UFC on FOX 21 Preliminary Predictions
185lbs- Sam Alvey (27-8-0 1NC) vs Kevin Casey (9-4-1 2NC)
In the undercard headliner, ‘Smile’n’ Sam Alvey makes his third appearance in as many months against ‘King’ Kevin Casey. Casey is coming off of a draw against Elvis Mutapcic and is 1-1-1 with a pair of No Contests over his last 5 fights. Alvey snapped a 2-fight losing skid with his win over Eric Spicely, all 4 of his UFC wins have come by opening round finish.
Alvey is 3 inches taller and 5-years younger than Casey, but Casey will have a 2″ reach advantage.
A BJJ Black belt, Casey is a ground specialist. The majority of his wins are centered around his ability to drag his opponent to the mat and keep them there. He picked up a pair of takedowns against Mutapcic and found success countering to top position in his only official Octagon victory over Ildemar Alcantara. All 3 of his submission wins have come via rear-naked choke. He is a physically strong fighter and will both smother his opponent from top position and can do damage when is he able to posture up and land strikes. Against Mutapcic, he started strong landing an early takedown and controlling the position. He had similar success in the middle round, but was starting to slow down and slowed further as the fight progressed. The defining aspect of Casey’s career has been his cardio. Despite his ability to dominate on the mat, his cardio makes it difficult for him to score takedowns and maintain his output over a full 15-minutes. ‘King’ Casey has had some success on the feet, mainly built around the pop in his punches. He cracked Alcantara a couple of times and was able to back him off with his power, which is usually deployed in single strikes.
Casey fought is last fight just a day after the death of his father-in-law Muhammad Ali.
Similar to his opponent, Alvey is a specialist. While not nearly as one-dimensional as Casey, Alvey has recorded 17 of his 27 wins by knockout. He is coming off of his third career submission win, but he is just 10-7 in fights not ending by knockout. Alvey has face melting power, capable of ending a fight with one-punch. Arguably his most impressive victory came over Cezar Ferreira, where Alvey waited out his foe’s attack before unloading with just 4 total strikes to render the Brazilian unconscious. He has put together similar performances where he stopped his foe with a minimal amount of offense, but when he is unable to score the knockout it is difficult for Alvey to win a decision. Most recently, Elias Theodorou used a gameplan built around movement and remaining elusive to avoid getting tagged with Alvey’s fight-ending power. A Team Quest product, Alvey has shown good TDD defending 87% of his opponents’ takedown attempts. While Sam isn’t one to go offensive with his wrestling, if he does get on top he can do a lot of damage with his GNP.
Wisely attempted to drag Alvey to the mat, but Sam did an excellent job of remaining vertical and eventually locked up a standing guillotine choke for the finish.
Alvey represents a terrible stylistic matchup for Casey. Unless Casey is able to finish Alvey early, he isn’t going to be able to take him down and keep him down for the entire fight without his cardio faltering. Alvey’s TDD is good enough to trouble Casey and force him to work hard to gain that coveted top position. Even if Casey scores an early completion or 2, Alvey will make him work on the mat and tire him out in the process. Either after Casey slows down or during an early exchange, Alvey is going to have plenty of opportunities to attack his opponent on the feet. Casey is way too reliant on closing the distance to set up his grappling to stick to the outside and avoid Sam’s power. Sam Alvey does what he does well and that blasts his foe during an early exchange, my prediction is Sam Alvey to defeat Kevin Casey by knockout
145lbs- Enrique Barzola (12-2-1) vs Kyle Bochniak (6-1-0)
In the Featherweight division, TUF Latin America winner Enrique ‘El Fuerte’ Barzola of Peru fights Kyle ‘Crash’ Bochniak. Barzola defeated Horacio Gutierrez in the TUF tournament final and is 4-1 over his last 5 fights. Bochniak took a short notice opportunity to get into the UFC, but lost to Aaron Rosa as a Lightweight- the first defeat of his career.
