when he is faced with an aggressive striker and forced to work off of his back foot he isn’t nearly the same fighter.

Burns is the superior ground fighter and Saggo will be a willing combatant on the mat. When they are exchanging on the feet, the Canadian doesn’t bring enough pressure or volume to keep Gilbert moving backward- my prediction is Gilbert Burns to defeat Jason Saggo by submission.

135lbs- #6 Sara McMann (11-3-0) vs #13 Ketlen Vieira (8-0-0)

Headlining the undercard is a fight between former title challenger and Olympic Silver Medalist Sara McMann and Brazilian Ketlen Vieira. Vieira is coming off of an upset win over Ashlee Evans-Smith to improve to 2-0 in the UFC. McMann’s current resurgence has led to a trio of wins, including back to back submission victories.

At 5’8″, the Brazilian is 2 inches taller than Sara and will have a 2″ reach advantage. Viera is 11-years younger than the Olympian.

Vieira has gone the distance in each of her 2 UFC fights, the first of her career. Prior to her debut, she had secured a trio of submission and 2 knockouts. Against AES, she put together her best performance to date routinely scoring with hard combinations on the feet and forcing her opponent to fight with her back to the cage. Ketlen’s counter striking was on point and she did a decent job of landing reactionary combination every time she was hit. Defensively, She stuffed all 5 of her foe’s takedown attempts and made landed hard knees to the body after shutting them down.

Not surprisingly, McMann’s success has hinged on her wrestling. She averages 5 takedowns per fight at a 70% completion rate. She relied more on volume early in her career; ranging between 5 and 9 completions per fight. More recently, Sara has developed a strong top position submission game. Against Alexis Davis, she struggled early with the aggressive guard of the Canadian but eventually worked her way towards the finish. McMann’s striking is still a work in progress. She has some pop in her hands, but her focus needs to remain on closing the distance and securing takedowns.

Vieira needs to keep this fight standing and land something significant early. McMann can be hurt and if she is put under pressure, her wrestling isn’t nearly as effective. Unfortunately, McMann is just too good of a wrestler for Ketlen to stay vertical for long enough to do damage on the feet- my prediction is Sara McMann to defeat Ketlen Vieira by decision.

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125lbs- #2 Henry Cejudo (10-2-0) vs # Wilson Reis (22-7-0)

In the Flyweight division, a pair of former title challengers go head to head as BJJ Black belt Wilson Reis battles Olympic Gold medalist Henry “The Messenger” Cejudo. Cejudo has lost back to back fights, falling first to the Champion and then dropping a split decision to Joseph Benavidez. Reis had won 3 straight fights prior to getting submitted by Demetrious Johnson.

Both men are 5’4″, but Reis has an inch reach advantage. Cejudo is the younger man by a year.

Coming off the first submission loss of his career, Reis could be facing the impact of a post-title fight letdown. The BJJ Black belt has submitted 10 opponents, 2 in the UFC. Takedowns have been a focal point of his success, completing 27 over his last 4 wins. Reis has improved his striking, including a slight uptick his offensive output- but his ability to drag the fight to the mat is still the key to his success.

Offensively, Cejudo hasn’t put up overwhelming takedown numbers, beyond his UFC-best 6 completions in his sophomore appearance. Where he has found success is in shutting his opponents’ TDAs down, stopping 100% of his opponents’ tries. Against Benavidez, he scored an early knockdown and continue to showcase the improvements in his striking. The biggest concern with Henry has been the weight cut and how it affects his performance. After some early issues, it would appear he has got it under control.

Reis relies heavily on his ability to score takedowns. He has lost the takedown battle 7-3 over his last 3 defeats. Cejudo’s strong TDD is going to be his key to defense as long as he can maintain his output for a full 15-minutes. The effects of a post-title fight letdown and a stylistically difficult opponent will be too much for the Brazilian to overcome, my prediction is Henry Cejudo to defeat Wilson Reis by decision.

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135lbs- Sarah Moras (4-3-0) vs #15 Ashlee Evans-Smith (5-2-0)

In the first of 3 Women’s Bantamweight division fights, Canada’s own Sarah Moras returns to action when she takes on Ashlee Evans-Smith. Moras last fought and lost to Jessica Andrade to see her UFC record fall to 1-1. Evans-Smith. Evans-Smith saw her 2-fight winning streak snapped last April in a decision loss to Ketlen Vieira.

AES is an inch taller than Moras, but they will share the same reach. Moras is a year younger than the American, but she has been on the shelf for more than 25-months.

A veteran of TUF 18, Moras has struggled to remain active in her MMA career despite making a run to the tournament semi-finals. She lost the fight via submission and has had issues with her defensive grappling in each of her UFC outings. Despite winning her debut, she gave up a trio of takedowns and spent the majority of the fight on her back. Similarly, Andrade took her down 3-times and won the fight based on her superior positioning.

Evans-Smith is coming off the first fight of her UFC career where she was unable to complete a takedown. She went 0 for 5 against Vieira, but completed 4 takedowns over her previous 3-fights. If Ashlee is unable to put her foe on the mat, she can do work from the clinch where she will land short punches and knees. In her most recent victory, she simply wore out her opponent with a constant flow of strikes on the mat and along the cage.

AES is coming off a fight where she was simply unable to get her grappling game rolling. That won’t be the case here. Moras will struggle to remain vertical and the onslaught of top position offense from Evans-Smith will simply be too much to overcome- my prediction is Ashlee Evans-Smith to defeat Sarah Moras by decision.

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145lbs- Gavin Tucker (10-0-0) vs Rick Glenn (19-4-1)

Undefeated Gavin Tucker will look to build on a successful debut when he faces off with former WSOF Featherweight champion Rick “The Gladiator” Glenn. Glenn debuted as a Lightweight and dropped a decision to Evan Dunham before securing his first UFC win via split decision over Phillipe Nover. Tucker made his Octagon entrance last February and bested TUF veteran Sam Sicilia on the scorecards.

At 6’0″ tall, Glenn is 6 inches taller than his opponent and will have a 4″ reach advantage. The American is also the younger man by 3 years.

Tucker is coming off his first decision win since his pro debut, having finished his 8 opponents in between. Against Sicilia, he showcased a solid striking game, built around movement and power strikes. He will switch stances and throws and fakes prior to launching himself forward to engage. The Canadian did experience a bit of a slowdown as the fight progressed, but that could be attributed to the impact of Octagon jitters.

Displaying his durability, Glenn got blasted with 144-significant strikes by Dunham in his debut and Nover cracked him multiple head kicks early in the fight. Against Nover, Glenn got off to a rough start but picked it up in rounds 2 and 3 when Nover started to slow. “The Gladiator” has a tendency to start slowly and often gives the opening round away before getting going. An offense first fight, the WSOF vet brings a lot of pressure but also takes a lot of damage in return.

Glenn will look to rely on his reach to try and keep Tucker on the outside, but the Canadian’s speed and movement will allow him to routinely get on the inside and land with regularity. Glenn’s issues in the opening round will allow Tucker to get ahead and force him to play catch up the entire fight- my prediction is Gavin Tucker to defeat Rick Glenn by decision.

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155lbs- Mitch Clarke (11-4-0) vs Alex White (11-3-0)

In the Lightweight division, Alberta’s own Mitch “Danger Zone” Clarke takes on “The Spartan” Alex White. Clarke suffered an abrupt submission loss to Joseph Duffy in his last fight and has now dropped back to back contests to fall to 2-4 inside the Octagon. White made a successful debut, but has struggled over his last 4 fights with a record of just 1-3.

White is fighting at Lightweight for the second straight bout after starting out at 145 pounds. White is the taller man by 2 inches, but will give up 2 inches of reach. White is the younger man by 3-years, while Clarke has struggled to remain active only competing once a year since 2012.

A BJJ Black Belt, “Danger Zone” has secured 7 of his 11 wins by some form of tap out. The majority of his wins have come via some form of choke, including his upset submission of the highly touted Al Iaquinta at UFC 173. Despite his overall success on the floor, Clarke has completed just 18% of TDAs and has lost the takedown battle in almost all of his fights. That being said, he has shown the ability to scramble his way out of some bad spots when needed.

White has given up a combined 5 takedowns over his last 2 defeats while landing 3 completions in his win over Artem Lobov. A BJJ Blue belt, White does have 5 submission wins on his record- most coming early in his career. He would be best served by keeping this fight standing and working his striking game. White has some power in his hands, but it also quite hittable. “The Spartan” has been finished just once- a third round KO against Lucas Martins.

Clarke’s lack of activity is a sizeable hurdle to overcome. Despite his flaws, White the better athlete and offers the more well-rounded attack. The Canadian is tough and will hang in there, but White lands the more impactful and frequent strikes to go a long with the odd takedown- my prediction is Alex White to defeat Mitch Clarke by Decision.

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265lbs- Luis Henrique (10-3-0 1NC) vs Arjan Bhullar (6-0-0)

In the Heavyweight division, Luis “KLB” Henrique takes on the debuting former Canadian Olympian Arjan Bhullar. Henrique suffered a 3rd round TKO defeat to Marcin Tybura on the UFC 209 undercard, he had won back to back fights prior to the loss. Bhullar is coming off a decision win this past April and went 2-0 in 2016 including a 5-round defense of his Battlefield Fight League Heavyweight championship.

Henrique is the taller man by an inch, but the Canadian will have a 2″ reach advantage. “KLB” is the younger fighter by 7-years.

Henrique has finished his opponent in 7 of his 10 wins, 4 by submission including 2 in the UFC. Conversely, he has been stopped 3-times by some form of knockout; accounting for both of his Octagon defeats. Each of his last 4 stoppage victories have come after the opening round, where he has found success wearing his opponent out before finishing them. Look for Henrique to wade forward behind heavy punches and either clinch or look for a takedown.

The first fighter of Indian descent to compete in the Octagon, Bhullar comes from a strong wrestling background. He has focussed his MMA game around his ground game, effectively planting his opponent on the floor with either a quick level change or dragging them down along the cage. Once on the mat, he will unleash vicious ground and pound. His striking is still a work in progress, so he will need to avoid exchanging at distance.

Henrique has the edge in overall experience, but this fight should come down to cardio. Despite his style of grinding down opponents, Henrique is known to slow down as well. Bhullar has finished just a single foe in the opening round, going the distance on multiple occasions including a 5-round contest. The Canadian holds his own early, but finds increasing success as the contested advances- my prediction is Arjan Bhullar to defeat Luis Henrique by TKO.[/Body_1]

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155lbs- Kajan Johnson (21-12-1) vs Adriano Martins (28-8-0)

In the opening fight of the night, “Ragin'” Kajan Johnson finally re-enters the Octagon to face Brazilian knockout artist Adriano Martins in the Lightweight division. Johnson has won back to back fights after dropping his official debut back in 2014. Martins is coming off of a split decision loss to Leonardo Silva that stopped his 3-fight winning streak.

The Canadian is an inch taller and will have a 3″ reach advantage. He is also the younger man by 2 years, but he has not competed in almost 24-months.

Training out of Tri-star, Johnson has finished 4 opponents by knockout and 11 more by submission with a 6-4 record on the scorecards. Since entering the UFC, he has utilized his wrestling with 7 completions over his first 2 fights before failing to even attempt a shot in his last outing. Johnson is aggressive wherever the fight goes, but this has resulted in multiple defeats inside the distance. He has been finished 8-times, 5 by knockout, not including the violent knockout against Chad Laprise on the show.

Martins has finished 13 opponents by knockout compared to a pair of knockout defeats. The Brazilian is a smooth striker, with crisp combinations throwing from the southpaw stance. Adriano augments his attack with hard kicks to all areas of his opponent’s body. He can counter strike, but his lack of output allows his foe to be the more active striker. Martins is also a BJJ Black belt with a good sub game and strong TDD.

The layoff for Kajan is significant, but his key to victory is to get off to a quick start and keep pushing. Conversely, that will expose him to the power and counter striking skills of Martins. While the Brazilian has struggled at times with his offense- it’s hard to overlook the mounting knockout numbers on Johnson’s ledger- my prediction is Adriano Martins to defeat Kajan Johnson by knockout.

170lbs- Darren Till (14-0-1) vs Bojan Velickovic (15-4-1)

In the headlining bout of the undercard, Darren Till of Liverpool takes on “Serbian Steel” Bojan Velickovic in the Welterweight division. Till is coming off a win over Jessin Ayari to improve his UFC record to 2-0-1 after fighting to a draw with Nicolas Dalby. Velickovic scored a 3rd round knockout of Nico Musoke last May in Sweden to secure his second win inside the Octagon.

Bojan will have a slight 2″ reach advantage, but both men stand 6’0″. Till is the younger fighter by 4-years.

Till returned to action after a prolonged layoff in his last fight; landing a pair of takedowns while working his power striking game at range. He throws a lot of his offense from the left side, recording 9 wins by knockout. He isn’t an overwhelming volume striker which tends to keep fights closer that he can’t finish. Velickovic isn’t an overwhelming volume striker either, relying heavily on his kicking attack. The knockout of Musoke was just the 4th of his career. Bojan is a capable grappler and may look to take this fight to the mat where he could look for a submission or to grind out a decision.

Till hits hard, but his offense tends to be a little predictable. Look for the kicking game of Velickovic to keep him out of striking range and once Till moves forward, Bojan will change levels for a takedown. This should be a closely contested fight and the ground game of Velickovic will be the difference, my prediction is Bojan Velickovic to defeat Darren Till by decision.

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155lbs- Mairbek Taisumov (25-5-0) vs Felipe Silva (8-0-0)

In the final of 4 Lightweight bouts on the card, Mairbek “Beckan” Taisumov takes on Brazil’s Felipe Silva. Silva made short work of Canadian Shane Campbell winning by opening round TKO to maintain his undefeated record. Taisumov is also coming off of an opening round finish, to improve his UFC record to 5-1 with 4 straight wins heading into this fight.

Silva is 3 inches taller and will have a 4″ reach advantage. Taisumov is the younger man by 4-years.

Felipe is coming off of his sixth career knockout victory. He comes from a Muay Thai background and showcased a strong Thai clinch with knee strikes prior to scoring the finish. He throws everything with power and has only been out of the opening round once-this raises questions about his cardio. Taisumov is well rounded and dangerous. He demonstrated his striking skills in his last fight against a dangerous striker, eventually scoring the finish with a thunderous uppercut.

Silva’s aggression is his key to victory-Taisumov has been out of action for over 16-months and could struggle if pressured early. That being said, while Taisumov is more than capable of trading on the feet- he may opt to utilize his wrestling to ground Silva- either way my prediction is Mairbek Taisumov to defeat Felipe Silva by TKO.Paragraph breaker

155lbs- Michel Prazeres (22-2-0) vs Mads Burnell (8-1-0)

In the Lightweight division, the hulking Michel “Tractor” Prazeres looks for UFC win #7 when he takes on the debuting Mads Burnell of Denmark. Prazeres was last seen submitting Joshua Burkman in the opening round of his UFN 106 bout. Burnell won all 3 of his 2016 appearances to rebound from the first loss of his career.

The Danish fighter is 2 inches taller than his foe and will have a 2″ reach advantage. He is also 13-years younger than “Tractor”. Mads is replacing Islam Makhachev on roughly a month’s notice.

Prazeres is starting to round into form with a series of strong performances. Capable of amassing large takedown numbers, the hulking Brazilian is difficult to deal with on the mat. His striking is developing but is still a secondary aspect of his attack. Where he appears to be most vulnerable is his cardio, as he has slowed down in more demanding fights. Burnell has finished 5 of his 8 wins- all by sub and all in the opening round. He has a pair of wins by Japanese necktie in his most recent outings. His last 3 wins came over opposition with a combined record of 31-18.

This is a difficult stylistic fight for Burnell who is going to struggle to utilize his best weapon. Prazeres is difficult to takedown and is the more skilled and experienced grappler no matter what position they hit the mat in. If Burnell can keep him standing and tire Michel out, he could steal a decision- but my prediction is Michel Prazeres to defeat Mads Burnell by decision.

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155lbs- Rustam Khabilov (21-3-0) vs Desmond Green (20-5-0)

Former top 15 ranked competitor Rustam “Tiger” Khabilov continues his journey back into contention when he takes on former Bellator contender Desmond “The Predator” Green. Green made a successful Octagon debut at UFC 210 when he defeated Josh Emmett by split decision to extend his winning streak to 5 straight fights. Khabilov has rebounded nicely from a pair of losses, winning 4 consecutive bouts- most recently getting the nod on the cards against Jason Saggo.

A former Featherweight, Green is 2 inches taller than Khabilov, but they will share a 73″ reach. The American is 3 years younger.

The Russian fighter has leaned heavily on his wrestling throughout his UFC run and there is no reason to believe he won’t here. Over his last 4 fights, Rustam has secured 18 takedowns while giving up just a single completion. Green is a former NCAA Division 1 wrestler and routinely falls back on his mat game, but he went just 1 for 2 on his TDAs in his debut. Green would be best served to use his wrestling in reverse and force Khabilov to trade with him on the feet. Neither man is an overwhelming striker, but Green’s technique appears to be more fluid.

Khabilov has routinely got the better of other strong ground fighters with his constant pressure in pursuit of the takedown. Green has had issues in the past with his cardio and is Rustam is able to push him early, “The Predator” could start to fade midway through the fight- my prediction is Rustam Khabilov to defeat Desmond Green by decision.

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205lbs- Francimar Barroso (19-5-0) vs Aleksandar Rakic (8-1-0)

In the Light Heavyweight division, Francimar Barosso takes on the debuting Austria knockout-artist Aleksandar Rakic. Barroso has is coming off a decision win over Darren Stewart and currently holds a record of 4-2 inside the Octagon. Rakic lost his pro debut, but has gone undefeated since including an opening round TKO victory last March- his first fight since 2015.

At 6’4″, the Austrian is 3 inches taller than his foe and will have a 3″ reach advantage. Rakic is also the younger man by 12-years.

The Brazilian’s career has been up and down. He is at his best when the bout is contested at his pace- a combination of single strikes and clinch control along the cage. If the Barrosso can drag the fight to the mat he can do decent work there. He will need to find some way of slowing his opponent down in this fight. Rakic is an aggressive Muay Thai based striker. He has finished all but 2 of his adversaries inside the opening round. He throws with good speed and power, working to defend takedowns when needed.

If Barosso can grind the action to a halt, this is his fight to win. That being said, his lack of foot speed and tendency to throw single strikes will get him in trouble against the constant forward pressure of his Rakic. Francimar’s chin is a bit of a question mark and he has been known to slow down if more demanding fights- my prediction is Aleksandar Rakic to defeat Francimar Barroso by TKO.

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145lbs- Mike Santiago (21-9-0) vs Zabit Magomedsharipov (12-1-0)

After Nick Hein was pulled from the bout due to injury, Mike Santiago got the call from Dana White’s Contender series to take on the debuting Zabit Magomedsharipov in the Featherweight division. Magomedsharipov has won 8 straight fights including a pair of opening round knockouts in 2016. Santiago finished his opponent by knockout in his FightPass showcased bout just a couple of months ago- he is currently riding a 9-fight winning streak.

Magomedsharipov is the taller man by 3 inches and will have a 4-inch reach advantage.

The Russian striker offers a flashy offensive attack highlighted by a variety of spinning attacks. He has finished 6 wins by knockout and 4 more by submission. Training alongside the likes of Frankie Edgar and Edson Barboza, Magomedsharipov comes from an excellent camp and is being touted as the next big thing at 145-pounds. Santiago lost to the likes of Phillipe Nover and Frankie Perez early in his career, but has since turned it around. He has 6 by knockout and 9 more by submission. He has also been submitted 7-times.

Santiago is taking this fight on very short notice and making a quick turn around from his last fight. He is going to have issues with the length of diversity of Magomedsharipov and will struggle to break through Zabit’s solid TDD- my prediction is Zabit Magomedsharipov to defeat Mike Santiago by TKO.

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205lbs- Bojan Mihajlovic (10-5-0) vs Abdul-Kermin Edilov (16-4-0)

The first of 2 Light Heavyweight bouts on the card features the debuting Abdul-Kermin Edilov taking on Bojan Mihajlovic. Edilov is riding a 9-fight winning streak heading into his UFC debut, but has not fought since 2015 after his initial UFC debut was scrapped. Mihajlovic is winless in the UFC, debuting at Heavyweight with a TKO loss to Francis Ngannou before cutting to Light Heavyweight where he fell in the final frame against Joachim Christensen.

Despite fighting at Heavyweight, Mihajlovic is the smaller man. The big Russian will stand 3 inches taller than and have a 5″ reach advantage. Edilov, out of action for over 2-years, is the younger man by 11-years.

Edilov has been out of action for a bit which is concerning, but he is still a young athletic specimen with a decent level of regional experience to build in. He has solid power in his hands, finishing 8 opponents by knockout. If the striking exchanges aren’t going his way, the Russian is capable of changing gears and doing work on the mat, submitting 7. All of his finishes have come in the opening round. Prior to coming to the UFC, Mihajlovic demonstrated his finishing skills, but he has struggled to avoid getting finished since. He is aggressive but struggles to land with consistency. At distance, he will rely on his kicking attack prior to closing the distance to look for takedowns.

With the exception of the layoff and debut factor, Edilov holds all the cards here. The young fighter could very well show further improvements after a prolonged layoff and Mihajlovic will struggle with the type of speed/power combination that he offers- my prediction is Abdul-Kermin Edilov to defeat Bojan Mihajlovic by knockout.

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155lbs- Thibault Gouti (11-3-0) vs Andrew Holbrook (12-1-0)

In the opening fight of the night, Thibault “GT” Gouti of France takes on Michigan-born Andrew Holbrook in the Lightweight division. Gouti is 0-3 in the UFC and has seen action in over a year after his last fight was pulled from the cards at the last moment. Holbrook is an even 2-2 in the promotion, most recently suffering a brutal opening minute knockout against Gregor Gillespie.

Holbrook will have a 1″ height advantage, but it will be Gouti with the slight 2″ edge in reach. The Frenchman is the younger man by a year.

“GT” comes from a striking background but has picked up more wins by submission than knockout. Since coming to the UFC, he has been finished in all 3 of his fights, twice by sub, and twice in the opening round. He gave up a trio of takedowns against Olivier Aubin-Mercier before getting finished, but suffered an early knockdown in his debut prior to the tap. Holbrook’s 2 UFC defeats have both been sudden and violent. A grappler by trade, he has struggled when forced to deal with the power punching of his opponent. His takedown number’s aren’t strong, but he is an oppurtunistic grappler with capable of working from any position.

This fight could very well be decided by who strikes first. If Gouti can crack Holbrook with something of significance, he could put him away. Conversely, if Holbrook takes him down- he has the skills to either submit him or grind out a decision win. Gouti’s struggles suggest he is the more vulnerable of the two and he has yet to display the type of power to threaten Holbrook’s chin- my prediction is Andrew Holbrook to defeat Thibault Gouti by submission.

185lbs- Bradley Scott (12-4-0) vs Jack Hermansson (15-3-0)

Capping off the undercard, England’s Brad “Bear” Scott takes on Jack “The Joker” Hermansson in the Middleweight division. Hermansson scored an abrupted TKO stoppage of Alex Nicholson in his last outing to improve his UFC record to 2-1. Scott bested Scott Askham in his most recent appearance and has won 2 of his last 3 fights.

Both fighters are 6’1″, but Hermansson will have a slight 1″ reach advantage and is a year older than Scott.

The Swede made his way to the UFC on the strength of his striking, working a solid volume attack with good movement and decent power. He has recently shown a greater willingness to wrestle, landing an early takedown in his last fight and scoring the finish from back mount. Scott has given up at least a single takedown in all but 1 of his UFC bouts. Scott is aggressive when engaging which both opens up opportunities for his opponent to open up with takedowns and counter strikes. He has some pop in his hands, but he has struggled to match the output of his opponents when they start to open up.

Scott is coming off the first win on the cards of his career, by split decision. His style of fighting makes it difficult for him to win with the judges as he gets hit a lot. Hermansson’s volume and movement will create issues for the Brit and if Jack opts to mix in a takedown or 2 it will only further cement his advantage- my prediction is Jack Hermansson to defeat Bradley Scott by decision.

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125lbs- #12 Dustin Ortiz (16-7-0) vs Hector Sandoval (14-3-0)

In the Flyweight division, Top 15 ranked Dustin Ortiz attempts to get back in the win column when he takes on Hector “Kid Alex” Sandoval. Ortiz has just 2 wins in his last 6 fights, most recently falling to Brandon Moreno via submission- the first time he has been submitted in his career. Sandoval dropped his debut to Wilson Reis, but has since picked up a pair of wins over Freddy Serrano and Matt Schnell.

Ortiz is 3 inches taller than “Kid Alex” and he will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. Dustin is also the younger man by 2 years.

Sandoval is quick, with power in his hands and the ability to set up takedowns with his strikes. He will need to offer a diversified front against Ortiz to keep him from getting his timing down. Hector relies on a lot of movement and throws everything with power, which could be a problem at altitude. Ortiz is a good wrestler and arguably a better scrambler. His pace and transition game simply wears opponents out. At distance, he has decent striking, but more often than not he opts to close the gap and grind.

Ortiz is coming off of a knockdown and then the first finish of his career- but he is still an incredibly durable fighter. Dustin needs to avoid getting drawn into a fire fight and do what he does best- grind. Even if Sandoval is able to avoid the early takedowns, Ortiz will make him work and eventually wear him down- my prediction is Dustin Ortiz to defeat Hector Sandoval by decision.

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135lbs- Henry Briones (19-6-1) vs Rani Yahya (23-9-0 1NC)

In the Bantamweight division, Henry “Bure” Briones looks to snap a 2-fight losing streak when he takes on Brazilian grappling ace Rani Yahya. Yahya had won 4 consecutive fights prior to dropping a difficult decision to Joe Soto. Briones is coming off a knockout defeat to Douglas de Andrade, one fight prior he dropped a decision defeat to the now champion Cody Garbrandt.

Mexico’s Briones is 2 inches taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. Yahya is the younger man by 4-years.

The outcome of this fight, as is usually the case, comes down to Rani’s grappling and his cardio. Can he score enough points over the opening 2 rounds or grab a finish before his cardio gives out? This issues could be further magnified by the altitude of Mexico City. Briones is a decent striker and can hold his own on the mat, but he has given up 5 takedowns over 3 fights against lesser ground fighters.

“Bure” has some power, but he is going to struggle to keep Yahya from closing the distance and dragging him to the mat. If Briones can force him to work hard for his early takedowns, he could take over the fight in the 2nd half- but my prediction is Rani Yahya to defeat Henry Briones by decision.

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135lbs- Jose Quinonez (6-2-0) vs Diego Rivas (7-0-0)

The first of 3 Bantamweight bouts on the card, TUF Latin America 1 Bantamweight finalist Jose “El Teco” Quinonez takes on TUF Latin America 1 Featherweight competitor Deigo “Pitbull” Rivas. Rivas last saw action in early 2016 when he knocked out Noad Lahat. Quinonez has won back to back fights after dropping the TUF tournament finals to Alejandro Perez.

Both men are 5’8″ and share a 69″ reach. Rivas is a year younger, but he has not seen action in over 17-months.

Rivas is still developing as a fighter which makes it difficult to gauge how much progress he has made since his last fight. Quinonez is also a fighter that is still in single digits when it comes to pro experience and is working to round out his game. The stats indicate that this fight could be decided on the mat. Rivas struggled on the mat versus Lahat prior to the finish. Conversely, Quinonez has completed 9-takedowns over his 3 UFC fights.

Rivas has had problems with fighters that can take him down and hold top position. Quinonez’s wrestling is a key aspect of his attack and Rivas lacks the striking volume to overcome too much time spent on his back- my prediction is Jose Quinonez to defeat Diego Rivas by decision/

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125lbs- Joseph Morales (8-0-0) vs Roberto Sanchez (7-0-0)

A pair of debuting Flyweights collide as Team Alpha Male’s Joseph Morales takes on LFA Champion Roberto Sanchez in the 2nd fight of the night. Morales is undefeated including a win earlier this year via TKO. Sanchez is 2-0 in 2017 with a pair of victories under the LFA banner.

Both men are 5’6″, but Morales will have a 2″ reach advantage. Morales is the younger man by 8-years.

Sanchez carries a submission heavy record having tapped out 6 of his 7 opponents- 4 of 6 by rear-naked choke. Just 3 in the opening round. Morales has a solid finishing percentage as well, finishing 75% of his opponents- 2 by knockout and 4 by submission. Both fighters can wrestle and are dangerous on the mat, but considering where Morales trains out of- it is hard to pick against him.

This is a tough fight to predict considering both men are debuting and relatively limited in their overall fight experience. While both men are capable on the mat, Morales appears to have the better guard game which will make it difficult for Sanchez to feel comfortable if he does manage to score takedowns. This should be a close fight with both men having their moments, but my prediction is Joseph Morales to defeat Roberto Sanchez by submission.

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155lbs- Alvaro Herrera (9-4-0) vs Jordan Rinaldi (12-5-0)

To open the show, Alvaro Herrera takes on Jordan “All Day” Rinaldi in the Lightweight division. Herrera made a successful debut before running into Vicente Luque and a middle round submission loss. Rinaldi stepped up on short notice to make his debut, dropping a competitive decision to Abel Trujillo.

Herrera is making his Lightweight debut. He is 2 inches taller than Rinaldi and will have a 2″ reach advantage. Herrera, the younger man by 3-years, has been on the shelf for 13-months.

Finishing all of his wins inside the opening 2 rounds and getting stopped in all 4 of his defeats, Alvaro lacks any long fight experience. Coincidentally, Herrera’s cardio is a major concern. Cutting to Lightweight could help him to clean up that issue or it could further magnify his problems. Conversely, Rinaldi has fought into the 3rd round or beyond 9-times, winning 5. He has 7 wins by submission and relies on a takedown heavy approach which should serve to replicate Herrara’s struggles in the Luque fight.

The TUF Latin America 2 alumni has power, but if he can’t land something big early- he is in trouble. Cutting down a weightclass in the unforgiving conditions of Mexico City won’t be a positive for Herrera. He will struggle to defend the takedowns of Rinaldi and he will fall behind as the fight moves beyond round 1- my prediction is Jordan Rinaldi to defeat Alvarao Herrera by submission.

145lbs- #3 RICARDO LAMAS (17-5-0) vs #15 JASON KNIGHT (20-2-0)

Capping off the action-packed prelims, former Featherweight title challenger Ricardo “The Bully” Lamas takes on injury replacement Jason “The Kid” Knight. Lamas subbed Charles Oliveira last November, he is 2-3 over his last 5 fights. Knight dropped his debut to Tatsuya Kawajiri but has won 4-straight, most recently stopping Chas Skelly.

Knight is the taller man by 2 inches, but they share the same 71″ reach. Knight is the younger man by 10-years and is replacing “The Korean Zombie” with just under 2-months to prepare.

“The Kid” continues to impress becoming the first to stop Skelly. Knight has just a trio of knockout wins to go along with 13 victories by submission. Knight struggled through the first 2 fights of his career giving up 10-takedowns, but more recently he has won the takedown battle by a count of 8-1. If taken down, Knight threatens with a very aggressive guard, attacking with strikes, subs, and sweeps. Standing, Knight had success against Skelly landing fast counters when Chas pushed forward. He throws a hard right hook, slipping off to the side to avoid getting hit. Knight scored the knockout with a quick combination, but it was set up by his relentless pace that exhausted his foe.

Knight is quickly gaining a reputation for his aggression and willingness to trash talk in the cage similar to the Diaz brothers.

Having faced a number of the top ranked fighters in the division, Lamas has a wealth of experience to draw upon. On the feet, Lamas has good hands with power and augments his boxing with a strong kicking attack. He throws some very stiff low kicks that target the ankle of his opponent and can really cut out their base. He strikes long and can cover distance, but he has had issues against rangier strikers like Max Holloway. He has been knocked out 3-times. Lamas showed sound submission defense against Oliveira, but was losing the grappling exchanges prior to snatching the submission. Lamas isn’t an overwhelming takedown artist, but he picks up opportunistic completions to help score points.

Lamas’s 3 defeats over his last 11-fights have come against the only 2 men to hold the UFC Featherweight title and long time #1 ranked contender, Chad Mendes.

Knight is willing to take a shot to land one and push forward looking to inflict more damage. Lamas’s defensive striking is going to make it difficult for Jason to attack consistently and Knight will tire from trying to track him down. Look for the low kicks and jab of Lamas to slow Knight’s forward push and his defensive grappling will nullify Knight on the mat- my prediction is Ricardo Lamas to defeat Jason Knight by decision.

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140lbs- #8 ALJAMAIN STERLING (13-2-0) vs #14 RENAN BARAO (35-4-0 1NC)

Fighting at a special 140-pound catchweight, the former Bantamweight champion Renan Barao returns to action to take on Aljamain Sterling. Barao is coming off of a decision win over Phillipe Nover to stop a 2-fight losing streak that included losses to Jeremy Stephens and TJ Dillashaw. Sterling was on the wrong end of a pair of split decisions to Bryan Caraway and Raphael Assuncao before scoring a decision win over Augusto Mendes.

Sterling is an inch taller and will have a 1″ reach advantage over the former Champion. He is 2-years younger than Barao who is returning from a 1-1 stint at Featherweight.

Statistically, Sterling’s recent defeats have been curious. He had sizeable advantages in the striking totals in both fights but was unable to convince the judges that he did enough to win. During his first 4-fights in the UFC he completed 12 takedowns and returned to form with a pair against Mendes. He offers a creative grappling game when in pursuit of the finish and has 6 wins by submission. On the feet, Aljamain is a counter striker. He likes to sit on the outside and catch his foe as they move forward. He will initiate the majority of his attacks on the strength of his kicking arsenal.

Sterling is coming off of his best UFC striking performance, landing 82 significant strikes to surpass the 63 he connected on in his sophomore bout.

Barao is an incredibly well-rounded fighter offering a dangerous striking attack and talented submission game. He has knocked out 8 opponents and submitted 15 more. A BJJ Black belt, Renan fights out of the famed Nova Uniao camp and has completed 9-takedowns over his last 3-wins that went beyond the 2nd round. Defensively, he has stopped 97% of his opponents’ takedown attempts. On the feet, the Brazilian carries a close striking exchange rate, but the numbers are skewed by his losses to TJ Dillashaw. Barao has power in his hands and mixes in a nice variety of kicks up and down his opponent’s body.

Renan has had previous issues with cutting to 135-pounds and as a result, the CSAC denied his bid to compete at Bantamweight.

The key to beating Barao has been pace and volume with the purpose of compromising his cardio. Sterling lack’s the power and aggression on the feet to recreate this scenario. If he can’t get the better of the vertical exchanges, he will struggle to take the Brazilian down. Barao is the better striker and has both the offensive and defensive ground skills to dictate where this fight takes place. Renan will benefit from not having to cut the extra 5-pounds and will maintain a more consistent offensive front as a result- my prediction is Renan Barao to defeat Aljamain Sterling by decision.

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145lbs- #9 RENATO MOICANO (10-0-1)  vs #8 BRIAN ORTEGA (11-0-0 1NC)

A battle of top 10 ranked Featherweights features Brazil’s Renato Moicano takes on fan favourite Brian “T-City” Ortega. Ortega has won 3 in a row since his debut victory was overturned to a No Contest- he has wins over Clay Guida, Thiago Tavares, and Diego Brandao. Moicano is coming off a split decision win over Jeremy Stephens, his second in a row after taking a narrow victory on the cards over Zubaira Tukhugov.

The Brazilian is 2 inches taller and will have a 3″ reach advantage. Ortega is the younger man by 2-years.

A well-rounded fighter, Moicano showcased his sound Fight IQ and striking game in his win over Stephens. He routinely circled away from the power of Jeremy while landing a strong left jab and hard inside leg kicks. Moicano will look for takedowns and showed good TDD with solid hips and the ability to create separation on the shot. If he is taken down, look for him to utilize his rubber guard to neutralize his foe and then set up subs off his back.

Despite first fighting in the UFC back in 2014, Moicano has competed just 3-times for the promotion.

Ortega has quickly gained a reputation for his finishing skills. He has secured a pair of wins by knockout to go a long with his submission win over Brandao. Unfortunately, in all of those fights, “T-City” was most likely behind on the scorecards in all 3 bouts. Ortega possesses a dangerous guard and isn’t afraid to go to his back. Unfortunately, he lacks a strong wrestling game and has had to rely on his opponent’s to take the fight to the ground. His striking is still a work in progress, but because of his confidence in his mat game- he can be aggressive and throw a variety of techniques.

Ortega has finished each of his last 3-fights in the final round, including a pair of wins in the final minute of the final round.

Ortega is an exciting fighter, but relying too heavily on big moments to secure a victory will eventually cost him as his level of competition increases. Moicano is a solid defensive fighter anywhere the fight transpires and he is especially skilled on the mat. Moicano will utilize his movement to land strikes and then get out of harm’s way as Ortega looks to return fire- my prediction is Renato Moicano to defeat Brian Ortega by decision.

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145lbs- ANDRE FILI (16-4-0) vs CALVIN KATTAR (16-2-0)

An injury to Doo Ho Choi has opened the door for Calvin “The Boston Finisher” Kattar to make his UFC debut when he takes on Team Alpha Male representative Andre “Touchy” Fili. Fili is coming off of an upset win over Hacran Dias and has alternated wins and losses since making his UFC debut 7-fights ago. Kattar has won 8 consecutive fights including a 2-0 run in 2016 following prolonged layoff dating back to 2013.

Fili is the younger man by 2-years. They are both 5’11”. Kattar is making his debut on roughly 2-weeks.

Despite his nickname, Kattar has gone the distance in 6-straight fights with his last victory via stoppage coming back in 2010. He is 7-1 on the scorecards to go along with 6 knockouts and a trio of submission victories. “The Boston Finisher” throws decent leg kicks, but tends to get a little wild with his strikes when he pushes forward. He will shoot for a takedown and lace up a leg to help complete his shot. The biggest issue will be the short notice, with Kattar’s lack of recent finishes he may struggle to fight a full 15-minutes.

After 2013, Kattar took a break from competing to help run his own MMA promotion.

Fili is coming off the biggest win of his career. Despite giving up 4-takedowns, he was routinely able to scramble back to his feet and get the better of the striking exchanges. Fili has some pop in his hands with 8 knockouts and averages 3.38 strikes per minute. He stopped Benitez with a right high kick. Fili will also throw hard leg and body kicks, sharp knee strikes, and he builds the majority of his offense behind a left jab. He does tend to attack in straight lines which can make him hittable. Fili’s aggression has got him into trouble at times as he has been finished in all 3 of his UFC defeats.

Fili has landed at least 40 significant strikes in all of his fights to last at least into the second round.

Fili’s ability to overcome the takedowns against Dias was impressive. If Kattar is unable to cement the position and keep him planted, he is going to struggle to match Andre’s output on the feet. Kattar might be able to hold his own early, but as the rounds progress, the lack of a full camp will show up- my prediction is Andre Fili to defeat Calvin Kattar by TKO.

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115lbs- KAILIN CURRAN (4-4-0) vs ALEXANDRA ALBU (2-0-0)

Kailin Curran dangles ever so close the edge of a .500 record as she fights for her spot on the roster against the returning Alexandra “Stich” Albu in the Women’s Strawweight division. Curran has lost back to back fights to Jamie Moyle and Felice Herrig- she is a dismal 1-4 since joining the promotion. Albu scored a middle round submission in her debut to maintain her perfect record.

Curran is 2 inches taller than Albu and will have a 3″ reach advantage. Albu, the older fighter by a year, hasn’t fought in roughly 27-months.

The lack of experience and the prolonged layoff are a pair of concerning factors for the Moscow-born Albu. She has stopped both of her professional opponents; one via TKO to go along with her submission victory in her debut. Alexandra throws a solid 1-2 with some decent pop. She will lead with her left and frequently doubles it up. She did have some issues creating separation in the clinch, but the use of her forearm to frame allowed her to land some hard knees. She scored the finish after locking up a guillotine when her foe landed her first takedown of the fight.

Albu went nearly 2-years between fights prior to her debut, so a long layoff is not unfamiliar to her.

Curran has fought 4-times since her opponent last stepped in the cage. Kailin has put on some fun fights, but has struggled with consistency and has been finished in all but 1 of her defeats. She is willing to exchange in flurries but gets a bit sloppy when she lets her hands go. She does throw a nice left jab and right hook, but her volume can trail off at times. Curran appears to have a vulnerability on the mat. She has given up 10 takedowns over 5 fights to go along with a pair of submission losses and TKO stoppage on the floor. She had a lot of issues clearing the clinch in her loss to Moyle.

Carrying a -0.59 striking exchange rate, Curran has been on the wrong end of the striking totals in all but one of her UFC contests. Even in her victory over Emily Kagan, she was narrowly edged out 22-21.

Curran’s fight IQ has been pretty questionable at best, but she has faced some difficult opposition. The massive layoff and lack of experience for Albu are major red flags. She struggled to fend off her opponent’s clinch and if she can’t break the position against Curran, she could start to fade as the fight advances. Curran’s aggression could get her in some trouble, but it will also push Albu and lead to the American out working her- my prediction is Kailin Curran to defeat Alexandra Albu by submission.

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125lbs- ERIC SHELTON (10-3-0) vs JARRED BROOKS (12-0-0)

In the 2nd fight of the night, Eric “Showtime” Shelton makes his sophomore walk when he meets Jarred “The Monkey God” Brooks in the Flyweight division. Shelton lost a competitive split decision to Alexandre Pantoja in his debut to end his 4-fight winning streak. Brooks had originally been pegged to face Ian McCall at UFC 208 before McCall withdrew- Brooks went 5-0 in 2016.

Shelton is the taller fighter by 3 inches and he will have a sizeable 5″ reach advantage. Brooks is the younger man by 2 years.

Brooks is an aggressive striker and carries a steady pace. In his last victory, he overwhelmed his opponent with a constant flow of offense until he got the stoppage. A strong athlete, his aggression can get the better of him at times, rushing forward behind wide strikes with minimal focus on defense. He’s has solid pop in his hands and comes from a collegiate wrestling background. Brooks will look for big slams and is relentless on his TDAs, sometimes getting stalled out in pursuit of the takedowns if he is unable to land them early.

Brooks has fought in 3 different weight classes over his last 4-fights, most recently fighting at Strawweight and competing as high as 135-pounds.

A fighter that made a name for himself as the 15th seed on the TUF Tournament of Champions season, Shelton advanced to the 3rd round before narrowly falling to eventual winner Tim Elliott. In his debut, he scored a 4-pack of takedowns, but lost a competitive split decision to #1 ranked fighter from the tournament. “Showtime” stuffed 2 of his opponent’s 3 TDAs and scrambled his way out of some bad spots on the mat. With quick hand speed, Shelton moves well behind a left jab, quick straight right, and the occasional uppercut. He uses a lot of fakes to set up his offense.

On his season of TUF, Shelton submitted the #2 ranked fighter in the opening round and upset the 7th seed by decision.

Brooks knows how to grind out wins on the mat, but he has a tendency to be too dependent on his wrestling. Shelton is the superior striker with a considerable advantage in length to augment his edge in technique. Brooks may score a few takedowns early, but “Showtime” will use his size and scrambling skills to defend and force him to work hard. As Brooks begins to slow down, Shelton will take the fight over with his speed and striking- my prediction is Eric Shelton to defeat Jarred Brooks by decision.

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155lbs- JOSHUA BURKMAN (29-15-0 1NC) vs DREW DOBER (17-8-0 1NC)

To open the card, “The People’s Warrior” Joshua Burkman takes his first fight after opting not to retire when he meets Drew Dober. Burkman has lost 3 bouts in a row and has just a single win over his last 6 fights since leaving WSOF. Dober was submitted at UFC 206 by Olivier Aubin-Mercier which ended a 2-fight winning streak dating back to UFC 195.

Burkman, a former Welterweight is 2 inches taller than Dober and will have a 2″ reach advantage as well. Dober is the younger man by 8-years.

When a fighter considers retirement like Burkman did, it certainly brings into question his mental focus. Since returning to the UFC, he has struggled to match the output of his opponents. He has routinely been on the wrong end of either the striking exchanges or the takedowns totals- sometimes both. When he does let his hands go, Joshua has decent power and can finish fights. At distance, he throws a lot of kicks but needs to find a better balance of offensive output.

Burkman’s TDD has been solid, 72%, but if he is taken down his submission defense has been an issue with 8 losses via tap out.

Dober is a fighter on the rise. He has a decent striking attack and has shown recent improvements in his wrestling. In his win over Scott Holtzman, he really opened some eyes with his wrestling. He landed 5-takedowns and held some key top position time. Dober has 6-wins by submission, with the RNC appearing to be his finish of choice. On the feet, Dober comes from a Muay Thai background. He is a decent kicker and is willing to exchange. His KO of Jason Gonzalez was the product of several hard straight punches landed in succession as he pushed forward. It was his first knockout since 2011.

Dober has been subbed in each of his last 2 defeats, not including the phantom submission turned No Contest in Brazil.

Dober needs to be mindful of Burkman’s power and crafty submission game. Burkman has not looked good since returning and the cut to Lightweight hasn’t improved anything. Besides his submission defense, Dober’s biggest downfall has been his willingness to get hit. Burkman isn’t a volume striker which should lead to Drew getting the better of the majority of the exchanges- my prediction is Drew Dober to defeat Joshua Burkman by decision.

170lbs- Lyman Good (19-3-0 1NC) vs Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos (16-5-0)

Rounding out the undercard, New Yorker Lyman Good finally returns to make his sophomore showing when he takes on Brazilian Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos in the Welterweight division. Good scored an impressive knockout of Andrew Craig in his debut, extending his winning streak to 3 consecutive fights- he has not lost in 6 contests. Dos Santos has won back to back bouts, stopping Omari Akhmedov and taking a decision win over Keita Nakamura.

Good has been out of action for just over 2-years. He is an inch taller than his opponent and will have the same reach advantage. Dos Santos is the younger man by a year.

Good, a former Bellator Welterweight champion, has some decent pop in his hands- stopping 9 opponents by knockout. He throws a solid left jab, hard low kicks, and will finish punching combinations with a right high kick. The Craig stoppage started with a well-placed counter right hand. Good has a trio of submissions, all by RNC, and has found success with his takedowns. Spending too much time on his back has been an issue for Dos Santos during his UFC run. The Brazilian has given up 14 takedowns over 3-fights- winning 2 of those contests. He lost the opening round on the mat versus Nakamura, but he is active on the floor and will attack while looking to get out of bad spots. When vertical, Dos Santos has recorded 12 wins by knockout and offers a nice variety of kicking techniques and a power punching attack. Watch for him to slip knees down the middle as his opponent pushes forward. Elizeu tends to get stronger the deeper the fight goes and breaks opponents with his pressure.

Dos Santos puts on exciting and demanding fights that take a lot out of his adversaries. With Good coming off of a 2-year layoff and having gone beyond the middle round just once since 2014- his endurance is a major concern. Good is a good striker, but the aggression and kicking arsenal of Dos Santos are going to give him issues. Lyman may opt to look to his wrestling, but as he fades those takedown attempts will cost him more than he gains- my prediction is Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos to defeat Lyman Good by decision.

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185lbs- Rafael Natal (21-8-1) vs Eryk Anders (7-0-0)

UFC veteran Rafael “Sapo” Natal welcomes the debuting and short notice injury replacement Eryk Anders to the UFC’s Middleweight division. Natal has dropped back to back fights to the now interim-Middleweight champion Robert Whittaker and the heavy-handed slugger Tim Boetsch. Anders comes in undefeated with a pair of wins in 2017 already under his belt- he is 2-0 fighting LFA and won his only Bellator appearance.

The newcomer is an inch taller and will have an 1″ reach advantage. Anders, the younger man by 5-years, will have just over a week to prep for his debut.

Just under a month ago, Anders won a 5-round decision to capture the inaugural LFA Middleweight championship. He has finished 5 opponents, all in the opening round- 4 by TKO. Coming from a strong athletic background, he moves well and packs significant power in his left hand. Anders can finish both on the feet and via ground and pound. Takedowns are a key part of his offense and while he spent some time on his back in his last fight he was also able to scramble out of some bad spots. A BJJ Black belt, Natal is a capable submission fighter, but he is 10-fights removed from his last tap out. Raf failed to pick up a single takedown over his last 2 defeats compared to 15 completions during his 4-fight winning streak. On the feet, Natal boasts some hefty low kicks but has been knocked out 5-times.

