Kamikaze Overdrive Prelim Prediction Archives

115lbs- Ashley Yoder (5-4-0) vs Amanda Cooper (4-4-0)

In the headlining act of the undercard, TUF 23 graduates Ashley “Spider Monkey” Yoder and Amanda “ABC” Cooper go head to head in the Women’s Strawweight division. Cooper is coming off a submission loss to Mackenzie Dern and is just 2-3 in the UFC. Yoder has yet to earn a UFC nod, including a split decision loss to Dern in her most recent outing.

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

The majority of Cooper’s fight, win or lose, are decided on the mat. She stopped Angela Magana from back mount and secured a pair of takedowns in her earlier UFC triumph. Conversely, she has been submitted in all 4 of her pro losses.

Yoder has yet to showcase her submission skills in the Octagon, but she has won 4 of her 5 wins by tap out- all bar armbar. She completed 4 takedowns over her first 2 UFC outings before utilizing her defence to stop all but 1 of Dern’s 6 TDAs.

On the Ultimate Fighter, Cooper advanced to the finals while Yoder was bounced in the quarter-finals.

While Cooper seems insistent on taking her opponent to the mat, her best path to victory against Yoder is most likely her striking. That being said, Yoder can hold her own on the feet and still should find success taking Cooper down and overwhelming her- my prediction is Ashley Yoder to defeat Amanda Cooper by decision.

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145lbs- Chas Skelly (17-2-0) vs Bobby Moffett (12-3-0)

Chas “The Scrapper” Skelly returns to action when he welcomes “The Wolfman” Bobby Moffett to the UFC Featherweight division. Skelly is coming off a knockout loss to Jason Knight, he had won back to back bouts prior to the defeat- Chas is 6-3 inside the Octagon. Moffett was successful on the Contenders Series to extend his winning streak to 3 in a row- this will be his 5th fight in 2018.

Skelly has not fought in nearly 18 months. He is the taller man by an inch, but he will give up 2 inches of reach. Moffett is 5-years younger.

A takedown centric offence has led to 8 career wins by submission for Moffett. In his last fight, he scored an early takedown and quickly cut through his opponent’ s guard. The majority of his wins have come by choke.

Certainly no slouch on the mat, Skelly offers a combination of strong wrestling and a capable submission arsenal. During his UFC tenure, he has submitted 4 opponents while completing 10 takedowns.

Skelly packs some pop in his hands, but he has also been hurt and/or finished on a couple of occasions. “The Wolfman” tends to use his striking to set up his takedown game- attacking and countering his opponent’s offence with a level change.

Over his 3 UFC defeats, Skelly has been taken down 11 times.

With similar styles, this bout might come down to a few key x-factors. Skelly’s lack of activity could and create ring rust and compromise his already questionable cardio. Conversely, Moffett has shown he can fight deep in a contest and he has fought 5 times since Skelly’s last bout. Chas has had issues with fighters that look to wrestle him and if he can’t get off to a good start or fades Moffett will pull away- my prediction is Chas Skelly to defeat Bobby Moffett by decision.

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155lbs- Beneil Dariush (14-4-1) vs Thiago Moises (10-2-0)

In a bout that got the push to the main card, former top 10 ranked Lightweight Beneil Dariush meets the short notice debutant Thiago Moises. Dariush enters this bout winless in 3 with a pair of losses to Edson Barboza and Alexander Hernandez. Moises has picked up back to back wins, including a Contenders bout- he has won 6 of his last 7.

Moises is stepping in on roughly 3 weeks notice, replacing Chris Gruetzemacher. Dariush is an inch taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. Moises is the younger man by 6-years.

Dariush is a very capable grappler with a fast-improving striking attack. Unfortunately, his chin appears to be his greatest point of vulnerability. He has been brutally knocked out in each of his last 2 defeats and 3-times overall.

The former RFA Lightweight champion, Moises scored a head kick finish that capped off a rather uneventful Contenders bout. He has a solid striking attack and does good work on the mat as well.

This will be Dariush’s second consecutive shot notice and debuting opponent.

Moises has skills, but he is facing an uphill battle against a talented fighter like Dariush. Thiago struggled with the pressure of his opponent in his 2017 title fight defeat and that is what Dariush does well. Look for Beneil to meld together a consistent striking attack with well-timed takedowns. Dariush needs to avoid that one big shot that has been turning his lights out, but my prediction is Beneil Dariush to defeat Thiago Moises by decision.

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155lbs- Davi Ramos (8-2-0) vs John Gunther (7-1-0)

Elite BJJ talent Davi “The Tasmanian Devil” Ramos takes on TUF 27 graduate John “The Machine” Gunther in the Lightweight division. Ramos has won back to back fights, most recently submitting Nick Heins by rear-naked choke. Gunther made his first UFC appearance in on the TUF 27 Finale, besting Allan Zuniga by decision.

The American is the taller man by 3 inches to go along with a 2″ reach advantage. Ramos is 1 year younger.

Gunther is an aggressive brawler, but his willingness to push forward resulted in a first-round submission loss in the TUF quarter-finals. He returned to the tournament as an injury replacement and lost a decision in the semis.

A BJJ Black belt, Ramos has secured 6 of his 8 wins by submission- the last 3 by RNC. He is willing to trade on the feet, but he is lethal on the mat.

Ramos required just a single takedown to submit Hein but completed 5 before submitting his foe in his other UFC win. Gunther secured 8 takedowns in his debut win.

Gunther needs to make this fight ugly. Push Ramos, drag him into a slugfest and wear him out. Ramos BJJ game is just too strong and once he hits the floor, he will have a sizeable gap in skill over “The Machine”. Look for Davi to entertain a few early striking exchanges before eventually changing levels to counter the forward pressure of Gunther- my prediction is Davi Ramos to defeat John Gunther by submission.

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155lbs- Devonte Smith (8-1-0) vs Julian Erosa (22-6-0)

The returning Julian Erosa looks to make good on his second UFC opportunity when he takes on the debuting Devonte “King Kage” Smith in the Lightweight division. Erosa went 1-1 in the big show after his TUF run, he has since compiled an impressive 7-2 mark with multiple championship fights. Smith is coming off of a “Tuesday Night Contenders” win and also holds a recent victory over Justin Edward while his only career loss came against fellow undercarder John Gunther.

At 6’1″, Erosa will stand 4 inches taller than Smith, but Devonte will have an unexpected 1″ reach advantage. Smith is the younger man by 4-years.

Showcasing the type of power that has led him to 7 knockout wins, Smith stopped his favoured Contenders with brutal elbows while in defence of a TDA. He has 5 first round finishes, but he has also fought into the 3rd frame or beyond on 3occasions.

Sporting his own finish-heavy record, the more experienced Erosa has stopped 19 opponents- 10 by knockout. Julian brawled his way to victory, scoring a head kick knockdown.

Despite the win, Erosa was dropped in the opening round. His durability has been an issue- he has been knocked out twice and was stopped by Artem Lobov on the show. In Smith’s only career loss, he started strong but couldn’t defend his opponent’s takedowns.

Erosa has put together a nice post-UFC run, but all indications are that his shortcomings are still present. Smith should have a sizeable speed advantage and he hits extremely hard. Julian doesn’t use his reach well and leaves his chin exposed. Look for Smith to work behind his jab before landing his power strikes- my prediction is Devonte Smith to defeat Julian Erosa by knockout.

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125lbs- Joseph Morales (9-1-0) vs Eric Shelton (11-5-0)

With the curtain falling on the Flyweight division, Joseph “Bopo” Morales and “Showtime” Eric Shelton will do their best to maintain their hold on a roster spot. Team Alpha Males’ Morales is coming off a loss to Deiveson Figueiredo by TKO, he is 1-1 in the promotion. Shelton has a just a single win in the UFC, currently carrying a 1-3 record that includes a pair of split decision losses.

Both men are 5’6″, but Morales will have a 1″ reach advantage. He is the younger fighter by 3-years.

A gifted Athlete, Shelton has struggled to convert his talent into UFC wins. Over his 3 UFC defeats, “Showtime” has struggled to stay off his back. He has given up 11 takedowns and despite edging Alexandre Pantoja in the wrestling, he routinely lost position.

Submitting his foe in 5 of his 9 career wins, Morales does his best work on the floor. That being said, he has spent some time on his back in both of his UFC outings.

Despite his record, Shelton has landed more strikes than his opponent in all but 1 of his UFC bouts.

Benjamin is the more well rounded and athletic fighter, but Morales has a path to victory here. Morales needs to utilize his grappling game and put “Showtime” on his back with regularity. Unfortunately, Perez doesn’t offer the type of wrestling that has troubled Eric and Shelton should find success as the busier striker- my prediction is Eric Shelton to defeat Joseph Morales by Decision.

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135lbs- Mark De La Rosa (10-1-0) vs Joby Sanchez (11-3-0)

The first of 2 cursed Flyweight fights on the card, Mark “Bumblebee” De La Rosa takes on Joby Sanchez. Sanchez fell to 1-3 over his combined UFC tenures after losing via submission to Roberto Sanchez. De La Rosa surprised many with a 2nd round submission win over Elias Garcia, rebounding from the first loss of his pro career.

Both men are 5’6″, but Sanchez will have a 3″ reach advantage. De La Rosa is the younger man by 3-years. Sanchez took this fight with roughly a week to prep.

A pension for being a slow starter, Sanchez never got out of the gates in his last out- submitting in just 110-seconds. Joby has been finished in 2 of his 3 UFC defeats.

De La Rosa showcased his strong grappling attack, earning his 6th career win by submission.

While De La Rosa can hold his own on the feet, he will most likely focus his attack on the mat. Sanchez has given up a combined 13 takedowns over his 3 UFC defeats.

Sanchez is better than his Octagon record suggests, but he is still an incredibly flawed fighter. To go along with being a bit of a slow starter and some questionable TDD, he has also been hurt on the feet on multiple occasions. De La Rosa is good on the mat and has the striking skills to both attack and position himself to put Joby on the floor- my prediction is Mark De La Rosa to defeat Joby Sanchez by submission.

145lbs- Jason Knight (20-5-0) vs Jordan Rinaldi (13-6-0)

In the headlining bout of the undercard, Jason “The Kid” Knight takes on Jordan “All Day” Rinaldi in the Featherweight division. Rinaldi is coming off a loss to Gregor Gillespie- he is 1-2 in the UFC. Knight has dropped a trio of consecutive bouts- falling via split decision Makwan Amirkhani.

Both men are 5’10”, but Rinaldi will have a 1″ reach advantage. He is the older man by 5-years. Rinaldi is cutting down to Featherweight for the first time in 3-years.

Knight picked up considerable momentum prior to running into Ricardo Lamas and getting brutally knocked out. At his best, Knight is an aggressive striker with unexpected power and a dangerous grappling attack.

A former wrestler and BJJ Brown belt, Rinaldi has submitted 8 opponents. His only UFC win came via Von Flue choke.

While Knight is very aggressive off of his back, he appears to have reverted to pulling guard in a number of situation, even when it is not the most beneficial move.

Knights takes a lot of damage while pushing forward and that approach is no longer working for him. Additionally, his willingness to go to his back against a capable wrestler like Rinaldi is going to cost him over the duration of the fight. Rinaldi needs to be mindful trading on the feet, but look for him to capitalize on some poor decision by Knight and grab some key top position time- my prediction is Jordan Rinaldi to defeat Jason Knight by decision.

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125lbs- #4 Sijara Eubanks (4-2-0) vs #7 Roxanne Modafferi (22-15-0)

With a potential shot at the title on the line in a rematch from the TUF 26 tournament, Sijara Eubanks takes on “The Happy Warrior” Roxanne Modafferi in the Woman’s Flyweight division. Eubanks is coming off her debut victory over Lauren Murphy. Modafferi replaced Eubanks but lost to former champion Nico Montano in the TUF finals- she rebounded with an impressive stoppage win over Barb Honchak.

At 5’7″, Modafferi is 3 inches taller than Eubanks to go along with a 2″ reach advantage. Roxy is 3-years older than Sijara.

After defeating Modafferi in the semi-finals, Eubanks was pulled from her TUF tournament title fight due to illness. She was briefly linked with a title shot at UFC 230 but the bout was quickly scrapped.

In their first meeting, both girls traded on the feet. Eubanks was able to gain an edge in the grappling exchanges and while Roxanne attacked off her back, she spent the majority of the time on the defensive.

Eubanks focused more on her striking against Murphy, spending the majority of the fight on her feet.

The defeat of Honchak was the 5th time that Modaferri faced opponent more than once her in career- she is 4-1 in rematches.

Modaferri has an avenue to victory, but it limited unless Eubanks blows the weight-cut. If Sijara fades, Roxy could outwork her on the feet and find some top control time. If Eubanks doesn’t slow down, look for her to land the more impactful strikes on the feet coupled with some sizeable top control time- my prediction is Sijara Eubanks to defeat Roxanne Modafferri by decision.

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145lbs- Julio Arce (15-2-0) vs Sheymon Moraes (10-1-0)

In the Bantamweight division, Julio Arce goes for UFC win #3 when he takes on WSOF veteran Sheymon Moraes. Arce is coming off an impressive submission victory over Daniel Teymur to extend his 7-fight winning streak- his only 2 defeats were back to back fights against Brian Kelleher. Moraes earned his first UFC victory last time out- his only 2 defeats came against top contenders Zabit Magomedsharipov and Marlon Moraes.

Moraes will stand an inch taller than Arce and he will hold a 2″ reach advantage. Moraes is the younger fighter by a year.

Arce comes from a kickboxing background and after gliding through the first 2+ rounds on the feet in the Teymur win.

Most likely willing to oblige a striking battle, Moraes has recorded 5 wins by knockout. He showcased a solid striking attack in his last outing- landing hard punches augmented by thudding body and low kicks.

An area of concern for Moraes has been is closing cardio. He has been known to slow down in bouts and against Sales his output tapered off in the final frame.

Arce has the edge as a grappler, but he will be hardpressed to take Moraes down. Sheymon is a little longer and appears to have the edge in power. The key is for Arce to push Moraes and outwork him. Moraes willingness to sit back and pot shot his foe will cost him against a more active fighter- my prediction is Julio Arce to defeat Sheymon Moraes by decision.

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170lbs- Lyman Good (19-4-0 1NC) vs Ben Saunders (19-4-0 1NC)

Making a quick return to action, Ben “Killa B” Saunders takes on New York-native Lyman “Cyborg” Good in the Welterweight division. Saunders fought just 6-weeks ago losing by submission to Sergio Moraes- he 5-4 on his current UFC tenure. Good picked up a knockout win in his promotional debut, but dropped a split decision against Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos in his sophomore appearance.

Saunders is the taller man by 2 inches and will have a 3″ reach advantage. He is replacing Sultan Aliev in 2 weeks notice. Lyman is the younger man by 2-years, but he has been out of action for just over 15-months.

“Cyborg” has had difficulty staying active in recent years. After debuting in 2015, he sat out 2 years and has fought just once in the last 39-months.

Coming off his first submission loss, Saunders has been finished 7-times. Statistically, he absorbs more damage than he lands and averages under 0.25 takedowns per fight.

Both men competed under the Bellator banner; Saunders went 7-3 while Good captured the promotions first ever Welterweight title while compiling an 8-3 record.

There are multiple x-factors that could impact this bout. Saunders is fighting for the 4th time this year and doing so on a very quick turn around with limited time to prep. Conversely, Good could suffer from some ring rust but he will be competing at home. Good hits harder, has the option to wrestle, and is the more durable fighter. Saunders is simply over-matched unless he can catch a flash finish- my prediction is Lyman Good to defeat Ben Saunders by TKO.

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155lbs- Matt Frevola (6-0-0) vs Lando Vannata (9-3-1)

Winless in 3 and on the verge of washing out of the UFC, “Groovy” Lando Vannata takes on promotional sophomore Matt “The Steamrolla” Frevola in the Lightweight division. Frevola’s debut lasted just 60-seconds, suffering a knockout loss to Marco Polo Reyes. Vannata dropped a decision to Drakkar Klose and is winless in his last 3 with a draw against Bobby Green and loss to David Teymur.

Both men stand 5’9″ and share a 71″ reach. Lando is 2 years younger than Frevola.

“The Steamrolla” showed himself to be an all-action fighter in his Tuesday Contenders’ bout, dropping his opponent early and walking forward with reckless abandon. He took a similar approach against Reyes and paid for it.

Vanata should look to capitalize on Frevola’s willingness to absorb punishment and trade with limited focus on his defense. It ultimately cost Matt in his abrupt debut.

The knock on Vannata has been his inability to distance himself in close fights. He demonstrated improved aggression against Bobby Green, but allowed the action to slip away from him late.

Frevola doesn’t offer the type of technical striking that has previously troubled Vannata. Lando has solid TDD and his use of head movement to slip strikes and throw counters will work well against Frevola’s brawling nature. Unless Lando cracks under the pressure he should find success routinely getting the better of the exchanges- my prediction is Lando Vannata to defeat Matt Frevola by TKO.

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145lbs- Shane Burgos (10-1-0) vs Kurt Holobaugh (17-5-0 1NC)

In search of a return to the win column, Shane “Hurricane” Burgos meets 1-time Strikeforce competitor Kurt Holobaugh in the Featherweight division. Burgos began his UFC run 3-0 before falling to Calvin Kattar via TKO at UFC 220. Holobaugh lost his first fight in the UFC before going on an 8-2 run only to lose his return engagement in the Octagon.

Both men stand 5’11”, but Burgos will have a 2-inch reach advantage. He is also the younger man by 5-years.

A definite fight of the fight candidate, this contest could come down to who’s chin holds up longer as both men are coming off striking-based knockout defeats. The first of either fighters’ career.

Despite carrying records that include multiple submission wins; Holobaugh with 8 and Burgos with 4, neither man has shown much interest in going to Octagon mat.

Burgos will initiate with combinations, but he is also a capable counter striker which will need to be on point against the forward pressure of Holobaugh. Kurt does tend to slow down a bit and Burgos’ proclivity for hard body punches could add to that.

Holobaugh is a bruiser and landed some bombs in his last fight but couldn’t finish his foe. If Burgos can either slip or absorb the damage coming his way, he should have the edge in overall technical skills. Kurt seems just too willing to get hit which won’t sit well with the judges and could lead to a late stoppage. Burgos comes out firing after his first career loss and puts on a show at home- my prediction is Shane Burgos to defeat Kurt Holobaugh by TKO.

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135lbs- Brian Kelleher (19-9-0) vs Montel Jackson (6-1-0)

A 3-month turn around following his first career loss has “Quik” Montel Jackson taking on formerly ranked Brian “Boom” Kelleher in the Bantamweight division. Kelleher was knocked out by John Lineker to see his UFC record fall to 3-2. Jackson dropped an entertaining decision to Ricky Simon to bring an end to his undefeated pro record.

Jackson is 4 inches taller and will have a massive 9″reach advantage. He is also the younger fighter by 6-years.

Finishing 5 opponents by knockout, Jackson has some decent pop in his hands. He throws with power, but his lack of hand speed and volume were an issue in his last fight.

Kelleher has develop a strong pressure game that can be both overwhelming along with opening him up to taking damage. Against Barao, he outworked and exhausted him but Lineker capitalized on his willingness to get hit and finished him.

Jackson’s wrestling is also a concern as he was taken down on multiple occasions in his debut and Kelleher has shown he can wrestling and threaten with submissions.

If Jackson’s can utilize his reach and keep Kelleher on the outside it is his fight to win. Equally as important, “Quik” must make “Boom” pay on every attempt to close the distance. Kelleher is simply to unpredictable, constantly engaging and keeping the threat of his wrestling present. Jackson will have some success, but he won’t do enough to overcome the New York native- my prediction is Brian Kelleher to defeat Montel Jackson by decision.

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265lbs- Adam Wieczorek (10-1-0) vs Marcos Rogerio De Lima (15-6-1)

In the opening fight of the night, Adam “Siwy” Wieczorek takes on Brazilian Marcos Rogerio De Lima. De Lima is coming off a submission loss to OSP- he is 4-3 in the UFC. Wieczorek has yet to taste defeat in the Octagon, besting Anthony Hamilton by decision and submitting Arjan Bhullar.

De Lima has fought mainly at Light Heavyweight, but he competed on TUF Brazil and made his UFC debut at Heavyweight. Wieczorek is the taller man by 4 inches and will have a 6″ reach advantage. “Siwy” is the younger fighter by 7-years and should weigh-in 15-25 pounds heavier than his De Lima. He is taking the fight on less than 2 weeks notice.

The Brazilian is an absolute berzerker, finishing 14 of his 15 wins- 11 in the opening round. Conversely, Marcos is 3-3-1 beyond frame 1- winless in his last 4. The 19-month layoff could further hamper his performance.

Wieczorek has 5 first round finishes of his own, but he has seen an increase in total cage time in recent fights. He may look to extend De Lima beyond round 1 to try and capitalize on his endurance shortcomings.

De Lima is dangerous, but he tends to come up short on his punches against longer opponents. If he can’t land, he will get wild and over-aggressive, providing Wieczorek with the opportunity to change levels for a takedown. De Lima’s track record in longer fights is also concerning against an opponent that has never been finished. Wieczorek survives the early onslaught, uses his size to slowdown De Lima and eventually gets the fight to the floor- my prediction is Adam Wieczorek to defeat Marcos Rogerio De Lima by submission.

170lbs- Nordine Taleb (14-5-0) vs Sean Strickland (19-3-1)

In the headlining fight of the undercard will feature France born and Canadian trained Nordine “The Machine” Taleb taking Sean “Tarzan” Strickland in the Welterweight division. Taleb is coming off a shocking upset loss to Claudio Silva- he is 6-3 in the UFC. Strickland has won 4 of his last 6 fights, but he is coming off a knockout loss to Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos.

Both men are 6’1″, but Strickland will have a slight 2″ reach advantage. Strickland is the younger fighter by 10-years.

Strickland is a talented but frustrating fighter. He appears to lack urgency in his offence, but yet still averages over 4 significant strikes per minute. He does his best work behind a snappy jab, but fails to follow up with power strikes on most occasions.

Picking up a couple of recent stoppages, Taleb has showcased his improving striking power. Despite that success, he has leaned heavily on his wrestling. Nordine had completed at least 1 takedowns in all but 2 of his UFC wins.

This fight has the potential to be very close. Both men can operate on the mat and both offer simplistic but effective striking attacks. Statistically, Strickland’s volume is superior and his reliance on a jab and 2″ reach advantage should allow him to be the more successful striker. The American’s TDD is better and he could opt to shoot on Taleb for some crucial top time- my prediction is Sean Strickland to defeat Nordine Taleb by decision.

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155lbs- Thibault Gouti (12-4-0) vs Nasrat Haqparast (9-2-0)

In the Lightweight division, Thibault “GT” Gouti takes on Nasrat Haqparast of Afghanistan. Gouti is a dismal 1-4 in the UFC, stopping Andrew Holbrook to keep his spot in the promotion before dropping a decision to Sage Northcutt in his last fight. Haqparast fell via decision to Marcin Held in his debut, but scored a decision win over Marc Diakiese in his sophomore outing.

Both men are 5’10” and share a 72″ reach. Haqparast is the younger fight by 8-years.

Finishing 8 opponents by knockout, 6 in the opening round, Haqparast is a dangerous striker. He deploys the majority of his offence with a hard left hand. Against Diakiese, he demonstrated sound defence slipping out of range and then returning forward to force his foe backward.

Gouti comes from a boxing background, but he has won more fights by submission (6) compared to wins by knockout (4). He has also been finished on multiple occasion; once TKO and twice by submission.

In his debut, Haqparast gave up a trio of takedowns so Gouti may look to attack Nasrat’s defensive wrestling. “GT” took Northcutt down 3 times but didn’t do enough with the position to earn a decision.

The manner in which Haqparast avoided the majority of Diakese’s offense before deploying his own was impressive. The combinatin of his power and pressure based attack will replicate the issues that Gouti has had in previous fights. Gouti may score early with his takedowns, but ultimately this fight will be decided on the feet- my prediction is Narat Haqparast to defeat Thibaoult Gouti by TKO.

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145lbs- Calvin Kattar (18-3-0) vs Chris Fishgold (17-1-1)

After an impressive 2-0 star to his UFC tenure, Calvin Kattar is looking to rebound from defeat when he takes on the debuting Chris Fishgold in the Featherweight division. Kattar was unable to take that next step, dropping a decision to Renato Moicano in his last fight. Fishgold enters the Octagon with 7 consecutive wins, including a 5-fight winning streak under the Cage Warriors banner.

Kattar is the taller man by 3 inches, but it is the Brit that is 4-years younger. Fishgold has previously competed at 155 pounds.

Fishgold carries a submission heavy record, subbing 12 opponents and finishing 14 overall. The majority of his tap outs (11) have come by either guillotine or rear-naked choke. He has 11 first round finishes.

Kattar’s finish of Shane Burgos was impressive. He offers a solid striking attack, working behind a crisp jab. In his last fight, Calvin struggled to land with consistency and was badly out struck.

While Fishgold is capable of competing on the feet, this contest will ultimately be decided by his wrestling. An aggressive pursuant of the single leg takedown, if the Brit can’t put Kattar on the floor it will badly compromise his overall offense.

Debuting and cutting down a division can be a difficult task by itself. There is also the question of how well Fishgold’s wrestling will translate outside of the European regional scene. Kattar offers the superior striking technique and his countering ability will serve as a nice foil for the aggressive power punching nature of his foe. Look for Kattar to evade the an early flow of TDAs before striking his way to a victory- my prediction is Calvin Kattar to defeat Chris Fishgold by decision.

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135lbs- Sarah Moras (5-4-0) vs Talita Bernardo (5-2-0)

In the Women’s Bantamweight division, Sarah “Cheesecake” Moras takes on Talita Bernardo of Brazil. Moras is coming off a decision loss to Lucie Pudilova to see her UFC record fall to 2-2. Benardo has yet to secure a UFC victory, losing fights to Marion Reneau and Irene Aldana.

Moras is 3 inches taller than Bernardo, but Talita will have a 1″ reach advantage. The Canadian is a year younger.

These fighters share a couple of key similarities. Both fighters do their best work on the mat and both girls have some questionable gas tanks beyond the first frame.

Bernardo started strong in her debut with her top game, but gassed and was finished. In her next fight, she was unable to get her opponent on the mat and slowed considerably as the fight advanced.

Moras has finished 4 of her 5 wins, with her lone decision win coming over a foe that was impacted by a bad weight cut. On the mat, she offers a strong top game and can also work off her back, but she lacks consistent wrestling to set up her BJJ.

While she has finished 4 opponents by sub- all inside the opening round, Talita has faced some questionable competition finishing 4 foes with a combined 8-17 record.

This fight most likely will come down to who can stay fresher longer and earn top position. Moras is the bigger fighter and has faced and defeated better competition. Look for her to pick up some opportunistic top control while scoring during some gritty striking exchanges. The final round of this bout could get sloppy, but my prediction is Sara Moras to defeat Talita Bernardo by decision.

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155lbs- Te Edwards (6-1-0) vs Don Madge (7-3-0)

A pair of UFC newcomers square off as Tuesday Night Contenders product Te “T” Edwards meets South Africa’s Don “Magic Man” Madge in the Lightweight division. Edwards enters the fray following a 28 second knockout of his most recent foe which extended his current winning streak to 5 consecutive fights. Madge has won 4 in a row, all by stoppage- he has fought his entire career under the EFC banner.

Despite sharing a 72″ reach, Madge will stand 4 inches taller at 6’0″. They were born just 2 months apart.

Madge enters the UFC having finished all 7 of his pro opponents- 6 in the opening round. His last 3 opponents are a combined 31-29, but only 1 has a record over .500.

Offering an equally as finish-heavy record, Edwards has stopped 6 opponents by knockout- all in the opening round. His only fight to go beyond the first 5 minutes ended in a decision loss. “T” owns a trio of stoppages inside the first 60 seconds.

Madge comes from a kicking boxing background and while Edwards has shown a willingness to stand and trade, he needs to consider returning to his wrestling roots.

This is a difficult fight to predict with both men debuting. Madge does have the size advantage and has the superior collection of experience beyond the opening round. That being said, the South African MMA scene is still developing and has yet to produce UFC level talent. Edwards could get himself in some trouble if he completely forgoes his wrestling, but appears to be the more proven fighter- my prediction is Te Edwards to defeat Don Madge by TKO

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265lbs- Arjan Singh Bhullar (7-1-0) vs Marcelo Golm (6-1-0)

Canadian Heavyweight Arjan Singh Bhullar looks to rebound from the first loss of his career when he takes on Brazil’s Marcelo Golm. Golm is also coming off his first career defeat- after a successful debut, he dropped a decision to Tim Johnson last February. Bhullar defeated Luis Henrique in his first Octagon bout, but fell by submission to Adam Wieczorek in his last fight

At 6’3″, Golm is 2 inches taller and will weigh-in roughly 5 pounds heavier than Arjan. They share a 75″ reach and Golm is the younger man by 6 years.

Golm will be taking his first fight outside the borders of Brazil and he is coming off his first fight to go beyond the first round. Prior to the Johnson fight, Marcelo had finished all of his adversaries- 5 by knockout.

In stark contrast, Bhullar has only ended one fight in the opening frame. He is 4-0 in decisions, including a 5 round decision win in 2016.

Golm comes from a grappling background and wins the majority of his fights from top position. The Canadian also does his best work on the floor, changing his level for a takedown and grinding out his foe from top position.

With both men coming off their first career defeat, they will be hungry to get back in the win column. Prior to coming to the UFC, Golm faced some very low-level competition and his lack of experience/success outside of the opening round is concerning. Singh will need to be careful early, but once he establishes his wrestling he should find increasing success as the fight advances- my prediction is Arjan Singh Bhullar to defeat Marcelo Golm by decision.

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155lbs- Stevie Ray (21-7-0) vs Jessin Ayari (16-4-0)

The opening fight of the night will feature Scotland’s Stevie “Braveheart” Ray battling German-born Jessin Ayari in the Lightweight division. Ray has dropped back to back decisions, including a narrow split against Kajan Johnson- he is 5-3 in the promotion. Ayari is coming off a loss to recent title challenger Darren Till, he earned a split decision win over Jim Wallhead in his debut.

Jessin is making his Lightweight debut, he is the taller man by 2 inches and will have a 3″ reach advantage. Ayari is the younger fighter by 2-years, but he has been out of action for 17-months.

Ray has put together some solid wins, finding the majority of his success on the feet. The Scot has some pop in his hands and can counter strike, but this can result in some close fights on the scorecards.

The German has won 8 times by sub, but has yet to showcase his ground game over his 2 UFC outings. He is a combined 0-8 on takedown attempts.

The debuting 155er could focus his attack on his ground game as Ray has been submitted 4-times over his career and has been taken down on multiple occasions.

The long layoff and divisional debut both have the potential to impact Ayari performance. Ray is the more pure striker and unless the German begins to find consistent success with his ground game, he is going to struggle to match Ray on the feet. Stevie has decent power and the cut 15-pound cut could prove detrimental to a fighter that has already been stopped twice in his career- my prediction is Stevie Ray to defeat Jessin Ayari by TKO.

125lbs- #2 Sergio Pettis (17-3-0) vs #5 Jussier Formiga (21-5-0)

Potential title challengers meet in the final fight of the prelims as Sergio Pettis takes on Brazil’s Jussier Formiga. Pettis is coming off an upset win over Joseph Benavidez, one fight removed from a pre-championship loss to Henry Cejudo. Formiga has won back to back bouts since a 1-2 skids that also included a narrow loss to the now-champion Cejudo.

Pettis is an inch taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. He is the younger man by 8-years.

While he has worked to improve his striking, Formiga’s success still comes on the strength of his grappling game. A BJJ ace, the Brazilian has submitted 10 opponents including each of his last 2 opponents. The majority of his wins have come via RNC, as Jussier boasts one of the best back control games in the business. His takedown numbers aren’t overwhelming, but he often only needs one completion to finish the fight.

The long-time contender Formiga has been unable to secure a shot at the title, losing a number of fighters that went onto challenge for the title.

Pettis’s approach to this fight won’t come as a surprise- stay vertical and win the striking exchanges. Pettis offers a solid striking repertoire and while he might not boast the biggest knockout numbers, he has shown he can still do damage. In his last fight, he hurt his opponent early and used the momentum on route to a decision win. The big concern for Pettis has been his takedown defence. He has given up 9 takedowns over his last 3 fights and has been taken down at least once in 10 of his 11 UFC fights.

Pettis has outstruck his opponent in 8 of his last 9 fights.

This fight will come down to how effective Pettis’s TDD is. Pettis’s history of being taken down suggests that Jussier is going to get multiple opportunities to being his ground skills to bear. If Pettis can survive and scramble back to his feet, he will need to be very active and push the pace. Sergio simply doesn’t have the power to disuade Formiga from closing the gap- my prediction is Jussier Formiga to defeat Sergio Pettis by decision.

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170lbs- Vicente Luque (13-6-1) vs Jalin Turner (6-3-0)

In the Welterweight division, “The Silent Assassin” Vicente Luque prepares to take on UFC debutant and Tuesday Night Contenders Series graduate Jalin “The Tarantula” Turner. Luque has won back to back fights improving to 6-1 over his last 7 outings. Turner scored a TKO due to doctor stoppage during his Contenders bout which extended his current winning streak to 3.

At a massive 6’3″, Turner stands 4 inches taller than Luque, but he will have just a 2″ reach advantage. Turner is the younger man by 4-years and he traditionally fights at Lightweight.

Turner makes his big show debut on the strength of all 7 of his pro wins coming inside the distance- 6 by knockout and all 7 in the opening frame. In his last bout, he utilized his length well, landing big punches and hurting his opponent to the body on multiple occasions with both kicks and punches. He did get tagged with a couple of shots when he pushed forward to engage and he has a tendency to leave his chin exposed when trading.

Turner has limited experience beyond the first round, losing both fights that went more than the initial 5 minutes.

Luque continued to show the diversity of his game with a knockout win over Chad Laprise. Overall, he has split his 12 finishes evenly between submissions and knockouts. He has power in his hands and authors decent kicks at range and hard knees in close. On occasion, he will change levels for a takedown. If he doesn’t initiate a clean shot, he is opportunistic submission fighter that will attack for a sub in just about any positions. He appears to have an affinity for chokes, including a nasty D’Arce choke.

Similar to his opponent, Luque doesn’t have a strong record beyond the opening frame. He is 1-6-1 in fights that go to the 3rd round, but he is also 12-0 inside the opening 10 minutes.

Turner is making the move to the big show and moving up a weight class. He has some pop in his hands, but his lack of experience and success outside of the first round is concerning. It becomes even more concerning when you consider the key to beating Luque has been to drag him into the 3rd round. Luque’s diversity will be the key here; he has the power to hurt Turner on the feet and will most likely work in some ground offence against a striking based opponent- my prediction is Vicente Luque to defeat Jalin Tuner by submission.

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135lbs- #9 Aspen Ladd (6-0-0) vs Tonya Evinger (19-6-0 1NC)

Former Invicta FC Bantamweight champion and UFC Featherweight title challenger Tonya Evinger makes her first post-Cyborg appearance when she battles top 10 ranked Aspen Ladd. Evinger lost her debut title shot to Cyborg after compiling an impressive 7-0 1NC record under the Invicta banner. Ladd also went undefeated at 5-0 fight for Invicta, she debuted with a stoppage win over Lina Lansberg.

Evinger is an inch taller and will have a 4″ reach advantage. Ladd, who spent some time at Flyweight is the younger fighter by 14-years.

Ladd hasn’t fought in nearly a year after her last fight was scrapped after she failed to properly cut the weight. Aspen has a pretty solid finishing rate, stopping 5 of her 6 professional adversaries- 4 by knockout. She is an aggressive fighter, pushing forward to engage from the onset of the fight. She appeared to have issues with the clinch and volume of Lansberg prior to getting the finish in round 2.

After earning an opening round win in her pro debut, all of Ladd’s stoppages have come in the second half of her fights.

The efforts of Evinger to hang as long as she did with Cyborg was commendable. Evinger has been out of action 14-months since that bout as well. She comes from a wrestling background and implements a takedown-heavy attack in the majority of her fights. She has been vulnerable to submissions, getting tapped out 4 times, but she also has won 7-times by sub.

Against Cyborg, Evinger attempted 4 takedowns and completed just one.

This contest has the potential to be a back and forth grind, but the difference will be positional control. While Ladd carries a steady pace, she has a tendency to relinquish position and let her foe dictate where the fight transpires. Evinger is a great top control wrestler and can do work in the clinch as well. Evinger will find success controlling Ladd on the cage and pick up a couple key takedowns in the process- my prediction is Tonya Evinger to defeat Aspen Ladd by decision.

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155lbs- Scott Holtzman (11-2-0) vs Alan Patrick (15-1-0)

Brazilian Lightweight Alan “Nuguette” Patrick takes his first fight outside of Brazil since 2016 when he meets “Hot Sauce” Scott Holtzman. Patrick is coming off a trio of wins, most recently besting Damir Hadzovic. Holtzman is 4-2 inside the Octagon, winning his last 2 fights over Darrell Horcher and Michael McBride.

Patrick is 2 inches taller than “Hot Sauce”, but the Alan will have a sizeable 5″ reach advantage. They are the same age, but Patrick started his pro career 4 years earlier than Holtzman.

Despite holding a BJJ Black belt, Patrick has just a pair of early career submission wins. That being said, his takedowns and top control have been the key aspect of his success. He has landed at least 1 takedown in each of his UFC wins, totalling 22 over 5 fights. He is coming off his UFC best 9- takedowns. The biggest concern for Patrick is his tendency to get a little over aggressive and open himself up when attacking.

Patrick has fought just 3-times outside of Brazil, winning 2- but suffering a TKO defeat in Germany.

Holtzman is also coming off his UFC best for takedowns, completing 7 of 11 attempts. He has lived and died on the mat, Scott has been taken down at least once in each of his last 5 fights and has given up a combined 13 completions over his 2 UFC losses. “Hot Sauce” should focus his attack on staying vertical. He is the superior technical striker and offers a better work rate as well.

With a 6-2 record on the scorecards, Holtzman has finished just one of his last 8 opponents.

Patrick’s approach isn’t stylistically pleasing, but it is effective and he shouldn’t change anything here. Holtzman is the better striker, but he will have to close the distance with regularity and that will create openings for Alan to change levels and shoot. Holtzman’s lacks stopping power will require him to stay vertical for at least 2 rounds to earn the decision, he won’t- my prediction is Alan Patrick to defeat Scott Holtzman by decision.

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135lbs- #12 Lina Lansberg (8-3-0) vs Yana Kunitskaya (10-4-0 1NC)

The final fight of the Fightpass prelims features Swede Lina “Elbow Princess” Lansberg taking on Russian born Yana “Foxy” Kunitskaya in the Women’s Bantamweight division. Lansberg is coming off of a decision win over Gina Mazny to improve to 2-1 since her debut loss to Cyborg. Kunitskaya is making her sophomore appearance after following a similarly unsuccessful debut against Cyborg.

Lansberg is an inch taller, but Kunitskaya will have a 3″ reach advantage. The Russian is the younger woman by 7-years.

Training alongside Holly Holm, Kunitskaya has won the majority of her fights by TKO. She comes from a striking background;  Boxing, Muay Thai, and Taekwondo. That being said, her submission skills have been on display in recent action. Her overturned Invicta title win came via submission and prior to getting tapped out in the rematch, she was attacking off her back as well. She does her best work in the clinch, controlling and attacking her foe.

She had some momentary success against Cyborg; taking her down and nearly taking the champion’s back.

Lansberg has done her best to reinforce her nickname, working the majority of her offence from the clinch. The Swede was able to hold Cyborg on the cage for a little while and she has spent the majority of her other fights doing the same. Once on the wall, Lina will unload with elbows and short punches while working to maintain her control. Her recent TKO loss did highlight a major concern if she gets taken down as she struggled on her back.

Lina’s cardio has been a bit on an issue and she has been known to fade in more demanding fights.

Both girls like to work from the clinch position. For Yana, she focusses more on landing knees and looking to set up her submission game. Conversely, it is positional control that Lina puts her focus on. Lansberg’s periodic lull if offence can be concerning, but unless Kunitskaya can grab a submission- her willingness to give up position will benefit Lansberg. Lina controls her on the cage and lands elbows while defending the Russian’s attacks- my prediction is Lina Lansberg to defeat Yana Kunitskaya by decision.

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155lbs- Gray Maynard (14-7-1 1NC) vs Nik Lentz (30-9-2 1NC)

Far removed from his 2011 Lightweight title contention, Gray “The Bully” Maynard takes on fellow longtime UFC veteran Nik “The Carny” Lentz. Lentz is coming off a loss to David Teymur and has gone 3-2 since returning to Lightweight- most notably choking out Will Brooks. Maynard ended a 4 fight losing skid with a win in his Featherweight debut and he has gone 2-1 since cutting to 145-pounds.

Maynard is an inch taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. Lentz is the younger man by 5-years, but he has nearly twice the pro experience. Gray has been on the shelf for nearly 15-months. Gray is returning to the Lightweight division for the first time since 2015.

