UFC Fight Nights 48 & 49- Prelim Predictions
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170lbs- Wang Sai (7-5-1) vs Danny Mitchell (14-5-1)
Headlining the undercard portion of the early show, TUF China Finalist Wang Sai battles British submission specialist Danny Mitchell in the Welterweight division. Sai lost his debut in the tournament finals and has alternated wins and losses over his last 7 bouts. Mitchell dropped his UFC debut against Igor Araujo, previously he had won 5 of 6 with his only loss during that span coming against Kendall Grove.
This fight will be Sai’s first fight outside the parameters of the TUF tournament and will pit him against a more experienced foe both in quality and quantity of competition. For Mitchell, he does hold wins over former UFC employee Besam Yousef and current roster member Nico Musoke. He has also faced and lost to the aforementioned Araujo, Grove, and Gunnar Nelson, along with a 2011 draw versus Cathal Pendred.
Mitchell is a very unorthodox grappler. He has secured 9 of his 14 wins by submission and is more then willing to pull guard to set up his attack. His win over Musoke was the product of a continuous pursuit of submissions that simply overwhelmed his opponent until he could no longer defend and succumb to an armbar. Sai’s undoing in his first UFC fight was his defensive grappling. He was taken down 4 times and spent the majority of the action on the defensive. While he did have some success executing a couple reversals and outlanded his opponent overall, he was clearly undone by a lesser grappler then he will be pitted with here.
Mitchell will want to avoid routinely giving up position by pulling guard, but his ability to chain submissions together will simply be too much for his opponent, so my prediction is Danny Mitchell to defeat Wang Sai by submission.
170lbs- Alberto Mina (10-0-0) vs Shinsho Anzai (8-1-0)
In the Welterweight division, a pair of UFC newcomers square off as Alberto Mina meets Shinsho Anzai. Mina is undefeated through the first 10 fights of his career, while Anzai has won 6 in a row.
Mina is a both a BJJ and Judo black belt with 6 of 10 wins by submission. He has a smooth, but aggressive transition game with all 6 of his submission victories coming inside the first round. Mina also scored an impressive first round stoppage of Glenn Sparv in his final pre-UFC tune-up fight and has 4 wins by knockout on record. Conversely, Anzai has won 6 times by knockout along with a pair of decision wins. Despite his lack of submission finishes, he has a decent wrestling base and competed in the 2013 ADCCs.
Anzai formerly competed at Middleweight and will be making his Welterweight debut in this bout. While he is cutting down from a heavier weightclass, he will be giving up 5″ of height to Mina. He is also competing on just 2 weeks notice after replacing the injured Sheldon Westcott which is another major concern. For Mina, he is coming of a significant break having sat out since last September, so their is a real possibility for some ring rust.
Mina has only gone beyond the first round twice and having never tasted defeat there is a bit of a question mark regarding how he will deal with adversity if he is unable to put his opponent away early. Anzai’s defensive wrestling will do enough to prevent Mina from using his grappling and put himself in a position to land heavy leather so my prediction is Shinsho Anzai to defeat Alberto Mina by TKO.
135lbs- Roland Delorme (9-3-0 1NC) vs Yuta Sasaki (17-1-2)
In the Featherweight division, Canadian Roland Delorme looks to snap a mini 2 fight losing streak when he welcomes Yuta Sasaki to the Octagon for the first time. Delorme has dropped back to back bouts to Alex Caceres and Michinori Tanaka- both by decision. Sasaki has failed to win just one fight in his last 11- a 2012 draw against Manabu Inoue.
Delorme is a BJJ Brown belt and Judo Black belt. He has won 6 of his 9 fights by submission, including wins over Josh Ferguson and Nick Denis to start his Octagon run. He has averaged 2.55 takedowns at 34% completion rate. Unfortunately, his undoing has been his defensive wrestling. Overall, he has stopped just 33% of his opponent’s tries and has been severely out grappled in each of his last 2 fights. Sasaki’s submission numbers are solid with 8 wins by tapout, including 3 of his last 4 victories. 7 of his 8 wins have come via rear-naked choke, which is a solid indication of a dangerous back mount. He has also secured multiple grappling based decisions, demoing solid top control while competing under the Shooto banner.
On the feet, Delorme doesn’t get a lot of credit for his striking capabilities, employing short crisp strikes and using a mainly simple but effective arsenal. He hurt Denis prior to submitting him and landed some decent shots against Caceres. Unfortunately, his inability to keep fights standing have made it difficult for him to utilize his striking game.
There is limit footage of Sasaki available, but his resume is strong and he appears to fit the mold of the type of fighter that Delorme has struggled with in recent outings. When Delorme is unable to put his opponent away he is 1-3 and has shown signs of tiring when forced to continually defend on the mat. Fighting overseas in a significantly different time zone will further compromise Roland’s physical capabilities, so my prediction is Yuta Sasaki to defeat Roland Delorme by decision.
135lbs- Royston Wee (3-0-0) vs Zhuikui Yao (1-2-0)
In the Bantamweight division, Royston Wee makes his second UFC appearance against TUF China alumni Zhuikui Yao. Wee took a 3 round decision from Dave Galera in his first promotional outing, while Yao advanced to the semi-finals of his TUF tournament but no further.
Both men are extremely inexperienced, but Wee does have the valuable first Octagon appearance under his belt and Yao’s time on the show is also solid. So it is not as bad as it looks on paper.
This fight should be dictated by who can control their opponent on the mat. Wee took a pair of first round submissions to start his career and won his debut on the basis of a strong ground attack. He completed 6 of 7 takedowns and held a stout top position for the majority of the fight, fending off his opponent’s attacks from guard. Yao’s only pro win was a 37 second arm triangle, but he struggled tremendously in his TUF China semi-final bout with the grappling attack of his adversary. While that bout took place at a heavier weight class it still offered some insight into the potential shortcomings of the Chinese fighter.