Anders is making a very quick turnaround with limited time to prep. While Natal’s gas tank isn’t great, Anders is coming off a fight where he was taken down multiple times and was clearly slowing down. Natal has to be mindful of trading with Anders, but the takedowns should be there. Natal will use his kicks at distance and change levels to shoot when his foe attempts to close the gap- my prediction is Rafael Natal to defeat Eryk Anders by decision.

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170lbs- #14 Ryan LaFlare (13-1-0) vs Alex Oliveira (16-3-1 2NC)

In the Welterweight division, Ryan LaFlare looks to defend his home turf against Brazilian Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira. Oliveira is coming off of an upset win over Tim Means and is undefeated over his last 4 outings. LaFlare’s stumble against Demian Maia has quickly given way to a 2-fight winning streak with his most recent win coming over Roan Carneiro at UFC 208.

LaFlare is 2 inches taller than the former Lightweight, but it will be Oliveira that has a slight 2″ reach advantage. The Brazilian is the younger man by 5-years.

With his early success hinging heavily on his wrestling, LaFlare landed 19 takedowns over his first 4-fights. Since that run, he has completed just 1 takedown over his last 3 bouts that included giving up 5 completions in his loss to Maia. Not to be outdone, Oliveira has also leaned heavily on his mat game securing 12 takedowns over his last 3 wins and subbing Means. Oliveira does his best work from the clinch, muscling his foe into the wall to land strikes and setup takedowns. LaFlare is the more technical striker but he isn’t known for his volume. He will need to be mindful of getting outworked by the more aggressive, but much wilder “Cowboy”.

Oliveira’s win over Means was impressive, but he is going to struggle to get his ground game rolling against LaFlare. The American is the bigger man and he is the more accomplished wrestler. Oliveria has had issues when put on his back and LaFlare will simply be too strong from top position. As previously mentioned, Ryan has to be careful not to get outworked on the feet, but he should be able to grab enough takedowns and top control to grind out the majority of the fight- My prediction is Ryan LaFlare to defeat Alex Oliveira by decision.

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265lbs- Damian Grabowski (20-4-0) vs Chase Sherman (10-3-0)

Damian Grabowski looks to close the door on a less than memorable 2016 when he takes on the improving Chase “The Vanilla Gorilla” Sherman in the Heavyweight division. Sherman is coming off of a knockout win over Rashad Coulter in a very entertaining scrap- he is 1-2 in the UFC. Grabowski has just a single win over his last 4 fights, including an 0-2 run in the UFC with losses to Derrick Lewis and Anthony Hamilton.

Sherman is 3 inches taller than his European counterpart and he will have a 3″ reach advantage. Chase is the younger man by 9 years and is taking this fight on just over a month’s notice.

The American is a big athletic Heavyweight and is coming off his best performance in recent memory. Sherman moves well and blends together his boxing and a decent kicking attack. Against Coulter, Chase routinely bludgeoned his adversary’s legs and drastically diminished his mobility. Sherman does a decent job of throwing volume strikes with limited windup. He does have a tendency to stands a little tall and was brutally knocked out by Walt Harris. A grappling centric fighter, Grabowski has struggled to find success implementing his offense since coming to the UFC. He does the majority of his work in close quarters, attacking in the clinch and looking to set up takedowns. In his debut, he attempted to drag Lewis to the mat but found himself on his back and under attack. Damian struggles when he gets stuck on the outside which led to his knockout loss to Hamilton as he tried to push forward too aggressively.

Grabowksi has had almost no offensive success since entering the Octagon. To be successful here, he has to get on the inside and stay there; controlling the fight in either the clinch or on the mat. Sherman is bigger and quicker with a more fleshed out striking attack. He will find success using his kicks to slow down Grabowski and keep him out of range while landing the quicker and more frequent punches- my prediction is Chase Sherman to defeat Damian Grabowski by TKO

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145lbs- Kyle Bochniak (7-1-0) vs Jeremy Kennedy (10-0-0)

In the Featherweight division, Kyle Bochniak looks for UFC win #2 when he takes on undefeated Canadian Jeremy Kennedy. Kennedy is 2-0 in the UFC following a strong decision victory over dangerous Brazilian Rony Jason in Brazil. Bochniak dropped a short notice debut to Charles Rosa at Lightweight before scooping up a split decision victory over Enrique Barzola.

The Canadian is the taller man by 4 inches and will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. Bochniak is 5-years younger than Kennedy.

Bochniak took his debut on just 4 days notice and struggled to match the volume of his opponent. The Amerian utilizes a lot of movement but has had issues maintaining a consistent output. Against Barzola, he routinely allowed Enrique to lead the exchanges and found himself striking in response to getting hit. His kicking game is decent, but he would benefit from an uptick in aggression. While he hasn’t shown much on the mat, Kyle is a decent ground fighter and has demoed solid TDD over his 2 fights. Kennedy’s wrestling has been impressive, scoring 8 completions in his win over Jason and 5 in his debut victory. Kennedy is a pressure fighter and can land takedowns from the clinch or by shooting from the outside. He does a decent job of setting up his takedowns with strikes to force his opponent to cover up prior to changing levels. The Canadian’s striking is still a work in progress, with the majority of his offense centered around closing the distance.

Bochniak was fortunate to walk away with a win in his last fight. Against Kennedy, he is going to struggle to match his aggression. Even if Kennedy can’t drag the fight to the floor with consistency, look for him to use his size to control Bochniak on the cage and do damage. Kennedy will keep Bochniak on his back foot for the duration of the fight- my prediction is Jeremy Kennedy to defeat Kyle Bochniak by decision.

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135lbs- Brian Kelleher (17-7-0) vs Marlon Vera (9-3-1)

Attempting to build on his upset debut, Brian “Boom” Kelleher takes on “Chito” Marlon Vera in the Bantamweight division. On short notice, Vera picked up a come-from-behind knockout victory over the retiring Brad Pickett, scoring a heart breaking TKO with just 70-seconds left. Kelleher stepped in as a late replacement to make his promotional debut and defeated the heavily favoured Iuri Alcantara- he has won 7 in a row.

Vera is 2 inches taller and will have a 4″ reach advantage over Kelleher. He is also the younger man by 6-years.

Kelleher has a nice variety of finishing skills, stopping 6 opponents by knockout and another 8 by submission. He caught Alcantara is his signature guillotine and forced a quick tap- his 5th win via that form of choke. He is at his best when he can get his takedown game working, but he has also been submitted 4-times. Prior to the finish, Kelleher was fighting off his back foot and losing the striking exchanges. Vera has taken some criticism for his lack of urgency on the feet. He has a nice variety of techniques ranging from kicks to knees and standing elbows. He floored Pickett with a beautiful head kick and came out more aggressive in the final frame prior to the stoppage. “Chito” has spent some time on his back, but he is a good scrambler and will attack with submissions.

Vera has recently moved to the USA to train and the improvements are noticeable. He should be the more varied striker and his length will help him to catch Kelleher on the outside. Kelleher has to be aggressive, push forward and either out work Vera on the feet or score takedowns and control top position. Vera will make the mat an undesirable options for the American, but he might not have a choice if he is lagging behind on the feet- my prediction is Marlon Vera to defeat Brian Kelleher by submission.

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265lbs- #12 Tim Johnson (11-3-0) vs Junior Albini (13-2-0)

In the first of a pair of Heavyweight bouts on the card, Tim Johnson takes on the debuting Junior “Baby” Albini. Johnson earned a split decision win over Daniel Omielanczuk to rebound from a disappointing split decision loss to Alexander Volkov. Albini has won 9 straight bouts including 7 finishes- 6 in the opening round.

Albini is the younger man by 6-years and will have a 2″ reach advantage. Both men are 6’3″. The Brazilian has not fought in roughly 11-months.

“Baby” has a finish heavy record with 5 wins by knockout and 6 by submission compared to just 2 decision wins. He has only been out of the opening round 5-times with a 3-2 record. Throwing power from the right side he also likes to mix in knees when pressing forward. Albini’s last 3 wins have come over a trio of opponents with a combined record of 28-22. Johnson is a grinder, capable of both working his opponent over on the cage and on the floor. Despite a reputation for his wrestling, Johnson’s high watermark for takedowns is 3 and averages just 1.39 completions per fight. If forced to battle it out on the feet, he is durable and will stand and trade. Johnson is a decent dirty boxer and does some decent work in the clinch.

Albini is facing a stiff test under less than ideal circumstances. He is debuting after a near year long layoff and doing it on foreign soil. Johnson’s durability and grinding style will test the Brazilian’s 3-2 record outside of the opening round. Even if Tim can’t get the fight to the floor, look for him to have success controlling his opponent along the cage- my prediction is Tim Johnson to defeat Junior Albini by decision.

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145lbs- Shane Burgos (9-0-0) vs Godofredo Pepey (14-4-0)

In search of his 10th straight win to start his career, “Hurricane” Shane Burgos takes on Brazilian submission specialist Godofredo Pepey in the Featherweight division. Burgos stopped Charles Rosa at UFC 210 to add to his decision win in his debut over Tiago Trator. In his last fight, Pepey scored a submission win over Mike De La Torre and has won 4 of his last 5 fights dating back to early 2014.

Burgos is the taller man by 4 inches and he will have a 2″ reach advantage. The American is the younger fighter by 4-years.

Pepey is an aggressive submission specialist recording 8 of his 13 wins by some form of tap- 3 in the UFC. Godofredo is both willing to pull guard or even attack submissions while standing. Once on the mat, the Brazilian has a very aggressive guard and offers lightning fast submissions. He is also known for his ability to orchestrate sweeps off his back. His striking is wild, but can be effective. Burgos showcased a calm and calculated striking attack against Rosa. “Hurricane” was slipping punches and connecting on well-placed counters, including a very accurate right hand and solid left hook. He does an excellent job of maintaining pressure and shifting between offense and defense. Defensively, his counter wrestling has been on point; shutting down 89% of his opponents’ TDAs.

The Brazilian’s window for victory starts to close after the opening round. His aggressive style is simply too difficult to maintain. The calculated counter striking and stout takedown defense of Burgos will make it difficult for Pepey to get in a position to use his grappling skills or land something significant on the feet. Pepey’s lack of a strong wrestling attack will force him to stand and trade with the Burgos, where he is simply outgunned- my prediction is Shane Burgos to defeat Godofredo Pepey by TKO.

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155lbs- Frankie Perez (10-3-0) vs Chris Wade (11-3-0)

In the opening fight of the night, New Jersey’s Frankie Perez takes on Chris Wade in a rematch from there 2014 meeting at Ring of Combat 48. Wade defeated Perez by split decision, but more recently he has dropped back to back fights to Rustam Khabilov and Islam Makhachev ending his 6-fight winning streak. Perez returned from a brief retirement to drop a decision to Marc Diakese last December, he is 1-2 in the UFC with his only win coming over Sam Stout.

Perez is an inch taller and will have a 3″ reach advantage. Frankie is the younger man by 2-years.

Statistically, Perez has not put up impressive numbers. Averaging under 2 strikes per minute, with a striking exchange rate of -0.79. Utilizing sound fundamentals, Perez is a decent striker and augments his boxing with a good kicking attack He has recorded 5 wins by submission, but he has really struggled on the mat in the UFC. In his 2 defeats, Perez has surrendered a combined 10-takedowns. Wade has relied heavily on his wrestling, securing 11 takedowns over his first 4 UFC wins. During that span, he picked up a pair of submissions to run his total to 4. On his current losing streak, he has been shutout of the wrestling exchanges- surrendering 10 takedowns while completing none. Wade isn’t an overwhelming striker in volume or power, but he can work from the outside with his kicks before closing the distance to setup his takedowns.

In their first meeting, Wade utilized his takedown game to grind out a narrow win. This fight should play out in a similar fashion. While Perez stands to be the slightly more consistent striker, he is going to struggle to stay vertical. He doesn’t have the wrestling offense needed to take Wade down nor the defense needed to remain vertical- my prediction is Chris Wade to defeat Frankie Perez by decision.

170lbs- Danny Roberts (13-2-0) vs Bobby Nash (8-2-0)

Capping off the undercard, “Hot Chocolate” Danny Roberts makes his 4th UFC walk when he takes on American Bobby Nash. Nash made a short notice debut and was dusted in the middle frame by Li Jingliang to snap his 6-fight winning streak. Roberts is coming off of a war which ended with a 3rd round knockout loss against Mike Perry- he had won 7 consecutive fights prior to the loss.

They will share an identical 74″ reach while the Brit will stand an inch taller. Roberts, a southpaw, is the older man by 3 years.

Nash has stopping power, recording 4 of his wins by knockout and has only gone beyond the middle frame on 2 occasions. He landed some hard low kicks and snapped off a decent left jab against Li. Bobby scored a knockdown with a left hook, but he was routinely getting cracked from the right side and was eventually finished. Nash showed a willingness to look for takedowns, but didn’t have a lot of success. “Hot Chocolate” throws a nice left hook and lead jab from the right side. He appeared to have issues with the pressure of Perry, but was still firing back and offers a decent volume attack over a full 3 rounds. If taken down, as was the case in his debut, Robert can work off of his back with a serviceable submission game.

Nash needs to make this fight ugly, press forward and keep engaging. That will be difficult for a fighter that tends to throw in single strikes and has limited experience beyond the opening 2 rounds. Roberts’s more technical striking will allow him to routinely beat Nash to the punch and exploit the American’s poor defensive game- my prediction is Danny Roberts to defeat Bobby Nash by decision.

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125lbs- #14 Alexander Pantoja (17-2-0) vs Neil Seery (16-12-0)

Finally getting an opportunity to ride off into the sunset, “2Tap” Neil Seery takes on Brazil’s Alexander “The Cannibal” Pantoja. Seery is coming off of a loss to former title challenger Kyoji Horiguchi, just 1 fight removed from snatching up a submission of Jon delos Reyes in late 2015. Pantoja took a split decision win over Eric Shelton in his debut to extend his winning streak to 10-straight dating back to a 2010 decision loss to Jussier Formiga.

Pantoja is an inch taller and will have a 3″ reach advantage. The Brazilian is 11-years Seery’s junior and the Brit has not seen action in roughly 14-months.

The Brazilian has splits his finishes evenly between knockouts and submissions. He has a capable guard, but the submission of choice for “The Cannibal” is the rear-naked choke. He has submitted 5 opponents by RNC and took Shelton’s back on multiple occasions. On the feet, he throws a decent jab and relies heavily on his kicks. From the clinch, look for Pantoja to land hard knees and short strikes. Maintaining a consistent output for Pantoja is crucial to his success. Seery’s is known for his capable combination boxing and a willingness to trade hands. He brings pressure with his offense and tends to get stronger as the fight progresses. Despite what his record would indicate at first glance, “2Tap” has come along way on the mat. He hasn’t not been submitted since 2012 and has picked up trio of his own tap outs in that same time span.

Seery never stops working, but he is closing on 38 which is old for the division and the layoff could further impact his performance. Pantoja is the superior athlete, but he has to avoid getting outworked. Neil will hold his own on the feet, but Pantoja will take over when he switches gears and takes the fight to the ground. Seery is double tough, but the Brazilian will get the better of the scrambles and positional battle- my prediction is Alexander Pantoja to defeat Neil Seery by decision.

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170lbs- Charlie Ward (3-2-0) vs Galore Bofando (4-2-0)

In the Welterweight division, Conor McGregor training partner “Relentless” Charlie Ward gets a second opportunity in the UFC when he takes on England’s Galore Bofando. Ward dropped his debut via knockout to Abdul Razak Alhassan in November. Bofando’s last fight was a victory to rebound from a DQ defeat for landing an illegal knee.

Both men are 5’11”, Ward will have a 1″ reach advantage while Galore is the younger man by 2-years. Bofando last competed in early 2015, a near 30-month layoff. Prior to that fight, he had not seen action in MMA since 2012.

A former World Champion kickboxer, Bofando is an incredibly dangerous and skilled striker. The Brit will throw a variety of kicks ranging from hard snapping round kicks to the body and head to various unorthodox spinning attacks. He moves very well and delivers his offense with ferocity and speed. Conversely, he has had issues on the mat and along the cage when pressured. If he does get bullied into the wall, look for him to create separation to land hard knees. Ward is coming off the second knockout defeat of his career. “Relentless” was unable to showcase much in his debut prior to getting smashed. Ward is a forward pressured brawler with a reputation for being reckless in pursuit of the finish. When he isn’t slinging heavy leather, Ward has shown that he can change levels for a takedown, but too often he gets caught up in his willingness to scrap.

It is interesting to not that both of Bofando’s defeats have been the product of DQs for illegal knees. He should have a speed advantage, but the key will be to maintain separation. Ward likes to brawl, but his chin has given out on him twice in just 5-fights. Look for Bofando to hurt him early with big a kick and eventually take Ward out as he continues to move forward- my prediction is Galore Bofando to defeat Charlie Ward by knockout.Paragraph breaker

155lbs- Danny Henry (10-2-0) vs Daniel Teymur (6-0-0)

Daneil Teymur, the older brother of surging Lightweight David Teymur, makes his Octagon debut when he takes fellow first-timer and Scotland’s own Danny Henry. Teymur went 2-0 in 2016 and has spent almost his entire career competing in Sweden. Henry is currently riding a 3-fight winning streak, most recently avenging the only loss over his last 8 fights.

Henry stands an above average 6’0″ for the division and will be 7 inches taller than Teymur. They are the same age. Henry has been competing at Featherweight in recent fights, but he did fight at 155 pounds earlier in his career.

The Scot has been fighting in South Africa, capturing the EFC Featherweight strap along the way. Finishing 9 of his 10 wins, 5 by knockout, Henry has showcased as a well-rounded skill set. He throws decent punches and will mix in hard kicks up and down the body. His submission game appears sound and capable of rendering finishes off his back. Reports suggest his TDD could be an area of vulnerability. An accomplished kickboxer, Teymur has yet to fight beyond the opening round- 3 knockouts and 3 submissions. Similar to his brother, Daniel throws hard kicks and sharp combinations. He will add in knees and elbows when needed and does it all with speed and accuracy. His mat game is also quite competent, snatching up quick submissions once the action goes horizontal.

Not to knock the South African MMA scene, but it is still a work in progress and the fighters that come to the UFC have had limited success. Teymur’s lack of long fight experience is a little concerning, but his extensive kickboxing background quells some of those concerns. Both men are capable strikers, but it is hard to go against Teymur, especially considering Henry is moving up a division where opponents will pack a big punch. Teymur’s speed and striking technique will carry the day, but don’t be shocked to see him have success on the mat- my prediction is Daniel Teymur to defeat Danny Henry by TKO.

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135lbs- Brett Johns (13-0-0) vs Albert Morales (7-1-1)

In the Bantamweight division, Welsh fighter Brett “The Pikey” Johns meets late notice replacement Albert “The Warrior” Morales. Johns made a successful debut last November, defeating Kwan Ho Kwak via decision to maintain his undefeated record. Morales rebounded from the first loss of his career with a split decision win over Andre Soukhamthath at UFC 209.

Morales is replacing Mitch Gagnon with just over 2 weeks to prep for the fight. He is the taller man by 2 inches and will have a slight 1″ reach advantage.

Offering a well-rounded skill set, Johns utilized a relentless wrestling attack seconded by a slick striking arsenal in his debut. “The Pikey” scored on 11 of his 15 takedown attempts and appeared to hurt Kwak with a hard uppercut in the middle frame. Johns has gone the distance in 7 of his 13 wins, including a pair of 5-rounders. By comparison, Morales has seen the scorecards just 3-times in his career (2-0-1) compared to a trio of submission wins and 2 knockout victories. The California native is an aggressive striker, pushing forward and constantly engaging his foe. He will hammer away with hard low kicks unload with heavy-handed barrages, but tends to leave himself open when engaging.

Morales’s aggression is both a major asset and a significant liability. Johns is the far more calculated fighter and should be able to capitalize on lapses in the defense of Morales. The 2-week notice for Albert will further complicate his already questionable cardio level. A close fight early, Johns falls back on his takedowns to break him- my prediction is Brett Johns to defeat Albert Morales by decision.

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135lbs- Leslie Smith (9-7-1) vs Amanda Lemos (6-0-1)

Opening the card, Leslie “Peacemaker” Smith welcomes promotional newcomer Amanda Lemos to the Octagon. Last time out, Smith scored an upset win over Irene Aldana and has alternated wins and losses over her last 6 fights since debuting back in early 2014. Lemos is coming off of a trio of fights under the Jungle Fights banner, avenging an early 2016 draw with a 3rd round TKO stoppage last summer.

Lina Lansberg has been initially locked in to face Smith, but she was forced to withdraw and Lemos stepped in with 3-weeks to prep. Smith is the taller fighter by 5 inches while the Brazilian is 5-years younger.

Lemos comes in having faced limited competition with her last 3-opponents combining for a record of 2-4-1. The Brazilian has finishing skills, ending the first 5 fights of her career in the opening round- 4 by knockout. A scrappy striker, Lemos is willing to exchange in the pocket and mix in some kicks. Not afraid to hit the mat, her wrestling success could be a product of her level of competition. Smith has defended 66% of her opponent’s TDAs, but it could be an area that Lemos looks to exploit. A volume striker, Smith thrives in a scrap. She averages 6.81 SLpM and is coming off her UFC best 169-strikes landed in her last fight. She doesn’t always utilize her length effectively, but she is durable and has stopping power.

Smith should routinely beat Lemos to the mark when exchanging on the feet. Leslie is a perfect foil to a fighter that has traditionally finished their fights inside the opening round. Look for Smith to work her volume striking and simply pull away as the fight advances into the middle round and beyond- my prediction is Leslie Smith to defeat Amanda Lemos by decision.

265lbs- #9 TRAVIS BROWNE (18-6-1) vs #14 ALEKSEI OLEINIK (51-10-1)

The final fight on the prelims and first of 3 Heavyweight bouts on the card features Travis “Hapa” Browne taking on Aleksei “The Boa Constrictor” Oleinik. Oleinik scored an impressive submission win over Viktor Pesta in his last fight and has won 12 of his last 13 outings. Browne is winless in his last 3-fights including a knockout loss to Derrick Lewis earlier this year- his last win came over Matt Mitrione back in early 2016.

At 6’6″, Browne is 4 inches taller than his Ukrainian counterpart, but it will be Oleinik with the slight reach advantage. Browne will weigh in 15-pounds heavier and 5-years younger than his foe.

Oleinik is a submission specialist having finished 42 of his 51 wins on the mat. His main focus is closing the distance, dragging his opponent to the ground, and then wearing them down from top position while looking for the finish. Browne has proven difficult to take off his feet, boasting an 83% TDD with just a trio of TDs given up over his UFC career. “Hapa” will want to keep this fight standing, use his kicks, and keep Aleksei on the outside. Although, Browne’s chin has been a vulnerability and Oleinik has shown he can do damage if he can connect. Browne needs to fight smart and avoid the early takedown. Aleksei’s last 5 wins have all come in round 1 while he faded badly in his only recent fight to go beyond the 5-minute mark. Browne will survive the early TDAs and break Oleinik down on the feet- my prediction is Travis Browne to defeat Aleksei Oleinik by TKO.

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170lbs- CHAD LAPRISE (12-2-0) vs BRIAN CAMOZZI (7-3-0)

Returning to the division where he won his TUF title, Chad “The Disciple” Laprise takes on American Brian Camozzi. Laprise torched Thibault Gouti in his last fight to end a 2-fight losing slump. Camozzi debuted with a middle round TKO loss to Randy Brown which put a halt to his 5-fight winning streak.

Laprise has had a month to prep for the fight and will be moving up from Lightweight. He will give up 3 inches of height and a sizeable 7 inches of reach. Camozzi is the younger man by 5-years.

Laprise is coming in on short notice and is moving up a weight class. He did miss the Lightweight cut off by 3-pounds in his last fight. His keys to success here will be movement and volume. He needs to attack and evade Camozzi, who seemed to struggle with the pressure of his last opponent. For Camozzi, his size needs to be a factor here. Stick Laprise at the end of his strikes and then jam him up in the clinch when he attempts to move forward. Barberena gave Chad all sorts of issues with this style in the second half of their fight. The Canadian is the more diversified and tested fighter. The lack of a major weightcut will help him to maintain his pace throughout the contest- my prediction is Chad Laprise to defeat Brian Camozzi by decision.

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185lbs- THIAGO SANTOS (14-5-0) vs GERALD MEERSCHAERT (26-8-0)

In the Middleweight division, Thiago “Marreta” Santos takes on the surging Gerald “GM3” Meerschaert. Santos is coming off of a highlight reel knockout of Jack Marshman to snap a 2-fight losing skid. Meerschaert has won 7 consecutive fights dating back to a 2014 loss to Sam Alvey- he is 2-0 in the UFC.

Meerschaert is an inch taller and will have a similar reach advantage over Santos. He is also the younger man by 3-years.

Santos is a dangerous striker, relying heavily on his kicking arsenal to record the majority of the damage. While his hands are a secondary aspect of his striking attack, if the Brazilian gets on the inside he can do a lot of damage in the clinch with short punches, knees, and elbows. With submissions accounting for 2 of Thiago’s UFC defeats, Meerschaert is going to look to get this fight down to the mat. The American is a crafty grappler, capable of working from top and bottom position. He has earned 19 wins by submission. Meerschaert can hold his own on the feet, but will struggle to keep up with the superior striking arsenal of Santos. Meerschaert is going to struggle to close the distance without getting tagged and once on the inside the clinch of Santos is will create further issues. Look for Santos to maintain separation, landing kicks and countering as Meerschaert attempts to move forward- my prediction is Thiago Santos to defeat Gerald Meerschaert by TKO.
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170lbs- JORDAN MEIN (29-11-0) vs BELAL MUHAMMAD (11-2-0)

The unretirement of Canadian Welterweight Jordan “Young Gun” Mein led to an unsuccessful return, but he will try to get back in the win column against Belal “Remember the Name” Muhammad. Mein has lost back to back fights after an impressive 5-1 run spanning fights in Strikeforce and the UFC. Muhammad took a short-notice fight at UFC 208 against Randy Brown and picked up a solid decision victory to even his UFC mark at 2-2.

Mein is an inch taller and will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. He is also the younger fighter by a year.

The Canadian got off to a good start in his last fight, but ring rust appeared to take its toll and cost him a tough decision. Mein is a finisher, stopping 16 opponents by knockout, 7 by submission. He utilizes a very slick striking attack, throwing strong combinations with good variety. Muhammad isn’t one to be outdone on the feet. He has power, but his strength lies in his technically sound boxing attack. He has averaged just over 71 strikes per fight in each of his 3-bouts to hit the final frame. Both fighters have durability issues, but Mein is more capable of exploiting them. Muhammad is more likely to win this fight over 3 rounds but he has been hurt on multiple occassions and Mein has the ability to add to it- my prediction is Jordan Mein to defeat Belal Muhammad by knockout.

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135lbs- #15 ROB FONT (13-2-0) vs DOUGLAS SILVA DE ANDRADE (24-1-0 1NC)

In the FightPass headliner, recently ranked Rob Font risks his spot in the Top 15 when he takes on Brazil’s Douglas Silva De Andrade in the Bantamweight division. Font is coming off of a win over Matt Schnell and is 3-1 since making the move to the UFC. After suffering the first loss of his pro career, De Andrade has rallied to pick up back to back wins, including an impressive knockout of Henry Briones last November.

The American is an inch taller, but will have a slightly longer 3″ reach advantage. Font is the younger man by 3 years.

De Andrade has finished 19 opponents by knockout, finally demonstrating his power in the UFC. More importantly, the Brazilian showcased a more consistent offensive output prior to getting the finish. Font is a much more fluid striker, mixing up his techniques while remaining a knockout threat. In his only UFC defeat, he struggled to find success against the aggressive power punching attack of John Lineker, something De Andrade should look to emulate. Font has shown he can work on the ground if needed which could be an option he looks to exploit as De Andrade gave up a trio of takedowns in his UFC debut. Ultimately, Font’s key to success will be his patience. Look for him to sit back and counter, let his opponent swing and miss, leading to a slowdown as the fight goes- my prediction is Rob Font to defeat Douglas Silva de Andrade by TKO.

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145lbs- CODY STAMANN (13-1-0) vs TERRION WARE (17-5-0)

In the Featherweight division, a pair of debuting fighters go head to head as Cody Stamann takes on Terrion “Flash” Ware. Ware has won 4 straight fights, most recently defeating former UFC competitor Jared Papazian in a rematch to avenge a loss from 2013. Stamann has won 6 fights in a row, including a first-round TKO victory in March.

Ware is 2 inches taller and will have a 4″ reach advantage. Stamann is the younger man 3 years.

A physical specimen, Stamman offers a solid striking attack; mixing together kicks and hard punches. He moves well and has the cardio to fight deep into the later rounds. The majority of his fights have gone to the 3rd round, with a couple of 5 rounders mixed in. He has shown himself to be a capable wrestler, but will frequently use his skills in reverse to stay vertical. Ware some quality experience having faced the likes of Joe Soto and Luke Sanders. He has power in his hands, working a decent 1-2 and targeting the body with jabs. Papazian had success taking him down and Ware has been subbed on 3 occasions which suggests a vulnerability on the floor. Stamann could opt to use his wrestling against Ware to control the majority of the fight, but if not he should land the better quality strikes and carry his output deeper into the bout- my prediction is Cody Stamann to defeat Terrion Ware by decision.

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205lbs- TREVIN GILES (9-0-0) vs JAMES BOCHNOVIC (8-1-0)

To open UFC 213, a pair of Light Heavyweight debutants go head to head as Trevin Giles takes on James Bochnovic. Giles is coming off his first career win on the scorecards, winning by split decision- his last 2 fights both took place under the Legacy banner. Bochnovic is already 2-0 in 2017 including a submission victory at Bellator 175.

At 6’4″, Bochnovic is 4 inches taller than Giles and will have a sizeable 5″ reach advantage. Many reports suggest that both men will compete at Middleweight in the future.

Giles has finished 8 opponents; 3 by knockout and 5 by submission. He is a patient striker, working behind a long left jab and a decent kicking attack. Moving well both offensively and defensively, he appears to be the superior athlete compared to Bochnovic. Bochnovic has never been out of the opening round, but despite his kickboxing background- almost all of his wins have come by submission. There isn’t a lot of recent footage on Bochnovic, but he hasn’t faced the best of competition with his last 3 foes combining for a record of 13-12. Giles should be the faster man and his durability in recent fights has been impressive. If Bochnovic can’t close the show in the opening round, he will be in unfamiliar waters which is tough for a debut. Look for Giles to use his speed early and pull away as the fight advances and Bochnovic slows- my prediction is Trevin Giles to defeat James Bochnovic by decision.

170lbs- Dhiego Lima (12-5-0) vs Jesse Taylor (30-15-0)

The TUF 25 tournament final will feature Jesse “JT Money” Taylor’s attempt to redeem his past when he takes on Dhiego Lima. Lima defeated Hayder Hassan, Gilbert Smith, and Tom Gallicchio on route to the tournament finals. Taylor took out James Krause in the semi-finals after securing victories over Hassan and Mehdi Baghdad in the earlier rounds.

Lima is an inch taller than Taylor and will have a 1.5″ reach advantage. He is also the younger man by 6-years.

Taylor’s game plan is well understood at this point- takedowns and heavy top position with the goal of wearing his opponent down. He beat up Krause on the mat for the majority of the fight and showed sound defensive work by countering out of some bad positions. He has won 16-times by submission. “JT Money” has also been submitted on 14 occasions. Lima is a BJJ Brown belt with a quartet of sub wins, all coming early in his career. Lima’s counter striking will need to be on point in order to deal with the wrestling attack of Taylor. In addition to remaining vertical, Dhiego has to find a way to deal with the pressure that Taylor brings. The Brazilian is not the same fighter when forced to fight off his back foot. Taylor’s forward pressure and aggressive top game are going to be too much for Lima, who’s chin has struggled to hold up when tested- my prediction is Jesse Taylor to defeat Dhiego Lima by TKO.
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205lbs- Jared Cannonier (9-2-0) vs Nick Roehrick (7-0-0)

With Steve Bosse pulling out of his main card fight with Jared Cannonier, undefeated prospect Nick Reohrick gets the late notice call to make his debut inside the Octagon. Cannonier is coming off a loss to Glover Teixeira to even his UFC mark at 2-2. Roehrick is already 2-0 in 2017, winning both fights under the Combat Night banner.

At 6’3″ the UFC neophyte will stand 4 inches taller than Cannonier and is 3 years younger.

Roehrick was originally scheduled to take part in Dana White’s new Contender’s Series in August but will get the bump to the big time a little quicker. Roehrick has finished just 3 of his 7 opponents- 2 by knockout. His last 3 adversaries have a combined record of 19-19. Cannonier’s last fight was certainly an eye opener concerning his defensive wrestling. If he can keep it standing, Jared has a solid chin, decent pop in his hands, and a solid kicking game. There isn’t a lot of recent footage on Roehrick, but this could be a case of too much too soon with not enough time to get ready. Cannonier draws on his experience, uses his speed and superior striking attack to get the better of the exchanges- my prediction is Jared Cannonier to defeat Nick Roehrick by TKO.

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115lbs- Angela Hill (6-3-0) vs Ashley Yoder (5-2-0)

In the headlining act of the undercard, former Invicta title holder Angela “Overkill” Hill takes on Ashley Yoder in the Women’s Strawweight division. Hill’s first run in the UFC saw her dropped 2 of her 3 bouts, before piling up a 4-fight winning streak in Invicta- she lost an entertaining decision to Jessica Andrade in her return fight. Yoder fought just once in Invicta before getting the call to the UFC where she fell to Justine Kish on the scorecards.

Yoder is 4 inches taller than Hill and will have a 5″ reach advantage. Yoder is the younger fighter by 2 years.

Hill’s downfall during her first UFC run was her takedown defense. She has given up 7 takedowns over her 4 Octagon outings. Yoder has shown she is a capable ground fighter, submitting 4 opponents and scoring some crucial top control time against Kish. Yoder is willing to go to her back to try and grab a sub, but it is a losing position if she comes up short. Hill has showcased improved footwork in her recent resurgence and that will be the key here. Look for her to work around the cage, force Yoder to chase, and land counters as she does. Yoder will exhaust herself in pursuit of the mat and Hill will pull away as the fight advances- my prediction is Angela Hill to defeat Ashley Yoder by decision.

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170lbs- James Krause (23-7-0) vs Tom Gallicchio (19-9-0)

The TUF 25 Bronze medal match will feature James Krause taking on Tom “Da Tank” Gallicchio in the Welterweight division. Krause is riding a 2-fight winning streak in the UFC and defeated Johnny Nunez and Ramsey Nijem prior to getting subbed by Jesse Taylor. Gallicchio was the 6th pick on team Dillashaw, but took home submission wins over Eddie Gordon and Justin Edwards before dropping a decision to Dhiego Lima.

While both fighters traditionally compete at 155-pounds, Krause is the significantly taller man by 5 inches, but they will share a 73″ reach.

Gallicchio’s run on the show mirrored his success as a professional, where he has won by submission on 13 occasions. In the Gordon fight, he shot on a single and took his back very quickly before locking in the RNC finish. He had a similar sequence against Edwards leading to the tap. He has 12 wins by RNC as a pro. On the feet, Gallicchio is clunky at best. He was getting tagged with some big punches early by Gordon and Edwards dropped him. Krause will be looking to utilize his height and long striking techniques to keep Gallicchio at distance. James offers a nice arsenal of kicks including a strong push kick to maintain distance. If his opponent does close the distance, he is capable of fighting off his back. A BJJ Brown belt, Krause is 14-2 in fights ended by submission. This contest will come down to whether or not Gallicchio can take Krause down. Krause will keep Gallicchio at bay with a superior striking arsenal, forcing him to cover a lot of distance when looking to shoot. Gallicchio is simply way too willing to take damage and Krause will eventually take him out- my prediction is James Krause to defeat Tom Gallicchio  by TKO.

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205lbs- Ed Herman (24-12-0 1NC) vs CB Dollaway (16-9-0)

A battle of former Middleweight competitors features Ed “Short Fuse” Herman taking on “The Doberman”  CB Dollaway in Light Heavyweight division. Herman is 1-1 since moving up, stopping Tim Boetsch before falling via head kick to Nikita Krylov at UFC 201. Dollaway has lost 3 straight fights, losing to the likes of Lyoto Machida, Michael Bisping, and most recently Nate Marquardt.

CB is an inch taller but will give up an inch of reach to Herman. Dollaway is the younger man by 3-years, but he has been on the shelf for 17-months.

This should be a fun scrap between a pair of fighters in need of a win. Dollaway has the wrestling advantage, but Herman is a pretty capable ground fighter in his own right. This fight should largely be contested on the feet and will come down to who has the superior chin. CB has been knocked out on 4 occasions, all occurring in his last 6 defeats. Herman has suffered a trio knockout stoppages, including back to back losses by knockout to go along with an injury TKO. Dollaway seems to let his output drop off at range and that should help Herman who likes to push forward and fight on the inside. Look for Ed to push forward and eventually land a short range punch on CB’s questionable chin- my prediction is Ed Herman to defeat CB Dollaway by knockout.

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135lbs- Jessica Eye (11-6-0 1NC) vs Aspen Ladd (5-0-0)

In the Bantamweight division Jessica “Evil” Eye enters the cage fighting for her roster spot when she takes on the debuting Aspen Ladd. Ladd is undefeated, competing entirely under the Invicta banner, including a 2015 win over Amanda Cooper.

Ladd recently missed weight and has formerly competed at Flyweight. Ladd is the younger fighter by 9-years.

Eye hasn’t won a fight since 2014, but she has been losing to a collection of top ranked fighters. Ladd is undefeated but inexperienced. She is primarily a striker which plays directly into the strength of Eye. Eye is coming off a fight where she failed to offer enough offense on the feet. Ladd tends to push forward with limited head movement and footwork which will create opportunities for Eye to land combinations. Aspen has shown she can work on the mat and that has been a key to success against Eye. Look for Eye to come out desperate, work her combinations and find similar success like she did against Leslie Smith- my prediciton is Jessica Eye to defeat Aspen Ladd by decision.

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145lbs- Gray Maynard (13-7-1 1NC) vs Teruto Ishihara (10-3-2)

Former Lightweight title contender Gray “The Bully” Maynard looks to continue his run at Featherweight when he takes on Japan’s Teruto Ishihara. Maynard dropped an oddly contested decision to Ryan Hall to level his 145-pound record at 1-1. Ishihara began his Octagon run with a pair of wins and a draw before falling to Artem Lobov in his last fight.

Gray will be 2 inches taller than Ishihara and have a slight 1″ reach advantage. Ishihara is the younger man by 12-years.

Maynard’s chin is still an issue despite going the distance in back to back fights. He is now faced with his first legit knockout threat at 145-pounds in Teruto. Ishihara is a bit of an unorthodox striker, employing a lot of movement to back up his speed and power. The main issue with Teruto is that he tends to slow down if his opponent can survive the first half of the fight. Unless Gray returns to his wrestle-heavy attack, the Japanese fighter will eventually find his mark- my prediction is Teruto Ishihara to defeat Gray Maynard by knockout.Paragraph breaker

115lbs-#5 Tecia Torres (8-1-0) vs Juliana Lima (9-3-0)

In the Women’s Strawweight division, Tecia “The Tiny Tornado” Torres continues her pursuit of a title shot when she takes on Juliana “Ju Thai” Lima. Lima is coming off of a decision win over JJ Aldrich and has won 3 of 5 inside the Octagon with her only 2 losses coming to the last 2 fighters to hold the 115-pound belt. Torres bested Bec Rawlings last February to rebound from the first loss of her career- a decision defeat to Rose Namajunas.

At 5’5″, Lima is 4 inches taller than Torres and will have a 5″ reach advantage. Tecia is the younger fighter by 7 years. Torres is stepping in on short notice to replace Amanda Ribas who was pulled from the card.

Lima is a strong ground fighter and has leaned heavily on her ability to score takedowns and keep her foe on the mat. Torres did give up a pair of completions against Namajunas and lost her original TUF bout due to some time spent on the mat. On the feet, Tecia should be able to badly out-pace Lima with a vastly superior work rate and striking arsenal. Lima will have her moments, but unless she is able to wrangle Torres to the mat with consistency, she simply doesn’t offer enough offense to keep up- my prediction is Tecia Torres to defeat Juliana Lima by decision.

155lbs- Clay Guida (32-14-0) vs Erik Koch (15-4-0)

In the headlining bout of the prelims, long-time UFC veteran Clay “The Carpenter” Guida returns to the Lightweight division to take on “New Breed” Erik Koch. Koch is coming off of a win over Shane Campbell to improve his record to 2-1 since moving to the Lightweight division. Guida suffered a late KO loss to Brian Ortega at UFC 199- he is 1-3 in his last 4 fights.

Guida is returning to the Lightweight division for the first time since a 2012 bout with Gray Maynard. He hasn’t fought in just over a year. Koch is 3 inches taller, will have a 1″ reach advantage, and is 7-years younger. He was last seen competing 13-months ago.

Guida’s reputation for a relentless pace and unending cardio are well-established. His durability is what has recently been brought into question. All 4 of his defeats at Featherweight came via stoppage; 2 by sub and 2 by knockout. While he has been submitted 9-times overall, the cut could have been playing a role in the only knockout defeats of his career. Koch is a well-rounded fighter; demonstrating decent power and technique on the feet and a workable grappling game. He was landing smooth and heavy combinations on Campbell prior to snagging the submission win. “New Breed” isn’t an overwhelming striker and has had issues letting his output drop off. He has also suffered a couple of recent knockouts which raises questions about his chin.

Guida was probably winning the Ortega fight prior to getting knocked out. His recent move to Alpha Male appeared to have some positive returns. Nonetheless, Koch is the superior striker and is still improving. He tends to fire his punches down the middle which will allow him to routinely beat the wider strikes of Clay to the mark. Clay needs to use his forward pressure to keep Erik backing up and land key takedowns to limit the striking exchanges. There is a path to victory for the “Carpenter”, but mypredictionn is Erik Koch to defeat Clay Guida by TKOParagraph breaker

185lbs- Vitor Miranda (13-5-0) vs Marvin Vettori (11-3-0)

In the Middleweight division, TUF Brazil Heavyweight finalist Vitor “Lex Luthor” Miranda takes on Italy’s Marvin Vettori. Miranda is coming off a loss to Chris Camozzi that ended a 3-fight winning streak. Vettori dropped a decision to Antonio Carlos Junior after making a successful debut at UFC 202, he has won 6 of his last 7.

The Brazilian is an inch taller, but he will have a 3″ reach advantage against the Southpaw Vettori. Marvin is the younger man by 14-years.

Training out of King’s MMA, Vettori made a good account of himself against Carlos Junior despite the loss. He has submitted 8 opponent, including a pair of BJJ Black belts in his last 2 wins. Miranda has given up at least 1 takedown in each of his fights but has demonstrated decent TDD and the ability to get back up after being put on the mat. Miranda’s edge lies on the feet. He works behind a good jab and offers a variety of dangerous kicks. Of his 3 UFC victories, 2 have come on the heels of a head kick. Miranda, while a capable finisher, is a concerning 2-4 in his last 6 fights to go beyond the first round- 1-4 in decisions. Vettori has a large percentage of opening-round wins on his record, but he carries a solid pace and really pushes his opponent from start to finish.

Miranda is closing on 40 and coming off of a sizeable layoff. He struggled with the constant pressure of Camozzi, spending time on his back and failing to capitalize when they did exchange. Vettori is young, but his physicality on the mat combined with his submission skills can be a lot to deal with. Look for the Italian to push Miranda early and eventually catch him in a scramble- my prediction is Marvin Vettori to defeat Vitor Miranda by submission.
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115lbs- #8 Carla Esparza (12-4-0) vs #10 Maryna Moroz (8-1-0)

Former Strawweight champion Carla “Cookie Monster” Esparaza looks to halt her descent from the top 10 when she takes on fellow ranked opponent Maryna “Iron Woman” Moroz. Moroz has won back to back bouts, most recently snagging a split decision win over Danielle Taylor. Esparza is coming off an upset split decision defeat at the hands of Randa Markos to drop her post-title fight loss record to 1-1.

Moroz is 6 inches taller than the 5’1″ Esparza and will have a 4″ reach advantage. Moroz is also the younger fighter by 4-years.

The former champion has a pretty straightforward recipe for winning fights; score takedowns and maintain top position. This usually leads to either a decision win or a stoppage victory if Carla can overwhelm her foe. Esparza averages 4.44 takedowns per fight, but had trouble maintaining top control against Markos once they hit the mat. Moroz does have 5 submission wins, all by armbar, including catching Joanne Calderwood in her debut. She will need to be active off her back if taken down. She isn’t a massive takedown threat herself and has been put on her back by each of her last 3 foes. Maryna has shown she can strike but lacks a consistent output. She landed just 17-significant strikes against the diminutive Taylor despite a huge reach advantage.

If Moroz can keep Carla on the outside with her jab and be aggressive on the mat she could edge out a decision. Catching an armbar might not be impossible either. That being said, the timidity that she showed against Taylor will show up again in the face of a constant takedown threat. Esparza will score takedowns at will and Moroz doesn’t do enough on the feet to recover from spending too much time on her back- my prediction is Carla Esparza to defeat Maryna Moroz by decision.

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155lbs- Devin Powell (8-2-0) vs Darrell Horcher (12-2-0)

In the Lightweight division, a pair of UFC sophomores will get a shot at their first Octagon victory as Devin Powell takes on Darrell “The Saint” Horcher. Powell lost a decision in his debut to Drakkar Klose, ending a 6-fight winning streak that had followed his first career defeat. Horcher took a long shot debut on short notice against Khabib Nurmagomedov- he fell victim to his adversary’s ground prowess in the middle frame.

Powell is 2 inches taller and will have a 3″ reach advantage. He is the younger man by a year. Horcher is closing in on 14-months out of action.

Statistically, Horcher was buried under an avalanche of offense by Nurmagomedov. Join the club. At his best, Horcher is an aggressive power puncher forgoing defense for offense. He likes to put his punches together and can be a bit of a reactionary striker, tossing out flurries in response to getting hit. Powell hung around in his last fight, but was soundly outworked from start to finish. He is a serviceable striker with some decent pop, but he gets hits way too often. While Powell could consider wrestling Horcher, he has yet to display the required takedown skills to indicate he can find success with regularity.

Horcher’s debut scenario was anything but desirable. He is returning off a sizeable layoff, but he will have a full camp to prep. Horcher is the more powerful puncher and will connect at a higher frequency. Don’t be surprised if “The Saint” attempts to mix in a takedown or 2- my prediction is Darrell Horcher to defeat Devin Powell by decision.

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145lbs- Jared Gordon (12-1-0) vs Michel Quinones (8-1-0)

*Prediction copied from UFC 211.

In the Featherweight division, a pair of debuting fighters square off as Jared “Flash” Gordon takes on Michel “El Capo” Quinones. Gordon has won 3 in a row after suffering the first setback of his career to TUF alumni Jeff Lentz. Quinones is coming off a Titan FC victory to extend his winning streak to 5, his only career loss came back in 2012 to Brandon Girtz in Bellator.

Gordon formerly competed at Lightweight but will give up an inch of height and 5 inches of reach. “Flash” is the younger man 4 years.

Entering the cage as another product of Dana’s “Look’in For a Fight” reality show, Gordon has secured 5-wins by knockout including his head kick stoppage at CFFC 59 to capture that organizations’ 145-pound title. The Queens, New York native has some pop in his hands and will use his striking to set up his takedowns. In pre-UFC action, Quinones’s TDD has looked decent, but he has a tendency to leap into his striking techniques. This will increase the impact of his offense, but also open him up to Gordon’s wrestling. “El Capo” has finished 5 opponents by knockout and is coming off his first fight to last beyond the opening round since 2012.

Quinones is a little older than the typical “prospect” and his lack of recent long fight experience could be a massive issue against a capable takedown artist. Gordon’s wrestling should allow him to dictate where the fight takes place and his top game will provide the bulk of his offense- my prediction is Jared Gordon to defeat Michel Quinones by decision.