It is also worth noting that Barzola won the Lightweight TUF bracket. Both fighters are 5’7″ and share an identical 70″ reach. The Peruvian is the younger man by 2 years.
‘Crash’ put up a valiant effort in his extremely short notice debut against Aaron Rosa, in Rosa’s hometown no less. Bochniak entered the UFC on the strength of back to back opening round finishes- a knockout and a technical submission by rear-naked choke. He started his pro career in similar fashion and has diced up his 6 career victories evenly between knockouts, submissions, and decisions. Against Rosa, he came out aggressive on the feet. Bochniak was landing hard right hands and showed good timing; slipping out of range and then back inside to attack. Kyle did find the mark a couple of times in round 1, with a pair of knockdowns. He also mixed in some low kicks and knees on the inside. It appeared that Rosa was able to pick up on Bochniak’s reliance on his right and got better at avoiding them in the second half of the fight. For a debuting fighter, he moved very well and looked relaxed in the early going, but started to slow down as the fight progressed and the damage piled up.
Bochniak got taken down a couple of times, but battled his way back up and even scored his own takedown during round 2.
Barzola represented Team Escudero during his run to the Latin America 2 Ultimate Fighter title. He has a sizeable experience advantage over his foe, with twice as many pro fights on his resume. He has split his 11-career wins evenly between submissions and knockouts, with a 3-2 record on the scorecards. Prior to his UFC debut, the most noteworthy name on his resume was a 2014 decision loss to fellow UFC competitor Fernando Bruno. Enrique has just two opening round finishes on his record, with 5 of his stoppage coming in the middle frame. He utilized a takedown-heavy attack to get the nod over Gutierrez, landing 5 of his 9 takedowns. Early on he appeared to have trouble with the footwork of his opponent, struggling to close the distance and shoot. Once he got a hold of his foe, he grabbed onto a single but expended a lot of energy attempting to muscle him to the floor. Later in the fight he found more success, including a nice reactive TD when Gutierrez threw a kick. On top, he keeps his hips heavy and postures up to land decent ground and pound. If the opportunity presents itself to pass the guard he will, but he is content to sit on the inside and do damage. He scored a top position stoppage on the show with a brutal body punch forcing his foe to tap out.
Barzola didn’t showcase a lot of his striking in his debut. He was swinging a big overhand right while ducking forward, but most of his vertical offense was centered around closing the distance.
This fight will hinge on whether or not Barzola can get the fight to the floor with consistency. Bochniak showed solid TDD against Rosa and wasn’t easy to keep down. If he can repeat that success against Enrique, it will force the TUF winner out of his comfort zone. Bochniak’s striking is still developing, but he showed signs of a solid base to build upon. His timing and movement will make it tough for his foe to close the distance and shoot on him. Additionally, when Barzola tries to rush forward, look for Kyle to counter with a stiff straight right. Bochniak took a difficult assignment in his debut, but for this fight he is in his proper weight class and taking on a more appropriate opponent for this point in his career. Bochniak sticks to the outside, stuff the TDAs, and gets the better of the striking exchanges- my prediction is Kyle Bochniak to defeat Enrique Barzola by decision.
155lbs- Shane Campbell (12-5-0) vs Felipe Silva (7-0-0)
In the Lightweight division, Shane ‘Shaolin’ Campbell battles Brazilian-born Felipe Silva. Campbell has lost 2 in a row and is 1-3 in the UFC, he is coming off a second-round submission loss to Erik Koch. Silva is making his debut following a first-round TKO win over former UFC competitor Anton Kuivanen earlier this year.
Both men are 6’0″ tall. The Canadian is the younger man by 3 years, but has 10 more pro fights.