Early in his career, Lentz earned a reputation as a grinder, but he has since adopted a more aggressive pressure attack. He couples a gritty striking attack with a high volume wrestling game. Over his last 7 wins, he has completed 30 takedowns. Conversely, Nik has struggled against other wrestling based adversaries- losing the takedown battle 20-4 over his last 6 losses.

Lentz is 1-4 in his last 5 fights when he was unable to land a completion, with his only win coming via guillotine after getting taken down.

Beyond his failed title venture, Maynard’s UFC tenure has been characterized by 2 key elements: his ability to wrestle and more recently his inability to take a punch. At his best, “The Bully” is a suffocating wrestler with a strong top game. At his worst, his inability to take a punch has cost him on multiple occasions.

Despite his questionable chin, Gray has not been knocked out since 2014.

Lentz’s struggles with wrestling oriented opposition will be on display here as Maynard appears refocused on his takedown attack. If Lentz can keep it on the feet and attack with volume, he could either outwork Gray or stop him. The majority of Lentz’s knockout wins have been the product of a wrestling advantage and his willingness to go to his back for a guillotine attempt will cost- my prediction is Gray Maynard to defeat Nik Lentz by decision.

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170lbs- Ryan LaFlare (13-2-0) vs Tony Martin (12-4-0)

The opening fight of the night will feature New York native Ryan LaFlare taking on former Lightweight Tony Ferguson in the Welterweight division. LaFlare is coming off of a decision win over Alex Garcia to rebound from the first stoppage loss of his career- he is 7-2 in the Octagon. Martin defeated Keita Nakamura in his last bout and has put together an impressive 5-2 run since starting his UFC tenure 0-2.

The younger man by 6-years, Martin moved up to Welterweight in his last fight. LaFlare is the taller man by an inch and will have the same length reach advantage.

Martin’s grappling game has been at the focal point of his UFC tenure; both good and bad. Tony has won 8-times by submission, twice in the UFC, and has leaned heavily on his takedowns. Conversely, he has been submitted twice and his early struggles were the product of his faltering cardio. In his recent fight, he has made noticeable strides in his with his striking and he is coming off his first win in which he did not secure a takedown.

Martin appeared to improve his cardio over his final few fights at Lightweight and moving up to Welterweight will allow him to avoid further draining his body.

In similar fashion to Martin, LaFlare has also utilized a wrestling heavy attack. During the early portion of his UFC career, he completed 19 takedowns over a 4-fight winning streak. In more recent action, he hasn’t put up the volume of takedowns. He is coming off a fight where he lost the takedown battle 5-1, but he was routinely able to scramble into a superior position.

LaFlare has not finished an opponent since his final pre-UFC fight back in 2013.

At Lightweight, Martin was able to bring his size and strength to bear on his opponent. That isn’t going to be the case against a bigger Welterweight like LaFlare. LaFlare is the less aggressive grappler, but he is also more positionally sound. He should find success both grinding Martin into the cage and controlling him on the floor-  edging him out the later rounds- my prediction is Ryan LaFlare to defeat Tony Martin by decision.

155lbs- Charles Oliveira (23-8-0 1NC) vs Christos Giagos (15-6-0)

In the Undercard headliner, Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira returns to Brazil for the first time since 2015 when he takes Christo “The Spartan” Giagos. Oliveira is coming off a UFC 225 submission win over Clay Guida and has gone 2-1 since returning to the 155-pound division. Giagos went 1-2 during his first stint in the UFC, but after winning 4 of his last 6 fights he got the return call to the Octagon.

Both men are 5’10”, but Oliveira will stand 3 inches taller. The American is the younger man by a year.

During his first UFC tenure, the success and failure of Giagos came on the mat. He dropped his debut via submission and game up 4 takedowns in a decision loss prior to getting cut. Giagos’s only UFC win was also the third submission win of his career. With a trio of losses via tap out, Christos will need to be very careful of the crafty submission game of Oliveira.

Charles has submitted 15 opponents, accounting for 10 of his 11 UFC wins. The Brazilian offers a variety of techniques and is incredibly opportunistic. On the feet, Oliveira will attack with impunity as he is afraid of being taken down. While he has yet to score a knockout in the UFC< he throws good kicks and knees with power.

The biggest knock on “Do Bronx” has been his lack of durability. He has lost multiple fights where he appears to shut down after taking a minimal amount of damage.

Giagos has a history of struggling with ground-based opposition, so he will need to maintain constant separation in order to be successful. Oliveira has improved his wrestling to further magnify his ground skills and he often only needs 1 opportunity to finish a fight. Look for the Brazilian to push forward, tie Giagos up in the clinch or shoot and then start attacking submissions- my prediction is Charles Oliveira to defeat Christos Giagos by submission.

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155lbs- Francisco Trinaldo (22-6-0) vs Evan Dunham (18-7-1)

A pair of former top-15 ranked fighters collide as Brazil’s Francisco Trinaldo meets Evan Dunham who will be making his 20th and final walk to the Octagon. Dunham is coming off a TKO loss to Oliver Aubin-Mercier, ending a 5-fight undefeated run. Trinaldo had won 7 consecutive fights, but he has since gone 1-2 with losses to Kevin Lee and James Vick.

The soon-to-be-retired Dunham is an inch taller, but they share the same 70″ reach. Dunham is the younger fighter by 3-years.

Trinaldo has developed a strong striking attack and coupled it with improved cardio. When he is able to fight at his own pace, he can maintain a consistent output without experiencing a drop off in performance. That could be an issue against Dunham, who works at a very steep pace and has eclipsed the 100-significant strike mark in 3 of his last 4 wins.

While Dunham isn’t the quickest fighter, his constant pressure is a lot to handle. Conversely, his willingness to constantly engage has exposed him to some significant damage over his career. Evan has been finished in each of his last 3 defeats, including back to back TKO stoppages that were the result of strikes to the body.

Dunham is a capable wrestler as well, landing 10 takedowns during his recent 4 fight winning streak.

This fight will be won by either Trinaldo’s brute force or Dunham’s relentless aggression. Dunham needs to push the pace and exhaust the Brazilian without exposing himself to the sizeable power that Francisco will be throwing back. Trinaldo throws hard kicks and knees to the body which is an area of vulnerability for Dunham. While a win to end his career would be a nice way to go, my prediction is Francisco Trinaldo to defeat Evan Dunham by TKO.

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205lbs- Luis Henrique (10-4-0 1NC) vs Ryan Spann (10-5-0)

In the Light Heavyweight division, Luis “KLB” Henrique takes on the debuting Ryan “Superman” Spann. Henrique went 2-3 while fighting as a Heavyweight, most recently dropping a decision to  Arjan Bhullar. Spann lost his first Contenders Series fight via 15-second knockout in mid-2017 but has since won 4 in a row including a 26-second submission win on his second appearance on the Tuesday Night show.

Henrique is returning to the Light Heavyweight division for the first time since 2015, but he will stand 3″ shorter than Spann and give up a sizeable 7 inches of reach. Henrique is the younger man by 2 years.

Spann’s time on the Contenders Series has been short, but he has scored a knockdown in both fights. Overall, he has finished 10 opponents by submission and 3 more by knockout. The majority of his wins have come by either guillotine or rear-naked choke. Henrique is a BJJ Brown belt with 4 pro submission. He completed 8 takedowns in his first 4 UFC bouts.

Henrique might opt to keep this fight standing and test the chin of the American. Spann has been finished twice by knockout, not including getting hurt early in his fight with Alex Nicholson. Henrique hasn’t scored a win by knockout since 2012 when he was fighting at Light Heavyweight. Against bigger man at Heavyweight is power didn’t seem to hold up as well.

Regardless of Henrique’s gameplan, he will need to find a way to work through the reach of Span to get into attacking range.

Spann is a concerning 0-3 in his last trio of bouts to go beyond the first round and his durability is questionable. Henrique is a grinder and while he has been knocked out on multiple occasions- it was at Heavyweight and he took some serious damage prior to the finish. The weight cut is key for Luis, but it if goes well, look for him to grind down Spann and eventually hurt him with strikes either standing or on the mat- my prediction is Luis Henrique to defeat Ryan Spann by TKO.

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265lbs- Augusto Sakai (10-1-1) vs Chase Sherman (11-4-0)

Contenders Series graduate and 6-fight Bellator veteran Augusto Sakai makes his UFC debut when he takes on Chase “The Vanilla Gorilla” Sherman in the Heavyweight division. Sakai went 4-1-1 in Bellator with a split decision loss to Cheick Kongo giving way to a 2-fight winning streak outside of the promotion. Sherman has lost back to back fight, most recently via decision to Justin Willis- he is 2-4.

Both men are 6’4″, but it will be Sakai that comes in close to the limit and 10-15 pounds heavier than the American. Sherman will have a 1″ reach advantage.

Each man exhibits above-average speed and movement for the Heavyweight division. Additionally, they each employ a decent volume of kicks in their attack and both fighters have won the majority of their bouts via knockout.

The key difference is the durability factory. While Sakai has shown a willingness to absorb damage, he can take it. Sherman doesn’t wear it nearly as well and his chin isn’t nearly as sturdy with a trio of defeats by knockout.

Sherman needs to keep this fight on the outside and avoid getting drawn into a firefight. Sakai’s low kicks will slow him down and if he opts to close the gap, the Brazilian’s clinch work can be devastating. Sherman won’t be able to avoid or withstand Sakai’s power- my prediction is Augusto Sakai to defeat Chase Sherman by knockout.

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170lbs- Sergio Moraes (13-4-1) vs Ben Saunders (22-9-2)

In the Welterweight division, Sergio “Panther” Moraes takes on Ben “Killer B” Saunders. Moraes is coming off of a split decision win over Tim Means and has put together an impressive 7-1-1 run over his last 9 fights. Saunders stopped Jake Ellenberger in his last recent outing, ending a 2-fight losing skid- he has 3 wins in his last 5 fights.

Saunders is the taller man by 2 inches and will have a 5″ reach advantage. Ben is the younger man by a year.

Ben offers a variety of weapons, including a capable submission game, but he would be best suited to avoid the ground against Moraes. Saunders does have 10 career wins by knockouts, doing his best work in the clinch with knees and elbows.

Despite Moraes’s elite level BJJ game, he prefers to slug it out on the feet. He has landed just a single takedown over his last 6 fights and hasn’t picked up a submission win since 2013. Moares doesn’t have a lot of pop on the feet, but his willingness to come forward aids his overall offence.

Sergio is 5-0-1 in his last 6 fights at home, including a 2-0-1 record in split decisions.

Saunders has the edge on the feet, but he is far from an overwhelming striker. Moraes’ aggression will be the key to overcoming Saunders’ reach and if he can time Ben’s kicking game it could set up a key takedown. In a close fight, Moraes has the edge fighting at home- my prediction is Sergio Moraes to defeat Ben Saunders by decision.

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125lbs- Mayra Bueno Silva (4-0-0) vs Gillian Robertson (5-2-0)

In the second of 3 Women’s fights on the card, Canadian Gillian “The Savage” Robertson goes for UFC win #3 when she battles Contender’s graduate Mayra Bueno Silva in the Flyweight division. Robertson has upset both Emily Whitmire and Molly McMann by submission. Silva made her pro debut in 2016 with a pair of wins and scored a 62-second submission to get the call to the big show.

Silva has traditionally fought at Bantamweight and will stand an inch taller than her foe. Robertson is the younger fighter by 4-years.

The Brazilian has a trio of opening-round finishes, including 2 inside the first 90-seconds. She also won a 5-round split decision in March of 2017. Her last 2 adversaries offer a solid 17-4 combined record, so she has faced a decent competition in her short pro career.

Robertson has finished 4 of her 5 pro wins with submissions. She has a solid top game and is willing to take her foe to the floor. While she snatched the early submission win in her debut, she wore her sophomore opponent out with a steady attack on the mat prior to getting the finish.

The Brazilian is debuting in the UFC, fighting at lighter weight class than in her recent fights, and she has fought beyond the opening round just once. Robertson’s grind mat game and willingness to push forward will be a lot to handle if Silva can’t get the early finish. Look for Robertson to push the pace early, defend Silva’s grappling attempts, and take over as the fight advances- my prediction is Gillian Robertson to defeat Mayra Bueno Silva by decision.

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185lbs- Thales Leites (27-9-0) vs Hector Lombard (34-9-1 2NC)

Former Bellator Champion Hector Lombard attempts to put a halt to his tailspin when he takes on 2009 Middleweight title challenger Thales Leites. Lombard is coming off a loss via DQ for landing late strikes against CB Dollaway- he has lost 5 consecutive fights. Leites has dropped back to back bouts after suffering a 3rd round TKO defeat against Jack Hermansson.

The Brazilian is 4 inches taller and will have a marked 7″ reach advantage. Hector is the older man by 3-years.

Lombard’s loss to Dollaway was the product of strikes that dropped CB after the bell. For Leites, he is coming off a fight where is opponent was clearly injured during the action but rallied and finished Thales in the final frame.

Leites is the taller man and might have a slight edge in cardio, unless Lombard can keep the fight at his pace. The big issue with Hector has been his inability to land enough volume in close fights and more recently the finishes have started to pile up.

In his last 2 fights at home, Leites has been badly outclassed with his last win on Brazilian soil coming over 5-years ago.

Lombard has the edge in power and his takedown defence is still strong. If Thales can’t score takedowns, he will need to find success out-striking Lombard- especially with his low kicks. Lombard’s power should serve him well here, as long as he doesn’t punch himself out. Without his BJJ, Leities becomes too one-dimensional and when he gets tired he will start to give up position- my prediction is Hector Lombard to defeat Thales Leites by decision.

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170lbs- #15 Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos (19-5-0) vs Luigi Vendramini (8-0-0)

A late opponent change sees Brazil’s Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos welcome promotional newcomer and Italian-born Luigi “The Italian Stallion” Vendramini to the UFC. Dos Santos was originally scheduled to face Belal Muhammad- he has won 5 straight fights since his unsuccessful UFC debut. Undefeated, Vendramini is coming off an opening-round TKO win under the Samurai Fight banner- he turned pro in 2016.

Vendramini fought last on September 7th, just 2 weeks ago- he will have just over a week to prep for his debut. He is 10-years younger than dos Santos, but 3 inches short. He traditionally fights at Lightweight.

Luigi has split his 8 career wins evenly between knockouts and submission- all but 2 occurring in the first round. Fighting mainly in Brazil, his last 2 opponents carry a combined record of 14-10, but prior to that, he has face mainly sub-.500 competition.

The Brazilin is coming off an impressive opening round TKO win, but prior to the stoppage, he had showcased his ability to go deep into bouts and utilizes volume and durability to pick up wins. In his 4 wins to go into the 3rd round, he has surpassed the 70-strike mark on 3 occasions.

The TDD has been a concern for dos Santos, but he has shown a willingness to get back to his feet with regularity.

There is just too much riding against Vendramini; extreme late notice, debut, fighting above his weight class, and taking a sizeable step up in competition. Dos Santos is durable, hits hard, and offers a nice variety of offence- that is a bad matchup for a young fighter with limit experience beyond the opening frame. Dos Santos can win this fight early with his power or overwhelm his foe as the action advances- Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos to defeat Luigi Vendramini by TKO.

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115lbs- Livia Renata Souza (11-1-0) vs Alex Chambers (5-4-0)

In the opening fight of the night former Invicta Strawweight champion Livia Renata Souza makes her UFC debut opposed Aussie Alex “Astro Girl” Chambers. Souza has won back to back fights and went 4-1 under the Invicta banner- with her only loss coming via split decision to Angela Hill. Chambers has struggled her way to a 1-3 record under the UFC banner, securing her only UFC victory over Kailin Curran.

Souza is 2 inches taller than Chambers and 13-years younger. Chambers hasn’t fought in nearly 10-months and Souza has been out of action for 13.

At 39-years old, Chambers is one of the oldest females in the UFC. On the plus side, she has just 9 pro fights so she doesn’t have the wear and tear of other older fighters. Souza has a slight edge in overall experience and fighting in a trio of title fights is also a positive.

A BJJ Black belt, Souza has submitted her foe in 7 of her 11 wins- 3 by armbar. Chambers has a pair of submission wins, including her only UFC victory- but for the most part, she has struggled on the floor. Chambers gave up 6 takedowns over his first 3 UFC fights and has been submitted 3 times as a pro.

Chambers also has a tendency to fade in fights, slowing down as the action reaches rounds 2 and 3.

Souza is making her debut after a bit of a layoff which can impact a fighter’s performance but fighting at home will be an added advantage. Chamber’s has struggled with the type of skill set that Souza provides and at her age, sitting out for nearly a year won’t be to her benefit. Look for Souza to find success with her grappling attack, wearing Chambers down until she is able to synch up a submission- my prediction is  Livia Renata Souza to defeat Alex Chambers by submission.

185lbs- Khalid Murtazaliev (13-2-0) vs CB Dollaway (18-9-0)

In the headlining scrap of the undercard, TUF alumni and 19-fight UFC veteran CB “The Doberman” Dollaway battles the debuting Khalid Murtazaliev in the Middleweight division. Dollaway has won back to back bouts, including a decision win over Ed Herman at Light Heavyweight and DQ victory over Hector Lombard back at 185-pounds. Murtazaliev is riding a 2-fight winning streak and has been defeated just once over his last 6 bouts.

Dollaway is the taller fighter by 2 inches, but they will have the same 76″ reach. Dollaway is the older fighter by a month, but started his pro career 7-years before Murtazaliev. This is the third opponent change that CB has had to deal with, he was initially pegged to face Omari Akhmedov. Murtazaliev is stepping up with just a week to prep.

Murtazaliev has been an absolute destroyer, finishing his first 12 fights by knockout. After finishing 8 opponents in the opening round, he is coming off the first decision victory of his career. Despite his impressive finishing numbers, Murtazaliev isn’t known for pushing an intense pace. Moreover, he counts on his power both standing and from top position to make up the difference.

The cardio of the Russian is a bit of a question mark and while he has good offensive wrestling, he has also been taken down on multiple occasions as well.

Dollaway has remained relevant by coupling together an improved striking attack with an already capable wrestling game. Dollaway landed 6-takedowns and against Herman and has averaged just over 3.5 per fight. CB has also shown a recent improvement in cardio, winning 4 of his last 6 fights on the scorecards.

The big concern for “The Doberman” is his chin. CB has been knocked out on 4 occasions,  including a brutal 2015 KO defeat against Nate Marquardt.

This fight could ultimately come down to the chin of the American. If Dollaway’s durability proves up to the challenge, look for him to utilize his wrestling and more active striking attack to outwork his adversary. The short notice won’t do Murtazaliev any favours as the fight advances beyond the first frame and Dollaway will captialize- my prediction is DB Dollaway to defeat Khalid Murtazaliev by decision.

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135lbs- Petr Yan (8-1-0) vs Jin Soo Son (9-2-0)

After a successful UFC debut, Petr “No Mercy” Yan looks to add to his win total when he battles DEEP veteran Jin Soo Son of South Korea. Yan eliminated Teruto Ishihara via knockout inside the opening round to extend his winning streak to 4 in a row. Son is also riding a 4-fight winning streak, including a TKO win back in April to kick off his 2018 schedule.

Yan is an inch taller than Son, but he will give up 2 inches of reach. The Russian is the older man by 2-months. Son is replacing Douglas Andrade on short notice.

In his debut, Yan showcased his pressure and power striking attacks. While he didn’t throw a lot of volume, he cut off the cage and kept his foe backing up. When he did land, he was hurting his foe and swarmed him for the finish.

Yan has finished 5 opponents, 4 by knockout. His UFC debut was just hist 3rd opening round stoppage.

Both fighters have recently avenged early career defeats. Yan won a 2017 decision over Magomed Magomedov, who he lost a split decision to in 2016. Son scored a knockout of Toshiaki Kitada earlier this year to recover a decision loss from 2 years prior.

Son has finished 6 of 9 opponents- 4 by knockout. Despite ending the majority of his bouts before the final bell, he has just 2 opening round stoppages and none in his last 8 fights. He has faced experienced and capable competition with his last 2 foes combining for a record of 53-27.

Confident in his ability to both dish out and absorb damage, Son will stand and trade. In his last fight, after hurting his opponent he openly taunted while pressing forward for the finish.

There is not a lot of footage available on Son, but his willingness to stand and trade is going to get him in trouble with Yan. The Russian hits very hard and constantly stays in striking range. This should be an entertaining scrap for however long it lasts, my prediction is Petr Yan to defeat Jin Soo Son by TKO/

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155lbs- Rustam Khabilov (21-3-0) vs Kajan Johnson (22-13-1)

A pair of multi-fight UFC veterans squares off as Russia’s Rustam “Tiger” Khabilov faces Canadian-born Kajan Johnson in the Lightweight division. Johnson is coming off a loss to Islam Makhachev, snapping his 4-fight winning streak. Khabilov is working his way back into contention on the strength of a 5-fight winning streak, most recently besting Desmond Green.

Johnson is 3 inches taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. Rustam is the younger man by 2-years.

This bout was originally scheduled to take place last March, but Khabilov pulled out due to injury and Johnson defeated Stevie Ray.

Kajan has been a road warrior, going 3-0 in bouts in England, Japan, and the Philippines and will once again face a crowd favourite in Khabilov. He is 1-2 while fighting inside the Octagon at home.

Johnson is a capable fighter wherever the fight goes, but his level of aggression often gets himself in trouble. In recent bouts, he has shown an improved focus on his defence- but that has resulted in a downturn in overall offence.

In similar fashion, Khabilov is far from an overwhelming striker but supplements his vertical offence with a multitude of takedowns. He does have some pop in his vertical offerings, he is usually looking to close the distance and shoot.

“Tiger” has completed 21 takedowns over his last 5 wins, averaging just over 4 per UFC appearance.

The Canadian has an avenue to victory in this fight, but he needs to maintain an above average striking pace while keeping Khabilov on the feet for the duration of the bout. That is not going to be easy. Khabilov’s wrestling is his key to victory and with the exception of one fight, no one has been able to stop his TDAs- my prediction is Rustam Khabilov to defeat Kajan Johnson by decision.

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155lbs- Mairbek Taisumov (26-5-0) vs Demond Green (21-7-0)

In the Lightweight division, Mairbek “Beckan” Taisumov takes on Bellator veteran Desmond Green. Green is coming off a decision win over Gleison Tibau to even his UFC record at 2-2. Taisumov has won 6 of his 7 UFC fights including 5 in row- all by knockout.

Green is an inch taller than his counterpart, but they will share a 73″ reach. Green is the younger man b a year.

A capable wrestler, Green has had mixed results inside the Octagon. He successfully took Michel Prazeres down on 3 occasions but also gave up a trio of takedowns. Rustam Khabilov completed 3 as well.  The biggest knock on Green has been his lack of aggression, but against Tibau he showed an increased focus on striking output,

Green was recently involved in car accident in which 2 people lost their lives. In addition to the potential for injury, Green’s level of focus heading into this bout has to be a concern.

Piling up the body count, Taisumov has knocked out 16 opponents- 5 in the UFC. He is the first and only man to have knocked out each of the last 3 fighters he has faced. He throws heavy combinations and augments his boxing with a strong kicking attack. With so much success on the feet, Taisumov hasn’t had to rely as much on his wrestling- he completed 7 takedowns over his first 3 UFC wins.

Taisumov has not fought a full 15-minutes since his 2014 loss to Michel Prazeres. His longest fight during his current streak lasted just 90-seconds into the middle round.

It is surprising that Green hasn’t removed himself from this fight and he still might. Nonetheless, Green has struggled with less capable strikers than Taisumov and unless Desmond is able to offer an uptick in his offense (striking and wrestling), he is going to struggle. Taisumov needs to be mindful of going for the finish early and gassing out. Mairbek outworks Green, landing the more frequent and impactful strikes- my prediction is Mairbek Taisumov to defeat Desmond Green by decision.

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205lbs- Magomed Ankalaev (8-1-0) vs Marcin Prachnio (13-3-0)

A pair of fighters coming off of devastating defeats will try to return to the win column as Magomed Ankalaev takes on Marcin Prachnio in the Light Heavyweight division. Ankalaev dominated Paul Craig in his debut, before surrendering the tap to a triangle choke at the 4:59 mark of the final frame. Prachnio made his debut against Sam Alvey, getting hurt during an exchange before walking face-first into the fight-ending knockout blow.

Both men are 6’3″, but Ankalaev will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. The Russian is the younger man by 4-years.

In his debut, the big Russian dominated the majority of the action, outlanding his foe 59-18. He utilized a controlled striking approach,  firing of strong 1-2 mixed in with hard body kicks while maintaining a strong defensive front.

Magomed did get taken down on a couple of occasions, but he was able to counter into top position. From top position, he is capable of unleashing brutal, fighting ending ground and pound.

An aggressive finisher, Prachnio has stopped 11 opponents, 10 by knockout, and all 11 in the first frame. Marcin tends to hold his hands a little low and was overextending on his strikes. Building on his Kyokushin background, his techniques had good pop behind them and he was effectively mixing up his offence to the head and body.

It appeared that the pressure of his UFC debut impacted Prachnio’s performance. His body language suggested he never got comfortable prior to the end of the fight.

Ankalaev’s inability to hold off tapping with just a second on the clock is a little concerning, but attempting to rebound from his first defeat should motivate him here. Prachnio should also have a better performance with his debut behind him as well as fighting a little closer to home. Prachnio’s power and aggression give him a puncher’s chance, but Ankalaev’s superior offensive and defensive technique along with his takedowns will serve as a solid counter- my prediction is Magomed Ankalaev to defeat Marcin Prachnio by TKO.

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185lbs- Adam Yandiev (9-0-0) vs Jordan Johnson (9-0-0)

A battle of undefeated fighters will feature the debut of Russia’s Adam “Beard” Yandiev when he takes on injury replacement Jordan “Big Swingin'” Johnson in the Middleweight division. Johnson is 3-0 in the UFC, most recently edging out a win over Adam Milstead in March. Yandiev has yet to taste defeat as a pro, including a trio of wins un the M-1 Global banner.

Johnson formerly competed at Light Heavyweight to start his career, but is now moving down to 185-pounds. He is 5 inches taller and will have a 5″ reach advantage. They are both 30-years of age.

There are some significant elements to unpackage when looking at Yandiev. In addition to making his UFC debut, he has not competed as a pro since 2015, he fought 7-times that year, and began his career just one year earlier.

The heavily-muscled Russian has also never fought beyond the opening round, finishing most of his foes inside the first half of frame 1. Of his 9 stoppages, 6 have come by submission- mostly choke-based finishes.

Johnson has gone the distance in 4 consecutive fights, including his 3 UFC wins. A former NCAA Division 1 wrestler, “Big Swingin'” started his pro career with 4 first round finishes- 3 by sub.

Since coming to the UFC, Jordan’s wrestling has been at the forefront of his offence. Landing 8 takedowns over 3 fights, he completes just 36% of his attempts. His low completion percentage is a product of dogged pursuit of the takedown.

In addition to the aforementioned issues, there is a lot of controversy surrounding Yandiev. Based on his Judo background, he should have the skills to deal with Johnson’s TDAs- but the layoff, lack of long fight experience, and heavily-muscled build suggest he will fade. Johnson will chip away at him, with the takedowns coming easier as the fight advances- my prediction is Jordan Johnson to defeat Adam Yandiev by submission.

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170lbs- Ramazan Emeev (17-3-0) vs Stefan Sekulic (12-2-0).

Promotional newcomer Stefan Sekulic of Croatia takes on 2-fight UFC veteran Ramazan “Gorets” Emeev in the UFC’s Welterweight division. Emeev debuted with a win over Sam Alvey while fighting at Middleweight before adding a decision victory over Alberto Mina at UFC 224. Sekulic is riding a 2-fight winning streak after rebounding from injury based TKO loss.

Sekulic will stand 2 inches taller than Emeev, but the Russian will have a 1″ reach advantage. Sekulic is replacing Claudio Silva on roughly 2 weeks notice.

A former M-1 Middleweight champion, Emeev has finished 10 opponents- 7 by knockout. His 2 UFC victories are the product of a low volume grinding attacking- working in the clinch with a couple of key takedowns while limiting the output of his foe.

Emeev made his Welterweight debut against Mina which should give him a better feel for how his body will perform this time around.

Winning the majority of his fights by submission (6), Sekulic has a pretty decent takedown game to go along with an opportunistic guillotine choke. All of his submission wins transpire early in the fight, suggesting he switches his focus to controlling position over submission if he is unable to get the early stoppage.

Sekulic is recovering from a nasty leg injury suffered early in 2017.

This could be a closely contested fight with both men offering similar skill sets. Emeev appears to be the more complete striker, but the if he doesn’t remain active Sekulic could outwork him. Ultimately, Sekulic is coming in on very short notice, hasn’t had a full camp to prep, and is making his debut along with moving down a division- that is a lot for a fighter to overcome in a potentially gruelling bout- my prediction is Ramazan Emeev to defeat Stefan Sekulic by decision.Paragraph breaker

135lbs- Merab Dvalishvili (7-3-0) vs Terrion Ware (17-7-0)

In first-ever UFC bout to be contested on Russian soil, Terrion “Flash” Ware looks for hSi

s first UFC victory when he takes on Georgian-born Merab Dvalishvili in the Bantamweight division. Ware has lost all 3 of his UFC bouts, all by decision, most recently succumbing to Tom Duquesnoy in March. Dvalishvili will also attempt to break his UFC slump, as he has been defeated in both Octagon tussles- including a controversial submission loss to Ricky Simon.

The American will stand 2 inches taller and hold a 3″ reach advantage over Merab. Dvalishvili is the younger man by 5-years.

Ware has been saddled with some contentious results- in his has last fight he landed more strikes and takedowns- but still lost the decision. “Flash” is 8-5 on the scorecards, including a pair of split decision wins.

A wrestler by trade, Dvalishvili has completed a combined 17 takedowns over 2 UFC outings. The biggest concern with Merab’s wrestling is his top position management- he needs to main control, but also remain active.

The takedown game of Dvalishvili could be the deciding factor in this fight. Ware’s TDD has been an area of focus by his opponents; over his first 2 UFC fights, he surrendered 11 completions.

If Ware can stay vertical he can win this fight with his striking, but the constant aggression of Dvalishvili will still be a lot to deal with. Look for the Merab to launch a barrage of takedown attempts, forcing Terrion to remain on the defensive for the majority of the bout- my prediction is Merab Dvalishvili to defeat Terrion Ware by decision.

115lbs- #6 Carla Esparza (14-5-0) vs #9 Tatiana Suarez (7-0-0)

In the Undercard headliner, former Strawweight champion Carla “Cookie Monster” Esparza takes on TUF 23 winner Tatiana Suarez. Esparza is coming off a split decision loss to Claudia Gadelha, snapping her 2-fight winning streak. Suarez is 3-0 inside the Octagon including a pair of submission wins over Bobby Cooper and Alexa Grasso.

Suarez is 4 inches taller than Esparza and will have a 4″ reach advantage. She is the younger fighter by 3 years.

The wrestling of “Cookie Monster” has largely been the key to her success. When Carla is able to dominate the takedown battle, she usually wins. Over her 4 UFC wins she has controlled the wrestling by a count of 18 takedowns to 1. Conversely, in defeat- the ration is much closer at 7-4. Esparza doesn’t get enough credit for her striking.

Her loss to Randa Markos proved the exception to the rule, while Carla was able to land 4 takedowns- she was on the defensive once they hit the floor and dropped a split decision as a result.

Suarez’s success has also been built around her ground game. A talented wrestler, Tatiana has linked her takedowns skills with a strong submission acumen. She has just 3 wins by submission as a pro, but she also won a pair of TUF tournament bouts by tap out. Suarez has completed an impressive 81% of her TDAs and once on top she smothers her opponent.

Suarez was on track to wrestle at the 2012 Olympics before suffering an unfortunate neck injury while training.

Suarez has yet to be tested on the feet and if Esparza can force her to remain vertical, that could be the turning point for the former champion. That will be easier said than done. Suarez wrestling is superior to Esparza’s and her size advantage will further magnify the gap. Esparza has struggled when pressed by other capable ground fighters and Tatiana could be the best she has faced to date- my prediction is Tatiana Suarez to defeat Carla Esparza by decision.Paragraph breaker

135lbs- #8 Aljamain Sterling (14-3-0) vs #10 Cody Stamann (17-1-0)

In the second Bantamweight fight on the undercard, Aljamain “Funk Master” Sterling squares off with the surging Cody Stamann. Sterling is coming off a win over Brett Johns and has been victorious in 3 of his last 4 fights. Stamann has yet to taste defeat in the UFC, winning a trio of bouts including a split decision win over Bryan Caraway last time out.

Sterling is an inch taller, but he will have a massive 7″ reach advantage.

After landing 12 takedowns over his first 2 UFC bouts, Stamann relied on his defensive wrestling in his next outing. Against Caraway, he stuffed 22 of 23 TDAs. That being said, Stamann struggled when put on his back in round 1 and spent a lot of time trying to create separation throughout the rest of the fight. Stamann has some pop in his punches, but he didn’t start to land significant volume until Caraway slowed in rounds 2 and 3.

Despite putting up better statistical offence in each of his last 2 outings, Cody has won both fights by split decision.

Sterling is coming off of his most well-rounded victory, on the heels of a brutal knockout defeat against Marlon Moraes. Against Johns, Aljamain melded together his wrestling and striking offence. He completed a trio of takedowns well setting his UFC personal best for significant strikes landed. Sterling has shown a lack of urgency at times, too willing to sit back and counter- but he was much more aggressive against Johns.

Excluding his knockout loss to Moraes, Sterling has landed more strikes then all of his opponents including a total of 84-48 in his 2 narrow split decision losses.

Sterling’s uptick in his vertical output is a crucial improvement in his overall attack. Against Stamann, he will fight all the way in or all the way out, avoiding the in-between stages. Stamann’s lack of long range weapons will make it difficult for him to overcome the reach and kicking arsenal of his opponent. When Cody attempts to close the distance, Sterling will change levels and shoot or tie him up in the clinch. Sterling will land more strikes while holding the edge in the grappling and wrestling exchanges- my prediction is Aljamain Sterling to defeat Cody Stamman by decision.

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135lbs- #5 Jimmie Rivera (21-2-0) vs #7 John Dodson (21-9-0)

In the first of 2 massive Bantamweight bouts, Jimmie “El Terror” Rivera looks to rebound from his first loss since 2008 when he takes on John “The Magician” Dodson. Dodson picked up a win over Pedro Munhoz in his most recent outing- he is 3-2 since returning to Bantamweight. Rivera began his UFC career with 5 consecutive victories- he suffered an abrupt 33-second knockout against Marlon Moraes in his last fight.

Rivera is an inch taller and will have a 2-inch reach advantage over Dodson. Jimmie is the younger man 5-years.

Dodson’s success has hinged on his ability to avoid and devastate. Recently, he has struggled to achieve those goals. His last win by knockout came in 2016 and he has just 2 since mid-2014. Even more concerning, “The Magician” is 2-2 over his last 4 decisions with 3 splits. Dodson carries a near even striking exchange rate and his reliance on counter striking doesn’t always translate well with the judges.

Dodson is 9-9 on the scorecards with an overall record of 2-4 in split decisions.

Holding a much stronger 15-1 record on the scorecards, Rivera hasn’t lost on the cards since his 2nd pro bout back in 2008. The key to Rivera’s success has been volume, pressure, and durability. He has routinely pushed forward and outworked his foe, eating their best offence in return. On occasion, he has been staggered and he is coming off a devastating knockout loss.

Jimmie will utilize his wrestling to score takedowns and help secure points in close rounds.

Rivera may have relied too much on his durability and it could start costing him moving forward. Additionally, in a close fight if Jimmie can’t pick up a couple of key takedowns against John’s rock solid TDD- that could also be signifcant. Dodson’s big left hand is going to test the chin of his foe and John’s speed and lateral movement will make it hard for Rivera to stay in the pocket. Coming off such a devastating loss for the first time in nearly 10-years will be tough to overcome- my prediction is John Dodson to defeat Jimmie Rivera by knockout.

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185lbs- Charles Byrd (9-4-0) vs Darren Stewart (8-3-0 1NC)

In the Middleweight division, “The Dentist” Darren Stewart returns to the cage to take on UFC sophomore Charles “Kid Dynamite” Byrd. Byrd made a successful debut with a submission win over John Phillips last March. Stewart picked up his first official UFC win and snapped a 3-fight losing streak with a middle round knockout of Eric Spicely.

Stewart is 2 inches taller than Byrd and will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. Stewart is the younger fighter by 7-years.

A former Welterweight, Byrd scored an early takedown in his debut and took the heavy hands of his opponent out of the equation with a first-round submission. Including back to back Contender Series’s fights, Byrd has submitted each of his last 3 opponents and 5 overall.

The submission skills of the American could be key to his success as Stewart has been submitted in each of his last 2 UFC fights. That being said, “The Dentist” is coming off of a win over a capable submission fighter. Stewart showed improved TDD and forced his foe to trade with him on the feet resulting in a knockdown and TKO win.

Stewart has a reputation for fading in physically demanding bouts and with Byrd moving up from Welterweight he has shown he can maintain a torrid pace and force his foe to work. If he is able to push Stewart early, it will pay dividends later in the bout.

The Brit has power and throws hard. If Stewart can connect he has the ability to finish Byrd. Unfortunately, his chances to land will be limited. Look for “Kid Dynamite” to shoot early and often and even if he can’t score on his initial shot, he will drain Stewart in the clinch. Byrd is no slouch on the feet either which will help him to set up his takedown attempts- my prediction is Charles Byrd to defeat Darren Stewart by submission.

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170lbs- Diego Sanchez (29-11-0) vs Craig White (14-8-0)

In the headlining bout of the FightPass prelims, Diego Sanchez returns to action when he takes on UFC sophomore Craig “Thundercat” White. Sanchez is coming off back to back losses to Al Iaquinta and Matt Brown in his recent return to Welterweight- both losses were by knockout. White made a very short notice debut last May and lost via opening round TKO to Neil Magny.

At 6’2″, White is 4 inches taller than Diego and he will have a 4″ reach advantage as well. White is the younger man by 9-years.

White came out looking to clinch and drag Magny to the mat. He was unsuccessful. His primary method of attack is on the floor, including 9 wins by submission- mostly by choke. His striking didn’t look bad against Magny, but it appears to be a means to an end- helping to close the distance.

Overall, the Brit has been finished 7-times, including 4 by some form of knockout. He is 3-3 outside of the opening frame.

Sanchez is a shell of his former self. His once vaunted durability has given way to a shaky chin that has resulted in 4 losses by knockout, including each of his last 3 losses. Despite his diminished chin, Sanchez will still willingly race across the cage and engage his foe. Against Brown, he looked for an early single leg and kept the fight at close range prior to the stoppage.

Diego’s TDD remains solid and he has never been submitted.

White’s willingness to punch his way into the clinch could result in a stoppage if he connects. If White can’t get the fight to the floor, look for him to willingly go to his back and allow Diego to hold top position. Diego is capable of grinding this fight out in the superior position and with White’s limit experience beyond the opening round and high rate of getting finished- Diego could get a stoppage. Sanchez is taking a sizeable step back in a must win fight, close to home- my prediction is Diego Sanchez to defeat Craig White by TKO.

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155lbs- Jim Miller (28-11-0 1NC) vs Alex White (12-3-0)

A veteran of 29-Octagon wars, New Jersey’s own Jim Miller takes on “The Spartan” Alex White in the Lightweight division. Miller has lost 4 straight fights, most recently succumbing to Dan Hooker via first-round knockout. White is coming off a loss on the cards to the streaking James Krause, he is 3-4 inside the Octagon including a 2016 win over Artem Lobov.

Formerly fighting at Featherweight, White will stand 4 inches taller than Miller but they will share a 71″ reach. White is the younger man by 5-years.

At 35-years old, Millers appears to be will on the decline of his career. He is coming off a nasty knockout loss which is the second of his career. Despite being finished just twice, Miller has struggled to match the volume of his opponents. Over his 3 defeats prior to the Hooker loss, he has been outlanded 240 to 153.

Jimmy still remains a threat on the mat, despite his last submission win coming in 2014.

White enters the contest still looking to gain solid footing inside the Octagon. In each of his last 3 defeats,”The Spartan” has been taken down a combined 7-times compared to zero takedowns given up over his trio of UFC wins.

The vertical volume of White has remained fairly consistent. Excluding his loss to Tony Martin, he has averaged just over 62 significant strikes per fight and outlanded his foe in 3 of his last 4 contests.

Miller’s best avenue to victory is on the mat by either securing multiple takedowns or snatching a submission. Unfortunately, he hasn’t shown consistent wrestling in recent bouts and he lacks the punching power or volume to win a fight solely on his feet. Look for White to land the more impactful and frequent strikes while out-muscling Miller in close. Miller tends to start strong, but begins to fade just enough to let his foe pull away- my prediction is Alex White to defeat Jim Miller by decision.

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135lbs-#12 Irene Aldana (8-4-0) vs #13 Lucie Pudilova (8-2-0)

The first of 4 women’s fights on the card, Mexico’s Irene Aldana takes on Czech Republic-born Lucie Pudilova in the Bantamweight division. Aldana recently snapped a 2-fight losing skid with a decision win over Talita Bernardo- her first UFC win. Pudilova has rebounded nicely from her debut defeat with back to back triumphs over Ji Yeon Kim and Sarah Moras.