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155lbs- Tony Martin (11-3-0) vs Johnny Case (22-5-0)

A pair of talented 27-years olds collide in the Lightweight division when Tony Martin meets Johnny “Hollywood” Case. Martin has won back to back fights after an unsuccessful 1-3 start to his UFC run. Case began with a 4-pack of victories prior to dropping an entertaining submission loss to Jake Matthews.

Martin is 2 inches taller and will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. Case has a 2-1 edge in overall experience.

The majority of Martin’s success comes on the mat. With 8 of 11 wins by submission- 2 in the UFC. Despite his heavy dependency on the floor, Tony has averaged well under 2 completions per fight. Against White, he did an excellent job of securing takedowns and then body control to maintain position. Case has shown himself to be a capable wrestler, picking up multiple takedowns in a couple of different fights. He also spent some time on his back in a win over Yan Cabral. Case should have the striking edge, but Martin has made noticeable improvements in recent bouts.

Thie biggest knock on Martin has been his gas tank. He has been ahead in fights early, faded and lost. Case is the more well-rounded fighter overall but has been known to give up key takedowns. That being said, he forces his opponents to work for those completions and that is going to be the key here. Look for Martin to come out shooting for takedowns early and even land a couple, but once he starts to slow down “Hollywood” will take over- my prediction is Johnny Case to defeat Tony Martin by decision.

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205lbs- Joshua Stansbury (8-4-0) vs Jeremy Kimball (14-6-0)

To jump start the event, Josh “The Sandman” Stansbury takes on Jeremy “Grizzly” Kimball in the UFC’s Light Heavyweight division. Stansbury is coming off a decision loss to Devin Clark to drop his UFC record to 1-1 after a successful debut last summer. Kimball got his start as a short notice replacement, falling to Marcos Rogerio de Lima via opening round TKO.

Stansbury is 6’2″, standing 2 inches taller than Kimball to go along with a 2″ reach advantage. “Grizzly” is the younger man by 7-years. Kimball has missed weight in the past, including in his short notice debut.

Kimball comes into the fight having recorded 10-wins by knockout and stopping 11 overall- 7 in the opening round. In all honesty, he is a blown up Middleweight who struggles at times to get down to 205. He moves well and has a decent kicking attack. Unfortunately, he appears to have a defensive liability when taken down. The mat is an area that Stansbury has thrived, submitting 5 opponents. Against Clark, he went 0 for 2 on his TDAs. While he has shown improvements with his striking, he struggled to let his hands go against Clark.

Kimball needs to find a way to make this fight gritty, use his speed and outwork Stansbury. Josh was underwhelming in his last fight, but he should find success with his mat game here. Look for Stansbury to pin Kimball on the cage, chip away, and eventually get the fight to the mat. “Grizzly” tends to get overwhelmed when put under pressure- my prediction is Josh Stansbury to defeat Jeremy Kimball by submission.

 155lbs- Takanori Gomi (35-12-0 1NC) vs Jon Tuck (9-4-0)

In the headlining fight of the prelims, the legendary “Fireball Kid” Takanori Gomi takes on the “Super Saiyan” Jon Tuck. Tuck has lost back to back fights, both by split decision, with his last victory coming in the Philippines by submission over Tae Hyun Bang. Gomi is winless in 3 with a 1-4 record since early 2013- none of his 4 UFC victims are still active in the promotion.

Tuck is a full 4 inches taller than his opponent and will have a 3″ reach advantage. Gomi is the older fighter by 6-years.

Gomi built his career on his punching power, but he hasn’t scored a win by knockout in over 5-years. An unorthodox striker, Gomi can throw opponent’s off with his style if he can land he is still capable of doing damage. Giving up 3.75 significant strikes per minute, Tuck’s striking defense is a bit of a question mark. He offers decent variety with his offensive techniques, but he is lacking in the power department. Where the Guam-native does have a big edge is on the mat. Gomi has been submitted on 6 occasions and is coming off a trio of ground-based TKO defeats. If Tuck can drag him to the mat, this is his fight to win.

Neither man has great cardio and Tuck has faded in recent bouts which ultimately cost him the victory. While Gomi has faced pretty stiff competition of late, he has struggled to show he has much left to offer. Tuck will eventually drag this fight to the ground and take advantage of Gomi’s inability to get back up- my prediction is Jon Tuck to defeat Takanori Gomi by submission.

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265lbs- Cyril Asker (8-2-0) vs Walt Harris (9-5-0)

In a battle of big men, France’s Cyril “Silverback” Asker looks for UFC win #2 when he takes on “The Big Ticket” Walt Harris. Asker scored an opening round knockout of Dmitry Smoliakov to start 2017- he suffered a similar fate in his debut against Jared Cannonier. Harris stopped Chase Sherman in the middle frame for his second UFC win- he is 2-4 inside the Octagon.

At a hulking 6’5″, Harris is a full 5 inches taller than Asker. The American will have a 3″ reach advantage and will most likely tip the scales 3-5 pound heavier than his foe. Asker is the younger man by 2-years.

Cyril didn’t get to show much in his debut, but turned it around on the mat against Smoliakov. Over his career, he has found success with his wrestling and finishing opponents from top position. His last win was his fourth by knockout to go along with a pair of submissions. Harris’s finishes have come predominantly on the feet. Behind big punching power in his left hand, Walt has stopped 9 foes by knockout. After having some issues early in his UFC run with letting his hands go, it would appear his combination striking is improving. The finish of Sherman was a beautiful punching combo with a well-placed knee in the middle.

Asker’s last 4-fights have all ended in the opening round. Prior to his last win, Harris was a dismal 0-4 in any fight that went beyond the first frame. “Silverback” is going to struggle with the speed and power of Harris and Walt is not easy to take off his feet. His recent performances outside of round 1 suggest that Harris is growing as a fighter, but Asker is still probably best served by trying to drag the fight into the later stages. He won’t- my prediction is Walt Harris to defeat Cyril Asker by knockout.

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145lbs- Alex Caceres (12-10-0 1NC) vs Rolando Dy (8-4-1 1NC)

In the Featherweight division, fan favourite and TUF alumni Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres welcomes Ronaldo “The Incredible” Dy to the UFC. Caceres has dropped back to back fights to surging prospects Yair Rodriguez and Jason Knight to fall his record to 2-2 since returning to the Featherweight division. Dy is undefeated over his last 4 contests, with a perfect 3-0 run through 2016 and a No Contest in his first outing of this year.

Dy is the younger man by 2-years, but he will give up 2 inches of reach to Caceres. Rolando is making his debut on roughly 3-week’s notice.

“Bruce Leeroy” is a capable grappler with solid submission skills. Unfortunately, he lacks a strong wrestling attack and has been submitted on multiple occasions. Dy has just a pair of subs on his record from early in his career, but his level of competition has been a bit of a question mark. Over his last 3-fights, his opponents have a combined record of 12-5, with 7 wins attributed to 1 fighter. On the feet, Caceres has a little more pop than the numbers suggest and does a good job fighting long. Dy is a Muay Thai based striker and is coming off a recent 23-second knockout.

In the majority of his defeats, Caceres has been undone by the superior ground game of his opponent. Dy does not appear to be a threat to take Caceres down. In fact, Alex should find some success on the ground if he opts to take that route. Dy’s striking seems a little simplistic at times and on short notice, he is going to struggle to keep up Caceres’s pace- my prediction is Alex Caceres to defeat Ronaldo Dy by decision.

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125lbs- Justin Scoggins (11-3-0) vs Ulka Sasaki (19-4-2)

Justin “Tank” Scoggins returns to the Flyweight division to face Japan’s Ulka Sasaki. Scoggins made a brief stop at 135-pounds to drop a submission loss to Pedro Munhoz, he has won his last 2 fights at Flyweight. Sasaki made the move to the division with a successful submission of Willie Gates, before dropping a decision to recent title challenger Wilson Reis.

Sasaki is 3 inches taller than Scoggins and will have a sizeable 5″ reach advantage. “Tank” is the younger man by 3-years.

While Scoggins has had issues with making weight, he has proven himself capable of competing anywhere the fight goes. He offers a karate-based striking style with a strong wrestling attack. Averaging 4.26 takedowns per fight, he has taken down each of his Octagon opponents at least once. If they do hit the mat, Sasaki will be looking to capitalize on the questionable submission defense of Scoggins. Look for him to start working towards Scoggin’s back as soon as possible. Ulka has subbed 10 opponents- 9 by rear-naked choke. Prior to getting the fight to the ground, Sasaki does his best work in the clinch, but the range striking of the American will make it difficult to close the distance.

Scoggins’s mental errors have cost him a pair of recent victories. Additionally, his previous struggles with making weight are a major concern- especially when fighting overseas at an abnormal hour. Sasaki held his own against Reis, but against the unique striking style of Scoggins, he is going to struggle to close the distance. If the cut goes well for Justin, he will frustrate Ulka at distance and capitalize on his frequent attempts to move forward- my prediction is Justin Scoggins to defeat Ulka Sasaki by submission.

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170lbs- Li Jingliang (12-4-0) vs Frank Camacho (20-4-0)

Former Legends FC Welterweight champ Li “The Leech” Jingliang takes on promotional newcomer and TUF alumni Frank “The Crank” Camacho. Camacho has won back to back fights, most recently scoring a second round submission win last May. Jingliang is coming off of a pair of KO wins to improve his UFC record to a respectable 4-2.

Li will stand a full 3 inches taller than “The Crank” to go along with a 1″ reach advantage. Camacho is the younger man by a year, but traditionally fights at Lightweight and is coming into this bout on very short notice.

“The Leech” has gained a reputation as a grinder, but he has been showcased a decent striking repertoire. Jingliang likes to move into close range to let his hands go in multi-punch barrages. While he has yet to suffer a knockout, he has been hurt on multiple occasions. Looking to capitalize on that fact will be Camacho who has recorded 15 of his 20 wins via knockout- 11 in the opening round. Camacho, who is also quite capable on the mat, is more than willing to stand and trade. The biggest concern with “The Crank” is his cardio. He slowed significantly in his TUF loss to Neil Magny and had similar issues in his most recent fight. Li carries a decent pace and can do so deep into a fight.

Fighting on short notice in a higher weightclass is going to be difficult for Camacho. If he can catch Li early or find some success on the floor he could pull off the win. Jingliang needs to push the action, tax the cardio of his opponent, and then go for the kill. Either standing or on the ground, Li will eventually overwhelm his foe with his aggression- my prediction is Li Jingliang to defeat Frank Camacho by TKO.

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135lbs- Kwan Ho Kwak (9-1-0) vs Russell Doane (14-7-0)

Most likely fighting to save his spot on the roster Hawaii’s Russell Doane takes on UFC sophomore Kwan Ho Kwak in the Bantamweight division. Kwak made an unsuccessful debut at UFC Fight Night 99, dropping a decision to Brett Johns which ruined his perfect record. After opening his Octagon run with a pair of wins, Doane has lost 4 straight, including defeats to Mirsad Bektic and Pedro Munhoz.

They share the same 70″ reach, but Doane will stand 2 inches taller than his opponent. Kwak is the younger man by 3-years.

A native of South Korea, Kwak relies heavily on his striking with 6 of his 9 wins by knockout- 3 in the opening round. In his debut, he managed to gain a slight edge in overall striking output, but ultimately lost the fight on the strength of an 11-takedown effort by his foe. Doane is a capable fighter anywhere the action goes, but his greatest strength lies on the mat. He showed solid wrestling against Iuri Alcantara and has proven himself to be a capable scrambler. That being said, he has also been subbed 4-times and has struggled to make appropriate adjustments in fights when he has been unable to find success on the floor.

Doane might not be able to win the striking exchanges, but he should be able to hold his own which will help him to set up his grappling. Kwan Ho’s struggles against the constant takedowns of John’s demonstrate a glaring defensive gap. Even more concerning is poor conditioning. Kwak tired in his debut and has slowed in previous fights despite a record dotted with longer bouts. Doane will find success with his takedowns, putting Kwak on is back early and taking over as the fight progresses- my prediction is Russell Doane to defeat Kwan Ho Kwak by submission.

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125lbs- Naoki Inoue (10-0-0) vs Carls John De Tomas (6-0-0)

In a battle of debuting undefeated fighters, Flyweights Naoki Inoue of Japan takes on the Philippines “Golden Boy” Carls John De Tomas. Inoue fought 4-times in 2016, submitting 3 opponents- he earned a 2-round majority draw in DEEP earlier this year. De Tomas has yet to compete this year but picked up a pair of 5-round decision victories last year.

At 5’9″, Inoue is the taller man by 4 inches and both fighters are incredibly young at 20-years of age.

De Tomas comes in with a couple less fights on his ledger and his last 3 foes combining for a 15-17 record. Inoue has spent is entire career fighting under the DEEP banner and for the sake of comparison, his last 3 foes are a combined 37-20. A superior record and more overall experience for Inoue’s opponents. The majority of CJ’s offense centers around his takedowns. He as secured a trio of submission wins and ground out 3 more victories on the cards. Inoue has also gone the distance in victory 3-times with his other 7 wins coming by sub. He has finished 6 in the opening round with 4 wins by armbar and 3 more by RNC.  Naoki has a slick chain submission attack, flowing from one hold to the next until something sticks.

The experience factor favours Inoue and his length makes him a handful on the mat. De Tomas’s record indicates that he can grind out opponents over a prolonged period of time without gassing. If De Tomas can get through the first half of the fight his chances of winning increase significantly. At the same time, the key to his success brings him directly into Inoue’s wheelhouse- my prediction is Naoki Inoue to defeat Carls John De Tomas by submission.

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135lbs- Ji Yeon Kim (6-0-2) vs Lucie Pudilova (6-2-0)

Opening the card will be a bout in the Women’s 135-pound division featuring the Czech Republic’s Lucie “Bullett” Pudilova and UFC first-timer Ji Yeon Kim. Kim has won 6 straight fights after beginning her career with back to back draws. Pudilova unsuccessfully rematched Lina Lansberg in her last bout, with Lansberg now accounting for her only 2 professional defeats.

Pudilova is the taller fighter by 2 inches and is 5 years younger than her South Korean counterpart.

Kim has competed in some of the best organizations on the Asian circuit and faced decently experienced opposition. She is primarily a grappler looking to push forward, close down on her foe, and force them to the floor. In Pudilova’s first fight against Lansberg, her inability to create separation from the clinch was the key factor in her defeat. The rematch saw her have more success turning away the Swede and landing strikes at distance. The weakest aspect of Kim’s game is her striking defense. Her focus on closing the distance at all costs leaves her open to taking a lot of damage.

Pudilova gets a full camp for this bout and has her debut already under her belt. The Czech fighter should have a wide advantage in the striking department and will make Kim pay for her lack of defense. Kim needs to utilize her size and strength to hold the inside position once she gets there and get this fight to the mat. If she is unable to accomplish this, the combination of exhaustion and punishment will be too much for her to overcome- my prediction is Lucie Pudilova to defeat Ji Yeon Kim by TKO.

155lbs- Damien Brown (17-9-0) vs Vinc Pichel (9-1-0)

The final fight of the undercard will feature Australia’s Damien “Beatdown” Brown squaring off with TUF alumni Vinc “From Hell” Pichel in the Lightweight division. Brown dropped his debut but rallied to pull off back to back wins, most recently edging out a split decision over Jon Tuck. Pichel has rebounded in similar fashion from his debut defeat, upsetting Anthony Njokuani in is last fight.

Despite standing the same height, Pichel will have a 4″ reach advantage. The American is the older man by 2-years and hasn’t fought in just over 3-years.

Despite a record built around knocking opponents out, it has been the wrestling of Pichel that has carried him to victory in his last 2 fights. The California-native completed 8 takedowns in each of those victories. Brown, who has 8 submission wins and 4 defeats of the same nature, relinquished 5 completions in his debut defeat. The American is scrappy, blending together an aggressive striking attack with his takedown game. Brown has proven to be an oppurtunistic fighter, capitalizing on the horrid chin of one opponent and the notoriously poor cardio of another. Brown attacks in bursts on the feet, but took some serious damage in the Tuck fight and was on the defensive during many of the exchanges.

This bout comes own to the layoff of Pichel and how it has effected him. If ring rust isn’t a major issue the combination of his aggressiveness on the feet and a steady flow of takedowns will overwhelm Brown and put him at a sizeable deficiet. If Pichel gets off to a slow start or fades, Brown’s ability to simply stick could prove enough to steal the win, but my prediciton is Vinc Pichel to defeat Damien Brown by decision.

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170lbs- Luke Jumeau (11-3-0) vs Dominique Steele (14-8-0)

“Non-Stop Action-Packed” Dominique Steele enters the Octagon to tangle with the debuting Luke “The Jedi” Jumeau” in the Welterweight division. Steele has put together an eventful 1-3 record in the UFC, coming out on the wrong end of a pair of narrow back and forth decisions in his last 2 fights. Jumeau has faced a few recognizable names; losing to the likes of Jake Matthews and Jingliang Li back in 2013 before defeating Vik Grujic by TKO in January.

Just over a month younger than his foe, Jumeau is the slightly taller man by an inch.

The Aussie has shown he can finish, recording 9 stoppages- 5 by knockout. He packs some decent pop in his right hand and likes to sit at close range and trade. While Steele is a willing combatant on the feet, he has also shown that he can wrestle- he completed a combined 10 takedowns in his 2 bouts prior to the McGee defeat. This includes his highlight reel slam finish of Kim. “The Jedi” found himself in trouble early against Grujic, giving up a couple of takedowns and getting the worse of the action on the mat. Fortunately for Luke, Vik missed weight and was exhausted prior to getting finished.

Including Grujic, Jumeau’s last 4 opponents are a combined 26-32 with all fighters at or under the .500 mark. Steele’s cardio and chin are far from perfect but his physicality on the feet and aggressive wrestling attack should be enough to overcome the UFC newcomer- my prediction is Dominique Steele to defeat Luke Jumeau by TKO.

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125lbs- #11 John Moraga (16-6-0) vs Ashkan Mokhtarian (13-1-0)

Former Flyweight title challenger John Moraga needs a win in the worst way when he takes on the debuting Ashkan Mokhtarian. Moraga has lost a trio of fights, most recently dropping a decision to Sergio Pettis in January. Mokhtarian has won 6 fights in a row, dating back to his first career defeat- he is coming off a KO win his Flyweight debut.

Both men are 5’6″, with Mokhtarian holding a slight 1″ reach advantage. He is also the younger man by a year. Prior to his last fight, Mokhtarian had competed at 135-pounds and higher, he has spent less than 30-seconds competing as a Flyweight.

Mokhtarian’s last 4 opponents have a combined 14-17 record which brings into question his quality of opposition. The Aussie has finished 12 of his 13 wins, split evenly between subs and knockouts. Conversely, Moraga has been facing elite competition. The former title challenger is a bit of an enigma as he has struggled to convert his strong wrestling background to his MMA game. Against Ashkan, he needs to find some success with his ground game as the Aussie has struggled with opponents that have looked to take him down.

Moraga has been struggling to find success, has hinted at retirement, and is fighting on the road. For Mokhtarian, there is limited footage available, but his poor quality of opposition, limited experience fighting at Flyweight, and relatively short fight time are not encouraging. Look for Moraga to find success with his wrestling, scoring early takedowns while offering the more active striking offense when they are vertical- my prediction is John Moraga to defeat Ashkan Mokhtarian by submission.

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170lbs- Kiichi Kunimoto (18-6-1 1NC) vs Zak Ottow (14-4-0)

Returning from a prolonged layoff, Kiichi “Strasser” Kunimoto takes on the”Barbarian” Zak Ottow in the Welterweight division. Kunimoto began his UFC run with 3 consecutive victories prior to suffering his first setback since early 2012- a submission loss to Neil Magny. Ottow earned an upset win over Joshua Burkman in his late notice debut but dropped a narrow split decision in his next fight against Sergio Moraes.

Kunimoto has been on the shelf for nearly 28-months. Ottow is an inch taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. “The Barbarian” is 5-years younger than his opponent and replacing Warlley Alves on a month’s notice.

Despite touting a submission heavy record, Ottow’s ground game has played a limited role in his brief UFC run. He has yet to complete a takedown on just 3 attempts while spending some time on his back in both fights. Kunimoto also has more subs on his record than anything else, but he has completed just a pair of takedowms over his 3 UFC wins. On the feet, Ottow has kept things simple but effect; throwing short technical strikes and landing more than his opponent in each fight. Kunimoto has struggled on the feet, especially early against Richard Walsh where he was hurt on multiple occassions. He eventually turned that fight in his favour when Walsh began to slow down.

Ottow TDD’s has been decent, but not perfect and Moraes did have success keeping him on his back. Look for Kunimoto to shoot first. The American will find success with his striking, routinely beating “Strasser” to the mark with quicker more technical offerings. The difference will be the cardio of Ottow. Kunimoto employs a grueling style and will wear down as a result. The layoff and his history of short fights certainly doesn’t favour Kiichi either- my prediction is Zak Ottow to defeat Kiichi Kunimoto by decision.

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115lbs- JJ Aldrich (4-2-0) vs Chan-Mi Jeon (5-0-0)

The final fight on the FightPass portion of the card will feature former Invicta FC competitor JJ Aldrich taking on CHan-Mi Jeon who is making her debut on roughly 2-week’s notice. After compiling a 3-1 record in Invicta, Aldrich lost her short-notice UFC debut against Juliana Lima. Jeon debuts as an undefeated fighter, including a 3-0 run through 2016- during that span she defeated a pair of debuting pros and an opponent with a record of 19-23 who is currently on a 7 fight losing streak.

Both fighters are 5’5″ and share a 67″ reach. Jeon, has never fought at Strawweight and is the younger fighter by 5-years not turning 20 until August.

Jeon is young and has faced very poor competition. Additionally, she is making her first cut to 115-pounds and has fought beyond the 3-minute mark of a fight just once. She has a trio knockouts inside the opening minute. The UFC newcomer has focused her attacks on getting her foe to the mat and overwhelming them with ground and pound. Aldrich gave up 4 takedowns in her debut and had similar issues in her TUF tournament exit fight. She has to stay vertical against Jeon at all costs. Aldrich comes from a Taekwondo and is a decent striker. She doesn’t have a lot of power, but she moves well and can throw in combinations.

Aldrich will use her debut to help to improve her defensive wrestling which will be the key to her success here. While Jeon may have potential, there are just too many x-factors going against her. She has faced limited adversity in her career and once this fight starts advancing into the middle frame and beyond, Aldrich should take over with a superior striking attack against a tired opponent- my prediction is JJ Aldrich to defeat Chan-Mi Jeon by decision.Paragraph breaker

155lbs- Dong Hyun Kim (14-8-3) vs Thibault Gouti (11-3-0)

To open the card, South Korea’s “Maestro” Dong Hyun Kim looks to build on his first UFC win when he meets Thibault “GT” Gouti of France in the Lightweight division. Kim recently defeated Brendan O’Reilly by decision after suffering back to back KO losses to start his UFC run. Gouti is 0-3 in the promotion, getting finished in all 3 of his contest- Chad Laprise stopped him via TKO last August.

Kim is an inch taller, but Gouti will have a slight 2″ reach advantage. Kim is the younger man by a year. Gouti has not seen action in nearly 10-months.

Despite a strong grappling background, based in Judo, Kim came out firing in his first 2 UFC fights. He came up short in both striking heavy contests. In his last outing, Dong returned to his base; planting his opponent on the mat and utilizing a strong top game. Gouti’s numbers suggestion he can finish on the floor, but he has also been subbed twice. He gave up a trio of takedowns against Olivier Aubin-Mercier before getting submitted. In his debut, he was dropped before getting tapped to go along with a knockout loss to Laprise. The durability of Thibault has been an issue. At his best, Gouti has decent hands but tends to freeze up when under attack.

Gouti’s UFC run has been pretty rough. Kim will be the superior grappler and his aggression on the feet will keep Thibault on the defensive when they are standing. The Frenchman has minimal experience outside of the opening round and Kim has proven it takes a lot to get him out of there. Look for Kim to mix together a clinch/takedown-heavy attack with heavy barrages on the feet- my prediction is Dong Hyun Kim to defeat Thibault Gouti by TKO.

135lbs- #3 RAPHAEL ASSUNCAO (24-5-0) vs MARLON MORAES (18-4-1)

In a fight that could potentially determine a future title challenger in the Bantamweight division, Raphael Assuncao goes head to head with the debuting former WSOF champion Marlon Moraes. Moraes has torn through 13 consecutive wins including 5 title defenses during his WSOF run. Assuncao was unsuccessful in his UFC 200 bout with former Champion TJ Dillashaw, but rebounded to defeat Aljamain Sterling in his last fight.

Moraes is an inch taller and will have an inch reach advantage. He is also the younger man by 6-years.

The UFC newcomer has compiled a solid list of victories during his recent run and has scored 13 career finishes. Blasting away with a variety kicks; Moraes can go high for a KO or cut out the base of his opponent with low kicks. Assuncao can be equally as devastating with his low kicks and he presents a counter heavy defensive striking front that is difficult to attack. Moraes has shown himself capable of finishing on the mat, but Assuncao has stout TDD. Raphael might look to go offensive with his wrestling and test the defensive game of Moraes.

This is the most significant fight on the card next to the main event. Moraes is taking a sizeable step up in competition and Assuncao doesn’t get the credit he deserves. The keys here will be the speed, power, and variety of Moraes. Assuncao’s focus on countering will allow Moraes to lead the exchanges, landing the more frequent and impactful strikes- my prediction is Marlon Moraes to defeat Raphael Assuncao by decision.

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185lbs- ANTONIO CARLOS JUNIOR (8-2-0 1NC) vs ERIC SPICELY (10-2-0)

In the Middleweight division, TUF Brazil Heavyweight winner “Shoe face” Antonio Carlos Junior takes on fellow TUF alumni Eric “The Dreamcatcher” Spicely. Carlos Junior is coming off of a pair of wins to help rebound from an upset loss to Aussie Daniel Kelly. Spicely dropped his debut to Sam Alvey but has since gone on to defeat Thiago Santos and Alessio Di Chirico, both by submission.

The Brazilian is an inch taller than Spicely and will have a sizeable 6″ reach advantage. He is also the younger man by 4 years.

Both men are capable ground fighters, with submissions accounting for 12 of their 18 wins. Spicely has finished each of his 2 UFC wins by sub, inside the opening round. Conversely, “Shoe face” has fought into the third frame in all of his fights, with the exception of his NC in late 2015. While Spicely has been able to seal the deal with just a single takedown in each fight, Junior has compiled some pretty solid completion numbers. He is just 1 fight removed from his UFC best 7 takedowns and he has completed at least 4 takedowns in each of his 4 UFC wins.

The wrestling edge appears to lie with Junior and he should have the edge on the feet as well. While Spicely has more opening round finishes, he could be best served by dragging this fight into the later rounds and wearing Junior out. The Brazilian will take advantage of Eric’s desire to get the fight to the mat, hold top position, and get the better of the exchanges on the feet- my prediction is Antonio Carlos Junior to defeat Eric Spicely by decision.

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135lbs- #10 JOHNNY EDUARDO (28-10-0) vs MATTHEW LOPEZ (9-1-0)

In the Bantamweight division, Johnny Eduardo puts his top 10 spot on the line when he meets American Matt Lopez. After coming up short in his debut against Rani Yahya, Lopez secured his first UFC win via decision over Mitch Gagnon at UFC 206. Eduardo could not capitalize on his upset of Eddie Wineland, falling via submission to Aljamain Sterling- he most recently scored a knockout of Manny Gamburyan.

Both men stand 5’7″, but it will be Eduardo who will have the slight 2″ reach advantage. He is also the older man by 9-years.

An aggressive wrestler, Lopez survived an early knockdown from Gagnon and worked his way to top position. He used his wrestling to dominate the final 2 rounds, scoring 5 takedowns in total. All 7 of his finishes have occurred in the opening round, 4 by submission. A product of Nova Uniao, Eduardo has a pair of knockouts in the UFC to run his total to 8. As a BJJ purple belt, he has 13 wins by submission to go along with 8 defeats. Following the vein of several of his stablemates, he has showcased stout TDD and a sharp striking arsenal, highlighted by hard low kicks.

If Lopez can drag this fight to the mat with consistency, he should be able to grind out a victory. Conversely, Eduardo will be the superior striker and Lopez’s southpaw stance will open him up to the rear leg body and low kicks along with the power right and of the Brazilian. Look for Eduard to get his shoulder’s low on Lopez’s TDAs and then make him pay on the feet, cutting out his base with chopping leg kicks- my prediction is Johnny Eduardo to defeat Matt Lopez by TKO.

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135lbs- #13 IURI ALCANTARA (34-7-0) vs BRIAN KELLEHER (16-7-0)

When Felipe Arantes pulled out, scrapping their rematch from their 2011 Featherweight fight, Iuri Alcantara moved on to face promotional newcomer Brian “Boom” Kelleher in the Bantamweight division. Alcantara scored a shocking comeback submission win over Luke Sanders and has won back to back fights- both by submission. Kelleher has won 6 straight bouts dating back to a 2014 loss to TUF alumni Andy Main.

Kelleher has had just under a month to prep for his debut, he has been out of action for roughly 14-months. Alcantara is 3 inches taller and will have a sizeable 5″ reach advantage. “Boom” is the younger man by 6-years.

Alcantara is a frustratingly talented fighter. He struggled with the pace kept by Sanders and absorbed too much damage on the mat, before eventually snapping up a submission. One of his biggest downfalls has been his defensive wrestling. The tape on Kelleher suggests he offers a decent takedown game to go along with serviceable submission skills. He has subbed 7 opponents, 4 by guillotine. Brian has also been submitted 4-times. Over his last 2-fights, the American has finished each of his opponents in the 3rd round- including a brutal spinning backfist KO.

Kelleher is taking a step up competition on short notice, in enemy territory, after a prolonged layoff. That is a lot to overcome. His wrestling is his key to victory, replicating Alcantara’s previous struggles. That won’t be easy against the hyper-dangerous Brazilian. Look for Alcantara to score a knockdown and either score a TKO finish or secure a submission- my prediction is Iuri Alcantara to defeat Brian Kelleher by submission.

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115lbs- VIVIANE PEREIRA (12-0-0) vs JAMIE MOYLE (4-1-0)

In the Women’s Strawweight division, a pair of promotional sophomore’s square off as Viviane Pereira represents Brazil against Invicta and TUF alumni Jamie Moyle. Moyle defeated Kailin Curran via decision in her debut after compiling a 3-1 record under the Invicta banner to being her career. Pereira remained undefeated with an upset split decision win over former title challenger and current Bellator resident Valerie Letourneau.

Both girls are 5’1″, but Moyle will have a 2″ reach advantage. Pereira is the younger fighter by 4-years, but she has a sizeable experience advantage with 12 pro fights to just 5 for Moyle. Moyle does have a decent amateur record including a loss to top-ranked Tecia Torres.

Pereira took her debut on short notice and while it was far from a spectacular performance, it was enough to get the nod. With 4 wins by knockout, she has some pop in her hands, but the traditionally aggressive Brazilian struggled to let them go. In the middle frame, she scored a crucial takedown via the bodylock late in the round and attempted something similar in the 3rd frame. Moyle showcased her tenacity early with her dogged pursuit of the takedown. On the feet, she will push forward behind punches and attack with knees from the clinch. Her reliance on closing the gap and grinding her opponent against the cage appeared to compromise her cardio as she was slowing down midway through the bout.

Moyle wins this fight if her wrestling and cardio hold up. Pereira should be more aggressive with a full camp and she will be buoyed by fighting at home. Her aggressive flurries will back Moyle up and she will force her to work hard every time she does manage to close the gap. The opening round might go to the American, but look for Viviane’s power punching and superior cardio to carry the action- my prediction is Viviane Pereira to defeat Jamie Moyle by decision.

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170lbs- LUAN CHAGAS (14-1-1) vs JIM WALLHEAD (29-10-0)

In the Welterweight division, Luan “Tarzan” Chagas looks to rebound from the first loss of his pro career when he takes on the United Kingdom’s “Judo” Jim Wallhead. Chagas fought Sergio Moraes to a draw in his debut before succumbing to the submission game of Erik Silva in his sophomore appearance. Wallhead finally got his shot in the Octagon last September in Germany- he lost by a narrow split decision.

At 6’0″, Chagas is 2 inches taller than Wallhead and will have a 2″ reach advantage. The Brazilian is the younger man by 9-years.

The Brit had issues landing with consistency in his debut, struggling to put his strikes together against an opponent bent on letting him chase him around the cage. Wallhead has finished 11 opponents by knockout. Chagas has a 6-pack of knockouts and showcased his power, scoring early knockdowns in each of his UFC bouts. He likes to sit down on his strikes, but will also switch stances to give his opponent different looks. Each man is capable of competing on the mat, but each has also been finished via submission on multiple occasions. Arguably the biggest takeaway from Luan’s UFC run has been his questionable cardio. After strong starts, he has faded significantly.

Wallhead needs to force the Brazilian to work early with limited return- the Brit could take over and win the final 2 rounds or grab a late finish. For Chagas, he has to maintain his aggression but be more economical with his cardio. Chagas’s aggression will keep Wallhead hesitating early and either lead to a stoppage or put Jimmy behind on the cards if they go the distance- my prediction is Luan Chagas to defeat Jim Wallhead by TKO.

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125lbs- MARCO BELTRAN (8-5-0) vs DEIVESON FIGUEIREDO (11-0-0)

In the opening fight of the night, Mexico’s Marco “Pyshco” Beltran makes his divisional debut when he takes on promotional newcomer Deiveson Figueiredo in the Flyweight division. Beltran is coming off a 97-second submission loss to Joe Soto, he had won a trio of fights to start his UFC run. Figueiredo went 3-0 in 2016 after missing all of 2015- he also won all 3 of his fights under the Jungle Fights banner.

Beltran is 3 inches taller than his opponent, but they will share a 69″ reach. The Brazilian is a year younger than Beltran.

Over his UFC run, Beltran has done a sound job of limiting the offensive output of his opponents. Using his reach and movement to position himself out of striking range, “Pyscho” has held his foes to an average of 1.76 SLpM. Figueiredo has placed his focus on finishing, stopping his opponent in 10 of his 11 victories- 8 in the opening round. An aggressive fighter, Figueiredo has good power in his hands, but he often forgoes defense for offense. The Brazilian hangs his hands low and has a questionable chin, getting dropped on multiple occasions in his final Jungle Fight’s bout. He can work on the mat, landing strikes and looking for submission opportunities. Beltran has given up at least 1 takedown in 3 of his 4 fights.

The biggest factor here could be Beltran’s weight cut. If it goes well, his length will be a key weapon to help him avoid the power of Figueiredo. Look for the Brazilian to come out aggressive early, but as the fight progresses he will slow down and Marco will find success exploiting his leaky striking defense and questionable chin- my prediction is Marco Beltran to defeat Deiveson Figueiredo by TKO.

135lbs- #12 Pedro Munhoz (13-2-0 1NC) vs Damian Stasiak (10-3-0)

In the final fight of the Stockholm undercard, Pedro “The Young Punisher” Munhoz looks to continue his run against Poland’s Damian “Webster” Stasiak. Stasiak has won 2 in a row after an unsuccessful debut, he most recently submitted Davey Grant at UFC 204. Munhoz has snatched a pair of his signature guillotine chokes in wins over Russell Doane and Justin Scoggins in his last 2 trips to the Octagon.

Munhoz is an inch taller than his opponent, but it will be Stasiak with a sizeable 6″ reach advantage along with being the younger fighter by 4 years.

Stasiak came into the UFC with a submission strong record, but was soundly outworked on the mat in his first fight. He has since showcased an opportunistic submission game, including securing his fifth career victory by RNC. The Brazilian carries an equally submission heavy record, tapping out 8 victims. Munhoz is aggressive in pursuit of the finish, but he can also utilize traps and counters to draw his opponent into the fight-ending hold. On the feet, Stasiak draws from a karate background and will throw a lot of kicks, but can struggle in the volume department. Munhoz has some pop in his hands to go along with an arsenal of nasty low kicks. While not the most technical striker, Munhoz will constantly engage and move forward.

Pedro’s ability to transition from defending to synching up a fight-ending choke catches a lot of opponent’s off-guard. Stasiak is capable of competing on the mat, but against Munhoz that is going to get him in trouble. If the fight is contested primarily on the feet, Munhoz’s aggression will be the key to his success. The Brazilian only needs 1 opportunity to seize a submission, he will get it; my prediction is Pedro Munhoz to defeat Damian Stasiak by submission.

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185lbs- Trevor Smith (14-7-0) vs Chris Camozzi (24-12-0)

After Swedish Middleweight Magnus Cedenblad withdrew from the card, Trevor “Hot Sauce” Smith stepped in to face fellow American, Chris Camozzi. Camozzi has lost back to back fights, most recently suffering an upset loss toCinderellarella run of Daniel Kelly. Trevor Smith failed in his bid to upend Andrew Sanchez, ending his 2-fight winning streak.

Smith is an inch taller, but will give up an inch of reach to Camozzi. Camozzi is the younger man by 6 years.

Camozzi is a grinder. Not particularly strong in any one specific area, his ability to stick around in a fight, absorbing punishment while still coming forward has been the key to his success. He has improved his jab and has shown the capacity to compile some decent striking totals when on his game. Smith’s chin has been a bit of a concern; he has been knocked out 4-times. His lack of speed can hurt him when stuck on the outside, but he is far more effective once he closes the distance. Smith is a strong grappler, with a decent takedown game. He landed 8 takedowns over his last 4 wins, compared to just a single completion in his 4 UFC defeats. Camozzi has given up 9 takedowns over his last 2 losses and averaged of 2.33 takedowns per setback.

This fight should come down to a battle of separation. If Camozzi can keep Smith stuck at the end of his jab, he will outpoint him and potentially even pick up a stoppage. If Smith is able to get on the inside, his aggressive takedown game and smothering top position will replicate Camozzi’s previous issues. Camozzi has struggled to overcome opponents when they focus on taking him down, Smith will do just that- my prediction is Trevor Smith to defeat Chris Camozzi by decision

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155lbs- Reza Madadi (14-5-0) vs Joaquim Silva (9-1-0)

In the Lightweight division, “Mad Dog” Reza Madadi takes on Brazilian Joaquim “Netto BJJ” Silva. Silva is 2-0 inside the Octagon, knocking out Andrew Holbrook in just 34 seconds last July. Madadi lost a decision to Joe Duffy in London and has alternated wins and losses since joining the UFC 6-fights ago.

Reza is 3 inches taller and will have a 3″ reach advantage as well. Silva is 11-years younger than Madadi.

Madadi was unable to take Duffy down with regularity continuing a slide in his recent completion rate. Early in his UFC career, the Iranian-born Swede averaged just over 3 takedowns per fight. He has never been finished in 19 pro fights while submitting 8 opponents and holding a 3-5 record on the cards. Silva is a BJJ Black belt with a trio of submission victories. So far in the UFC, he has put his striking skills on display, highlighted by a 34-second knockout of Andrew Holbrook. His UFC debut was his only fight to go beyond the opening round.

Madadi is stepping in on short notice, but he will be fighting at home in what could be his retirement fight. Silva should have the striking advantage, but he will struggle to fend off the aggressive wrestling of Madadi. Look for Reza to turn this bout into a grinding affair, dragging Silva deep into the fight where he will struggle to hold up- my prediciton is Rea Madadi to defeat Joaquim Silva by submission.

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170lbs- Nico Musoke (13-4-0 1NC) vs Bojan Velickovic (14-4-1)

Sweden’s own Nico Musoke returns to action when he takes on Bojan “Serbian Steel” Velickovic in the Welterweight division. Musoke was last seen losing a competitive decision against Albert Tumenov to drop his UFC record to 3-1. Velickovic lost a decision to Sultan Aliev, ending his 6-fight unbeaten streak- he is 1-1-1 inside the Octagon.

Both fighters are 6’0″, but Bojan will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. The Serbian is the younger man by 2 years.

Musoke hasn’t fought is nearly 28-months, while his opponent has competed 7-times in that span. In a close fight, a slow start could be deadly. Velickovic’s offense is built around a strong kicking game, but he has struggled to maintain a consistent output over the duration of his fights. Musoke is a competent striker capable of outworking “Serbian Steele” both at distance and in the clinch. Musoke’s wrestling could be the key to replicating Bojan’s recent struggles. Musoke completed 5 takedowns over his first 3 UFC bouts and Velickovic has given up an average of 2.33 takedowns per fight.

If Velickovic has issues remaining vertical he will stand no chances of outscoring the Swede over a full fight. Even if he does manage to stay on his feet, look for the more well-rounded and active attack of Musoke to carry the action- my prediction is Nico Musoke to defeat Bojan Velickovic by decision

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170lbs- Darren Till (13-0-1) vs Jessin Ayari (16-3-0)

Germany’s Jessin “Abacus” Ayari makes his sophomore walk to the Octagon when he takes on Darren Till in the Welterweight division. Ayari’s debut was a split decision win over Jim Wallhead- he has won 7 consecutive fights. Till made a successful debut, stopping his opponent in the middle frame- he fought to a draw with Nicholas Dalby in his last fight.

Both men are 6’0″ tall, but Till will have a slight 1″ reach advantage and will fight from the Southpaw stance.

Jessin fought the majority of his debut backing up and looking to land kicks and counters as his opponent moved forward. “Abacus” has submitted 8 opponents and is a perfect 5-0 in decisions. With some power in his strikes, he has finished 3 opponents by knockout but has also been KOed twice. Till has an equally as strong finishing ratio, recording 9 of his 13 wins by knockout. Utilizing a Muay Thai base, Till offers a good kicking offense and a very quick and powerful straight left. He fights long, but if he closes the distance, he will lock up a Thai plumb and unload with hard knees. While we didn’t get to see Ayari on the mat, the numbers suggest he is a threat on the mat and may look to take it there.

The layoff for a young fighter like Till could lead to ring rust, but it could also lead to a substantial leap in skill. Ayari successfully played the matador in his debut, but against the powerful striking arsenal of Till that could put him in a hole quickly. Till needs to be mindful of the mat game of Ayari, but my prediction is Darren Till to defeat Jessin Ayari by TKO.

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155lbs- Marcin Held (22-6-0) vs Damir Hadzovic (10-3-0)

To kickstart the event, former Bellator title challenger Marcin Held returns to the cage to take on “The Bosnian Bomber” Damir Hadzovic. Held is coming off a controversial decision loss to Joe Lauzon and is 0-2 since making the jump to the UFC. Hadzovic had won 6 straight bouts to earn the call to the big leagues where he was promptly dispatched of inside the opening round by Mairbek Taisumov.

Both men are 5’9″, but Held will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. Held is the younger man by 4-years and has fought 3-times since Hadzovic made his UFC debut roughly 13-months ago.

The Serbian is a striker by trade and will need to remain vertical in order to win this fight. Conversely, Held’s focus will be 100% on dragging Hadzovic to the canvas to either grind out a decision or slap on a submission. Hadzovic has recorded 5 wins by knockout and was landing some decent combinations in his debut. He will augment his boxing with sharp low kicks, but he has a tendency to stand a little tall when doing so. Held’s striking is still a work in progressed and is mainly centered around closing the distance to set up his grappling. He completed 5 takedowns against Lauzon, but struggled to mount enough offense from top position. When not attempting to grind out the fight from top position, Held is a dangerous submission fighter with a pension for leg locks.

Hadzovic is a dangerous striker and can win this fight if his TDD holds up. Held’s wrestling is improving and the unorthodox aspects of his grappling attack can be difficult to defend against. Held is taking a step back in competition and he will find success getting the fight to the floor as a result- my prediction is Marcin Held to defeat Damir Hadzovic by submission.

155lbs- #3 Eddie Alvarez (28-5-0) vs #9 Dustin Poirier (21-5-0)

In a fight that could easily headline its own show, former Lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez looks to rebound from his title fight loss to Conor McGregor when he takes on Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier. Poirier is coming off of a majority decision win over Jim Miller after suffering a brutal knockout loss to Michael Johnson- he is 5-1 since moving back to Lightweight. Alvarez defeated the likes of Gilbert Melendez, Anthony Pettis, and Rafael Dos Anjos on route to winning the title before facing McGregor in New York.

Both men are 5’9″, but Poirier, a former Featherweight, will have a 3″ reach advantage. Dustin is the younger man by 5-years.

Alvarez has openly admitted that he struggled to deal with the UFC 205 loss. At his best, Alvarez is a skilled boxer with power and a decent wrestling game to fall back on. That being said, his chin has long been a question mark despite the lack of knockout defeats. Poirier has knocked out his opponent in 3 of his last 5 wins, but he is only a couple fights removed from getting brutally knocked out himself. Eddie’s wrestling has been a key element in his recent success and he could look to take Poirier down, but Dustin speed could serve as a nice counter to the TDAs.

Both fighters are aggressive forward first strikers which should make for some entertaining exchanges. Eddie is at major risk of suffering from the post-title fight letdown in this fight, while Poirier should recognize the opportunity set in front of him here. Poirier will be the faster fighter and that will be magnified by a slight reach advantage. Look for “The Diamond” to push forward early and either score the stoppage or outwork Alvarez with the more active and impactful striking arsenal- my prediction is Dustin Poirier to defeat Eddie Alvarez by Decision.

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145lbs- Chas Skelly (17-2-0) vs Jason Knight (19-2-0)

In a potential Fight of The Night bonus contender, “The Scrapper” Chas Skelly takes on the always entertaining Jason “The Kid” Knight. Knight is riding a 3-fight winning streak, with victories over Alex Caceres, Daniel Hooker, and Jim Alers. Skelly has suffered just a single loss over his last 7-fights, most recently defeating Chris Gruetzmacher last February.

The surging Knight is 7-years younger than his foe, but he will give up an inch of height and reach.

Skelly’s nickname perfectly reflects his approach to fighting. Capable in all areas, he is willing to trade on the feet or mix it up on the mat. “The Scapper” demoed his stout chin in the Souza fight and blasted Alers with a series of punches and knees for a round 2 TKO. Knight is equally as aggressive no matter where the fight takes place. He will walk his opponent down behind a wall of punches and constant pressure. His output will wane in longer fights and opponent’s have had success doing damage when trading. The wrestling of Knight has played a more prominent role in his recent victories, but over his first 2 UFC outings he gave up a combined 10 takedowns. In Skelly’s 4-UFC wins that didn’t end with a knockout, he completed 9 takedowns.

This fight should be action from start to finish. Skelly’s chin will make him difficult to finish on the feet and the combination of a strong wrestling game and solid submission acumen will give him the edge on the mat. Knight’s guard is very good, but Chas has the skills to shutdown his attack while exploiting his questionable TDD. A few entertaining striking exchanges will punctuate a strong ground performance by “The Scrapper”- my prediciton is Chas Skelly to defeat Jason Knight by decision.

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185lbs- #9 Krzysztof Jotko (19-1-0) vs David Branch (20-3-0)

Getting a bump up to the main card, the second of 2 former WSOF champs hits the Octagon as David Branch looks to continue his impressive run against the streaking Krzysztof Jotko. Branch went 2-2 during his first UFC tenure, but was a 2-Divison champion for WSOF; completing a perfect 10-0 run with the promotion. Jotko has picked up 5-straight wins including back to back defeats of Thales Leites and Tamdan McCrory- he is 6-1 in the UFC.

Both men are 6’1″, but Branch will have a 4″ reach advantage. Jotko is 8 years younger than Branch.

A BJJ Black Belt, Branch’s offense is built around his ability to slow the fight down to his pace. He’ll lead with a snapping jab, but everything he does is with the intent of closing the gap and locking down on his opponent in the clinch. Jotko has had a lot of experience in similar fights and is coming off a win over a very talented grappler. Branch’s top game is strong and he is a submission threat, but Jotko carries an 89% TDD and has only been put on his back once on 29 attempts over his last 5 fights. When separated, the Pole should have an edge in striking mainly based on his activity rate.

Branch has been on an impressive run, but he has been beating lower level opposition. Even if Jotko can’t gain the upper hand in the grappling exchanges, he should be able to neutralize Branch’s offense and turn this fight into a striking based contest. Jotko will land the more impactful strikes and connect at a higher rate, potentially augmenting some key top position time- my prediction is Krzysztof Jotko to defeat David Branch by decision.

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155lbs- Marco Polo Reyes (8-3-0) vs James Vick (9-1-0)

Mexico’s Marco “El Toro” Polo Reyes looks to extend his 4-fight winning streak when he takes on fellow TUF alumni James “The Texecutioner” Vick in the Lightweight division. Reyes has won each of his first 3 UFC fights, including a pair of knockout victories and a split decision win over Jason Novelli last November. Vick rebounded from the first professional loss of his career to submitted Abel Trujillo and improve his Octagon record to 6-1.