The Brazilian makes his debut on the strength of his biggest career win. Still undefeated, Silva has finished 5 opponents by knockout along with a single submission win. He has stopped 6 opponents in the opening round, with his only fight to go outside of round 1 ending on the scorecards. Felipe is a Muay Thai striker by trade. He will work on the outside with kicks as his strongest weapon. The majority of his punches are hooks. He seems to have trouble finding his range with his hands, frequently coming up short when he attacks. Once he does close the distance, his clinch game is solid. Look for him to land hard knees and short elbows on the inside. He doesn’t appear to have much of an offensive wrestling game, but in his only submission win he snatched up a quick triangle before transitioning to an armbar to finish after getting taken down.
Prior to his win over Kuivaven, Silva’s last 3 opponents’ currently combined for a record of 11-16.
Campbell had a strong start against John Makdessi and a good finish against James Krause, but he was unable to win either fight. The Canadian has a decent edge in experience, both quality and quantity. His record also shows a more well-rounded skill set than what his opponent offers. While Campbell is a striker first, his only UFC victory was anchored in his grappling abilities. Despite Elias Silverio initiating the early grappling exchanges, Campbell landed a couple of takedowns and worked to top position when Silverio did take him down. The TDD of ‘Shaolin’ has been impressive and he is a decent scrambler. On the feet, Shane carries a solid pace both at distance and on the inside. He found a lot of success attacking the lead leg of Makdessi and was doing damage with his combos. His clinch attack can be equally as effective, with a bevy of short punches, elbows, kick and knees coming from close range.
Despite losing the decision, Campbell badly out-landed Krause connecting on 82 significant strikes, including 46 to 16 over the last 2 rounds.
Silva is making a sizeable step up in competition, but as an undefeated fighter he has a certain level of confidence and momentum coming into his debut. Conversely, Campbell has struggled to put together a complete effort beyond the Silverio fight. Campbell should benefit from the lack of a grappling threat that Felipe presents. If anything, the Canadian might look to take Silva down and force him to fight outside of his comfort zone. When they are standing, look for the superior punching combinations of Campbell to give him the edge. On the inside, the constant pressure and volume of Campbell will also play a big role. The lack of long fight experience for the Brazilian could also show up as his opponent ups the tempo if the fight moves into rounds 2 and 3. Campbell has more weapons and will outwork his opponent in all areas- my prediction is Shane Campbell to defeat Felipe Silva by TKO
155lbs- Chad Laprise (11-2-0) vs Thibault Gouti (11-2-0)
In the newly assigned UFC Fight Pass prelim headliner, TUF Nations winner Chad ‘The Disciple’ Laprise squares off with France’s Thibault Gouti in the Lightweight division. Laprise is trying to snap a 2-fight losing skid after a contestable split-decision loss to Ross Pearson. Gouti is currently enduring a similar slump after getting submitted by the man Laprise defeated in the TUF final- Olivier Aubin-Mercier.
Both fighters are 5’10”, but Gouti will have a slight 1″ reach advantage and is a year younger.
The Canadian’s defeat at the hands of Pearson saw Laprise outland his opponent by a count of 72-58. Laprise offers a lofty 4.4 SLpM, including a UFC personal best of 84 in his win over Bryan Barberena. A BJJ Purple belt, Laprise has just a single submission win on his record compared to 4 knockouts and a 5-1 record on the scorecards. During his TUF run, Chad violently knocked Canadian Teammate Kajan Johnson, breaking his jaw in the process. ‘The Disciple’ demonstrates strong technical striking acumen. He maintains forward pressure with good footwork and mixing up his strikes effectively. Laprise will set up his offense off of a hard left jab, doubling it up, and augments his boxing with a decent kicking game highlighted by a hard right head kick. Defensively, Laprise does get hit a lot- 3.59 SApM. Pearson found success landing hard kicks to Chad’s lead leg and Barberena came on strong late in the fight with his clinch attack.
Laprise has shown signs of a competent wrestling attack. He completed 4 of his 7 takedowns in his 2014 win over Yosdenis Cedeno.