Aldana is an inch taller and will have a 1″ reach advantage over her foe. Pudliova is 6 years younger.

Entering the UFC, Aldana had finished all 7 of her pro wins- 5 by knockout. Her record outside of the opening round sits at a dismal 1-4, including a pair of late stoppage defeats. Over her first 2 UFC outings, her opponents landed a combined 274 strikes with Irene falling behind further as the fight advanced.

Aldana does have strong striking fundamentals and throws hard. She showed improve energy management in her last fight, but against a less capable striker.

The Czech fighter has picked up back to back wins primarily on the basis of her striking skills. She does a decent job of working behind a stiff left jab and using her movement to stay active. She has had issues with the power strikes of her foe with Kim landing hard punches with regularity and Moras stunning her with an early high kick.

Pudilova hasn’t shown much focus on initiating on the floor, but she did do damage against Moras once she defended the early sub attempts.

This fight should be an all-action scrap. Pudilova needs to stay busy with her jab and push a torrid pace to test the conditioning of Aldana. Irene is the superior striker in both variety and power and Lucie’s willingness to take punishment is concerning. Pudilova has a pension for rallying late, but Aldana just hits too hard to continuously trade with- my prediction is Irene Aldana to defeat Lucie Pudilova by TKO.

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125lbs- Roberto Sanchez (8-1-0) vs Jarred Brooks (13-2-0)

In the Flyweight division, Jarred “The Monkey God” Brooks takes on Texas-born “Little Fury” Roberto Sanchez. Sanchez is 1-1 in the UFC most recently defeating Joby Sanchez by submission. Brooks is replacing Ryan Benoit on less than 1 week’s notice and is coming off a self-inflicted knockout loss to Jose Torres- he has lost 2 of his 3 UFC fights.

Sanchez is 3 inches taller than Brooks and will have a 4″ reach advantage. Brooks is the younger fighter by 7-years.

Brooks appeared to be off to a good start against Torres, winning the opening round before landing on his head during a TDA and getting knocked out. Despite the folly, Jarred’s wrestling has been the key to his offence; landing a combined 14-takedowns over 3 fights.

His striking has been a secondary aspect of his offence, but he showed improvements against Torres with his combination punching. This could be a key to his success in this fight at Sanchez does his best work on the floor.

Offering a submission heavy record, Sanchez has subbed his opponent in 7 of his 8 pro wins. Including his only UFC victory, he has won 5-times by RNC. Against Joby Sanchez, he shot early and transitioned to his back after winning a scramble on the floor. He was looking for the early takedown in his debut, but was unable to secure it, got hurt on the feet and subbed shortly after.

The majority of Sanchez’s vertical offence is built around closing the distance to set up his grappling game.

Brooks is undersized for the division, but that should help him when trying to make weight on short notice. The key to this fight will be Brooks utilizing his wrestling to dictate where the action takes place. Brooks appears to have the more impactful and active striking attack to go along with a speed advantage. Sanchez will try to close the distance which should create openings for Brooks to score points with takedowns. Unless Brooks crashes hard or suffers from the recent knockout, his skill set is a strong counter to what Sanchez does best- my prediction is Jarred Brooks to defeat Roberto Sanchez by decision.

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170lbs- Geoff Neal (9-2-0) vs Frank Camacho (21-6-0)

In the opening fight of the night, Geoff “Handz of Steel” Neal takes on Frank “The Crank” Camacho in the Welterweight division. Camacho dropped a decision to Drew Dober and is now just 1-2 in the UFC win his only win coming via split decision. Neal made short work of Brian Camozzi with an opening-round submission to extend his winning streak to 3 straight contests.

Neal is an inch taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. He is the younger man by a year. Camacho is fighting again at Welterweight after struggling to make weight at Lightweight.

A native of Texas, Neal showcased solid hand speed in both his final pre-UFC fight and his debut. Against Camozzi, he threw combinations with decent pop before securing his first submission win since his pro debut. Neal has finished 5 opponents by knockout including 3 in the first round.

Neal has shown good takedown defence when put under pressure. Staying vertical and swiftly scrambling back to his feet if taken down.

Camacho has put together some impressive stats landing 260 strikes over his last 2 outings. Unfortunately, he has just a split decision win to show for it. Defensively, his opponents have averaged just over 114 significant strikes per fight. Despite his lack of finishes at the UFC level, Frank has stopped 15 opponents by knockout. He has also been stopped 3-times.

Camacho is a talented grappler with an extensive BJJ background. He completed a trio of takedowns against Dober, landing them from the clinch.

Going hand in hand with his porous defence, Camacho’s cardio is a major vulnerability. He was noticeably tired early in round 2 against Dober.  Unless Frank can routinely score takedowns from the clinch, he is going to struggle to keep up. Neal hits very hard and should start to pour it on once Camacho begins to slow down- my prediction is Geoff Neal to defeat Frank Camacho by TKO.

 

170lbs- Warlley Alves (13-2-0) vs James Krause (13-2-0)

In the headlining fight of the undercard, Brazilian TUF winner Warlley Alves meets the streaking James Krause in the Welterweight division. Krause has won 4 consecutive bouts including a recent fight at Welterweight. Alves has rebounded nicely from the first 2 defeats of his career, earning a pair of victories including a TKO stoppage of Sultan Aliev.

At 6’2″, the former Lightweight Krause will stand 3 inches taller than Alves to go along with a 1″ reach advantage. Alves is the younger man by 5-years.

Alves is a well-rounded fighter with solid pop in his hands and a nasty submission game. He has subbed 8 foes, including 5 by his signature guillotine choke. With 7 of his first 10 wins coming inside the first half of his fights, Alves had minimal deep fight experience and it showed against Bryan Barberena as he tired and lost on the cards. Since that loss, he has shown an improved focus on maintaining a more manageable pace. While he is far from a high volume striker, he has shown he can push deeper into bouts and remain dangerous without fading.

Krause has a wealth of experience and solid submission game of his own, submitting 14 opponents. He also will focus his attack on chokes, including a solid triangle attack off his back. In his last fight, Krause relied on his wrestling to put his foe on the floor and score points. On the feet, Krause was having some issues with the aggressive striking of White, who was attacking in barrages.

The best bet for the American is to push the pace and force Alves to work at a rate he is not comfortable with. For Alves, he should hold the edge in physical strength and Krause isn’t the type of wrestler that has troubled Alves in the past. If Krause is unable to score takedowns, he will have to stand and trade with the heavier hitter. Look for Alves to grind Krause on the case, land the bigger strikes, and potentially hold some key top position time- my prediction is Warlley Alves to defeat James Krause by decision.

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135lbs- Cory Sandhagen (8-1-0) vs Iuri Alcantara (35-9-0 1NC)

In the penultimate preliminary bout, formerly top 15 ranked Iuri Alcantara looks to keep in the win column when he takes on promotional sophomore Cory Sandhagen in the Bantamweight division. Alcantara snapped 2-fight losing skid with a TKO victory over Joe Soto last February. Sandhagen has won 3 consecutive fights since his first career defeat, including a successful middle frame TKO win in his UFC debut.

The American is the taller man by 2 inches, but he will give up an inch of reach. Sandhagen is 12-years younger then Alcantara and will be making his Featherweight debut.

Alcantara returned to form in TKO win over Soto. He has a dangerous striking arsenal both in variety of weapons and stopping power. His bing undoging has been his overall lack of output. He often lets his opponents outwork him. Similarly, he is a dangerous submission fighter- capable of locking of a fight ending hold at any time. Yet, he has seemed to complacement on his back when taken down and given away rounds because of it.

In his debut, Sandhagen landed 80-significant strikes in just under 2 rounds of action. He threw a nice variety at his opponent, including landing hard body and leg strikes. He remains active and maintains consisent pressure. His volume and ability to keep attacking his foe, especially to the body, was his key to success in his debut.

Alcantara has stopped 29 opponents while Sandhagen  has just 9 pro fights. Conversely, Alcantara has just 1 win over his last 8 fights where he was unable to finish his foe. His lack of urgency allows his opponent to outwork him and score points with the judges. If he is unable to finish or at the very least hurt Sandhagen, he will struggle to match his output. If the cut goes well and Alcantara is unable to find that fight altering moment, this is Sandhagen’s contest to win- my prediction is Cory Sandhagen to defeat Iuri Alcantara by decision.

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185lbs- Andrew Sanchez (10-4-0) vs Markus Perez (10-1-0)

In the Middleweight division, Andrew “El Dirte” Sanchez takes on late notice replacement, Markus “Maluko” Perez. Perez submitted the underwhelming James Bochnovic in his UFC sophomore fight to rebound from the first loss of his pro career. Sanchez has suffered back to back knockout losses to Ryan Janes and the red-hot Anthony Smith.

Perez is replacing Antonio Braga Neto on roughly 3-weeks notice. Both men are 6’1″, but Sanchez will have a slight 1″ reach advantage.

Sanchez’s approach to winning is fairly simple- takedowns and top control. He has completed 13 over his 4 fights in the UFC, but despite landing 7 in his last 2 fights- he has gone winless. Early against Janes, he showed he was capable of doing damage on the feet and nearly finished him. His inability to get the stoppage resulted in “El Dirte” fading and getting finished.

Perez did a decent job defending his opponent’s early grappling attempts before ending the bout with a submission. He has picked up 4 wins by sub. The Brazilian’s top game proved key to his success as he control top position and eventually worked towards the finish. On the feet, he has some pop in his hands and will throw some unconventional techniques.

The growing concern surrounding Sanchez’s cardio could trump a decent skill set. If Sanchez can grind on Perez with his wrestling, he could take home a decision win. That being said, Perez is active on the mat and will force Andrew to work hard everywhere this fight takes place. Look for Sanchez to start strong again, but once he begins to fade Perez will control of the action on the feet- my prediction is Markus Perez to defeat Andrew Sanchez by TKO.

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170lbs- Mickey Gall (4-1-0) vs George Sullivan (17-6-0 1NC)

In the Welterweight division, CM Punk killer, Mickey Gall returns to action when he takes on “The Silencer” George Sullivan. Sullivan is coming off back to back losses and has just a single win his last 4 UFC outings. Gall is looking to rebound from the first loss of his pro career, a decision defeat against Randy Brown.

At 6’2″, Gall will stand 2 inches taller than Sullivan with a 1″ reach advantage. Sullivan is the older man by 11-years- he returned after a 2-year layoff prior to his last fight.

Sullivan has a sizeable edge in experience, but stylistically this is a tough matchup for him. His overall grappling defence has been a major point of vulnerability. He has been submitted in 4 of is 6 losses and he has relinquished at least 2 takedowns per fight in each of his 6 UFC contests. He has given up 15 overall.

Gall is a grappler by trade, winning each of his 4 pro bouts by rear-naked choke. Mickey offers a strong top game and works constantly towards earning the submission. Against Brown, he struggled to get the fight to the floor, but once he did he had his best moments of the fight.

The best chance for Sullivan to emerge with a victory is to turn this bout into a brawl and force Gall out of his comfort zone. That will be easier said than done. Gall will have a sizeable edge on the mat and Sullivan has struggled tremendously both staying vertical and defending once on his back- my prediction is Mickey Gall to defeat George Sullivan by submission.

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125lbs- Joanne Calderwood (11-3-0) vs Kalindra Faria (18-7-1)

In the Women’s Flyweight division, former Strawweight contender Joanne “JoJo” Calderwood looks to make an impact in her return to the division when she takes on Brazilian Kalindra Faria. Faria is 0-2 in the UFC, suffering a submission loss in her debut and a split decision defeat to Jessica Eye in her sophomore performance. Calderwood iced Valerie Letourneau back in a 2016 Flyweight bout, but she has gone 0-2 since with back to back losses in the Strawweight division.

“JoJo” has been off for 13-months and missed weight for her last fight. Faria is an inch taller, but Calderwood will have a 3″ reach advantage.

Calderwood looked very good in her lone Flyweight fight, indicating that the cut to 115-pounds could simply be too much for her. At her best, she is a lethal striker with an undervalued ground game. The Scot has good pop in her strikes and throws a nice variety of techniques. She has surpassed the century mark twice in the UFC, including 115 significant strikes against Letourneau in just over 2 rounds.

Faria has a fairly diversified record, but she has struggled against next level competition. She landed an early head kick that rocked Eye and overall she has 7 wins by knockout. Despite a collection of submission wins, the mat game has been a concern in the UFC. After the sub loss in her debut, she got out grappled by Eye for the majority of the fight.

Calderwood has been caught a couple of times on the mat with subs and Faria’s aggression could serve her well if they do hit the floor. That being said, the Brazilian doesn’t appear to offer the wrestling game needed to take Calderwood down. Calderwood is the more technically sound striker and her volume appears to be superior- my prediction is Joanne Calderwood to defeat Kalindra Faria by decision.

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155lbs- Drew Dober (19-8-0 1NC) vs Jon Tuck (10-4-0)

In the second fight of the night, Drew Dober returns to the Lightweight division to take on the native of Guam- Jon “Super Saiyan” Tuck. Drober is coming back to back wins over Josh Burkman and Frank Camacho- he is 4-1 over his last 5 bouts. Tuck is also coming off a victory; submitting Takanori Gomi for his just his second win over his last 5 contests.

Tuck has not competed since in roughly 14-months. He is the taller man by 3 inches and will have a 3″ reach advantage. Dober, who has fought twice since Tuck last saw action- is 4-years his junior.

This should be an entertaining scrap, as both men are willing to compete anywhere inside the cage. Tuck has some decent power in his hands and a strong grappling acumen- but his cardio has been his undoing. He is just 1-4 in decisions and has lost each of his last 3 fights to go outside of the opening round.

Conversely, Dober has won 6-times on the scorecards and each of his last 2 fights to go the distance. Dober has added some new weapons to his repertoire. He is coming off a 145-strike effort and has recently shown improved power and a willingness to wrestle. He will need to be mindful of the submission game of Tuck- Dober has been tapped out twice.

Tuck’s tendency to fade is concerning against a fighter like Dober that keeps pushing deep into a contest. Additionally, the prolonged layoff could further impact the cardio of “Super Saiyan” and create some ring rust. Dober needs to be careful early, but look for him to start pulling away with his striking volume as the fight enters the second half- my prediction is Drew Dober to defeat Jon Tuck by decision.

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135lbs- Rani Yahya (25-9-0 1NC) vs Luke Sanders (13-2-0)

Opening the night’s action will be a Bantamweight bout between the underrated Rani Yahya and the entertaining “Cool Hand” Luke Sanders. Sanders is coming off a must needed victory, scoring a decision win over Patrick Williams after back to back upset defeats to Iuri Alcantara and Andre Soukhamthath. Yahya has won back to back bouts- submitting both Henry Briones and Russell Doane- he 6-1 over his last 7 fights.

Both men stand 5’6″ and share a 67″ reach. Luke is the younger man by a year.

Sanders has showcased a strong offensive attack- including an absolute bludgeoning of Iuri Alcantara. Unfortunately, similar to his loss to Soukhamthath, Sanders was unable to parlay his strong start into a victory and got finished. On the feet, he carries a strong pace and packs decent power in his punches. Against Williams, he again started strong but faded in rounds 2 and 3 and got outlanded by a fighter that notoriously gasses after the opening round.

A grappling specialist, Yahya does not deviate from what he does best. Over his last 7 fights, he has completed 17 takedowns and once on top, he is a smothering grappler. While he is far from a plus athlete, his ability to jump on a single and then drag his adversary into grappling battle is incredibly impressive. Rani has recorded 19 of 25 wins by submission- including 3 of his last 4. His striking remains a secondary aspect of his attack and his cardio has created issues in longer fights.

There are windows for both men to win this fight. For Sanders, if he can stay vertical he can win the striking exchanges or if he can outlast Rani’s cardio he could take over the final 2 rounds. For Yahya, it will either be grappling his way to a decision or submission win. Rani is overwhelming on the mat and Sander’s recent struggles after good starts suggest he might not be able to capitalize on the Brazilian’s slowdown- my prediction is Rani Yahya to defeat Luke Sanders by submission.

135lbs-#9 Pedro Munhoz (15-3-0 1NC) vs #14 Brett Johns (15-1-0)

In the undercard main event, Brazilian submission machine Pedro “The Young Punisher” Munhoz takes on Brett “The Pikey” Johns in the Bantamweight division. Munhoz is coming off of a split decision loss to John Dodson that snapped his 4-fight winning streak which included submission of Rob Font and Justin Scoggins. Johns is looking to rebound from the first loss of his career, falling via decision to Aljamain Sterling- he won the first 3 fights of his UFC including a 30-second submission of Joe Soto.

Johns is an inch taller, but he will have a sizeable 7″ reach advantage. He is also the younger man by 6-years.

Munhoz is a lightning-fast submission artist, needing only a brief opening to slap on his patented guillotine choke. He has subbed 9 opponents. In his win over Rob Font, he utilized pressure on the feet and power strikes to force Font to panic wrestling and dive into the fight-ending choke. Pedro lacks a real strong wrestling attack, often relying on his foe to shoot on him.

While Munhoz has power, he has had some issues matching his foe’s output. Munhoz has been outlanded in 5 of his last 6 fights and overall he is 4-3 on the scorecards with a 1-2 record in split decisions.

Johns doesn’t have the finish heavy resume that Munhoz owns, but he has shown that he is capable of ending a fight early if given the chance. He is 8-1 on the scorecards. The key to his early UFC success was a takedown-heavy attack, including 11 in his debut. He picked up 3 more in his next fight. While he keeps a technically sound offensive front, he is far from an overwhelming volume striker. As a result, he is at his best when he can blend his wrestling and striking together.

Johns struggled against Sterling because he was unable to get the better of the wrestling exchanges and fell well-short in the overall striking output.

“The Pikey” needs to be letter perfect. He has to find a way to push a higher striking pace than normal and either avoid shooting or be incredibly careful of sticking his head in too deep. Munhoz’s pressure striking should allow him to dictate the pace on the feet and the threat of his submission game will either make the mat unappealing or fight ending for Johns. Johns relies too much on landing takedowns as a key part of his offence, he will spend the majority of this fight on the defensive- my prediction is Pedro Munhoz to defeat Brett Johns by decision.

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135lbs- Ricky Simon (10-1-0) vs Montel Jackson (6-0-0)

In the second to last undercard fight, Ricky Simon looks to follow up a successful debut when he takes on Contenders graduate Montel “Quik” Jackson. Simon extended his winning streak to 6 straight contests with a post-bell submission win over Merab Dvalishvili. Jackson scored a third round stoppage over Rico DiSciullo in front of Dana and company on the June edition of the show.

At 5’10”, Jackson is 4 inches taller than Simon to go along with a length 6″ reach advantage. Jackson’s record seems a little inconsistent as some sites have him listed at 3-0 while other put his mark at 6 wins.

“Quik” Jackson has shown his name to be accurate; his amateur record shows a trio of finishes inside the opening minute and his pro debut lasted less than 2 minutes. He scored a third-round finish in his last fight. Despite his pension for quick finishes, he showed composure and patience in his last bout- waiting out his opponent and looking for openings. Once he hurt his foe, he began to open up. He has power in his hands and a sharp stepping knee.

Jackson might have scored an opening round win against DiSciullo, but after hurting him on 2 separate occasions he landed an illegal blow that brought about a pause in the action. He lost 2 points over the course of the bout- Montel is taking this fight on 2 weeks notice.

Holding a sizeable edge in pro experience, Simon already has a 5-round decision win on his record over UFC veteran Chico Camus. Despite a frantic pace, Simon was letting his foe strike first and as a result, he got dropped in the opening frame. Simon showcased his wrestling skills, landing takedowns against a strong wrestler. He was also taken down, but did a decent job of getting back up. The late submission was a solid indication of his heart.

Simon’s debut totals were not indicative of a victorious fighter- he was outlanded 61-34 and gave up 6 takedowns to just 2 of his own completions.

Jackson has a sizeable edge in length and power, but as mentioned, Simon is the more battle-hardened fighter. Simon seemed to struggle with the aggressive striking of Dvalishvili and with Jackson’s attributes, that is a recipe for disaster. Both men can wrestle and if either can gain an edge it could be a deciding factor. Ultimately, it will be the more dangerous striking of Jackson that is the ultimate determinant- my prediction is Montel Jackson to defeat Ricky Simon by knockout.

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135lbs- Kyung Ho Kang (13-7-0 1NC) vs Ricardo Ramos (11-1-0)

In the Bantamweight, impressive Brazil prospect Ricardo Ramos meets South Korean “Mr. Perfect” Kyung Ho Kang. Ramos is 2-0 in the Octagon defeating Michinori Tanaka by decision and Aiemann Zahabi by third-round KO. Kang has won 3 bouts in a row, submitting Guido Cannetti and earning a split decision over the aforementioned Tanaka.

Despite both men standing 5’9″ and sharing the same 72″ reach- both men are very big for the division. Ramos is the younger man by 8-years. Kang’s last fight was his first since the summer of 2014.

Described as a “machine gun” submission artist, Ramos is known for chaining his submission attempts together until he gets the tap. He has finished 6 pro bouts by sub, focussing mainly on submissions. Despite his submission prowess, Ricardo dropped Tanaka with a counter left hand and put Zahabi down with a spinning back elbow. Ramos has gone to the 3rd round just 4-times, including both of his UFC fights.

While he is aggressive off his back, Ricardo does have a tendency to give up position for submission which allowed Tanaka to get on top and hold some key control time.

A very strong grappler in his own right, Kang has recorded 12 submissions compared to just a single defeat. Over his 5 UFC fights, he has recorded 11 takedowns while giving up 4. Capable of countering into top position during his opponent’s TDA, Kang is also quite adept at attacking off his back and orchestrating sweeps.

The biggest knock on Kang is his lack of consistent vertical output. He has been working to improve his striking, but it still remains a secondary aspect of his offence.

Ramos is proving himself dangerous wherever the action takes place, but he has shown signs of slowing in the latter stages of the action. Kang has the size and strength to match Ramos and the ground acumen to capitalize on the Brazilian’s willingness to give up position. Ramos will start strong, but once “Mr. Perfect” establishes his top position he will take control of the fight- my prediciton is Kyung Ho Kang to defear Ricardo Ramos by decision.

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145lbs- Matt Sayles (6-1-0) vs Sheymon Moraes (9-1-0)

In the Featherweight division, former WSOF title challenger Sheymon Moraes makes his sophomore appearance against the debuting “Tuesday Night Contender’s” graduate Matt “Robo” Sayles. Moraes lost his debut to Zabit Magomedsharipov and his WSOF title fight against Marlon Moraes with wins over Robbie Peralta and Luis Palomino in between. Sayles earned a first-round TKO win Yazan Hajeh in his last fight and has wins under both the RFA and WOSF banners.

Moraes is an inch taller and will have a 4″ reach advantage. Sayles is the younger fighter by 4-years. Moraes has formerly competed at Bantamweight.

Finishing 6 of his 7 wins, all by knockout, Sayles has fought beyond the opening frame just 3-times. Sayles moves well and throws crisp punches including a hard straight right that floor Hajeh. In his only pro defeat, he struggled to let his hands go and found himself on the wrong end of the grappling exchanges. The fight was still close and ended in a split decision.

A training partner of Dominick Cruz, “Robo” emulates some of the striking style of the former champion.

Moraes has picked up 5 wins by knockout including his 2015 WSOF win over Peralta. Based in Muay Thai, Moraes throws hard kicks to the body and legs. Attacking with speed, he held his own on the feet with Marlon Moraes and stopped Peralta with a nasty left hook. Moraes is a measured fighter, maintaining his composure and looking for his spots which can result in him engaging less then he should. His opponents seem to focus their attacks on takedowns and grappling. Moraes has yet to win a pro fight by submission.

Both of Sheymon’s losses have come by submission to fighters currently ranked in their respective UFC divisions.

This fight could come down to who is more active. Moraes throws hard strikes, but he tends to open himself up when engaging- especially with his hands. Sayles utilizes more movement, keeps his punches compact, and can work his wrestling into the equation when needed. Both of Sheymon’s defeats came in the third round as he appeared to fade. Sayles will need to avoid eating too many kicks, but look for him to outwork Moraes on the feet early and start to incorporate a few takedowns later in the bout- my prediction is Matt Sayles to defeat Sheymon Moraes by decision.

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125lbs- Alex Perez (20-4-0) vs Jose Torres (8-0-0)

A pair of future contenders collide in the Flyweight division, as Alex Perez takes on Jose “Shorty” Torres. Torres debuted with a slam knockout victory over Jarred Brooks to remain undefeated. Perez followed up his submission victory in his debut with a solid win over Eric Shelton last February.

Perez is the taller man by 2 inches, but they share the same 65″ reach. Both men are 26-years old.

Utilizing a wrestling-centric offensive attack, Perez has collected 7 takedowns over his 2 Octagon showings. Alex submitted 3 of his 4 opponents prior to his last fight and is a constant threat to his opponent’s neck. On the feet, Perez brings a lot of pressure and the threat of the takedown opens up gaps for him to land power punches and leg kicks as his foe focuses on staying vertical.

Perez did get cracked a couple of times in his debut and got out landed by Shelton 41-29.

Titan FC’s Dual Divisional champion, Torres has finished 6 opponents- 4 by knockout compared to just 2 decisions. Despite his finish-heavy win ratio, he has fought into 2nd round or beyond 5-times including 2 bouts that went into the championship rounds. Torres is a dangerous striker with solid power good technique to deliver it with.

Torres was dropped early by Brooks and gave up a few early takedowns.

“Shorty” was behind on the scorecards prior to Brooks’ attempted slam him and subsequent knockout. Against an undersized opponent, Torres’ offence seemed compromised by the threat of being taken down. Perez should look to shoot early to establish a similar scenario. Perez has to be mindful of the Torres counter striking, but once he closes the gap he will be in control- my prediction is Alex Torres to defeat Jose Torres by decison.

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115lbs- Danielle Taylor (9-3-0) vs Weili Zhang (16-1-0)

In the Women’s Strawweight division, Danielle “Dynamite” Taylor looks to rebound from her second UFC loss when she takes on the debuting Weili Zhang. Taylor dropped a decision to JJ Aldrich to see her UFC record drop to 2-2. Zhang lost the first fight of her pro career but has won 16 consecutive bouts since including a 7-0 run in 2017.

At 5’4″, Zhang will stand 4 inches taller than Taylor.

Zhang turned pro in 2013 and has seen a massive acceleration in activity over the last couple of years. Her last 4 opponents have a combined 29-25 record and 3 of the 4 were coming off of wins prior to facing Weili. In impressive fashion, the Chinese fighter has finished 15 of her 16 wins, 9 by knockout.

She has finished 9 in the opening frame with the rest ending in round 2.

Taylor has yet to display any finishing prowess in the Octagon. “Dynamite” has gone the distance in all 4 of her UFC bouts, including a pair of split decisions. She does have a trio of knockouts and was KOed back in 2015.

The American’s diminutive stature has made it difficult at times to land with regularity. She currently holds a near even striking exchange rate and has earned a couple extremely close victories.

While Taylor will work the perimeter, Zhang throws kicks and then will close the gap with power punches. She will trade in the pocket and while she has been hurt, she has yet to be finished. On the mat, she is aggressive both looking for a stoppage with strikes or attacking with a sub attempt. She is quite adept at finding full mount.

Taylor is frustrating, both in her lack of commitment to her strikes and how she can still be rewarded by the judges. The biggest concern here is Zhang’s lack of experience in longer fights. If she goes for the finish early, she could burn out. Nonetheless, she should have a decided edge in volume on the feet and the takedowns are an option as well. Taylor will need to find a way to back her up, she won’t- my prediction is Weili Zhang to defeat Danielle Taylor by TKO.

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135lbs- Marlon Vera (10-5-1) vs Wuliji Buren (10-5-0)

In the opening fight of the night, Marlon “Chito” Vera takes on China’s Wuliji “The Beastmaster” Buren in the Bantamweight division. After securing a trio of wins, Vera has stumbled in his last 2 fights with defeats to John Lineker and Douglas Silva de Andrade. Buren dropped his UFC debut last November to Rolando Dy via decision- he has won just 3 of his last 7 fights.

Buren is an inch taller, but Vera will have a 1″ reach advantage. “Chito” is the younger man by 3-years, he is replacing Bharat Khandare on 2 weeks notice.

Vera does his best work on the floor, securing 6 wins by submission- 2 in the UFC. A BJJ Black belt, he has never landed more than one takedown in a single fight and picked up both of his submission wins off his back after his foe took him to the floor.

In his debut, Wuliji completed 4 of 11 takedowns but struggled to maintain top control. His technique of preference appears to be the single leg, but he can get a little sloppy with engaging. Dy was able to counter into top position and Vera only needs a small opening to lock up a submission of his back.

On the feet, Buren isn’t an overly active striker and got knocked down early by Dy. Vera has struggled with power strikers but has shown he that he can work a decent volume game highlighted by his kicking attack.

Vera is 2-5 in decisions including 1-4 record in the UFC.

This is a tough stylistic matchup for Buren. He lacks the volume to deal with Vera on the feet and his takedowns leave him open to Vera’s crafty guard game. Buren will be playing with fire, but his best bet is to ground Vera and attempt to grind him out for the duration of the bout. Vera will find success on the feet and force Wuliji into desperation TDAs- my prediction is Marlon Vera to defeat Wuliji Buren by submission.

170lbs- Jordan Mein (30-12-0) vs Alex Morono (14-4-0 1NC)

In the headlining clash of the undercard, Alberta-born Jordan “Young Gun” Mein takes on Alex “The Great White” Morono in the Welterweight division. Mein ended a 3-fight losing streak with a decision win over Erik Silva- he is 4-4 in the UFC. Morono scored an opening round submission of Josh Burkman to halt a 2-fight winless skid- he is a respectable 3-1-0 1NC inside the Octagon.

The Canadian is an inch taller and will have a 1-inch reach advantage. Morono is the younger man by a year.

Morono utilizes an unorthodox striking style and usually lands in the range of 40 to 50 significant strikes with the exception of 111 strikes effort against James Moontasri. He utilizes a lot of pressure, moving forward and forcing his opponent to fight off his back. Alex does utilize a very upward stance that, leaves his chin exposed. He has only lost once by knockout, not including his KO loss to Niko Price that was overturned to a No Contest.

Despite his striking-heavy attack, Morono has just 4 wins by knockout compared to 6 submission victories. He has yet to complete a takedown in the UFC.

Mein came into his last fight with a focus on being more aggressive. He has finished 16 opponents by knockout, but has struggled to remain consistent with his output. Against Silva, he was finding more success putting his combinations together and landed the most strikes of his UFC tenure. “Young Gun” does his best work when he is blending together his offence; throwing punches to the body and elbows in the clinch along with more conventional offence. Adding to his vertical offence he landed a trio of takedowns.

Mein hasn’t fought at home in Alberta since 2011. He is 13-3 when fighting in his home province.

Morono gets a lot of credit for his volume, but upon closer inspection, his output stats are bloated by the Moontasri win. Mein is the more technical striker and hits harder, but he needs to avoid letting the American dictate the pace. If Jordan can pick up a few key takedowns, it should further help distance him on the scorecards. Returning home should have Mein fired up, my prediction is Jordan Mein to defeat Alex Morono by decision.

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145lbs- Hakeem Dawodu (7-0-1) vs Austin Arnett (15-5-0)

In the Featherweight division, Alberta’s own “Mean” Hakeem Dawodu takes on Austin “The Golden Boy” Arnett. Dawodu is coming off a forgettable and abrupt promotional debut, losing to Danny Henry via submission in just 39 seconds. Arnett has dropped back to back fights, losing to Brandon Davis on the “Contender’s Series” before debuting in the UFC with a TKO defeat to Cory Sandhagen.

Arnett is 4 inches taller than Dawodu, but the Canadian will have an inch reach advantage.

Hakeem’s debut was a pretty tough way to start his UFC run. He is primarily known as a striker, finishing 6 of his 7 wins by knockout, but he got to showcase almost none of his skill. He had success defending the early grappling advances of Steven Siler in his final WSOF bout, before going on to win his first an only decision win.

“Mean” Hakeem offers good head movement and can do damage in the clinch if forced to close the distance.

Not to be outdone, Arnett has split his 12 finishes evenly between knockouts and submission compared to just a trio of wins on the scorecard. Conversely, he appeared to slow down in his loss to Davis which could be attributed to his lack of recent long fight experience. Arnett is willing to trade on the feet, but he has simply been outwork in his 2 recent defeats.

Prior to making the move to the UFC scene, Arnett’s last 3 opponents had a combined record of 16-25.

Arnett should consider attempting to get this fight to the mat, but that could be easier said than done. His willingness to sit and trade has got him in trouble over his last 2 fights. Dawodu offers the superior striking arsenal and appears to be the faster fighter. Additionally, the Canadian’s record suggests he is more suited to find deeper in a bout. Either way, Dawodu lights him up on the feet- my prediction is Hakem Dawodu to defeat Austin Arnett by decision.

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155lbs- Kajan Johnson (22-12-1) vs Islam Makhachev (15-1-0)

In the Lightweight division, “Ragin'” Kajan Johnson attempts to extend his winning streak to 5-straight when he meets Russia’s Islam Makhachev. Makhachev has won a trio of bouts since suffering the first loss of his career, he owns wins over Nik Lentz, Chris Wade, and Gleison Tibau. Johnson dropped his promotional debut, but has since earned a 4-pack of wins including a KO of Adriano Martins and a decision win over Stevie Ray.

Johnson is an inch taller, but he will have a lengthy 5-inch reach advantage. Islam is the younger fighter by 7-years.

With a background in Combat Sambo, Makhachev has put together some dominant ground-based performances. Prior to his last win, he had scored a combined 12 takedowns over his 3 victories. Further adding to the effectiveness of his takedown game, he has almost completely shut down his opponents’ ability to do damage.

Including his KO loss to Martins, Islam has been hit just 30-times over 5 total fights.

Kajan Johnson seems to have put his struggles with the company aside and resumed fighting. A crafty veteran Johnson offers a well-rounded attack, capable of winning fights both on the feet and on the floor. The biggest concern or the Canadian has been his chin, suffering 5 knockout losses over his career. During his recent resurgence, he appears to be toning down his aggression and putting more emphasis on defence.

While Johnson was born in British Columbia, he has spent a large portion of his career fighting in Alberta, compiling an impressive 10-4 record.

The deciding factor in this fight will be Johnson’s ability to stay vertical. If he can draw Islam into a striking based contest, he has the skills to edge out a win. Makachev’s striking is improving, but he will still turn back to his takedown-heavy assault and that should be the case here. Johnson is going to struggle to back Islam up as he presses forward looking to control him along the wall and on the mat- my prediction is Islam Makachev to defeat Kajan Johnson by decision.

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205lbs- #14 Gadzhimurad Antigulov (20-4-0) vs Ion Cutelaba (13-3-0 1NC)

In the Light Heavyweight division, Russia’s Gadzhimurad Antigulov meets Moldova’s Ion “The Hulk” Cutelaba. Antigulov picked up back to back submission wins over Joachim Christensen and Marcos Rogerio de Lima- he has won 14 consecutive fights after ending a 3 fight losing skid. Cutelaba is coming off a 22-second KO of Henrique de Silva- he is 2-2 inside the Octagon.

This fight was originally scheduled to go down last November, but was scrapped. Ion is 2 inches taller and will have a sizeable 5″ reach advantage. He is also the younger man by 5-years.

Antigulov has been a wrecking machine, finishing all but 1 of his 20 wins inside the distance- 15 by submission. He has finished 17 opponents in round 1, including both of his UFC victories. Gadzhimurad is a Master of Sport in Freestyle Wrestling. In his debut, Antigulov went for the early takedown and scrambled his way into the guillotine.

Driving on a single leg, once on the mat Antigulov is an aggressive guard passer. He will give up position for submission, but most often gets the finishes he is looking for.

Cutelaba has defended 4 of the 5 takedowns his opponents have attempted. He comes from a Grecco Roman wrestling background and showcased his offensive abilities with 6 completions against Jared Cannonier. Despite his wrestling, Cutelaba has focused mainly on trading bombs on and counting on his chin to hold up.

He has finished 10 opponents by knockout- just 1 in the UFC.

Both men are going to come out looking for the finish, but the numbers indicate that Antigulov needs to get the job done early or risk fading. Cutelaba will utilize his wrestling to defend the early takedown attempts and force Antigulov into some tough spots as he looks to grab onto submission. Once Gadzhimurad starts to fade, Cutelaba will land more impactful strikes and eventually overwhelm- my prediction is Ion Cutelaba to defeat Gadzhimurad Antigulov by TKO/

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155lbs- John Makdessi (15-6-0) vs Ross Pearson (22-14-0 1NC)

The final fight on the prelims features a pair of strikes as Canadian John “The Bull” Makdessi takes on the United Kingdom’s Ross “The Real Deal” Pearson in the Lightweight division. Pearson got a much-needed victory at UFC 221, defeating Mizuto Hirota by decision- he had lost 4 in a row. Makdessi has won 2 of his last 3 fights, besting Abel Trujillo and Mehdi Bagdad while getting knocked out by Lando Vannata in between.

Both men are 5’8″, Pearson will have a 1″ reach advantage. Makdessi is the younger man by a year.

Both men have had a difficult time on the scorecards. Makdessi has won back to back decisions, but lost a few close ones earlier in his UFC career. Pearson currently sits at 8-8 overall and had lost 3 in a row prior to his Hirota win. During his UFC tenure, Pearson is 2-3 in fights ending with a split decision.

This fight should be primarily contested on the feet with both men drawing on their striking backgrounds. Pearson is more of a kickboxing-based fighter while Makdessi relies more on his Taekwondo and Karate background.

Pearson showed sound offensive and defensive tools against Hirota, slipping punches and landing counters. He did get cracked with a hard 1-2 that appear to hurt him. Pearson has been knocked out 4 times.

Makdessi has 9 wins by knockout, with his last coming in 2015 at UFC 186. “The Bull” offers a nice variety of kicking techniques and a stiff jab. Despite his lack of reach and lower stature, his use of angles and footwork allows him to land an then slip out of range. That will be key against Pearson who prefers to sit in the pocket and attack.

Makdessi has landed more strikes than his foe in 10 consecutive fights, but he has only won 6 of them.

Pearson might be best suited to incorporate some takedowns into his attack to both score points and keep Makdessi guessing. The Canadian is the more technically sound striker and he appears to be the more durable fighter as well. Makdessi use of kicks and a strong jab are going to keep Pearson on the outside, limiting his ability to land with consistency. If Pearson pushes forward, Makdessi has the power to put him down- my prediction is John Makdessi to defeat Ross Pearson by TKO.

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125lbs- #3 Alexis Davis (19-7-0) vs #7 Katlyn Chookagian (10-1-0)

Former Bantamweight title challenger, Alexis “Ally-Gator” Davis takes on “Blondefighter” Katlyn Chookagian in the Women’s Flyweight division. Davis made her divisional debut with a split decision rematch victory over Liz Carmouche- she has won 2 in a row. Chookagian is also riding a 2 fight winning streak that includes a split decision over Irene Aldana- she dropped a split decision at UFC 205 to Liz Carmouche.

Both girls formerly competed at Bantamweight, Chookagian is 3 inches taller than Davis- but they share the same 68″ reach. Chook is the younger fighter by 4-years.

Chookagian’s victories have been built around maintaining separation and outworking her foe. She averages 4 significant strikes per minute and landed her UFC best 105 total strikes in her final Bantamweight bout. That being said, she has had issues landing with consistency, throwing strikes but not connecting.

Her TDD has been targeted by her opponents, including Carmouche who landed 4-takedowns on route to a narrow decision victory of Chook.

Davis could look to implement a similar strategy. A BJJ Black belt, with 8 pro submissions- the Strikeforce alumni has shown she can operate on the floor. She is not an overwhelming wrestler, but she knows how to pick up a key takedown when needed. She can also do work in the clinch which is an area that Katlyn has struggled with.

On the feet, Davis will commit to her punches and throws hard leg kicks that will help her with the distance that Chookagian likes to use.

Chookagian has a solid kicking game, but Davis is very good at catching kicks and converting them into takedowns. Once on top, the Canadian should be able to grind up some significant cage time. Look for Alex to also find success pushing Chookagian in the cage and holding here there- my prediction is Alexis Davis to defeat Katlyn Chookagian by decision.

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125lbs- #9 Dustin Ortiz (18-7-0) vs #12 Matheus Nicolau (13-2-1)

Still, in search of his shot at the Flyweight title, Dustin Ortiz takes on Brazil’s Matheus Nicolau. Nicolau has won 6 consecutive bouts, including a pair of noteworthy wins over John Moraga and Louis Smolka. Ortiz has won back to back fights over Alexandre Pantoja and Hector Sandoval and is 3-1 over his last 4 fights.

Nicolau is an inch taller and will have an inch reach advantage. He is the younger man by 5-years.

Ortiz’s success in the UFC has been almost entirely takedown based. He has completed 15 takedowns over his last 4 wins and has completed at least 1 takedown in all but 2 of his UFC contests. Once on the floor, he has decent top control and Dustin is very good in a scramble.

Nicolau boasts a 100% TDD, but he has only faced a trio of attempts over 3 bouts. He is a BJJ Black belt with 4 wins by submission, including a Japanese necktie in his debut.