At 6’3″, Vick is 4 inches taller than Reyes and will have a sizeable 5″ reach advantage. Vick is the younger fighter by 3 years and while they have a similar number of pro fights, Vick has faced the superior competition.

Reyes has shown a willingness to stand and trade and should find a willing combatant in Vick. Marco landed his UFC personal-best 135-significant strikes in just over 2-rounds prior to finishing “The Maestro” Dong Hyun Kim. He needed just 10-strikes to pick up a stoppage in is debut. “El Toro” had stopped his opponent in all of his wins prior to the Novelli fight. Despite a setback against Beniel Dariush, Vick has shown noticeable improvements in both his striking and ground game. He is still hittable, but his movement and reach combined with an increase in output make him a handful on the feet. On the mat, Vick’s long limbs allow him to control his opponent and set up submission opportunities. Reyes was submitted twice prior to coming to the Octagon and has given up at least 1 takedown in each of his UFC fights, totaling 6 overall.

Vick will be the crowd favourite and is 6-0 when fighting at home. If Reyes can take advantage of Jame’s less than perfect striking defense, he could do some damage over 3 rounds or potentially snag a stoppage. Vick’s reach and more technically sound striking will exploit Marco’s willingness to absorb damage. Conversely, Vick may look to avoid trading on the feet altogether and opt to take the fight to the mat where he should have a much wider advantage- my prediction is James Vick to defeat Marco Polo Reyes by submission.

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115lbs- #12 Jessica Aguilar (19-5-0) vs Cortney Casey (6-3-0)

Capping off the FightPass prelims, former WSOF champ Jessica “JAG” Aguilar goes toe to toe with “Cast Iron” Cortney Casey. Aguilar went 3-0 in WSOF, defending her title twice, but in her UFC debut she suffered her first defeat since 2010- a decision loss to Claudia Gadelha. Casey is also coming off a loss to Gadelha, ending her 2-fight winning streak.

Casey is the larger fighter, standing 4 inches taller with a 4″ reach advantage. She is 5 years younger than Aguilar, who is coming off a near 22-month layoff stemming from an ACL tear.

“JAG” can hold her own on the feet, but she will need to go back to her grappling skills if she is going to beat Casey. A BJJ Brown belt, Aguilar has 8 wins by submission, but just a single tap out over her last 10 fights. Casey struggled with the takedowns of Gadelha and lost her debut as a result of the time spent on her back. That being said, Cortney has made significant strides in her defensive work and was able to counter and finish Randa Markos on the mat. She is 0-4 in fights that go beyond the first round. Where Cortney has made the most improvements and should have an advantage, is on the feet. She hits hard, throws with decent volume, and has improved her movement.

The long layoff and injury recovery could significantly hamper the performance of Aguilar, who looked stiff in her debut. She has to find success with her takedowns in order to remove Casey’s best asset from the fight. Casey’s size will make it difficult for Aguilar to take her down with regularity and once Cortney starts to land on the feet it will make Jessica hesitant to move forward- my prediction is Cortney Casey to defeat Jessica Aguilar by decision.

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145lbs- Jared Gordon (12-1-0) vs Michel Quinones (8-1-0 1NC)

In the Featherweight division, a pair of debuting fighters square off as Jared “Flash” Gordon takes on Michel “El Capo” Quinones. Gordon has won 3 in a row after suffering the first setback of his career to TUF alumni Jeff Lentz. Quinones is coming off a Titan FC victory to extend his winning streak to 5, his only career loss came back in 2012 to Brandon Girtz in Bellator.

Gordon formerly competed at Lightweight but will give up an inch of height and 5 inches of reach. “Flash” is the younger man 4 years.

Entering the cage as another product of Dana’s “Look’in For a Fight” reality show, Gordon has secured 5-wins by knockout including his head kick stoppage at CFFC 59 to capture that organizations’ 145-pound title. The Queens, New York native has some pop in his hands and will use his striking to set up his takedowns. In pre-UFC action, Quinones’s TDD has looked decent, but he has a tendency to leap into his striking techniques. This will increase the impact of his offense, but also open him up to Gordon’s wrestling. “El Capo” has finished 5 opponents by knockout and is coming off his first fight to last beyond the opening round since 2012.

Quinones is a little older than the typical “prospect” and his lack of recent long fight experience could be a massive issue against a capable takedown artist. Gordon’s wrestling should allow him to dictate where the fight takes place and his top game will provide the bulk of his offense- my prediction is Jared Gordon to defeat Michel Quinones by decision.

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265lbs- Chase Sherman (9-3-0) vs Rashad Coulter (8-1-0)

In the first of 2 Heavyweight bouts on the card, Chase “The Vanilla Gorilla” Sherman welcomes UFC neophyte Rashad “Daywalker” Coulter. The fight was originally scheduled to feature Jarjis Danho taking on Dmitry Poberezhets. Sherman is winless through a pair of Octagon trips, most recently suffering a knockout loss to Walt Harris. Coulter has picked up 5 straight wins including a 2-0 run in Legacy and a win in Bellator.

Sherman is 4 inches taller than Coulter and will weigh-in 5-10 pounds heavier, but Coulter will have a 1″ reach advantage. Coulter is making his debut on less than 2-week’s notice, he is 8 years older than his opponent.

Despite coming off the second knockout loss of his career, Sherman showed some improvements from his debut. His movement looked better as he worked his way around the cage landing single strikes. Unfortunately, his lack of head movement left him exposed and he took a lot of damage prior to getting finished. Coulter is fighting at home and has finished all 8 of his wins by knockout, 6 in the opening frame. He hits hard and has some boxing experience to draw upon, but could be at risk if the fight hits the mat.

There is limited fight footage on Coulter, but the numbers suggest he has the tools to exploit the defensive lapses of Sherman. Coulter is the smaller man, but he should be the faster man. Combine speed with power and an opponent with limited head movement and a couple of knockouts on his record and the finish is there to be had- my prediction is Rashad Coulter to defeat Chase Sherman by knockout.
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145lbs- Gabriel Benitez (19-6-0) vs Enrique Barzola (13-3-1)

In the Featherweight division, TUF Latin American Season 2 winner Enrique Barzola of Peru takes on TUF Latin American Season 1 semi-finalist, Gabriel Benitez. Benitez has won 3 of his 4 Octagon outings, most recently dispatching Sam Sicilia via guillotine choke. Barzola lost a controversial split decision in his first fight after winning the TUF tournament and then rebounded with a decision victory over Chris Avila last time out.

Mexico’s Benitez is an inch taller and will have an inch reach advantage. Barzola is the younger fighter by a year.

A kick-heavy striker, Barzola has finished 6 opponents on the feet. He scored an early knockdown of Sicilia prior to locking up the submission. He has subbed 10 opponents, 4 by guillotine. While he has proven himself capable of finishing on the mat, Gabriel could be vulnerable to Barzola’s wrestling. Gabe gave up 8 takedowns over his first 3 fights, including 6 against Clay Collard. Conversely, Barzola has scored a combined 12 takedowns over his 2 UFC wins. His striking has improved, but his success stems from well-timed takedowns and an active top game.

Both fighters are developing well-rounded attacks, but Barzola has the skill set to dictate where this fight takes place. Benitez’s kicking attack will open him up to Barzola’s reactive level changes. Once on the mat, Benitez will attack off his back, but Barzola’s top game will prove too heavy to overcome- my prediction is Enrique Barzola to defeat Gabriel Benitez by decision.
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205lbs- Joachim Christensen (14-4-0) vs Gadzhimurad Antigulov (19-4-0)

To open the card, a pair of Light Heavyweights look to further move up the ranks as Denmark’s Joachim Christensen takes on Russian-born Gadzhimurad Antigulov. Christensen scored a 3-round TKO victory over Bojan Mihajlovic to even his UFC record at 1-1. Antigulov made a successful debut with a tidy submission victory over Marcos Rogerio de Lima to extend his winning streak to 13-consecutive fights.

The Dane is 4 inches taller than his opponent and will have a significant 6″ reach advantage. Antigulov who has fought at Middleweight in the past is the younger man by 9-years.

A durable striker, Christensen has some good pop in his hands and offers a consistent pace. He scored a knockdown in his debut and finished his last adversary with a well-timed uppercut. While he will go offensive with his wrestling game, but against Antigulov he will need to focus on staying vertical. Gadzhimurad has finished 18 of his 19 pro win, 14 by submission and 16 in the opening round. He came out aggressive against de Lima and scored an early takedown before locking up the choke. If he can’t get the takedown, the Russian will pin his foe on the cage and attack with short punches, elbows, and knees.

If Christensen can survive the early rush he could turn the fight in his favour, but Antigulov appears capable of maintaining his assault into the second half of the fight. The aggressive ground attack of the Russian will be too much for Joachim to fend off and once Antigulov achieves a dominant position, the finish shouldn’t be far behind- my prediction is Gadzhimurad Antigulov to defeat Joachim Christensen by submission.

185lbs- #11 Thales Leites (26-7-0) vs #13 Sam Alvey (30-8-0 1NC)

In the headlining fight of the prelims, former title challenger Thales Leites takes on “Smile’n” Sam Alvey in the Middleweight division. Alvey has won 4 straight bouts, most recently defeating former Strikeforce champion Nate Marquardt by decision. Leites has struggled to a 1-3 mark over his last 3 fights which includes a tough split decision loss to the current divisional champion.

Alvey is an inch taller, but it will be Leites with a 3″ reach advantage. Sam is the younger man by 5 years.

With vastly different forms of finishing fights, Leites has submitted 15 opponents and Alvey has knocked out 18. Going back to Alvey’s loss to Elias Theodorou, he has had some issues with his activity rate when he is unable to score the finish. Leites has improved his striking during his 2nd UFC run and has a solid chin, having never been finished. The Brazilian is at his best when he can get the fight to the mat, but Alvey has proven difficult to get his off his feet.

While he hasn’t been knocked out, Leites has been rocked in a couple of fights. If Alvey can connect, he could become the first man to finish Thales. That being said, Leites does some of his best work in the clinch which will serve to limit the striking opportunities of Alvey. Sam’s desire to sit back and counter can put him at a deficit and if Leites can score a key takedown it will further hurt “Smile’n” Sam’s chances of pulling this out- my prediction is Thales Leites to defeat Sam Alvey by decision

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125lbs- #8 Dustin Ortiz (16-6-0) vs #10 Brandon Moreno (13-3-0)

A pair of top 10 Flyweights look to climb the ladder when Dustin Ortiz takes on Brandon “The Assassin Baby” Moreno. Moreno has picked up back to back wins inside the Octagon; he defeated Louis Smolka in his debut and is coming off a split-decision win over Ryan Benoit. Ortiz rebounded from a pair of defeats with a split decision victory over Zach Makovsky.

Moreno is 2 inches taller than Ortiz and is the younger man by 5 years.

While “The Assassin Baby” showcased his striking in his last fight, this bout will most likely be decided on the mat. Ortiz’s fight almost always play out on the ground- sometimes favourably, sometimes not. Moreno has shown strong finishing ability on the floor with 9 submissions, but at 3-3 with a pair of split decision wins, his style doesn’t appear to be suited for longer fights. He has a tendency to be a little reckless when attacking and that can open him up to getting hit or taken down.

Moreno might be able to find some success with takedowns, but only the elite of the division have found success controlling Ortiz on the mat. Dustin’s ability to scramble will allow him to get the better of the mat exchanges no matter who initiates the takedown and he will more often than not hold the superior position. Both fighters are notorious for close decisions, but my prediction is Dustin Ortiz to defeat Brandon Moreno by decision.

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155lbs- Scott Holtzman (9-2-0) vs Michael McBride (8-2-0)

Scott “Hot Sauce” Holtzman makes his 5th walk to the Octagon when he takes on promotional sophomore Michael McBride. McBride lost to Nik Lentz via second round TKO to end his 4-fight winning streak. Holtzman is coming off a decision loss to Josh Emmett, he is now 2-2 in the UFC with his last win coming back at UFC Fight Night 91.

McBride is 6’1″ and will stand 4 inches taller than his opponent. He will also have a sizeable 6″ reach advantage.

After stepping in on short notice, McBride suffered the first stoppage loss of his career. Lentz rag dolled him the mat for the majority of the fight, a place he usually has success with 8 wins by submissions. Holtzman is coming off a fight where he was taken down on multiple occasions and has given up 13 completions in his 2 UFC setbacks. While the reach sides with McBride, “Hot Sauce” is the more dangerous striker and should have success on the feet.

While Holtzman has had issues with his TDD, McBride lacks the wrestling to take him down with consistency. Holtzman will power out of Michael’s early attempts to get the fight to the floor and go to work with short range striking combinations, eventually overwhelming him- my prediction is Scott Holtzman to defeat Michael McBride by knockout

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115lbs- #14 Jessica Penne (12-5-0) vs Danielle Taylor (8-2-0)

The second of 2 Women’s fights on the card will feature former Invicta Atomweight champion and UFC title challenger Jessica Penne putting her spot in the Top 15 on the line against Danielle “Dynamite” Taylor. Penne has lost back to back fights to the current champion and upcoming title challenger- both by TKO. Taylor is coming off a close and controversial split decision win over Seo Hee Ham after dropping a split decision in her debut fight.

At 5’5″, Penne is 5 inches taller than Taylor and will have a sizeable 7″ reach advantage. Taylor is the younger fighter by 6 years.

Taylor comes into the fight on the heels of a pair of closely contested bouts. Her diminutive stature has created some issues closing the distance, but she was able to find some success in her last fight. Conversely, Penne has been overwhelmed in back to back bouts by the volume and power of her adversaries. To be successful, Taylor is going to need to find her way inside the reach of Jessica and land with consistency.

Taylor’s mat game has yet to be tested, but Penne is going to struggle to change levels against a much shorter and more mobile fighter. Penne has taken a lot of damage of late and Taylor will find success as the more impactful striker. Taylor will close the gap to attack, land, and retreat to avoid the backlash,  my prediction is Danielle Taylor to defeat Jessica Penne by decision.

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135lbs- #11 Alexis Davis (17-7-0) vs Cindy Dandois (8-2-0)

The final fight on FightPass will feature former title challenger Alexis Davis taking on the debuting Invicta veteran Cindy “Battlecat” Dandois. Davis returned to action after a 20-month layoff and fell victim to the squeeze of Sara McMann, she is 1-2 in her last 3 fights with a win over Sarah Kaufman by submission. Dandois has picked up a trio of victories, including submission wins of Jessamyn Duke and current Invicta Interim Featherweight champ Megan Anderson.

Dandois is an inch taller than Davis, but will be at a sizeable experience advantage with 14 fewer pro fights.

The UFC newcomer has fought and defeated some impressive competition and hasn’t gone to the judges since her pro debut. She is a ground specialist and will be looking to drag Davis to the floor at all costs. The Canadian is pretty solid on the mat as well, but would be wise to keep this fight standing. Davis is a decent striker and should have a sizeable advantage over “Battlecat” on the feet. Dandois’s striking is basic at best and she has struggled when forced to exchange with her opponents.

Alexis needs to avoid giving Dandois any unnecessary opportunities to take her down and exploit her on the feet to the utmost. Dandois will make desperate attempts to get horizontal with head and arm throws and by pulling guard, Davis will capitalize and control the superior position building on her success on the feet- my prediction is Alexis Davis to defeat Cindy Dandois by decision.

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155lbs- Bryan Barberena (12-4-0) vs Joe Proctor (11-4-0)

In the Lightweight division, Bryan “Bam Bam” Barberena takes on  Joe Lauzon training partner Joe Proctor. Barberena is coming off a loss to surging Welterweight Colby Covington, ending his 2 fight winning streak. Proctor is just 1-2 over his last 3 fights after getting knocked out by Magomed Mustafaev at UFC 194.

Having spent some time at Welterweight, Barberena is returning to 155 pounds. He is 2 inches taller than Proctor, but they will have the same 72″ reach. Barberena is 4 years younger than Proctor, who has been on the shelf for roughly 16-months.

Returning after a sizeable layoff, Proctor will be in tough against an aggressive pressured based fighter like Barberena. “Bam Bam” completed 120 significant strikes in his last fight and can do a lot of damage when allowed to push forward. While Proctor has proven himself a solid grappler, the Lauzon MMA product lacks the necessary wrestling skills to take his opponent down with regularity. Conversely, he has been taken down on multiple occasions and struggled with strong top position fighters.

Proctor’s best weapon is his counter striking, but allowing the very durable Barberena to continually push forward and set the pace will be a mistake- my prediction is Bryan Barberena to defeat Joe Proctor by TKO.

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125lbs- Hector Sandoval (13-3-0) vs Matt Schnell (10-3-0)

In the opening fight of the night, Hector “Kid Alex” Sandoval takes on Matt “Danger” Schnell in the Flyweight division. Sandoval defeated Fredy Serrano via decision in his last fight after suffering an opening round submission loss to recent title challenger Wilson Reis. Schnell made his short notice debut as a Bantamweight, taking on Rob Font and losing by knockout- he had won 6 in a row.

Schnell is 6 inches taller and will have a 6″ reach advantage. He is also the younger man by 4-years.

Sharing several of the Team Alpha Male traits, Sandoval combines power striking and a workable wrestling attack. While he was overmatched by Reis on the floor, he had success against a good wrestler in Serrano. Schnell has a good submission acumen, but his willingness to go to his back can put him at a positional disadvantage. Regardless, Matt’s long limbs make him a constant threat on the mat and difficult to control.

Sandoval is going to be at a sizeable disadvantage on the feet when it comes to dealing with the reach and height of his opponent. Additionally, Schell carries a pretty steep work rate which will be tough for “Kid Alex” to consistently match if stuck on the outside. While Sandoval could grind out a decision with his wrestling, look for the early pace and variety of Schnell to wear him out- my prediction is Matt Schnell to defeat Hector Sandoval by submission.

265lbs- #11 Alexander Volkov (27-6-0) vs Roy Nelson (22-13-0)

In the headlining fight of the undercard, former Bellator Heavyweight champion Alexander “Drago” Volkov takes on fan favourite “Big Country” Roy Nelson. Nelson is coming off a KO win over Antonio Silva and has won 2 of 3 with his only loss a controversial split decision against Derrick Lewis. Volkov extended his current winning streak to 3 with a successful, but contestable split decision win over Tim Johnson.

At 6’7″, Volkov will tower over Nelson by 7 inches to go along with an 8″ reach advantage. The big Russian is also the younger man by 12-years.

“Drago” started strong against Johnson, backing him up with some early flurries before getting cracked with a hard uppercut that sent him tumbling to the floor in the opening round. Despite his height, Volkov doesn’t always maximize his advantages by utilizing a lowered stance. His primary weapons are a straight right hand/ left hook combo while lunging forward in to maximize the impact. Round and straight kicks to the body will also be key weapons and look for Alexander to attempt a stepping knee. He has had issues in the past with fighters that impose and clinch and takedown-heavy attacks.

The cardio of Volkov could be a concern as he slowed down in the 2nd half of his debut, with his attack devolving to single strikes between prolonged periods of inactivity.

A seeming mainstay of the Top 15, Nelson has slipped out of the rankings despite his win over “Bigfoot”. “Big Country” has recorded 14 wins by knockout. He throws a bomb of a right hand, pawing with his left before stepping into fire with power. In order to maintain his striking range, Roy relies on head movement, a tucked chin, and the ability to absorbed a lot of damage. In recent fights, he hasn’t been nearly as successful with his power deployment. Against Jake Rosholt, he effectively cut off the cage but failed to find the mark with the finishing blow. Nelson is 3-11 in decisions and just 3-9 inside the UFC in fights that last beyond the first frame.

Nelson has shown a greater willingness to mix in his wrestling in recent fights. Roy scored 4-takedowns against Josh Barnett and put Lewis on the floor 7-times.

Despite possessing the required physical attributes, Volkov’s style and cardio make him increasingly susceptible to getting hit as the fight advances. Nelson’s recent focus on wrestling will prove useful against Volkov’s questionable TDD. Roy’s recent strategy alteration could easily have him on a 3-fight winning streak- all wins beyond round 1. Nelson will find success closing the gap to either set up his big right hand or score takedowns which could lead to a future stoppage- my prediction is Roy Nelson to defeat Alexander Volkov by knockout.

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135lbs- Patrick Williams (8-4-0) vs Tom Duquesnoy (14-1-0)

France’s Tom “Fire Kid” Duquesnoy makes his long-awaited UFC debut when he takes on Patrick “The Animal” Williams in the Bantamweight division. Williams made quick work of Alejandro Perez, submitting him in just 23-second to pick up his first UFC win. Duquesnoy is undefeated over his last 11 fights with 10 wins and a NC mixed in dating back to his 2013 defeat to Makwan Amirkhani.

Williams is an inch taller, but will have a sizeable 5″ reach advantage. Duquesnoy is the younger fighter by 12-years. Williams hasn’t fought in 22-months.

“The Animal” comes from a wrestling background, but outside of a pair of completions in his debut, he has had little time to showcase what he can do on the floor. Against Perez, he rushed forward and crack Alejandro with a big right hand before locking up a power choke guillotine for the win. While the fight was brief, he still appeared to use a similar striking style to his debut. Williams will launch himself across the cage to engage before retreating again. This style is quite taxing and leaves him open to counter strikes.

Williams won the opening round of his debut before getting cracked with a brutal flying knee for the finish- the 2nd knockout loss of his career.

Dominating the European scene, Duquesnoy has finished 7 opponents by knockout and 4 by submission to go along with a perfect 3-0 record on the scorecards. His mat game is solid with decent wrestling and a Combat Sambo background to build around. From the clinch, “Fire Kid” will attack with hard knees and elbows and brings a lot of pressure when doing so. At distance, he will land hard kicks to all areas of his opponent’s body before stepping into punching range to attack with hard and quick combos. He is very aggressive which does open him up to taking some damage, but he continues to make improvements from one fight to the next to finalize an already dangerous arsenal.

The Paris-born fighter captured both the BAMMA Bantamweight and Featherweight titles during his run with the promotion.

Williams doesn’t have a lot of experience and has been out of action for a long time. Additionally, at 35, he is getting up there for the lighter weight-classes and probably won’t show much development beyond his current skill set. Duquesnoy is debuting which can be difficult, but he is already a well-prepared fighter. Williams will test his wrestling, but his vulnerability on the feet will cost him here- my prediction is Tom Duquesnoy to defeat Patrick William by knockout.

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155lbs- Bobby Green (23-7-0) vs Rashid Magomedov (19-2-0)

In the Lightweight division, Bobby “King” Green returns to action to face off with Russia’s Rashid Magomedov. Green is currently enduring a 2-fight losing streak with losses to Edson Barboza and Dustin Poirier- he had won 12 straight fights prior to his current slump. Magomedov had a similar streak snap in a decision defeat to Beneil Dariush.

Green returned after a 19-month layoff in his last fight. He is the taller man by an inch and will have a similar sized reach advantage. Bobby is also the younger man by 2-years.

To say the least, Magomedov is coming off an underwhelming performance. Known primarily as a striker, Magomedov has finished 9 opponents by knockout. He likes to work in the pocket, relying on good head movement to slip his opponent’s attacks before returning fire. While remaining calculated in his approach has helped him to limit his mistakes, a lack of activity put him behind on the scorecards against Dariush. Magomedov throws a hard right hand, will attack the body and can work in some devastating kicks. Most of his opponents have used a grappling-heavy attack in an attempt to take Rashid’s striking out of the equation.

Magomedov had out-landed every opponent on the feet prior to the Dariush loss. His UFC best 91 significant strikes came in his knockout win over Elias Silverio.

Despite’s Green’s striking heavy style, each of his last 2 defeats came on the feet. He is coming off just his second loss by knockout, with the last transpiring back in 2010. Green’s uses an unorthodox style; hanging his hands low and taunting his opponents. Bobby will press forward with erratic movement to throw off his opponent before attacking with a front kick to the body and quick punches.  “King” Bobby is also a capable wrestler and has scored some crucial takedowns when presented with the opportunity.

Over Green’s last 5 wins he has landed better than 50 significant when the fight went beyond the opening round. Over his last 2 losses, he averaged just 33 strikes per fight.

This fight should be contested on the feet, unless Green finds a way to break through the Russian’s TDD. Magomedov’s technique and power should be the difference maker. Green has struggled against capable strikers who are not swayed by his antics and continue to press the action. Magomedov will look to rebound from his last performance and will simply be the more active and impactful striker- my prediction is Rashid Magomedov to defeat Bobby Green by Decision.

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125lbs- #12 Louis Smolka (11-3-0) vs #9 Tim Elliott (14-7-1)

Unexpected and unsuccessful title challenger, Tim Elliott looks to start the rebuild when he takes on Hawaiian Louis “Da Last Samurai” Smolka in the Flyweight division. Smolka is coming off back to back losses to Ray Borg and Brandon Moreno that ended his 4-fight winning streak. Elliott held his own, but came up short against Johnson over 5-rounds- he had won 3 in a row outside of the Octagon.

At 5’9″, Smolka is 2 inches taller than Elliott and will have a 2″ reach advantage. Louis is the younger man by 5-years.

Smolka’s success and failure in the UFC has largely come on the mat. In his debut, he gave up 9 takedowns, but used a crafty grappling game to get the better of the ground exchanges. He had similar success against Paddy Holohan and has completed 10 takedowns over his last 4 fights. Conversely, he was submitted by Moreno and spent the majority of the Borg fight on his back. Louis has a tendency to sacrifice position for submission, often putting himself in tough spots before working to get to the superior position.

On the feet, Smolka can hold his own, but works at a slightly below average striking rate. He did score an impressive standing side kick knockout of Richie Vas back in 2014.

Similar to his opponent, a lot of what Elliott has accomplished has come on the mat. While he has just a single submission win over his last 10 fights, the key to his success has been his takedowns. Averaging 3.31 TDs per fight at a 60% completion rate, Elliott has taken down each of his last 6 opponents at least once. That streak includes 4 against the Champion, 3 against Joseph Benavidez, and a pair in his loss to Ali Bagautinov. While he has come up short in all of those fights, his success against top-level competition is noteworthy.

Tim’s striking output has been a bit hit or miss. He put up a UFC personal-best of 116 strikes against Louis Gaudinot, but has failed to eclipse the 50-strike mark since.

This fight should be decided on the mat. Smolka’s wins have come over opponents that he has been able to get the better of on the mat based on either technique or endurance. That won’t be the case here. While the vertical exchanges should be fairly even, Elliott will find success routinely taking Smolka down and holding the superior position- my prediction is Tim Elliott to defeat Louis Smolka by decision.

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135lbs- #8 Aljamain Sterling (12-2-0) vs Augusto Mendes (6-1-0)

Capping off the FightPass prelims, “The Funk Master” Aljamain Sterling takes on talented BJJ Black belt Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes in the Bantamweight division. Sterling has lost back to back fights to Bryan Caraway and Raphael Assuncao- the first 2 defeats of his career. Mendes lost a short notice debut to Cody Garbrandt, but rallied to pull off an upset of Frankie Saenz at UFC Fight Night 103.

Sterling is an inch taller, but will have a substantial 6″ reach advantage. “The Funk Master” is the younger man by 6 years.

A highly touted grappler, Mendes’s prowess on the mat is reflected in his 4 submission wins. Whether top or bottom position, Mendes is willing to attack as soon as the action hits the floor. On the ground, he has a solid mount, works in good ground and pound, and is constantly looking to advance position. Against Saenz, he found success scoring takedowns, but was unable to hold control. The majority of his shots came on the heels of striking exchanges. “Tanquinho” would strike and then catch his foe off balance with a bodylock/ trip combo.

Augusto has some pop in his hands and hurt Sanez a couple of times. He deploys the majority of his offense in short bursts that carry him into the clinch where he will attack with uppercuts and short punches.

Sterling is battling through a tough stretch in his career, where he has had moments of success but not enough to leap over top level opponents. During his 4-fight UFC winning streak, he completed 12 takedowns compared to just 1 over his last 2 outings. An NCAA D3 wrestler and BJJ Purple belt, Aljamain has recorded 6-wins by sub. On the feet, Sterling is a counter striker. When initiating the attack he relies heavily on his kicking attack- throwing round and straight kicks up and down his opponent. Despite landing more significant strikes, Sterling’s counter/ kick-heavy approach made it difficult to separate himself from Assuncao during the vertical exchanges.

All 6 of Sterling’s submission wins have come by choke, including 4 guillotines and an impressive arm-triangle submission off his back against Takeya Mizugaki.

Sterling’s recent struggles have been a product of his inability to use his ground game and Mendes is too dangerous to take down with consistency. On the feet, Mendes has power and will press the action while Sterling’s reliance on kicks limits his effectiveness. In a close fight, Mendes will find some success taking Sterling down or out scrambling him if Aljamain initiates a ground exchange. Don’t be surprised to see this fight end in a split, but the punching volume and forward pressure of Mendes helps him to edge it out- my prediction is Augusto Mendes to defeat Aljamain Sterling by decision.

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205lbs- Devin Clark (7-1-0) vs Jake Collier (10-3-0)

Jumping up a division, Jake “The Prototype” Collier makes his UFC Light Heavyweight debut when he takes on Devin “Brown Bear” Clark. Clark defeated Josh Stansbury by decision last December after an unsuccessful debut where he was knocked out by Alex Nicholson. Collier stopped Alberto Uda in his last fight to even his UFC record at 2-2- he has alternated wins and losses over his last 4.

At 6’3″, Collier is 3 inches taller than Clark and will have a 3″ reach advantage. Clark is the younger man by 2 years.

Collier is a gritty fighter with a willingness to stand and trade. He builds the majority of his offense around a stiff left jab followed by a right hand, hard leg kicks, and a good front kick. He strikes long, getting good extension on his punches, but he tends to leave his head exposed when throwing wide swinging hooks. Against Uda, he took some damage but ultimately overwhelmed him with his pace and aggression.

Collier has had big moments even in defeat; dominating the opening round on the mat in his debut and hurting Dongi Yang during an early exchange.

In similar fashion, Clark looked good early against Nicholson before getting knocked out. An athletic fighter with good speed and power, “Brown Bear” picked up a trio of knockouts outside of the UFC. Everything he throws has decent pop behind it and he will attack from both the outside and in close. He was routinely beating Stansbury to the punch and added to his success on the feet with some solid control time along the cage and on the mat. Defensively, Clark was able to power out of some bad spots and forced Stansbury to work hard in pursuit of the takedown.

Clark is a product of the “Dana White: Lookin’ For a Fight” reality show and went 3-0 under the RFA banner prior to making the jump to the UFC.

Collier is tough, but he takes a lot of damage in pursuit of the finish. That approach will work against an opponent he can routinely get the better of, but Clark is too quick and hits too hard. Devon will beat Collier to punch and do more damage when he connects. If Clark needs to, he will find success taking Collier down and/or using his lower stature to control him on the cage- my prediction is Devon Clark to defeat Jake Collier by TKO.

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185lbs- Anthony Smith (26-12-0) vs Andrew Sanchez (10-2-0)

TUF 23 Light Heavyweight winner Andrew “El Dirte” Sanchez makes UFC appearance #3 when he takes on “Lionheart” Anthony Smith in the Middleweight division. Smith is coming off an impressive come-from-behind victory over Elvis Mutapcic, becoming the first man to stop him- Anthony is 2-1 in the UFC. Sanchez got the better of Trevor Smith in his last fight to stretch his winning streak to 4 consecutive wins- 3 in the UFC.

Separated by just a few months, Smith is 3 inches taller than Sanchez and will have a 3″ reach advantage.

Smith is a dangerous fighter and showed just how capable a finisher he is against Mutapcic. The knockout was the 12th of his career, to go along with 11 submission wins. “Lionheart” has accrued 13 opening round finishes. Smith is at his best when he can overwhelm his opponent with pressure and volume. If he can trap his foe along the cage, Smith will blast away with short strikes and cutting elbows. Smith’s TDD has been a point of vulnerability. While he can attack and finish off his back, he gave up 6 takedowns against Cezar Ferreira and spent some time on his back against Elvis.

Of his 12 career defeats, 11 have come by finish- with 6 losses by knockout and 5 by submission. He has gone the distance just 3-times in his career.

“El Dirte” demonstrated the depth of his wrestling game in his debut, planting his foe on the floor 6-times. Against Trevor Smith, Sanchez showcased his striking. He landed 74 significant strikes, slipping in and out of range to land short combinations. Remaining calm and composed under fire, Sanchez augments his boxing with a decent kicking game- attacking up and down his adversary. The defensive aspects of his game are strong as well, proving himself difficult to take down and hard to hit on the feet with consistency.

As a member of Team Claudia, Sanchez won a pair of decisions with a semi-final KO of Eric Spicely sandwiched in the middle.

Smith has a lot of experience and is coming off of a big win, but his TDD, questionable cardio, and high rate of getting finished are all working against him here. Sanchez has shown he has the ability to deal with pressure effectively. “El Dirte” will weather the storm on the feet with movement and then change levels for a well-timed takedown. Spending too much time on his back will result in Smith breaking down in the latter half of the match- my prediction is Andrew Sanchez to defeat Anthony Smith by TKO.

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170lbs- Zak Cummings (20-5-0) vs Nathan Coy (15-6-0)

In the Welterweight division, Zak Cummings continues his push for a spot in the Top 15 when he takes on fellow Strikeforce and Bellator veteran Nathan “Soulforce” Coy. Coy saved his spot on the roster with an upset win over Jonavin Webb to even his Octagon record at 1-1. Cummings submitted Alexander Yakovlev last November and has compiled a solid 5-2 record in the promotion.

Cummings is 2 inches taller, but will have a sizeable 6″ reach advantage. Zak is the younger man by 6 years. He missed weight by almost 2 pounds in his last fight.

Coming from a wrestling background, Zak has combined a good takedown game with a strong submission arsenal. He has submitted 9 opponents, with the majority coming by some form of choke. Cummings does some of his best work from side control when looking for chokes. If he is unable to secure the takedown, look for the Texas-native to use his dirty boxing along the cage. At range, Cummings is a capable counter striker. With a solid chin, he remains calm under pressure and keeps his strikes short and compact. Zak will lead with a right jab and packs some decent power in his left hand.

Despite his record, Cummings currently carries a -0.46 striking exchange rate.

A former All-American wrestler, Coy is 8-2 in fights that go the distance. Conversely, he has been finished in 4 of his 6 losses. Coy picked up a trio of takedowns against Webb leading to the decision victory. In his debut, after scoring his initial takedown, Coy was quickly caught in a submission and forced to tap. The cardio and durability of “Soulforce” has been a major point of concern. He has a tendency to breakdown in more demanding fights and has slowed in bouts even when finding early success with his wrestling.

Coy hasn’t fought in almost 14-months and has fought just twice since early 2014, not including his time spent on the Ultimate Fighter 21.

Both men share a lot of similarities, but Cummings in simply in better place right now. He is younger, bigger, and has been more active against better competition. Cummings should get the better of the striking exchanges and will be difficult for Coy to takedown with consistency or at all. Zak will make this fight gritty and eventually overwhelm Coy either from top position or with his close range striking- my prediction is Zak Cummings to defeat Nathan Coy by TKO.

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135lbs- #13 Ashlee Evans-Smith (5-1-0) vs Ketlen Vieira (7-0-0)

The opening fight of the night takes place in the Women’s Bantamweight division featuring the ranked Ashlee Evans-Smith putting her spot in the Top 15 on the line against promotional sophomore Ketlen Vieira. Evans-Smith has won back to back fights with a narrow split decision win over Marion Reneau and a TKO stoppage of Veronica Macedo. Still undefeated, Vieira took home a split decision victory over Kelly Faszholz at UFC Fight Night 96 in Brazil.

Both ladies are 5’8″, but it is Vieira with a slight 1″ reach. The Brazilian is the younger fighter by 4-years.

Vieira came into the UFC with a record devoid of decent competition. Her final 4 pre-Octagon opponents are a combined 6-7. She has finished her opponent in 5 of her 7 wins- 3 by knockout. The Brazilian began her career with 5 consecutive stoppage wins. Ketlen executed a beautiful farside trip/ judo throw combination to put Faszholz on her back early in the fight. She completed 4 takedowns overall and score some solid top position. Where Vieira struggled was when she was under fire and was trying to counter strike. Prior to joining the UFC, the majority of Vieira’s vertical offense came in the form of single strikes or brawling flurries.

Vieira is a BJJ Brown belt and Judo Black belt.

Building on her wrestling base, Evans-Smith has a BJJ Blue belt and is coming off of her best UFC performance. AES took down Macedo just twice but absolutely wore her out on the floor prior to getting the stoppage. Ashlee has finished 3 of her 5 wins by TKO. Evans-Smith is strong in the clinch, using strong head position and body control to neutralize her opponent before landing short punches and knees. Once she gets her opponent to the mat, she will start looking to advance her position in pursuit of the finish. Against Macedo, AES used her position to limit her foe’s ability to defend while landing big GNP.

All 3 of AES’s finishes have come in the 3rd round. An indication her grinding nature and ability to break her opponent down over a longer fight.

While Ashlee’s striking is still a work in progress, she will do a decent enough job with her forward pressure to back Vieira up. Ketlen struggled with the pressure of her last opponent and she doesn’t pose enough of a threat on the feet to back AES up. Evans-Smith will drive forward and bully Vieira in the clinch, eventually dragging the fight to the mat. While Vieira’s Judo background will help her hold up early, her lack of long fight experience will cost her against the grinding pressure of the American- my prediction is Ashlee-Evans Smith to defeat Ketlen Vieira by TKO

145lbs- MYLES JURY (15-2-0) vs MIKE DE LA TORRE (14-6-0 1NC)

In the headlining bout, former Lightweight standout Myles “Fury” Jury makes his 2nd appearence at 145 pounds when he takes on Mike “El Cucuy” De La Torre. Jury has lost back to back fights, including a submission defeat to Charles Oliveira in his divisional debut. De La Torre is coming off a submission loss to Godofredo Pepey and has gone 2-3-0 with a No Contest since signing on with the UFC.

Jury hasn’t fought since December 2015, a near 16-month break from action. De La Torre is an inch taller, but Jury will have a slight 2″ reach advantage. Jury is the younger man by 2 years.

An equal oppurtunity finisher, De La Torre has split his 12 stoppage wins evenly between knockouts and submissions. In addition to his 2-1 record on the cards, De La Torre has only picked up 2 victories beyond the opening frame. On the feet, he has some solid pop in his hands. He stopped Thiago Trator with a series of hard punches before landing a brutal left hook and GNP for the finish. While De La Torre averages 3.5 significant strikes per minute, he gets hit 0.74 more per minute and has landed more strikes than his opponent in just 1 of his fights.

De La Torre’s aggressive pursuit of the finish opens him up to getting stopped himself- he has been subbed 4-times and knocked out once.

Jury’s divisional debut was brief, getting dragged into a grappling exchange and then submitted. It was the first time he has ever been finished. A BJJ Black belt, Jury has had a lot of success on the mat. He completed 4 takedowns in his win over Mike Ricci and 3 in each of his fights against Michael Johnson and Diego Sanchez. On the feet, Jury is technically sound and focuses on maintaining a strong defensive front. By limiting the effectivness of his opponent’s striking offense, it further magnifies the output that Jury puts forth. Look for Jury to utilize a lot of lateral movement, a strong jab, and kicks to maintain separation.

Jury took part in 2 different TUF seasons. On the first episode of TUF 13 he tore his ACL and was unable to compete. In the TUF 15 tournament, he lost via split decision to Al Iaquinta in the first round.

Jury’s layoff is certainly concerning, especially if De La Torre gets off to a quick start. That being said, De La Torre is a sizeable stepback in competition and is going to struggle to deal with the strong defensive front of Myles on the feet and Jury’s wrestling/ submission game. While he could win on the feet, Jury will return to his grappling heavy ways as a counter to the aggression of his adversary- my prediciotn is Myles Jury to defeat Mike De La Torre by submission.

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170lbs- #11 KAMARU USMAN (9-1-0) vs SEAN STRICKLAND (18-1-0)

In a battle of rising Welterweight prospects, Top-15 ranked “Nigerian Nightmare” Kamaru Usman takes on Sean “Tarzan” Strickland. After an unsuccessful debut in the division, Strickland has now won 3 consecutive fights including a split decision upset over Tom Breese at UFC 199. Usman improved to 4-0 with a mauling of dangerous Brazilian Warlley Alves last November.

Both men have a 76″ reach, but Strickland has a slight 1″ height advantage. Sean is the younger man by 4-years.

“Tarzan” offers an educated left jab, constantly snapping it out into the face of his foe. Strickland will also use his left to disrupt his opponent’s timing by grabbing their lead hand. In addition to the jab, Sean utilizes a quick right side strike and an arsenal of kicks. Averaging 76 strikes per fight over his last 3 outings, he has shown a noteworthy uptick his output. While working at a decent pace, Sean won’t overwhelm his opponent and maintains a strong defensive front.

Strickland is capable of fighting on the mat with 4 submision wins and a decent takedown game. He did have some issues with the wrestling of Alex Garcia and spent some time on his back in that fight.

An NCAA Division 2 wrestler, Usman has competed 18 takedowns over 4-fights, but landed just a single shot on 2 attempts in his last bout. In the Leon Edwards fight, Usman struggled early but was persistant with his TDAs and eventually took over the fight. Against Alves, he used his pressure to back Warlley up to the cage before attacking on the feet. He has power, a solid chin, and has shown improvements in his striking.

While Usman’s striking remains the secondary aspect of his attack, the threat of the takedown gets his opponents to heistate on the feet and also wears them down which makes Usman’s offense more effective.

Strickland tends to be too passive. His lack of aggression will allow Usman to move forward both in pursuit of the takedown and when striking. While Strickland’s jab could dissuade Kamaru’s forward pressure, Sean tends to back up in straight lines which opens him up even more. Usman will compile more points as the more active striker, through clinch control, and with well-timed takedowns- my prediction is Kamaru Usman to defeat Sean Strickland by decision.

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145lbs- SHANE BURGOS (8-0-0) vs CHARLES ROSA (11-2-0)

In the Featherweight division, promotional sophomore Shane “Hurricane” Burgos puts his perfect record on the line against “Boston Strong” Charles Rosa. Rosa took home a win over Kyle Bochniak early in 2016 and has alternated wins and losses over his last 5 outings. Burgos picked up a short-notice victory in his debut, defeating Thiago Trator by decsion.

Burgos is 2 inches taller than Rosa and will have a sizeable 6″ reach advantage. Rosa is the older man by 5 years and hasn’t competed in almost 17-months.

A BJJ Black belt, Rosa has submitted 7 opponents, including tapping out Sean Soriano for his first UFC win.  He has a variety of submission wins on his record including various chokes and armbars. Aggressive on the mat, Rosa will attack from both top and bottom position. “Boston Strong” has put up some pretty impressive takedown numbers including 5 compeltions against Yair Rodriguez and 13 over 4 UFC fights. When standing, Rosa will switch stances and relies heavily on his kicking techniques. Look for him to attack with his front leg to keep his opponent at bay.

In the win over Bochniak, Rosa landed a UFC-personal best 92-signifcant strikes. It was the first time in the UFC that Rosa landed more strikes than his opponent.

Despite taking his debut on short notice, Burgos put together an impressive performance. He rocked Trator on multiple occassions and came close to finishing him. “Hurricane” posses fast hands and power from both sides. He can be an effective counter striker, pressuring his foe before slipping off to the side to land a counter left hook. On the negative side, if Shane relies too much on his counter striking, his opponent can outwork him. Defensively, Burgos stopped 11 of 12 TDAs from the Brazilian, demonstrating strong hips to stifle his foe’s shot.

Burgos’s debut was the first time he had ever fought a full 15-minutes. He had pr evioulsy picked up 5 opening round wins and 2 in the middle round.

Rosa’s agrression can overwhelm a lot of opponents, but Burgos’s calm counter-based attack will welcome it. Rosa is quite hittable and the combination of Burgos’s speed and power will make him pay. “Boston Strong” faded against Rodriguez and the long layoff wont help in this fight, my prediction is Shane Burgos to defeat Charles Rosa by decision.

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205lbs- #12 PATRICK CUMMINS (8-4-0) vs JAN BLACHOWICZ (19-6-0)

In the Lightweight division, Patrick “Durkin” Cummins returns to action against former KSW Light Heavyweight Champion Jan Blachowicz. Cummins last fought at UFC 198, suffering a round 1 knockout loss against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira- he is 1-3 over his last 4 fights. Blachowicz has struggled through a similar 1-3 slump, with losses to Alexander Gustafsson, Corey Anderson, and Jimi Manuwa during that span.

Both men are 6’2″, but Jan will have a slight 2″ reach advantage and is the younger man by 3 years.

The Nogueira loss ended a 6-fight streak for Cummins where he had completed at least 1 takedown per fight. He completed 8 against Rafael Feijao, eventually scoring the TKO finish. Conversely, he floored Glover Texeira on 4 occassions, but ultimately got finished on the feet. His top game is strong, but Cummins’s lack of a capable striking game and questionable durability puts him at a sizeable deficet when standing.

All 4 of Cummins’s defeats have come via knockout, including a brutal KO stoppage against OSP.

Blachowicz was holding his own early against Gustafsson before the Big Swede opted to take him down. Jan gave up 4 takedowns to Gus and Corey Anderson put up similar numbers one loss earlier. Blachowicz has 5 wins by knockout including his body kick stoppage of Ilir Latifi. His overall output has been a little mit or miss, but he did fall just short of the century mark in significant strikes in his most recent win.

Blachowicz has just a single stoppage victory dating back to early 2011.

This fight will come down to how Blachowicz fairs in striking exchanges between Cummins’s TDAs. Cummins will most likely score multiple takedowns, but even with limited oppurtunities his opponents have found a lot of success on the feet. Blachowicz will spend some time on the defensive, but eventually he will put Cummins down either with one shot or through the accumulation of damage- my prediction is Jan Blachowicz to defeat Patrick Cummins by TKO.

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155lbs- GREGOR GILLESPIE (8-0-0) vs ANDREW HOLBROOK (12-1-0)

Headlining the FightPass undercard, former ROC Lightweight champion Gregor “The Gift” Gillespie takes on Andrew Holbrook. Holbrook is coming off a contensious split decision win over Jake Matthews to reboud from the first loss of his career. Gillespie defeated Glaico Franca by decision in his UFC debut last September.

Holbrook is the taller man by 2 inches, but will give up an inch of reach.

An top level collegiate wreslter, Gillespie completed 5 takedowns on 19 attempts in his debut. “The Gift” got cracked early by Franca and failed on his early shots, but eventually got the fight to the mat. Gregor was relentless on his shot, driving his opponent into the cage while attempting to connect his hands. On the feet, Gillespie’s striking is basic, but he has some power. If he opts to use his hands to set up his shot, he signicanlty improves his chances of putting his foe on the floor.

Gregor’s reliance on his wrestling nearly cost him his final pre-UFC  fight. Despite struggling to find consistent success with his takedowns, he was unwilling to deviate from his game plan. He won by split-decision.

A slick grappler and submission fighter, Holbrook has tapped out his opponent in 9 of his 12 wins. While 2-0 in decisions, both of his wins were questionable split decisions. In those fights, Andrew completed just 2 takedowns compared to 9 given up. Holbrook is aggressive on the mat and will attack off his back if taken down, making him hard to control. Against Matthews, Holbrook used a lot of pressure early and and kept his opponent backing up while landing some decent strikes.

Holbrook was rocked by Ramsey Nijem in his debut and KOed by Joaquim Silva in just 34-seconds.

This fight is going to hit the mat. The question is, who will get the better of the action. Gillespie’s is a strong wrestler, but Holbrook’s active guard could lead him to scoring on the floor despite fighting off his back. Gillespie has enough power to back Holbrook up and his counter wrestling will allow him to move forward unabated- my prediciton is Gregor Gillespie to defeat Andrew Holbrook by decision.

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155lbs- JOSH EMMETT (11-0-0) vs DESMOND GREEN (19-5-0)

Josh Emmett will once against put his undefeated record on the line when he takes on former Bellator competitor Desmond “The Predator” Green in the Lightweight division. Emmett is 2-0 in the UFC, holding wins over Jon Tuck and Scott Holtzman. Green has won 4 straight fights, including back to back victories in Titan FC where he once held the Featherweight title.