Potentially facing his walking papers with another loss, Gouti is in need of a strong performance. With 9 finishes (3KO/6sub) over 11 victories, Thibault has only fought beyond the second round twice in his career. Both of those fights occurred over his last 3 appearances. He has been finished twice by RNC. Gouti comes from a boxing background, despite his submission-heavy totals. Most of his success on the mat is a product of the lower quality of opposition he faced on the regional scene. A crisp striker, he works behind his jab with decent hand speed and power. The majority of his kicking offense comes in the form of low kicks, but he will forgo that aspect of his game in favour of his boxing. Gouti does have a tendency to freeze up when under attack and OAM found success landing multi-punch combos. He was rocked with a hard uppercut in his debut prior to getting submitted.
The Frenchman gave up a trio of takedowns before getting subbed by OAM and seems to have some issue when his opponent continuously drives forward on his shot.
Both fighters have some nice pop in their hands and both have proven vulnerable during striking exchanges. The difference should be that Laprise has more tools to work with when engaging. The Canadian does a much better job of integrating his kicks consistently throughout his attack. Additionally, his lateral movement will make it difficult for Gouti to push forward behind his strikes and continuously land. Laprise should have the better wrestling both offensively and defensively, allowing him to dictate where the fight takes place. ‘The Disciple’ pairs his punches up, threatens with the high kick, and eventually puts his foe down, my prediction is Chad Laprise to defeat Thibault Gouti by TKO
185lbs- Garreth McLellan (13-4-0) vs Alessio Di Chirico (9-1-0)
In the Middleweight division, ‘Soldier Boy’ Garreth McLellan of South Africa meets Italy’s Alessio ‘Manzo’ Di Chircio. McLellan is 1-2 in the UFC after a second round TKO loss to Magnus Cedenblad- he defeated Bubba Bush in his lone UFC victory. Di Chircio is coming off of his first pro loss, falling to Bojan Velickovic by decision in his UFC debut.
Alessio is the younger man by 7 years and will have a slight 2″ reach advantage. McLellan is 1″ taller at 6’1″.
The South African enters the fight off of his 2nd career loss by knockout. He has also been subbed once and is 1-1 on the scorecards. A ground-based fighter, McLellan has 9 wins by submission with 7 of those victories coming by either rear-naked or guillotine choke. His success in the UFC has largely hinged on his mat game. In his only win, he landed a pair of takedowns and eventually overwhelmed his foe with his top position strikes. Conversely, he was put on his back 10-times in his debut loss and was forced on the defensive for almost the entire bout. When he does land takedowns they usually are in the clinch position. The majority of his striking offense comes in the form of kicks, which was the case early against Cedenblad. Throwing most of his strikes naked and attacking in straight lines makes the South African’s offense easier to time, avoid, and/or counter. Cedenblad hurt him early on with a straight left counter and landed a hard head kick before finishing McLellan with a barrage along the cage.
Prior to entering the UFC, McLellan fought exclusively in South Africa, including a 13-1 run under the EFC Africa banner.
Despite the defeat, Di Chirico made a good showing of himself in his inaugural UFC outing. He got the better of the volume, with 65 total strikes landed compared to 45 for his foe and he scored a pair takedowns while giving up just 1. The Italian has stopped his foe in 8 of his 9 victories, split evenly between subs and knockouts. He began his career with 5 consecutive opening round stoppages, but has seen a rise in fight time in the second stage of his career with a pair of 2nd round finishes and a trio of fights lasting into the final frame. The 26-year old made noticeable improvements in his footwork heading into his debut, appearing more mobile than in previous fights. His combination striking is still a work in progress, as he tends to rely a lot on his single strikes. He uses a nice overhand right, either stepping in or drifting off to the left while landing. Alessio will also target the body with his right hand. From the left side, he will work a counter left hook- but he needs to avoid being too reliant on his counter striking. ‘Manzo’ throws some decent kicks, attacking the legs and body. He does have a tendency to throw his strikes a little wide, especially when he doesn’t use his jab to set them up.