Against Smolka, his striking looked sharp and he was able to drop Louis on multiple occasions. He will need to find a similar level of success against Ortiz.

Dustin’s defeats have been against elite level grapplers that he couldn’t get the better of on the mat. He carries a steady pace and can be overwhelming when he closes the distances. If Nicolau can maintain the gap, he can outwork Ortiz on the feet- but few have been able to keep Dustin at bay- my prediction is Dustin Ortiz to defeat Matheus Nicolau by decision.

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115lbs- #12 Randa Markos (8-6-0) vs #13 Nina Ansaroff (8-5-0)

In the Strawweight division, Canada’s “Quiet Storm” Randa Markos takes on Nina “The Strina” Ansaroff. Markos has alternated wins and losses over her last 11 fights, including a 4-4 run inside the Octagon- she is coming off a decision win over Juliana Lima. Ansaroff started her UFC career with back to back defeats, but she has since rallied to win consecutive fights over Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger and Angela Hill.

Ansaroff is an inch taller and will have an inch reach advantage. Markos is the older fighter by just a few months.

“The Strina” is coming off of an impressive 143-strike effort in her win over Hill and will look for a repeat performance against Markos. Ansaroff offers a fairly diversified striking attack highlighted by a strong kicking arsenal and solid footwork.

Markos will want this fight contested either along the cage or on the mat. Randa has a good submission game and has landed at least 1 takedown in all but 1 of her UFC bouts. If she can’t drag her foe to the floor, the Canadian will focus on controlling her foe on the cage and land short strikes.

When Randa does trade, she relies primarily on a heavy right hand. While she can do damage, her striking has a tendency to be a little one dimensional.

The key here will be Ansaroff’s distance manage and movement. If she can stay vertical, she has the diversity and volume to get the better of Markos from start to finish. Markos has had success landing takedowns in previous fights, but still lost because she was unable to match her opponent’s striking offence, that will be the case here- my prediction is Nina Ansaroff to defeat Randa Markos by decision (possibly split).

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155lbs- Devin Powell (8-3-0) vs Alvaro Herrera (9-5-0)

The opening fight of the night takes place in the Lightweight division between Devin Powell and TUF: Latin America 2 product Alvaro Herrera. Herrera won his debut by 30-second knockout but has since dropped back to back fights- both by submission. Powell is 0-2 inside the Octagon, losing to Drakkar Klose in his debut and then falling to Darrell Horcher by split decision in his next fight.

Herrera made his Lightweight debut in his last bout- he will have a slight 1″ reach advantage over Powell. They are both 6’0″ tall. Powell is the older man by 2-years.

Both fighters have struggled to remain active since coming to the UFC. Powell fought twice in 2017, but has since sat on the sidelines for roughly 13-months. Herrera has fought once a year and returns to action for the first time in 11-months. Prior to his debut, he had a 3-year layoff.

Herrera has been submitted 3-times and finished in all 5 of his defeats. On the positive side, he has finished each of his opponents before the final bell. He is an all or nothing fighter with questionable cardio.

The American does a decent job of stringing his punches together and out-landed his last foe despite the split decision loss. His low and body kicks appear to be his best weapons. Powell has never been finished and he utilizes a style that is more suited to go deep when compared to Herrera.

Powell did get hurt in the middle frame by Horcher, but Powell rallied in the final frame and came close on a couple of submission attempts.

Herrera throws heat in his right hand, but his poor TDD and below average cardio are very concerning. Powell doesn’t do anything flashy here, but he has more avenues to victory. Powell could simply outwork his foe on route to a decision, finish him with an early submission, or get a late stoppage when Alvaro starts to slow. Herrera needs an early stoppage to leave with a win. Powell will get this fight to the floor and exploit Herrara’s poor mat game- my prediction is Devin Powell to defeat Alvaro Herrera by submission.

 

155lbs- Nick Hein (14-3-0 1NC) vs Damir Hadzovic (11-4-0)

In the top bout on the undercard, Germany’s Nick “Sergeant” Hein takes on “The Bosnian Bomber” Damir Hadzovic in the Lightweight division. Hein suffered a first-round submission loss to Davi Ramos at UFC 224, he had won 3 consecutive decisions prior to the defeat. Hadzovic came to the UFC having won 6 consecutive bouts, he has gone 1-2 in the promotion with his only win coming by 3rd round KO against Marcin Held.

Hadzovic is the taller man by 3 inches and will have a 4″ reach advantage. He is also the younger man by 2-years.

“The Bosnian Bomber” showcased his stopping power in the final round against Held and he has knocked out 6 men overall. Statistically, he has been shut down inside the Octagon- landing just 45 significant strikes over 7 rounds of action. The primary cause of his struggles have been his TDD- he has relinquished a combined 13 completions over his last 2 fights. Damir tends to wade forward with little focus on defence which has played a significant role in his inability to stay vertical.

Damir is 2-3 in decisions, but he does have a pair of 3rd round stoppage victories.

Hein, a Judo Black Belt, has elected to spend the majority of his UFC tenure on his feet. He averages just .95 takedowns per fight at a 30% completion rate while never having landed more than 2 in a contest. Despite his recent submission loss, Hein remains a durable and tough to finish fighter. He moves in and out of the pocket and fires hard hooks. Unfortunately, the perceived power he throws with has resulted in just a single career win by knockout.

Hein returned to action against Ramos off of a near 2-year layoff- the longest layoff of his career.

Hadzovic throws hard and is the more complete striker, but Hein has the more complete all-around MMA game. If Hadzovic starts finding success with his striking, look for the German to change levels and plant him on the mat. Hein’s durability will allow him to hold his own on the feet between timely takedowns- my prediction is Nick Hein to defeat Damir Hadzovic by decision.

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170lbs- Emil Meek (9-2-1 1NC) vs Bartosz Fabinski (13-2-0)

The penultimate prelim skirmish will pit Norway’s Emil “Valhalla” Meek against Poland’s Bartosz Fabinski. Meek failed to build on his win over Jordan Mein in his debut, falling via decision to the fast-rising Kamaru Usman. Fabinski is 2-0 inside the Octagon with wins over Garreth McLellan and Hector Urbina.

At 6’0″, Fabinski is an inch taller then Meek and will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. Fabinski has not seen action in 32-months.

Meek gained notoriety with his abrupt knockout stoppage of Rousimar Palhares. He has finished 7 opponents by knockout, including 5 in the opening round. His vertical output carried him to victory against Mein, but he got off to a bit of a slow start before rallying to take control of rounds 2 and 3. The glaring stat surrounds his brief UFC tenure has been his below average TDD.

Meek has given up 11 takedowns over 2 fights, including 8 in his loss to Usman.

Fabinski’s 2 UFC performances provide a clear indication that he is capable of capitalizing on Meek’s defensive weakness. Fabinski completed 10 takedowns in his debut performance and 6 more in his win over Hector Urbina. Against Urbina, he came changed levels almost immediately with and planted him on the mat. He has a good base and is difficult to shake off. If his opponent is able to create some separation, the Pole is good in a scramble.

Bartoz has finished 8 opponents by some form of knockout, but just one since early 2014.

Stylistically, this is a brutal matchup for Meek. He has issues staying off his back and Fabinski has a one track mind. Bartosz needs to remain active to avoid giving up the position once earned and hope his pre-layoff cardio doesn’t falter. If Fabinski starts to fade, “Valhalla” will have an opening to rallying, but my prediciton is Bartosz Fabinski to defeat Emil Meek by decision.

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145lbs- Khalid Taha (12-1-0) vs Nad Narimani (10-2-0)

In the Featherweight division, Nad Narimani makes the walk to the Octagon to take on fellow debuting competitor Khalid Taha. While Narimani’s initial debut opportunity was scrapped, he enters the cage on a 3-fight winning streak. Taha won 11 consecutive bouts to begin his career and after suffering his first pro loss last December he rebounded with a submission win to start 2018.

Narimani is an inch taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. Taha is the younger man by 5-years and has competed at Bantamweight before. Afer Narimani’s debut fell thew, he has now been on the shelf for 15-months.

Both fighters have solid finishing numbers, Narimani has subbed 5 opponents and knocked out 2 more. Germany’s Taha has recorded 7 wins by knockout to go along with a pair of submission victories. Khalid has stopped 6 foes in the first frame while Narimani has finished just 4 and is coming off a 5-round decision win.

Building on a Muay Thai base, Taha has good power in his hands and keeps an active pace. He is coming off of a submission win, but it is first since late 2014. Khalid is more likely to posture up and land big power from top position. If his opponent attempts to take him down, the German will utilize a front headlock and then transition to knees strikes.

Including a pair of bouts under the RIZIN banner, Taha’s last 3 opponents have a combined record of 38-23. Narimani has spent time in the major UK promotions, with a trio of wins over fighters with a total record of 38-16.

Narimani relies on his takedowns to help him pile up points and set up a potential submission finish. He has had issues getting off to a slow start, before rallying back to score the victory. He has finished a trio of fighters after round 1. Indicative of his slow starts, he is 3-2 on the scorecards with a couple of razor close decisions going either way.

Narimani can stand and trade, but he also has the superior ground game which should be a major factor here. While Taha is dangerous, he is wild and susceptible to being taken down. Nad should find success putting Taha on the mat and grinding out rounds. Look for Taha slow down in the second half and become more susceptible to being taken down and less dangerous on the feet- my prediction is Nad Narimani to defeat Khalid Taha by submission.

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205lbs- Justin Ledet (9-0-0 1NC) vs Aleksandar Rakic (8-1-0)

In the Light Heavyweight division, Aleksandar Rakic welcomes former Heavyweight Justin Ledit to the division. Ledet went 3-0 at Heavyweight which included a decision over Chase Sherman and a submission of Mark Godbeer. Rakic extended his winning streak to 9 straight fights with a debut decision win over Francimar Barosso.

Ledet, a former Heavyweight, stands 6’4″ and is matched by Rakic. Ledet does have a slight 2″ reach advantage. Aleksandar is the younger man by 4-years.

Rakic came out throwing combinations and landing with power against Barosso. Representing his reputation as an aggressive fighter, he maintained good pressure and forced his foe to fight with his back off the cage. Augmenting his hands, his low kicks took away the movement of his foe.

Ledet builds his offence around his boxing background, working behind a solid jab. That being said, he has secured 5 of his 9 wins by submission. Ledet offers a multi-faceted attack, capable of winning a decision or finish his foe both on the mat and standing. In his last fight, he struggled at times with the aggression of his foe and despite consistently landing his jab he failed to follow with anything significant.

The big question surrounding this fight is cut by Ledet down to 205 and how it will impact him. His speed and cardio gave him an edge over most Heavyweights, but he may no longer have that advantage at Light Heavyweight and the cut could further hurt his performance if it goes poorly.

Rakic’s low kicks could play a significant role in this fight against Ledet’s use of a boxing stance. Conversely, if Ledet fights smart he should find success with his grappling attack against a fighter that has been put on his back before. Despite his debut, Rakic has limited experience beyond the first round. This fact will show up against as Ledet, who will force him to work from start to finish- my prediction is Justin Ledet to defeat Aleksandar Rakic by decision

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135lbs- Davey Grant (10-3-0) vs Manny Bermudez (12-0-0)

A rescheduled bout from UFC Fight Night 130 back in May sees the UK’s “Dangerous” Davey Grant finally squares off with UFC sophomore Manny Bermudez. Bermudez submitted Albert Morales in the second round of his promotional debut to remain undefeated. Grant’s last fight was a submission loss to Damian Stasiak- he is 1-2 in the UFC.

Bermudez is 2 inches taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. He is the younger man by 9-years. Grant has been on the shelf for 21-months.

This bout was formerly set to take place in England which favoured Grant. While the bout will still transpire in the Europe, it would appear that Davey has lost his home field advantage.

With a combined 16 wins by submission, there is a legit chance that this fight is contested and decided on the mat. Bermudez’s submission of choice is the triangle choke, but he has won by several different techniques over his career. He will pull guard and has is very slick when it comes to catching a sub in almost any position.

While Grant is capable of competing on the floor, he might be best served by keeping this fight standing. Bermudez’s striking is still a work in progress and he was struggling against Morales when forced to exchange.

Grant has been taken down in each of his 3 UFC bouts and simply seems too willing to compete on the mat to avoid doing so here. A slow start due to ring rust could get Grant in some trouble against a fighter known for early finishes. As the younger fighter, Bermudez will continue to show improvements in his overall game- my prediction is Manny Bermudez to defeat Davey Grant by submission.Paragraph breaker

205lbs- Jeremy Kimball (15-7-0) vs Darko Stosic (12-1-0)

In the Light Heavyweight division Jeremy “Grizzly” Kimball takes on the debuting Serbian Darko Stosic. Kimball is 1-2 in the UFC, winning his sophomore appearance over Josh Stansbury before suffering a first-round submission loss to Dominick Reyes. Stosic has won 8 consecutive fights dating back to his only pro loss back in 2014.

Both men are 6’0″ taller, but Stosic is the younger man by a year.

The stats suggest that this contest is not going to require the judges. Kimball’s only UFC win was the 11th knockout victory of his career. He has recorded a total of 7 opening round wins to go along with 5 first round defeats. By comparison, Stosic has 7 wins by some form of knockout- ending 7 fight in the first frame.

Stosic is a kickboxer who has spent some time working with Mirko Cro Cop. He throws heavy low kicks and powerful single strikes. He has shown some willingness to take the fight to the floor when needed. Kimball’s submission defence has been a point of vulnerability throughout his career. Stosic has just a single win by tap out.

Kimball is more capable then his physique would suggest. He will throw a variety of kicks and has some pop in his hands. He is quite durable but leaves a lot of defensive gaps when under fire.

Stosic is a big man and if the cut goes poorly, Kimball could overwhelm him and score the finish in the second half of the fight. If not, “Grizzly” is going to get chewed up by the superior striker. Look for the leg kicks of Stosic to play a big role in slowing Kimball down- my prediction is Darko Stosic to defeat Jermey Kimball by TKO.

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135lbs- Damian Stasiak (10-5-0) vs Pingyuan Liu (10-5-0)

The opening fight of the night, Poland’s Damian Stasiak looks to level his UFC record when he takes on the debuting Pingyuan Liu in the Bantamweight division. Stasiak has lost back to back fight since stringing together a pair of UFC wins- he is coming off a TKO loss to Brian Kelleher. After a rough 0-4 start to his pro career, Liu has won 11 of his last 12 fights- including a perfect 4-0 run in 2016 and a pair of victories in 2017.

Pingyuan is the taller man by 3 inches, but they share the same 70″ reach. The Chinese fighter is the younger man by 3-years.

With a just a pair of decision wins, Liu has finished each of his last 7 opponents- 4 by knockout and all but 1 in the opening round. Pingyuan hasn’t faced overwhelming opposition, with a combined record of 20-18. Stasiak is coming off the first stoppage loss of his career. He is 2-4 in fights that go the distance.

Stasiak has a solid submission game, but he has had issues with his TDD. He has been put on his back at least once in all but 1 of his UFC bouts. Offensively, he has taken each of his opponents down totalling 10 over his 5 fights. He has 5 submission wins coming by RNC.

Liu has some decent tools to build his game around, but he is still a developing fighter. Stasiak should find success capitalizing on his aggression, scoring takedowns, and going to work with his submission game. Pingyuan’s lack of long fight experience coupled with the debut factor should give Damian an advantage as the fight advances- my prediction is  Damian Stasiak to defeat Pingyuan Liu by submission.

135lbs- #15 Eddie Wineland (23-12-1) vs #13 Alejandro Perez (22-6-1)

In the headlining fight of the undercard, former WEC champion and UFC title challenger Eddie Wineland returns to action to take on Mexico’s Alejandro “Turbo” Perez in the Bantamweight division. Wineland’s loss to John Dodson snapped a 2-fight winning streak that consisted of a pair of knockouts over Frankie Saenz and Takeya Mizugaki. Perez has won 3 in a row and is undefeated over his last 6, most recently stopping Matthew Lopez via TKO.

Wineland is returning after a nearly 17-month layoff. He is an inch taller than Perez and he will have a 2-inch reach advantage. Perez is the younger fighter by 5-years.

The former WEC champion is a striker by trade with an unorthodox style, but the power to make it work. Wineland incorporates a lot of movement into his attack, slipping in and out of range while looking to avoid his opponent’s offence while landing his own. Wineland has 14 wins by knockout, but he is just 4-5 in fights ending on the scorecards. He is 1-4 over his last 5 fights to go the distance with his only win coming by split decision. Defensively, Wineland hangs his hands low and holds is head high, making him an easy target to land on. He carries a -0.19 striking exchange rate despite relying heavily on his striking attack. Wineland’s opponents have landed more strikes then he has in each of his last 5 outings.

Wineland’s TDD has been solid, defending 85% of his opponent’s attempts while forcing them to face him in his greatest area of strength.

Over his UFC career, Perez has fallen into the bad habit of allowing his opponents to dictate the pace early in fights. He has also been the benefactor of some questionable decisions. Perez likes to sit back and counter strike when his opponent comes forward, this often puts him in a hole if he is unable to land with regulatory. He does his best work when he attacks with hard low kicks, but he needs to do a better job of engaging with his hands. Perez isn’t a major takedown threat and he has been submitted 3-times over his pro  career.

Perez won the Bantamweight tournament on the original TUF: Latin American, earning a pair of decisions in the quarters and tournament final, with a knockout in the semi-finals.

Wineland is unorthodox and at times can underachieve. Perez has a history of winning fights he shouldn’t- both based on per-fight expectations and his performance. Wineland needs to let his hands go, he can’t afford to get stuck on the outside moving and not engaging. The counters are there for Perez to land, but Wineland’s movement is going to make it difficult for him to land with regularity. Wineland has the power to knock him out, but he can also win over a full 15 minutes by landing the more frequent and impactful strikes- my prediction is Eddie Wineland to defeat Alejandro Perez by decision.

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145lbs- #10 Darren Elkins (24-5-0) vs Alexander Volkanovski (17-1-0)

In the Featherweight division, the double tough Darren “The Damage” Elkins put his spot in the rankings on the line against highly touted prospect Alexander “The Great” Vokanovski. Elkins has won 6 consecutive fights, including wins over Mirsad Bektic, Dennis Bermudez and most recently submitting Michael Johnson. Volkanovski is a perfect 4-0 in the UFC, thrashing Canadian Jeremy Kennedy for an impressive TKO stoppage at UFC 221.

At 5’10”, Elkins is 4 inches taller than Alexander but they will have the same 71″ reach. The Aussie is the younger man by 4-years.

At the heart of Volkanovski’s offence is a solid wrestling game and thunderous ground and pound. He has landed 14 takedowns over 4 fights while averaging 5.91 SLpM. Against Kennedy, he did an excellent job of maintaining control while doing significant damage from top position. Overall, he has finished 10 opponents by knockout. He can throw hands with power and does a decent job of punching and changing levels for a TD.

This will be the first fight for Volkanovski state-side after spending the almost all of his career fighting at home in Australia.

Built around durability and pressure, Elkins has won multiple fights based on his ability to withstand the early onslaught of his adversary and then take over in the later stages of the bout. “The Damage” is a grinder. He takedown game is augmented by his ability to simply wear out his opponent. He also showed he can finish, submitted Johnson via RNC. Elkins’ striking isn’t flashing and he gets hit a lot, but similar to his wrestling he just keeps attacking until he gets where he needs to be.

Johnson outlanded him 45-18 and Bektic totalled a sizeable 60-28 total before Darren finished both of them.

Elkins was getting smashed by both Johnson and Bektic before they faltered. Bermudez was having success, but his lack of size and volume allowed Darren to just edge him out. Volkanovski hits hard both on the feet and the mat and is the superior athlete. There is still potential for “The Great” to falter on foreign soil, but instead, he will pour on the offence no matter where the fight goes and not allow Elkins to rally- my prediction is Alexander Volkanovski to defeat Darren Elkins by decision.

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125lbs- Justin Scoggins (11-4-0) vs Said Nurmagomedov (11-1-0)

Justin “Tank” Scoggins looks to find his way in the Flyweight division when he takes on the debuting Said Nurmagomedov. Scoggins is coming off a back to back submission defeats to Ulka Sasaki and Pedro Munhoz- he has won just 2 of his last 6 outings. Nurmagomedov has won 5 consecutive bouts dating back to his only defeat as a pro- a decision loss to current UFC contender Magomed Bibulatov.

Nurmagomedov is an in inch taller, but he will have a 4″ reach advantage- he is making his Flyweight debut. Scoggins has been out of action for almost 13 months due to injury. He made the Flyweight limit in his last fight but has had issues in the past with prompted his short-lived move to Bantamweight.

Scoggins is a talented and diverse fighter. He offers a wide variety of striking techniques, highlighted by a number of kicking attacks thrown from the side stance position. “Tank” can also do work on the mat and has put up some pretty impressive takedown numbers prior to his current 2-fight slump. That being said, a lot of his recent struggles are directly connected to his submission defence. Scoggins has been a strong starter, but he has been subbed in each of his last 3 wins.

Scoggins has landed more strikes then 7 of his 8 UFC opponents- but lost 3 of those fights.

The cousin of the current Lightweight Champion, Nurmagomedov has finished just 5 of his 11 wins- 2 by knockout. Unlike Khabib, Said is a strike first fighter. He will stand at range and throw out a variety of different kicks and spinning attacks. Despite his lack of knockouts, he has some pop and maintains a steady pace. He will look for takedowns if the opportunity presents itself and he can scramble out of bad spots if taken down.

Over his last 3 fights, Nurmagomedov has beat a trio of opponents with very respectable records that combine for an overall mark of 62-18.

Scoggins is a gifted fighter with a lot of tools, but his Fight IQ is a major area of vulnerability. Nurmagomedov is the longer fighter which is an advantage that Scoggins normally enjoys and the Russian offers an equally well-rounded attack. The difference here will be the pace of Nurmangodemov. Said will be the more active fighter, putting up more volume will defending Scoggins attempts to get the fight to the floor- my prediction is Said Nurmagomedov to defeat Justin Scoggins by decision.

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145lbs- Kurt Holobaugh (17-4-0) vs Raoni Barcelos (11-1-0)

In the Featherweight division, 1-time Strikeforce and UFC competitor Kurt Holobaugh makes his way back to the big show when he meets the debuting Raoni Barcelos. Holobaugh went 6-1 in Titan FC before getting the call to the Tuesday Night Contender’s Series where his knockout win over Matt Bessette was eventually overturned due to Kurt’s banned IV use. Barcelos compiled a 5-1 record under the RFA Banner and currently is riding a 4-fight winning streak since suffering the first loss of his career.

The American recently captured the Titan FC Lightweight title and is the taller man by 4 inches to go along with a sizeable 6″ reach advantage. Raoni is the younger man by a year, but he has not fought as a pro in 21-months.

Holobaugh offers a well-rounded finishing record with 5 wins by knockout and 8 victories by submission. He is just 4-4 on the scorecards. Before knocking out Bessette, he was unloading with heavy hands and mixing up his attack between the head and body. With good footwork and head movement, he was slipping Bessette’s offence and countering striking before putting him down with a thunderous right hook. In his 2-fight UFC/Strikeforce run he gave up a combined 4 takedowns, but he appears to have improved his defensive work.

Kurt used an illegal IV to help recover from the weight cut in his last fight which is worth watching as he is a big Featherweight and could struggle if his weight cut doesn’t go well.

Despite finishing 6 of his 11 wins by knockout, Barcelos has just a pair of opening round finishes over his last 9-fights. He packs good power in his hands and throws with intensity. He will both press forward and engage and sit back and counter strike as his opponent comes forward. The counter right hand is capable of ending a fight if it lands flush and he landed a short left hook to stop his last opponent. When attacking, he has a tendency to overextend and get a little wild when looking to make contact. Despite securing just a single submission win, he is an accomplished practitioner.

The Brazilian captured the RFA Featherweight title in 2015 and defended it twice in his final 2 regional bouts before getting the call to the UFC.

This fight has the potential to be an absolute slugfest. Both fighters are willing to throw down and have the type of power that can end a fight with one shot. There are a couple of solid intangibles that favour the American. The size and length of Kurt should allow him to both absorb the shots from his foe and land strikes when Barcelos can’t reach him. He has also been the more active fighter  and if Barcelos has issues with ring rust it will cost him agaisnt a fast starter. Holobaugh can’t get sloppy when attacking and needs to be mindful of the counter takedowns, but my prediction is Kurt Holobaught to defeat Raoni Barcelos by TKO.

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125lbs- #7 Liz Carmouche (10-6-0) vs Jennifer Maia (15-4-1)

In the Women’s Flyweight division, former Bantamweight title challenger Liz “Girl-Rilla” takes on the debuting Invicta Flyweight champion Jennifer Maia. Carmouche made her Flyweight debut with a split decision rematch loss to Alexis Davis- she is 3-3 over her last 6. Maia has won 6 consecutive bouts including winning the Invicta strap and defending it twice.

A former Bantamweight, Carmouche is 2 inches taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage over Maia. Jennifer is the younger fighter by 4-years.

A product of the Chute Boxe Academy, Maia has just a trio of wins by knockout- but 2 of those triumphs have come during her current 6 fight winning streak. She throws hard and moves forward where she will look to clinch and land knee strikes. Maia has had issues falling behind in bouts. She got off to a slow start in her title-winning performance and in her most recent fight she was dropped in both the first and second round.

Maia has fought 5-rounds in each of her last 3 fights.

Carmouche dropped a close fight to Davis despite landing 4 takedowns and winning the striking battle 49-23. A BJJ Purple belt, Carmouche has leaned heavily on her takedown game. Over her last 6 fights, she has landed a total of 19 takedowns. While her top position striking volume is far from overwhelming, she has solid control and knows how to grind out a decision.

Liz has finished 6 opponent by some form of knockout, but she is just 5-6 in fights where she is unable to stop her foe with strikes.

Maia is aggressive and has some decent pop in her hands, but her TDD and overall work off her back is a major area of concern. If she can force Carmouche to trade with her on the feet, she can win this fight. Convincing Liz to vacate a strategy that she has used consistently almost her entire career is going to be easier said than done. Maia will have her moments on the feet, but ultimately Carmouche will win the positional battle on the cage and floor- my prediction is Liz Carmouche to defeat Jennifer Maia by decision.

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125lbs- Mark De La Rosa (9-1-0) vs Elias Garcia (4-0-0)

In the second fight of the prelims, Mark “The Bumblebee” De La Rosa makes his sophomore appearance when he takes on the debuting Elias Garcia in the Flyweight division. De La Rosa is coming off the first loss of his career, a submission defeat to Tim Elliott- ending his 2017 run with a 2-1 record. Garcia, had a strong amateur career and has parlayed it into 4-0 mark as a professional.

Garcia’s early 2018 win was the first time he fought professionally since 2014. De La Rosa made his debut against Elliott at Bantamweight and is an inch taller, but Garcia will have the 2″ reach advantage.

“The Bumblebee” has secured 5 wins by submission, 4 by RNC. He went for an early guillotine against Elliott and attempted an armbar later in the sequence, but lost the position and spent the majority of the round on his back. He got out scrambled and choked out in round 2. When at his best, he uses his wrestling to set up his submission game. Despite a few first-round finishes from earlier in his career, he has seen a stark increase in fight time including a 2016 5-round decision win.

De La Rosa landed just 4 total strikes in his 6:41 debut fight.

As a pro, Garcia has finished a pair of opponents by knockout and picked up multiple stoppages on the regional scene. He is coming off his first win over an opponent with an above .500 record. He is a capable grappler but is still working to round out his wrestling skills. His striking can be dangerous but lacks the type of depth to be a constant threat at this level. The layoff is concerning, but training out of Rufusports suggests he is working with some solid training partners.

Garcia’s path to the UFC cam via Dana White’s “Lookin’ for a Fight Series”.

Garcia has shown some promise, but Garcia is the more developed and well-rounded fighter. Despite his struggles with Elliott, De La Rosa is quite capable on the mat and he has the wrestling edge in this fight to either take Garcia down or force him to stand. “The Bumblebee” also appears to be the more refined striker, even if Garcia has the edge in striking power. Garcia is still a developing fighter with limited pro experience so it is hard to get a solid read on him, but my predictionis Mark De La Rosa to defeat Elias Garcia by submission.

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115lbs- Jessica Aguilar (19-6-0) vs Jodie Esquibel (6-3-0)

Originally scheduled to take place in June, but scrapped and rescheduled the first of 2 WMMA bouts on the card will feature former top-ranked Strawweight Jessica “Jag” Aguilar meeting promotional sophomore Jodie Esquibel. Aguilar is still looking for her first win in the UFC, she has lost decisions to Claudia Gadelha and Cortney Casey. Esquibel went 4-2 under the Invicta banner before debuting with a loss to former title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz via decision.

Both girls are 5’3″, but it will be Jodie with the slight 1″ reach advantage. Esquibel is the younger fighter by 4-years. Aguilar has been on the shelf for roughly 14-months and will be fighting for the just the 3rd time since 2015.

Aguilar is coming off of a fight where she completed 4-takedowns but failed to make the position count and was unable to match her foe on the feet. A fighter known for her ground game, “Jag” will most likely look to remove Esquibel’s boxing background from the equation by taking her to the ground.

Esquibel wants to keep this fight standing, but she lacks a strong volume game and the numbers don’t suggest she packs a great deal of power. Her 5-2 record in decisions which includes a trio of wins via split decision is indicative of a fighter that has some difficulties distancing themselves on the scorecards.

This is a must win for Aguilar. She has the wrestling to put Jodie in some difficult spots and grind out a decision. Further, it would appear that Esquibel’s offensive output isn’t where it needs to be to allow her to overcome any significant amount of time spent on her back- my prediction is Jessica Aguilar to defeat Jodie Esquibel by decision.

155lbs- Mike Trizano (6-0-0) vs Joe Giannetti (6-0-0)

In the TUF 27 Lightweight tournament final, Mike “The Lone Wolf” Trizano takes on Joe Giannetti. Trizano’s last pro fight was a second-round submission win under the Bellator banner. Giannetti has fought the entirety of his pro career under the Cage Titans banner, finishing all but 1 of his opponents.

Giannetti is an inch taller and will have a 1″ reach advantage. Trizano has competed at Featherweight in previous fights.

Trizano scored a TKO win in the opening round before earning a wide decision over John Gunther in the semi-finals. Giannetti tapped Gunther in the opening round and repeated the feat against Allan Zuniga to earn his spot in the final.

On the feet, Trizano appears to have the edge in power and has showcased good combination striking. Giannetti has never finished anyone by knockout, but he offers a Diaz-like striking style. He throws lower powered punches, routinely popping his opponent with jabs and firing kicks at range.

Trizano got his opening round finish via top position strikes, hammering away on his foe until the ref stopped the fight. Giannetti, with 5 wins by submission, focusses his attack around a crafty submission game. He locked up a pair of TUF chokes after forcing his opponent to shoot and he has had similar success on the regional scene.

Gianetti’s last 3 regional wins came over opposition with a combined record of 23-80, with a single fighter holding a record of 15-69 (44 submission defeats and 20 by knockout). “The Lone Wolf” hasn’t faced opponents with a lot of experience, but they carry a record of 12-8 across the board.

This is a difficult fight to pick as both men are still very early in their careers and young prospects coming off of the show tend to make sizeable strides since their last appearance. Giannetti’s dangerous submission game will make the mat an unforgiving option for Trizano and Joe has shown he can handle himself on the feet. As the slightly longer fighter, Giannetti will keep Trizano on the outside, pick away with his range weapons, and go to work once the fight hits the floor- my prediction is Joe Giannetti to defeat Mike Trizano by submission.

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145lbs- Jay Cucciniello (9-0-0) vs Brad Katona (7-0-0)

In the TUF Featherweight tournament finals, English-born Jay Cucciniello puts his undefeated record on the line against fellow unblemished competitor and Canadian Brad Katona. Cucciniello went a perfect 2-0 in 2017 including a trip down to South Africa to compete in his last bout before entering the TUF tournament. Katona had a similar mark in 2017, but opted to stay closer to home with his recent regional competition transpiring in Canada.

Katona has formerly competed at Bantamweight and will need to overcome some physical disparities. The Brit will stand an inch taller and have a 4.5″ reach advantage, but it is the Canadian that is the younger man by 5-years.

In the opening round, Katona scored a decision victory while Cucciniello was on the wrong end of the judges’ scorecards and eliminated. Katona advanced to the finals with a submission win over Bryce Mitchell, the man who eliminated Jay in the first round. Cucciniello got a second chance and made the most of it with a 3rd round TKO victory in the other semi.

The Brit comes in having finished 6 of his last 7 opponents in the opening round. He has never gone the distance including 5 wins by submission. Kotana stopped his first 2 pro opponents in the opening round, but he has fought into the 3rd round in each of his last 4 fights- ending just 1 before the final bell.

It is quite fortunate for Cucciniello that he has made the final considering an argument could be made that he lost 4 of the 5 rounds he fought on the show. His defensive striking has been porous and his counter wrestling hasn’t been much better. Katona is the smaller, but faster man and he should be able to land at will. The takedowns will be therec aswell if needed. Unless Cucciniello can bring his size to bear or land something significant, Katona should be the frontrunner in all areas- my prediction is Brad Katona to defeat Jay Cucciniello by decision.

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125lbs- #8 Roxanne Modafferi (21-15-0) vs #7 Barb Honchak (10-4-0)

In what shapes up as a slight delayed TUF 26 tournament Bronze medal match; Roxanne “The Happy Warrior” Modafferi takes on Barb “Little Warrior” Honchak. Honchack was defeated by Nicco Montano via decision in the semi-finals she has won 9 straight fights at as a pro dating back to late 2010, but dropped her revamped UFC debut to Lauren Murphy by narrow decision. Modafferi dropped a decision to Sijara Banks in the other semi-final, she had won 2 in a row and 4 of 5 before the start of the show and was thwarted by the now division champion Nicco Montano is the inaugural title fight.

Roxy is the taller fighter by 2 inches and she will have a 3″ reach advantage.  The former title challenger is 3-years younger than Honchak, who had not competed as a pro since 2014 prior her UFC debut.

These 2 competitors initially met back in 2011, with Honchak earning a 3rd round submission win. The victory continued her winning streak that included capturing and defending the Invicta title twice. Modafferi was mired in the middle of a 6-fight losing skid- but she has since won 6 of 9.

Barb throws a serviceable 1-2, but her attack is built around closing the distance and utilizing either the clinch or her wrestling to grind out her foe. Against Murphy, she didn’t attempt a shot- but did land more overall strikes.

Modafferi will also look to establish her top game and has found some success stopping opponents with her GNP. Conversely, her semi-final defeat came largely on her inability to stay vertical. She landed a pair of TDs versus Montano, but she gave up 3 and got outworked in overall output. Roxy works to remain active on the feet, throwing a variety of techniques that appear to be awkward, but effective.

Both girls are veterans of the sport with a lot of high-level experience to draw upon. This bout should come down to Barb’s wrestling. Look for her to establish the takedowns early and often, grounding Modafferi or at the very least pinning her on the wall- my prediction is Barb Honchak to defeat Roxanne Modafferi by decision.

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185lbs- Gerald Meerschaert (27-9-0) vs Oskar Piechota (11-0-1)

In the Middleweight division, Gerald “GM3″ Meerschaert takes on Polish finisher Oskar Piechota. Meerschaert is 3-1 in the UFC, most recently finishing Eric Spicely by second-round TKO. Piechota is coming of 114-second knockout of Tim Williams to build on a debut decision win over Jonathan Wilson.

The American is an inch taller than Piechota and will have a 1” reach advantage. Piechota is the younger man by 3-years.

Both fighters have impressive finishing numbers. Meerschaert has finished his foe in 25 of his 27 wins, including 19 by submission. Not to be outdone, Piechota has ended his fight early in 10 of 11 contest- split evenly between subs and knockouts.

Meerschaert has also been finished in 8 of his 9 losses, 7 times by submission. His last submission loss came back in 2013.

Both men are dangerous no matter where the fight goes. That being said, Meerschaert appears to be more vulnerable on the floor and he struggled against Santos when he was unable to land takedowns with regularity. Look for Piechota to land the more impactful strikes while defending the TDAs of Meerschaert while scoring a few of his own. Eventually, Piechota will wear “GM3” down, my prediction is Oskar Piechota to defeat Gerald Meerschaert by TKO.

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145lbs- Matt Bessette (22-8-0 1NC) vs Steven Peterson (16-7-0)

A pair of experienced veterans enter the cage in search of their first UFC win when Bellator alumni Matt Bessette meets Steven Peterson in the Featherweight division. Bessette lost a decision to Enrique Barzola in his debut- his KO loss on “The Tuesday Night’s Contender’s Series” was overturned after his opponent was caught using an IV before the fight. Peterson lost a split decision on Dana’s show, briefly returned to the regional scene, and then dropped his UFC debut to Brandon Davis.

Standing the same height and holding the same reach, the only real difference favours Peterson as the younger man by 6-years.

Stylistically, this contest has the potential to be a very entertaining fight. Both fighters like to stay in close range and strike and both men can operate on the mat when called upon. Interestingly enough, both men have poor records in decisions. Bessette is 7-5 and Peterson 4-6.

Peterson carries a steady pace and is aggressive, but Bessette will use good footwork and head movement to avoid and counter his forward pressure. The willingness of Peterson to push forward will result in a considerable amount of damaging piling up over the duration of the bout. If he opts to look for a takedown, Bessette is pretty crafty off of his back and should be able to make the ground an unpleasant place for Steven to seek out.

The former Bellator competitor is simply the more experienced fighter both in quantity and quality. Unless he allows Peterson to come forward without making him pay, Bessette’s technical edge will be the key here- my prediction is Matt Bessette to defeat Steven Peterson by decision.

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155lbs- Luis Pena (4-0-0) vs Richie Smullen (3-0-1)

In a bout between a pair of fighters that were removed from competition by events before their fights, Luis Pena takes on Richie Smullen of Ireland. Pena’s pro record varies depending on the source- he won his TUF round of 8 fight via decision, but he fractured his foot and was unable to continue. Smullen didn’t even make it to his quarter-final bout before withdrawing- the SBG product is coming of a draw in his last pro fight.

At 6’3″, Pena will have a sizeable 6″ reach advantage over his foe.

Smullen has a pair of submission wins as a pro. Both by heel hook. Pena has also showcased his submission skills both as a pro and an amateur.

Despite his success submitting opponents, Pena will have a wide striking advantage. He will need to utilize his jab and a decent kicking arsenal to keep Smullen on the outside. While he doesn’t throw anything with massive power, his pace and bombardment can really wear an opponent down.

Conversely, Smullen needs to close the distance and drag Pena to the floor where he is much more comfortable. He will attack his opponent’s leg, but this will expose him to ground strikes against his lanky opponent.

Pena needs to be mindful of letting his kicks hang too long after they connect. He can’t afford to allow Smullen to latch on and get his grappling involved in this fight. On the feet, Pena will control the exchanges and outwork Richie- my prediction is Luis Pena to defeat Richie Smullen by TKO.

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145lbs- Tyler Diamond (9-0-0) vs Bryce Mitchell (9-0-0)

In the Featherweight TUF tournament consolation bout,  Tyler Diamond takes on Bryce “Thug Nasty” Mitchell. Mitchell’s tournament began with a decision win over the now finalists Jay Cucciniello before losing to Brad Katona is the semis. Diamond opened with a submission win, but fell victim to the aforementioned Jay Cucciniello’s late rally, that cost Tyler a spot in the finals.

Mitchell is the taller fighter by 2-years.

Both men carry finish heavy records. Mitchell has finished 8 of his 9 wins, all by submission. His finish of choice appears to be the rear-naked choke. Diamond has recorded 6 of his 9 wins inside the distance- 5 by knockout.

Diamond has faced some decently experienced opposition over his last 3 pro fights. They currently hold a combined record of 37-39, with his last opponent accounting for 26 defeats. Mithcell’s opponents don’t offer that level of experience, but at 17-9 he has been facing an appropriate level of competition.

Both of these fighters are going to want this bout contested on the floor. Mitchell comes from a BJJ background and his numbers suggest he will be looking for the submission, while Diamond is more apt to look for a TKO stoppage from top position. Diamond appears more equipt to win this fight on the feet and if Mitchell unsuccessfully gives up position in pursuit of a finish, Tyler will punish him- my prediction is Tyler Diamond to defeat Bryce Mitchell by TKO.

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155lbs- John Gunther (4-0-0) vs Allan Zuniga (13-0-0)

Despite being granted a pair of bouts in the tournament, John Gunther was unable to parlay his opportunities into a finals appearance and will now meet fellow semi-finalist Allan Zuniga. Gunther lost by sub in the opening round to finalist Joe Giannetti and was then defeated in the semis by Mike Trizano. Zuniga was awarded an opening round bye before falling to the aforementioned Giannetti, also by first round submission.

Gunther is the taller man by 3 inches and will have a 1.5″ reach advantage.

Zuniga has the edge in overall experience with his last 4 foes holding a combined record of 39-20. This includes a 2016 win over UFC veteran Marcin Bandel. Not to be outdone, Gunther is coming off a pair of wins where he blemished his more experienced adversaries’ undefeated records.