Green is 4 inches taller with a 4″ reach advantage and is 4 years younger than Emmett. Green has competed as low as Featherweight and recently fought as high as 170-pounds. He had some issues making weight as a Featherweight and has made a permanent move to the Lightweight division.

A former NCAA Division 1 wrestler, Green’s focus is closing the distance and dragging his opponent to the mat. He hits strong reactive takedowns, effectively timing his opponent’s forward push and changing levels. If force to compete on the feet, his striking is serviceable, but inconsistent at best. Despite no longer draining his body to get to 145 pound and a 13-3 record in decisions, he faded considerably in the 2nd half of his last contest.

Green fell short in the 2014 Bellator Featherweight tournament finals against Daniel Weichel. He compiled a record of 3-2 in the promotion.

Training out of one of the best wrestling camps in MMA, Team Alpha Male, Emmett completed 8 takedowns in his last fight. Despite Holtzman’s solid TDD, Emmett did a good job of adjusting and driving forward to complete his shots. If he can get his hands locked, look for him to elevate and slam his foe to the floor. On the feet, Josh boasts a heavy right hand and throws the majority of his offense with power. Working behind a left jab, he is pretty quick on his feet and through 2 UFC outings has averaged 4.7 strikes per minute.

Despite picking up 3 stoppages over his last 6 wins, Emmett has fought in 18 of a potential 20 scheduled rounds.

If this bout is contested mainly on the feet, Emmett should have the advantage as the more active and impactful striker. If Green does opt to wrestle, the lower stature, physical strength, and counter wrestlng of Emmett will force Dez to work hard to earn compeltions leading to a slowdown later in the fight. Emmett will get the better of the striking exhanges and pull away as the fight progresses- my prediction is Josh Emmett to defeat Desmond Green by decision
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135lbs- KATLYN CHOOKAGIAN (8-1-0) vs IRENE ALDANA (7-3-0)

Both fighters look to rebound from defeat, as Katlyn Chookagian takes on Mexico’s Irene Aldana in the Women’s Bantamweight division. Chookagian made a successful debut against Lauren Murphy, but suffered the first loss of her career via split decision upset against Liz Carmouche. Aldana entered the Octagon following a 4-1 run under the Invicta banner, but dropped a decision to Leslie Smith last December.

Both women are 5’9″ and have an identical 68″ reach. Chookagian is 9-months younger than Irene.

A striking-centric fighter, Chookagian has recorded just a pair of knockouts, but is 5-1 on the scorecards. In her debut, she used constant lateral movement and active combination striking to routinely get the better of the exchanges. She cuts good angles and when attacking and will also throw a solid counter left hook. Katlyn adds in a hard stepping knee to the body when appropriate. She has had issues getting stuck along the cage and allowing her opponent to control her in the clinch.

While Chookagian is in constant motion, she lacks an overwhelming connection rate landing just 45 of 139 strike attempts in her debut.

Aldana has secured all 7 of her career wins by stoppage, 5 by knockout. She is a perfect 7-0 in fights ending inside the opening round, while struggling to an 0-3 mark after the first 5-minutes. She has been knocked out twice. Irene is a powerful puncher with excellent striking fundamentals. She has good head movement and footwork, utilizing her reach well. Look for her to work behind a hard left jab with blistering hand speed. Not surprisingly, she is far more effective when moving forward. Smith dropped her with a right hand and was able to back her up with volume during key moments of their fight.

Despite Aldana’s struggles beyond the opening round, she landed an impressive 108 significant strikes against Smith. Smith connected on 169.

Aldana will have a sizeable advantage in both power and output in this contest. Chookagian will struggle to back Irene up, failing to land with enough impact or frequency to get her respect. The speed and ferocity of Aldana will keep Chookagian on the defensive for the majority of the fight. If Chookagian can keep it close early, she could pull away late, but my prediction is Irene Aldana to defeat Katlyn Chookgian by TKO.
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125lbs- JENEL LAUSA (7-2-0) vs MAGOMED BIBULATOV (13-0-0)

To open up the card, the undefeated and debuting Magomed “Gladiator” Bibulatov takes on promotional sophomore Jenel “The Demolition Man” Lausa. Lausa won his debut via decision over Yao Zhikui and is riding a 5-fight winning streak. Bibulatov made a quick stop in WSOF to capture their Flyweight title before winning 3 more contests back in Russia prior to signing with the UFC.

Both men are 5’5″, but Lausa will have a 3″ reach advantage. The Russian is the younger man by 21 days.

In his debut, Lausa did an effective job of shutting down his opponent’s wrestling. While he stopped 5 of 6 TDAs, he has had issues outside of the UFC when pressed by an effective ground fighter. Coming from a boxing background, Lausa has a better than expected ground game, but he wants to keep this fight standing. Working behind a quick jab, Jenel will attack with quick combos highlighted by a weighty left hook. He dropped Yao with a big head kick, but was unable to finish him.

In early 2016, Lausa won the PXC Flyweight strap via split decision in his final bout outside of the UFC.

Finally making the move to the UFC, Bibulatov is a highly regarded Flyweight prospect. He has finished 7 opponents, 5 by submission. On the scorecards, “Gladiator” is a perfect 6-0. He picked up a trio of submissions to start his pro career, but just 2 over his last 10 fights. He is a strong takedown artist, with great timing and a variety of techniques to put his opponent on the floor with. Once on top, he is difficult to shake off and will look for the finish. On the feet, Magomed is aggressive, but can get a little wild at times. The Russian will unload with a large variety of different techniques, especially focusing on his kicking game.

Bibulatov is a Combat Sambo practioner and formerly competed at 135-pounds where he still found success dominating with his ground attack against larger adversaries.

If Lausa can replicate the success from his debut and keep Bibulatov striking, he could out point him with volume. That being said, Magomed is simply too good on the mat and should find success taking Jenel down and keeping him there. Lausa has had issues on the floor before and is probably facing the best ground fighter of his career, so my prediciton is Magomed Bibulatov to defeat Jenel Lausa by submission.

155lbs- Joe Duffy (15-2-0) vs Reza Madadi (14-4-0)

Headlining the Undercard, “Irish” Joe Duffy makes his 5th UFC walk when he meets the hardnosed Reza “Mad Dog” Madadi. Madadi scored a TKO win over Yan Cabral in his last fight and has alternated wins and losses dating back to his UFC debut. Duffy rallied from his loss to Dustin Poirier to quickly submit Canadian Mitch Clarke, improving his Octagon mark to 3-1.

Madadi is an inch taller, but will give up an inch of reach. Duffy is the younger man by 10 years.

Coming from a wrestling background, Madadi is a grinder. He had a lot of early success with his wrestling, landing a combined 10 takedowns over his first 3 UFC fights. Since that strong start, he has picked up just a pair of completions on 14 attempts. A BJJ Purple belt, Madadi has 8 wins by submission. If “Mad Dog” is unable to get the fight to the mat, he will work over his opponent along the cage, maintaining tight body control accompanied by short strikes. The distance striking technique that Reza employs isn’t overly flashy. A well-placed uppercut led to the Cabral stoppage, but he is most effective when he can drag his opponent into a wild brawl and rely on his durability.

After upsetting Michael Johnson in early 2013, Madadi was released by the UFC and inactive for over 2 years due to burglary conviction in Sweden.

“Irish” Joe made short work of his last opponent, taking just 25-seconds to pick up his 9th career submission win. Duffy blends together a slick grappling attack and savvy boxing game. Showcasing his well-rounded skills, he floored Clarke with a right hook before locking in an RNC for the tap. He is a Taekwondo Black belt and BJJ Purple belt. On the feet, Joe leads with a sharp left jab and follows with a very accurate and hard straight right. Look for him to work in a decent kicking repertoire as well. In victory, he has yet to see the second round in the UFC and has finished 14 opponents in the first frame.

Joe is just 2-2 outside of the opening round, including his loss to Dustin Poirier where he was badly out-wrestled.

Duffy is a talented fighter, but his defensive wrestling was badly exposed against Poirier. Additionally, his quality of opposition hasn’t been great in the UFC with his wins coming over 3 fighters with a combined record of 4-9. Madadi isn’t pretty, but he is durable and is a strong wrestler. Look for Reza to return to his wrestling roots, ground Duffy to take away his striking advantage, and grind Joe down on the floor and cage- my prediction is Reza Madadi to defeat Joe Duffy by decision.

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205lbs- Darren Stewart (7-0-0 1NC) vs Francimar Barroso (18-5-0 1NC)

In a rematch dating back to last November, Darren “The Dentist” Stewart battles Francimar Barroso in the Light Heavyweight division. At UFN 100, Stewart was initially named the victor over Barroso by TKO, but the result was overturned by the Brazilian commission. Barroso is 3-2 in the UFC including wins over Ryan Jimmo and Elvis Mutapcic.  Stewart was a perfect 2-0 in 2016 before making his promotional debut.

The Brazilian will have an inch reach advantage and is 3 inches taller. Stewart is the younger man by 10-years and appeared to be a little undersized against Barroso, admitting that he intends to move to Middleweight after the rematch.

In their first encounter, Stewart used a clinch heavy attack to keep Francimar on the cage. During a transition, Stewart’s head appeared to partially connect with Barosso’s jaw/cheek. The blow didn’t appear to be significant, but the Brazilian’s focus was entirely on the injury and he was quickly finished via strikes on the mat.

Barosso’s been a bit of an odd fighter. His cardio isn’t great, but he tends to be a bit of a grinder. Averaging less that 3 significant strikes per minute and under 2 completed takedowns per fight- he isn’t going to overwhelm his opponent with his offensive output. He struggled with the pressure of Nikita Krylov before eventually getting finished. The Nova Uniao product is a decent kicker and has some pop in his hands, but most of what he offers comes in the form of single strikes. He is at his best when he can maintain a pace that he is comfortable with and doesn’t allow his opponent to control the action.

A Black belt in both BJJ and Kickboxing, Barosso has recorded 8 wins by knockout and 4 by submission, but no stoppages in the UFC.

“The Dentist” has gone on record saying that this fight is personal. Stewart is clearly upset with the result change and he also felt Francimar took the easy way out and could have defended himself. The Brit has record 5 wins by knockout, all in the opening round. Stewart will look for takedowns and once on the mat, he will unload a flurry of GNP. His clinch game is also effective, using knees to the body and head to bust up his foe. Stewart likes to carry a furious pace, but he was clearly tired after the first round of his final Cage Warrior’s fight. However, his early pressure at exhausted his opponent who eventually caved to his attack.

Stewart landed 21 strikes compared to Barosso’s 8 and picked up a single takedown on 2 attempts in just 94-seconds of action.

Stewart is the smaller man with significantly less experience. Conversely, he doesn’t cut nearly as much weight as Barosso, who is fighting outside of Brazil for just the 3rd time since 2012. Stewart is capable of employing a similar high paced clinch-based attack, that Krylov beat Barosso with. Barosso’s cardio is pretty poor and if Stewart wears him down early he will eventually find takedowns and unload with his GNP. Stewart’s speed and aggression put Barosso on the defensive until he can’t defend anymore- my prediction is Darren Stewart to defeat Francimar Barroso by TKO.

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265lbs- #12 Daniel Omielanczuk (19-6-1 1NC) vs #14 Timothy Johnson (10-3-0)

A pair of Top 15 ranked Heavyweights collide as Poland’s Daniel Omielanczuk takes on Minnesota-born Timothy Johnson. Omielanczuk is coming off of a submission loss to Stefan Struve, the first time he has been finished in his career- he had won 4 fights in a row prior to the defeat. Johnson dropped a contestable split decision to Alexander Volkov last time out which evened his UFC record at 2-2.

At 6’3″, Johnson will have a 3″ height and reach advantage over Omielanczuk. Tim usually touches the Heavyweight limit and should come in 15-20 pounds heavier than his opponent. He is also the younger man by 3-years.

A former NCAA Division 2 wrestler, Johnson looks to break his opponent down with constant pressure both in the clinch and on the mat. Tim landed his UFC-best 3 completions in his narrow loss to Jared Rosholt and he has completed a takedown in all but 1 of his UFC outings. Johnson isn’t going to overwhelm his opponent with his completion numbers, but he will make the most out of his opportunities once he hits the mat. When on the feet, Tim utilizes the clinch to control his foe and land strikes. At distance, Johnson is deceptively quick and can connect with decent power.

This is Johnson’s 3rd consecutive fight in Europe. He fought Volkov in Northern Ireland and defeated Marcin Tybura in Zagreb, Croatia.

One of Omielanczuk’s most noteworthy’s assets is his durability. Unfortunately, the Polish fighter’s stats aren’t strong. He carries an almost even striking exchange rate, averages less than a takedown per fight, and has given up at least 1 completion in 4 of his last 6 contests. His losses to Anthony Hamilton and Jared Rosholt were largely based on his inability to get vertical. When he is standing, Rosholt has some decent pop in his hands and offers a serviceable kicking game. At close range, against less capable grapplers, look for  Omielanczuk to have success in the clinch and on the mat.

Omielanczuk is 7-5 in decisions, including a 2-2 record in the UFC. Additionally, he is 3-0 in fights that last more than a round, but are finished before the judges get involved.

The struggles of Omielanczuk on the mat are well documented. In the 4-fights where his opponent pursued the takedown, he gave up a combined 12 completions and won just one of those fights when his opponent gassed. Johnson will use his size and wrestling background to neutralize Daniel on the cage and the mat, breaking him down with pressure and strikes- my prediction is Timothy Johnson to defeat Daniel Omielanczuk by decision.Paragraph breaker

155lbs- Marc Diakiese (11-0-0) vs Teemu Packalen (8-1-0)

In the Lightweight division, England and Finland go head to head as Marc “Bonecrusher” Diakiese takes on Teemu Packalen. Diakiese has maintained his perfect record through his first 2 UFC contests, most recently picking up a decision win over Frankie Perez. Packalen is 1-1 inside the Octagon after taking down Thibault Gouti in just 24-seconds.

At 6’1″, Teemu is 3 inches taller than his opponent but will give up an inch of reach. Diakiese is the younger man by 6-years and Packalen is closing in on a 13-month layoff.

Packalen has put away his adversary in all 8 of his wins, 6 by submission, and 6 in the opening round. In his last fight, he landed an early uppercut that sent his opponent to the floor before locking up an RNC to seal the deal. Of his 2 career wins to last beyond the opening frame, the longest hit the 2:37 mark of round 2. In his debut, he started strong, taking his opponent down and attacking on the mat. Unfortunately, he faded and lost a decision. He took the fight on short notice. Packalen has a decent takedown game, but he will also pull guard and attack off his back. Not surprisingly, his aggressive style will lead him to giving up position for submission. Regardless, he is a capable and opportunistic ground fighter.

When Teemu starts to tire, he will fall to his back and attempt to entice his opponent to engage him. This can put him at a positional deficit if they can maintain top position.

An impressive physical specimen, Diakiese is a dynamic striker and has finished 5 opponents by knockout- 4 in the opening round. He is also a perfect 5-0 on the scorecards, including his last win. The Brit throws hard combinations, mixes in stiff leg kicks, and can counter strike. “Bonecrusher” showcased his offensive wrestling against Perez, but it is his defensive game that is a bit of a concern. Perez took him down midway through round 2 and kept him on his back until the bell. In the early moments of his bout with Lukas Sajewski, Marc gave up a pair of takedowns and lost the round on the floor. He was able to survive the early deficit and once his opponent began to slow down, Diakiese put him away.

Looking to get on the fast track Diakiese is fighting for the 3rd time in the last 6-months.

Compared to Packalen, the Brit is the far more dangerous striker and vastly superior athlete. That being said, he tends to force some of his grappling techniques and his TDD has also been suspect when tested. Teemu is dangerous on the mat and the threat of the TD will keep Diakiese from opening up on the feet. Packalen will shoot early and capitalize on the aggression of Diakiese, forcing him into some bad spots on the floor, my prediction is Teemu Packalen to defeat Marc Diakiese by decision.

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185lbs- Tom Breese (10-1-0) vs Oluwale Bamgbose (6-2-0)

Looking to follow in the footsteps of fellow countryman Michael Bisping, Tom Breese heads to the Middleweight division to take on “The Holy War Angel” Oluwale Bamgbose. After suffering a knockout loss in his debut against Uriah Hall, Bamgbose finished Daniel Sarafian via knockout in just 60-seconds before dropping a one-sided decision to Cezar Ferreira. Breese is coming off the first loss of his pro career, losing a narrow split decision to Sean Strickland at UFC 199- he is 3-1 in the UFC.

Breese has elected to stop making the draining cut to Welterweight and will use his bout to launch his run at 185-pounds. A physical anomaly, Breese will be 4 inches taller than his opponent, but Bamgbose will have a sizeable 5″ reach advantage. The Brit is the younger man by 4-years.

Prior to his last bout, Oluwale had never fought beyond the opening round. Finishing all 6 of his pro wins by knockout, with the longest fight falling just short of the 3:30 mark. He took out Sarafian with a brutal head kick and follow-up ground and pound. Bamgbose can generate a lot of power in his kicks and even when they are blocked they can still do damage. Light on his feet, “The Holy War Angel” will utilize a variety of fakes and feints to set up his strikes. While he struggled to generate much offense against Ferreira, he will launch himself into his techniques to increase their power.

Bamgbose’s ground game has been a major concern. He was quickly finished on the floor by Hall and offered almost no resistance off his back in his last contest.

Not to be outdone, Breese has stopped his opponent in 9 of his 10 wins. He has finished 6 in the opening round, with 4 of his 6 submission wins coming via RNC. Despite his pre-UFC success on the floor, he has yet to complete a takedown inside the Octagon. With fast hands, Breese leads with a stiff right jab and follows with a hard straight left. The Brit augments his boxing with a decent kicking attack. Against Cathal Pendred, he landed a counter left to stun him before dropping Cathal with a hard body kick. Breese does a good job of maintaining pressure and if his opponent elects to close the distance, Tom offers some vicious knees in the clinch.

Breese’s loss to Strickland hinged largely on his inability to maintain a striking advantage in the second half of the fight. After a +6 in significant strikes in round 1, he was a combined -17 over the final 2 frames.

Oluwale is unorthodox and has power which makes him dangerous. He may only need 1 strike to end this fight. Breese offers a more diverse and consistent striking repertoire and he could revisit his grappling game to exploit his opponent’s clear vulnerability. Bamgbose’s style isn’t meant to hold up over a longer fight and Breese has never been finished- my prediction is Tom Breese to defeat Oluwale Bamgbose by TKO.

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170lbs- Leon Edwards (12-3-0) vs Vicente Luque (11-5-1)

Two of the Welterweight division’s prospects on the rise square off as Leon “Rocky” Edwards meets Vicente “Silent Assassin” Luque. Edwards is coming off of an upset submission win over Albert Tumenov and is 4-2 with the promotion. Luque hasn’t tasted defeat since his unsuccessful Octagon debut, he is coming off of a 79-second KO of Belal Muhammad and has stopped his opponent in all 4 of his UFC wins.

Edwards is an inch taller, but will give up an inch of reach. Both men are 25-years old.

The Brit is coming off just the 3rd submission win of his career. Edwards scored a couple of early takedowns, including a well-executed bodylock/ trip combo. Once on the mat, Leon controlled the majority of the action from top position. The finish came after “Rocky” took his back during a scramble. Conversely, Edwards struggled with the wrestling attack of Kamaru Usman, giving up 6 takedowns. Known more for his striking, Leon has some decent pop in his hands, but doesn’t work at an overwhelming pace. Against Tumenov, He was tossing out a jab, but spent the majority of the vertical exchanges on the defensive with his back to the cage.

With the exception of the opening round knockout of Seth Baczynski, Edwards has fought into the 3rd round in 7 of his last 8 contests.

A Blackzilian stable member, Luque has been on an impressive role with only 1 of his last 4 opponents making it out of the opening round. The majority of his submission wins have come via some form of choke. In his last submission victory, he piled up the takedowns and top position strikes to soften up his opponent before locking in the 2nd round choke. The “Silent Assassin” took out Hector Urbina with a slick combo ending with a devastating right hand. He finished Muhammad with a stiff left. A strong kicking arsenal rounds out the striking attack of the Brazilian.

Luque is 1-5-1 in fights that last to the 3rd round, but 10-0 when the action reaches its conclusion before the end of the 2nd round.

Edward’s submission of Tumenov was impressive, but he was struggling during the striking exchanges. Against Luque, he won’t be able to fall back on his grappling if he is having issues on the feet. Edwards’s technical skills will keep him in the fight, but Luque hits too hard and is too dangerous on the mat for Leon to stay out of danger. Luque will take the Brit down, bust him up with some GNP, and eventually start looking for a choke- my prediction is Vicente Luque to defeat Leon Edwards by submission.

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135lbs- Ian Entwistle (9-3-0) vs Brett Johns (13-0-0)

In the Bantamweight division, Ian Entwistle puts his UFC career on the line against Welsh-born Brett “The Pikey” Johns. Entwistle is 1-2 inside the Octagon, submitting Anthony Birchak between TKO losses to Dan Hooker and Alejandro Perez. Johns has yet to suffer a loss as a pro, including a successful debut victory over Kwan Ho Kwak.

Johns is only 2 inches taller than Entwistle, but will have a massive 7″ reach advantage. Johns is the younger man by 6-years.

Outside of an early career win by DQ, all of Entwistle’s pro victories have come by submission. He is known as a leg lock specialist, with 3 of his last 4 wins coming by heel hook. All of his fights, including both of his losses, have ended inside the first frame. Ian will recklessly dive for his opponent’s lower half, looking to lace up a leg and go to work. If he can’t get the tap, he puts himself in danger of absorbing a lot of damage. Not surprisingly, he will pull guard and look to sweep his opponent or elevate them enough to attack a leg. Entwisle hasn’t shown any real focus on striking, constantly pursuing the ground attack.

After a failed sub attempt early against Perez, the Brit claimed that Perez’s legs were greased. The referee found nothing to validate his claim.

In stark contrast to his opponent, Johns has gone the distance 7 times, winning all of them. Over his final 4 fights outside of the Octagon, 3 bouts went a full 5-rounds. “The Pikey” landed an impressive 11 of his 15 takedown attempts in his debut. Once on top, he will maintain tight body control and land short strikes. Johns is a Judo Black belt and BJJ Purple belt. On the feet, he offers decent striking attack. In the middle round, Johns hurt Kwak with a hard uppercut, landed good short punches, and mixed in a flying knee.

Despite his experience in longer fights, Johns appeared to be slowing down after the opening round of his debut and needed his wrestling to seal the final frame. The adrenaline drop associated with a first UFC fight could have played a role.

Not surprisingly, this fight will come down to the early sub attempts of Entwistle. If he can lock something up he could seal the deal. If he can’t, Johns is going to smash him from top position. Johns is a capable grappler and pretty sound defensively. Entwistle will throw a lot at him, but Johns will stay defensive, create separation, and wait until he is in full control before he starts to unload- my prediction is Brett Johns to defeat Ian Entwistle by TKO.

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185lbs- Bradley Scott (11-4-0) vs Scott Askham (14-3-0)

In the Middleweight division, Bradley “Bear” Scott looks to return to the win column when he takes on fellow countryman Scott Askham. Scott has alternated wins and losses over his last 6 fights, most recently losing to Krzysztof Jotko. Askham has put together a similar run over his last 6-fights and is coming off an upset loss to Jack Hermansson.

Askham is 2 inches taller than Scott, but it will be Scott with a slight 1″ reach advantage. Scott, a former Welterweight, is a year younger and is returning to action after just over a year on the shelf.

It has been a stark contrast of outcomes for Askham since coming to the UFC. Both of his UFC wins were first round KOs, pushing his career total to 9 wins by knockout. All 3 of his UFC defeats have been on the scorecards, dropping his record in decisions to 3-3. Scott is a striker by trade, offering a strong kicking arsenal. In his loss to Magnus Cedenblad, Askham dropped him with a front kick to the face. Statistically, the Brit has struggled to match his opponents’ output. Hermansson badly out landed him by a count of 88-37, pulling away in rounds 2 and 3 when Askham faded.

Over Askham’s 3 UFC defeats, he has given up a trio of takedowns and spent a lot of time fighting with his back on the cage.

Despite taking a loss on the cards, Scott had a respectable showing against Jotko. He has split his 10 wins evenly between knockout and submissions while struggling to an 0-3 mark on the scorecards. Bradley has been finished just once. Utilizing a lot of pressure against Jotko, Scott was moving forward heavy on his front leg looking to land his right hand. The constant aggression of Scott makes him easier to hit and he was dropped twice prior to submitting Dylan Andrews.

Despite his submission success, Scott hasn’t put up big takedown numbers- landing just 2 at a 15% completion rate.

Askham has power, but his stoppages came over a pair of fighters with a combined 7 losses by knockout. His inability to match his opponent’s pace when he can’t finish doesn’t bode well for him against a pressure-based attack like Scott brings. Scott needs to stay in Askham’s face and use his forward aggression to take away the kicks of Askham while maintaining his own output- my prediction is Bradley Scott to defeat Scott Askham by decision.
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135lbs- Lina Lansberg (6-1-0) vs Lucie Pudilova (6-1-0)

In the opening fight of the night, Lina “Elbow Queen” Lansberg returns from her encounter with the most dangerous woman on the planet to make her second UFC appearance in a rematch with the debuting Lucie “Bullett” Pudilova in the Bantamweight division. Lansberg is coming off her first career defeat, lasting into the middle round with Cris Cyborg before succumbing to a mass accumulation of damage. Pudilova has won 3 in a row dating back to a 2015 meeting with Lansberg- Lina won the fight by decision.

Pudilova is an inch taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. She is 12 years younger than Lina. Pudilova is replacing Veronica Macedo on short notice.

Their first encounter was fairly underwhelming. Lansberg kept Pudilova pinned on the cage for the duration of the fight, with Lucie unable to create any separation. While Lina was holding position and landing some knees, the referee stepped in on 6 different occasions to force a break. At range, Pudilova didn’t have a lot to offer and was quickly clamped down on. Rinse and repeat.

Since their first encounter, the Czech fighter has picked up a pair of submission wins and a 5-round split decision triumph. But has she improved enough to change the outcome of this fight? Whether she has improved or not, making her debut on short notice is going to be difficult. Against Cyborg, Lansberg showed how tough she is. She hung in there and forced the former Invicta champ to the midway point of the fight despite taking a lot of damage. Lansberg has no reason to deviate from her previous clinch heavy gameplan and the minimal prep that Lucie has could make it difficult for her to hold up for an entire 3-rounds. Lansberg will wade through Lucie’s jab, control the clinch position, but this time around look for her to have more success with elbows and knees- my prediction is Lina Lansberg to defeat Lucie Pudilova by TKO.

155lbs- #11 Francisco Trinaldo (21-4-0) vs Kevin Lee (14-2-0)

Headlining the prelims, top 15 ranked Francisco “Massaranduba” Trinaldo meets “The Motown Phenom” Kevin Lee in the Lightweight division. Trinaldo is on a tear, winning 7 consecutive bouts; defeating the likes of Paul Felder, Ross Pearson, and Chad Laprise. Lee is on a 3-fight winning streak and has won 7 of his last 8 fights- submitting Magomed Mustafaev in last contest.

Both men stand 5’9″, but Lee will have a massive 7″ reach advantage. The American is also 14-years younger than his opponent.

Trinaldo is coming off the 7th knockout finish of his career. He has added 5 submission wins and is a solid 9-2 when fights go the distance. Francisco has been submitted twice. Lee has finished his foe in 3 of his last 4 wins. For his career, he has stopped 7 opponents- 6 by submission. He is 7-1 in decisions, losing on the scorecards in his debut against Al Iaquinta.

The improved striking repertoire has been at the heart of Trinaldo’s current surge. He put up a personal best 117-significant strikes in his win over Yancy Mederios and got the better of Felder on the feet prior to the doctor stoppage. “Massaranduba” has power in his right hand and a strong left jab. He will attack the body while throwing hard low kicks at distance and knees in close. Against the rangy Yancy Mederios, the Brazilian utilized a clinch heavy attack to control him against the cage and set up his short range strikes. Over his last 3 wins, Francisco has landed at least 1 takedown per fight.

Melding together a strong wrestling game and sound striking attack, Lee offers a diversified offensive front. Despite his above average reach, Lee only lands +0.62 strikes per minute more than he gives up. “The Motown Phenom” works behind a long jab and good footwork to set up his offense. In his last fight, Lee set a personal Octagon best with 7 takedowns. Shooting on his opponent from the onset of the fight, he utilized his takedowns to stop his adversary’s forward pressure. Once on the mat, Lee’s transition game was impressive, constantly advancing and eventually sinking in the final choke.

Lee appears to have the cardio and speed advantages and Trinaldo has the edge in power. Francisco is fighting at home which is an added bonus. There have been some questions about Lee’s chin, but Trinaldo was also hurt in the Mederios fight. Lee has struggled with aggressive strikers and can be hit. Look for Trinaldo to stuff takedowns and get the better of the striking exchanges, especially at close range and in the clinch- my prediction is Francisco Trinaldo to defeat Kevin Lee by decision.

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170lbs- Sergio Moraes (11-3-1) vs Davi Ramos (6-1-0)

Undefeated over his last 6 outings, Sergio “Panther” Moraes welcomes short-notice injury replacement Davi Ramos to the UFC’s Welterweight division. During Moraes’s current run he has recorded wins over Neil Magny, Omari Akhmedov, and he won a split decision over Zak Ottow in his most recent fight. Ramos has picked up back to back wins after suffering the first defeat of his career, a unanimous decision loss to David Rickels in his only Bellator appearance.

Ramos is taking this bout with less than 2-weeks to prepare. He is listed as a Lightweight and will give up 4 inches of height to Moraes. Sergio is the older man by 4 years.

A vaunted BJJ Black belt, Moraes has won 7 of his 11 wins by submission- 3 by RNC. The BJJ ace hasn’t won via tap out since his 2013 victory over Magny, picking up his only career win by knockout to go along with a 2-0-1 mark in decisions. Overall, Sergio is 3-1-1 when the judges get involved. Another top level BJJ Black belt, Ramos also carries a submission heavy record. He has won 4-times by sub compared to single wins by knockout and decision.

A long time staple in the grappling word, Ramos is elite on the mat. A one and done stint under the RFA banner produced an impressive RNC finish. After getting the fight to the floor, he effortlessly transitioned to his opponent’s back and sank in the fight ending choke. Davi has picked up similar victories, only needing 1 opportunity on the floor to snatch an arm or neck to force the tap. On the feet, he tends to lunge into his techniques which limits their effectiveness. His kicks appear to be his best striking technique.

Moraes has the ability to finish his adversary with just a single opportunity on the mat. That being said, he has moved away from his ground game of late- completing just 1 takedown over his last 3 bouts. During that span, he won a split decision, went to a draw, and had to score a late knockout to avoid a loss on the scorecards. Against Ottow, Sergio landed a nice single leg/trip takedown followed by suffocating top control to win the opening round. Morae’s striking is developing and he has undervalued power, but he is still a little on the wild side. Over his last 3 fights, he has been on the wrong side of the striking totals.

If this bout hits the mat, the exchanges will be fantastic. Unfortunately, their ground skills could negate each other leading to a striking-based fight. The debut, short notice, and jump in division are all negative factors for Ramos. Moraes will find slightly more success with his striking and if Ramos slows down, Sergio could capitalize with some crucial top time- my prediction is Sergio Moraes to defeat Davi Ramos by decision.

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135lbs- #14 Rani Yahya (23-8-0 1NC) vs Joe Soto (17-5-0)

After finally entering the Top 15, Rani Yahya will look to continue his climb to the top of the Bantamweight division when he takes on former title challenger Joe “One Bad Mofo” Soto. Yahya has won 4 consecutive fights dating back to a No Contest against Johnny Bedford- he most recently defeated Michinori Tanaka last September. After an 0-3 start to his UFC run, Soto has rallied to win a pair of bouts by submission- tapping out Marco Beltran and Chirs Beal.

Both men are 5’6″, but Rani will have a 2″ reach advantage. Soto is the younger man by 2-years.

An elite level BJJ Black Belt, Yahya was recorded 17-wins by submission- 3 in the UFC. The Brazilian is 6-5 on the scorecards but has won 4 of his last 5 fights to go the distance. His only loss during that span came via split decision. Rani has never won a fight by knockout but has lost 2- the last coming in 2009. Soto has a slightly more diversified record, but has still relied on his grappling skills to secure the majority of his wins. Submissions have accounted for 10 of his 17 wins- 4 by RNC. Joe has been subbed just once and is 2-1 in decisions. Unlike Yahya, Soto has picked up 5 wins by knockout compared to a trio of losses by the same method.

Soto would be best served to rely on his striking game and avoid getting dragged into a grappling contest with Yahya. That might be easier said than done. Joe has scored a takedown in each of his last 3-fights and has a crafty transition game. Conversely, he was taken down on 3 occasions by Michinori Tanaka and twice by TJ Dillashaw. Against Tanaka, he was routinely engaging Michinori on the mat and chaining submissions together, but getting the worst of the positional battle. If Joe can stay vertical, he has put up some decent striking totals including 71 significant strikes in the Tanaka bout.

The Brazilian has worked at improving his striking, it remains a secondary aspect of his offense. While Yani only completes 37% of his TDAs, he has put up impressive takedown numbers during his current 4-fight winning streak. He completed 7 takedowns against Tanaka and 17 over his last 4 wins. Rani’s continued pursuit of the takedown is partially the reason for his low completion rate, but once he is able to clamp down his foe he is difficult to shake off. With a smothering top game and constant threat of a submission, Yayha’s pressure can be overwhelming. On the negative side, his cardio is a bit of a concern and has been known to fail him late in fights.

If Soto can score on the feet and force Yahya to work off his back when they do hit the mat, he could scoop up a decision. Unfortunately, Yahya’s unassuming physical strength and overwhelming top game will be too much for Joe to overcome. Fighting in Brazil will make it difficult for Soto to gain an edge with the judges and Yahya’s cardio is normally good enough to secure the opening 2 rounds before he fades- my prediction is Rani Yahya to defeat Joe Soto by decision.

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155lbs- Michel Prazeres (21-2-0) vs Joshua Burkman (29-14-0 1NC)

In the Lightweight division, Michel “Tractor” Prazeres takes on former Welterweight Joshua “The People’s Warrior” Burkman. Prazeres is coming off of an upset win over Gilbert Burns and has won 3 consecutive fights overall. Burkman could be facing the end of his UFC run as he has lost 2 in a row and 4 of his last 5 fights.

A former Welterweight, Burkman is 4 inches taller than Prazeres and will have a 5″ reach advantage. Prazeres is 1 year younger than Burkman.

The Brazilian has gone the distance in each of his 7 UFC appearances, winning 5. He is 12-2 overall on the scorecards with 8 submission wins and a single victory by knockout. Prazeres has never been finished. Burkman has a more spread out record; winning 7-times by knockout to go along with 10 submission victories and an 11-6 record on the scorecards. Josh has been stopped 8-times, 7 by submission.

Despite not utilizing his submission skills inside the Octagon, Prazeres has still had a lot of success on the floor. Averaging just over 4 completions per fight, he picked up 5 takedowns against Burns and has hit the 7 completion mark on 2 separation occasions. The top control time was limited against Gilbert, but he was still scoring by taking him off his feet. Defensively, Michel demoed a strong sprawl to shut down Burns’s TDAs. On the feet, it is power over finesse. Prazeres will throws hard hooks in succession and was cracking Burns when he moved forward to engage. The Physical makeup of the Brazilian has created some issues. He struggled with the length of Kevin Lee and his cardio is a bit of a question mark in longer, more demanding fights.

A long-time veteran, Burkman maintains a calm demeanor in the cage. At times, Josh can hold back a bit too much and allow his opponent to outwork him. At the other end of the spectrum, he can quickly switch gears and unload with heavy-handed flurries. Josh likes to open fights with a kick-heavy attack, usually attacking his opponent’s body and legs. He has a decent right hand, sneaky left hook, and will target the body with a jab. Burkman has good TDD, defending 74% of his opponent’s attempts. Offensively, he has picked up 7 takedowns over his last 3 fights.

Neither man is an overwhelming striker, but Prazeres appears to have tightened up his striking to go along with his thudding power. Look for the Brazilian to have success bullying Burkman in the clinch, scoring a couple key takedowns, and getting the better of the striking exchanges. Burkman’s lack of consistent activity has made it difficult for him to win decisions, it won’t get any easier in Brazil- my prediction is Michel Prazeres to defeat Joshua Burkman by decision.Paragraph breaker

145lbs- Rony Jason (15-6-0 1NC) vs Jeremy Kennedy (9-0-0)

In the Featherweight division, Rony Jason looks to snap out of a 3-fight winless slump when he takes on undefeated Canadian Jeremy “JBC” Kennedy. Kennedy defeated Alex Ricci in his debut and finished 2016 with a 2-0 record. Jason lost a decision to Dennis Bermudez in his first bout after having his submission win over Damon Jackson overturned- his last official victory came back in 2014 over Steven Siler.

Kennedy debuted as a 155er, but will be returning to Featherweight for this fight. He stands 4 inches taller than Jason with a 1″ reach advantage. The Canadian is the younger man by 8 years.

The Brazilian has 8 wins by submission and has finished his opponent in all but 1 of his 14 wins. Jason is 11-1 in fights ending inside the opening round and 2-5 in bouts that go beyond the first 5-minutes. Rony has been finished 3-times, twice by knockout. Kennedy has 5 career finishes (3 knockouts, 2 subs), with just 2 ending in the opening frame. He is 4-0 on the scorecards.

Kennedy defeated Ricci with a clinch and takedown centric gameplan. “JBC” completed 5 takedowns on 14 attempts, struggling at times to get Ricci to the floor. The majority of his success came when he punched his way into the clinch, forced his opponent to cover up, and then went for a takedown. Despite his grappling-heavy attack, he has spent a lot of time working in Thailand to help round out his striking skills. He didn’t trade at distance for very long, opting to maintain close quarters and routinely reverting back to his clinch game.

As the numbers suggest, Jason is aggressive wherever the action takes place. On the feet, he offers a variety of techniques. Look for him to throw spinning attacks and jumping knees. The majority of his more conventional offense comes from the right side. Jason lacks overwhelming takedown numbers, averaging less than a completion per fight. Instead, he will rely on his opponent to initiate the grappling exchange before going on the attack once they hit the floor. Jason has a very active guard, continually rolling his hips and looking to attack with a triangle or armbar. Unfortunately, if Rony is unable to catch something early, his output tends to wane later in the fight.

If Kennedy can survive the early onslaught and drag this fight into the second half, it is his bout to win. That being said, the atmosphere and pressure of fighting in Brazil is a lot for a young fighter. It will be even more difficult considering how heavily he relies on his grappling game. Eventually, Kennedy will get drawn into the clinch and when the fight hits the mat Jason will go to work against his over-zealous opponent- my prediction is Rony Jason to defeat Jeremy Kennedy by submission.

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185lbs- Garreth McLellan (13-5-0) vs Paulo Borrachinha (8-0-0)

To kick off the night’s festivities, South Africa’s Garreth “Soldier Boy” McLellan takes on the debuting Paulo Borrachinha in the Middleweight division. McLellan went the distance in a split decision loss to Alessio Di Chirico and is 1-3 inside the Octagon. Borrachinha, yet to taste defeat, went 2-0 in 2016, with his last 3 opponents combining for a solid 31-7 record.

Both men are 6’1″ and share a 72″ reach. The Brazilian is the younger man by 9-years.

A BJJ Blue belt, McLellan has snapped up 9 wins by submission. His only UFC win came via TKO with just 2-seconds left in the final round- it was the 3rd knockout victory of his career. “Soldier Boy” is 1-2 on the scorecards. Borrachinha has never gone beyond the opening round, with his longest fight ending when his opponent failed to answer the bell for round 2. He has finished 7 foes by knockout and 1 by submission.

McLellan’s run in the UFC has many questioning why he is still with the promotion. What success he has had came on the strength of his wrestling. He averages 1.18 takedowns per fight at a 23% completion rate. The only UFC win on his resume was the result of a pair of takedowns and top position strikes. Against Di Chirico, he attempted 8 takedowns and landed 2. At distance, most of his offense comes in the form of single-note strikes. The best techniques he has to offer are his kicks.

As indicated by the numbers, Borrachinha has some decent pop in his hands. He moves well, throws a solid 1-2, will dig to the body, and mixes in some hard kicks. A long, spearing left jab is usually following by a hard right hand and he will unload with fairly accurate multi-punch combos. His pursuit of the finish does leave him open to absorbing damage, but so far that has not been an issue. During his time on TUF Brazil 3 he earned a 2nd round submission win before falling in the quarter-finals by decision. If given the opportunity, Paulo can finish on the mat via sub or heavy GNP.

The biggest question surrounding Borrachinha is his cardio. If McLellan can drag him beyond the opening round, we could see the Brazilian slowdown. The key to the fight is Borrachinha’s superior striking and good enough counter wrestling to remain vertical. The combination of speed, power, and diversity will be too much for “Solider Boy” to handle, my prediction is Paulo Borrachinha to defeat Garreth McLellan by TKO.

265lbs- Marcin Tybura (14-2-0) vs Luis Henrique (10-2-0 1NC)

Originally scheduled to take place at UFC 208, Heavyweights Marcin “Tybur” Tybura and Luis “KLB” Henrique go head to head to close out the UFC 209 preliminary card. Tybura leveled his UFC record at 1-1 when he knocked out Viktor Pesta last Summer- he dropped a competitive decision to Tim Johnson in his debut. Henrique rallied from his knockout loss to Francis Ngannou by defeating both Dmitry Smoliakov and Christian Colombo by submission.

The Polish fighter is an inch taller, but will have a 4″ reach advantage. Marcin should come in 5-6 pound heavier than his foe, who formerly fought at Light Heavyweight. The Brazilian is 8-years younger than his opponent.

Tybura has split his 12 finishes equally between knockouts and submissions. His only loss inside the distance was the result of a doctor stoppage due to a cut. Marcin is 2-1 on the scorecards, but a more impressive 5-2 when his fights go beyond the first 5-minutes. Henrique has been knocked out twice; by the aforementioned Ngannou and by current UFC Welterweight Sultan Aliev. He is 3-0 on the scorecards and has finished 7 opponents- 4 by submission. Luis has stopped 4 fights after the opening round.

Tybura’s knockout of Pesta was impressive and indicative of his improved focus on striking while working at Alliance MMA. Look for his to throw a lot of kicks and a decent right hand. Against Johnson, he had a slight edge in significant strikes at 48-45. Johnson found success grinding Marcin into the cage, but was unable to get his wrestling game going against the former M-1 champ. The clinch and takedown game are a crucial part of the attack of “Tybur”. He likes to control his opponent along the wall before changing levels for a takedown and going to work on the floor with a smothering top game.

Over his last 2 fights, “KLB” has shown himself capable of grinding down his opponent, dragging them into the second half of the bout, and then putting them away. Moving forward behind hard punches, Henrique will either set up a body lock takedown or double leg against the cage. Against Colombo, he went 6 for 6 on his takedown attempts. Once on the mat, the Brazilian offers decent GNP and a serviceable sub game. When striking at distance, Henrique can be a little wild and will expose his chin when under attack.

Henrique has feasted on fighters that have tired quickly, but he also appeared to slow a little against Colombo. Tybura is the technically superior striker and should be the more effective fighter in space. While Henrique is at his best in the clinch, he isn’t on Johnson’s level and Marcin will find success turning the position in his favour. Tybura will get the better of the grappling battle, land the superior strikes, and take over the fight when Henrqiue has tired himself out in his unsuccessful bid for takedowns- my prediction is Marcin Tybura to defeat Luis Henrique by decision.

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145lbs- #13 Mirsad Bektic (11-0-0) vs #14 Darren Elkins (22-5-0)

In a battle between a blue-chip prospect and a hard-nosed veteran, Mirsad Bektic takes on the newly tattooed Darren “The Damage” Elkins in the Featherweight division. Still undefeated, Bektic picked up his only win of 2016 at UFC 204 when he submitted Russell Doane- he is 4-0 inside the Octagon. Elkins has won 3 in a row and 4 of his last 5, most recently defeating Godofredo Pepey by decision last July.

Elkins is 2 inches taller than his opponent and will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. With 16 more pro bout, Elkins is the older man by 7 years.

After finishing each of his last 2 opponents, Bektic has won by knockout on 5 occasions to go along with a trio of tap outs- stopping 5 fights in the first frame. Elkins has gone the distance in exactly half of his fights, winning all but 2. His last stoppage win came in 2013, the 7th knockout of his career to go along with a pair of defeats. Darren is 3-1 in fights ending via submission.

“The Damage” has completed 19-takedowns over his last 3 appearances and is a top position nightmare. Elkins has sound positional control and once he has establishes his top game, look for him to unload with a steady barrage of ground and pound. Equally as crucial to his success is his cardio. The ability to keep pushing and grinding down his adversary over the duration of the bout makes up for what Elkins lacks in pure athleticism.

Not to be outdone, Bektic has put up some pretty solid ground numbers of his own. Averaging 4.14 takedowns per fight, he took Doane down on 4 occasions in just over 4-minutes. The American Top Team product, melds together a relentless pace, heavy ground strikes, and a capable submission acumen. His striking is the secondary aspect of his offense, but his opponent’s focus on defending the takedown can open up opportunities on the feet.

Elkins isn’t nearly the same fighter when he is unable to land takedowns and he has struggled when opponents have targeted his defensive wrestling. Even if the wrestling is a wash, Mirsad should have the edge in striking. Elkins will hang around, but struggle to match the ferocity of his opponent while spending too much time on his back- my prediction is Mirsad Bektic to defeat Darren Elkins by decision.

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135lbs- #15 Iuri Alcantara (33-7-0 1NC) vs Luke Sanders (11-0-0)

Brazilian Iuri “Marajo” Alcantara looks to hold onto his Top 15 spot in the Bantamweight rankings when he takes on promotional sophomore “Cool Hand” Luke Sanders. Alcantara made quick work of Brad Pickett at UFC 204, but he has alternated wins and losses over his last 5 fights. Sanders retained his perfect record with an opening round submission win against Maximo Blanco in his debut- it was his only fight of 2016.

A former Featherweight, Alcantara is 3 inches taller and will have a 4″ reach advantage. Sanders, who debuted at Featherweight, is 5-years younger than the Brazilian and is returning after a 13-month layoff.

An equal opportunity finisher, “Marajo” has stopped 27 opponents- 14 by knockout. Prior to finishing Pickett, he had gone the distance in 4-straight fights and is 7-5 in decisions. At a sizeable experience deficit, Sanders has finished 6 opponents by knockout, 2 by submission, and is a perfect 3-0 on the scorecards. He has just 2 opening round wins over his last 7 outings after stopping each of his first 4 adversaries in round 1 to begin his pro career.

Maintaining an active pace, Sanders effectively strikes in the gaps between exchanges. He will land short strikes off the break of the clinch and look to stick his opponent with quick punches after they conclude their attack. “Cool Hand” Luke had success countering Blanco when he came forward. He relies heavily on his overhand left and adds in stiff low kicks and knee strikes both at range and on the inside. The submission finish came after he dropped Blanco with a left hand. Sanders will go to his wrestling if needed, but it isn’t the centerpiece of his attack.

As his record indicates, Alcantara is dangerous anywhere the fight takes place. He obliterated Vaughan Lee with a left hand and blasted Pickett with a spinning back elbow before getting the tap. When working on the outside, “Marajo” throws hard kicks to the body and legs, occasionally targeting the head. He will also launch sharp knees to his foe’s midsection and chin. Iuri can sit back and counter striker, but he needs to avoid getting outworked, especially if he slows in the second half. Defensively, he has given up 15 takedowns in his last 4 losses compared to 9 over his 11 UFC wins- including 6 against Russell Doane.

Sanders’s pace and cardio are the keys to his success here, but Alcantara is the more diversified and impactful striker. Sanders lacks the strong wrestling game to take Alcantara down and he relies too much on his left hand which makes him predictable at times. The combination of Alcantara’s reach, kicking offense, and counter striking will make it difficult for Sanders to routinely land. Like Luke, Iuri is a Southpaw which could make Sanders’s striking a little less effective- my predition is Iuri Alcantara to defeat Luke Sanders by TKO.