The pair of takedowns he did land in his debut didn’t result in any significant top control time, but he has leaned heavily on his mat game during his pre-UFC success.
McLellan hasn’t been that impressive during his UFC run, even in victory. Against Bush, ‘Solider Boy’ was put on his back multiple times and didn’t start to find success until the American slowed down tremendously. His offense is extremely single-minded; takedowns or relatively ineffective kicks at distance. Conversely, Di Chirico is showing signs of a developing fighter rounding out his offensive weaponry. With a young fighter coming off his first loss, it should push Alessio to continue to make improvements. At distance, Di Chirico will land more frequently with his hands and find success countering his opponent’s kicking game. The Italian should be able to avoid or defend against any attempts to get the fight to the mat and exploit the subpar TDD of his foe if he elects to go that route. It didn’t take a lot of damage to get McLellan out of his last fight and he didn’t respond well to getting hit- my prediction is Alessio Di Chirico to defeat Garreth McLellan by TKO.
185lbs- Ryan Janes (8-1-0) vs Adam Hunter (7-1-0)
In the second double Canadian billing on the card, Ryan Janes of Victoria, British Columbia takes on New Brunswick’s Adam ‘Warhammer’ Hunter in a cross country Middleweight war. Janes has won 7-fights in a row dating back to his first career loss in 2009. Hunter picked up a victory over UFC veteran Nathan Dempsey in his final pre-Octagon bout, he has also won 7-consecutive fights since suffering his first pro loss.
At 6’3″, Janes is the taller man by 2 inches. Hunter is 2 years his junior and has been more active with 2 fights in 2016 compared to Janes who hasn’t competed in over 13-months.
‘Warhammer’ has finished his opponent in all 7 of his professional wins; knocking out 6 after earning the first win of his pro career on the mat via rear-nake choke. Hunter started his MMA run 0-1 after getting tapped out in the final minute of the opening round of a 2010 fight. The Maritimer has gone outside of the first frame on just 1 occasion, earning an early 3rd round TKO back in April. In his win over Dempsey, Adam fended off a front choke/ headlock attempt before landing a couple of hard leg kicks, a left jab, and then going high with a head kick to close the show. Hunter is aggressive and willing to eat some punches while working his way into range to put his opponent away. In his penultimate regional fight, he bullied his foe into the cage and used his dirty boxing to bust them up. Hunter mixed in some knees in close and kicks at range, and while he appeared to slow a bit as the fight progressed he was still active. The bout was eventually stopped following a hard uppercut that sent Hunter’s foe tumbling to the canvas.
Not only has Hunter been finishing opponents in the opening round, he has stopped 4 adversaries inside the first 65-seconds.
Janes brings with him an equally as finish-heavy record, with 7 of 8 wins coming by submission. A BJJ Purple belt, he has 6 rear-naked choke victories on his record and is 1-1 on the scorecards. Janes is the current Battlefield Fight League Middleweight champion, most recently defeating his opponent by via submission in the 4th round. Ryan picked up a trio of opening round stoppages early in is career, but over his last 5-fights he has taken much longer to finish his opponents. His title defense was anything but easy as the challenger found success defending his takedowns and getting the better of the exchanges on the feet. Janes’s TDAs came mainly from the clinch, using body locks and trips, but they were infrequent at best. The finish materialized after Jane hurt his foe with a hard knee to the body that forced him to turtle up and expose his back to the RNC finish.
Janes picked up a submission victory over David Perron at WSOF Canada 2 and then repeated the feat with a 2nd round RNC win over Perron at Battlefield Fight League 35 less than a year later.