Both men have shown a decent level of diversity in their records and have experience fighting deep into contests.

Gunther has developed a reputation for his aggression and heart. Unfortunately, his tenacity walked him directly into an abrupt fight-ending choke in his first TUF bout. Zuniga lasted longer then Gunther, trading with Giannetti before shooting in and get exposing his neck for the eventual tap.

While Zuniga will be forced to overcome his physical shortcomings, he should have the edge in skill. Gunther’s style of constantly moving forward and eating shots is ill-fated at this level of competition. Look for Zuniga to land hard low kick and body strikes while bloodying John’s face- my prediction is Allan Zuniga to defeat John Gunther by decision.

V]185lbs-[/V] #9 Uriah Hall (14-8-0) vs #10 Paulo Costa (11-0-0)

In the headlining fight of the Undercard, Ultimate Fighter finalist, Uriah “Prime Time” Hall takes on dangerous Brazilian knockout artist Paulo Costa in the Middleweight division. Hall snapped a 3-fight losing streak with a come from behind knockout of Krzystof Jotko- he had suffered defeats to current Bellator champion Gegard Mousasi and UFC champion Robert Whittaker. Costa has smashed his way to a 3-0 start to his UFC run, most recently taking out former Welterweight champion Johnny Hendricks.

Costa is an inch taller than Hall, but it will be Uriah with a massive 7″ reach advantage. Costa is the younger man by 7-years.

Hall is a gifted striker, but for the most part, he has failed to put his skills together into a complete MMA game. He routinely gets stuck looking for the perfect opening to land a highlight reel kick and this opens the door for his opponent to outwork him on route to a decision win. More concerning, his chin appears to be diminishing as he has been knocked out in each of his last 2 defeats. Conversely, Uriah has also shown the ability to turn a one-sided in favour with just a single strike.

Hall has been outlanded in 5 of his last 7 fights, with the 2 remaining fights ending before Uriah could eclipse the 20 strike mark.

Costa is coming off the longest fight of his career; it took him to the 83-second mark of the 2nd round to finish Hendricks. Overall, he has stopped 9 of his 11 fights in the first frame and ended 10 of 11 fights by knockout. Costa showcased a more measured approach against Hendricks. Traditionally, he wades forward with heavy hands looking to quickly subdue his adversary. He will throw a long jab and follow behind with heavy punches or hard low and body kicks. If he hits the mat, he has devastating finishing power.

The knock on Costa remains is his lack of long fight experience and how he will fair if he is force to fight into the second half of the contest.

Hall has the ability to turn a fight with just a single strike. Unfortunately, Costa is the type of fighter that if he dominating, his opponent is in serious trouble. Costa offers the type of aggression and power that has given Hall serious trouble and usually leads to him getting overwhelmed. Unless Hall can land a counter while Paulo pushes forward, Costa’s heavy hands and constant barrage will simply be too much for him- my prediction is Paulo Costa to defeat Uriah Hall by knockout.

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135lbs- #3 Raphael Assuncao (26-5-0) vs #11 Rob Font (15-3-0)

With title contention on the line, Raphael Assuncao continues his pursuit of championship glory when he meets fellow contender Rob Font. Assuncao has won 3 in a row and has lost just a single fight over his last 11 contest- he is currently sitting even with a 1-1 record against the divisional champion. Font is 5-2 inside the Octagon, most recently stopping Thomas Almeida to get back in the win column after a submission loss to Pedro Munhoz.

Font is the taller man by 3 inches and he will have a 5″ reach advantage. He is also the younger man by 5-years.

Assuncao has held his spot near the top of the division, but he has yet to earn a shot at the strap. He is a talented BJJ Black belt with near perfect TDD. On the feet, he offers a strong counterstriking attack highlighted by a capable right hand. He supplements his counter punches with a thumping kicking attack. While he is coming off of a finish, he has gone the distance in 5 straight wins.

Assuncao has failed to eclipse the 50 significant strikes mark in any of his last 4 fights and he has been landed fewer strikes than his opponent in 2 of his last 3 wins.

In stark contrast, Font has been compiling some impressive finishing totals. He has finished all 5 of his wins during his UFC run, including 4 by knockout. He offers a solid combination striking attack, working behind his left jab and mixing it up to the body. If required, Font can do work on the mat- he has won 4 times by submission. His wrestling is serviceable, but he hasn’t put up overwhelming takedown numbers.

Defensively, Font had issues with the pressure of Lineker over a full 3 rounds and despite a strong start he got hurt by Pedro Munhoz before getting tapped out.

Assuncao has been almost letter-perfect since moving down to Bantamweight. He will have to be on top of his game here against a dangerous opponent. The Brazilian will find success with his counter striking and then change levels to score key takedowns and top control- my prediction is Raphael Assuncao to defeat Rob Font by decision.

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155lbs- Lando Vannata (9-2-1) vs Drakkar Klose (8-1-1)

The Lightweight division, “Groovy” Lando Vannata tries to find his winning ways once again when he battles Drakkar Klose. Vannata fought to a split decision draw against Bobby Green to see his UFC record drop to 1-2-1. Klose is coming off the first loss of his pro career, falling via decision to David Teymur- he had won back to back bouts to kick-start his UFC career.

Both men are 5’9″, but Vannata will have a 1″ reach advantage and he is the younger fighter by 4-years.

Klose offers a decent variety of offensive skills. He comes from a Collegiate wrestling background and is a BJJ Blue belt. Landing a combined 7 takedowns over his first 3 UFC fights, he has taken each of his foes down at least twice. On the feet, he has finished 4 opponents by knockout, but none since 2015. He does the majority of his work behind his jab and throws solid kicks to the legs and body. In tight, he will clinch up to attack with short strikes or change levels for a takedown.

Drakkar is far from an overwhelming volume striker, but he appeared frustrated with his inability to find his range against Teymur. He was stopping in the middle of the cage and raising his hands and even forced the referee to call on Teymur to engage more.

Vannata’s early notoriety for his exciting fight with Tony Ferguson has not translated into success in the UFC. His highlight reel knockout of John Makdessi gave way to a 2-fight winless skid. He lacked consistent activity against Teymur and was unable to distance himself in a winnable fight against Green. He offers a flowing style of striking, slipping his foe’s strike while in the pocket before returning fire. He landed a hard right hand early against Green that dropped him and overall he has split his 8 wins evenly between knockouts and submissions.

Vannata’s has solid wrestling both offensively and defensively. He took Green down 4-times and has defended 70% of his opponents’ TDA- getting up quickly when taken down.

Klose is a capable wrestler, but he seems more interested in utilizing his striking as his main form of attack. Vannata’s ability to slip strikes and sit in the pocket to return fire is going create issues for the more linear Klose. Vannata needs to keep busy outwork Klose who usually struggles to land beyond 50 strikes in a fight. If Drakkar can’t augment his stand-up offence with a couple of key takedowns he will have issues winning this fight over 15 minutes- my prediction is Lando Vannata to defeat Drakkar Klosse by decision.

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170lbs- Curtis Millender (15-3-0) vs Max Griffin (14-4-0)

Fresh off his upset of Mike Perry, Max “Pain” Griffin will again square off with a dangerous striker as he meets “Curtious” Curtis Millender in the Welterweight division. Griffin is 2-2 in the UFC, defeating Perry and Erik Montano while suffering setbacks against Colby Covington and Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos. Millender made a thunderous debut, stopping former title challenger and vaunted striker Thiago Alves- he has won 7 in a row.

At 6’2″, Millender will stand 3 inches taller than his foe but they will share the same 76″ reach. Curtis is the younger man by 2-years.

Millender has finished just 6 of his 15 wins by knockout, but 4 of those stoppages have transpired over his last 5 fights. He uses his length very well and effectively kept Alves on his back foot. Offering a variety of weapons, “Curtious” has a dangerous kicking game, highlighted by his left high kick and excellent timing on his knee strikes. His distance management is a strong part of his offence and allowed him to set up his punches which were hurting Alves prior to the finish.

The biggest area of concern has been his wrestling and grappling defence. He has been subbed twice and gave up a late takedown in the opening round against Alves.

Griffin has yet to complete a takedown during his UFC run and he has just a pair of submission wins over his 18-fight career. He comes from a striking background recording 7 wins by knockout and he is coming off his most complete striking performance inside the Octagon. He battered and bloodied Perry on route to a wide decision. One fight prior against Dos Santos, he struggled to find his range with his boxing and was routinely getting counter while trying to close the distance.

Max “Pain” is 5-3 on the scorecards, including a 2-2 record in the fights ending in a split decision.

Griffin likes to start his attacks from the outside, but he relies mainly on his boxing which requires him to close the distance everytime he tries to engage. When he is at distance, he will be exposed to Millender’s kicking techniques and when he does push forward he will get tagged with counter punches and knees. Millender has to maintain separation and now get drawn into a brawl- my prediction is Curtis Millender to defeat Max Griffin by TKO.

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155lbs- Dan Hooker (16-7-0) vs Gilbert Burns (14-2-0)

Headlining the FightPass prelims, Dan “Hangman” Hooker looks to continue his winning streak when he meets another fighter on the rise in Gilbert “Durinho” Burns in the Lightweight division. Hooker started his UFC run 3-3, but has since secured a trio of wins all by stoppage- he most recently KOed Jim Miller. Burns struggled through a 1-2 dip in the middle of his current UFC tenure, but he has since turned it around with back to back knockout wins.

Hooker is 2 inches taller and will have a 4″ reach advantage over Burns. The Auckland-native is the younger fighter by 4-years.

A talented BJJ Black belt, Burns is lethal on the mat. The Brazilian has finished 8 opponents by submission, including 3 of his first 4 UFC wins. Of his 8 wins by tap out, 6 have come by armbar. Not surprisingly, Burns is a perfect 6-0 in the UFC when he wins the takedown battle and 0-2 when he does not. In recent action, he has shown improved striking leading to a pair of knockout wins.

On the feet, Burns doesn’t put up overwhelming offensive stats- over his pair of defeats he has been outwork by a total of 147 to 94.

Hooker’s hop up to 155-pounds has him looking healthier and still big for the division. Dan can use his range weapons, throwing kicks and a long jab to keep his opponent on the outside. If they are able to close the gap, look for the “Hangman” to utilize his clinch game with hard knees and elbows to break them down in close. His offence had an improved flow and intensity to it against Miller- mixing together a punches, kicks, and knees leading to the finish.

Hooker’s TDD has been decent at Lightweight, but during his run at 145-pounds he gave up 11 completions over his last 4 fights in the division.

If Gilbert is unable to find his way to top position on a regular basis, he is going to struggle to match the output of his foe. Hooker’s combination of length, pressure, and variety of techniques will make it difficult for Burns to move forward. Even if Burns starts strong, look for Hooker to continue to defend and engage, wearing him down in the process. Hooker’s stepping knee in an excellent counter against a tired opponent making desperation TDAs- my prediction is Dan Hooker to defeat Gilbert Burns by TKO.

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115lbs- Jamie Moyle (4-2-0) vs Emily Whitmire (2-2-0)

In the fight that will now serve as the opening bout of the night, Jamie Moyle makes her 3rd UFC appearances when she takes Emily “Spitfire” Whitmire in the Women’s Strawweight Division. Moyle is coming off a decision loss to Viviane Pereira after besting Kailin Curran in her promotional debut. Whitmire made her debut at the TUF 26 Finale after an unsuccessful bid to capture the 125-pound title on the reality show- she was submitted by Gillian Robertson.

As mentioned, Whitmire is cutting back down from 125 pounds which is where she fought before TUF. She is the taller fighter 4 inches, but it will be Moyle that has a 2″ reach advantage.

Moyle doesn’t do anything really flashy, but she is durable and works hard. In her debut, she outlanded her foe almost 2-1 in strikes to go along with a trio of takedowns. In fight #2, she matched her foe at 80 significant strikes apiece, but she attempted just a single unsuccessful takedown. Moyle’s success hinges upon her ability to close the gap and either grind her foe into the cage or take them down.

The cardio of Moyle hasn’t always looked stellar and with 5 of her 6 pro fights going the distance, she will need to improve that aspect of her game.

Whitmire’s road to the UFC hasn’t been an easy one. After a rough amateur career, she went 1-1 on the reality show followed by a UFC debut defeat that bumped her record down to a less than impressive 2-2. Her submission defence has been at the forefront her concerns with both pro losses coming by tap out. Her striking is still a work in progress which often leads to her willingly hitting the floor.

Whitmire snatched up a 40-second armbar submission over Christina Marks in her first TUF bout before getting finished via elbows by Roxanne Modafferi in the following round.

The x-factor here is Whitmire cutting down a division. Does returning to her normal weight class make her a better fighter then she has shown to date?  Regardless, Moyle is the superior wrestler and should still find success scoring takedowns and outworking her when they are on the feet- my prediction is Jamie Moyle to defeat Emily Whitmire by decision.

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170lbs- Paul Felder (15-3-0) vs Mike Perry (11-3-0)

Benefiting from the loss of the co-main event, Paul “The Irish Dragon” Felder and “Platinum” Mike Perry see their Welterweight scrap bumped to the main card. After starting his UFC run with a 4-1 record, Mike Perry has dropped back to back bouts to Santiago Ponzinibbio and Max Griffin- both by decision. Felder has won 3 in a row and 5 of his last 6, including back to back TKO wins over Charles Oliveira and Stevie Ray.

Felder is stepping in to replace Yancy Mederios on just a couple weeks notice. Felder is moving up to Welterweight after his bout with James Vick at a future event was scrapped. He will stand an inch taller than Perry while giving up an inch of reach. Perry is the younger man by 7-years.

“Platinum” has climbed the ladder on the basis of his 11 pro knockouts, including 4 in the UFC. He has finished 7 opponents in the opening round. Conversely, he is a dismal 0-3 on the scorecards. Perry possesses face-melting power, looking to sit back and counter as his opponent presses forward. His recent struggles can be attributed to a lack of diversity in his game and his opponent’s ability to stay on the outside, away from a short-range firefight.

Over his 3 UFC defeats, Perry has been outlanded 225 to 133, struggling to keep pace with his opponents in each defeat.

Felder, a much more diversified striker that his foe, has won 10 times by knockout including a trio inside the Octagon. Building on a variety of combat accreditations, “The Irish Dragon” works in a variety of kicks into his offensive onslaught. In recent action, Paul has focussed more on utilizing less flashy, but higher percentage attacks. This change has played a role in his success both winning and finishing fights.

On average, Felder’s defensive front has limited his opponents to almost 2 less significant strikes landed per minute then what Perry has been able to do.

Perry has moved to Jackson-Wink to try and pull out of his current funk, but he might need more time to make the needed changes. With Felder moving up a division, he stands to be the more technically sound and quicker fighter. That combination of skills has given Perry issues. Unless Perry is able to get Paul out of their early, he is going to struggle to land with regularity. Felder avoids getting drawn into a brawl and utilizes his kicks and range weapons effectively- my prediction is Paul Felder to defeat Mike Perry by decision.

265lbs- #2 Alistair Overeem (43-16-0 1NC) vs #4 Curtis Blaydes (9-1-0 1NC)

An unexpected undercard headliner will feature former UFC title challenger Alistair Overeem meeting the surging Curtis “Razor” Blaydes in the Heavyweight division. Blaydes is coming off of the most noteworthy win of his career; a UFC 221 decision over Mark Hunt- he has been defeated just once in 6 UFC outings. Overeem is also coming off of a fight of significance- a brutal knockout loss to Francis Ngannou that halted his 2-fight winning streak.

A pair of gargantuan men, both stand 6’4″ and will come in close to the divisional weight limit. They will also each sport an 80″ reach with Blaydes the younger man by 9-years.

For the most part, Blaydes wants this fight to be contested on the mat and Overeem needs to force a striking dominated contest. That being said, “Razor” has been improving his striking and has the power to crack the crackable chin of the Dutchman while Overeem is capable of pulling off a sub or stopping a fight from top position.

The hulking American comes from a strong collegiate wrestling background and has successfully blended those skills into his MMA game. He has taken down his foe in all of his fight but 1 and he is coming off of his UFC-best 10 completions against Mark Hunt. Once he is able to get his body under his opponent’s hip he is difficult to defend against. From top position, his power and size are crushing.

Overeem has defended 76% of his foes TDAs and has never been taken down more than once in any of his 13 UFC fights.

Building on his strong striking pedigree, Overeem has finished 19 opponents via some form of knockout. He has become a more strategic and defensively sound fighter which, despite the result of his last outing, has helped him to limit the amount of damage he has taken in recent fights.

While he manages distance fairly well, if his opponent can close the gap- Alistair is very dangerous in the clinch. His knees and elbow strikes are violent and fight-stopping, as was the case in his win over Mark Hunt. Blaydes had a lot of issues taking Daniel Omielanczuk off his feet and routinely found himself stuck in the clinch.

At Heavyweight it can only take one clean strike to end a fight, but Blaydes has a clear advantage in durability. He has taken some big shots and not gone down which has to be a concern for Overeem. That being said, Alistair’s strong TDD, dangerous clinch work, and superior striking repertoire offer a lot to overcome for the young fighter. Overeem has been very good at rebounding from previous knockout defeats and he will find success keeping Blaydes on the outside while landing solid counters and clinch strikes- my prediction is Alistair Overeem to defeat Curtis Blaydes by decision.

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115lbs- #3 Claudia Gadelha (15-3-0) vs #6 Carla Esparza (14-4-0)

In the Flyweight division, former title challenger Claudia Gadelha takes on former champion Carla “Cookie Monster” Esparza. Esparaza has rallied from a close split decision loss to Randa Markos by defeating Marnya Moroz and Cynthia Calvillo- both by decision. Gadelha is coming off an upset loss to Jessica Andrade which ended her 2-fight winning streak.

Gadelha is 3 inches taller, but the ladies will share the same 63″ reach. Claudia is the younger fighter by a year.

Esparza has built her success primarily around her wrestling game. Over her UFC run, she has taken down each of her opponents at least once. She averages 4.5 completions per victory but landed just 2 in her last fight with Cynthia Calvillo.

Not to be outdone, Gadelha has put up similar numbers- averaging 5.2 takedowns over her first 5 fights. Those stats include 11 combined completions against former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

Carla went 1 for 17 against the former titleholder.

There is a real possibility that this fight could be spent primarily on the feet. Both girls have improved their striking repertoire. Esparza appears to have the slight edge in technical skill, but the power factor swings in the Brazilian’s favour.

If “Cookie Monster” can push her foe and make this a demanding fight, she could replicate the performance of Jessica Andrade who was able to wear Gadelha down and earn a decision victory.

Look for Andrade to land the more impactful strikes while using her size and strength to counter the wrestling of Esparza, push her backwards in the clinch, and possibly even score a takedown of her own. Esparza struggled with the physicality of Randa Markos and she will have similar issues here- my prediction is Claudia Gadelha to defeat Carla Esparza by decision.

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145lbs-#7 Ricardo Lamas (18-6-0) vs #11 Mirsad Bektic (12-1-0)

In the Featherweight division, former title challenger Ricardo “The Bully” Lamas takes on rising prospect Mirsad Bektic. Lamas is coming off a shocking upset loss to Josh Emmett that snapped his 2-fight winning streak- he had defeated Jason Knight and Charles Oliveira. Bektic defeated Godofredo Pepey in his last fight to help him rebound from the first loss of his career; a 3rd round knockout defeat against Darren Elkins.

Both men are 5’8″, but Lamas will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. Bektic is the younger fighter by 9-years.

Both fighters are looking to rebound from unexpected defeats. Lamas was crushed by Emmett in the early stages of their fight while Bektic appeared well on his way to a wide win before getting stopped in the final minutes of the final round. The major difference is that for Bektic this is the first loss of any kind, but Lamas has now been knocked out in 4 of his 6 career defeats.

“The Bully” brings a nice mix of offensive weapons to the cage. He has good power, a solid kicking attack, respectable wrestling, and an opportunistic submission game. He has split his 10 finishes evenly between knockouts and subs. Conversely, he averages less than 3 significant strikes per minute, completes fewer than 2 takedowns per fight, and his opponents take him down on over 50% of their attempts.

Bektic offers an overwhelming wrestling game, completing 15 takedowns over his 5 fights prior to stopping Pepey. Once in top position, Mirsad carries a considerable pace and can do a lot of damage. He has finished his opponent in each of his last 3 wins.

The key to success for Ricardo will be in stemming the flow of offense that Bektic will be sending his way and pouncing on counter striking and wrestling opportunities. Lamas’ low kicks could serve to slow Bektic down, but they also open up opportunities for Bektic to put his hands on him and set up his wrestling attack.

Overall, the lack of durability for Lamas is a major concern. Even if he can succeed in avoiding getting finished, he is going to struggle to match the output of Bektic in all areas.

While Mirsad might find the finish if he can catch Lamas’s chin either during an exchange or from top position, he is more likely to earn the win over a full 15-minute effort. Bektic will be the busier striker while landing a few takedowns spread throughout the fight- my prediciton is Mirsad Bektic to defeat Ricardo Lamas by decision.

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265lbs- Rashad Coulter (8-3-0) vs Chris De La Rocha (4-2-0)

The first of 3 Heavyweight fights on the card, “The Daywalker” Rashad Coulter takes on Chris De La Rocha. Coulter is 0-2 in the UFC with losses to Chase Sherman and Tai Tuivasa both coming by knockout. De La Rocha shares a similar record inside the Octagon, dropping a pair of TKO defeats to Daniel Omielanczuk and Adam Milstead.

De La Rocha is 4 inches taller and will have 4″ reach advantage over Coulter. Rashad is the younger man by 2-years. De La Rocha has not competed in just over 24-months.

With both men failing to find any level of success in the UFC, the unsuccessful fighter in this bout will most likely lose their spot on the roster.

Neither man has ever seen the scorecards in any of their combined 17 pro fights, so it is difficult to expect that this fight will alter that trend.

Both fighters are willing to slug it out and both have been apart of some entertaining scraps. Coulter showed a lot of heart and toughness in his loss to Sherman. Despite suffering a badly injured leg, Coulter continued to battle and even appeared to rock Sherman on a couple of occasions.

De La Rocha was taken out in swift fashion by Omielanczuk but endured a bloody battle with Milstead before the ref stopped the fight.

Coulter has the edge in MMA experience and comes from a Boxing background which should aid him in this fight. De La Rocha’s best chance to win this fight will be to put Rashad on the floor and hammer away until he gets the finish. So far, he hasn’t been able to bring his ground game to bear in the UFC an that trend will continue here. At Heavyweight, all it takes is one big punch to close the show and my prediction is Rashad Coulter to defeat Chris De La Rocha by TKO.Paragraph breaker

205lbs- Rashad Evans (24-7-1) vs Anthony Smith (28-13-0)

In the headlining bout of the FightPass undercard, former UFC Light Heavyweight champion “Suga” Rashad Evans takes on Anthony “Lionheart” Smith. Evans has lost 4 consecutive fights, dropping back to back split decisions to Daniel Kelly and Sam Alvey- both at Middleweight. Smith earned a trio of victories including stoppages of Andrew Sanchez and Hector Lombard- he is coming off of a loss to Thiago Santos.

Evans was unsuccessful in his brief run at Middleweight and is now returning to 205-pounds. Smith has fought primarily at Middleweight, but he is opting to move up as well. At 6’4″, Smith is 4 inches taller than Evans, but he will have just a 1″ reach advantage. He is 9-years younger than “Suga”. Evans hasn’t fought in 10-months.

Dating all the way back to his loss to “Little Nog”, Evans has struggled with his striking consistency. Over his last 7-fights, he has been outlanded by his opponent in all but 2 fights- his KO loss to Glover Teixeira and his TKO stoppage over Chael Sonnen. Despite Smith’s aggression, he has posted similar stats- losing the striking totals in 5 of 7 UFC fights. He won 3 of this 5 contests.

Smith is aggressive wherever the fight goes and pushes a pretty steady pace. Evans has struggled with opponents’ forward pressure, often spending large portions of his fights with his back on the cage.

A potential counter to Smith’s offensive outburst could be the takedowns of the former Champion. Smith has given up 4-takedowns against Andrew Sanchez and 6 in his loss to Cezar Ferreira. Evans has utilized his takedowns and strong top game to keep his foe neutralized on the mat. Unfortunately, he has landed more than single takedown in a fight just once over his last 8 fights.

Ultimately, Evans is near the end of his career and during his downturn, he has been reluctant to let his hands go. Unless he feels rejuvenated with the move back to Light Heavyweight, he is going to struggle to overcome Smith’s aggressive offensive attack. Smith needs to avoid overcommitting, but he will land more strikes and do it more often- my prediction is Anthony Smith to defeat Rashad Evans by TKO.

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125lbs- #1 Joseph Benavidez (25-4-0) vs #5 Sergio Pettis (16-3-0)

In an undervalued, but significant Flyweight bout, former title challenger Joseph Benavidez takes on rising contender Sergio Pettis. Benavidez has won 6 consecutive bouts, including 4 wins over former title challengers- he is 12-2 in the promotion. Pettis is coming off a decision loss to Henry Cejudo which snapped his 4-fight winning streak- his streak included wins over Brandon Moreno and John Moraga.

Pettis is 2 inches taller than Joe and he will have a 4″ reach advantage. Sergio is the younger man by 9-years. Benavidez hasn’t fought in roughly 18-months.

Benavidez is coming off of a narrow split decision win over Henry Cejudo with his only 2 UFC defeats coming to Demetrious Johnson. That puts him in pretty elite company. Pettis is looking to break through the rankings and position himself to challenge for the title. Before falling to Cejudo, he had defeated a pair of former title challengers and a fellow rising prospect in Brandon Moreno.

In the loss to Cejudo, Pettis gave up 4 takedowns. His TDD has been a point of question throughout his UFC tenure with 18 takedowns given up over his 10 fight run. Benavidez, a BJJ Brown belt, has shown he can utilize a wrestling-centric attack with a combined 6 completions in his wins over John Moraga and Dustin Ortiz.

Joe averages just 1.21 takedowns per fight.

A gifted striker, Pettis offers a sharp jab, good combos, and a solid kicking attack. He is far from an overwhelming striker when it comes to volume which is an area that could cost him in a close fight. Benavidez should have the edge in speed and his forward pressure is going to force Sergio to fight off his back foot throughout the fight.

Both men will have their moments on the feet, but the forward pressure of Joe combined with a couple of opportunistic takedowns will be the key to this fight. Pettis simply lacks the power to back Joe off and his volume isn’t significant enough to make up for whatever takedowns he relinquishes- my prediction is Joseph Benavidez to defeat Sergio Pettis by decision.

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155lbs- Clay Guida (34-14-0) vs Charles Oliveira (22-8-0 1NC)

25-fight UFC veteran Clay “The Carpenter” Guida looks to continue his rejuvenated run when he takes on talented submission artist Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira in the Lightweight division. Guida has won back to back fights over Erik Koch and Joe Lauzon, stopping the latter in just 67-seconds. Oliveira has just a pair of wins over his last 6-fights- he is coming off of a TKO loss to Paul Felder.

Both fighters started at Lightweight, took a turn at 145-pounds, but have since returned to their original division. Oliveira is 3 inches taller and will have a 4″ reach advantage. He is the younger man by 7-years, but he is replacing Bobby Green on less than 2-weeks notice.

Both fighters do their best work on the mat- Guida with his takedowns and grinding top position and Oliveira with his always-dangerous submission game. Both fighters could opt to let the fight hit the mat with Guida operating from top position and Oliveira attack from his guard.

Guida has been submittedy 9-times, including 2 of his last 3 defeats.

If the fight is contested primarily on the feet, Guida’s striking has shown noticeable improvements. In addition to finishing Lauzon, he was finding success landing against Ortega and Koch. Oliveira is a solid striker himself, with a dynamic arsenal of techniques that are the product of his willingness to fight off his back.

The combination of Oliveira’s length and kicking arsenal is going to keep Guida out of striking range and force him to rely on his wrestling if he is able to close the gap. If they do hit the mat, look for Oliveira to attack off his back with submissions and sweeps. Prior to hitting the floor Clay needs to mind his neck when he shoots in. If Clay can grind him down, he could score a decision win- but my prediction is Charles Oliveira to defeat Clay Guida by submission.Paragraph breaker

145lbs- Dan Ige (8-2-0) vs Mike Santiago (21-11-0)

In the opening fight of the night, Featherweights Dan “Dynamite” Ige and Mike Santiago collide. Ige lost his debut to Julio Arce last January- it was the second loss of his career. Santiago is 0-2 in the UFC, falling via submission to Zabit Magomedsharipov and then by decision to Mads Burnell.

Santiago is the taller man by 3 inches, but Ige will have a 2″ reach advantage. Ige is the younger man by 2-years.

Ige a BJJ Black belt, has submitted 4 opponents, but he is coming off a performance where he struggled to make his mat game a factor. He completed just 1 of 13 takedown attempts. Santiago is coming off a decision loss that was a back and forth battle primarily contested on the mat with both man landing a trio of takedowns.

Santiago has submitted 9 opponents, including 4 by his submission of choice- the rear-naked choke. Conversely, his UFC debut defeat was the 8th submission loss of his career. 14 of his 21 wins have come in round 1 compared to a 2-4 record in his last 6 fights to go beyond the first frame.

Ige is 4-1 in his last 4 fights with all going into round 2 or beyond.

Both fighters were successful in their lone appearance on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contenders Series.

Santiago needs to make this fight dirty, but at the same time, he has to avoid making the types of mistakes that will allow Ige to gain a superior position. Ige is a capable ground fighter and should find success dragging Santiago to the floor. “Dynamite” has an excellent back take and he will eventually find his way his way there- my prediction is Dan Ige to defeat Mike Santiago by submission.

125lbs- #2 Sijara Eubanks (3-2-0) vs #3 Lauren Murphy (10-3-0)

Topping off the undercard, a potential shot at the title is on the line as Sijara “Sarge” Eubanks takes on “Lucky” Lauren Murphy in the Flyweight division. Eubanks advanced to the TUF final and inaugural Flyweight title fight, but she had to withdraw due to kidney failure. Murphy upset Barb Honchak after the card was reshuffled due to Eubanks’ absence- she is 2-3 in the UFC.

A former Bantamweight, Murphy is 3 inches taller than Eubanks but they will have the same length reach. Eubanks is the younger fighter by 2-years. She hasn’t fought as a pro (not including TUF) in over 16-months.

Right away there is a significant concern for Eubanks’ issue with making the weight. How will if impact her performance, if she does make it to the cage. At her best, she offers some decent power on the feet, good takedowns, and the ability to end the fight from top position. Murphy has proven quite durable in her UFC tenure, but by itself that isn’t enough to win a fight. She has struggled to match her adversary’s activity on the feet, ending the Honchak fight on the wrong end of the striking stats.

Murphy has the durability to survive Eubanks offense early and put herself in a position to capitalize on a Eubanks slowdown. If Sijara doesn’t slow down, her activity rate both on the feet and the mat will be her key to success- my prediction is Sijara Eubanks to defeat Lauren Murphy by decision.

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155lbs- Nik Lentz (30-8-2 1NC) vs David Teymur (7-1-0)

In the Lightweight division, Nik “The Carny” Lentz takes on Swedish striker David Teymur. Lentz is coming off an upset win over Will Brooks and has won 3 of his last 4 fights. Teymur is a perfect 4-0 in the promotion with his last 2 wins coming over Drakkar Klose and Lando Vannata.

Teymur is an inch taller an will have a 3″ reach advantage. The Swede is 5-years younger than Lentz.

A contrasting stylistic clash, the outcome of this fight will come down to who can force their opponent to fight in their desired realm of dominance. If Lentz is going to be successful he has to score takedowns and he has to do it with consistency. That is going to be easier said than done as Teymur’s TDD has been on point and Nik’s lack of speed makes him a very hittable target.

Teymur’s space management and timing are solid and will aid in punishing Lentz as he moves forward. After defending the American’s initial attempts to get the fight to the floor, Teymur’s vastly superior striking arsenal will take over the fight- my prediction is David Teymur to defeat Nik Lentz by decision.

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170lbs- Belal Muhammad (13-2-0) vs Chance Rencountre (12-2-0)

Originally scheduled to face Niko Price, Belal Muhammad will meet UFC newcomer Chance “Black Eagle” Rencountre is the Welterweight division. Muhammad has won 3 consecutive fights, earning decisions over Randy Brown, Jordan Mein, and most recently Tim Means. Rencountre has fought in a number of recognizable promotions, including a stint in Bellator that saw him win 2 of his 3 fights.

At 6’2″, Rencountre is 3 inches taller than Belal and he will have a 4″ reach advantage. Muhammad is the younger man by 2-years. Rencountre is taking this fight on very short notice.

Muhammad is coming off a trio of wins that exemplifies his style; he throws consistent volume and mixes in opportune takedowns. Recountre has finished 8 of his 12 wins- 5 in the opening round compared to a 4-2 record on the score cards that includes going 1-1 in recent split decisions. These numbers, combined with the potential to be impacted by the short notice suggest that “Black Eagle” needs to finish this fight early.

Muhammad has been hurt on multiple occasions, but Chance doesn’t appear to offer the lethal striking attack required to put Belal down. Muhammad’s combination of heavy offence and timely wrestling should serve to overwhelm and wear down Chance- my prediction is Belal Muhammad to defeat Chance Rencountre by decision.

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155lbs- Desmond Green (20-6-0) vs Gleison Tibau (40-13-0)

In the Lightweight division, 27 UFC fight veteran Gleison Tibau meets Bellator alumni Desmond “The Predator” Green. Green has lost back to back fights to Michel Prazeres and Rustam Khabilov after debuting with a split decision win over Josh Emmett. Tibau has lost a trio of consecutive bouts- he most recently suffered a KO loss to Islam Makhachev.

Both men are 5’10”, but Green will have a 2″ reach advantage. Green is the younger man by 6-years.

Green is coming off back to back narrow losses to a pair of fighters with similar fighting styles to Tibau. Both men that beat him are capable strikers with strong mat games. Green has landed at least a takedown in each of his fights, but he tends to let his striking activity dissipate as the fight goes. Tibau is known for his rock solid defensive wrestling and his ability to win rounds with a heavy top game. This fight could come down to who can gain the edge on the mat. Over his last 6 wins, Tibau has landed 20 takedowns.

Tibau has missed a lot of action and his return bout earlier this year was very abrupt. The key here is going to be takedowns. Green has dropped a pair of decisions despite finding some success with his wrestling. Tibau’s TDD is elite and he will augment his striking with a couple of well-timed takedowns- my prediction is Gleison Tibau to defeat Desmond Green by decision.

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115lbs-Jessica Aguilar (19-6-0) vs Jodie Esquibel (6-3-0)

The first of 2 WMMA bouts on the card, former top-ranked Strawweight Jessica “Jag” Aguilar takes on promotional sophomore Jodie Esquibel. Aguilar is still looking for her first win in the UFC, she has lost decisions to Claudia Gadelha and Cortney Casey. Esquibel went 4-2 under the Invicta banner before debuting with a defeat to former title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz via decision.

Both girls are 5’3″, but it will be Jodie with the slight 1″ reach advantage. Esquibel is the younger fighter by 4-years. Aguilar has been on the shelf for roughly 13-months and will be fighting for the just the 3rd time since 2015.

Aguilar is coming off of a fight where she completed 4-takedowns but failed to make the position count and was unable to match her for on the feet. A fighter known for her ground game, “Jag” will most likely look to remove Esquibel’s boxing background from the equation by taking her to the ground. Esquibel wants to keep this fight standing, but she lacks a strong volume game and the numbers don’t suggest she packs a great deal of power. Her 5-2 record in decisions which includes a trio of wins via split decision is indicative of her struggles to outwork her foe.

This is a must win for Aguilar. She has the wrestling to put Jodie in some difficult spots and grind out a decision. Further, it would appear that Esquibel’s offensive output isn’t where it needs to be to allow her to overcome any significant amount of time spent on her back- my prediction is Jessica Aguilar to defeat Jode Esquibel by decision.

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135lbs- Johnny Eduardo (28-11-0) vs Nathaniel Wood (13-3-0)

In the Bantamweight division, Brazil’s Johnny Eduardo returns to the cage to welcome British knockout artist Nathaniel “The Prospect” Wood. Eduard is coming off a TKO loss to Matthew Lopez- he is 3-3 inside the Octagon.

Eduard is an inch taller then Wood, but the Brit is the younger man by 15-years. Eduardo last fought a year minus 2 days ago.

By the numbers, both men have great finishing stats- Eduardo has finished 22 of his 29 wins and Wood has stopped his foe in 11 of 13 victories. On the flip side, the Brazilian has been finished 9-times and Wood has been stopped in all 3 of his defeats. Wood offers a sharp striking game with dangerous power, brutally KOing his last foe with a nasty left hook. Eduardo will more than obliged him to stand and bang.

This bout could be decided by whose chin holds up better. Eduardo is considerably older and has been relatively inactive, but he is also the more experienced veteran. Wood should have a speed advantage and while his aggression could open him up to getting blasted into oblivion- my prediction is Nathaniel Wood to defeat Johnny Eduardo by TKO.

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125lbs- Jarred Brooks (13-1-0) vs Jose Torres (7-0-0)

To open our Friday night of fights, Jarred Brooks looks to rebound from the first loss of his career when he meets late notice replacement and Titan FC Dual champion Jose “Shorty” Torres in the Flyweight division. Brooks picked up a split decision win over Eric Shelton in his debut but was on the wrong side of another split when he lost to Deiveson Figueiredo. Torres has fought his entire pro career under the Titan FC banner compiling a perfect 7-0 record.

Torres is an inch taller, but he will have a 4″ reach advantage. Brooks is a year older. Torres is stepping in with just under 2 weeks to prep.

Brooks has been an absolute takedown machine, landing 5 in his debut and 7 more in his sophomore appearance. Unfortunately, as indicated by his split-decision loss, he needs to find a way to incorporate more offence into before and after his completions.Torres showcased a solid striking repertoire in his last fight, throwing tight combos with good pop. He has excellent hand speed, he will target the body, and “Shorty” is a capable counter striker.

Brooks is probably going to pick up a few takedowns, but most likely won’t be enough. Jarred is undersized and taking on a vastly superior striker. Look for Brook’s TDAs to become increasingly less effective while he gets busted up on the feet- my prediction is Jose Torres to defeat Jarred Brooks by TKO.

170lbs- Claudio Silva (11-1-0) vs Nordine Taleb (14-4-0)

Formerly the Undercard headliner, but now bumped to the main card- Nordine “The Machine” Taleb battles it out with the returning Claudio “Hannibal” Silva in the Welterweight division. Taleb has won back to back fights, most recently scoring a knockout victory over Danny Roberts. Claudio Silva is 2-0 in the UFC recording narrow wins over Brad Scott and Leon Edwards.

Silva has not fought in roughly 42-months, over 3 years away from the Octagon. Taleb is the taller man by 2 inches, and he will have a 3″ reach advantage. Silva is the younger man by a year.

It is surprising to see that Silva is still on the roster after a pair of close wins and a massive hiatus, but here he is.

Over his 2 UFC wins, the key to his success has been on the mat. Silva has landed a trio of takedowns in each fight and overall he has submitted 6 opponents.

Nordine has leaned on similar numbers in his early UFC wins. The Canadian completed 12-takedowns over his first 3 UFC fights. By comparison, over his last 3 wins, he has got away from his ground game or at least minimized it with just a trio of completions during this span.

In more recent action, Taleb has showcased improved striking both with power and volume.

Silva is one-dimensional and the ring rust isn’t going to help out the 35-year old. If he can put Nordine on the floor, he could grind out a win or score a submission- but that is a big if. Taleb will keep this fight standing and pick Silva apart with a vastly superior striking attack. Silva is tough enough to take a beating and will probably give up a takedown or 2 to at least get a chance to fight on the floor- Nordine Taleb to defeat Claudio Silva by decision.

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185lbs- Daniel Kelly (13-3-0) vs Tom Breese (10-1-0)

In the Middleweight division, Dan Kelly returns to action against Birmingham-born Tom Breese. Breese is coming off the first loss of his career, a split decision versus Sean Strickland- he is 3-1 in the UFC. Kelly has dropped back to back fights to Elias Theodorou and Dan Kelly, ending his improbable 4-fight winning streak.

Breese is returning to action after nearly 2-years on the shelf. He is also moving up to Middleweight from his traditional home at 170-pounds. Tom is 3 inches taller and will have a 3″ reach advantage. He is the younger man by 14-years.

To say the least, Kelly has defied time, expectations, and the oddsmakers during his time in the UFC. While he is anything but smooth, he keeps coming forward. His ability to withstand punishment while landing strikes and wearing on his opponent has been his key to success.

That style might also have hit its ceiling in recent competition.

The significantly younger Breese will look to be the faster man and less drained after opting to move up from Welterweight. He has decent power in his hands and on the regional scene, he showcased a serviceable submission game.

While Breese should have the advantage in the striking, his volume has been an issue at times. He dropped the Strickland fight largely because he was unable to maintain his output over the final 2 rounds. He did land his UFC best 62-significant strikes.

The Brit has defended 72% of his foe’s TDAs, but Keita Nakamura found success taking him down a trio of occasions. While Breese won the fight, it did showcase a potential point of vulnerability.