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265lbs- Mark Godbeer (11-3-0) vs Daniel Spitz (5-0-0)

The first televised fight of the night goes down in the Heavyweight division as Mark “The Hand of” Godbeer tries to rebound from an unsuccessful debut when he meets newcomer Daniel Spitz. Undefeated, Spitz picked up a trio of victories in 2016 including a decision win over UFC-vet Wesley “Cabbage” Correira. Godbeer fell by submission to Justin Ledet in his debut, stopping his 3-fight winning streak that dated back to a Bellator 102 loss to Cheick Kongo.

At 6’7″ and 245 pounds, Spitz is lanky addition to the division. He is 3 inches taller than Godbeer and will be roughly 5 pounds heavier. Spitz is the younger man by 7-years, but he is replacing Todd Duffee on roughly 3 week’s notice.

Spitz is coming off of a 6-second TKO win due to injury that followed the first decision win of his career. He has been outside the opening round just once, winning by submission in each of his first 3-pro fights. Godbeer has never gone the distance, winning 9-times by knockout and twice by submission. He is coming off of the first submission defeat of his career to go along with a pair of knockout defeats.

The level of competition that Spitz has been dealing with hasn’t been that strong. The win over “Cabbage” does show that he can go a full 3 rounds, which is a major positive for a Heavyweight. In the clinch, Spitz throws hard knees and was able to keep Correira pinned on the wall before separating to unload with his hands. At distance, Daniel will use fakes and feints to draw out his opponent’s attack and work behind a jab and front kick to the body. He doesn’t appear to have a strong wrestling game, despite his trio of wins by submission.

In his only Bellator appearance, Godbeer struggled with the clinch attack of Kongo and eventually succumbed. Against Ledet, he spent the majority of the bout in defensive mode prior to getting subbed. The former BAMMA champ blends together his boxing and kicking attack. He seems to find his greatest success when he attacks the body with kicks or ends a quick 1-2 with a hard low kick. The biggest knocks on the Brit have been his cardio and grappling defense.

Godbeer has to avoid gifting Spitz a superior grappling position or spending too much time in the clinch. He should be the superior striker and all indications are he is the quicker man. The lack of quality experience and short notice debut put Spitz in a tough spot- my prediction is Mark Godbeer to defeat Daniel Spitz by TKO.Paragraph breaker

205lbs- Tyson Pedro (5-0-0) vs Paul Craig (9-0-0)

Headlining the Fightpass Prelims, a pair of promotional sophomore’s square off in the Light Heavyweight division as Tyson Pedro takes on “Bearjew” Paul Craig. Pedro submitted Khalil Rountree in his debut last November to remain undefeated. Craig picked up a submission win over Henrique da Silva in December to also hold onto his perfect mark.

Both men are 6’3″. Pedro will have a 3″ reach advantage and is the younger man by 4-years.

Leaning heavily on their grappling skills, Craig has subbed 8 of his 9 opponents and Pedro has done the same in all but 1 of his 5 victories. Craig caught da Silva with a armbar, but his submission of choice appears to be the triangle choke. His UFC debut was just the 2nd time he had fought beyond the opening round. Pedro has never seen anything after the round 1, surpassing the 4-minute mark for the first time in his debut. He has a trio of RNC victories on his record.

Pedro absorbed a monstrous shot from Rountree early, but survived and immediately scored a bodylock takedown. A second completion and subsequent back take lead to the RNC finish. Utilizing a smothering top game, Pedro will capitalize on his opponent’s attempt to get vertical and further advance position in pursuit of a finish. Tyson offers some serviceable takedown skills and can trade on the feet. He is fighting outside of Austrailian for the first time in his career, which could be a complicating factor.

Despite picking up the win off of his back, Craig held his own early on the feet and in the clinch against da Silva. He landed some decent kicks and knees in close before a well-timed entry for a takedown. Later he looked to set up his shot behind a flurry of punches. While he did have some good top control time, his willingness to give up position for submission is concerning. Fatigue appeared to be setting in round 2, before he pulled guard and masterfully snared the triangle for the tap.

Each fighter is limited in overall cage time, especially beyond the 5-minute mark, but the edge should lie with Craig based on quality and quantity of experience. The travel factor and significant time change could further hinder Pedro if this bout does cross over into the middle frame and beyond. Craig will get the better of the wrestling and if taken down he will be dangerous off his back, potentially capitalizing if Pedro tires in a longer fight- my prediction is Paul Craig to defeat Tyson Pedro by submission.

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115lbs- Amanda Cooper (2-2-0) vs Cynthia Calvillo (3-0-0)

In the Women’s Strawweight division, TUF runner-up Amanda “ABC” Cooper looks to build on her first UFC win when she takes on the debuting Cynthia Calvillo. Calvillo has yet to taste defeat, making her pro debut in 2016 and already picking up a win this year. Cooper dropped the TUF finals via submission to Tatiana Suarez, but rallied to defeat Anna Elmose by decision next time out.

Calvillo is an inch taller and will have an inch reach advantage. Cooper is the younger girl by 4-years.

During her time on the show, Cooper picked up a pair of submission wins to go a long with a decision victory. As a pro, she earned a RNC debut victory and finished all her amateur wins inside the distance. Both of her pro defeats came by tap out. Calvillo has a pair of TKO victories, both outside the opening round, to go along with a decision win.

Training out of Team Alpha Male, Calvillo showcased strong defensive wrestling in her last fight stuffing her opponent’s attempts to take her down. When she is taken off of her vertical base, she has good core strength that allows her to counter into the superior position. Once on the mat, she quickly locked up a body triangle to secure back control. She melds together a good transition game with strikes and the constant threat of a submission. To support her wrestling Cynthia will set up her shot with punches, but her vertical offense is still a little stiff.

In the TUF Finals, Cooper came out looking to trade on the feet, but was quickly taken down. She came close on an armbar, but ended up getting subbed only minutes later. In her second UFC fight she survived a knockdown to pick up a win on the scorecards. She is a serviceable striker, but doesn’t have a tonne of power to back it up. On the mat, “ABC” had mixed results against Elmose. After getting knocked down she spent some time on her back, but later in the fight Cooper picked up a pair of crucial takedowns. Throughout the contest, Amanda benefited from the lack of output from her opponent.

Considering the camp she comes from and the issues that Cooper has had on the mat, Calvillo will most likely come out with a wrestling-centric attack. Cooper has the striking edge, but it won’t count for much if she can’t stay vertical long enough to make an impact. Cooper will simply spend too much time on her back against a strong top position fighter- my prediction is Cynthia Calvillo to defeat Amanda Cooper by decision.

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135lbs- Albert Morales (6-1-1) vs Andre Soukhamthath (11-3-0)

After a co-main event spot in his last outing, Albert “The Warrior” Morales opens the card against the debuting Andre “The Asian Sensation” Soukhamthath in the Bantamweight division. Morales remained winless in the UFC after a 2nd round TKO loss to Thomas Almeida, he fought to a draw with Alejandro Perez in his debut. Soukhamthath has won a trio of fights including a perfect 2-0 run in 2016- most recently avenging an earlier loss to Kin Moy with a 2nd round TKO.

Morales is the younger man by 3-years. Both men are 5’9″ and have a 72″ reach.

“The Warrior” has finished his opponent in all but 1 of his victories; stopping a pair by knockout to go along with a trio of submission wins. Morales is coming off his first defeat as a pro. Soukhamthath is a dismal 1-3 on the scorecards, but has a solid finishing rate. Of his 11 wins, he has 7 knockouts and 3 submission wins. Despite his high rate of finish, Andre has picked up just 3 opening round stoppages.

A former member of the Blackzilians, Soukhamthath is a willing combatant on the feet. With some pop in his hands, he will lead with a quick jab and follow with his more dangerous offerings. He likes to sit in the pocket, just avoiding his opponent’s strikes, before returning fire. An offense-first fighter, he does have a tendency to be a little lax with his defense and will take damage as a result. His wrestling attack is focussed more on staying vertical and has been tested heavily in recent fights.

An aggressive striker, Morales is at his best when he is walking down his foe with heavy-handed flurries. Augmenting his boxing with hard low kicks, Morales would benefit from an increased implementation of a jab. He will leave himself open at times and isn’t nearly the same fighter when being pushed backward. However, Morales did find some success slipping and ripping counters against Almeida. Later in the opening round, Albert showcased a quick back take and opportunistic grappling game.

Morales tends to sling his punches with limited setup which will limit his effectiveness. Soukhamthath’s willingness to sit in the pocket and trade will keep Morales from consistently backing him up. The UFC neophyte has shown the ability to weather the initial storm and then take the fight over in the 2nd half- my prediction is Andre Soukhamthath to defeat Albert Morales by knockout.

170lbs- Nordine Taleb (11-3-0) vs Santiago Ponzinibbio (24-3-0)

Capping off the undercard, Nordine “The Machine” Taleb battles Argentina’s Santiago “Gente Boa” Ponzinibbio. Taleb turned his UFC career around with a 4-1 run after a pair of unsuccessful stints on the reality show- he is coming off of a TKO victory over Erick Silva. Ponzinibbio has rattled off 3 consecutive wins, most recently defeating Zak Cummings by decision.

Taleb is an inch taller and will have an inch reach advantage, but he has been out of action for almost a full year. “Gente Boa” is the younger man by 5-years.

Having stopped 3 of his last 5 wins by knockout, Ponzinibbio has pushed his overall career total to 13 TKO/KOs. He has added in 6 submissions and a solid 4-1 record on the scorecards. Of the 19 finishes, 14 have come in the opening round. Ponzinibbio was knocked out by Lorenz Larkin- he has been stopped with strikes twice. Nordine’s KO of Silva was his first since 2012- he has finished 6 opponents with strikes. Taleb is 6-1 on the scorecards and has been finished twice- once each by submission and knockout.

Taleb is coming off a knockout, but his forte has been his takedown game. He has picked up 13 takedowns over his 4-UFC wins, including his UFC-best 6 completions in a fight back in 2015. He is a BJJ Brown belt, but his focus has been more on controlling from top position instead of looking for a finish.  Warlley Alves stuffed both of his TDAs before locking up a guillotine for the tap. Nordine has some pop in his hands, but lacks a consistent output to dominate a fight without having success on the floor.

The Argentinian has power in his hands and has rounded out the technical aspect of his striking attack in recent fights. Ponzinibbio sits down on his strikes and lands long hard punches. He will also mix in a decent kicking game. At 4.15 SLpM, he does some of his best work when he can pin his opponent along the cage and unload with barrages. His TDD has improved, but it has been a point of vulnerability- he has given up 2 or more takedowns on 3 separate occasions.

There is an avenue to victory for Taleb if he can land takedowns with consistency and break down Santiago with his position control. Unfortunately, the improvements in the TDD of Ponzinibbio along with his superior striking attack and aggressive forward pressure are going to shut down Nordine’s wrestling. Taleb will hold his own on the feet, but the power and speed of Ponzinibbio will simply be too much for him to match- my prediction is Santiago Ponzinibbio to defeat Nordine Taleb by decision.

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115lbs- #3 Carla Esparza (12-3-0) vs Randa Markos (6-5-0)

Dating back to their time in the Ultimate Fighter house, Carla “Cookie Monster” Esparza and Randa “Quiet Storm” Esparza renew hostilities in the Strawweight division. Esparza returned to action at UFC 197 to defeat Juliana Lima by decision in her first fight since dropping the title to Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Markos was submitted by Cortney Casey at UFC 202 and has alternated wins and losses over her last 8 fights.

At just 5’4″, Markos is still 3 inches taller than the former Champion. Both girls have a 63″ reach and Esparza is the younger woman by 2-years.

Esparza has recorded a trio of wins by knockout, 4 wins by submission, and 4 by decision. Carla has gone the distance in 3 of her last 6 wins, with her last stoppage coming via submission over Rose Namajunas when she captured the UFC title. Markos has never had a fight end via knockout and is coming off the first submission defeat of her career. She as a trio of submission wins to along with tapping out Felice Herrig during the TUF tournament. She is 3-3 on the scorecards, including a split decision loss to Jessica Penne.

Esparza comes from a strong wrestling background and is coming off of 5-takedown performance against Lima. She put up similar numbers against Namajunas. She has good timing on her double leg, catching her opponent coming forward and driving them to the mat. She has solid top position control, breaking down her foe with pressure and strikes. Conversely, Jedrzejcyk’s stout TDD shutdown Esparza’s wrestling in a complete wipe out of a fight.

Not to be outdone on the floor, Markos is a BJJ Purple belt and has completed at least 1 takedown in each of her UFC bouts. She ran into trouble against Casey after losing position resulting in the submission loss. She gave up 4 takedowns to Penne, but did a decent job of scrambling out of tough spots. When standing, the majority of her offense comes from the right side. She’s got some pop, but can be a little too one-dimensional with her hands.

This fight will come down to whether or not Esparza can take Markos down with regularity. Randa’s striking is too predictable and she is too offensively focus with her grappling which will create opportunities for Esparza to get on top and stay there. Esparza will hold her own on the feet until she elects to change levels and ground Markos- my prediction is Carla Esparza to defeat Randa Markos by decision.

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135lbs- Aiemann Zahabi (6-0-0) vs Reginaldo Vieira (14-4-0)

In the Bantamweight division, Quebec’s Aiemann Zahabi makes his promotional debut across the cage from TUF Brazil 4 tournament winner Reginaldo Vieira. Vieira is coming off of a submission loss to Marco Beltran last July- he is 1-1 inside the Octagon. Zahabi fought just once in 2016, securing a victory via TKO due to injury- his last 3 foes are a combined 13-14 overall.

The Canadian is an inch taller than his opponent, but he will have a 4″ reach advantage. Zahabi is also the younger man by 5-years.

Vieira is coming off the third submission loss of his career to go along with a knockout defeat back in 2013. He has 9 submission wins on his record and is 3-0 on the scorecards. His patented guillotine choke has accounted for 6 of his 9 victories. Zahabi has split his 6 wins evenly between submissions and knockouts. He has never fought beyond the opening round, with his longest fight lasting just 4:40. After starting his career with a trio of submission wins, 1 due to punches, he has since finished each of his last 3 opponents by knockout.

Training out of Tristar, the younger brother of Zahabi is short on quality experience and prolonged cage time. He offers a measured striking game with some decent pop and serviceable kicking game. Look for him to utilize feints to draw out his opponent’s attacks and then counter. In tight, Aiemann will throw hard knees or change levels for a takedown. Has had demoed decent hips to counter his opponent’s shot and once on top he is solid.

As the numbers would indicate, Vieira relies heavily on his mat game. He picked up a trio of takedowns against Beltran before getting finished. On the feet, he is a willing combatant and has some pop in his hands, but he throws primarily wide-ranging hooks. When not storming forward behind his punches, Reginaldo can get a little complacent on the outside. A tendency to muscle his techniques can result in a slowdown and he clearly was wearing down prior to getting finished last time out.

Despite the lack of overall experience, Zahabi comes from a strong camp and will be well prepared. His more refined striking technique will counter the wild aggression of the Brazilian and his counter wrestling will take Vieira’s grappling out of the equation- my prediction is Aiemann Zahabi to defeat Reginaldo Vieira by TKO.

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185lbs- Jack Marshman (21-5-0) vs Thiago Santos (13-5-0)

Welsh-born Jack “Hammer” Marshman takes on Brazil’s Thiago “Marreta” Santos in the Middleweight division. Marshman made a successful UFC debut, scoring a TKO victory over Magnus Cedenblad to extend his current winning streak to 7-straight fights. Santos has dropped back to back contests after an upset submission loss to Eric Wisely.

Both men are 6’0″ tall, Santos will have a 3″ reach advantage. Marshman is 5-years younger.

The knockout of Cedenblad was the 13th of Marshman’s career to go along with 5 wins by submission and a 3-2 record on the scorecards. He has finished 10 opponents in the opening round while suffering a trio of knockouts himself. Santos has recorded 4 knockouts in the UFC and 8 overall. He is 4-1 in decisions including his upset win over Elias Theodorou.

A scrappy striker, Marshman landed a hard left hook that dropped Cedenblad early. When forced to fight on the outside, he struggled to land with regularity but once he moved forward he was able to find a home for his left hook behind an ineffectual right side strike. While he has some power, Marshman has a tendency to throw stiff arm punches that routinely come up short.

Santos’s boxing technique isn’t the most technical and when put under pressure he will open up defensively. Hower, the kicking repertoire of the Brazilian is lethal. “Marreta” will target up and down the body, forcing his opponent to defend one area before targeting another. When fighting Thiago needs to be either all the way out or all the way in. Once on the inside and locked in the clinch, look for Thiago to let go with brutal elbows and knee strikes.

Both men have power and both have been knocked out in previous fights. Santos is the more refined striker based on his kicking technique and should have a speed advantage. Look for him to keep Marshman on the outside, landing hard kicks and then jamming Jack up in the clinch when he tries to close the gap- my prediction is Thiago Santos to defeat Jack Marshman by knockout.

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185lbs- Gerald Meerschaert (25-8-0) vs Ryan Janes (9-1-0)

The first of 4 Middleweight bouts on the card will also serve to open the evening’s festivities as Canada’s own Ryan Janes takes on Gerald “The Machine” Meerschaert in both fighter’s sophomore appearance. Meerschaert defeated Joe Gigliotti to extend his current winning streak to 6 consecutive bouts dating back to a 2014 defeat against Sam Alvey. Janes finally got into the Octagon at UFC Fight Night 102, defeating Keith Berish by decision for his 8th consecutive win.

At 6’3″, Janes is the taller man by 2 inches, but he will give up an inch to Meerschaert, who is younger than the Canadian by 8-years.

Janes picked up just his second career decision win in his debut, to improve to 2-1 when going the distance. He has finished 8 of his 10 wins- 7 by submission, with 6 of those coming via rear-naked choke. Holding a sizeable 23-fight edge in experience, Meerschaert has submitted 18 opponents. The Rufusport product has secured the majority of his submission wins by some form of choke. He has also been subbed 7-times, with his last coming in 2013. He has 5 wins knockout.

Despite making his debut on short notice, Meerschaert looked calm and composed. He slid in and out of range landing a quick jab, hooks, and quick kicks. He is considered a thinking man’s fighter, making adjustments on the fly. On the mat, Gerald demoed good scrambling skills and attacked off his back when Gigliotti took him down. The finish came when Meerschaert converted a well controlled back mount into a tight anaconda choke.

Janes relied on his reach and forward pressure, punctuated by a left jab against Berish. He was absorbing some big punches, but benefited from a lack of consistent activity from his opponent who focused on impact over work rate. The lack of a strong wrestling attack makes it difficult for Janes to bring his grappling skills to bear with consistency. He is dangerous on the floor, but if he is unable to put Meerschaert on his back he becomes a one-dimensional fighter.

Meerschaert has the superior wrestling attack which will give him a positional advantage on the mat or allow him to keep the fight vertical to avoid the grappling of Janes. On the feet, Janes is too defensively lax and doesn’t have the type of power needed to back his foe up. Meerschaert will get the better of the striking exchanges and hold the edge on the mat with top positional control- my prediction is Gerald Meerschaert to defeat Ryan Janes by decision.

170lbs- RANDY BROWN (9-1-0) vs BELAL MUHAMMAD (10-2-0)

In the headlining bout of the undercard, Randy “Rude Boy” Brown battles it out with injury replacement Belal “Remember the Name” Muhammad in the Welterweight division. Brown has won back to back fights to improve to 3-1 inside the Octagon- he was last seen scoring a TKO victory over Brian Camozzi. Muhammad is coming off a knockout loss to Vicente Luque to go along with a decision defeat in his debut against Alan Jouban- he scored a late TKO victory against Augusto Montano in his only Octagon win.

At 6’3″, Brown is 4 inches taller than Muhammad and will have a 6″ reach advantage. Randy is also the younger man by 2-years. Belal is replacing George Sullivan on roughly 2-weeks’ notice.

In victory, Brown has finished just short of 90% of his opponents- 5 by knockout and 3 by submission. His debut victory over Matt Dwyer was his first and only fight to go the full 3-rounds. His lone defeat was a 2nd round submission to Randy Graves in his UFC sophomore appearance. The first loss of Muhammad’s career came via in his short-notice debut against Alan Jouban, dropping him to 6-1 on the scorecards. Belal has finished 4 opponents by knockout to go along with his KO defeat in his last fight.

Last time out, Brown demonstrated his continued improvements on the feet. “Rude Boy” has decent pop in his hands, but against Camozzi he was utilizing his reach to keep him at the end of his strikes while still doing damage. His above average height will also allow him to attack on the inside, landing big knees in the clinch. He will engage on the mat and has shown serviceable wrestling and submission skills. Muhammad has decent TDD and will go offensive with his ground game if given the opportunity. He possesses a tight boxing game, but not a tonne of power. He eventually put down Montano through the accumulation of damage. The biggest defensive concern is his chin. Prior to getting knocked out by Luque, he had been rocked multiple times by Jouban.

Stepping in on short notice isn’t easy, but Belal is going to be motivated to put on a strong performance after his last bout. Brown has the power to replicate the knockout, but he is going to struggle with the more technical striking of Muhammad. Look for the former Titan FC champ to mix in a couple well-timed takedowns to go along with a superior work rate on the feet- my prediction is Belal Muhammad to defeat Randy Brown by decision.

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125lbs- #5 WILSON REIS (21-6-0) vs ULKA SASAKI (19-3-2)

Formerly tied to a Flyweight title shot, Wilson Reis takes on sophomore 125-pounder Ulka Sasaki. Reis has won back to back fights over Dustin Ortiz and Hector Sandoval, he was originally expected to fight for the title before Demetrious Johnson withdrew from the fight and was replaced by Sandoval. Sasaki made his divisional debut with a submission win over Willie Gates, he had dropped back to back fights prior to the victory.

Both men formerly fought at Bantamweight, but Sasaki is considerably taller at 5’10” compared to Reis at 5’4″. Not surprisingly, Ulka has a 6″ reach advantage. The Japanese-born fighter is the younger man by 4-years.

Sasaki has tapped out 10 opponents- 9 by rear-naked choke. He is 7-1 on the scorecards, having suffered both of his UFC losses via stoppage. Reis’s record is similar, with a perfect 10-0 record in fights ending by submission and he is 11-4 on the scorecards. Reis was KOed twice in Bellator, losing to Eduardo Dantas and Patricio Freire.

A creative grappler, Ulka will look to clinch and drag his opponent to the ground or create a scramble opportunity where he can work to his opponent’s back. At 135, he got into trouble focusing too heavily on offense- eventually leading to a pair of defeats. Reis is also a ground-based fighter, but his focus in recent fights has been on positional control. Against Ortiz, he scored 9 takedowns and shut down his active scramble game. His striking is improving, but he has been knocked down on multiple occasions to go along with his knockout defeats.

While Sasaki is a capable grappler, he is going to struggle against the superior technique and overall control of Reis. Once Reis gets on top, he is difficult to shake off and if Ulka tries to go offensive, Wilson will capitalize- my prediction is Wilson Reis to defeat Ulka Sasaki by submission.

 

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155lbs- NIK LENTZ (29-7-2 1NC) vs ISLAM MAKHACHEV (13-1-0)

In the Lightweight division, Nik “The Carny” Lentz battles it out with Russian Islam Makhachev. Lentz is 2-0 since returning to Lightweight, defeating both Danny Castillo and Michael McBride- stopping the latter in the second round by TKO. Makhachev was knocked out by Adriano Martins in his second UFC appearance, but got back on track with a hard-fought decision victory over Chris Wade.

Islam is 2 inches taller than his opponent and will have a 2″ reach advantage. He is also younger than Lentz by 7-years.

At 37 pro fights, 17 in the UFC, Lentz has a wealth of pro experience. Overall, he has gone 10-3 in decisions, while adding another 10 wins by submission and the McBride victory pushed his knockout total to 7. He has been finished 4-times, split evenly between subs and knockouts. Makhachev sports a similarly proportioned record with 5 decision victories, 6 wins by sub, and 2 wins by knockout. He has finished just 4 foes in the first round and his only defeat was the aforementioned loss to Martins.

Lentz has averaged 4.05 takedowns per fight over his UFC run, including 8 over his last 2 fights. Not to be outdone, Makhachev has put up similar numbers, but over a smaller sample size. He has completed a combined 7 takedowns over his 2 Octagon wins. Both men are strong top position fighters, but Islam showcased a solid bottom game against Wade. He locked up a tight triangle off his back and did a decent job in the scrambles. Lentz’s TDD has been far from impenetrable, giving up 32 takedowns over his last 13 fights. On the feet, Lentz opts for a pressure-based attack while Makhachev let’s go with wide-ranging power strikes.

Lentz has made a career out of grinding out opponents, but he has struggled when taking on other capable ground fighters. “The Carny” doesn’t offer the pace he use to, especially standing. The constant flow of offense coming from Makhachev will serve to put Lentz in some uncomfortable positions and wear him down. This fight should offer some fantastic ground exchanges, but the Russian will get the better of them- my prediction is Islam Makhachev to defeat Nik Lentz by decision.

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125lbs- #6 IAN MCCALL (13-5-1) vs JARRED BROOKS (12-0-0)

In the Flyweight division, former top ranked contender “Uncle Creepy” Ian McCall finally returns to action when he meets Jarred “The Monkey God” Brooks. McCall’s last fight was a loss to John Lineker at UFC 183, he had picked up back to back wins prior to the setback. Brooks is undefeated, including a perfect 5-0 run in 2016.

McCall is 2 inches taller than his opponent, but will give up 3 inches of reach. Brooks is the younger man by 9 years and has fought 5-times since “Uncle Creepy” last saw action. Brooks is replacing Neil Seery on 2 weeks’ notice.

McCall has gone the distance in 10 of his 11 fights with a record of 6-4-1. He has finished 7 opponents, 4 by knockout, but none since entering the Octagon. Brooks is a perfect 5-0 on the scorecards with 5 submission victories and a pair of knockouts. He has finished 5 opponents in the opening round and 3 of his 5 subs came by RNC.

Brooks is an aggressive striker and carries a steady pace. In his last victory, he overwhelmed his opponent with a constant flow of offense until he got the stoppage. He’s got solid pops in his hands and comes from a collegiate wrestling background. A strong athlete, his aggression can get the better of him at times, rushing forward behind his wide strikes with minimal focus on defense. The layoff could affect McCall, but when at his best he combines a solid striking game and good wrestling. His footwork and speed make him difficult to both attack and defend against, but Lineker did find success slowing Ian down with power strikes.

One one side you have a short notice debut from a relatively green, but talented prospect. On the other side, a long time vet is getting back into the cage after over a year off and has recently expressed doubt regarding his future in the sport. Brooks’s is going to struggle to maintain his offensive pace, both due to the short notice and the step up in competition. McCall shakes off the rust, puts up a strong defensive front, and takes over the fight in rounds 2 and 3- my prediction is Ian McCall to defeat Jarred Brooks by decision.

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265lbs- MARCIN TYBURA (14-2-0)) vs JUSTIN WILLIS (4-1-0)

Headlining the FightPass prelims, Marcin “Tybur” Tybura takes on short notice injury replacement Justin Willis in the Heavyweight division. Tybura KOed Viktor Pesta for his first UFC win after dropping a decision to Tim Johnson in his debut. Willis lost his professional debut, but he has rattled off 4 straight victories including a WSOF 31 win.

Tybura is 2 inches taller than Willis, but he will weigh in roughly 15-pounds heavier and have a reach advantage of 3 inches. Willis will have less than a week to prepare for his debut after Luis Henrique was forced to withdraw.

Willis has been a pro since 2012 and has a trio of knockout victories on his record along with a single defeat. He has gone the distance just once, winning a unanimous decision. Tybura has split his 12 finishes equally between knockouts and submissions. His only stoppage defeat was the result of a doctor stoppage due to a cut. Marcin is 2-1 on the scorecards.

The AKA-trained Willis used a clinch heavy attack in his win at WSOF 31. He will shoot for takedowns, looking to drive through his opponent’s hips with a big power double. His last 3 opponents have a combined 28-17 record. Tyrbura’s knockout of Pesta was impressive and indicative of his improved focus on striking while working at Alliance MMA. His clinch and takedown game are still a crucial part of his attack, controlling his opponent along the wall before changing levels for a takedown and going to work on the floor. He is 5-2 in fights that go beyond the opening round.

There isn’t a lot of quality of footage of Willis in action. He is a big man and moves well, but that won’t be enough to overcome Tybura. Marcin will showcase his improving striking and use his clinch attack to break Willis down. A short notice bout for an under experienced and debuting heavyweight is a difficult scenario to overcome- my prediction is Marcin Tybura to defeat Just Willis by TKO.

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170lbs- RYAN LAFLARE (12-1-0) vs ROAN CARNEIRO (21-10-0))

In the Welterweight division, Roan “Jucao” Carneiro heads into enemy territory to take on  New York-born Ryan LaFlare. LaFlare rebounded from the first loss of his career to pick up a decision victory over Mike Pierce. Carneiro had won 6 in a row prior to a loss Derek Brunson, he returned to the win column with a split decision win over Kenny Robertson last September.

The American is 2 inches taller, but they share the same 74″ reach. LaFlare is the younger man by 5-years, but he has been on the shelf for roughly 14-months.

Since making the jump to the UFC, LaFlare has required the judges in all 6 of his fights, winning 5. Prior to his current run of decisions, he finished 7 opponents- 4 by knockout. A BJJ Black belt, Carneiro has recorded 10 wins by submission, but has also been submitted on 4 occasions. He is 9-3 on the scorecards and has been knocked out 3-times compared to 2 wins by the same method.

Roan is coming off a win where he was able to edge out his opponent in both vertical output and takedowns. However, he had some issues with holding top position once they hit the mat and routinely let his foe push forward on the feet. Carneiro benefited from his opponent’s lack of overall output. While he is capable grappler, his striking comes in single strikes and his punches tend to be wide and lacking in accuracy. LaFlare’s success has hinged largely on his wrestling, completing 19 takedowns over his first 4 UFC fights. Demian Maia put him on the mat several times, but his TDD held up well against Mike Pierce. LaFlare’s striking is still a work in progress, but he did show improvements in his defeat of Pierce.

Neither man has fantastic cardio, but LaFlare is the better overall fighter. His takedown defense and top control will shut down the grappling game of Carneiro. When on the feet, his superior activity level and sharper striking technique will carry the action- my prediction is Ryan LaFlare to defeat Roan Carneiro by decision.
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145lbs- RICK GLENN (18-3-1) vs PHILLIPE NOVER (12-7-1)

Kicking off the card, Brooklyn-native Phillipe “The Filipino Assassin” Nover takes on former WSOF Featherweight champion Rick “The Gladiator” Glenn. Nover won a split decision over Yui Chul Nam in his return to the Octagon, but has since dropped back to back bout most recently losing to Renan Barao. Glenn made his debut on short notice at 115-pounds, falling to Evan Dunham via decision- he had won 3 consecutive fights.

At 6’0″, Glenn is 3 inches taller than his opponent, but will give up 2 inches of reach. He is also the younger man by 5-years.

Glenn has finished 15 of his 18 wins, 10 by knockout. He picked up all 6 of his first round victories and all 5 of his submission wins during his first 7 pro victories. Since that span, he has gone 11-2-1, without a single opening round stoppage. A BJJ Black belt, Nover has picked up 5 wins by submission- 3 by RNC. He has just a single knockout victory on his record and is a dismal 5-6 on the scorecards, including a 1-2 mark in split decisions.

Nover showcased an improved wrestling attack in his re-debut, completing 6 of 12 takedowns. He did give up a pair of completions in that fight and has given up 6 over his last 3 contests.  Where he has struggled has been in the volume department. Against Nam he landed just 12 significant strikes and has been out-landed 114 to 71. Similarly, Glenn struggled with the output and takedowns of Dunham. He has some pop in his left hand and does a decent job of maintaining pressure. His TDD has been a concern in the past, but mainly against very strong wrestlers.

Nover is fighting at home, but his lack of output on the feet is a major issue and his below average cardio prevents him from carrying a steeper pace. Similarly, he won’t be able to consistently land takedowns over a full 15-minutes. Glenn will find success on the feet, landing with more regularity and impact. Nover’s record in decisions indicates his struggle with winning a fight when he is unable to get the finish, my prediction is Rick Glenn to defeat Phillipe Nover by decision.

265lbs- Adam Milstead (8-1-0) vs Curtis Blaydes (6-1-0)

In the headlining act of the prelims, Adam “The Prototype” Milstead makes his sophomore appearance for the promotion opposing Curtiz “Razor” Blaydes. Blaydes picked up a win over Cody East via second-round TKO, he lost his debut versus Francis Ngannou after the doctor stopped the fight between rounds. Milstead defeated  Chris de la Rocha last May and has won 8 consecutive outings.

Blaydes pushes the limits of the division at 6’4″ and 265 pounds. He is an inch taller than Milstead and should weigh in 20-25 pounds more. Blaydes will also have a 4″ reach advantage and is the younger man by 4-years.

Milstead has never gone the distance as a pro. He has finished 6 opponents by knockout and 2 by submission- 5 in the opening round. His only defeat came in his pro debut back in 2011. In similar fashion, Blaydes has finished all 6 of his wins by TKO to go along with the TKO defeat against Ngannou. He began his career with back to back first round stoppage wins, but has gone to the 2nd round or beyond in each of his last 5 bouts.

Coming from a wrestling background, Blaydes dominated East on the mat. He landed 5 takedowns, powering through East with massive double leg shots. Once on top, he landed a sizeable amount of damage to eventually bring about the finish. His striking is still a work in progress. Ngannou was able to defend most of Blaydes’s TDAs and force him trade on the feet. He didn’t go down against the monstrous punches from Ngannou, but defensively he is quite hittable. Milstead is a striker by trade, putting together big punching sequences. He moves into the pocket and willingly exchanges. Despite throwing with power, the majority of his wins have come by TKO through the accumulation of damage.

The key to this fight will be the TDD of Milstead. He is the superior striker, but he will need to stay vertical to capitalize on it. Blaydes’s MMA wrestling looked much improved in his last fight and Milstead’s style of close range punching and reach deficit will open him up to level changes. Look for Blaydes to ground him with regularity and unload from top position, my prediction is Curtis Blaydes to defeat Adam Milstead by decision.

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145lbs- Chas Skelly (16-2-0) vs Chris Gruetzemacher (13-1-0)

In the Featherweight division, “The Scrapper” Chas Skelly is riding an impressive 5-1 run as he takes on Chris “Gritz” Gruetzemacher. Skelly took just 19-seconds to submit Maximo Blanco after a UFC 196 upset loss to Darren Elkins. Gruetzemacher went 2-1 in the house and won his debut at the TUF 22 Finale to improve his current winning streak to 12 in a row.

Gruetzemacher debut at Lightweight, but is returning to 145-pounds. He is 3 inches shorter than his opponent and will give up the same length reach. “Gritz” is closing in on a 14-month layoff.

Both men have put up strong, but polar opposite finishing totals. Gruetzemacher has won a 6-pack of fights by knockout to go along with a perfect 4-0 record on the scorecards. He has a trio of submission wins- his only career loss was a 26-second tap out in his second pro bout. Skelly has submitted 9 opponents, including 3 inside the Octagon. He is 4-2 on the scorecards.

Gruetzemacher’s style might not be flashy, but he makes it work. In his debut, he landed 104 significant strikes. He will sit at close range, and trade short punches with some decent pop. He bloodied the face of his foe, but also took a fair bit of damage with his opponent falling just short of the century mark as well. Skelly will be more than willing to oblige him in a firefight. His striking is still a work in progress, but he can crack and take a punch. The Texas native’s forte comes on the mat. He has a solid wrestling game and works it in conjunction with an aggressive grappling attack. From top position, Skelly is overwhelming and he is active off his back if taken down.

Skelly’s undoing against Elkins was his cardio. If Gruetzemacher can push him early, he could take over the fight in the second half. Skelly will hold his own on the feet, but more importantly he will get the better of the action on the floor- my prediction is Chas Skelly to defeat Chris Gruetzemacher by submission.

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135lbs- Ricardo Ramos (9-1-0) vs Michinori Tanaka (11-2-0)

Former PXC Bantamweight Champion Michinori Tanaka looks to get back in the win column when he welcomes the debuting Ricardo Ramos to the UFC. Tanaka lost a decision to the underrated Rani Yahya to drop his UFC record to 2-2. Ramos rebounded from the first loss of his career to submit his last opponent- he went 2-1 under the Legacy banner.

The Brazilian is 5-years younger than his opponent and will be 4 inches taller. Ramos is a product of Dana White’s “Lookin’ for a Fight” series.

Tanaka has gone the distance in 6 consecutive fights, winning 4. He went 1-1 in split decisions during that span as well. Overall, he is 6-2 on the cards and has 5 submission wins- 3 coming after the opening round. He has never been tapped out. Ramos has leaned heavily on his submission game, accounting for 6 of his 9 victories. Of his 8 stoppages, 6 have come inside the opening frame. His only loss came by submission to a RNC. Ricardo’s lone decision win came back in 2013 in his third pro fight.

Ramos’s last non-submission victory was the product of a well-timed knee to his opponent’s chin, but his primary focus is his grappling. Once on the floor, he will chain transitions and submissions together at a feverish pace. His only defeat came because he focused too much on offense, despite his opponent’s superior position. A Judo Black belt, Tanaka is a strong grappler both technically and physically. He simply got outworked by Yahya, who scored 7 takedowns. Michinori won the TD battle 9-2 over his first 3 UFC bouts. If taken down, he is a solid scrambler and is difficult to control on the mat. His striking isn’t overwhelming, relying on a lot of lateral movement and single strikes from the outside.

Ramos’s record and aggressive submission over position style isn’t meant to hold up over a drawn out fight. Tanaka has never been submitted and if Ramos goes for the early kill and misses, he will be at a massive deficit for the rest of the bout. Tanaka will capitalize on the early aggression of his foe, gain the superior position, and then look for his own finish- my prediction is Michinori Tanaka to defeat Ricardo Ramos by submission.Paragraph breaker

115lbs- #6 Tecia Torres (7-1-0) vs Bec Rawlings (7-5-0)

In the Strawweight division, Tecia “The Tiny Tornado” Torres takes on Australia’s “Rowdy” Bec Rawlings in a rematch from their season of the Ultimate Fighter. Torres is coming off the first loss of her career, dropping a decision to Rose Namajunas- she is 3-1 in the UFC. Rawlings was knocked out by Paige VanZant in her last fight and is 3-4 over her last 7 fights.

At 5’6″, Rawlings is 5 inches taller than Torres and will have a 4″ reach advantage.

Tecia has been a decisions machine throughout her career, going the distance in all 8 of her career fights. All 3 of her TUF bouts, including her victory over Rawlings, went to the cards. Since making the jump to Invicta and then the UFC, Rawlings has picked up a pair of submission wins. However, she has gone 1-3 on the scorecards during that time. Over her career, she has submitted 4 opponents to go along with a 1-2 record in fights ending by knockout.up

Torres is a volume based striker, looking to outwork her opponent over the duration of the fight. She averages 4.43 strikes landed per minute and has outstruck her foe in all 4 of her UFC bouts. She landed her UFC-best 96-strikes in her debut and got the better of Rose by a count of 61-46. Rawlings has put up some decent offensive stats at 4.77 SLpM and has some decent pop in her hands. Unfortunately, she has struggled defensively at times, including a 92-strike performance by Seo Hee. Rawlings has also had some issues giving up takedowns at key moments in fights.

In their first meeting, Rawlings struggled to match the speed, output, and cardio of Torres. Tecia’s kick-heavy attack will help her to deal with the reach of Rawlings if she tries to stay on the outside. Torres appears to be the more improved fighter since their last encounter and will build on her success from their last fight- my prediction is Tecia Torres to defeat Bec Rawlings by Decision.

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170lbs- Alex Morono (13-3-0) vs Niko Price (9-0-0)

The headlining bout to be showcased on FightPass will feature Alex “The Great White” Morono and Niko “The Hybrid” Price. Morono is 2-0 in the UFC after a short notice win over Kyle Noke and December victory over James Moontasri- he has won 7 in a row. Price leaped into the UFC on short notice and promptly submitted Brandon Thatch to remain undefeated.

Once again, Price is stepping in on short notice. Replacing Sheldon Westcott, Niko has just under 2 weeks to prep. Price in an inch taller and a year older than his opponent.

Price earned just the second submission win of his career when he tapped Thatch. He has 6 wins by knockout and a single decision victory. “The Hybrid” has only gone beyond the first round on 2 occasions. Morono offers more diversified finishing totals with 4 knockouts and 5 submission victories. He is 3-2 on the scorecards, including a pair of split decision defeats, with his only other setback coming via knockout. He has 8 first round wins and is 5-2 in the third round, with nothing in between.

“The Great White” is physically unassuming and employs an awkward stance in the cage. Morono proved his durability against Moontasri, getting cracked early with a number of body kicks, but continuing to move forward. Alex found success once he got on the inside, connecting on a barrage of wild strikes and eventually outlanding his foe by more than 2-1. While not an issue in his last fight, he has had problems against fighters that focus on taking him down. Price has shown himself to be a functional brawler, overwhelming opponents with high-paced barrages. In his debut, he successfully exploited the biggest weakness of his opponent; getting the fight to the floor and scoring the submission win.

Price should be the more aggressive fighter on the feet, backing up the kick-heavy and wide swinging arsenal of his foe. That being said, the key difference here will be his takedowns. Niko will augment his striking with level changes that will keep Morono hesitating. Once on the mat, look for Price to do some damage and look for a potential submission, but my prediction is Niko Price to defeat Alex Morono by decision.

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205lbs- Daniel Jolly (5-1-0) vs Khalil Rountree (4-2-0)

Opening the card, the hard-hitting Khalil “The War Horse” Rountree takes on Daniel “The Werewolf of Texas” Jolly in the Light Heavyweight division. Jolly lost his debut to Misha Cirkunov by first round TKO, the first loss of his pro career. Rountree is 0-2 inside the Octagon, most recently suffering a submission loss to Tyson Pedro.

Both men are 6’1″, Jolly does have a slight 1″ reach advantage. Rountree is the younger man by 6-years. Jolly will be fighting at home, but is returning after a 17-month hiatus.

Rountree has a pair of early first round knockouts to go along with a TKO finish in his only TUF win. He is 2-1 on the scorecards. Jolly also has a couple of quick first round knockouts to go along with a submission win. He has gone the distance twice in his career, including a 5-round victory in his final pre-UFC contest.

Jolly’s offense was muted for the most part by Cirkunov, but in his pre-UFC footage, he demoed a serviceable wrestling game. A BJJ Purple belt, Jolly has a decent reactive double leg and uses tight body pressure once on top. That will be his key to success against Rountree. Roundtree throws everything with power. He landed an absolute bomb of a left hand in Pedro, but as soon as Tyson got his hands on him Khalil was in trouble. Khalil has struggled tremendously to keep vertical. Once on the mat, he doesn’t have a lot to offer. The combination of fending off takedowns and mainly throwing power strikes will drain his cardio as the fight progresses.

If Rountree can land, he can finish anyone. That being said, it has proven too difficult for him to remain vertical. Jolly faced a pretty tall order in his debut, but look for him to utilize his mat skills to ground Roundtree for the duration of the fight. My prediction is Daniel Jolly to defeat Khalil Rountree by decision.

185lbs- Nate Marquardt (38-16-2) vs Sam Alvey (28-9-0 1NC)

Headlining the undercard, former Strikeforce Welterweight champion Nate “The Great” Marquardt attempts to build on his recent resurgence at the expense of devastating power puncher “Smile’n” Sam Alvey. Marquardt is coming off of an upset victory over Tamdan McCrory to go along with a KO stoppage of CB Dollaway 2 fights earlier- he is 2-1 in recent action. Alvey has won a trio of fights, including a decision win over Alex Nicholson and a TKO of Kevin Casey.

At 6’2″, Sam is 2 inches taller than Nate and will have a 1″ reach advantage. Nate is making his 54th pro appearance compared to Alvey’s 39th. Marquart is the older man by 7 years.

Alvey’s record is indicative of his approach to fighting. He has won 18 times by knockout compared to an 11-8 record in fights where he doesn’t finish his foe with his hands. Most notably he is 8-6 on the scorecards. Marquardt’s record in decisions currently sits below .500 at 8-9 and he has been finished 7-times, 5 by knockout. He has finished his opponent in each of his last 4 wins, stopping 27 overall (11 by knockout, 16 by submission).

Marquardt’s ability to take a punch is clearly compromised. He has been finished in 4 of his last 6 defeats. Alvey has face melting power, but his willingness to solely rely on that power to win fights can leave him short if the contest goes the distance. Elias Theodorou was able to avoid Sam’s heavy hands and outwork him for a 3 round decision win. Can Nate do the same? Marquardt is a decent striker and dangerous grappler, but his aggressive striking style puts him right in the firing range of Alvey’s counter striking skills.

If Nate can keep Sam guessing he could outwork him, but avoiding getting cracked over 3-rounds is going to be tough. It is finish or be finished for “The Great” and Alvey has the vastly superior chin- my prediction is Sam Alvey to defeat Nate Marquardt by knockout.

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135lbs- #4 Raphael Assuncao (23-5-0) vs #7 Aljamain Sterling (12-1-0)

In arguably the most significant fight of the undercard, a pair of Bantamweight contenders look to get back on track as Raphael Assuncao meets “The Funk Master” Aljamain Sterling. Sterling is coming off of the first loss of his career, dropping a decision to the underrated Bryan Caraway- he is 4-1 in the UFC. Assuncao had won 6 consecutive bouts prior to UFC 200, where he lost a decision to former champion TJ Dillashaw.

The younger man by 7-years, Sterling is 2 inches taller and will have a 5″ reach advantage. Assuncao had been shelved for almost a year and a half prior to the Dillashaw fight. It has been 8-months since Sterling last competed.

Sterling’s last wins were a pair of impressive submission victories, running his career total to 6. A late finish of Hugo Viana back in 2o14 doubled his knockout totals and he is a solid 4-1 on the cards. Aljamain has finished just 3 of his 8 stoppages in the opening round. A BJJ Black belt, Assuncao has accumulated 10 wins by tap out, but nothing of that nature since 2013. He is 10-3 on the cards to go along with a trio of knockouts. He has been finished once each by knockout and submission- the latter to the now-retired Urijah Faber.

“The Funk Master” has enjoyed the majority of his success on the basis of his wrestling and ability to out-grapple his opponents once on the floor. In addition to his 2 submission wins in the Octagon, he has landed a combined 13 takedowns over 5 fights. However, the Caraway fight demonstrated his shortcomings if he is unable to maintain superiority on the floor. Raphael is incredibly difficult to take off his feet and has never been put down more than twice in any 1 fight. He stuffed 70% of TJ’s combined TDAs and 77% overall. Raphael is equally as defensively stout when striking, limiting Dillashaw to his lowest striking totals by far. The Brazilian is a capable counter striker, but will also initiate attacks behind crisp straight punches and thudding low kicks.

Sterling is coming off his first career defeat, which can be a motivating factor. Conversely, Assuncao is coming off of a loss in a rematch from a fight that he had won- it will be interesting to see how he reacts. Raphael should benefit from the more traditional layoff. The Brazilian fends off the early takedowns, scores a few of his own, and chews Sterling up on the feet for the duration – my prediction is Raphael Assuncao to defeat Aljamain Sterling by decision.

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170lbs- Bobby Nash (8-1-0) vs Li Jingliang (11-4-0)

In the Welterweight division, “The Leech” Li Jingliang gets a new opponent on short notice when he takes on the debuting Bobby Nash. Li scored an opening round KO of Anton Zafir in his last bout and has alternated wins and losses over his last 5 contests. Nash fought twice in 2016, winning both fights, including a KO of former UFC fighter Lewis Gonzalez- he has been victorious in his last 6 outings.

Both men are 6’0″, but Nash will have a 3″ reach advantage. The American is the younger man by 2-years and is replacing Yancy Medeiros on roughly 1-month’s notice.

The last 2 wins recorded by “The Leech” both came by knockout, pushing his career total to 3. He has compiled a 5-1 record in fights ending by submissions- winning 4 by guillotine. On the cards, he is a .500 fighter at 3-3. Nash has stopped his foe in 7 of his 8 wins, 4 by knockout. Beyond his 1-1 record on the cards from early in his career, Nash has never gone beyond the second round.