In addition to both men entering the UFC as older, but still developing fighters- the lack of quality fight footage (especially for Janes) makes this a hard, but not impossible prediction. Simply based on their records, Janes is going to want to take this fight to the mat and his average fight length suggests he is better equipped to partake in a longer bout. For Hunter, he has big stopping power and will come out aggressive as he is accustom to ending his fights early. The recent lack of activity for Janes is concerning. Additionally, he was losing his last fight for 3 rounds and was getting hit hard by opponent prior to getting the finish. Being able to survive a beating like he did is a testament to his durability, but absorbing power strikes is rarely a long-term positive. He was rocked by his foe and his tall stance and porous striking defense will leave him exposed against Hunter’s power. Janes’s reliance on clinch takedowns is going to force him to close the distance, carrying him into the danger zone against Hunter who can do damage both on the outside and in close. Janes’s will struggle to drag his opponent to the mat, forcing him to trade on the feet against a more dangerous striker- my prediction is Adam Hunter to defeat Ryan Janes by TKO.
155lbs- Alex Ricci (10-3-0) vs Jeremy Kennedy (8-0-0)
In an all-Canadian Lightweight bout, the debuting Jeremy ‘JBC’ Kennedy meets injury replacement Alex Ricci. Kennedy is coming off a pair of victories on the scorecards, ending a streak of 5 consecutive finishes. Ricci has won back to back fights after falling to recent UFC signee Darrell Horcher- his other pro losses have come against Ryan Healy and Jesse Ronson.
Ricci is replacing Josh Emmett on just over a week’s notice, he had been preparing for a fight in September. Kennedy normally competes at 145 pounds, he is 1″ taller than Ricci and 10-years younger.
Ricci enters the Octagon over 4-years removed from his last finish. He is 5-3 on the scorecards, with his other 5 victories coming by way of knockout. Alex is a striking-based fighter and has an extensive combat background in Muay Thai. Not surprisingly, his MMA offense is centered around his ability to stay vertical and let his hands go. He moves well in the cage, throwing hard kicks to the legs, body, and head. In addition to the kicking game, he has a strong right hook and can do damage in the clinch. Conversely, Healy found success driving him into the wall and using his dirty boxing to take the decision. Ricci isn’t a high output striker and has struggled at times to let his techniques flow. Alex has a bit of a reputation for being frustratingly inconsistent and fighting down to the level of his opposition.
Ricci has fought just twice since the start of 2015 and was scheduled to take part in the ill-fated Global Warriors FC 3 card earlier this summer.
Similar to Ricci, Kennedy has fought just once in each of the last 2 years. He has finished 5 opponents (3 knockouts/2 subs) and is 3-0 on the scorecards. Fighting out of Surrey, British Columbia he will be the clear fan favourite. While his record is devoid of any big name opposition, his last 3 opponents have a combined 22-9 record which suggests he has faced reasonably capable regional competition. The book on Kennedy is that he will be looking to get this fight to the mat. He will aggressively chase the takedown and once on the floor start working his submission game. Jeremy will shoot from the outside, but appears to prefer working trips from the clinch. ‘JBC’ also comes from a kickboxing background. He is a capable counter striker, but if he does initiate the attack, it will come behind an active left jab and a right hook with some decent pop.
Kennedy put together an impressive run as an amateur prior to turning pro. He compiled a 6-1 record which included a pair of 5-round decision wins.
Without a lot of Canadian content on the card and the recent departure of one of the biggest Canadian MMA stars to Bellator, the UFC is looking for more talent coming from north of the border. Kennedy is a solid prospect, but despite having close to the same number of fights- Ricci is a much more complete veteran fighter. Alex’s issues with underperforming are certainly a concern, but with the short notice call up and underdog status he has every reason to come into this fight loose. Ricci’s size and Muay Thai skills should help him to deal with the clinch based takedowns of his opponent. Look for the more aggressive style of Kennedy to falter under the bright lights against a tough to finish fighter like Ricci. The Ontario-native should find success early with his striking, but once his adversary starts to slow down the gap will widen- my prediction is Alex Ricci to defeat Jeremy Kennedy by decision.