Kelly’s Judo based grappling has been hit or miss and he struggles at times to get in a position to utilize it.

The key here is whether or not the layoff affects Breese, either resulting in slow start or second half letdown. He is the more powerful striker, the more technically skilled, and he should have a speed advantage. Kelly’s unorthodox style could make the fight closer than expected, but look for Breese to land the more impactful strikes, potentially mounting enough damage for a finish- my prediction is Tom Breese to defeat Dan Kelly by TKO.

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170lbs- Bradley Scott (12-5-0) vs Carlo Pedersoli (10-1-0)

In the Welterweight division, Bradley “Bear” Scott welcomes late notice replacement Carlo Pedersoli to the UFC. Scott has alternated wins and losses over the last 8 fights of his career, most recently falling via TKO to Jack Hermansson. Pedersoli has won 7 consecutive fights, including a split decision over former UFC roster member Nicolas Dalby at Cage Warriors 93.

Scott is cutting back down to Welterweight after spending some time at 185-pounds. He is 2 inches taller than Pedersoli and will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. Pedersoli is the younger man by 4-years.

Carlo is replacing Salim Touahri on just over 1 week’s notice. He fought Dalby just a month ago.

Scott is a grinder. He isn’t a strong wrestler, but he has some decent sub-skills. Bradley lacks big stopping power, but he can do damage with his hands. The Brit is aggressive, but his output will drop off as the fight advances in the later rounds.

He is 1-3 on the scorecards and his only win a split decision.

Pedersoli has finished 5 opponents in the opening stanza, recording 3 wins by knockout and 4 by submission. Carlo is 5-1 beyond the first round- his only defeat was a 2-round split decision loss.

Against Dalby, he showed a willingness to attack wherever the fight went. He threw a variety of kicks, rocking the Dane with a head kick, and then closed the distance looking for takedowns. He has decent pop in his hands.

Despite decent resistance from Dalby, Pedersoli continued to chain TDAs together until he got the fight to the floor.

Scott needs to get after Pedersoli quickly. Not allowing him to feel comfortable is the key here. That being said, Brad’s struggles in rounds 2 and 3 and the manner in which he often gets hit more than he hits is a considerable inhibitor to his ability to win this fight. Pedersoli will mix up his kicks at distance and then look for the odd takedown on the side, while simply being the more active fighter- my prediction is Carlo Pedersoli to defeat Brad Scott by decision.]

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125lbs- Gillian Robertson (4-2-0) vs Molly McCann (7-1-0)

Making her sophomore appearance inside the Octagon, Canadian Gillian “The Savage” Robertson takes on promotional debutant Molly “Meatball” McCann. Robertson defeated Emily Whitmire via round 1 submission to earn his second win since a 2016 loss to Cynthia Calvillo. McCann comes to the UFC on the strength of a 6-fight winning streak, including a trio of wins under the Cage Warriors banner.

Robertson is an inch taller and will have a 1″ reach advantage. She is also the younger fighter by 5-years.

Gillian picked her 3rd pro win via submission to go along with several as an amateur fighter. Her submission of preference is the armbar.

“Meatball” is coming off the fourth TKO victory of career to go along with a 3-1 mark on the scorecards. 3 of her 4 stoppages have come in the opening frame.

As her knockout numbers suggest, McCann throws with some power- specifically in her left hand. She moves well and will attack the body and mix up her offence. She will also sit down and unload with heavy-handed barrages.

In Robertson’s debut, she shot a decent single leg, transitioned with her foe, but eventually was put on her back. From there, she demoed her offensive guard and quickly locked up the fight-ending sub.

Robertson wants to attack McCann on the mat and test her wrestling and submission defence. Conversely, McCann needs to remain vertical to engage her striking repertoire. While Molly’s aggressive nature could result in Robertson countering with a takedown, Robertson’s willingness to give up position for submission is equally as detrimental. Look for Robertson to falter in her attempts to get the fight on the mat while struggling to fend off Molly’s onslaught- my prediction is Molly McCann to defeat Gillian Robertson by TKO.

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185lbs- #15 Elias Theodorou (15-2-0) vs Trevor Smith (15-7-0)

Headlining the 2-fight FightPass portion of the undercard, Canadian Elias “The Spartan” Theodorou takes on “Hot Sauce” Trevor Smith. Smith enters the bout off a win over Chris Camozzi, giving him his 3rd victory over his last 4 outings. Theodorou is coming off a victory over Dan Kelly in a rebound effort following a tough loss to Brad Tavares- he is now 6-2 inside the Octagon.

A former Light Heavyweight, Smith is 2 inches taller than his opponent, but they will share the same 75″ reach. Elias is the younger man by 7-years while Smith has been out of the cage for an entire year, less a day.

The majority of Smith’s victories have come on the basis of his wrestling and grappling prowess. Over his last 4 triumphs, he has completed 11 takedowns. Theodorou has been taken down at least once in 6 of his 8 UFC fights.

Interestingly enough, the Canadian is a perfect 4-0 when he is taken down at least twice in a fight.

“The Spartan” will utilize the clinch on the inside or look to work a kicking game from distance. One of the keys to his success has been his cardio and ability to keep engaging in all areas for a full 15-minutes.

The same can’t be said for Smith who has finished 10 of his 15 opponents and tends to slow down in longer fights.

Smith’s gas tank is a concern and the lengthy break from action won’t aid that. The early interactions could be interesting, but Theodorou will force him to work hard in pursuit of the takedown which will pay dividends in the later stages of the fight- my prediction is Elias Theodorou to defeat Trevor Smith by decision.

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135lbs- #14 Lina Lansberg (7-3-0) vs #15 Gina Mazany (5-1-0)

To kick off the early action on Sunday, Lina “Elbow Princess” Lansberg meets Gina “Danger” Mazany in the Women’s Bantamweight division. Lansberg is coming off a TKO stoppage loss to Aspen Ladd that dropped her UFC record to 1-2. Mazany’s unsuccessful UFC debut against Sarah McMann gave way to a decision win over Yanan Wu last November.

Lansberg is an inch taller, but it will be Mazany with the 3″ reach advantage. Gina is the younger fighter by 6-years.

Mazany put forth a pretty consistent effort in her debut. She scrapped out a striking edge and worked in 5 takedowns over the full 15-minutes. She maintained a solid pace and simply outworked her foe wherever the fight went.

Lansberg is coming off a fight where she held her own early, but faltered in the middle round and was finished. She does her best work in the clinch, looking to land elbows, knees, and short punches. Conversely, she has had issues getting stalled out in the position and struggling to land significant offence.

The loss to Ladd came when Lina was unable to find her way off her back and couldn’t survive the GNP onslaught.

Lansberg’s lone UFC defeat was a decision win that saw her get outstruck by her foe, 99-80.

Lina is hittable and her bouts of inactivity can create openings for her opponent to lead the exchanges. While Lansberg is probably the stronger fighter, Gina has the edge in athleticism.

If Lansberg can control the majority of the action in the clinch, this is her fight to win. That being said, look for Mazany to be the more active striker at distance and use the clinch position to set up key takedowns- my prediction is Gina Mazany to defeat Lina Lansberg by decision.

170lbs- Zak Cummings (21-5-0) vs Michel Prazeres (24-2-0)

In the final fight of the night, Zak Cummings looks to continue his ways against former Lightweight Michel “Tractor” Prazeres in the Welterweight division. Cummings has won back to back fights over Alexander Yakovlev and Nathan Coy- he is 4-1 over his last 5. Prazeres has won 6 straight fights, including a victory over Desmond Green in February.

Prazeres has missed weight in 3 of his last 4 fights which ultimately facilitated the move to 170. Cummings will stand 6″ taller and have an 8″ reach advantage. The American is the younger man by 3-years.

“Tractor” seems to be caught between 2 divisions- he is a hulking beast at Lightweight, but is simply too short to compete consistently at 170-pounds. He debuted at Welterweight and was the only victory for Paulo Thiago over a rough 7-fight stretch.

Cummings has had similar issues at 170-pounds, as he formerly fought at Middleweight and Light Heavyweight. He hasn’t fought in 13-months after suffering an injury to head due to a slip and fall.

For Prazeres, his aforementioned size and grappling game have been the keys to his current streak. He has completed 22-takedowns over his last 7-fights and he has never gone a fight over his full UFC career without putting his foe on his back.

He has submitted 10-opponents.

Cummings has been tapped twice, but he has been difficult to take to the floor- never giving up more than a single completion in any fight.

The difference here will be Prazeres’s inability to get in range with his striking. His lack of reach and reliance on power punches will make it hard for him to land with consistency. Conversely, Cummings offers a solid counter-striking game and does a decent job maintaining constant pressure with his offence.

The American’s willingness to push forward will create opportunities for Prazeres to change levels and look for a takedown. Unfortunately, failed attempts will compromise his cardio and the pressure will certainly test the endurance of the heavily-muscled and heavier then normal “Tractor”. Cummings needs to stay vertical and he will do this with his reach and size while outworking Michel on the feet- my prediction is Zak Cummings to defeat Michel Prazeres by decision.

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125lbs- #7 Brandon Moreno (14-4-0) vs #12 Alexandre Pantoja (18-3-0)

In the Flyweight division, a pair of ranked fighters square off as Brandon “The Assassin Baby” Moreno takes on Alexandre “Cannibal” Pantoja. Pantoja is coming off a decision loss to Dustin Ortiz, his first defeat since a 2010 loss to Jussier Formiga- he had won 11 fights in a row. Moreno also saw his 11-fight winning streak ended in a defeat to Sergio Pettis, he had won 3 straights fights to start his UFC career including a submission win over the previously mentioned Ortiz.

Moreno is 2 inches taller than Pantoja and will have a 3″ reach advantage. He is the younger man by 3-years. Pantoja is replacing Ray Borg on just under 3-weeks notice.

This fight is stacking up to be a very entertaining ground battle. Both men are good scramblers with opportunistic submission games. Pantoja has submitted 7 opponents, 5 by RNC. Moreno has recorded 10 of 14 wins by sub, including tapping out both Ortiz and Louis Smolka. He has also scored 5 wins by RNC.

From a statistically perspective, the edge in getting the fight to the floor lies with Moreno. He has completed 10 takedowns over 4-fights, but Dustin Ortiz did find success with his wrestling scoring 4 takedowns. Pantoja has relied heavily on his foes to take him to the floor- Ortiz took him down 7-times and Eric Shelton landed a 4-pack of TDs in Alexandre’s debut fight.

On the feet, Pantoja needs to be either all the way in or all the way out. At distance, he offers a solid kicking game and in tight he will attack with knees and elbows from the clinch. He averages roughly 1.5 more significant strikes per minute than Moreno.

Moreno has power and will engage, but he struggled with the superior striking arsenal of Pettis and lacks a consistent volume game.

Moreno has picked up a pair of opportunistic wins and a split decision over Ryan Benoit, not exactly overwhelming. He is going to struggle to find success on the floor against Pantoja while the Brazilian gets the better of the striking exchanges- my prediction is Alexandre Pantoja to defeat Brando Moreno by decision.

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115lbs- Poliana Botelho (5-1-0) vs Syuri Kondo (6-0-0)

In the Women’s Strawweight division, a pair of promotional sophomores go head to head as Poliana Botelho takes on Syuri Kondo. Kondo won a split decision over Chan-Mi Jeon to remain undefeated. Botelho has won 4 consecutive fights including a decision win over Pearl Gonzalez at UFC 216.

Botelho is the taller fighter by 4 inches. Kondo is the younger fighter by a year.

An aggressive striker, Botelho has finished 5 of her 6 wins by knockout- going the distance for the first time in her debut. Over the 15-minutes of action, she landed 67-significant strikes. The majority of her offence comes in the form of wild flurries, but she will target the body.

Kondo carries a polar opposite record finish just a single opponent while winning the rest of her fight on the scorecards.

She does her best work on the feet, leading with a solid jab and power strikes to follow. In close range, Syuri will land knees and elbows in the clinch. Kondo routinely pushed forward in her debut, walking through her opponent’s offence. She landed an impressive 135-significant strikes.

Kondo’s aggression had held up well over long fights, including a 5-round victory in early 2017.

The biggest area of concern Botelho was her inability to create separation as she spent a prolonged portion of each round pinned against the cage by Gonzalez. This may come into play both when Kondo’s pressured based striking and her ability to work in the clinch.

Botelho has a lot of physical attributes working in her favour, but she is going to struggle to match the work rate of Kondo. Poliana ‘s tendency to explode into her offensive attack won’t matchup well with the more consistent flow of Kondo’s offence. Unless she hurt her or possibly score the finish early, look for the gap between output to widen in the second half of the fight- my prediction is  Syuri Kondoto defeat Poliana Botelho by decision.

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145lbs- Gabriel Benitez (20-7-0) vs Humberto Bandenay (14-4-0 1NC)

In the Featherweight division, Gabriel “Moggly” Benitez takes on Humberto Bandenay. Benitez has alternated wins and losses since the start of his UFC career when he won back to back fights- he is coming off a win over Jason Knight. Bandenay has won 6 consecutive fights, most recently besting Martin Bravo via 26-second KO in his UFC debut.

Bandenay is the younger man by 6-years and 5 inches taller.

Benitez’s best vertical offence comes in the forms of his kicking techniques. He has batter previous opponents, including busting up Clay Collard to the body. He has finished 6 opponents by knockout and he is coming off his best UFC output at 85 significant strikes.

“Moggly” was finished via head kick by Andre Fili.

As previously mentioned, Bandenay finished his debut opponent via knee strike in just 26-seconds. He has 11 overall stoppages, 5 by knockout and 6 by submissions. He has recorded 7 wins inside the opening round.

Gabriel’s striking has improved significantly, and while he is far from a quality wrestling threat he offers an opportunistic submission game. If Bandenay opts to take him down, look for Benitez to start looking for chokes.

Bandenay has 18-pro fights but he is still very green and with just 26-seconds of total UFC cage time he doesn’t have a lot to work with. Benitez’s striking offence will make it difficult for Bandenay to land his own attacks with consistency and Gabriel’s submission game will either deter or punish Humberto from going to the mat- my prediction is Gabriel Benitez to defeat Humberto Bandenay  by decision.

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145lbs- Enrique Barzola (15-3-1) vs Brandon Davis (9-3-0)

Continuing an active start to his UFC career, Brandon “Killer B” Davis takes on Peruvian-born Enrique Barzola in the Featherweight division. Barzola has won 3 straight fights, most recently defeating Matt Bessette by decision- he is 4-1 in the UFC. Davis suffered a debut defeat to Kyle Bochniak, but he rebounded to defeat Steven Peterson in his next fight.

Davis is fighting for the 3rd time already in 2018, he is the taller man by 3 inches and will have a 2″ reach advantage. Davis is the younger man by a year.

Continuing to rely heavily on his wrestling, Barzola has completed a combined 27-takedowns over his 5 UFC fights, 21 over his last 3. In his only defeat, a controversial loss to the aforementioned Bochniak, he completed just a single TD.

Davis has been put on his back 4-times during his 2 UFC appearances, but he has done a decent job of getting back to his feet.

The American is coming off a 114-significant strike performance, a much better outing than his debut. Davis found more striking success because his opponent engaged him directly instead of avoiding a head-on brawl.

Barzola has how noticeable improvements in his striking, especially with his kicking offence. This allows him to sit out of range until he wants to close the gap for a TDA.

Barzola’s volume takedown game is a lot to overcome. Davis needs to constantly move forward and engage which will open himself up to being taken down by the reactive takedowns of Enrique. Barzola does enough on the feet and puts Davis on the mat with relative frequency- my prediction is Enrique Barzola to defeat Brando Davis by decision.

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135lbs- Henry Briones (19-7-1) vs Frankie Saenz (12-5-0)

In the Bantamweight division, TUF Latin American veteran Henry “Bure” Briones looks to snap a 3-fight losing streak when he takes on Frankie Saenz. Sanez is coming off a close split decision win over Merab Dvalishvili to snap a 3 fight losing slump. Briones was most recently seen being submitted by Rani Yahya.

Briones is the taller man by 2 inches and he will have a 3″ reach advantage. He is closing in on a 10-month layoff.

Despite his early success in the UFC, Saenz has struggled to maintain any real momentum. A former NCAA D-1 wrestler, he started his early run with a takedown-heavy attack. His success in the Octagon started to turn when he stopped landing takedowns and starting giving them up.

In his first 2 UFC wins he recorded 8 completions. Since those 2 fights, he has been on the wrong end of a 20-2 takedown edge.

Briones has been taken down at least once in each of his UFC fights; 6 over 4 outings.

The Mexican-born “Bure” does have 6 wins by submission, including tapping out Guido Cannetti in his only UFC win. He has been subbed twice.

On the feet, Briones has yet to land more strikes than his opponent. He did show some stopping ability on the regional scene, but he hasn’t recorded a knockout since 2012. Saenz has been stopped twice and hurt on multiple occasions.

The greatest single skill set in this fight in Frankie’s wrestling. While he isn’t elite, he is more than capable of cracking Briones’s less than stellar counter wrestling- my prediction is Frankie Saenz to defeat Henry Briones by decision.

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155lbs- Claudio Puelles (8-2-0) vs Felipe Silva (8-1-0)

The opening fight of the night takes place in the Lightweight division as Claudio “El Nino” Puelles takes on Felipe Silva. Silva is 1-1 in the UFC, most recently falling to Mairbek Taisumov after upsetting Shane Campell in his debut. Puelles suffered a TKO defeat to Martin Bravo in his promotional debut, the finals of the TUF Latin America 3 tournament- he had won 2 in a row.

Silva is just an inch taller than Puelles, but he will have a noteworthy 5″ reach advantage. Puelles is the younger man by 12-years, but he hasn’t seen action in 18-months.

Puelles’s record offers a little bit of everything; he has won twice by knockout, 4-times by submission, and he is 1-1 on the scorecards. He has a pair of opening round finishes compared to 4 spread out over rounds 2 and 3. By comparison, Silva has fought beyond round 1 on just one occasion.

6 of Felipe’s 7 wins came via knockout.

In Puelles’s debut, he came out looking for a single leg early and eventually got his foe to the floor with a double later in the round. The majority of his vertical offence came in the form of one-off attacks, with limited cohesion between techniques.

Silva’s knockout heavy record is indicative of his aggressive kickboxing background. He throws powerful combinations and can do damage from the clinch position. Puelles folded up against an opponent that didn’t offer nearly as dangerous a striking offense.

The gap between fights certainly could lead to a noteworthy improvement for Puelles, but Silva is still easily the most dangerous striker he has faced to date. Look for Felipe to land hard combinations and do damage from the clinch, my prediction is Felipe Silva to defeat Claudio Puelles by TKO.

185lbs- Cezar Ferreira (13-6-0) vs Karl Roberson (6-0-0)

Capping off the undercard, TUF Brazil champion Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira takes “Contender’s Series” product Karl “Baby K” Roberson. Ferreira has won 4 of his last 5 fights, most recently defeating Nate Marquardt by decision- he also has wins over Anthony Smith and Jack Hermansson. Roberson debuted with an opening-round submission win over Darren Stewart- he went 4-0 in 2017.

Both men are 6’1″, Ferreira will have a 4″ reach advantage. Roberson is the younger man by 5-years.

Roberson showcased a calculated and measured approach in his debut. After defending an early TDA, he countered with a lateral drop, mounted, and then finished his foe via RNC. With a pair of knockouts and 3 submission wins he has finished all of his fights inside the opening round dating back to his debut decision win.

Ferreira’s chin is a lingering concern, suffering 4 knockout defeats. His last stoppage loss came back in 2015 and ever since it would appear he has tightened up his striking defence and utilized his strong grappling attack to limit his opponents’ opportunities to target his chin.

He has lasted 17-takedowns over his last 6 wins and just 4 over his 4 UFC losses.

Roberson comes from a kickboxing background, but he also has some decent wrestling chops to lean on. His ability to generate power in small spaces makes him dangerous both in boxing range and in the clinch.

Ultimately this fight comes down to whether or not Ferreira can take Roberson down. “Baby K” is still very early in his career and still relatively untested. His debut was impressive, but this is a step up in competition. Ferreira needs to stick with his tried and tested approach of takedowns and top position- my prediction is  Cezar Ferreira to defeat Karl Roberson by decision.

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265lbs- #10 Aleksei Oleinik (52-11-1) vs #14 Junior Albini (14-3-0)

In the Heavyweight division, battle-hardened veteran Aleksei Oleinik takes on Brazil’s Junior Albini. Albini couldn’t capitalize on his debut success, dropping a decision to Andrei Arlovski in his follow-up fight. Oleinik is coming off a TKO doctor stoppage against Curtis Blaydes- he had won back to back bouts.

Albini is an inch taller, but it will be Oleinik that will have a 6″ reach advantage. Aleksei is 14-years his senior, but he will be outweighed by 15-20 pounds.

Despite a limited skill-set, battered body, and Father time all creeping up on Oleinik- he keeps finding ways to win. With 43 of his 52 victories coming by some form of submission, his approach is fairly straightforward. Yet, still effective. He has shown the ability to deal with early adversity as well. He survived Browne’s initial onslaught, waited for him to tire, and finished him on the floor.

Albini has split his 12 finishes evenly between knockouts and submissions. He showed good finishing instincts in his debut, but a lack of urgency cost him against Arlovski. He will throw heavy kicks and is a capable counter striker.

The Brazilian has been submitted twice, both early in his career.

While Oleinik would prefer to fight on the floor, he does have deceptive power behind his willingness to press forward and engage. It would be a struggle for him to win an entire fight on the feet, but it serves as a workable building block on which to build the main part of his offence.

There is no doubt where each of these men wants this fight to play out. If Albini can squash Oleinik’s early pursuit of the takedown, this is his fight to win. That being said, he is hittable and that will allow the Russian to move into grappling range after his initial punches. Once on the mat, the veteran savvy of Oleinik will be too much for the still-developing prospect- my prediction is Aleksei Oleinik to defeat Junior Albini by submission.

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155lbs- Davi Ramos (7-2-0) vs Nick Hein (14-2-0 1NC)

In the Lightweight division, Germany’s own “Sergeant” Nick Hein makes just his third appearance outside of his homeland when he meets Davi Ramos. Ramos is coming off of a submission win over Chris Gruetzmacher to level his UFC record at 1-1 after a debut defeat against Sergio Moraes while fighting at Welterweight. Hein has won 3 consecutive bouts and is currently holding a respectable 4-1 mark inside the Octagon.

The Brazilian will stand 2 inches taller and have a 4″ reach advantage over Hein. Hein is the older man by 2 years and hasn’t seen action in roughly 20-months.

A well respected BJJ Black belt, Ramos has focused his MMA run on his mat game. He has recorded 5 wins by submission including his last 2 coming by RNC. Against Gruetzmacher, he completed 5 takedowns before securing the finish. Davi did pull guard at one point against Chris, reinforcing his desire to get the fight to the floor at all costs.

Hein is a Black belt in Judo and has been taken down just once in the UFC. Hein has also landed 5 takedowns over 5 bouts.

The German throws with some power, but he has just a single knockout victory to show for his efforts. At times, his volume has been an issue. He tends to short-arm his punches and struggles to find his range. In victory, he usually lands in the neighbourhood of 50 significant strikes.

Both fighters have combat backgrounds that favour a grappling-heavy approach, but only Ramos has shown a willingness to take the fight there. Hein needs to focus on his defensive game and force his opponent out of his comfort zone. While Hein is far from an overwhelming striker, he has the edge on the feet- my prediction is Nick Hein to defeat Davi Ramos by decision.

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170lbs- Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos (18-5-0) vs Sean Strickland (18-2-1)

The last of 3 Welterweight scraps on the card, Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos meets “Tarzan” Sean Strickland. Dos Santos has won 4 consecutive fights, including defeating Max Griffin and Lyman Good in his last 2 outings. Strickland took a decision from Court McGee after suffering his 2nd career loss; a decision defeat to Kamaru Usman.

Ther American is 2 inches taller and will have a 3″ reach advantage. Strickland is the younger man by 5-years.

In a stark contrast, Dos Santos utilizes an exciting and aggressive striking based attack while Strickland is much more reserved, working behind a jab-heavy offence. Despite their different approaches, the average nearly the same strikes landed per minute. The Brazilian has a slight edge.

While the numbers are similar, Elizeu’s aggression and a greater focus on the scoring the finish will play better with the judges.

Where Strickland could turn this fight is with his wrestling. Dos Santos is improving, but he was still taken down a lot early in his UFC career. If Sean opts to focus on his mat game, he could grind his way to a win here.

Despite his skill, Strickland can be frustrating. His lack of follow-up behind his jab limits the impact of his offence and should allow Dos Santos to remain in the pocket to attack with his own more aggressive offerings. Dos Santos has to avoid getting taken down and scramble back to his feet if he is- the Brazilian crowd and judges will help him out as well. My prediction is Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos to defeat Sean Strickland by decision.

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170lbs- Warlley Alves (12-2-0) vs Sultan Aliev (14-2-0)

TUF Brazil 3 Middleweight winner Warlley Alves makes his return to his homeland to take on Bellator alumni Sultan Aliev in the Welterweight division. Alves got back in the win column with a decision defeat of Salim Touahri, he had dropped 2 fights in a row. Aliev rebounded from an upset loss in his debut to best Bojan Velickovic by split decision.

Both men are 5’11”, but it will be Aliev holding a slight 2″ reach advantage. Alves is the younger man by 7-years. It has been nearly 17-months since Aliev last competed.

Alves is coming off his first career win on the scorecards, after dropping a pair of decisions. His cardio has been an area of concern, most notably costing him against Bryan Barbarena. He has recorded 11 wins by stoppage, 10 by submission, and 6 in the opening round.

By comparison, Aliev enters the cage with 10 wins by knockout. He has won 4 of his 5 contest that involved the judges.

A former Bellator Middleweight tournament competitor, Aliev relied heavily on his ability to score takedowns against Velickovic and then maintain the position. Alves has shown himself vulnerable to getting put on is back, especially if he begins to slow down.

While the numbers suggest otherwise, Aliev’s striking leaves a lot to be desired. If he is unable to secure the early takedowns and grind Warlley into the floor, he is going to struggle to match him on the feet. Alves’s is the owner of an opportunistic guillotine that will serve as a nice counter to Aliev takedown-heavy focus, my prediction is Warlley Alves to defeat Sultan Aliev by submission.

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185lbs- Thales Leites (27-8-0) vs Jack Hermansson (16-4-0)

A former Middleweight title challenger, Thales Leites looks to make one final run to the top of the division when he takes on Sweden’s Jack “The Joker” Hermansson. Leites is just 2-4 over his last 6, most recently falling via decision to Brad Tavares. Hermansson is coming off a loss to Thiago Santos to end his 2-fight winning surge, he is now 3-2 in the UFC.

Both men are 6’1″ and Leites will have a 1″ reach advantage. The Swede is the younger man by 7-years.

Since coming to the UFC, “The Joker” has accrued wins in Germany, Mexico, and at home in Sweden but he is a dismal 0-2 fighting in Brazil. Both defeats came via stoppage and while the experience of fighting in the South America MMA hotbed is valuable, Hermansson’s confidence could be shaken.

Leites is a vaunted BJJ practitioner, but the combination of less than stellar wrestling and questionable cardio has prevented him from utilizing his ground skills to the utmost. Since returning to the UFC, he is 5-2 in fights where he lands at least 1 takedown and 2-2 when he does not.

The Brazilian has fought just once at home over his last 10 fights.

Herman outstruck Scott Askham in his debut, but used takedowns and vicious ground and pound in his other 2 UFC. His key to success here will be avoiding the mat while being the more active fighter on the feet.

Leites’s cardio is a major concern and if he can’t get this fight to the floor early, he is going to be in trouble. Hermansson has appeared tentative at times when the threat of the takedown exists. Thales’s needs to come out aggressive with his striking and use the clinch to both control Jack and set up his TDAs. Fighting at home, Leites puts together a solid effort- my prediction is Thales Leites to defeat Jack Hermansson by submission.

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170lbs- Alberto Mina (13-0-0) vs Ramazan Emeev (16-3-0)

In a long-awaited homecoming, Alberto “Soldier of God” Mina returns to Brazil to fight for the first time in 12-years when he meets Ramazan Emeev in the Welterweight division. Still undefeated, Mina stopped Mike Pyle in his most recent outing to improve to 3-0 inside the Octagon. Emeev took his debut at 189-pounds and earned a decision victory over Sam Alvey.

The former M-1 Middleweight champion is making his Welterweight debut, but it will be Mina that stands 2 inches taller to go along with a 1″ reach advantage. Mina is closing in on a 2-year absence from action.

A Combat Sambo practitioner, Emeev came out looking for power punches and takedowns against Alvey. While he wasn’t able to finish him, he did enough with his forward pressure to earn the decision win.

Mina has shown a willingness to look for takedowns, scoring 2 in each of his last 2 fights compared to just a single completion against. He is a vaunted BJJ Black belt, submitting 6 opponents.

Potentially further complicated by the layoff, Mina’s cardio has been a concern. When unable to put his opponent away early he has a tendency to slow down. He has fought beyond the opening round just 4-times.

There are a couple of x-factors on both sides here. Mina is returning home and hasn’t fought in a long time. Emeev is making his first cut to Welterweight and is fighting for just the second time in the UFC. Emeev should have the wrestling to keep Mina off the mat and the durability to drag this fight beyond the opening round- my prediction is Ramazan Emeev to defeat Alberto Mina by decision.Paragraph breaker

185lbs- Markus Perez (9-1-0) vs James Bochnovic (8-2-0)

In the opening fight of the night, a pair of UFC sophomore square off as Markus Perez takes on James Bochnovic in the Middleweight division. Perez dropped his debut to Erik Anders, the first loss of his pro career. Bochnovic was knocked out by Trevin Giles, his first pro loss since an unsuccessful pro debut.

At 6’4″, Bochnovic is a massive Middleweight and will stand 3 inches taller than Perez to go along with an 8″ reach advantage. He is also the younger man by a year. The American debut at Light Heavyweight.

After a career of finishing his opponents in the opening round, Bochnovic is coming off of his first fight to go beyond the opening frame. He has finished 7 of his 8 wins by submission- most by some form of choke.

Perez has more experience in longer fights, including a 3-1 record in decisions. He defeated Paulo Thiago on the scorecards of a 5-round fight back in mid-2016.

Offensively, Bochnovic didn’t get to showcase much of his skill set in his debut. He was taken down 5-times and badly lost the striking exchange 41-5. Perez faired slightly better, absorbing some power strikes from Anders and landing some of his own offence.

Perez did complete a pair of takedowns in his debut which could be an avenue he opts to explore against Bochnovic.

There are some sizeable x-factors going against the American here. He is cutting to a new division and if the cut goes poorly it could further complicate a fighter that has very limited experience beyond round 1. Unless Bochnovic can get this fight to the ground he is going to struggle against the more active and unorthodox striking of Perez. A close fight early starts to trend towards the Brazilian at home in rounds 2 and 3- my prediction is Markus Perez to defeat James Bochnovic by TKO.

170lbs- Ryan LaFlare (13-2-0) vs Alex Garcia (15-4-0)

In the headlining fight of the undercard, Ryan LaFlare takes on “The Dominican Nightmare” Alex Garcia in the Welterweight division. Garcia is coming off an upset win over Muslim Salikov and has alternated wins and losses over his last 7-fights. LaFlare is looking to rebound from the first stoppage loss of his career, the knockout defeat against Alex Oliveira snapped his 2-fight winning streak.

The American will stand 4 inches taller than Garcia and have a 2″ reach advantage. Garcia is the younger man by 4-years.

LaFlare started strong against Oliveira, but the abrupt middle round knockout is a little concerning. Garcia has finished 6 opponents by knockout, including a pair in the UFC. He has significant power, but at times he struggles to deploy it with consistency.

While Alex has the edge in striking power, the advantage in cardio lies distinctly with LaFlare. Ryan is 6-1 in decisions, winning all of those fights inside the Octagon. Conversely, Garcia has had issues in longer fights, noticeably slowing down if he is unable to fight at his pace. He is 1-2 in his last 3 fights to go the distance and he was finished in the 3rd round by Sean Strickland back in early 2016.

The wrestling of both fighters has been at the forefront of their success. Both men have put up good wrestling numbers, both offensively and defensively. LaFlare has moved away from his big completion stats in recent action while Garcia has completed 9-takedowns over his last 3 wins.

Garcia has the power to threaten LaFlare, but he will need to find a way to get in range to land it and do so without compromising his cardio. Look for LaFlare to stick to the outside with kicks and long range weapons before moving into the clinch and eventually looking for takedowns, especially as Garcia tires- my prediction is Ryan LaFlare to defeat Alex Garcia by decision.Paragraph breaker

125lbs- #15 Magomed Bibulatov (14-1-0) vs Ulka Sasaki (20-5-2)

In the Flyweight division, Japan’s Ulka Sasaki takes on Russian-born and Top 15 ranked Magomed Bibulatov. Sasaki is coming off a submission loss to Jussier Formiga- he is 2-2 since moving to the Flyweight division. Bibulatov came to the UFC undefeated and a successful debut, he was abruptly knocked out by significant underdog John Moraga.

At 5’10”, Sasaki is 5 inches taller than Bibulatov and he will have a 6″ reach advantage. Sasaki is a year younger.

Similar to Bibulatov, Ulka came into the UFC with a considerable about of hype, but after a strong start, he has been finished in 3 of his 4 UFC defeats- twice by submission. Magomed has 5 wins by submission, but just 1 over his last 9 fights.

Despite landing just 2 takedowns in his debut, Magomed should look to return to his strong wrestling base against Ulka. While the Japanese fighter might welcome the trip to the mat based on his submission skills, he has given up 9 takedowns over his 4 UFC loss.

If the Russian wants to avoid the submission skills of his foe he may opt to keep this fight standing where he will have a marked advantage in the striking department.

Ulka has the skills to finish if he can find a way into a position to do so, but that will be easier said then done. Bibulatov either works from top position or keeps the fight standing and outstrikes Sasaki for the duration- my prediction is Magomed Bibulatov to defeat Ulka Sasaki by decision.

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170lbs- Siyar Bahadurzada (23-6-1) vs Luan Chagas (15-2-1)

In the Welterweight division, Siyar “The Great” Bahadurzada meets Brazilian-born Luan “Tarzan” Chagas. Chagas scored a second-round submission win over Jim Wallhead to evenly round out his UFC record at 1-1-1. Bahadurzada has won back to back fights, most recently winning a Middleweight bout over Rob Wilkinson.

Chagas is an inch taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. He is also the younger man by 9-years.

Despite boasting a 12-KO total on his record, Bahadurzada is coming off his first win by knockout since his 2012 debut. Chagas was decent power as well and has shown a willingness to sit down and trade. He has 6 wins by knockout and has scored multiple knockdowns during his UFC tenure.

The big concern for “Tarzan” is his cardio. He tends to start strong, but fade. He has finished 10 opponents in round 1 while going 5-2-1 in outside of the first frame. Siyar has been finished twice, but he is just 4-4 on the scorecards

Chagas is capable of going to the mat, scoring his 9th win by sub last time out. Bahadurzada has struggled at times with his TDD, relinquishing 9-takedown over his last 4 fights.

Chagas has more tools to rely on in the form of a more diverse striking attack and capable ground game. If Bahadurzada can’t score the early knockout, his predictability will cost him against the more varied attack of his foe- my prediction is Luan Chagas to defeat Siyar Bahadurzada by submission.

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205lbs- #10 Corey Anderson (10-4-0) vs #11 Patrick Cummins (10-4-0)

In the Light Heavyweight division, a pair of fringe Top 10 competitors go head to head as Corey “Overtime” Anderson goes head to head with Patrick “Durkin” Cummins. Cummins has won back to back fights, narrowly edging a split decision over Gian Villante and rallying to defeat Jan Blachowicz on the card. Anderson has dropped back to back fights and 3 of 4- his only win in that stretch came over Sean O’Connell by TKO with losses to OSP, Jimi Manuwa, and Shogun.

Anderson is an inch taller, but he will have a slightly longer 3″ reach advantage. Cummins is the older man by 9-years.

Breaking the trend previously established by the last regime, this fight will pair together a fighter on a winning streak against one that has struggled to gain traction of late. That being said, Cummins’s victories have been far from clear-cut as he faced a lot of adversity in the early goings of each fight.

Similar to “Durkin”, Anderson’s chin has become a major point of concern. He has now been knocked out 3 times, including in each of his last 2 defeats. Cummins has been stopped via strikes in all 4 of his losses.

With both fighters leaning heavily on their wrestling when successful, this fight could come down to who wins the striking exchanges.

Anderson appears to be the more technically sound striker and works at a higher volume. Additionally, Cummins has found success against opponents that have faded in the latter half of the fight- Anderson won’t do that.

Cummins will push forward looking for takedowns and while he might score a couple early, Anderson will eventually stabilize and catch him while coming forward- my prediction is Corey Anderson to defeat Patrick Cummins by TKO.

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135lbs- #9 Leslie Smith (10-7-1) vs #10 Aspen Ladd (6-0-0)

In the Women’s Bantamweight division, “The Peacemaker” Leslie Smith takes on the undefeated Aspen Ladd. Ladd is coming off a very successful debut, scoring a TKO finish of Lina Lansberg. Smith has also found her stride with back to back wins have struggling to find consistency early in her UFC run.

Smith is 3 inches taller than Ladd, but they have the same 66″ reach. Ladd is 13-years younger than Smith, who hasn’t fought in 9-months.

Averaging 7.46 significant strikes per minute, has surpassed the 100-strike mark in each of her last 2 fights and is coming off her 5th win by TKO. From a statistical standpoint, Ladd’s numbers were far from overwhelming in her debut as she was outlanded almost 2-1 before getting the finish.

Ladd found herself in a back and forth clinch battle with Lansberg, but the BJJ Purple belt turned the fight in her favour in the 2nd round when she scored a takedown, moved to mount, and pounded her way to a TKO victory.

Smith has been taken down on occasion, but overall she has stopped over 60% of her opponent’s TDAs.

Both girls are more than willing to bite down and trade, moving forward with limited regard for defence. Ladd could look to her takedowns, but it will be Smith’s superior technique, a slight edge in power, and endless gas tank that will be the difference. Ladd will match her early, but Leslie will pull away- my prediction is Leslie Smith to defeat Aspen Ladd by Decision.

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135lbs- Merab Dvalishvili (7-3-0) vs Ricky Simon (10-1-0)

The second fight of the night will feature the debuting LFA and “Tuesday Night Contenders” alumni Ricky Simon taking on promotional sophomore Merab Dvalishvili. Dvalishvili lost his debut via split decision to Frankie Saenz, ending his 6-fight losing streak. Simon enters the Octagon have won 5-straight fights including a 5-round decision victory over UFC veteran Chico Camus in 2017.

Both me are 5’6″, but Simon will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. Simon is the younger man by a year.

The debut decision defeat for Dvalishvili was certainly contestable considering he completed 11 takedowns and kept the striking exchange total reasonably close. The loss dropped him to 4-3 in decisions.

Simon is a perfect 6-0 on the scorecards to go along with 5 wins by knockout. He is coming off a KO win that took just 59-seconds. It was his first opening round knockout since starting his pro career with 4 in a row.

Taking this fight on a month’s notice to replace Augusto Mendes, Simon didn’t secure a contact during his time fighting in front of Dana White, but by capturing the LFA Bantamweight title over Camus it put him on the radar for this opportunity.

While Simon has good wrestling and a decent set of hands, he will need to stay off his back to employ those skills. Merab showed he can keep pushing with his takedown game, but it is also concerning to note that he couldn’t keep Saenz down and didn’t offer much offense once on the mat.

Despite his impressive cardio and initial wrestling success, Dvalishvili’s struggles to do much else are concerning. Simon appears to be the better athlete with the more fleshed out skill set. He will probably be on the defensive at time, but overall he will do more offensively then his foe- my prediction is Ricky Simon to defeat Merab Dvalishvili  by decision.

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170lbs- Tony Martin (12-4-0) vs Keita Nakamura (33-8-2 1NC)

Opening the night of action in the Welterweight division, Tony Martin looks to continue his solid run when he takes on Japanese standout Keita “K-Taro” Nakamura. Nakamura earned a split decision win over Alex Morono and has alternated wins and losses over his last 5 fights. Martin dropped a split decision to Olivier Aubin-Mercier to snap his 3-fight winning streak.

Martin is an inch taller than Nakamura, but they share the same 73″ reach. The American is the younger man by 5-years.

Both competitors have won the majority of their fights via submission. Martin has secured 8 of his 12 victories by some form of tap while Nakamura as recorded 18 wins by sub. “K-Taro” has been subbed once in 44 fights while Martin has been caught twice.

Martin is making the move to Welterweight which should help him to deal with some previously concerning cardio issues. Conversely, the physicality that he used against the smaller Lightweights might not be as effective against bigger men at 170-pounds.

Statistically, Martin is 0-3 in fights where he doesn’t score at least a single takedown. Nakamura has completed 10 takedowns over his last 4 fights.

Look for this fight to be closely contested on the feet, but it will be Nakamura who finds success controlling Martin in the clinch and scoring a couple of opportunistic takedowns. Nakamura will wear on Martin and eventually get to his back, my prediction is Keita Nakamura to defeat Tony Martin by submission.