Nash has some pop in his hands, exemplified in his knockout of Gonzalez. The majority of his offense comes in single strikes, without anything overly flashy. Jingliang has shown some improvement in his striking, augmented by his aggressive forward pressure. However, his UFC knockouts have come over opponents’ with questionable chins. The key to this fight will be the wrestling exchanges. Nash used a pretty effective sprawl to ward off Gonzalez’s shot, but he was routinely allowing his foe to get in on his hips. In an earlier fight, he was stalled out in the clinch and taken down multiple times before catching a guillotine off his back.

The grinding nature of Li is difficult to overcome under normal conditions. On short notice and at a higher altitude, Nash, who normally ends bouts early, is going to struggle to hold up in a longer contest. Bobby needs an early finish, but Li will find success breaking him down in the clinch and on the mat- my prediction is Li Jingliang to defeat Bobby Nash by decision.

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205lbs- Luis Henrique da Silva (12-1-0) vs Jordan Johnson (6-0-0)

Luis Henrique “Frankenstein” da Silva looks for a quick rebound as he gets back in the cage to take on UFC neophyte Jordan Johnson. da Silva started his UFC run with a pair of finishes, but was submitted by Paul Craig last December. Undefeated, Johnson went 3-0 in 2016, defeating a trio of adversaries with a combined 21-6 record.

da Silva is an inch taller, but will give up 3 inches of reach. Luis has an almost 2-1 experience advantage.

The Brazilian is coming off his first defeat, after knocking out 11 of his first 13 opponents- 8 in the opening frame. Jordan secured 4 wins by submission, including his most recent tap out coming in the 3rd round. He has just a single TKO victory on his record, but score a sub via punches. His last bout was a 5-round decision victory.

As his record would indicate, Johnson’s focus is on grounding his opponent. He relies mainly on close range trips and throws to get the job done, but will also change levels and drive through his opponent’s hips. Once on the top, he works to overwhelm his foe with strikes and transitions- leading to a possible submission opportunity. “Frankenstein” found himself on the defensive once he hit the mat against Craig. He struggled to keep up with the aggressive grappling offensive of his foe both from top and bottom position. If he can keep the fight standing, he clearly has finishing power. That being said, da Silva is wild and takes a lot of damage. Johnson will exchange, but throws mainly big overhand strikes- often ducking under to shoot.

da Silva has struggled against opponents looking to grapple with him. His cardio was a major issue in his last fight and will be even more of a vulnerability here. Johnson’s recent bouts have shown he can carry his pace without a major drop off and his aggressive grappling attack will wear his da Silva down- my prediction is Jordan Johnson to defeat Henrique da Silva by submission.

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185lbs- Eric Spicely (9-2-0) vs Alessio Di Chirico (10-1-0)

In the Middleweight division, Eric “The Dream Catcher” Spicely battles it out with the Italian Alessio Di Chirico. Di Chirico is coming off of a split decision win over Garreth McLellan. Spicely shocked many with his upset win over Top 15 ranked Thiago Santos after suffering a submission loss to Sam Alvey.

The younger man by 3-years, Di Chirico is an inch shorter but will have an inch reach advantage.

The American comes into the fight with a 78% finishing rate over his 9 wins, submitting 5 opponents. Of his 7 stoppages, all but 2 came in the opening round compared to a 2-0 record on the scorecards. His lone defeat came via the aforementioned sub. Alessio has split his 8 wins inside the distance evenly between submissions and knockouts. After his last fight, he is 2-1 in decisions, going the distance in each of his last 3 outings.

This pairing presents a distinct clash of styles. Spicely will look to clinch and drag his foe to the mat as soon as possible. Di Chirico has shown a willingness to compete on the floor, but he would be best served to keep this fight standing. He will have to find a way to maintain enough separation to consistently win the striking battles. His tendency to throw single strikes has allowed his opponents to close the gap with regularity. He has given up just a trio of TDs over his 2 fights, but he was also swept almost immediately after scoring an early completion in his debut. “The Dream Catcher” has limited experience beyond the opening round, which could play a factor in the thin air in Denver. It could also hurt Di Chirico if he forced to expend too much energy defending the early grappling onslaught.

Look for Spicely to back Di Chirico into the cage, take him down with regularity, and start chaining submissions together until something sticks- my prediction is Eric Spicely to defeat Alessio Di Chirico by submission.

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205lbs- Marcos Rogerio de Lima (14-5-1) vs Jeremy Kimball (14-5-0)

Stepping onto the big stage with limited time to prepare, Jeremy Kimball makes his UFC debut against knockout artist Marcos Rogerio de Lima in the Light Heavyweight division. de Lima has alternated wins and losses over his last 4 fights, most recently submitting to an arm triangle choke from Gadzhimurad Antigulov- he is 3-2 in the UFC. Kimball went 3-0 in 2016, including a win over Matt Van Buren- he has several noteworthy names on his record including Keith Berry, Chidi Njokuani, Drew McFedries, and Chris Camozzi- losing to the latter.

Kimball is stepping in on a week’s notice. He is the younger man by 6-years, but will give up an inch of height and appears to have come in under the 205-pound mark on several occasions. He has also missed weight, while looking like he could cut down a division if he wanted to.

The Brazilian is a berzerker, scoring 10 wins by knockout- 8 in the first frame. He also has a trio of submission wins to go along with a pair of losses via tap out. He is just 1-1-1 on the cards, winning his only decision back in 2010 over Paulo Filho. Kimball has recorded 10 wins by knockout and 1 submission victory. All 5 of his losses were via submission and he is 3-0 in decisions. He went 1-1 under the Bellator banner.

Physically, Kimball is fairly unassuming and as mentioned above, probably could cut down to Middleweight or even further. He offers a decent kicking arsenal- nothing flashy, but functional. He is a willing striker and moves pretty well. In his fight with Camozzi, he was simply overwhelmed and submitted- which has been his Achilles heel throughout his career. It would appear that only 1 of Lima’s 2 major vulnerabilities are in play here. It doesn’t appear that Kimball has the skill set to exploit Rogerio on the mat, but fighting in Denver, the cardio factor could be an issue in a longer bout. The altitude could also compromise Jeremy, considering the lack of a legit camp with the short notice.

This contest most likely won’t be going the full 15-minutes, regardless of who gets their hand raised. de Lima’s has an underrated submission game to go along with his punching prowess and should run over Kimball on the basis of one or the other- maybe a combo of the 2, my prediction is Marocs Rogerio de Lima to defeat Jeremy Kimball by submission.

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125lbs- Alexandre Pantoja (16-2-0) vs Eric Shelton (10-2-0)

A pair of debuting Flyweight prospects and TUF 24 tournament semi-finalists collide as Alex Pantoja meets Eric “Showtime” Shelton. Shelton is coming off of a 4-fight winning streak and won his opening 2 bouts before falling to Tim Elliott in the semi-finals. Pantoja, ranked #1 in the tournament, was defeated by Hiromasa Ogikubo in the semis but has won 9 consecutive fights overall.

Shelton, who was ranked 15th on the show, is an inch taller along with having an inch reach advantage over Pantoja. The American is also the younger man by a year.

A Nova Uniao product, Alexandre has a nice spread of wins with 12 finishes split evenly down the middle and a 4-2 record on the cards. He has picked up stoppages in all 3 rounds and suffered his last pro defeat back in 2010 to top-ranked contender Jussier Formiga. Shelton’s record in 15-minutes fights is marginally less successful at 3-2, including a 5-round split decision loss in his last defeat. He has finished 7 opponents overall, 5 by sub. On the show, both men won their first bout by submission, took their second by decision, and lost their last by decision.

On the feet, the Brazilian relies on a steady flow of right jabs and kicks to carry his offense. Pantoja will also target the body with both techniques, but struggled in his TUF loss to produce enough offense to carry the action. He does some of his best work in the clinch. With a little more diversified attack, Shelton moves well behind a combination left jabs, straight rights, and the occasional uppercut. He uses a lot of fakes to disguise his offense. If dragged into a brawl, his technique will slip. Pantoja will shoot for takedowns in pursuit of gaining superior position, but if taken down he has an active guard both looking to attack and return to a vertical base. Unfortunately, he lost the ground battle in final TUF fight, spending too much time on the defensive. Shelton will also look for takedowns, but also showed a good sprawl and decent submission defense against Elliott.

While the pre-TUF experience factor clearly favours Pantoja, the American has the greater room for growth which can be a big factor coming off of the show. Look for Shelton to make Pantoja work hard on the early TDAs and be less affected by the altitude as the fight progresses. Shelton simply outworks him on the feet and holds the more consequential top position- my prediction is Eric Shelton to defeat Alexandre Pantoja by decision.

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155lbs- Jason Gonzalez (10-3-0) vs JC Cottrell (17-3-0)

To open the card, Jason Gonzalez makes his second walk to the Octagon when he takes on fellow promotional sophomore “Superstar” JC Cottrell. Gonzalez lasted a little under 2-minutes in his debut against Drew Dober- he had previously won 6 consecutive bouts. Cottrell went the distance in his debut, but still lost to Michel Prazeres- he was also riding a 6-fight winning streak.

At 6’2″, Gonzalez is 5 inches taller than his opponent and will have a 3″ reach advantage. He is the younger man by a year.

Gonzalez has yet to go the distance in any career fight. He owns 6-wins by submission, including a 2012 RNC win over UFC veteran Christos Giagos. He has suffered a pair of knockout defeats along with a 2012 submission loss. While Cottrell is 4-1 on the scorecards, he has also submitted 11 foes- most by some form of choke. He has tapped once and is 2-2 in fights ending by knockout.

One of the biggest red flags surrounding Gonzalez is his lack of long fight experience. Beyond his 2011 debut, he hasn’t fought passed the middle round in any of his last 12-bouts. This concern is further magnified by the elevation factor that comes with fighting in Denver. Conversely, JC has gone 3 or more rounds on 8 different occasions, including a pair of 4-rounders and a 5-round win in 2014. Gonzalez’s TDD didn’t look overly strong on the regional scene and Cottrell is a decent enough wrestler to put him on his back with regularity. This should give JC ample opportunity to wear his opponent down and take the striking skills of Gonzalez out of the equation.

Both men are very early in their respective UFC careers and neither one of their debuts were of the conventional nature. These factors make it difficult to determine how they will perform this time around. The numbers indicate that Cottrell has more avenues to victory and a greater window in which to get the job done- my prediction is JC Cottrell to defeat Jason Gonzalez by submission.

125lbs- #8 John Moraga (16-5-0) vs #15 Sergio Pettis (14-2-0)

Getting the bump up to the main card, Flyweights John Moraga and Sergio Pettis look to continue their push to the top of the division in a crucial bout for both sides. Moraga was last seen dropping a split decision to Matheus Nicolau for his second consecutive loss- he had picked up back to back submission wins prior to his recent downturn. Pettis has rallied from his 2015 upset loss to Ryan Benoit, defeating both Chris Cariaso and Chris Kelades by decision.

Both men are 5’6″, but Pettis will have a 3″ reach advantage. Sergio is the younger man by 9-years.

Pettis is 5-2 in the UFC with both of his defeats coming via stoppage when he was most likely ahead with the judges. He is a perfect 8-0 on the cards with his 6 finishes split evenly between submissions and knockouts. Sergio has yet to finish an opponent inside the Octagon. Moraga’s last 2 wins pushed his submission total to 8. He has lost his last 2 decisions, with his last 15-minute win coming by split decision. Moraga won his debut by TKO.

Despite climbing the ladder very quickly in his UFC career, Moraga has just a single win on his record over a fighter currently residing on the UFC’s Flyweight roster. Offensively, John has been out-landed on the feet in 6 of the last 8 fights. He has a decent boxing attack, but too often he allows his opponent to strike first. While coming from a wrestling background, the former challenger’s wrestling game hasn’t served him well of late. He has averaged just over 0.5 completions per fight, giving up 23 takedowns compared to just 4 of his own.

On average, Sergio’s offensive output is superior to that of Moraga by a ratio of almost 2-1. He throws slick combinations, augmented by a decent kicking attack. He doesn’t have a tonne of pop in his strikes, but his speed allows him to routinely beat his opponent to the punch. The offensive wrestling of Pettis has also taken a notable upturn in recent contests. He has completed 6-takedowns over his last 3 bouts, including a trio of completions against Chris Cariaso. His defense has also improved as well, but if he gets taken down he is active off his back with submissions and sweeps.

While Moraga has faced the superior level of competition, Pettis is building some decent momentum of late. Moraga might be best served to use his wrestling and put Sergio on his back for the duration of the bout. Conversely, Moraga’s struggle with staying vertical and Sergio’s recent wrestling success could see the opposite scenario materialize. Pettis’s work rate and willingness to push forward combined with a couple of takedowns will give him the edge over the full 15-minutes, my prediction is Sergio Pettis to defeat John Moraga by decision.

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265lbs- Aleksei Oleinik (50-10-1) vs Viktor Pesta (10-3-0)

In a battle of European Heavyweights, Viktor Pesta of the Czech Republic meets the Ukraine’s Aleksei “The Boa Constrictor” Oleinik. Pesta has lost back to back fights after a second round KO loss against Marcin Tybura. Oleinik returned from a prolonged layoff and lost a decision to Daniel Omielanczuk to end his 11-fight winning streak.

Pesta is an inch taller, but will give up 3 inches of reach with both men weighing around the 240 mark. Pesta is the younger man by 13-years.

The Czech grinder has been knocked out in back to back fights after showing a decent chin in his debut decision defeat. He is 3-1 on the cards to go along with 4 wins by knockout and a trio of submission wins. Oleinik has a massive experience advantage with 61 total fights. A Master of Sport in Combat Sambo and BJJ Black belt, he has recorded 41-wins by submission- most by some form of choke.

Pesta has relied heavily on his takedowns over his UFC run. Over his first 3 contests, he completed 10 takedowns, including 5 in his loss to Derrick Lewis. Viktor will either shoot in from the outside or clinch up and change levels to pull out his opponent’s base. Once on the mat, he utilizes a smothering top game to control his opponent while doing damage. Pesta’s striking is a secondary aspect of his attack. His volume is lacking and his tendency to lunged forward when engaging leaves him open to counters.

The layoff certainly could have played a role in his last performance, but pushing 40 and with bad knees, Oleinik’s issues could have been more than just the prolonged break. That being said, he got off to a strong start and spent the majority of the opening frame dominating the grappling exchanges. Everything that Aleksei does is heavy, not pretty, but heavy. He grinds opponents down, constantly looking to advance position and setup sub opportunities. He has won multiple fights via the unorthodox scare-hold headlock sub. On the feet, he slings heavy leather at close range while looking to close the distance.

Pesta is the younger man, but he appears to have less tools in the tool bag than his foe. His striking lacks the ferocity of Oleinik’s offerings both in power and volume. This will force him to rely heavily on his primary weapon and by taking Oleinik down, it plays directly into his submission-heavy attack. Oleinik struggled in the second half of his last fight, but against a much more experienced opponent who was able to find some success on the feet. That won’t be the case here. Look for Pesta to struggle with the aggression of the veteran and eventually wind up on his back where his submission defense will be put to the test- my prediction is Aleksei Oleinik to defeat Viktor Pesta by submission.

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155lbs- Tony Martin (10-3-0) vs Alex White (11-2-0)

In the Lightweight division, Tony Martin looks to build on his most recent UFC victory when he takes on Alex “The Spartan” White. White is coming off a win over Artem Lobov to even his Octagon ledger at 2-2. Martin most recently defeated Felipe Oliveiri to improve to 2-1 over his last 3 fights- he earned a submission win over Fabricio Camoes at UFC 179.

White hasn’t fought in just over 11-months, while Martin has been on the shelf for nearly a year. Both men are 6’0″, but Martin will have a 2″ reach advantage. White has previously competed at Featherweight prior to this contest, moving up to take this fight on 1-month’s notice.

“The Spartan” owns the more diversified record, with 9 finishes- 5 by submission. He is 2-1 on the scorecards with 5 first round finishes. Martin’s record is more indicative of a specialist. Of his 10 wins, 8 have come by submission- showcasing a variety of holds. Tony has been subbed twice, both in the UFC, and is 2-1 in decisions. Both men arrived in the promotion undefeated.

White showcased his power in his debut, stopping a veteran fighter cold in under 2-minutes. Alex throws a solid right hand, cracking Artem on a couple of occasions. He is willing to stand and trade, but defensively he is quite hittable. Lobov was having success early, catching him in the pocket and Lucas Martins KOed him in the final round of a good scrap. White needs to avoid pushing forward behind his punches without moving his head. He did pick up a trio of takedowns in his last fight, but hasn’t shown his previously successful submission skills.

While adding to his submission totals, Martin demoed improved striking in his last bout. He continuously landed a strong right hand and pressured his foe. Martin did end up on the wrong end of the striking totals at 80-67, absorbing nearly 30 low kicks over 15 minutes. A BJJ Brown belt, White’s strength is his submission game. He has a physically overwhelming top position presence and while he has landed at least 1 takedown in 4 of 5 fights- he completes just 21% of his attempts. The big knock on Tony has been his cardio. After getting off to strong starts in multiple fights he has faded badly and either been finished or simply outworked.

White is moving up a division on short notice, but with a month to prepare he may actually benefit from the jump. He will want to keep this contest vertical as much as possible, especially early. Alex can put up some decent striking totals and is the superior offensive striker. If Martin can take him down, he should be able to overwhelm the former 145er. The big question is, without an early finish- how will Tony’s cardio hold up. White could be rendered defensive early on, but Martin’s lack of a strong wrestling attack is going to cost him. Martin might win the opening round, but he will start to slow and White will get the better of the striking exchanges in rounds 2 and 3- my prediction is Alex White to defeat Tony Martin by decision.

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155lbs- Devin Powell (8-1-0) vs Drakkar Klose (6-0-1)

In a battle of debuting prospects, Devin Powell goes toe to toe with MMA Lab product Drakkar Klose in the Lightweight division. Powell has torn through 6 consecutive opponents, including his only WSOF appearance. Klose has yet to taste defeat, with his only non-victorious effort coming in the form of a split-draw in early 2016.

At 6’0″ even, Powell is 3 inches taller than Klose but they will share a 70″ reach. Klose is just 8-days older than his opponent.

After scoring 4 TKO victories over his first 5 bouts, Klose has gone the distance in each of his last 2 outings to improve his record to 2-0-1 on the scorecards. Drakkar has recorded a pair of opening round stoppages to go along with 2 more in the middle frame. Powell’s only loss came on the cards back in 2013. All 5 of Powell’s finishes, 3 by tap out, have gone down in round 1. He is 3-1 in decisions.

Powell enters the UFC as a product of the Dana White talent search series. Most reports regarding the newcomer are not overly complimentary. His last 4 opponents have accounted for a combined record of 33-31. In his last fight, he wobbled his adversary with a high kick before locking up a standing guillotine for the tap. All indications are that he is a kick-first fighter that is willing to trade on the feet. His forward aggression can transition to a takedown attempt, but he is more apt to look for a submission instead of grinding up the clock from top position.

Klose’s offense is built around his punching power. He throws decent combinations, set up by a strong jab. In an attempt to draw out his opponent’s attack, he will work some head fakes and look to counter strike. There isn’t much tape of Drakkar on the mat, but in one of his recent wins he dropped his foe with a hard right hand and scored the finished with heavy knees to his opponent’s side. In recent action, Klose has seen a rise in average fight time which usually comes with an increase in competition. He is also stepping into this contest on 3-week’s notice as a late injury replacement.

There is a lot of unknown surrounding this fight; with both men making their debuts, the short notice factor for Klose, and the overall limited amount of experience on both sides. Klose appears to be the more gifted fighter both technically and athletically. Powell’s reliance on a kick first offense with a low-level wrestling attack to back it up will make it hard for him to handle the output of a more conventional striker like Klose. There is no telling how either man will perform under these circumstances, but my prediction is Drakkar Klose to defeat Devin Powell by TKO.

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115lbs- Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger (6-3-0) vs Nina Ansaroff (6-5-0)

Headlining the Fight Pass undercard, a pair of Top 15 hopefuls collide in the Women’s Strawweight division as Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger fights Nina “The Strina” Ansaroff. JJL is 0-2 in the UFC with losses to Randa Markos and Tecia Torres. Ansaroff boasts a similar Octagon record, dropping decisions to Juliana Lima and Justine Kish.

Jones-Lybarger is 2 inches taller than her adversary, but will give up an inch of reach.

With just a single finish on her record, Jones-Lybarger is no stranger to the judge’s scorecards. She is 5-3 in decisions. Ansaroff has picked up a 4-pack of knockouts to go along with a 1-1 record in fights ending by submission. “The Strina” is a dismal 1-4 on the cards.

Lybarger is a willing combatant in the striking department. She sits down on her strikes and will trade in the pocket. The short notice of her debut made it hard for her to match the pace of Torres, but she landed 79 significant strikes against Markos over 3-rounds. JJL throws a long left jab and will sling a hook from the right side. As her record indicates, she doesn’t have a lot of power which makes it difficult for her to back her foe up when exchanging. Jocelyn tends to dip her head when attacking which opens her up to counters.

Against a dangerous striker in Kish, Ansaroff held her own. She landed quick combos with decent pop and augmented her hands with a snappy push kick to the body. Nina turned the aggression of Kish against her, countering as she pushed forward. In the second round, she appeared to hurt Justine with a hard combination and a high kick in the aftermath. She landed just a single takedown, but routinely looked to tie up Kish in the clinch when they closed. If the opportunity presents itself, look for Ansaroff to jump on a submission opportunity.

With both girls willing to exchange in the pocket, this fight has a lot of potential. Both girls throw with decent volumes, but the power edge lies with Nina. Her accuracy was impressive against Kish and her counter striking will serve her well against over-extensions of JJL. The kicking attack will also be a key weapon for Ansaroff. Nina could also opt to look for a takedown, but she needs to avoid giving up position in pursuit of a sub. Jones-Lybarger’s willingness to absorb punishment to stay in range is going to cost her here, my prediction is Nina Ansaroff to defeat Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger by TKO.

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265lbs- Walt Harris (8-5-0) vs Chase Sherman (9-2-0)

In the Heavyweight division, Walt “The Big Ticket” Harris takes on Chase “The Vanilla Gorilla” Sherman. In an unsuccessful debut, Sherman lost a decision to rising prospect Justin Ledet. Harris is 1-4 inside the Octagon after losing a narrow split decision to Shamil Adburakhimov.

At 6’5″, Harris is an inch taller than his opponent, but will give up an inch of reach. Sherman is the younger many by 6-years and both fighters should weigh in around 250 pounds.

Harris has been a knockout or bust fighter, earning all 8 of his wins via KO or TKO. He has been knocked out twice and has an 0-3 record on the scorecards. Despite the split decision outcome in his last fight, he is a dismal 0-4 when forced to fight beyond round 1. Sherman is coming off just the second loss of his pro career. He dropped a 2014 TKO defeat to Alex Nicholson. Chase’s debut was his first bout to last longer than 5-minutes, including 6-wins before the 2-minute mark. All 9 of his wins have come by knockout.

“Big Ticket” appears to have all the tools to be a force, but inside the Octagon he simply has not performed. He did finish Cody East with a big right hand, in a bout where he was probably losing the first round. Averaging 2.36 SLpM and carrying a -0.81 striking exchange rate, Walt has had issues with getting outworked. He has some pop in his hands and will pair his punches together, but he often defaults to single strikes between periods of inactivity. Harris’s his kicking attack is a little stiff, but he still throws with power.

Sherman’s strikings trends toward the stiff side. His raw athletic ability helped him to overcome his technical shortcomings on the regional level. Against Ledet, the superior striker routinely beat Chase to the punch and fed the Mississippi-native a steady diet of jabs. Sherman did land some chopping low kicks, connecting 26-times to his foe’s lower half- almost 50% of his offense. While his chin held up, he got cracked with a 100+ striking onslaught. His defense is porous and he leaves his chin up and his head on the center line.

Harris’s hasn’t faired well in the UFC, but he has added a depth of experience that Sherman has yet to gain. Sherman’s level of comfort should improve for his second bout, but that might not lead to a better outcome. Harris is the quicker fighter and will have the edge in overall striking capability. The frequency at which Sherman got hit by Ledet is concerning especially if Harris is able to land at a similar rate. Harris will beat Sherman to the punch and eventually land something of significance, my prediction is Walt Harris to defeat Chase Sherman by TKO.

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205lbs- Bojan Mihajlovic (10-4-0) vs Joachim Christensen (13-4-0)

The second fight of the undercard pits Denmark against Serbia in the Light Heavyweight division as Joachim Christensen meets Bojan Mihajlovic. Christensen made an unsuccessful first UFC showing last October, losing to Luis Henrique da Silva by submission- he had won 5 consecutive fights. Mihajlovic debuted in the Heavyweight division, lasting just 94-seconds with Francis Ngannou to snap his 10-fight win streak.

Bojan will be debuting as a Light Heavyweight, he weighed 228-pounds for his last fight. He will give up 4 inches of height and 3 inches of reach to Christensen who is the older combatant by 2-years.

With nothing in between, Mihajlovic has 6 wins and a pair of defeats in the opening round and a 4-2 record on the scorecards. Both of his submission victories came early in his career, helping him to rebound from an 0-3 start. Christensen is coming off the first loss inside the distance after compiling 4 wins by knockout and 5 more by submission. He is 4-3 when the judges get involved.

Looking a little soft and certainly undersized in his debut, moving to 205 is a smart move for Mihajlovic. However, the question still remains; how does the cut impact his performance? While not landing much against Ngannou, he showed his movement and speed sticking on the outside for most of the fight. Traditionally, he likes to kick from range before closing the gap to put his opponent on the floor.

Christensen put together a decent effort and even dropped da Silva prior to tapping out. The Dane has faith in his chin and ate some big shots from the Brazilian. Joachim will work quick combinations, attacking with volume and willingly eating strikes while moving forward. Look for him to attack with power from the right side and mix in some hard low kicks. Once he clinches, trips takedowns are his preferred method to put his opponent on the floor.

The Serbian is no stranger to going deep in fights, but he appears to lack the volume to match Christensen over a 3-round contest. The pressure-based striking onslaught of Joachim will serve to shut down the kick-heavy attack of his opponent. Unable to out-point his adversary, the solid chin of Christensen will make it difficult for Mihajlovic to score the finish. Christensen will continue to move forward and test the effects of the first-time weightcut, my prediction is Joachim Christensen to defeat Bojan Mihajlovic by TKO.

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265lbs- Dmitrii Smoliakov (8-1-0) vs Cyril Asker (7-2-0)

Opening the night’s action, Heavyweight Cyril “Silverback” Asker battles Russian-born Dmitrii Smoliakov. Asker is coming off a debut defeat at the hands of Jared Cannonier- he had won 5 consecutive bouts to get the call to the big show. Smoliakov also fell in his debut, losing via submission to Luis Henrique for the first loss of his pro career.

Smoliakov is 2 inches taller than his opponent and should weigh-in roughly 5-pounds heavier. They share an identical 74″ reach and Asker is the younger man by 2-years.

The big Russian’s finishing rate on the regional scene has been impressive, stopping all 8 of his wins inside the opening round. Smoliakov has split his wins evenly between knockouts and submission, including a 4-pack before the 60-second mark. Asker’s last trio of bouts have all ended in the first frame, with a 2-1 record, including a TKO victory over Octagon alumni Ruan Potts. The native of France has picked up 3 of his 5 finishes by knockout and is 2-0 on the scorecards. To go along with his knockout loss in his debut, his other defeat came via submission.

Smoliakov showed the signs of a fighter taking a step up in competition after having blasted through all of his previous competition. After slowing down in the second half of round 1, he put up little resistance in the second round and was easily submitted. Against Asker, he will need to find more success with his striking and potentially look to incorporate some takedowns whenever possible.

While the fight lasted just over half a round and didn’t end in his favour, Asker did show indications of a decent striking game. He landed a couple of power strikes, but predominantly paired together his punches in short effective combinations. After a failed takedown attempt, the speed of Cannonier gave the Frenchman trouble- leading to the knockout.

Asker is coming off the first knockout defeat of his career, but it came against an opponent who’s stock is rising every day. Outside of stuffing a few early takedowns, Smoliakov simply didn’t look good. His less than adequate cardio isn’t going to hold up at this level, where he simply won’t be able to smash his way through every opponent. Dmitrii’s single note punching was coming up too short to place much faith in his ability to score the early knockout. Asker needs to work his combinations and press his foe into the cage, forcing him to carry his weight. Once the action starts to move towards round 2, the Russian will experience another slowdown rendering him defenseless- my prediction is Cyril Asker to defeat Dmitrii Smoliakov by TKO/

170lbs- #6 JOHNY HENDRICKS (17-5-0) vs #8 NEIL MAGNY (18-6-0)

In the headlining fight of the UFC 207 prelims, former Welterweight champion Johny “Bigg Rigg” Hendricks takes on Neil Magny in a battle of Top 10 Welterweights. Hendricks has lost back to back fights and has just a pair of wins over his last 5 contests- holding victories over Matt Brown and Robbie Lawler during that span. Magny just had his 3-fight winning streak snapped in a loss to Lorenz Larkin- he had picked up wins over the likes of Hector Lombard and Kelvin Gastelum.

In the headlining fight of the UFC 207 prelims, former Welterweight champion Johny “Bigg Rigg” Hendricks takes on Neil Magny in a battle of Top 10 Welterweights. Hendricks has lost back to back fights and has just a pair of wins over his last 5 contests- holding victories over Matt Brown and Robbie Lawler during that span. Magny just had his 3-fight winning streak snapped in a loss to Lorenz Larkin- he had picked up wins over the likes of Hector Lombard and Kelvin Gastelum.

At 6’3″, Magny is 6 inches taller than his foe and will have a lengthy 11″ reach advantage. Magny is the younger man by 4-years.

Hendricks has struggled in recent fights to find the form that led him to the title in 2014. A former elite level NCAA D1 wrestler, Hendricks is capable of winning a fight solely on the basis of his wrestling. Over his last 3 wins, he completed 23 takedowns- 12 against Carlos Condit. Hendricks has fight-stopping power in hands, recording 8 wins by knockout- none since UFC 154 in 2012. While the knockouts have dried up, “Bigg Rigg” worked to up his volume through combination striking. He landed 269 strikes over 2-fights against Lawler. All that considered, Johny simply has failed to execute in his recent defeats. Most notably, he seemed completely at a loss dealing with the distance against Stephen Thompson and struggled to match the output of Gastelum.

Hendricks has battled through some tough weight cuts and some people have made correlations between the arrival of USADA and Johny’s career downturn.

Magny is coming off of just the second defeat in his last 12 fights. During his climbed out of a 1-2 start to his UFC career, he showed a pair of noteworthy improvements. The ability to use his reach and keep his foe on the outside became central to his success. His strikes absorbed per minute has increased over recent contests, but still sits at a respectable 2.08. He set a career high for offensive output at 148 significant connections against Lombard, but he was in serious trouble early in that fight. Prior to the Larkin knockout, Magny was hurt by both Hector and Hyun Gyu Lim. The offensive wrestling has also been a point of improvement for Magny as well. He scored a combined 10 takedowns in his decision wins over Erick Silva and Kelvin Gastelum.

At UFC 202, Magny was scheduled to face Dong Hyun Kim before Kim was removed from the card and replaced by Larkin.

Hendricks has been losing to elite level competition, but he is clearly not on the same level as he was just a couple years ago. Magny’s reach is going to be the key to his success here. By keeping Johny at the end of his punches he will both limit the potential for Hendricks to land strikes and make it difficult for Johny to shoot for takedowns. For Hendricks, he would be best served to rely on his wrestling to put Magny on his back and keep him there. Johny has put a lot of pressure on himself to win this fight if he intends to continue his career, but his recent struggles with distance management and volume will continue here- my prediction is Neil Magny to defeat Johny Hendricks by decision.

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170lbs- #9 DONG HYUN KIM (21-3-1 1NC) vs #12 TAREC SAFFIEDINE (16-5-0)

Getting the push to the main card, former Strikeforce Welterweight champion Tarec “Sponge” Saffiedine makes his third appearance of 2016 when he takes on the “Stun Gun” Dong Hyun Kim. Kim has won back to back fights, finishing both Josh Burkman and Dominic Waters to improve to 6-1 over his last 7 bouts. Saffiedine is looking to rebound from a defeat at the hands of Rick Story, the loss dropped him to 2-2 inside the Octagon.

Kim is 4 inches taller than his foe and will have a sizeable 6″ reach advantage. Tarec is the younger man by 5-years.

The last man to wear the Strikeforce Welterweight strap, has struggled to find his footing in the UFC. Against Story, Saffiedine fought with a bad cut on his leg and spent the majority of the bout on the defensive. He does his best work at range, chopping away at his opponent’s leg with brutal low kicks. He will also throw round and straight kicks to the body along with targeting his foe’s head. A calculated striker, Tarec switches stances and is patient when looking for openings. In his debut, he landed over 100 significant strikes, but hasn’t come close to that level of output since. Defensively, his TDD is very good. While he has defended 87% of his opponents’ TDAs, he routinely got stuck on the wall in his last fight and was unable to create separation.

The biggest knock on “Sponge” is his lack of power. Despite a striking-centric attack, he has just a single win by knockout. This can create issues against aggressive strikers that he can’t dissuade from constantly pushing forward.

South Korea’s Kim is a Black belt in Judo and a BJJ Purple belt. After building a reputation as a grinder, Kim has recently upped the tempo of his game and finished his opponent in each of his last 4 bouts. Dong is far from a high volume striker, but he is aggressive- constantly moving forward to engage and he has undervalued power. Kim has woven together his full-blast striking attack with his heavy clinch game. Against Burkman he habitually stifled Josh on the cage, grinding him into the wall and eventually submitting him on the mat. Dong’s uptick in aggression can leave him open to getting hit and Tyron Woodley violently knocked him out in just 61-seconds back in 2014.

Kim has landed at least 1 takedown in each of 11 UFC victories. However, through his first 7 wins he averaged 3.14 completions per fight compared to just a single takedown per bout over his last 4 wins.

This fight offers a compelling contrast of styles; Kim wants to compete at close range and Saffiedine needs to maintain separation to be effective. As mentioned above, Tarec doesn’t have the type of power to back his opponent up. But, if the Belgium fighter can endure the opening round and force Kim to over-exert himself; the Korean has been known to gas. Kim’s strong forward pressure will limit the success of Saffiedine’s biggest weapon- his kicking arsenal. Unless Kim completely exhausts himself in round 1, he will be able to back his foe up and frequently control the position along the wall for at least 2 stanzas. Tarec’s tendency to pick his spots at range will limit his effectiveness when he does have space- my prediction is Dong Hyun Kim to defeat Tarec Saffiedine by decision.

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185lbs- ANTONIO CARLOS JUNIOR (7-2-0 1NC) vs MARVIN VETTORI (11-2-0)

In the Middleweight division, TUF Brazil Heavyweight winner “Shoe face” Antonio Carlos Junior makes his seventh UFC appearance when he takes on promotional sophomore Marvin Vettori of Italy. Vettori subbed Alberto Uda in his debut after submitting another Brazilian in Igor Araujo in his final pre-UFC bout. Junior got back in the win column in his most recent outing, just 1 fight removed from his upset defeat at the hands of the growing legend that is Dan Kelly.

The Brazilian is 2 inches taller and will have a marked 5″ reach advantage. Vettori is younger by 3-years.

Vettori recently made the move to King’s MMA to help round out his game. The former Venator champion has submitted 8 opponents along with a pair of knockouts and a single submission win. Both of his defeats have come on the scorecards. In his last bout, Vettori countered an early takedown from Uda into a completed takedown of his own. He held top control for the majority of the round before skillfully transitioning to a guillotine for the tap. In pre-UFC footage, he has shown a willingness to give up position for submission with mixed results.

His striking is still a work in progress. Vettori does his best work in close range, specifically from the clinch where he will also look to drag his adversary to the mat.

A highly regarded BJJ Black belt, “Shoe face” has finished 5 of his 6 wins by submission- 2 in the UFC. Both of his octagon taps game in the third round. Interestingly enough, it was is cardio that failed him in his loss to Kelly. ACJ got off to a strong start, but as the fight progressed, Kelly was able to turn the action in his favour before garnering the stoppage in the final frame. Junior is coming off his UFC personal best 7 takedowns, pushing his total to 19 over 5 official contests. Once on the mat, Antonio is a strong top position player and is difficult to get out from under. He has also demonstrated a sound back mount, subbing Eddie Gordon by RNC.

On the feet, the Brazilian has some power, but his striking is the secondary aspect of his game.

Both men do their best work on the mat, but Carlos Junior is simply better. Patrick Cummings showed that he can be taken down, but Vettori doesn’t have that strong a wrestling game. “Shoe face” will find success putting Vettori on his back and holding the superior position. Vettori’s willingness to attack on the mat will create openings for Antonio to advance position and set up submission opportunities- my prediction is Antonio Carlos Junior to defeat Marvin Vettori by submission.
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170lbs- MIKE PYLE (27-12-1) vs ALEX GARCIA (13-3-0)

In the Welterweight division, long-time UFC veteran Mike “Quicksand” Pyle meets Tri-Star trained Alex “Dominican Nightmare” Garcia. Pyle is just 2-4 over his last 6-fights, most recently suffering a second round knockout defeat against Alberto Mina. Garcia is also coming off a stoppage defeat, losing by TKO to Sean Strickland and falling to 3-2 in the UFC.

At 6’0″ tall, Pyle is 3 inches taller than his foe and will have a 2″ reach advantage. Garcia is the younger man by 12 years.

With 17 fights inside the Octagon, Pyle has a wealth of experience to draw upon. Over his entire career, he has finished 16 opponents by submission, 7 by knockout and is 4-2 on the scorecards. The stoppage defeats have also started to pile up, with 6 losses by knockout and 4 by sub- 5 of his last 6 UFC losses have come by knockout. Pyle has vastly improved his striking, which led to a career resurgence. He does decent work from the clinch, landing hard elbows, knees, and short punches. Conversely, his chin is a clear point of vulnerability that heavy handed opponents continue to exploit.

Despite his lofty submission totals, “Quicksand” has not won by sub since 2010, 14-fights ago.

Of Garcia’s 13 career wins, 10 have come by stoppage, but only 1 in the UFC. Since making his promotional debut, Alex has experienced a notable increase in fight time. Prior to making the jump, he had stopped 8 of his 10 wins inside the opening round. In the UFC, he has just a single first round finish over 5 outings. Garcia hits hard on the feet and couples his power striking attack with a workable wrestling game. He has completed 19-takedowns over his last 4-bouts. When on the feet, Alex has power in his hands, throwing a hefty right hand and unloading the majority of his offense in single strikes.

Garcia’s cardio is a major concern. He has been known to fade, and was finished by Strickland late in the bout.

As mentioned above, Pyle has had issues early with power strikers and Garcia has struggled to maintain his pace in longer bouts. Both have pathways to victory, but “Quicksand” will have to survive early to take advantage of his foe’s susceptibility. If Alex opts to take Pyle down, he needs to be mindful of Pyle’s aggressive guard. That being said, Pyle’s chin is simply too vulnerable to overlook against a power puncher like the “Dominican Nightmare”. Garcia hits too hard and may only need to land once to finish his foe- my prediction is Alex Garcia to defeat Mike Pyle by knockout.

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170lbs- ALEX OLIVEIRA (15-3-1 1NC vs TIM MEANS (26-7-1)

With the changes to the card, just 1 fight remains on the Fight Pass portion of the prelims and it will feature Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira taking on “The Dirty Bird” Tim Means at 170-pounds. Oliveira has won back to back fights, including defeating former Bellator Lightweight champion Will Brooks in his last match. Means is an impressive 6-1 over his last 7 bouts, defeating Sabah Homasi at UFC 202 in his most recent venture to the Octagon.

Both men formerly fought at Lightweight. Means is 3 inches taller, but will give up an inch of reach to his foe. The Brazilian is the younger man by 4-years.

“The Dirty Bird” is known for his lethal Muay Thai striking arsenal, recording 18-wins by knockout. Means offers a variety of strikings tools and is dangerous both at range and in close. On the outside, he will use his right hand to disrupt the timing of his foe with a jab or by constantly pushing it forward. Tim finished John Howard with a left hand and he can counter strike as well. His kicking game is solid, chopping away at his opponent’s legs or throwing a push kick to the midsection. In the clinch, Means will unleash knees to the body and brutal slashing elbows to the head.

Means has a solid TDD at 63%, but has been taken down 5-times in his last 2 fights and has surrendered 17-takedowns over his 4 UFC losses.

Oliveira is coming off the biggest win of his career, but it was severely tainted by his inability to make weight. “Cowboy” took Brooks down 4-times and has leaned heavily on his mat game with 14-takedowns over his 5 UFC victories. He scores the majority of his completions from the clinch, working on his foe along the cage before changing levels. Once on the mat, he can either maintain control in the guard or opt to advance in pursuit of a submission. The latter, has cost him position in previous fights. Alex’s striking is decent, but he will get a little wild and overextend himself when trading. He has 10 wins by knockout.

Oliveira has limited his last 2 opponents to a combined 28 significant strikes over 28:30 of cage time.

This fight will most likely come down to how successful Oliveira is at implementing his takedown game. If he can put Means on his back with regularity, it will both score points and negate the striking repertoire of the American. As mentioned above, Oliveira scores the majority of his takedowns from the clinch which is an area where Means is very effective at doing damage from. Look for Tim to attack his opponent once they engage in close quarters, making the clinch position unfavourable for the Brazilian. This will discourage Oliveira from closing the distance and subsequently force him to trade at range with a superior striker. If taken down, Means need to remain active and get vertical quickly, but my prediction is Tim Means to defeat Alex Oliveira by TKO
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170lbs- BRANDON THATCH (11-4-0) vs NIKO PRICE (8-0-0)

Originally scheduled to open the card, Brandon “Rukus” Thatch and the debuting Niko “The Hybrid” Price get moved to the televised prelims for their Welterweight scrap. Thatch has lost a trio of bouts, all by submission, since starting his UFC run with back to back TKO finishes. Price debuts undefeated with a 2-0 record in 2016- he is coming off the first 3-round fight of his career.

Price is replacing Sabah Homasi on roughly 2-week’s notice. Thatch is 2 inches taller than Price, but the UFC newcomer is the younger man by 4-years.

Price has gone the distance just once in his career compared to 6 wins by knockout and a submission win in his first pro bout. The quality footage of Niko is hard to locate. He appears to be a scrapper, willing to stand in the pocket and trade. In one of his more recent wins, he unloaded a high volume barrage that both hurt and exhausted his opponent who was still standing when the fight was called. “The Hybrid” will change levels for a takedown periodically, but that is a secondary aspect of his offense.

Price has competed entirely under the Fight Time Promotion with his last 3 foes compiling a combined 21-15 record.

A fourth consecutive loss of any nature will almost certainly spell the end of the line for Thatch. He showed a lot of promise early, adding career knockouts 7 and 8 to his win total to start his UFC career. Thatch offers a dangerous Muay Thai attack. “Rukus” does a decent job of using his reach and will attack with a variety of weapons. To further magnify his reach advantage, Thatch cuts off the cage well and limits his opponent’s room to move. On the inside, he can do a lot of damage from the clinch by controlling his foe’s head and landing knees and elbows. During his current skid, Thatch’s defensive grappling has been a major focal point. His opponents have both found success taking him down and keeping him down before getting the finish.

Gunnar Nelson scored a knockdown before submitting Brandon, but over his last 4 fights he has given up 7 completed takedowns.

Price would be smart to focus his attack on exploiting the clear area of weakness in Thatch’s game. While he has shown glimpses of a ground game, it would be a clear deviation from what has made him successful in recent fights. Price is aggressive on the feet, which should open him up to counters against a longer and more technically sound striker like Thatch. Price’s first-round finish heavy record won’t hold up well on short notice against a sizable step up in competition. Thatch’s back is against the wall, but he comes through- my prediction is Brandon Thatch to defeat Niko Price by TKO.

205lbs- Luis Henrique da Silva (13-0-0) vs Paul Craig (8-0-0)

Headlining the FOX undercard, “Frankenstein” Luis Henrique da Silva takes on Paul “Bearjew” Craig in the Light Heavyweight division. Da Silva is 2-0 in the UFC after submitting Joachim Christensen at UFC Fight Night 96. Craig is an undefeated heavyweight out of Scotland, making his first appearance of 2016 after a 4-0 run in 2015.

Both men are 6’3″ and have a 76″ reach. The Brazilian is the younger man by a year.

Da Silva has stopped his opponent in all 13 of his pro bouts, with 11 wins by knockout- 8 in the opening round. He has had some issues getting off to a strong start in fights. He was lagging behind Jonathan Wilson in the debut, before Wilson tired and da Silva turned the contest in his favour. At distance, da Silva will wade forward behind a left jab and wide-ranging punches. The looping nature of his strikes leaves him open to counter strikes down the center. He is willing to eat strikes while engaging, but he was dropped by both Christensen and Jonathan Wilson.

Da Silva did score a nice sub on the mat, but he spent some time on his back in both fights and in his final regional bout against Ildemar Alcantara.

The Scotish submission artist picked up the BAMMA Light Heavyweight strap in his most recent outing. Craig has finished 7 of his 8 wins by tap out, including his title fight victory. He caught his opponent with a well-executed triangle choke to lock up the opening round sub. Only 1 of his fights has gone beyond the first round and it only lasted an additional 48-seconds. On the feet, the “Bearjew” throws some decent kicks from the right side to the body and head. The majority of his vertical output is focussed on closing the gap to set up his grappling attack.

Craig’s wrestling isn’t all that strong. He is decent in a scramble, but got put in some bad spots on the mat in his second to last fight.

The big Brazilian is all offense, willingly pushing forward to attempt to overrun his opponent with his relentless pressure. He can be taken down, but Craig’s lack of a consistent wrestling attack doesn’t offer a major threat. If Luis can defend the TDAs and without big power strikes coming back his way, “Frankenstein” should be able to engage at will. The Scot has been off for 13-months and is making his debut. Craig will find it difficult to stem the tide of offense and if the fight advances beyond round 1 his lack of experience in longer bouts will show- my prediction is Luis Henrique da Silva to defeat Paul Craig by TKO.Paragraph breaker

145lbs- Cole Miller (21-10-0 1NC) vs Mizuto Hirota (18-7-2)

In another bout reschedule from the UFC: Manilla card, long time UFC vet Cole “Magrinho” Miller takes on Mizuto “Pugnus” Hirota in the Featherweight division. Miller has lost back to back fights sandwiched around a No Contest against Jim Alers. Hirota is coming off a draw with Teruto Ishihara and is undefeated over his last 4-bouts.

A former Lightweight, Miller is 6 inches taller than his foe and will have a sizeable 7″ reach advantage. Cole is the younger man by 3-years.

“Magrinho” has recently voiced his opinion on the UFC’s handling of the Manilla card and how it affected him personally. Based on his comments, Miller appears very dishearted with his current status in the company to the point where he is questioning his future in fighting. He hardly sounds like a motivated fighter. Inside the cage, the majority of Miller’s victories have come via submission, 15 of 21. A BJJ Black belt, he has won 4-times by Rear-naked choke, but he has a variety of techniques on his record. Cole’s long limbs make him hard to control on the floor and he has an active guard. On the feet, Miller will pump out a jab and can throw a pretty solid straight right.

Arguably Cole’s biggest shortfall is his lack of wrestling. While he has improved in recent fights, he has struggled to take his foes down with regularity.

Mizuto is returning to action after roughly 17-months on the shelf. A striker by trade, he has finished 10 opponents by knockout compared to a 7-6 record on the scorecards. The only fight ending via submission was his infamous defeat at the hands of Shinya Aoki. Hirota is a talented boxer, jabbing his way into the pocket where he will then attack with combinations. In his contestable decision loss to Rodrigo Damm, he out-landed the Brazilian by a count of 102 to 76. Prior to his most recent bout, Hirota had given up 11 takedowns over a 3-fight span in the UFC and Strikeforce.

Hirota won a pair of decisions during his run to the “Road to the UFC: Japan” tournament finals.

Miller’s mental state could be the biggest factor in this fight. He put forth a lackluster effort against Alex Caceres, getting beaten up on the feet and failing to make an impact on the mat until late in the bout. Miller struggles to win fights when he is unable find some success on the floor. For Hirota, giving up takedowns has been a key element of his struggles in North American competition. If he is able to stay vertical, his volume striking will usually carry him to victory. In this conest, Miller”s height will make for a difficult level change and he will struggle to put Mizuto on the mat, while getting out-worked on the feet- my prediction is Mizuto Hirota to defeat Cole Miller by decision.