There is always the potential for an extreme improvement on Yao’s behalf with the layoff between his time on the Ultimate Fighter and his official debut. Yao will have home field advantage, but making his UFC debut in just his third pro fight will be tough and all indications are Wee should have the grappling advantage so my prediction is Royston Wee to defeat Zhuikui Yao by decision.
135lbs- Elizabeth Phillips (4-2-0) vs Milana Dudieva (10-3-0)
The earliest fight on the early card will pit a pair of Bantamweight women head to head as Elizabeth Phillips makes her second UFC appearance against promotional debutant Milana Dudieva. Phillips dropped her debut fight to Valerie Letourneau as a late notice injury replacement for Dudieva. Dudieva has won back to back bouts after going 0-2 in all of 2013.
Both fighters build their respective attacks off of their grappling games, but are vastly different in how they find success. Phillips’s is a top position grinder, looking to put her opponent on the mat, hold her there, and break her down with pressure and GnP. Conversely, Dudieva is more of a risk taker and will routinely give up position in pursuit of a submission opportunity. She has 6 wins by tapout, but if she is unable to secure the hold her opponents have had success taking advantage of the positional deficit she puts herself in. Both of her recent losses followed this pattern; a submission defeat against Jessica Andrade and a decision loss to Pannie Kianzad where she attempted subs but couldn’t get anything to stick and was subsequently force to defend off her back. She has been submitted twice.
On the feet, neither girl is overly flashy. Dudieva likes to counter and keep her attacks simple and sometimes a little to sparse. Philips showed some decent pop, swelling up the eye of Letourneau, but much like her opponent isn’t going to overwhelm anyone with her striking technique.
Phillips’s cardio looked a little weak in her debut, but she was taking the fight on short notice. Similarly, Dudieva has also appeared to slow down in longer bouts and she is also making her debut which can further complicate matters. Phillips should be the more physical of the two ladies and if she can survive the early submission attempts her grinding wrestling game should put her at a positional advantage during large portions of the fight so my prediction is Elizabeth Phillips to defeat Milana Dudieva by decision.
170lbs- Neil Magny (11-4-0) vs Alex Garcia (12-1-0)
155lbs- Beneil Dariush (7-1-0) vs Tony Martin (8-1-0)
In the Lightweight division, Tony Martin makes his second Octagon appearance when he battles Beneil Dariush who will enter the cage for the third time. Martin suffered the first loss of his pro career in his debut when he lost a decision to Rashid Magomedov, while Dariush is also coming his first career setback- a first round knockout at the hands of Ramsey Nijem.
Martin has a variety of submissions in his arsenal, but he appears to prefer to attack the arms. His most recent win came by Keylock and he also has two tapouts via Kimura on his record. Adding to that theory, He nearly broke Magomedov’s arm with a nasty armbar, but was unable to finish. With 6 of 8 wins by submission, he is an active top game player with a tight body on body approach and he can also attack off his back if the situation calls for it.
A Kings MMA product, Dariush has decent grappling skills of his own. He has 4 wins by submission, including his first round rear naked choke victory over Charlie Brenneman. He was able to quickly jump on Brenneman and swiftly secure the submission- his second win y RNC. While Dariush is more then capable on the mat, he will struggle to get the much larger and more physically gifted Martin into a position where he can use those skills.
Martin did fade in his debut, which could be attributed to some Octagon jitters. He does have a pair of decision wins and a third round submission victory that would suggest he is capable of carrying a strong performance beyond the opening frame. Look for Martin to be far more comfortable the second time around and while this fight could spend some time on the feet, it will most likely be decided on the mat. Martin will use his size and smothering top game to control his opponent and set up possible submission opportunities, so my prediction is Tony Martin to defeat Beneil Dariush by submission.
135lbs- Aaron Phillips (8-1-0) vs Matt Hobar (8-2-0)
170lbs- Ben Saunders (16-6-2) vs Chris Heatherly (8-1-0 1NC)
135lbs- Wilson Reis (17-5-0) vs Joby Sanchez (6-0-0)
145lbs- Max Holloway (9-3-0) vs Clay Collard (13-4-0 1NC)
In the Featherweight division, Max Holloway shifts his attention away from Mirsad Bektic following his injury and now prepares for his 9th UFC fight when he meets promotional newcomer Clay Collard. Holloway has won back to back bouts, while Collard is riding a 3 fight winning streak.
Holloway is an exceptionally talented striker with a variety of weapons at his disposal. He utilizes his length exceptionally well and has excellent distance management. He has very good timing on his counters and will go to the body with a variety of strikes including a nasty turning side kick. Additionally, he is a high volume striker and is able to maintain his pace from bell to bell. He has just 3 wins by knockout, but has shown improving power in recent outings.
Collard has won 8 times by knockout and is more of a brawler then a technician. In his first meeting with former UFC fighter Justin Buchholz, he hurt his opponent several times and had him on the edge of defeat before getting stunned with a head kick and submitted in the final round. He has good power, but his willingness to relentlessly engage leaves him open to counters and can overtax his cardio in longer fights.
The UFC newcomer doesn’t appear to possess a good enough wrestling skill set to threaten Holloway which has been his undoing in pervious fights. He has also been submitted twice which is an area that Max could look to exploit as he tries to further establish his own grappling game.
Unless Collard is able to land a big strike early, Holloway’s more refined striking repertoire, movement, and ability to manage distance will negate anything that Clay can offer him on the feet. Holloway pick him apart as he comes forward, wear Collard out as he tries to chase him down, and attack the body with significant success, so my prediction is Max Hollaway to defeat Clay Collard by TKO.