185lbs- Tim Boetsch (21-11-0) vs Antonio Carlos Junior (10-2-0 1NC)

In the headlining fight of the undercard, Tim ‘The Barbarian” Boetsch meets Brazil’s Antonio “Shoeface” Carlos Junior in the Middleweight division. Boetsch is coming off a win over former Welterweight champion Johnny Hendricks and has won 3 of his last 4 with his only loss coming to Jacare. ACJ is riding a 4-fight winning streak that includes a trio of submission- his last loss came to perpetual underdog Dan Kelly.

The Brazilian is 2 inches taller and will have a 5″ reach advantage over the “The Barbarian”. ACJ is 9-years younger than Boetsch.

Submissions have been the path to victory for Carlos Junior as he has tapped out his foe in 4 of his 6 wins. His wrestling has improved during his current run. He needed just a single takedown in each of his last 2 fights to get the win, but completed 11 over the 2 fights prior to that. Boetsch has given up a minimal amount of takedowns in recent action, but he has been submitted on 4 occasions. His focus here will be to keep this fight standing and force Antonio to trade on the feet with him. Junior has improved his striking attack, but more importantly, his cardio seems to be on the rise with a couple of recent wins that last into the final frame.

If Tim can stay standing, Tim can win this fight. That is going to be easier said than done against a fighter that might only need one takedown to secure the tap. Boetsch will threaten early with his hands, but eventually, the takedowns will come- my prediction is Antonio Carlos Junior to defeat Tim Boetsch by decision.

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170lbs- Muslim Salikhov (12-2-0) vs Ricky Rainey (13-4-0)

After an unsuccessful debut, Russian Welterweight Muslim “King of Kung Fu” Salikhov looks to right the ship against debuting Bellator veteran Ricky “The Sniper” Rainey. Rainey has just a single loss over his last 5 fights, including wins over Gilbert Smith and Marc Stevens. Salikhov was stopped by Alex Garcia in his debut, snapping his 11-fight winning streak.

Rainey is 2 inches taller, but he will have a significant 7″ reach advantage. Rainey is replacing Abdul Razak Alhassan on less than 2 week’s notice.

Rainey enters the UFC having won 7 fights by knockout, but he has gone the distance in each of his last 3 outings. Working predominantly at range, he varies his offence between kicks and punches. If he does opt to close the gap he will elect to fight in the clinch instead of changing levels for a takedown. Rainey’s willingness to sit on the outside and trade will be welcomed by the striking oriented Salikhov. Muslin has recorded 10 wins by knockout, all in the first round. The “King of Kung Fu” is an unorthodox striker firing out a variety of crazy kicks. His lack of wrestling defence was his undoing against Garcia prior to getting submitted.

Rainey might want to take a page from Garcia’s book and take Salikhov off his feet early and often. Unfortunately, that approach takes him out of his comfort zone and he would only have a short time to prep for such an alteration. Salikhov’s unorthodox style will give Rainey lots of trouble, eventually leading to the knockout blow- my prediction is Muslin Salikhov to defeat Rick Raney by TKO.Paragraph breaker

125lbs- #6 Wilson Reis (22-8-0) vs John Moraga (18-6-0)

A pair of unsuccessful title challengers collide as Wilson Reis takes on John Moraga in the Flyweight division. Reis has lost back to back fights, submitting to the Champion and suffering a knockout against Henry Cejudo. Moraga’s 3-fight losing skid has given way to back to back wins, most recently pulling off a shocking upset of Magomed Bibulatov via knockout.

Moraga is 2 inches taller than Reis and he will have a 1” reach advantage. The Brazilian is a year younger.

Moraga showcased his punching power last time out, but it has been his lack of consistency in his offence that has been his undoing. In each of his last 3 defeats, he has been soundly outworked on the feet and given up multiple takedowns in 2 of those fights. Reis has improved his striking, but he is at his best when his wrestling and vaunted BJJ game are firing on all cylinders. Over his 6 UFC wins he has averaged just over 5 takedowns per fight while completing zero over his last 3 defeats. The big concern with Reis is his chin and as Moraga just demonstrated- he has fight ending power.

Moraga’s recent wins have been the result of a non-UFC calibre foe and a quick knockout while Reis current slide has come against arguably the best 2 fighters in the division. Reis’s chin is still a concern, but he will do just enough on the feet to set up his takedowns control based grappling- my prediction is Wilson Reis to defeat John Moraga by decision.

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185lbs- #13 Krzysztof Jotko (19-3-0) vs #15 Brad Tavares (16-5-0)

In the Middleweight division, Poland’s Krzysztof Jotko looks to snap the first 2 fight losing streak of his career when he takes on Hawaii’s Brad Tavares. Tavares has won 3 fights in a row, most recently defeating Elias Theodorou and Thales Leites. Jotko’s 5-fight winning streak has given way to a tough split decision loss to David Branch and violent knockout loss at the hands of Uriah Hall.

Jotko has a 3” reach advantage, but both men will stand 6’1”. Tavares is the older fighter by 2-years.

Jotko has started to move beyond his grinding style to incorporate more pressure-based striking. Despite his new found aggression, he averages under 3 SLpM and has relied on his takedowns to augment his vertical output. Tavares boast a strong TDD at 76% and holds a slight edge in the striking output category. Tavares never seems a threat to finish, but remains consistent over the full 15-minutes landing leg kicks and a solid jab.

This fight stands to be very close, but Jotko appears to have the more diversified attack. Look for the Polish fighter’s slightly more aggressive approach and willingness to look for takedowns to be his keys to success- my prediction is Krzysztof Jotko to defeat Brad Tavares by decision.

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155lbs- Gilbert Burns (12-2-0) vs Dan Moret (13-3-0)

Headlining the FightPass undercard, Gilbert “Durinho” Burns takes on Dan “The Hitman” Moret in the Lightweight division. After a 3-0 start, Burns has alternated wins and losses- most recently knocking out Jason Saggo. Moret has won back to back fights, most recently defeating Strikeforce alumni Alonzo Martinez.

Moret is 2 inches taller than Burns and will have a 3″ reach advantage. Moret took the spot of Lando Vannata who had been linked to a fight with Burns.

An incredibly talented ground fighter, Burns is coming off an impressive KO win. While he is capable on the feet, his struggles in the UFC have come with his inability to get his foe to the floor. He is 5-0 when he wins the takedown battle, but 0-2 when he does not. Moret has a solid wrestling game and comes to the UFC with 8 of his 13 wins by submission. He has also had some issues with his TDD on the regional scene. He would be best served to keep this fight standing, but he lacks the power to threaten Burns.

Burns has struggled with aggressive fighters that can either take him down or back him up with strikes. Moret might be able to take him down, but he won’t be able to do much from the top. Burns will eventually get in position to use his grappling skills- my prediction is Gilbert Burns to defeat Dan Moret by submission.

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125lbs- #15 Shana Dobson (3-1-0) vs Lauren Mueller (4-0-0)

In the Women’s Flyweight division, TUF alumni Shana “Danger” Dobson takes on the debuting Lauren “Princess Tiger” Mueller. Dobson defeated Ariel Beck in her debut- her only career loss came against divisional champion Nicco Montano. Mueller won by decision on her “Tuesday Night Contenders” fight for her only win of 2017.

Dobson is an inch taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. She is the older fighter by 2-years.

Prior to her last fight, all of Mueller’s pro bouts came under the infamous Gladiator Challenge banner where her opponents were a combined 0-7. She used a clinch-heavy attack in her last fight. Pinning her foe along the cage, she landed hard knees strikes. Against the striking of Dobson. “Danger” picked up her first win by knockout, land hefty punches that crumpled her foe. Prior to the finish, she had a lot of success with her low kicks.

Mueller gassed in her last fight despite controlling the majority of the action. At range, she is hittable and awkward. Unless she can continuously close the gap, Shana will land the better quality strikes and edge out a close fight in the second half- my prediction is Shana Dobson to defeat Lauren Mueller by decision.

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170lbs- Dhiego Lima (14-6-0) vs Yushin Okami (34-11-0)

In the Welterweight division, Dhiego Lima looks to rebound from his TUF tournament finals loss when he takes on former Middleweight title challenger Yushin “Thunder” Okami. Okami is coming off a late notice replacement competing at Light Heavyweight where he was defeated by OSP- he had won 4 in a row. Lima has dropped back to back, most recently dropping the TUF 25 Tournament finals to Jesse Taylor.

Despite Okami formerly fighting at Middleweight, he will have a just a 1″ reach advantage while standing the same height as Lima. Dhiego is the younger fighter by 8 years.

The most significant stat of this fight is the mounting number of times that Lima has been finished. He is 1-4 in the UFC with a trio of defeats by knockout and submission loss. Combining his lack of durability with his struggles dealing with pressure has made it a struggle for Lima when faced with UFC calibre opposition. Okami’s chin is far from ironclad, but he has the wrestling to Lima on his back if the exchanges start to go south.

Okami will work behind his jab, put Lima on his back, and eventually find his chin- my prediction is Yushin Okami to defeat Dhiego Lima by TKO.

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265lbs- Arjan Singh Bhullar (7-0-0) vs Adam Wieczorek (9-1-0)

In the Heavyweight division, Canadian Arjan Singh Bhullar takes on fellow UFC sophomore Adam “Siwy” Wieczorek. Bhullar took a unanimous decision over Luis Henrique to remain undefeated. Wieczorek extended his winning streak to 8 straight wins with a decision defeat of Anthony Hamilton.

At 6’5″, Wieczorek is 4 inches taller then his opponent to go along with a 6″ reach advantage. The Polish fighter should weigh in roughly 5 pounds heavier and he is the younger man by 6-years.

Despite leaning heavily on his wrestling background when competing on the regional scene, Bhullar landed just a single takedown on 1 attempt in his debut. Once on the mat, the Canadian dominated the action and control almost the entire second half of the middle round. Wieczorek gave up a pair of takedowns in his debut, but also spent some crucial time in top position. He has recorded 5 wins by submission, but he struggled to mount much offence off his back. His striking, similar to Bhullar is still a work in progress and far from the dominant aspect of his offence.

This fight will most likely come down to who controls the ground game. Bhullar is the better wrestler both offensively and defensively and that will show up as he grinds his foe into the floor- my prediction is Arjan Singh Bhullar to defeat Adam Wieczorek by decision.Paragraph breaker

135lbs- Matthew Lopez (10-2-0) vs Alejandro Perez (20-6-1)

The second of two Bantamweight bouts on the card features Matthew Lopez taking on TUF Latin American winner Alejandro “Turbo” Perez. Perez is undefeated over his last 5 fightings including wins over Iuri Alcantara and Andre Soukhamthath. Lopez lost his debut to Rani Yahya, but followed with back to back wins before getting stopped via strikes by Raphael Assuncao. ‘

Lopez is an inch taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage to go along with being the younger man by 2-years.

Mexico’s Perez has put together a noteworthy undefeated streak, but he has done so devoid of an overwhelmingly dominant performance. He offers some decent leg kicks, but his volume is a major issue. Over his 4 UFC fights to go the distance, he has outlanded his opponent just once by a grand total of a single strike. Lopez is aggressive both when striking and in pursuit of the takedown. He will find success with Perez allowing him to dictate the pace of the exchanges. The American’s aggression has cause some cardio issues, but he has also shown he can win fights that go beyond round 1.

Perez has won some incredibly close fights, but his luck runs out here against the forward pressure of Lopez- my prediction is Matthew Lopez to defeat Alejandro Perez by decision.

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135lbs- Luke Sanders (11-2-0) vs Patrick Williams (8-5-0)

Opening the preliminary fights, “Cool Hand” Luke Sanders takes on Patrick “The Animal” Williams in the Bantamweight division. Sanders started strong finishing Maximo Blanco, but he has since floundered with a pair of come-from-behind defeats against underdog opponents. Williams is also 1-2 in the Octagon- he has been finished in each of his 2 UFC losses with a shockingly abrupt submission win over Alejandro Perez sandwiched in the middle.

Williams is 2 inches taller an will have a sizeable 6″ reach advantage. Sanders is the younger fighter by 4-years.

Williams comes from a very strong wrestling background, but those skills have failed to translate at the UFC level. The combination of a flawed striking style and less than adequate gas tank has been his undoing. Sanders is the superior striker and should provide good enough defensive wrestling to force Williams to work hard if he wants to wrestle.

“Cool Hand” Luke will have no problem dictating the pace of the fight on the feet, pulling away if the fight goes beyond the opening frame- my prediction is Luke Sanders to defeat Patrick Williams by TKO.

155lbs- #1 Khabib Nurmagomedov (25-0-0) vs #11 Al Iaquinta (13-3-1)

In the newly minted main event, Russian wrecking machine Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov takes on New York’s own “Ragin'” Al Iaquinta in a 155.2-pound catchweight fight. Still undefeated, Nurmagomedov has beaten all comers, including Edson Barboza and former champion Rafael Dos Anjos on route to a 9-0 record inside the Octagon. Iaquinta, formerly paired with Paul Felder, has won 5 straights fights and has suffered just a singled defeat over his last 8 fights.

They share the same 70″ reach, but the Russian will stand an inch taller. Al is the older man by a year.

This fight is probably the best option the UFC has at this point. Matching an undefeated Russian against a disgruntled, but talented New York-born fighter is a very sellable main event. It also preserves the Holloway/Ortega Featherweight title fight in the pristine condition that is much needed. Conversely, it is disappointing that Nurmagomedov is the only fighter contenting for a title as Iaquinta came in .2 pounds over the Championship limit for a title fight he didn’t know he would be apart of. There is an easy fix here, but don’t forget this fight is taking place under the capable management of the New York Fight Commission.

What this fight comes down to is whether or not Iaquinta can stay vertical and deal with the pressure of Khabib. To date, Al boasts 84% TDD and has not been taken down in any of his last 6 fights. That being said, earlier in his career, he gave up 5 takedowns over his first 4 UFC fights. Submissions have also accounted for all 3 of his career losses which suggests he is vulnerable if the fight hits the floor.

Khabib is a world beater when it comes to his wrestling many only need one opportunity to put the American down for good once they hit the floor.

For Khabib, the big question in this fight surrounds his striking. He looked very confident walking down Barboza and eating big strikes, but the Brazilian was clearly compromised. Michael Johnson hurt him, but couldn’t follow up before “The Eagle” sank in his talons. The Russian leaves openings in his striking defence and Iaquinta is very capable, very accurate striker that has the type of power and volume to turn a fight in his favour quickly. Can he stay vertical long enough to deploy it?

Iaquinta comes from a camp that was connected to the upsets of both Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva. Can they muster another shocking underdog story?

Iaquinta has good defensive wrestling, but not perfect. He has never faced anyone the likes of Khabib. Conversely, Nurmagomedov’s style of pressuring that worked against Barboza could be a recipe for disaster as Iaquinta boxing is much sharper and won’t need the time and space that Edson needed to deploy his kicks. Ultimately, there is enough information to suggest that Al won’t be able to stop Khabib’s wrestling, therefore my prediction is Khabib Nurmagomedov to defeat Al Iaquinta by TKO.

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115lbs- #4 Karolina Kowalkiewicz (11-2-0) vs #8 Felice Herrig (14-6-0)

In the headlining encounter, hopeful potential title challengers Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Felice Herrig attempt to take a major step forward in the Women’s Strawweight division. Kowalkiewicz rebounded from a 2-fight losing skid with a decision victory over Jodie Esquibel, she is now 4-2 inside the Octagon. Herrig is rolling, currently riding a 4-fight winning streak with wins over Alexa Grasso, Justine Kish, and most recently Cortney Casey.

Herrig is an inch taller and will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. Karolina is the younger fighter by a year.

An impressive resurgence since her return from a prolonged layoff has put Herrig back into the Top 10 of the division. Her success has largely been the product of her improved ground game combining with a more than serviceable striking offence. Over her last 4 wins, she has landed at least a takedown per fight and held prolonged top control once doing so. Given the opportunity, Herrig is a capable submission fighter that knows how to finish. It is concerning to note that in 2 of her more competitive bouts, she was actually outlanded by both of her opponents. Additionally, they both landed more strikes in the later rounds, appearing to get strong as the contest went.

A former title challenger, Kowalkiewicz’s 2 fight losing streak came against the former champion and former #1 contender in the division- nothing to be ashamed of. Primarily a striker, KK has averaged 5.17 strikes landed per minute. She offers solid combinations and will augment her boxing with a decent kicking arsenal. Karolina can also work from the clinch with hard knees and elbows. Defensively, she has shut down 85% of her opponents’ TDAs and has been put on her back multiple times in a fight just once over 6 contests. One area of concern for the Polish striker is her tendency to get off to slow starts, but she has routinely rallied and finished strong.

KK has faced both fighters competing in the Strawweight title fight; oddly enough holding a win over the current champion and suffering a loss to the challenger.

Herrig has put together an impressive run, but her closest fights came against opponents with similar skillsets to Kowalkiewicz. The difference is, Karolina should find a little more success defending Felice’s TDAs and her superior volume striking will distance her on the feet. Felice’s opponents seem to find more success as the fight advance and that is exactly what Kowalkiewicz will do, edging her out in rounds 2 and 3- my prediction is Karolina Kowalkiewicz to defat Felice Herrig by decision.

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155lbs- Joe Lauzon (27-15-0) vs Chris Gruetzemacher (13-3-0)

In one of the few remaining fights untouched by the psychotic Irishman, fan favourite Joe Lauzon meets Chris “Gritz” Gruetzemacher. Lauzon has lost back to back fights against Clay Guida and Stevie Ray, he has just a single win over his last 4 outings. Gruetzemacher has also lost back to back fights after snapping up a decision victory in his UFC debut.

Lauzon is 2 inches taller than his foe and he will have a 3″ reach advantage. Gruetzemacher is the younger man by 2-years.

There has to be a level of desperation for Lauzon heading into this fight. His questionable split decision win over Marcin Held aside, Lauzon’s only legitimate win over his last 6 fights came over Diego Sanchez. A carer of going to war each and every fight has clearly caught up with Lauzon as the finishes and one-sided performances are beginning to pile. That being said, he is still an incredibly dangerous submission artist and a capable striker. Lauzon has traditionally had issues in fights where his opponent is able to offer a +50 significant strike output and/or Joe is unable to counter with a respectable number of takedowns.

Despite coming from a wrestling background, Gruetzemacher has been on the wrong side of the takedown totals over his brief 3-fight UFC run. Against Ramos, he gave up 5 takedowns and overall he has surrendered a total of 9 completions. He has also failed to score a single takedown in any of those fights. In addition to his questionable TDD, “Gritz” has been submitted in all 3 of his pro losses. If Chris can’t work from top position, his striking is serviceable, but he is far from an elite level striker. His best weapon is probably is pressure and general toughness.

Since entering the UFC, Lauzon has never gone more then 3-fights without winning a  performance bonus.

This fight really comes down to Lauzon’s gas tank; does it hold up over 3 rounds or can he get the finish before he hits empty? Lauzon has got off to strong starts, but if he can’t finish, he fades. Look for him to come out strong against “Gritz”, but him on the floor early and attack  Gruetzemacher’s leaky sub defence- my prediction is Joe Lauzon to defeat Chris Gruetzemacher by submission..

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155lbs- Evan Dunham (18-6-1) vs Olivier Aubin-Mercier (11-2-0)

In the Lightweight division, long-time divisional staple Evan Dunham makes his 19th walk to the Octagon when he takes on Canada’s own Olivier Aubin-Mercier. Dunham is coming off a hard-fought draw with Beneil Dariush and is undefeated over his last 5-fights. Aubin-Mercier is currently riding a 3-fight winning streak that includes a submission win over Drew Dober and a split decision nod against Tony Martin.

Dunham is an inch taller than his foe, but they will share the same 70″ reach. OAM is the younger fighter by 8-years. Olivier is replacing Mairbek Taisumov on roughly 1-month’s notice.

A Judo Black belt and BJJ Brown belt, Aubin-Mercier is largely a ground dependent fighter. He has recorded 8 wins by submission, 7 by RNC, and he has secured at least 2 takedowns in 6 of his 7 UFC triumphs. He managed to land a trio of completions over his 2 defeats, but he struggled significantly to match his foe’s output on the feet. The Canadian has been working to improve his striking, but it is still largely a secondary aspect of his offence. Once Olivier drags his adversary to the floor, he is an incredibly difficult top position fighter- either setting up the sub or grinding out a decision.

With Dunham having debuted in the UFC 2-years before OAM began his pro career, Evan has a sizeable experience advantage. The American appears to have a similar reliance on takedowns to that of his opponent. Over his last 4 wins, he has completed 10 TDs compared to just 4 in his last 3 defeats. That being said, Dunham has also put up significant striking totals in 3 of those 4 wins, averaging an impressive 112 significant strikes over that span. While Dunham can work a smothering mat game, his striking is very good. Dunham will continually push forward and offers multi-punch combinations while utilizing good head movement to slip and counter when his opponent returns fire. He doesn’t have a lot of power, but he is capable of doing some decent damage.

Dunham has defended 80% of his opponents’ TDAs and has given up just 1 takedown over his last 8 fights and hasn’t given up more than 1 since 2013.

Even when he is taken down, Dunham is incredibly difficult to keep down which does not bode well for OAM. If he is unable to secure prolonged top control, Olivier simply does not have the striking repertoire to match Dunham on the feet. Evan’s high volume onslaught will keep Aubin-Mercier on the defensive for the majority of the fight, negating any success that the Canadian might have on the floor- my prediction is Evan Dunham to defeat Olivier Aubin-Mercier by decision.

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125lbs- Bec Rawlings (7-7-0) vs Ashlee Evans-Smith (5-3-0)

In a fight featuring a pair of fighters looking for a reboot in the still-developing Women’s Flyweight division, “Rowdy” Bec Rawlings takes on “Rebel Girl” Ashlee Evans-Smith. AES has lost back to back fights, including a submission defeat to Sarah Moras in her most recent outing. Rawlings has lost 3-straight fights, including a split decision defeat to Jessica Rose-Clark in her division debut.

AES is coming down from Bantamweight and will stand 2 inches taller than Bec to go along with a 3″ reach advantage. Bec is the younger fighter by 2 years.

AES is a capable fighter, but she has been plagued by some questionable decision inside the cage. At her best, she can do damage in the clinch and then eventually drag her foe to the ground.  Once on top, look for Ashlee to unload with some heavy ground and pound capable of finishing the fight. All 3 of her stoppage wins have come in the final round which is a product of her ability to wear her foe down with pressure and pace. Despite her success on the mat, she has been submitted twice. Against Moras, she got caught on the mat in an armbar despite holding the superior position.

Rawlings has simply failed to get a solid foothold since entering the UFC. Her offensive/defensive exchange numbers are a major concern across the board. She hasn’t outlanded her opponent in any of her last 4-fights and her lack of consistent wrestling has created opportunities for her opponents to secure crucial takedowns of their own. Bec can do some damage on the feet when she keeps her hands active, but she doesn’t pack a lot of power. She has had issues in the past making weight, so moving to 125-pounds could provide a nice break from a difficult weight cut.

Rawlings missed weight in her final Strawweight fight and Evans-Smith formerly competed at Featherweight prior to her WSOF debut, making this fight her first cut to 125-pounds.

The weight cut for AES could be the deciding factor here. If the cut goes well, it should give her a decided strength advantage over Bec. If that is the case, look for Evans-Smith to either control the action in the clinch or plant Rawlings on her back for prolong periods of time. Rawlings needs to make this fight ugly, but unless AES completely gasses, her wrestling will nullify anything that Bec offers- my prediction is Ashlee Evans-Smith to defeat Bec Rawlings by decision.

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205lbs- Devin Clark (8-2-0) vs Mike Rodriguez (9-2-0)

In the Light Heavyweight division, Devin “Brown Bear” Clark looks to slip his UFC record back above .500 when he takes on “Tuesday Night Contender” product Mike “Slow” Rodriquez. Clark is coming off a submission loss to Jan Blachowicz to snap his 2-fight winning streak. Rodriguez has won 4 consecutive fights, all by stoppage, dating back to a 2016 defeat.

Standing 6’4″, the UFC newcomer is 4 inches taller than Clark to go along with a 7″ reach advantage. Clark is the younger man by 2-years.

Clark’s 2 UFC wins have been the product of a solid striking output and opportunistic wrestling. A plus athlete, Clark moves well working behind his left jab. He will throw decent multi-punch combinations, but Devin has also shown a willingness to get a little too aggressive when looking for the knockout. Against Blachowicz, he was hunting the knockout too much- jumping forward looking to only land power. His takedown game is most effective when he sets up his shot with his strikes, punching and changing levels.

Finishing all 9 of his wins, 7 by knockout, Rodriguez has fought beyond the middle frame just once. He has recorded 7 opening round wins. Fighting out of Lauzon MMA, he opened his last fight with a measured pace. Working behind low kicks and a jab, he limited his opponent’s offensive openings before eventually landing a massive flying knee and subsequent ground and pound for the finish. When his opponent did try and close the gap to attempt a takedown, Rodriguez showed solid TDD, utilizing a sprawl and quickly returning to his striking base.

Clark also found his path to the UFC via a reality show, catching the eye of the UFC brass on the “Lookin’ for a Fight” series.

Despite a finish heavy record, Rodriguez demonstrated impressive composure in his last fight. He wasn’t too aggressive or wild, he let the finish come to him. Clark is the opposite, he chases offence and leaves himself open in the process. A debuting fighter with a finish heavy record can create some concern, but my predictionis Mike Rodriguez to defeat Devin Clark by TKO.

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145lbs- Zabit Magomedsharipov (14-1-0) vs Kyle Bochniak (8-2-0)

Fast-rising Russian prospect Zabit Magomedsharipov looks for UFC win #3 when he takes on “Crash” Kyle Bochniak. Bochniak is coming off a solid performance in his decision win over Brandon Davis- he is 2-2 inside the Octagon. Magomedsharipov is has won 10-straight fights dating back to his only career loss- both his UFC wins have come by submission.

At 6’1″, Magomedsharipov is a full 6 inches taller than his American counterpart. Zabit will also have a 3″ reach advantage and is the younger man by 4-years.

Bochniak executed a well-planned strategic performance in his win over Davis. He utilized a lot of movement to avoid the power and pressure of his opponent while landing strikes from the outside. While he got the win, the offensive totals were close and added to a streak that has seen “Crash” get outlanded in all 4 of his UFC fights. He has also shown a degree of vulnerability to takedown-focused foes, surrendering 8 in his loss to Jeremy Kennedy and at least 1 in each of his other 3 fights. Bochniak is scrappy but his issues with maintaining a consistent offensive output has made it difficult for him to succeed at this level.

Highly touted as one of the top prospects in all of MMA, Magomedsharipov has finished 12 of his 14 opponents- split evenly between knockouts and submission.  Zabit has a strong kicking attack, throwing a nice selection of techniques with both power and speed. Making him more difficult to defend against, he transitions well between striking and grappling. His takedowns are solid, but once on the mat he is a monster. Magomedsharipov’s transition game is overwhelming and he accompanies it with relentless ground and pound and the constant threat of submissions.

After winning the ACB Featherweight Grand Prix, Magomedsharipov won and successfully defended the promotion’s Featherweight title before signing with the UFC.

Bochniak is going to struggle to find a pathway to victory here. He is not a big power or volume striker and his defensive wrestling is going to make it tough for him to even stay on his feet. Magomedsharipov is simply too big, too diverse, and too skilled for “Crash” to match anywhere in this fight- my prediction is Zabit Magomedsharipov to defeat Kyle Bochniak by submission.

185lbs- John Phillips (21-6-0 1NC) vs Charles Byrd (9-4-0)

Capping of the undercard, 27-fight veteran John Phillips finally makes the walk to the Octagon to oppose fellow UFC neophyte Charles “Kid Dynamite” Byrd. Byrd has won a trio of consecutive bouts including back to back fights on the “Tuesday Night Contender Series”- his last loss was to Bojan Velickovic. Phillips has won 4 fights in a row dating back to his 2013 setback to recent TUF winner and USADA target Jesse Taylor.

The Welsh fighter is an inch taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. He is also the younger man by 2 years, but he hasn’t fought in roughly 18-months.

Phillips has recorded an impressive 18 wins by knockout to go along with a trio of submission wins. He has finished 17 fights in the opening round and is 4-1 outside of round 1 to go along with 5 first round defeats. He packs some solid power in his left hook and throws it with reckless abandon. Against former UFC competitor Charlie Ward, the fight ended when Phillips offered his chin and then unloaded with a series of thunderous hooks. If his opponent opts to tie up with him, Phillips will continue to throw short, but powerful hooks and uppercuts. Phillip’s biggest issue has been his takedown defense. Once his opponent has been able to put him on his back, he has also nothing to offer.

Byrd has put up strong finishing numbers as well, but over a smaller sample size. He has recorded a trio of knockout wins and 4 victories by submission. He has also suffered a pair of defeats by sub. The “Dynamite Kid” has seen 9 fights end inside the opening frame while going 3-1 outside of the first frame. On the feet, he will sling chopping low kicks and back them up with power punches usually thrown in pairs. In both “DWTNCS” fights, he struggled to defend his foes’ early attempts to get the fight to the floor, but in both scenarios, he was able to counter into a superior position and eventually snare the sub.

Phillips has been on the UFC roster for over a year and has seen multiple debuts scrapped due to various injuries.

This fight will come very well come down to the opening minute. If Byrd scores a takedown he has the ground skills to exploit Phillips on the floor and grab the finish. If Phillips is able to draw him into a brawl, he has the power to put him out. Byrd’s striking is decent and should allow him to hold his own until he is able to secure the takedown- my prediction is Charles Byrd to defeat John Phillips by submission.

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170lbs- Danny Roberts (14-3-0) vs Oliver Enkamp (7-1-0)

In the Welterweight division, “Hot Chocolate” Danny Roberts looks to get back to his winning ways when he takes on Oliver “The Future” Enkamp. Roberts is coming off a knockout loss to Nordine Taleb and has just a single win over his last 3 fights after starting his UFC endeavour 2-0. Enkamp took a short notice debut and suffered the first loss of his pro career, also losing to the aforementioned Taleb.

Roberts is an inch taller, but the young Swede will have a 3″ reach advantage. Enkamp is the younger man by 4 years.

“Hot Chocolate” has shown signs of brilliance in the UFC, including his debut submission win over Nathan Coy. He comes from a boxing background and has won 6-times by knockout. Utilizing a strong right jab and solid left hook, Roberts averages 4.06 SLpM, but has given up just under 4 SApM. He struggled with the pressure of Mike Perry and his 2 knockout defeats create concern about his chin. Roberts gave up 9 takedowns over his fights prior to the Taleb knockout.

Enkamp comes from a karate background, using a sideways stance and relying heavily on his kicking attack. Despite his striking-centric style, “The Future” has just a single win by knockout. Look for Oliver to dart forward with a quick 1-2 before moving back to distance to let go with various spinning attacks. Building on his 4 submission wins, Enkamp scored an early takedown against Taleb and was active off his back when taken down.

Despite still being early in his MMA career, Enkamp has trained with the Machida family in an attempt to integrate his Karate into his MMA game more effectively.

Robert’s recent knockout losses came against a pair of heavy hitters- Enkamp is not that. While The Swede is a willing combatant, he is going to struggle to match the more conventional and straightforward offence of Roberts. Enkamp might look to the floor to change gears, but Roberts has successfully overcome better wrestlers in previous bouts- my prediction is Danny Roberts to to defeat Oliver Enkamp ny decision.

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170lbs- Jack Marshman (22-7-0) vs Brad Scott (11-5-0)– Cancelled

In a contest featuring a variety of pre-fight complications, Jack “Hammer” Marshman takes on late-notice injury replacement Brad “Bear” Scott in the Welterweight division. Marshman is coming off of a submission loss to Antonio Carlos Junior which dropped his UFC record to an even 2-2. Scott is also coming off a defeat, falling via TKO to Jack Hermansson- he has alternated his wins and losses over his last 7 fights to currently sit 3-4 inside the Octagon.

Scott is replacing Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos on less than 3-week’s notice. “Bear” is an inch taller and will have a 3″ reach advantage. Marshman is making is first move to Welterweight while Scott has some experience at 170-pounds but has been fighting 15-pounds heavier during his UFC run.

Marshman’s losses have come to a pair of legit fighting force, one on the mat and the other in the striking realm. A striker by trade, “Hammer’ has recorded 13-wins by knockout including his UFC debut. The Welsh fighter does his best work in close, moving into boxing range with an attack highlighted by a hefty left hook. Marshman is at his best when he can drag his foe into a brawl, but he has been knocked out 4-times.

Scott was unable to parlay his upset win over Scott Askham into further success and suffered his first TKO stoppage in the aftermath. The Brit offers some decent pop in his hands to go along with an aggressive forward push. His biggest point of concern when trading on the feet has been an inability to match his opponents’ output. Consequently, he has had issues winning fights on the scorecards with a current 1-3 record in decisions with his only victory coming by split decision.

Scott has failed to showcase a strong wrestling attack, but he has recorded 5 wins by submission including 2 in the UFC.

While both men are cutting to down to Welterweight, the edge should lie with Marshman as Scott is cutting on less than 3-weeks’ notice. Scott already had issues with output without a potential draining cut and the edge in power reside with Marshman. Unless Brad finds success with his wrestling, Jack will outwork him on the feet, pulling away late- my prediction is Jack Marshman to defeat Bradley Scott by decision.

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145lbs- Danny Henry (11-2-0) vs Hakeem Dawodu (7-0-1)

In the Featherweight division, Scotland’s Danny “The Hatchet” Henry make his sophomore walk to the cage opposite Canadian “Mean” Hakeem Dawodu. Henry defeated Daniel Teymur in his debut last July to extend his current winning streak to 4. Dawodu has spent his entire pro career fighting under the WSOF banner, most recently upending former UFC competitor Steven Siler by decision.

 At 6’0″, Henry is 3 inches taller than his opponent, but it will be the Canadain that is the younger fighter by 3-years. Dawodu has not fought in almost exactly a year and Henry is moving back down to Featherweight after debuting at 155-pounds.

With just his second career decision win in his promotional debut, Henry has finished 9 opponents- 5 by some form of knockout. He was under fire early and rocked by Teymur, but he showed impressive durability, endured and turned the action in his favour. Despite a finish heavy record, “The Hatchet” has a solid amount of experience in longer fights and his cardio was crucial in his debut as his opponent started to fade while he kept pushing. The Scot does have a 4-pack of submission wins, but his TDD has been a point of concern on the regional scene.

Alberta’s Dawodu has finished 6 of his 7 wins by knockout, but recording just a pair of first-round stoppages. Coming from a kickboxing background, he operates with a calm demeanour while tossing out a long left jab and slick counter striking. As the numbers indicate, he has some solid power in his hands and his slick head movement allows him to stay in range and land with regularity. In addition to the more conventional fair, Hakeem will throw knees in the clinch and hard elbows at distance. Against Siler, he defended some the early grappling advances and held is own in a back and forth brawl.

Henry came to the UFC as the reining EFC Featherweight champion, fighting out of South Africa.

Henry is double tough and took a lot of damage in his debut before his opponent started to falter. At this level, a gameplan built around taking damage is eventually going to prove ineffective. Dawodu is the far more technical striker and his smooth head movement and countering skills will create further issues if Henry tries to push forward- my prediction is Hakeem Dawodu to defeat Danny Henry by TKO.

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205lbs- Paul Craig (9-2-0) vs Magomed Ankalaev (9-0-0)

In the Light Heavyweight division, Scotland’s Paul “Bearjew” Craig welcomes Russian-born Magomed Ankalaev to the Octagon. Craig’s impressive debut has given way to a pair of opening-round TKO defeats to Khalil Rountree and Tyson Pedro. Ankalaev, still undefeated, has recent wins over former UFC fighter Wagner Prado and he is the only man to best Maxim Grishin over his last 15-fights.

Craig is an inch taller than his Russian adversary, but Ankalaev is the younger man by 5-years.

The Scot is a submission specialist, recording 8 of his 9 wins by submission. The majority of his wins have come by some form of choke, but he has shown a willingness to attack arms with a couple of armbar wins including in his UFC debut. Craig will attack from both top or bottom position and has shown a willingness to forgo position for submission. Craig’s wrestling game isn’t strong and he had no success closing the distance against Rountree. If forced to strike, he will rely mainly on his kicking game. He appeared to struggle dealing with the power of Rountree’s punches and the back to back stoppages raises questions about his durability.

The 25-year old Ankalaev has recorded 4 wins by knockout and he is a perfect 5-0 on the scorecards. Of his 4 knockouts, 3 have come in the opening round with a single stoppage coming in round 4. In his most recent outing, Ankalaev defended the early clinch TDA, took his foe to the mat and crushed him with brutal GNP. Against Prado, he utilized a patient striking game; working behind a jab and power punches and kicks. After stinging the Brazilian with a knee he shot a strong double and brutalized him with top position punches for the finish.

In 2016, Ankalaev won the WFCA Grand Prix with a trio of wins over a 7-month period.

Both fighters are aggressive finishers, but the key to this fight will be positioning. Craig won’t be able to hand the power punching of Ankalaev on the feet and lacks the wrestling to take him down. If “Bear Jew” goes to his back and can’t grab a quick sub, he will be at the mercy of Magomed’s relentless ground and pound- my prediction is Magomed Ankalaev to defeat Paul Craig by knockout. Paragraph breaker

155lbs- Stevie Ray (21-7-0) vs Kajan Johnson (22-12-1)

In the Lightweight division, “Ragin” Kajan Johnson takes on Stevie “Braveheart” Ray. Johnson has won a trio of fights after an unsuccessful UFC debut- he most recently scored a KO upset of Adriano Martins. Ray suffered a knockout loss in Scotland to Paul Felder, ending a 2-fight winning streak that included a split decision win over Joe Lauzon.

Johnson is an inch taller than Ray, but he will have a more pronounced 5″ reach advantage. Ray is the younger man by 6-years. Johnson was scheduled to face Rustam Khabilov, Ray replaced Khabilov on roughly 1-months notice.

While the Canadian is coming off a win on home soil, his previous 2 wins came in enemy territory against locally supported fighters. That experience will help Johnson fighting on the road again. Against Martins, an early knockdown and heavy defensive effort gave way to a shocking knockout- the 5th of his career. Kajan has shown himself to be a capable wrestler and he has recorded 11 wins by submission. An aggressive scrapper, Johnson’s willingness to engage has opened him up to taking damage and getting finished.

A traditionally durable fighter, Ray is attempting to rebound from the first knockout loss of his career. Ray does his best work on the feet, throwing with decent power and sound technique. At 3.6, his volume is decent and he has limted his opponents to 2.29 SApM. Ray can press forward, but he prefers to sit back and counter strike which can result in close fights on the scorecards. The biggest point of vulnerability for “Braveheart” has been his defensive wrestling and grappling game. Ray was subbed 4-times prior to coming to the UFC and has given up 5 TDs in a fight on 2 separate occasions.

Kajan has been knocked out 5 times in his career, not including the broken jaw he suffered on TUF Nations against Chad Laprise.

Both fighters have clear points of concern; Kajan’s chin and Ray’s counter wrestling. If Ray can find the mark, he has the power to put Kajan down. Conversely, Johnson has the striking skills and defensive work to hold his own on the feet and the ground game to reproduce the issues Ray has had on the mat. Ray is coming in on short notice, but fighting at home so Johnson needs to put forth a definitive effort. Kajan does enough on the feet, but also scores some crucial top control time- my prediction is Kajan Johnson to defeat Stevie Ray by decision.

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265lbs- Mark Godbeer (13-3-0) vs Dmitry Sosnovskiy (10-0-0)

In the Heavyweight division, Mark “The Hand of” Godbeer fights at home for the first time since early 2016 when he takes on UFC debutant Dmitry “Wicked Machine” Sosnovskiy. Godbeer has won back to back fights, including a gift of a DQ victory over Walt Harris after a gutty decision win against Daniel Spitz. Sosnovskiy’s initial debut against Justin Ledet failed to materialize- he has won all 10 of his pro fights.

While they are expected to weigh-in roughly around the 240-pound mark, Godbeer is an inch taller and will have an inch of reach on his foe. The Russian is the younger man by 6-years. Sosnovskiy hasn’t fought since 2015, a near 3-year layoff and he is stepping to take this fight with roughly a month to prep.

Recording 9 wins by knockout, the former BAMMA Champion is a capable kickboxer. He has averaged 4.6 strikes landed per minute with his UFC best 92 coming in his win over Spitz. It is interesting to note that Godbeer has only recorded 5 of his 11 stoppage wins inside the opening frame with the remaining 6 transpiring in round 2. His cardio has been a point of concern as he has slowed down in recent fights that have dragged beyond the first 5. Godbeer has been taken down once in each of his 3 UFC fights and had issue defending the clinch in the Bellator loss to Cheick Kongo.

A failed Bellator debut followed by a scratched UFC start has prevented Sosnovskiy from showcasing his skills outside of Russia. He has finished 8 of his 10 wins in the opening round, 6 by TKO, to go along with a 2-0 record on the scorecards. A ground-centric fighter, “Wicked Machine” has spent time training with Oleksiy Oliynyk, but now calls American Top Team home. While he will shoot from the outside, Sosnovskiy prefers to score takedowns from the clinch. Once on the mat, he will look to advance position and unload with heavy GNP leading to the stoppage. He throws with power, but his striking is still very raw and centred around closing the distance.