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170lbs- Bryan Barberena (12-3-0) vs Colby Covington (10-1-0)

In the Welterweight division, Bryan “Bam Bam” Barberena looks to continue his current hot streak at the expense of Colby “Chaos” Covington. Covington has won back to back fights since suffering the first loss of his career to Warlley Alves, he is 5-1 in the UFC. Barberena is coming off an upset win over Alves in Brazil, he is 3-1 in the promotion.

They share the same 72″ reach, but Barberena is 1″ taller than Colby and 1 year younger.

Covington is a former NCAA Division 1 wrestler has completed 21 takedowns over just 6 UFC fights. He is coming off his personal best 6-completions inside the Octagon. “Chaos” is a strong wrestler, either shooting from distance or bullying his foe into the cage before changing levels. Once on top, he has a smothering top-game, with the cardio needed to control and grind down his foe for the entire 3-rounds. His ability to break down his foe from top position had lead to multiple stoppage victories.

Covington is still developing as a striker, focusing mainly on closing the distance to set up his mat game.

Barberena continually defies the odds, picking up a couple of upsets including his wins over Alves and Sage Northcutt. “Bam Bam” is a gritty fighter who is willing to engage his opponent and outwork them over the duration of the fight. He has a tendency to be a bit of a slow starter, dropping the first game in multiple fights. Against Chad Laprise, he had success shutting down the striking of the Canadian with his clinch work.  At range, he throws hard straight punches and has stopped 8 opponents by knockout.

Barberena gave up a trio of takedowns in his debut and spent some time on his back in the Northcutt fight.

Baberena is a discouraging and exhaustive fighter to deal with, but so is Covington. “Bam Bam” likes to stay in his opponent’s face, which opens him up to getting taken down. Colby’s wrestling heavy attack is going to put “Bam Bam” on his back and keep him there. Covington won’t slow down, like many of Barberena’s opponents have in the past- my prediction is Colby Covington to defeat Bryan Barberena

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170lbs- James Moontasri (9-4-0) vs Alex Morono (12-3-0)

In the Welterweight division, James “Moonwalker” Montasri squares off with Alex Morono. Moontasri lost a unanimous decision to Alex Oliveira last July and is 2-3 in the UFC. Moron took a short notice bout against Kyle Noke and pulled off the upset, winning by split decision at UFC 195.

Morono is an inch taller and will have a 1″ reach advantage over Moontasri.

Moontasri is a Black belt in both Taekwondo and Muay Thai as well as a BJJ Purple belt. He has good dexterity in his legs, offering a dangerous arsenal of kicking techniques. He will also throw hard knee strikes to the body or head if his foe changes levels for a TDA. ‘Moonwalker’ hurt Joe Ellenberger with a well-timed uppercut and dropped Anton Zafir with a spinning back fist. James can also sit back and counter.  When attempting to defend TDAs, James will use a wide base against the cage to help remain vertical. Oliveria nullified Moontasri’s offense by keeping him pinned on the wall between takedown attempts.

Moontasri has been taken down in 4 of his 5 UFC contests- giving up 6 over his 3 defeats.

Morono has finished his opponent in his 9 of his 12 victories- 4 by knockout and 5 by submission. He has made quick work of 8 foes finishing them before the 5-minute mark. The win over Noke improved his record on the scorecards to an even 2-2. Building on an amateur kickboxing background, the striking component of Alex’s MMA game is his best asset. He KOed Valdir Araujo with a solid left hand and pairs his boxing with a serviceable kicking repertoire. His stance is a little unorthodox, standing very upright with an awkward cadence.

Despite getting the win, Morono gave up the only takedown of the fight and was out-landed by Noke 59-43.

This bout had been scheduled for the canceled Manilla card, so both men have had prolonged camps to prep for one and other. Morono doesn’t have the wrestling attack that has troubled “Moonwalker” in previous defeats, which will force him to compete on the feet. Moontasri is the more capable striker, but he can’t afford to lay back and allow Morono to outwork him. Moontasri will benefit from the lack of a takedown threat and routinely get the better of the striking exchanges- my prediction is James Moontasri to defeat Alex Morono by TKO/

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155lbs- Josh Emmett (10-0-0) vs Scott Holtzman (9-1-0)

In the Lightweight division, Josh Emmett of Team Alpha Male takes on Scott “Hot Sauce” Holtzman. Emmett edged out a close split decision in his debut over Jon Tuck to remain undefeated. Holtzman rebounded from the first loss of his career to defeat Cody Pfister by decision, improving his UFC mark to 2-1.

Holtzman is 3 inches taller than his opponent, but will give up an inch of reach.

Training alongside Benson Henderson, Holtzman has picked up a trio of knockout victories, 2 submissions, and is 4-1 on the scorecards. He has just a pair of first round stoppages. “Hot Sauce” is an aggressive striker, chambering a hard right hand and mixing in an uppercut. Look for him to work in some kicks and he will also attempt the odd spinning technique. Against Drew Dober, he struggled to remain vertical, giving up 5 takedowns. Over 14 and half rounds in the Octagon he has completed 6 takedowns of his own.

Against Pfister, he stuffed 8 of 9 TDAs, which allowed him to stay vertical and get the better of the striking exchanges by a count of 53-28.

Emmett has stopped 5 opponents; 3 by some form of knockout and 2 by submission. He has decent pop in hands, working a quick left jab and hard right hand. Josh isn’t an overwhelming striker when it comes to volume, using lateral movement and feints to limit his opponent’s offense before stepping forward to engage in the pocket. If he opts to rely too much on his power and less on technique, it can result in a bit of a slow down in longer fights. While he went 0 for 2 in his debut, he has a powerful takedown game consisting of big slams when he can get his hands locked together.

Emmett took his debut fight on short notice, stepping in with less than a week to prep for the bout.

In his debut, Emmett took advantage of the inactivity of his opponent to routinely get the better of the exchanges. Holtzman will be much more aggressive and push the pace. In pre-UFC footage, Emmett had some issues dealing with the aggression of his foe- constantly backing up before launching himself forward to attack. Unless he is able to routinely get the better of the exchanges, his constant backward motion won’t sit well with the judges. Holtzman pairs together his strikes well and has some decent pop in his hands while moving forward. Emmett could opt to use his wrestling to slow down Holtzman, but my prediction is Scott Hotlzman to defeat Josh Emmett by decision.

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135lbs- Leslie Smith (8-7-1) vs Irene Aldana (7-2-0)

In the Bantamweight division, Leslie “The Peacemaker” Smith battles UFC debutant Irene “Robles” Aldana. Smith is coming off of her UFC 198 TKO loss to Cyborg, she has just 2 wins over her 5 Octagon outings. Aldana has picked up back to back wins since her unsuccessful bid for the Invicta Bantamweight strap against Tonya Evinger.

Both girls are 5’9″, but Aldana will have a 2″ reach advantage. She is 6 years younger than Smith.

Smith has 4 knockouts on her record, including a 1st round TKO victory over Jessamyn Duke. Leslie is an aggressive pressure based striker, sitting in the pocket and unloading with a high paced barrage of punches. She can work from both distance and in the clinch. “The Peacemaker” has averaged 5.14 SLpM, including 79 strikes in her short-notice debut against Sarah Kaufman. Defensively, she has struggled- giving up an average of just over 8 strikes per minute. While Smith’s volume is her greatest asset, she has struggled against harder hitting opponents.

Smith is a BJJ Blue belt under Cesar Gracie, but has yet to record a submission win.

Fighting out of Guadalajara, Aldana has finished her opponent in all 7 of her pro wins- 5 by knockout. Both of her submission wins came by RNC.  “Robles” has some serious pop in her right hand and has never fought beyond the opening round in victory. She will work behind a left jab, sometimes leading with a left hook. Following her left side strike, Irene will crack her adversary with a hard right hand that has felled multiple opponents. She has good head movement and will slip her head of line and rip counters when her opponent pushes forward. If she can close the distance and force her foe to the cage, Aldana’s will unload with short punches to the head and body.

She holds stoppage wins over TUF alumni Jessamyn Duke and Peggy Morgan.

In defeat, Aldana’s undoing has been her TDD. Smith is not a legit takedown threat and will willingly trade with Irene. While Leslie will have the advantage in volume, she gets hit way too much and Aldana hits too hard. Smith’s constant forward pressure will keep in her Aldana’s firing range where she can both initiate offense and counter. If Smith can drag this fight into the second half, she could overwhelm Aldana if she slows down, but my prediction is Irene Aldana to defeat Leslie Smith by TKO.

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135lbs- #13 Eddie Wineland (22-11-1) vs #14 Takeya Mizugaki (21-10-2)

Former WEC champ Eddie Wineland looks to build on the momentum of his recent victory when he takes on fellow WEC alumni Takeya Mizugaki. Mizugaki has just a single win over his last 4 bouts after a 48-second knockout against Cody Garbrandt. Wineland is coming off an upset win via TKO over Frankie Saenz, he is 2-2 over his last 4 outings.

Both men are 5’7″, Wineland will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. The American is the younger man by a year.

Wineland appeared to suffer from some cage corrosion in his loss to Bryan Caraway, returning to form in his win over Saenz. Eddie relies on two key aspects of his striking attack; his unorthodox movement and knockout power. His power is mainly deployed with a straight right hand or periodically via uppercut. The erratic movement of Wineland makes him hard to time, but he tends to hang his hands low which can open him up to taking damage.

With a solid 85% TDD, Wineland has given up just a single takedown over his last 8 contests.

Recording 15 of his 21 wins by decision, Mizugaki melds together a decent boxing game and timely wrestling. He had finished just 5 opponents by knockout. Takeya averages 3.36 SLpM, while giving up 3.27. His willingness to sit in the pocket and trade can make it difficult to distance himself in a close fight. The Kanagawa-native is coming off his third career knockout defeat and has been finished in each of his last 3 defeats.

Mizugaki has relied on his takedowns in close fights, landing 14 over his last 8 wins compared to just 2 over his last 6 defeats.

Mizugaki will be forced to rely mainly on his striking, as he will be hard pressed to take Wineland off his feet. Takeya’s aggressive pocket punching could be his avenue to victory or open him up to defeat. His chin is a major question mark and by pressing the action he will eventually be touched by the piston-like right hand of Wineland- my prediction is Eddie Wineland to defeat Takeya Mizugaki by knockout.

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125lbs- Hector Sandoval (12-3-0) vs Fredy Serrano (3-1-0)

In the Flyweight division, Team Alpha Male product Hector “Kid Alex” Sandoval gets his second crack at picking up his first UFC win when he takes on former Olympian Fredy “El Profe” Serrano. Serrano is coming off of a split-decision loss to Chris Benoit, the first defeat of his pro career. Sandoval took a short-notice call to get into the UFC, but lasted just 90-seconds in a submission loss to Wilson Reis.

At 5’3″, Serrano is an inch taller than Sandoval and will have a 1″ reach advantage. Hector is the younger man by 7-years.

“El Profe” has leaned heavily on his wrestling, completing 8-takedowns over 7-rounds of UFC action. Fredy has completed just 33% of his takedown attempts, while defending 100% of his opponents’. While his striking is still a work in progress, he will mix in some decent kicking techniques. The main issue with Serrano’s offense is his lack of integration between striking and wrestling. In his debut, he showcased his power by scoring a violent KO via uppercut. He deployed the majority of his offense in single strikes.

Against Benoit, he suffered an early knockdown and slowed down as the fight progressed. He was unable to keep his foe on the mat and couldn’t match his output on the feet.

Sandoval has finished 5 opponents; 3 by knockout and 2 by submission- 3 in the opening round. Hector is a perfect 7-0 on the scorecards. He comes from a high school wrestling background. He relies on power over technique, utilizing big slams to drive his opponent to the floor. On the feet, he has som pop in his hands and delivers it with big hooks. With good hand speed, he will blitz his adversary and unload with high volume flurries to the head and body. Traditionally the smaller fighter, “Kid Alex” will use his speed and an aggressive forward push to help him cover the required distance.

All 3 of Hector’s losses have occurred before the 2-minute mark, losing by submission twice.

Serrano doesn’t have the MMA mileage on his body, but at 37 he came to the sport late which is further magnified by fighting in a lighter weight class. Serrano’s lack of cohesion between his wrestling and striking makes him easier to defend against. Sandoval might have to fend off some early TDAs, but his experience and speed will pay dividends as the fight advances. Hector will simply be the busier fighter and once the takedowns of Serrano start to fade, Sandoval will pull away- my prediction is Hector Sandoval to defeat Fredy Serrano by decision.

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170lbs- Bojan Velickovic (14-3-1) vs Sultan Aliev (13-2-0)

To open the 22nd installment of the UFC on FOX series, Bojan “Serbian Steele” Velickovic takes on Sultan Aliev in the Welterweight division. Aliev dropped his promotional debut by knockout to Kenny Robertson- he had won 4 in a row. Velickovic remained undefeated in the UFC after fighting to a draw with Adam Graves.

The Serbian fighter is an inch taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. He is also the younger man by 4-years.

Despite the fight ending in a draw, Velickovic put together another solid performance in his last fight. He comes from a Muay Thai background, but has recorded 8 wins by submission. Defensively, he has given up 5 takedowns over 2-fights, but he has proven difficult to control once on the mat and capable of attacking off of his back. On the feet, he throws hard leg kicks and decent combinations. While he chewed up the legs of Alessio Di Chirico, he did get out-landed in that fight 65-45.

Velickovic captured the RFA Welterweight champion before making the jump to the UFC.

A former Middleweight, Aliev is returning to action after a 23-month layoff. He is coming off the first knockout loss of his career, while recording 10 KO or TKO wins of his own. Of his 10 stoppage wins, 7 have come inside the opening round. A Master of Combat Sambo, Aliev has focussed the majority of his time spent on the mat on doing damage rather than looking for submission opportunities.

Fighting under the Bellator banner, Sultan went 1-1. He lost a contestable decision to Doug Marshall in the Middleweight tournament semi-finals back in 2013.

The key to success for Aliev will be to outwork his opponent with a combination of takedowns and more consistent striking. That could prove difficult for a fighter that has been out of action for almost 2-years. He is also making just his second attempt at 170-pounds and has fought beyond the 7-minute mark of a fight just twice since 2012. Velickovic will need to endure the early attack. Once the fight advances beyond the opening round and Aliev begins to slow down,  Bojan will be the more impactful striker, highlighted by his kicking attack- my prediction is Bojan Velickovic to defeat Sultan Aliev by decision.

205lbs- #8 NIKITA KRYLOV (21-4-0) vs #13 MISHA CIRKUNOV (12-2-0)
Headlining the undercard is a massive fight in the Light Heavyweight division as Nikita “The Miner” Krylov of the Ukraine takes on Latvian born and Canadian raised Misha Cirkunov. Krylov is 6-2 in the UFC and is currently riding a 5-fight winning streak with victories over Ed Herman and Francimar Barosso in his last 2 outings. Cirkunov is undefeated inside the Octagon, with a trio of wins all inside the distance.

Both men are 6’3″ and have a 77″ reach. Nikita is the younger man by 5 year.

Krylov is aggressive and will look for the finish from the onset of the bout. He has never gone the distance in his career, finishing 8 foes by knockout and 13 by submission. The Ukrainian has averaged 6.94 SLpM, including his UFC-best 60 significant strikes in just over a round against Herman. While he likes to set a pace that will overwhelm his opponent, his reckless attack also opens him up to getting hit and taken down.

Cirkunov has shown a much more calculated approach, along with an improved striking attack. Once he is able to get on the inside, his clinch work is the key to his success. The Big Canadian has completed 6 takedowns in the UFC, finishing all of his fights on the mat. When not in the clinch, Misha will change levels with a reactionary takedown to catch his opponent coming forward. Once on the mat, he does a good job controlling the position while landing strikes to either lead to a TKO or open up a submission opportunity.

The aggression of Krylov could result in him catching Cirkunov with a fight ending strike, but it will also expose him defensively. Unless Nikita can keep his foe on the outside with his kicks, Cirkunov is going to close the distance. Krylov can be taken down and if Cirkunov gets on top, his heavy top game is going to feast on the positional advantage- my prediction is Mish Cirkunov to defeat Nikita Krylov by submission.

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155lbs- OLIVIER AUBIN-MERCIER (9-2-0) vs DREW DOBER (17-7-0)

The penultimate fight of the undercard features Canadain Lightweight and TUF Nations finalist Olivier Aubin-Mercier going toe to toe with Drew Dober. OAM submitted his last opponent and has a 4-1 record since his TUF tournament finals falter. Dober has won back to back fights since a flash submission loss to Efrain Escudero- he is 3-3 with a No Contest in the UFC.

Physically quite similar, the Canadian is an inch taller and a year older- they share an identical 70″ reach.

The outcome of this fight will come down to whether or not OAM is able to routinely put Dober on the mat. Olivier has 14 completed takedowns over his 4 UFC victories compared to 3 in his pair of defeats. All but 1 of his 7 wins have come by submission. Dober has decent takedown defense, stuffing 66% of his opponents’ TDAs. He has also improved his offensive wrestling, but he should put his entire focus on his counter wrestling. While Aubin-Mercier’s striking has improved, Dober will have the edge on the feet. Once OAM close the distance, he is incredibly difficult to separate from. Against Dober, Olivier should find continued success intiating the clinch and either pinning him there or dragging him to the mat. Once he is able to establish his takedown game, it will further dimish the output a more defensive-minded Dober- my prediction is Olivier Aubin-Mercier to defeat Drew Dober by decision.

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115lbs- #9 VALERIE LETOURNEAU (8-5-0) vs VIVIANE PEREIRA (11-0-0)

Returning to the Strawweight division Valerie “Trouble” Letourneau looks to rebound when she takes on the debuting Viviane Pereira. Letourneau has lost back to back fights to Joanna Jedrzejczyk Joanne Calderwood. Pereira is undefeated, starting her pro career back in 2013.

The Canadian is a full decade younger than her opponent, but she will have 5″ reach advantage and is 6 inches taller than her opponent.

Pereira is stepping in on 6-weeks notice to make her debut. She has some decent pop in her hands and is willing to stand and trade. She has knocked out 4 opponents- 2 in the first round. Her pre-UFC competition hasn’t been that strong, with her last 3 opponents holding a combined 12-9 record, including a pair of .500 fighters. Throughout her career, Letourneau’s defeats have come against top-level competition. She offers a high volume striking attack, eclipsing the century mark twice, including against the divisional champion. While her numbers aren’t overwhelming, she has shown that she can take her opponent to the mat when needed. Pereira is taking a big step up in competition and while she is a willing combatant, her physical disadvantages are going to make it difficult for her to get into deployment range. Letourneau will keep the Brazilian on the outside, using her jab and kicking arsenal to simply outland her foe- my prediction is Valerie Letourneau to defeat Viviane Pereira by decision

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135lbs- MITCH GAGNON (12-3-0) vs MATTHEW LOPEZ (8-1-0)

In the Bantamweight division, Ontario-born Mitch Gagnon returns to action against promotional sophomore Matthew Lopez. Lopez’s lost his debut to Rani Yahya via submission, it was the first loss of his pro career. Gagnon was last seen getting submitted by Renan Barao, he had won 4 consecutive fights prior to the defeat.

Gagnon has been on the shelf since 2014. He is 3 years older than his opponent and he is the shorter man by 2 inches with a 4″ reach disadvantage.

Lopez struggled with the mat game of Yahya, spending the majority of the fight on the defensive, before gassing, and getting submitted. Of his 8 career wins, 7 came in the opening round- 4 by submission. He has a decent wrestling attack and some pop in his hands. If the fight hits the floor, he likes to go for choke based submissions. Gagnon is coming off a sizeable layoff, but his only UFC defeats have come against top-level competition. His ground attack has been the focal point of his UFC success, with 4-takedowns a trio of submission over his 4 victorious appearances. On the feet, he is a powerful striker, doing most of damage at close range. Neither fighter has a solid gas tank, but Gagnon did show in the Tim Gorman fight he can go a full 3-rounds successfully. Gagnon will break Lopez down the clinch and on the mat, wearing him out with his physicality- my prediction is Mitch Gagnon to defeat Matt Lopez by submission.

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155lbs- JOHN MAKDESSI (14-5-0) vs LANDO VANNATA (8-1-0)

In the Lightweight division, John ‘The Bull” Makdessi meets “Groovy” Lando Vannata in the Fight Pass headliner. Makdessi is coming off a split decision win over Mehdi Baghdad to snap a 2-fight losing streak. Vannata is coming off a herculean effort in his short notice debut loss to Tony Ferguson, where he nearly upset the top contender.

Lando is an inch taller and will have a 3″ reach advantage. The Canadian is the older man by 7 years.

Makdessi has been plagued by his inability to distance himself in close fights. He has out-landed his opponent in 8 consecutive contest, including a trio of bouts in which he was defeated. The Canadian’s attack lacks a strong offensive grappling component, focusing almost entirely on remaining vertical. Vannata showcased good head movement and decent power, hurting Ferguson on a couple of occasions. He has 4 wins by submission on his record- 2 by RNC. Lando capitalized on the aggressive style of Ferguson, but Makdessi will put forth a much more technically sound defensive front. Building the majority of his offense around his jab, look for Makdessi to land the more impactful strikes while limiting the offense of his opponent- my prediction isJohn Makdessi to defeat Lando Vannata by decision.

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155lbs- JASON SAGGO (12-2-0) vs RUSTAM KHABILOV (20-3-0)

In the Lightweight division, Canadian Jason Saggo battles former Top 15 ranked Rustam “Tiger” Khabilov. Saggo is 3-1 in the UFC and is coming off of a split decision win over Leandro Silva. Khabilov has won a trio of fights since a pair of defeats to Benson Henderson and Adriano Martins- he is also coming off a win over Leandro Silva.

Saggo is the taller man by 3 inches, but will give up 2 inches of reach.

Similar to the first fight of the night, this contest should be decided on the mat. Both Saggo and Khabilov thrive on their ability to put their foe on the floor and keep them there. If forced to compete on the feet, neither man is an overwhelming striker, but the edge should lie with Khabilov. He is the slightly more active striker and hits harder. The Canadian had issues with the physical strength of Paul Felder and Rustam will put him at a similar deficit. Khabilov lands the more impactful strikes and score a couple of key takedowns- my prediction is Rustam Khabilov to defeat Jason Saggo by decision.

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125lbs- #7 ZACH MAKOVSKY (19-7-0) vs #10 DUSTIN ORTIZ (15-6-0)

To open the card, Zach “Fun Size” Makovsky takes on Dustin Ortiz in the Flyweight division. Makovsky has just a single win over his last 4-fights, defeating Tim Elliott while dropping fights to John Dodson, Jussier Formiga, and Joseph Benavidez. Ortiz has experienced similar struggles with a 1-3 record over his last 4 with losses to Formiga and Benavidez as well.

Ortiz is an inch taller and will have a 1″ reach advantage. Ortiz is 5 years younger.

Both men have failed to defeat the elite of the division, but put up competitive efforts nonetheless. Ortiz is a BJJ Brown belt and Makovsky a Purple belt and former NCAA Division 1 wrestler. They have both leaned heavily on their ground games and will look to do so here. Makovsky took Benavidez down 4-times and has completed 22 takedowns over 6 bouts. Oritz has struggled with opponents that have aggressively pursue the takedown, getting out landed 12-3 over his last 3-defeats. Makovsky will find success putting him on the floor and out scrambling him- my prediction is Zach Makovsky to defeat Dustin Ortiz by decision.

 
115lbs- Justine Kish (5-0-0) vs Ashley Yoder (4-1-0)

In the Strawweight division, Justine Kish makes her second walk to the Octagon to face the short-notice debutant, Ashely Yoder. Yoder bowed out in the TUF 23 quarter-finals, but returned to action with a submission win over Amber Brown in her Invicta debut. Kish took a unanimous decision win over Nina Ansaroff in her long-awaited UFC debut at UFC 195.

Yoder is 2 inches taller and will have a 3″ reach advantage. Yoder last fought on November 18th.

Kish is going to want to keep this fight vertical and utilize her Muay Thai striking. She hits hard, throws a wide variety of techniques, and constantly moves forward. Yoder’s focus will most likely be on getting the fight to the ground. She will shoot for takedowns, but isn’t against pulling guard and attacking off her back. Kish’s constant forward pressure could open her up to a quick level change, but she has very good TDD and is difficult to keep down. If Justine grabs top position, she can do damage with heavy ground and pound. Kish is going to keep Yoder backing up and under attack for the duration of the fight, taking advantage of Yoder’s desperation attempts to get the fight to the floor- my prediction is Justine Kish to defeat Ashley Yoder by decision.

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170lbs- Randy Brown (8-1-0) vs Brian Camozzi (7-2-0)

In the Welterweight division, “Rude Boy” Randy Brown looks to improve to 3-1 inside the Octagon when he takes on the debuting Brian “The Mantis” Camozzi. Camozzi recently claimed the vacant RFA Welterweight strap and has won 5-consecutive bouts dating back to 2014. Brown submitted Erick Montano in September to rebound from the first loss of his career, suffered at the hands of Michael Graves.

At 6’3″, Brown is just an inch taller than his foe and will have a slight 2″ reach advantage. Camozzi is the younger man by a year, he is replacing Charlie Ward with a month to prepare for the fight.

Both men are tall for the division, but Brown seems focused on negating his reach and opting to continually clinch up with his opponents. Despite having a striking advantage against Montano, he was initiating the grappling exchanges and lost the second round as a result. Camozzi is a threat on the mat and can be pretty active on the feet, including a nasty set of knee strikes from the clinch. Camozzi does a better job of integrating the various aspects of his attack and will eventually capitalize on a mistake made by Brown on the mat- my prediction is Brian Camozzi to defeat Randy Brown by submission.

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185lbs- Joe Gigliotti (7-1-0) vs Gerald Meerschaert (24-8-0)

The third and final Middleweight contest on the card features promotional sophomore Joe “Capo” Gigliotti squaring off with Gerald “The Machine” Meerschaert. Gigliotti dropped his first UFC fight to fellow undercarder Trevor Smith, he won 7-straight fights to begin his UFC run. Meerschaert has won 5 straight fights dating back to a 2014 decision loss to Sam Alvey.

Meerschaert is 2 inches taller and will have a 3 inch reach advantage. He has a 24-fight experience advantage and is the older man by 6 years. This bout was originally scheduled to feature Josh Samman (RIP) and Oluwale Bamgbose. Gigliotti replaced Samman and in mid-November Meerschaert took Bamgbose’s spot.

Fighting out of Rufusport, Meerschaert is finally getting the call to the big show after 32 fights. He has 17 wins by submission, but has also been submitted 7-times. Gigliotti offers a physically bruising style, closing the distance to unload with heavy punches or changing levels for a takedown. Gigliotti will be undersized here and is taking on an experienced fighter that has never been knocked out. Similar to Gigliotti’s last fight, look for Meerschaert to use technique to overcome Joe’s physical strength, capitalizing on Gigliotti’s aggression- my prediction is Gerald Meerschaert to defeat Joe Gigliotti by submission.

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185lbs- Andrew Sanchez (9-2-0) vs Trevor Smith (14-6-0)

In the Middleweight division, Andrew “El Dirte” Sanchez takes on Trevor “Hot Sauce” Smith. Smith has won back to back fights over Joe Gigliotti and Dan Miller- he is 4-3 in the UFC. Sanchez was victorious in his debut, winning the finals of the TUF 23 tournament to extend his winning streak to 3 in a row.

Smith is 6’3″ and will have a 2″ reach advantage. Sanchez is 7 years younger. Sanchez is coming back down to Middleweight after competing at 205 pounds on the show. Smith is a former Light Heavyweight.

Both men come from a grappling background, smothering their opponents with a strong top position pressure. Smith’s quality of opposition is vastly superior to what Sanchez has faced and “El Dirte” lost to the most noteworthy opponents on his record. The chin of Smith is a bit of a concern and Sanchez is a decent threat on the feet, but he will have to stay vertical in order to deploy his offense. “Hot Sauce” routinely drags Sanchez to the mat, breaks him down,  and keeps him there- my prediction is Trevor Smith to defeat Andrew Sanchez by decision.Paragraph breaker

145lbs- Tiago Trator (20-5-2 1NC) vs Shane Burgos (7-0-0)

Brazilian Tiago Trator looks for his third UFC victory when he takes on UFC neophyte Shane “Hurricane” Burgos” in the Featherweight division. Trator took a split decision win over Clay Collard, one fight removed from his first defeat since 2011. Burgos has fought just once in 2016, winning via first round KO in January.

The American is 2 inches taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage.

Burgos is coming in on 2-week’s notice to make his debut and he hasn’t fought more than once a year since 2014. A Tiger Shulman Product, he has finished all 7 of his wins inside the distance, but against a questionable level of competition. Trator is coming off a hard fought split decision win. He has used a varied attack in the UFC, combining decent distance striking, a clinch attack, and serviceable wrestling. He has been submitted 3-times in his career and his UFC defeat came by knockout. Burgos is coming in on short notice and is on the wrong end of the experience equation. If he can’t score the early stoppage, he is going to struggle to keep up with the diversity of Trator- my prediction is Tiago Trator to defeat Shane Burgos by decision.

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155lbs- Frankie Perez (10-2-0) vs Marc Diakiese (10-0-0)

In the Lightweight division, the unretired Frankie Perez battles it out with England’s “Bonecrusher” Marc Diakiese. Perez lost his UFC debut to Johnny Case, but rebounded to finish Sam Stout via KO before walking away from the sport for just over a year. Diakiese knocked out Lukas Sajewski in his debut- the fifth knockout win over his career.

Perez is an inch taller, but they share the same reach. Diakiese is the younger man by 4-years.

Diakiese showcased a dynamic striking attack in his debut; working slick combinations, hard leg techniques, and countered his foe when they came forward. He did spend the majority of the opening round on his back, which is an area that opponents have focused their attack on. Perez stopped Stout, for the just the second knockout of his career. He has 5 submission wins. Perez’s best avenue for victory here will be to take Diakiese down and keep him there. Perez will struggle to put Marc on his back with regularity and the Brit’s speed and power will be too much for him- my prediction is Marc Diakiese to defeat Frankie Perez by TKO.Paragraph breaker

185lbs- Keith Berish (5-0-0 1NC) vs Ryan Janes (8-1-0)

In the Middleweight division, Keith “Sha Bang Bang” Berish finally gets his second opportunity in UFC when he fights Canadian Ryan Janes. Janes was scheduled to debut earlier this year until his opponent was removed from the fight by USADA, he has won 7 straight contests. Berish made his Octagon debut back in 2014 as a Light Heavyweight and was subbed by Ryan Drysdale, it has since been overturned to a No Contest.

Janes is a tall Middleweight at 6’3″, standing 3 inches taller than his foe and he will have a 3″ reach advantage.

Neither man has been very active of late; Janes last competed 19-months ago and Berrish has not seen the cage in well over 2-years. The Canadian carries a submission heavy win total and while he has managed to continue his finishing streak, there has a been a noticeable increase in cage time over his recent bouts. Berish comes from a wrestling back and shown the ability to compete both on the feet and the ground. The difference here should be the striking of Berish. Keith utilizes a Muay Thai styled attack and when forced to stand, Janes is hittable- my prediction is Keith Berish to defeat Ryan Janes by TKO.

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115lbs- #15 Juliana Lima (8-3-0) vs JJ Aldrich (4-1-0)

To open the card, Top 15 ranked Strawweight Juliana “Ju Thai” Lima welcomes late-notice replacement JJ Aldrich. Similar to Ashley Yoder, Aldrich is coming off a November victory under the Invicta banner and has won 3 straight fights. Lima dropped a decision to former champion Carla Esparza and is now 2-2 in the UFC.

Both girls are 5’5″, but Aldrich will have a 1″ reach advantage.

Aldrich was submitted in the quarter-finals by eventual TUF 23 winner Tatiana Suarez. She is a BJJ Brown belt and Taekwondo Black Belt, relying mainly on her striking inside the cage. She moves well and keeps her technique sound and crisp. Lima combines a solid ground game and a Muay Thai striking attack. She isn’t a high volume striker and has leaned more on her mat game in her UFC wins. That will be her key to success here. On TUF, Aldrich struggled to fend off the takedowns of her foe once Suarez got her hands on her. Lima is strong and will use that strength to routinely put JJ on the floor and keep her there- my prediction is Juliana Lima to defeat JJ Aldrich by decision.

145lbs- Gray Maynard (13-6-1 1NC) vs Ryan Hall (5-1-0)

In the headlining fight of the prelims, former Lightweight title challenger Gray “The Bully” Maynard takes on TUF 22 winner Adam “The Wizard” Hall. Hall is coming off his TUF tournament finals win over Artem Lobov- he has won 5 straight bouts since a defeat in his pro debut. Maynard debuted at Featherweight in his last bout, earning a decision win over Fernando Bruno- he is just 2-5 over his last 7 fights.

Hall is an inch taller and will have inch reach advantage over the former challenger. Maynard is the older man by 6 years.

Maynard made his Lightweight title run on the strength of a strong top position wrestling attack and an improving boxing game. After coming so close to the title, Gray’s career took a downward turn along with his ability to absorb a punch. He was knocked out in 4-consecutive defeats. In his Featherweight debut, his chin held up against a lesser striker and he was able to convert 3 takedowns and a prolonged amount of top control into a decision win.

Hall’s run in his TUF tournament was cut short, but he got a second chance in the finals and cashed in. He is a specialist, relying heavily on his grappling game. He has a pair of submission as a pro along with a couple of ground-based TKO victories. Hall lacks a strong takedown game, relying heavily on his ability to dive on a leg and pull his foe into a grappling exchange. Hall also offers an aggressive guard from which he will attack with sub or look to set up a sweep.

For the second consecutive fight, Maynard is facing an opponent that is not a significant knockout threat. That doesn’t mean his questionable chin won’t gave in on itself if Hall cracks him on the button. Hall has been out of action for a year, so ring rust could be a factor. There is also potential to see him make a leap in his wrestling skills. That being said, Maynard isn’t going to be easy to take down. If Hall opts to pull guard, look for Gray to shut down his offense with a heavy top game. Maynard gets the better of the striking exchanges and crushes Hall’s attempt to grapple with him- my prediction is Gray Maynard to defeat Ryan Hall by decision.

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135lbs- Rob Font (12-2-0) vs Matt Schnell (9-2-0)

In the Bantamweight division, Rob Font meets late notice replacement Matt “Danger” Schnell. Font is coming off just the second loss of his pro career and first in the UFC after falling via decision to John Lineker- he is 2-1 in the promotion. Schnell bowed out to eventual TUF 24 tournament winner Tim Elliott in the 2nd round of the bracket, but he has won 6 consecutive bouts as a pro.

Schnell is moving up from Flyweight to take this fight and is replacing Alejandro Perez with roughly 1-week to prep. Both men are 5’8″ and Schnell will have a slight 1″ reach advantage, despite being the smaller framed fighter.

Font is a striker by trade, packing some power in his right hand and finishing 5 opponents by knockout. He throws solid combinations and will attack the body with punches. Rob will also mix in some kicking techniques when appropriate. Against Lineker, he struggled to let his hands go and spent the majority of the fight on the defensive against the aggressive Brazilian.

Securing 5-wins by submission, including a crafty armbar to snatch the Interim-Legacy FC Flyweight belt, Schnell is a dangerous ground fighter. He used his mat skills to tap his foe in the first round of the TUF tourney, before having the tables turned on him via guillotine choke against Elliott. Over his last 8-fights, he has not fought beyond the 2nd round- including 6 first round victories.

The newcomer is taking a massive step up in competition by facing Font. In addition to making his debut on short notice, he is facing an experienced fighter in a weight class he has never competed at. Look for Font to routinely shuck off the attempts of Schnell to get the fight to the mat and potentially grab the superior position as Matt gets more desperate. When on the feet, Font’s power and combination striking will be too much for his foe- my prediction is Rob Font to defeat Matt Schnell by TKO.

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115lbs- Kailin Curran (4-3-0) vs Jamie Moyle (3-1-0)

In the Women’s Strawweight division, Kailin Curran looks to snap out of her current slump when she meets the debuting Jamie Moyle. Moyle is coming off a decision loss under the Invicta banner where she has spent her entire career- winning 3 of 4. Curran has struggled to a 1-3 record inside the Octagon, her only victory came via submission over Emily Kagan in late 2015.

Curran is 3 inches taller than Moyle, but they will share a 65″ reach. Kailin is the younger fighter by 2-years.

Despite having some decent moments, Curran could be facing her walking papers. She held her own against Paige VanZant before gassing out and was beating Alex Chambers when she got subbed in the final round. Kailin is at her best when she is advancing and attacking in barrages. She offers both a capable takedown game and decent volume striking attack.

A TUF 23 competitor, Moyle advanced through the elimination round before falling to eventual tournament finalist Amanda Cooper. The majority of her pro and amateur bouts, including an amateur fight with Tecia Torres, have gone the distance. She did show some decent takedowns skills and the ability to work off her back on the show. She submitted her only TUF victim via RNC. She’s got some pop in her hands and is willing to exchange.

Curran has yet to see the scorecards in the UFC. She is aggressive and likes to push the pace, but this also opens her up to take damage and potentially wear down in a longer fight. Moyle can wrestle and puts her punches together fairly well. Kailin was having a lot of trouble with the combined striking and wrestling attack of Kagan prior to her slowing down and then getting submitted. Look for Moyle to push Curran backward, make her fight off her back foot and then change levels for a takedown when Curran tries to move forward- my prediction is Jamie Moyle to defeat Kailin Curran by submission.

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185lbs- Devin Clark (6-1-0) vs Joshua Stansbury (8-3-0)

In the Middleweight division, Devin “Brown Bear” Clark takes on Josh “The Sandman” Stansbury. Clark’s UFC debuted was the first loss of his pro career, suffering a first-round knockout to Alex Nicholson. Stansbury took a majority decision at the TUF 23 Finale after a 2-1 run during the show that saw him lose to finalist Khalil Rountree.

Both fighters have formerly competed at 205-pounds. Clark, who is replacing Jake Collier, cut down to Middleweight for his debut, Stansbury is making his first trip to 185 in the UFC. Stansbury is 2 inches taller, but will give up an inch of reach.

Clark had a strong start to his UFC debut, getting the better of the striking exchanges and landing a single takedown. He was stopped via strikes with just 3-second left in the round. For his career, he has finished a trio of opponents by knockout along with a single submission win- 2 in the opening round. He is 2-0 on the scorecards, both fights coming under the RFA banner.

Leaning more on his grappling game, Stansbury has submitted 5 opponents- 4 by guillotine. He began his pro career 0-2, losing both fights via submission. All 6 of his pro stoppages have come in round 1. As the first pick of Team Joanna, he won his elimination round fight via submission and followed with an opening round decision loss. Stansbury showed marked improvement in his striking between his time spent on the shot and his debut.

There are several scenarios in play for this fight. Clark is coming off of his first career loss and is making his second cut to a new division. Both of those scenarios tend to have a positive effect on a fighter’s performance. Stansbury is making his first non-TUF-related appearance which usually sees a fighter make a leap in skill, but he is making his first attempt at making the Middleweight limit. Ultimately, Stansbury is the more diverse fighter. Clark appears to have the edge in power, but Josh’s volume will be the key to his success when exchanging. Additionally, Stansbury will use his clinch and grappling game to grind Clark down- my prediction is Josh Stansbury to defeat Devin Clark by submission.

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185lbs- Elvis Mutapcic (15-4-1) vs Anthony Smith (25-12-0)

In the Middleweight division, Elvis “The King” Mutapcic takes on Anthony “Lionheart” Smith. Mutapcic remained winless in the UFC after a draw with Kevin Casey, he had an unsuccessful debut fighting as a Light Heavyweight versus Francimar Barosso. Smith picked up a win in his inaugural Octagon bout, but was unable to build on that success in decision defeat against Cezar Ferreira last July.

At 6’4″, “Lionheart” is the taller man by 4 inches and will have a sizeable 5″ reach advantage. He is 2 years younger than Mutapcic.

Smith’s aggression and ability to finish his opponent has been at the center of his success. He has gone the distance just twice in his career, including his first 2 UFC bouts- he is 2-1 on the cards. Smith is an equal opportunity stopper with 22 wins split evenly between submissions and knockouts- 13 in round 1. Conversely, he has finished 11-times in his career- 6 by knockout.

Mutapcic’s record on the cards isn’t strong either at 3-4, but he has never been finished. The most significant flaw in his game has been his sub-par takedown defense. While he has given up just 3 takedowns in 2 Octagon outings, they have come at key times in close fights.

Mutapcic is durable, but he will need to overcome the early attack from Smith. When Smith attacks, he closes the distance which will negate his reach advantage and pull him into Mutapcic’s range. Once Smith’s initial onslaught has subsided, he will start to slow down and Mutapcic will be able to take over the fight. Mutapcic’s crisp boxing technique and ability to carry his output deeper into the fight will be his key to success- my prediction is Elvis Mutapcic to defeat Anthony Smith by decision.

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155lbs- Dong Hyun Kim (13-8-3) vs Brendan O’Reilly (6-2-0 1NC)

In the Lightweight division, Brendan “The Badger” O’Reilly of Australia takes on “Maestro” Dong Hyun Kim. Kim is 0-2 since coming to the UFC, suffering through a pair of third round knockout defeats to Dominique Steele and Polo Reyes. O’Reilly defeated Vik Grujic in his sophomore appearance, but has sandwiched that win between a pair of defeats- most recently getting stopped by Alan Jouban last March.

Kim is 3 inches taller than his foe and will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. O’Reilly is cutting back down to Lightweight after a 2-fight stint at 170 pounds.

O’Reilly is 3-1 on the scorecards along with a single win by knockout and a pair of submission wins. He is coming off of the first stoppage defeat of his career. The majority of Brendan’s success in his sole UFC win came on the strength of his mat game. Working primarily from the clinch, the Aussie took his opponent down 6-times. Conversely, he gave up a pair of takedowns in his debut defeat.

Kim has shown a willingness to seek the finish in his career, stopping 11 of his 13 wins. He has a sizeable experience advantage over O’Reilly with 24 pro bouts to just 9. Against Reyes, he went to war landing 83-significant strikes, but he gave up 135 prior to getting stopped mid-way through the final round.

The TUF alum’s success hinges largely on his takedown game. He authors the majority of his completions via the clinch, a position Kim is comfortable in as well. Kim has demonstrated a pretty stout grappling game in his pre-UFC action and has 6 career subs. If this fight is contested on the feet, the action should favour Dong. Even in his win over Grujic, O’Reilly was on the wrong end of the striking totals. Kim’s output and durability will be difficult for O’Reilly to overcome. Look for Kim to pile up the damage and even find some success in the takedown department- my prediction is Dong Hyun Kim to defeat Brendan O’Reilly by TKO.

185lbs- Dan Kelly (11-1-0) vs Chris Camozzi (24-11-0)

Headlining the undercard, former Olympian and TUF contestant Dan Kelly takes on Chris Camozzi in the Middleweight division. Kelly’s unsuccessful TUF run has evolved into an impressive 4-1 UFC career, including his most recent win over Antonio Carlos Junior. Camozzi had won 3-fights in a row and 5 of 6 before running into a submission loss against Thales Leites.

Camozzi is 2 inches taller than Kelly and will have a 6″ reach advantage. The American is 9 years younger than his opponent.

Kelly’s only career loss came via knockout to the nuclear-handed Sam Alvey. He has 5 submission wins to go along with a trio of knockouts and a 3-0 record on the scorecards. The more traveled Camozzi, is a near .500 fighter in bouts decided by a submission (7-6), with 3 of his last 6 defeats coming by tap out. Camozzi is known for his durability and has never been stopped compared to 7 knockout wins. He is 10-5 in decisions, with his last 2 defeats on the cards ending in split decisions.

Camozzi is not the most fleet of foot, but his recent success has been built around his ability to out-grind his opponents. He throws a long spearing jab, along with offering a decent mix of kicks and punches at range, and will close the distance to do damage in the clinch. His takedown defense has been an area of vulnerability, with 16 takedowns given up over his last 7 defeats. Kelly comes from a Judo background and does his best work on the mat. Once he gets on top, he has a solid base and can do damage with his GNP or look for a submission finish. Dan landed 5 completions in his win over Steve Montgomery, but has struggled to repeat that success. His striking skills are pretty limited, but if he can close the distance he does have some pop in his hands.

If this bout is contested on the feet, Camozzi wins. If Kelly can drag the action to the floor that is his best avenue for victory. Camozzi’s has made some questionable in cage decisions in previous bouts, creating opportunities for his opponent to take him down. Chris’s long jab and superior reach should help to keep Kelly from getting in a position to look for a takedown. Kelly simply won’t be able to match Camozzi on the feet and won’t be able to drag him to the floor with enough consistency to win the fight, my prediciton is Chris Camozzi to defeat Dan Kelly by decision.

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155lbs- Damien Brown (16-9-0) vs Jon Tuck (9-3-0)

In the Lightweight division, Damien “Beatdown” Brown looks for his second consecutive UFC win when he meets Guam’s Jon “Super Saiyan” Tuck. Tuck has alternated wins and losses over his last 6 fights, having never won consecutive bouts inside the Octagon. Brown scored a stoppage win of Cesar Arzamendia in his last appearance after an unsuccessful debut against Alan Patrick.

Tuck is an inch taller and will have a sizeable 5″ reach advantage.

With 8 of his 9 wins coming inside the distance, 5 by sub, Tuck has a solid finishing rate. He has a pair of submission wins in the UFC, but has lost all 3 of his fights to go the distance. Brown has a slightly better record on the cards at 5-4, but he has been finished 5 times- 4 by submission. His most recent victory upped his knockout totals to 3, to go along with his 8 submission victories.

While Brown’s record is respectable, his level of competition has been a significant contributor to his success. Arzamendia is the most noteworthy name on his record, but Cesar has gained a reputation for his porous striking defense and even worse ability to take a punch. Brown dropped him early with a well-placed right and finished him shortly after with a couple more connections from the same side. Traditionally, Tuck has struggled to maintain his output from bell to bell- fading in the later rounds. In his last fight, he appeared to get stronger; increasing is output in both rounds 2 and 3. The TUF alumni does have some pop in his hands and he has shown signs of a serviceable wrestling game to go along with his BJJ Black belt.

The quantity of experience favours the Aussie, but the quality of experience is clearly in Tuck’s corner. Brown isn’t an overwhelming striker and Jon should have advantages in both speed and diversity. Additionally, Tuck’s superior wrestling and grappling attacks will result in some key top control time and potentially lead to a fight-ending submission opportunity. Tuck doesn’t have a great record in decisions, but Brown is 1-4 in his last 5 fights to go the distance. Tuck outclasses him on the feet and eventually capitalizes on a mistake once they hit the mat- my prediction is Jon Tuck to defeat Damien Brown by submission.Paragraph breaker

170lbs- Rich Walsh (9-5-0) vs Jonathan Meunier (7-1-0)

In the Welterweight division, “Filthy” Rich Walsh takes on Canada’s Jonathan Meunier. Walsh has just a single win over his last 4-fights after dropping a contestable decision to Viscarde Andrade- his only victory during this stretch came over Steve Kennedy. Meunier is coming off the first loss of his career, dropping a short-notice submission loss to Colby Covington.

The Canadian is 3 inches taller than Walsh and will have a 2″ reach advantage.

Walsh has lost a pair of decisions during his UFC run along with the first stoppage defeat of his career since a submission defeat against Robert Whittaker back in 2009. He has 4 wins by knockout and a 4-2 record on the scorecards. Meunier has yet to go the distance in his career, finishing 7 opponents- 5 by some form of knockout.

Walsh is a hardnosed fighter, but he has struggled to find his identity on the big stage. He used a takedown-heavy attack in his debut victory, but has struggled to stay off his back since. He found success overcoming his foe’s TDs in his second win, using a high volume striking attack. Walsh does his best work in close, working on the cage. At range, he has developed a pretty decent jab to build his attack behind. Meunier comes from a kickboxing background, but has relied on his top position strikes in the majority of his fights. When standing, he offers a decent kicking attacking, but he is a little inactive at times between techniques.

Meunier’s debut was pretty lackluster, but Covington was too much too soon for the Canadian. Walsh is a more a