Sosnovskiy’s most notable win came over Aleksander Emelianenko in 2014, his other 3 foes over his last 4 wins have a combined 23-17 record.

There are a lot of x-factors here; the layoff, debut, and short notice for Sosnovskiy. He has also finished almost all of his fights inside round 1. Additionally, he is fighting outside of his home territory for the first time against a local and veteran fighter in Godbeer. If Sosnovskiy drags Godbeer to the floor, this fight is his, but he needs he finish. Conversely, Godbeer has a sizeable edge on the feet. While Godbeer’s cardio is far from perfect, he should still win the striking exchanges once “Wicked Machine” starts to gas out- my prediction is Mark Godbeer to defeat Dmitry Sosnovskiy by TKO.

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155lbs- Nad Narimani (10-2-0) vs Nasrat Haqparast (8-2-0)

In the opening fight of the night, promotional Sophomore Nasrat Haqparast takes on short notice injury replacement Nad Narimani in the Lightweight division. Haqparast got the call to face former Bellator title challenger Marcin Held in his debut and lost a decision- the first defeat since his pro debut. Narimani had a solid run under the Cage Warriors’ banner, holding down a 5-2 run leading up to his call to the big show.

Nasrat is 2 inches taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage over his foe. Nasrat is the younger fighter by 8-years while Narimani is moving up from his traditional weight class at 145-pounds.

While Haqparast came up short in his late notice debut, he still managed to hang in for the full 15-minutes. Against Held, he gave up a trio of takedowns, but still shut down 70% of his foe’s attempts to put him on the floor. Nasrat has finished all 8 of his wins by knockout, 6 in the opening round. It is interesting to note that as Haqparast has taken a step up in competition he has fought beyond in the opening round in each of his last 3-fights. Held got the edge in overall strikes, but Haqparast landed the more impactful techniques including a hard overhand left that dropped Marcin in round 2. Nasrat moves well and maintained an even-keeled demeanour on the feet, but lost the fight by spending too much time on his back.

Narimani, the Cage Warrior’s Featherweight champion, is taking this fight with less than a week to prepare. He last saw action 11-months ago in a 5-round title fight decision victory over noted prospect Paddy Pimblett. Recording 7 finishes, 5 by submission, Nad has gone to the scorecards 5-times, winning 3. That record could be a reflection of his struggles getting off to a slow start and allowing rounds to get away from him due to inactivity. In his last contest, Narimani mixed together some sound but simple striking and takedowns and top control time to distance himself from Pimblett on the cards and capture the title.

While Narimani was able to win the title in his most recent outing, it was his second attempt after dropping a decision back in November 2014.

Narimani is moving up a weight class, hasn’t fought in almost a year, and is fighting with less than a week to prep. That is a lot to overcome. His aforementioned issue of getting off to a slow start is concerning, especially if ring rust and/or octagon jitters inhibit his performance. Haqparast is still developing as a fighter, but he has good power and attacks with greater regularity than his foe. The experience of a UFC debut and having a full camp will be keys for Haqparast, my prediction is Nasrat Haqparast to defeat Nad Narimani by TKO.

115lbs- Mackenzie Dern (5-0-0) vs Ashley Yoder (5-3-0)

The preliminary card main event will feature the long away UFC-debut of  BJJ Ace Mackenzie Dern as she takes on Ashley “Spider Monkey” Yoder in the Strawweight division. Dern, still undefeated, is coming off of a successful Invicta FC debut where she submitted Kaline Medeiros. Yoder was also 1 and done under the Invicta banner, winning her debut by submission- she has gone 0-2 since making the jump to the UFC.

Yoder is 3 inches taller and she will have a 6″ reach advantage over the diminutive Dern. Mackenzie has had issues making weight, missing the 116-pound limit on a couple of occasions and competing at Flyweight in a recent bout. She did hit the Strawweight mark in her last fight.

A BJJ Purple belt, Yoder has secured 4 wins by submission- all by armbar. She completed a combined 4 takedowns over her 2 Octagon outings, including 3 against Angela Hill. Yoder isn’t afraid to pull guard if she is unable to get the fight to the mat. Against Justine Kish, Yoder found success getting on top of Kish, but she was unable to mount enough offense to earn the decision. Yoder’s striking, which should be her main focus here, is still developing. She throws a decent 1-2 and will toss out kicks to the lower half of her opponent. Her kicking options could be muted by a desire to avoid getting taken down.

An elite level and highly decorated BJJ Black belt, Dern has scored submission wins in 3 of her 5 MMA bouts- all by different methods. As a grappler, she compiled an impressive 74-26-1 record. Dern is clearly a specialist, but she has shown signs of the work she is putting in to diversify her offensive capabilities. In her last fight, she cracked her foe with an overhand right that appeared to stun her. Despite that moment of success, she looked clunky and awkward when throwing strikes. Her ground skills do allow her to maintain pressure when engaging on the feet which is going to allow her to have some success when striking.

Dern received her BJJ Black Belt before the age of 20 and has medaled at a number of major Grappling events including a 2016 Gold medal at the ADCCs in 60kg category.

Yoder is a good ground fighter, unfortunately, she is just good enough to get herself in trouble against Dern. That being said, Mackenzie’s previous struggles with making weight and the added nerves from making her UFC debut could compromise her performance. If things go well, Dern should have a sizable advantage on the mat and she will eventually succeed in dragging Yoder into a ground battle- my prediction is Mackenzie Dern to defeat Ashley Yoder by submission.

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155lbs- #12 Beneil Dariush (14-3-1) vs Alexander Hernandez (8-1-0)

In the Lightweight division, Beneil Dariush puts his spot in the Top 15 on the line when he meets late notice injury replacement Alexander “The Great” Hernandez. Dariush is winless in 2, most recently battling Evan Dunham to a hard-fought draw. Hernandez has won 6 consecutive fights, fighting just once in each of 2016 and 2015.

Hernandez is replacing Bobby Green on just a week’s notice. Dariush is an inch taller than Hernandez, but they will share the same 72″ reach. Hernandez is the younger man by 3-years.

Dariush’s started off primarily as a grappler, but he has leaned more heavily on his striking in recent fights. An early knockdown got him off to a good start against Dunham and despite the fight ending in a draw, Dariush finished with a lopsided 81-36 striking total. Beneil can strikes from all 3 areas, working kicks at range, boxing in close, and knees and elbows from the clinch. Conversely, he has left himself open to taking some damage and on a couple of occasions, his opponents have stopped him cold. His ground game still remains a threat, with good takedowns and capable top and bottom games to go along with sound TDD.

The UFC newcomer enters the cage having scored a trio of wins by knockout while more recently adding a pair of submission wins to his ledger. Hernandez has finished 4 foes in the opening round and gone to the 3rd round or a decision in the rest of his bouts. His last 3 wins came over a trio of fighters with a current combined record of 26-15. Hernandez offers a sound wrestling game, building the majority of his attack around takedowns. He will shoot from the outside, but from the clinch, he will look for suplexes and body lock takedowns.

Dariush has been finished in all 3 of his defeats. His submission loss to Michael Chiesa was the result of his inability to recognize the severity of the position for it was too late.

The biggest concern for Dariush is his cardio. He has been known to slow down and if Hernandez can push him early, he could capitalize later in the fight. Hernandez has some pop in his hands, but he is going to struggle to take Dariush down with regularity. Even if he does, Beneil’s guard will make the mat an unforgiving option. Dariush will get the better of the striking exchanges and hold the edge on the floor- my prediction is Beneil Dariush to defeat Alexander Hernandez by decision.

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135lbs- #8 John Dodson (20-9-0) vs #10 Pedro Munhoz (15-2-0 1NC)

In a bout formerly booked to transpire earlier this month in Brazil, former Flyweight title challenger John “The Magician” Dodson takes on “The Young Punisher” Pedro Munhoz in the Bantamweight division. Dodson is coming off a split decision loss to Marlon Moraes and has alternated wins and losses over his last 6 fights. Munhoz has rattled off 4-straight wins, including victories over Rob Font and Justin Scoggins.

Munhoz failed to make weight for their originally scheduled fight and Dodson refused to fight him. The Brazilian is 3 inches taller, but Dodson will have a 2″ reach advantage. Munhoz is the younger man by 2-years.

“The Young Punisher” combines a pressure-based striking attack with adept scrambling skills and a lights out squeeze. If Munhoz can latch onto his adversary’s neck, his guillotine is one of the best in the business. Munhoz striking is decent, but certainly not elite. Against Font, he pushed forward until he landed and hurt Font, forcing him into a panic takedown attempt and subsequent submission. Defensively, Munhoz leaves himself open to taking some damage and he has been hurt before. Ultimately, his entire offense centers around creating an opportunity for him to catch his opponent in a fight-ending choke.
Executing an incredibly contrarian style to his opponent, Dodson likes to sit on the outside and limit his opponent’s offensive opportunities, before launching forward to do damage himself. “The Magician” has dangerous power in his hands and when combined with his speed- he is a major threat on the feet. Conversely, his focus on counter striking and/or picking his spot to engage have created scenarios where his foe could edge him out on the scorecards by being the more active fighter. Dodson is quite difficult to find and authors a nearly impenetrable takedown defense.

Munhoz failed to make weight in their first fight which cost him an opportunity to fight at home in Brazil.

In Brazil, constant forward pressure and periodic landing of strikes might have been enough to give Munhoz the nod. It could be enough here, if Dodson fails to engage enough on the feet. Dodson style serves as a perfect foil for Munhoz. Pedro is going to attempt to chase down the faster Dodson and the American is going to bounce around the cage, launching in to attack and then retreating out of harm’s way. “The Magician” has stopping power, but Munhoz is tough- my prediction is John Dodson to defeat Pedro Munhoz by decision.

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185lbs- CB Dollaway (17-9-0) vs Hector Lombard (34-8-1 2NC)

Kicking off the televised prelims, CB “The Doberman” Dollaway takes on former Bellator Middleweight champion Hector Lombard. CB is coming off a Light Heavyweight decision win over Ed Herman, snapping a 3-fight losing skid. Lombard has dropped 4-straight fights, including his last 3 since returning to the 185-pounds division.

CB is 5 inches taller than Lombard and will have a 5″ reach advantage. Dollaway is the younger man by 5-years.

A fighter that started to catch fire a couple of years ago, Dollaway quickly slipped back down the ranks of relevance. A shaky chin has been a major concern for the “Doberman”. He has been knocked out on 4 occasions, most recently in his loss to Nate Marquardt where he appeared to be ahead after the opening round. Against Herman, Dollaway got back to his wrestling base, putting up 6 completions on route to a decision win. Once on the mat, CB maintained top control and mixed in solid GNP when possible.

 Failing to come close to the heaping expectations put upon him, Lombard continues to struggle his way down the ranks of the UFC roster. Once viewed as a pillar of durability, Hector has been finished in 3 of his last 4 fights. Even prior to his most recent struggles, Lombard’s cardio has been a major concern. If he is pushed, he will most likely experience a slowdown well before the end of the fight. The Bellator vet has stopping power, but often struggles to deploy it. His lack of activity between aggressive flurries or counter strikes can result in his opponent outworking him.

On Lombard’s current losing streak, he hurt 2 of his opponents and was probably ahead of Anthony Smith on the cards before getting finished.

Dollaway’s striking defense is incredibly weak and he tends to rely on his wrestling to score crucial points in a close fight. Lombard is going to be difficult to take off his feet and if CB gets too aggressive, Lombard will find his chin with a well-timed counter strike. Neither way is overly active when trading, but Lombard will find the mark more routinely until something of significance lands- my prediction is Hector Lombard to defeat CB Dollaway by TKO.

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170lbs- Mike Pyle (27-13-1) vs Zak Ottow (15-5-0)

In his 42nd and final fight, Mike “Quicksand” Pyle prepares to do battle with Zak “The Barbarian” Ottow in the FightPass headliner. Pyle has lost back to back fights, both by knockout, and has just a single win over his last 5 fights. Ottow’s UFC record fell to 2-2 after a TKO defeat to Li Jingliang last November.

Pyle is an inch taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. He is 11-years older than Ottow and he hasn’t fought in just over 14-months.

With 7 defeats by knockout, including 6 of his last 7 defeats- Pyle is vulnerable to anyone with some decent pop in their hands. Conversely, his knockout power also improved in the latter half of his career. While he can do damage from the outside, Pyle does his best work in the clinch with elbows and knee strikes. “Quicksand” has knocked out his opponent in 5 of his last 6 wins. Pyle is also a capable ground fighter. A BJJ Black belt, he has recorded 16-win by submission.

Ottow is far from flashy, utilizing a simple but usually effective striking attack and working in his ground game when needed. Working behind a left jab, “The Barbarian” maintains a consistent pace and will throw kicks to the legs and body. A BJ Brown belt, Ottow has submitted 10 opponents, including 9 by some form of choke. Ottow isn’t known for his striking power and his 3-2 record in decisions with a trio split decisions suggests he has trouble separating himself from his opponent in the eyes of the judges.

Back in late 2005, Pyle won the WEC Welterweight at WEC 16 and successfully defended it at WEC 17 before leaving promotion in early 2016.

Ottow’s wrestling has been mainly a miss in the UFC and Pyle is sound defensively. On the feet, Zak lacks the big punching power that has been Pyle’s undoing, but the degeneration of the vet’s chin is still a concern. A fighter at the end of his career, having missed over a year of action, and with an almost non existent chin is a tough fighter to back. Ottow will work his volume striking attack, chipping away at Pyle until he catches Mike with something a little more significant- my prediction is Zak Ottow to defeat Mike Pyle by knockout.

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135lbs- #7 Bryan Caraway (21-8-0) vs Cody Stamann (16-1-0)

In the Bantamweight division, the undervalued Bryan “Kid Lightning” Caraway finally returns to action when he takes on the streaking Cody Stamann. Stamann is 2-0 in the UFC with wins over Terrion Ware and Tom Duquesnoy- he has won 9 consecutive bouts. Caraway has won back to back bouts, defeating Eddie Wineland and Aljamain Sterling- his only defeat over his last 5 fights came against Raphael Assuncao.

Caraway is 2 inches taller and will have a 4″ reach advantage. He is 5-years older than Stamann and hasn’t competed in roughly 22-months.

Building on his wrestling background, Stamann has compiled 12 takedowns over his 2 UFC fights- landing his shot at an above average rate of 70%. He offers a nice reactive shot, often changing levels in the midst of his opponent’s strikes and blasting through with a power double. Cody has had issues in both fights maintaining top control, but once back on his feet he will simply shoot again. His striking is improving, working behind a solid left jab and hard right. Defensively, he does take some damage, especially when backed up to the cage.

“Kid Lightning” certainly has the edge in quality of competition having fought and defeated some a number of talented opponents. That being said, his prolonged layoff is a little bit concerning. Caraway has defended 80% of his opponent’s TDAs, utilizing good balance and counter wrestling to remain vertical. Offensively, Caraway has a decent wrestling game and even took Raphael Assuncao down twice. Once on top, he will smother his opposition with a mix of positional advances and strikes. Bryan doesn’t offer a big offensive output when striking, throwing single strikes from range or pairing up his punches on the inside.

Caraway’s longtime girlfriend and former UFC champion Miesha Tate recently announced her pregnancy. It is difficult to prognosticate how this could effective Caraway’s focus heading into this fight- if at all.

Stamann is younger and in a better spot in his career, but Caraway represents a solid step up in competition. Cody tends to back himself up to the cage when under attack and this is where Caraway scores the majority of his takedowns. Once on top, Caraway is hard to get out from under. Conversely, Stamann has had issues holding top position. Caraway will need to find some success on the feet, but he will win this fight from top position- my prediction is Bryan Caraway to defeat Cody Stamann by decision.

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205lbs- Jordan Johnson (8-0-0) vs Adam Milstead (8-1-0 1NC)

In the opening fight of the night, Jordan “Big Swingin'” Johnson welcomes former Heavyweight Adam “The Prototype” Milstead to the Light Heavyweight division. Johnson has won both of his Octagon forays, besting Henrique da Silva and Marcel Fortuna- both wins came by decision. Milstead stopped Chris de la Rocha in his debut, but got smashed by the mammoth Curtis Blaydes in his follow-up performance- the fight was eventually ruled a No Contest.

Moving down from Heavyweight will help Milstead in the physical department. He is an inch taller than Johnson, but he will give up 3 inches of reach. Milstead has been out for just short of 13-months.

“The Prototype” has finished all 8 of his pro wins, 6 by knockout. He has finished 5 foes in the first frame. Milstead does his best work in the pocket, landing heavy punches. Despite the power he appears to pack, his finishes tend to come from the accumulation of damage versus a 1-punch stoppage. He likes to throw a straight left and hefty right hook. Against an aggressive striker, Milstead will sit back and allow them to attack before firing his right hand as a counter.

The majority of Johnson’s pre-UFC success centered on his wrestling and with 6-completions over 2 wins has maintained that approach. Launching a long left jab, Johnson forces his foes to close the distance where he will promptly clinch and start looking for takedowns. He will also set up his shot with strikes before changing levels to shoot in. Once on top, JJ remains active with a constant flow of strikes- flowing with his opponent as they try to get up. His striking has been on the rise and his above average cardio allows Johnson to remain active wherever the fight goes.

Milstead showed incredible toughness in his loss to Blaydes. He suffered an early knee injury but continued to fight well after the initial damage was done.

There are a lot of x-factors here. Milstead’s layoff, recovery from injury and above all else his divisional change will certainly impact his performance one way or another. Johnson’s grinding style and superior cardio are going to be his key’s to victory. Adam has had issues maintain separation in both of his fights and he will start to slow down as the action continues. The opening round could be interesting, but Johnson takes the fight over with clinch and top position pressure- my prediction is Jordan Johnson to defeat Adam Milstead by submission.

135lbs- Renan Barao (36-5-0 1NC) vs Brian Kelleher (18-8-0)

In the headlining fight of the undercard, former Bantamweight champion Renan Barao takes on Brian “Boom” Kelleher. Barao lost a decision to Aljamain Sterling and has just a pair of wins over his last 6-fights. Kelleher scored a late TKO stoppage of Damian Stasiak- he has lost just a single fight over his last 8 outings.

Both are 5’6″, but the former Champ will have a 4″ reach advantage. Renan is the younger man by a year.

Renan recently made the move to American Top Team and is making the claim that he has completely revamped himself as a fighter. At his best, Barao is a dangerous submission fighter with solid wrestling skills. On the feet, he packs solid pop and can do damage with his hands or his legs. His ultimate undoing has been his less than stellar cardio and issues making the 135-pound limit. In his defeats, he has come up well short of his opponents’ striking totals and he hasn’t put a strong performance together since his 2013 title defense against Eddie Wineland.

After 2 very abrupt fights, Kelleher put together a complete performance ending in a 3rd round submission. Kelleher has submitted 8 opponents, 5 by guillotine. Conversely, the American has been subbed 5-times, including a trio of armbars. Against Stasiak, he was leading the majority of the exchanges and simply outworking his opponent. The fight ended with a hard right hand that led to a fight-ending GNP. He does have a tendency to throw single strikes, but his aggression and cardio allowed him to overwhelm Stasiak as the fight progressed.

Excluding his 2nd loss to TJ Dillashaw, Barao has landed a combined 9-takedowns over a 4 fight run.

The big question surrounding this fight is the camp change and how it will impact Barao.  If his cardio has improved, Barao needs to find a balance between his wrestling and his striking attack. Kelleher could outwork Barao, but he lacks diversity in his striking to routinely get the better of the Brazilian. Barao will land key takedowns and more strikes during the exchanges- my prediction Renan Barao to defeat Brian Kelleher by decision.

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135lbs- #7 Sara McMann (11-4-0) vs #8 Marion Reneau (8-3-1)

In the Bantamweight former title challenger, Sara McMann meets the double tough Marion “The Belizean Bruiser” Reneau. McMann’s resurgence was halted with a submission loss to Ketlen Vieira, she had won 3 straight fights prior to getting finished. Reneau is undefeated over her last 3 fights, stopping Talita Bernardo and Milana Dudieva with a draw to Bethe Correia in the middle.

Both girls are 5’6″, Reneau will have a 2″ reach advantage while McMann is the younger fighter by 3 years.

A top of the food chain wrestler, McMann returned to her roots during her charge back up the ranks. She averages 4.76 TDs per fight and parlayed her top position control into a pair of submission victories in her 2 most recent contests. If she can’t score the finish, she is more then capable of grinding out a decision from top position. The former Olympian packs some power in both her ground and pound and her striking, but the later is still a work in progress.

Reneau has shown herself to be a willing combatant anywhere the fight goes; she has finished her opponent in each of her last 3 wins- twice by TKO and once by submission. Marion offers some decent pop in her hands. She will work behind a long left jab and mix in power strikes some decent kicking techniques. If the fight hits the ground, she can generate power from top position and will attack off her back. She has been taken down at least once in each of her last 5 fights, losing the takedown battle 9-2 over that span.

Prior to being submitted by Vieira, all of McMann’s defeats had come against former or current UFC champions.

If she found herself in the ideal position, Reneau has the skills to shock McMann with either a submission or TKO stoppage. That being said, Sara’s aggressive wrestling attack should be enough to exploit the questionable takedown defense of Reneau. Marion can attack of her back, but Sara is just too strong from top position- my prediction is Sara McMann to defeat Marion Reneau by decision.Paragraph breaker

115lbs- #14 Maryna Moroz (8-2-0) vs Angela Hill (7-4-0)

In the Woman’s Strawweight division, Ukraine’s Maryna “Iron Woman” Moroz squares off with former Invicta champion TUF alumni Angela “Overkill” Hill. Hill is coming off a decision loss to Nina Ansaroff, she is a combined 2-4 over her 2 UFC tenures. Moroz made a strong debut and parlayed her success into a 3-1 start inside the Octagon, but she is coming off a decision defeat to former Champion Carla Esparza.

Moroz is 4 inches taller than Hill and she will have a 3″ reach advantage.

The Ukrainian began her career with 6 straight finishes, 5 by submission, all by some form of armbar. Since that run, she has gone the distance in 4 straight fights with an even record of 2-2. Despite her early career success on the mat, Moroz has struggled to put her opponents on the floor, losing the overall takedown battle 9-1. On the feet, she offers a service striking attack but isn’t a massive power threat and her volume tends to struggle at times. Against Danielle Taylor, Maryna landed just 17 significant strikes and struggled to find her range against her much shorter opponent.

Hill is coming off a 107 strike performance, the second time in her UFC run she has hit that number. Against Jessica Andrade, she showcased her improved movement and general toughness, taking a lot of the damage but going the distance with the Brazilian berzerker. Angela is sound Muay Thai based striker, mixing together her combinations and kicks. She can also do damage in the clinch with knees and elbows, but the close quarters opens her up to her opponent’s potential TDA. Hill has given up 10 takedowns over her 6 fights, but none in her last outing.

After back to back knockout wins to begin her Invicta career, Hill captured their Strawweight title and defended once before returning to the Octagon.

If Moroz can get the fight to the floor she should have a clear advantage over Hill, but doesn’t appear to have the wrestling to do so. On that feet, Maryna is going to struggle to land enough offense to make an impact. The superior defensive work of Hill will limit Moroz’s success and if Hill can come close to her personal best striking totals, she should have no problem outpointing her foe- my prediction is Angela Hill to defeat Maryna Moroz by decision.

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170lbs- Ben Saunders (21-8-2) vs Alan Jouban (15-6-0)

In the Welterweight division, Florida-born Ben “Killa B” Saunders takes on the always entertaining Alan “Brahma” Jouban. Saunders is coming off a TKO loss to Peter Sobotta, but he had previously won 5 of his last 6 fights. Jouban’s own 5-1 run has given way to a pair of defeats to Gunnar Nelson and Nico Price.

Saunders is 2 inches taller and will have a 4″ reach advantage. He is the younger man by 2 years.

Having finished 9 opponent’s by knockout, Jouban has established himself as an action fighter. At range, Jouban is a solid kicker and has some pop in his hands. He does some of his best work on the inside, controlling his foe in the clinch and landing elbows, short punches, and knees. The growing concern with “Brahma” has been his chin. He was hurt in multiple fights, he has been finished in 3 straight fights. Jouban has had issues with pressure in fights where his opponent pushed forward and forced him to work with his back to the cage.

Saunder’s chin has also been an issue throughout his career. “Killa B” is a gritty fighter, but he has been finished 5 times by knockout- succumbing to some big hitters. Similar to Jouban, Saunders does his best work in close with elbows and knees on the inside. When trading from the outside, Ben throws mainly right hands and kicks to the legs and body. While he lacks a strong wrestling attack, Ben is a capable grappler attacking with submission off his back. He has subbed 7 opponents to go along with 9 knockouts.

Jouban has split his 6 UFC wins between 1st round stoppages and 3-round decisions. Saunders has a similar split in his UFC career; with 4 round-1 stoppages and a trio of decision victories over his 8 Octagon victories.

Saunders is fighting at home which is a massive boost. His aggressive guard game is going to deter Jouban from looking for takedowns which will take away one of Jouban’s key weapons.  Look for Saunders to land kicks at range before pressuring Jouban along the cage with his clinch attack. While a knockout either way is possible, Saunders will be the more active fighter over the full 15 minutes- my prediction is Ben Saunders to defeat Alan Jouban by decision.

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205lbs- Sam Alvey (31-10-0 1NC) vs Marcin Prachnio (13-2-0)

Headlining the FightPass prelims, “Smile’n” Sam Alvey makes his first appearance of 2018 when he takes on promotional newcomer Marcin Prachnio in the Light Heavyweight division. Alvey won 4 straight fights over 2016 into 2017, but he has since dropped 2 of his last 3 fights including a defeat to Ramazan Emeev. Prachnio enters the UFC on an 8-fight winning streak, including a perfect 4-0 run through One FC.

Prachnio is an inch taller, but Alvey will have a 2″ reach advantage. The Polish fighter is 2-years younger than Alvey. Alvey is moving up to 205-pounds, replacing Jake Collier on 2-month’s notice.

Alvey gained notoriety with his big punching power and flash knockouts. He has finished 18 opponents by some form of knockout, including 4 in the UFC. Unfortunately, Alvey has not recorded a knockout win since mid-2016, a 5 fight span. Sam does his best work as a counter striker, sitting back and landing as his foe comes forward. This can create issues if his adversary utilizes a more calculated, less aggressive approach. Alvey’s counter wrestling has also been a key to his success, helping him to remain vertical and strike.

Finishing 10 of his 13 wins by knockout, all in the opening round, Prachnio knows how to finish. Marcin has power in his hands and in his kicks. He also stopped multiple opponents with knee strikes. Prachnio comes from a Karate and kickboxing background. Leading with his left hand, Prachnio will fire a big, wide-ranging, almost wild overhand right. His aggressive style often results in a loss of balance when throwing strikes. Coming from a striking background Marchin appears to have a clear vulnerability to getting taken down. He is 2-2 outside of the opening round, including a split decision win.

Over his first 3 UFC wins, Alvey landed a combined 18 significant strikes over just short of 7 minutes of action.

Alvey’s style is incredibly frustrating mixed with flashes of excitement. He could opt to utilizes his wrestling, but he has yet to do so in the UFC and most likely won’t look to step outside of his comfort zone. The aggression of Prachnio could create openings for Sam to counter, but if Alvey can’t land he will struggle to outwork his foe. Moving up to Light Heavyweight could make Alvey’s power less impactful which is probably his only way to win this fight- my prediction is Marcin Prachnio to defeat Sam Alvey by decision.

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135lbs- RANI YAHYA (24-9-0 1NC) vs RUSSELL DOANE (15-7-0)

In the Bantamweight division, smothering grappler Rani Yahya takes on the always game Hawaiian Russell Doane. Doane picked up a much-needed win, stopping Kwan Ho Kwak to snap 4-fight losing skid. Yahya’s 4-fight winning streak was snapped by a decision loss to Joe Soto, but he rebounded by tapping out Henry Briones.

Done is an inch taller and will have a 3″ reach advantage. He is 2-years younger than the Brazilian.

The goal of Yahya is far from a secret at this point. Close the distance, tie up, and drag his opponent to the floor. He completed 17-takedowns over his recent 4-fight winning streak. The BJJ Ace needed just a single completion in his last fight to set up the finish. Yaha’s gas tank has been the major point of concern as he tends to experience a sizeable slowdown midway through his fights that could cost him a potential victory.

Doane has recorded 5 wins by submission, including his UFC debut napping of BJJ Black belt Leandro Issa. Unfortunately, both his takedown defense and submission defense have been major liabilities. He has given up at 1 takedown in each of his fights and suffered through a 4-pack of submission defeats- including each of his last 2 defeats. Doane can hold his own on the feet and will most likely need to keep the fight vertical to have any success.

Despite not being ranked in the division top 15, Yahya has lost just twice over his last 11 fights.

Doane has a tendency to get drawn into grappling exchanges even when he knows he shouldn’t. To win this fight, he needs to either stay on his feet or survive the opening round and hope Rani gasses. The latter is certainly a possibility, but Yahya will find success early with his takedowns and go to work looking for the finish- my prediction is Rani Yahya to defeat Russell Doane by submission.

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125lbs- Eric Shelton (11-4-0) vs Alex Perez (19-4-0)

In the Flyweight division, Eric “Showtime” Shelton comes in fresh off his first UFC victory to fight wrestling standout Alex Perez. Perez won his debut over Carls John de Tomas via submission to extend his winning streak to 6 in a row. Shelton dropped a pair of competitive split decisions in his first 2 UFC outings before besting Janel Lausa last November.

Both men are 5’6″, but Shelton will have a 3″ reach advantage. Perez is the younger man by a year and is returning to the Flyweight division after debuting at 135 pounds.

Working to round out his attack, Perez showcased a solid offensive striking repertoire in his final pre-UFC bout. He landed some decent combinations and augmented his hands with hard low kicks. In his debut, Perez was getting cracked with a couple shots on the feet and periodically over-extended himself when engaging. Earning back to back submission wins, he demoed opportunistic grappling skills, locking up a pair of successful anaconda chokes from two different positions.

A strong athlete, Shelton is quick and offers a solid striking ensemble to go along with an above average ground game. “Showtime” landed 5 takedowns in his last fight and picked up 4 in his debut. Against a talented wrestler in Jared Brooks, he was taken down 5 times, but routinely got back to his feet. Shelton showed a nice uptick in his volume against Lausa with a 86-5 final count in significant strikes. He has struggled in close decisions with a 4-4 record on the cards, including a trio of split decision defeats.

Perez earned the call to the UFC with a win on the “Tuesday Night Contenders Series” over an opponent that holds a 2015 5-round victory over Eric Shelton.

This fight stands to be another close outcome if it hits the scorecards. Shelton appears to have the speed advantage and combined with his scrambling skills, he will force Perez to work hard to both close for a TDA and keep him down if successful. As the fight progresses look for “Showtime” to have an edge in cardio and work rate against Perez’s open striking defence which will allow “Showtime” to pull away during the vertical exchanges- my prediction is Eric Shelton to defeat Alex Perez by decision

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135lbs- Albert Morales (7-3-1) vs Manny Bermudez (10-0-0)

In the opening fight of the night, Albert “The Warrior” Morales takes on the debuting Manny Bermudez. Morales has just a single win over his 5-fight UFC run, he has back to back fights entering this bout. Bermudez is undefeated and is coming off a win over WEC veteran Bendy Casimir in his most recent outing.

Bermudez is an inch taller, but it will be Morales that has a slight 1″ reach advantage. Bermudez is the younger man by 3-years.

Morales is a willing combatant, but his willingness to stand and trade has not equated to victory in recent outings. He carries a negative striking exchange rate and has outlanded his opponent just once over his last 4 fights. “The Warrior” is 2-2-1 on the scorecards with 1 of his wins coming by narrow split decision. He does have some pop in his hands and throws hard low kicks. His mat game is also respectable and can score points or even end a fight given the opportunity.

Bermudez carries a submission heavy record, submitting 7 of his 10 opponents. All of his submission have come in the opening round and almost all have been by some form of choke. His move of choice appears to be the triangle choke, but he will attack submission from any position including standing.  The striking of Manny is still developing, he does throw a decent right hand but the majority of his offense is centered around closing the distance. He has fought beyond the opening round just twice, winning both fights by decision.

Morales has been a bit snake-bitten in close fights. He is coming off a fight that many in the media scored as a decision victory for “The Warrior” and his early draw versus Alejandro Perez could have easily gone his way.

While the rest of his game is still developing, Bermudez is incredibly slick on the mat and may only need 1 opportunity to finish the fight. Morales is no easy out, but his aggression opens him up to getting taken down or forced into a dangerous scramble with a superior ground fighter. If Albert can keep this fight vertical it is his to win, but even a clinch could be enough for Manny to snag a choke- my prediction is Manny Bermudez to defeat Albert Morales by submission.

155lbs- Jared Gordon (14-1-0) vs Carlos Diego Ferreira (12-2-0)

In the headlining bout of the undercard, Texas-resident Carlos Diego Ferreira meets Jared “Flash” Gordon in the Lightweight division. Gordon is 2-0 in the UFC after outworking Hacran Dias over 3-rounds- he has won 5 in a row. Ferreira won back to back fights to begin his UFC career, but then dropped 2 in a row before rallying to defeat Olivier Aubin-Mercier.

Both men are 5’9″, but Ferreira will have a sizeable 6″ reach advantage. The Brazilian is the older man by 3-years and hasn’t fought in roughly 25-months.

A BJJ Black belt, Ferreira has won 6-times by submission, but just once in the UFC. If he can get the fight to the mat he can win via submission or by grinding out a decision win. Unfortunately, his wrestling has been a little hit and miss, landing his UFC best 3 completions in a decision loss to Beniel Dariush. In his most recent win, he showcased his improving striking. He packs decent power in his punches, mixes in his kicking game, and he will close the gap to clinch and strike or look for a takedown.

Gordon’s success has largely be derived from his relentless pace and wrestling game. He has completed a combined 6 takedowns over 2 fights inside the Octagon. Defensively, he successfully shut down multiple attempts by Dias to put him on the floor. “Flash” also comes from a boxing back, but the majority of his striking success is the product of his relentless pace and pressure wearing his adversary out. Against Dias, Gordon found more success with his wrestling after exhausting Hacran with his pressure on the feet.

Ferreira is an impressive 10-0 when fighting in Texas.

A near 2-year layoff for Ferreira is going to be a lot to overcome. While he could have improved his striking during that time, there is a legit chance that ring rust and potential cardio issues will nullify those improvements. Gordon appears to have the defensive skills to keep the fight vertical and even if Diego keeps the action close early, “Flash” should be able to pull away in rounds 2 and 3- my predicition is Jared Gordon to defeat Carlos Diego Ferreira by decision.

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170lbs- Geoff Neal (8-2-0) vs Brian Camozzi (7-4-0)

In the Welterweight division, the debuting Geoff “Handz of Steel” Neal takes on Brian Camozzi. Camozzi is 0-2 in the UFC and potentially facing his walking papers after suffering a loss to Chad Laprise by TKO last summer. Neal finished his “DWTNCS” opponent in just under 2-minutes and he is 6-1 over his last 7 fights.

At 6’2″, Camozzi is 3 inches taller than Neal to go along with a 3″ reach advantage. Brian is the younger man by a year.

Camozzi is coming off a fight where he lost by stoppage to a Lightweight fighter who took the bout on short notice. His durability is a growing concern as he has been put down in each of his last 2 fights. He chambers his punches well and throws a decent 1-2, but his he struggles to land with consistency. His kicks are decent, but they don’t offer enough to make up for his lack of success with his hands. A BJJ Purple belt with 4 wins by submission, Camozzi has given up a pair of TDs, but has yet to land one.

Defending and scrambling his way out of some early takedown pressure, Neal got vertical and landed fast and powerful combos that sent his opponent tumbling to the floor. Geoff has demoed solid TDD, using good balance to remain vertical and quickly getting back to his feet if taken down.  He has finished 5 foes by knockout, 3 in the opening round. A Southpaw, “Handz of Steel” works behind a jab and will follow with a powerful straight left.

Both of Camozzi’s previous fight have been impacted by short notice, including Camozzi taking his debut as an injury replacement.

Camozzi needs to utilize his clinch game and jam Neal up along the wall. If he can’t work on the inside he will need to show improved distance management and that probably won’t be the case. Neal will have a speed and power advantage to go along with being the more skilled striker, my prediciton is Geoff Neal to defeat Brian Camozzi by TKO.

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125lbs- Roberto Sanchez (7-1-0) vs Joby Sanchez (11-2-0)

In the Flyweight division, Joby Sanchez returns to the UFC to take on LFA veteran “Little Fury” Roberto Sanchez. Joby went 1-2 during his first UFC run but a pair of wins on the “Tuesday Night Contender’s Series” got him a return date in the Octagon. Roberto made his debut last August, suffering an opening round submission loss to Joseph Morales.

Both me are 5’6″, Joby will have a slight 2″ reach advantage and he is the younger man by 5-years.

Joby has split his 8 finishes evenly between knockouts and submission. Despite the split, his primary focus is his striking. He will slide into the pocket to throw crisp combinations, but when doing so, he opens himself up to taking some damage. His volume has been decent, but he has struggled with his opponent’s power. He suffered a knockout loss in the UFC and was dropped in the early going of his first “Contenders” bout. Sanchez did finish his last foe on the floor, but he has spent a lot of time on the defensive in grappling exchanges.

Harbouring a submission heavy record, Roberto Sanchez has submitted his foe in 6 of his 7 wins. He has won 4-times by RNC, but he is coming off the first loss of his career- also by RNC. He shot early against Morales and controlled the action on the floor. The fight turned when they returned to their feet and Sanchez was dropped with a big right hand and shortly after submitted. The majority of Sanchez’s vertical offence is centred around closing the distance and getting the fight to the floor.

While Joby Sanchez has finished over 70% of his fights, he has stopped just 2 in the opening round.

Joby has had mixed results shutting down his opponent’s takedown attempts and he tends to be a slow starter. Roberto is going to come out and push Joby into the cage, clinch, and look to drag the fight to the floor. Joby has to keep separation and strike, but even if Sanchez can’t get the finish his pressure and control should be enough- my prediction is Roberto Sanchez to defeat Joby Sanchez by submission.

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135lbs- Sarah Moras (5-3-0) vs Lucie Pudilova (7-2-0)

Opening the televised prelims, Canadian Sarah “Cheesecake” Moras battles it out with Czech-born Lucie “Bullett” Pudilova in Bantamweight division.  Moras is coming off an impressive upset over Ashlee Evans-Smith, scoring an opening round submission win- she is now 2-1 in the UFC. Pudilova scored her first promotional victory, besting Ji Yeon Kim after dropping a debut decision to Lina Lansberg.

Despite sharing an identical 67″ reach, Pudilova is the taller woman by an inch. The Czech battler is also the younger girl by 6-years.

Moras’s UFC run has been dictated by the action on the mat. A BJJ Purple belt, she earned a birth in the TUF semi-finals with a submission victory, but was promptly eliminated by Julianna Pena via submission. She gave up a combined 6-takedowns over her first 2 Octagon bouts and then finished AES on the floor with a well-executed armbar. Moras is capable of working off her back if taken down and showed good dexterity in her legs. The majority of her striking offence is centred around closing the distance to clinch and take the fight to the floor.

Pudilova is at her best when she can maintain separation and work her volume striking attack. In her first meeting with Lansberg, she struggled to break the clinch, but showed improved defensive skills in their UFC rematch. Lucie throws decent combinations and operates at an above average pace. She was getting tagged with some power strikes from Kim, but she routinely answered with superior volume. The long combinations and sharp jab of Pudilova has been the keys to her success.

Moras has struggled to remain active of late, fighting just once 2014, 2015, and 2017. She missed all of 2016.

This fight appears to line up like the classic grappler versus striker showdown. The big key here will be the wrestling or Moras. She struggles to put her foe on the mat and usually relies on her opponent to take the fight to the ground. Pudilova won’t do that. Lucie’s TDD and improving striking will be the keys here. The Czech will routinely get the better of the exchanges and defend Moras diminishing TDAs, my prediction is Lucie Pudilova to defeat Sarah Moras by decision.

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170lbs- Joshua Burkman (29-16-0 1NC) vs Alex Morono (13-4-0 1NC)

In the Welterweight division, Josh “The People’s Warrior” Burkman takes on Alex ‘The Great White” Morono. Morono dropped a narrow split decision to Keita Nakamura in his last fight, ending his 8 fight unbeaten streak. Burkman’s struggles continue with a KO defeat to Drew Dober, he has lost 4 consecutive fights.

Morono is an inch taller than Burkman, they have the same reach, and Morono is the younger man by 10-years.

With Burkman considering retirement, it brings into question his mental focus. Moreover, he simply has not been able to execute at the UFC level. Burkman has power and is a capable submission fighter, but he rarely finds himself in a position to utilize those skills. He offers a decent variety of kicks, often forgoing his hands at range. What has to be most concerning for the veteran is the recent knockout losses. Know for his durability, Josh has been knocked out twice over his last 5 defeats.

Morono utilizes an unconventional upright stance when striking, framing his attack with a lot of movement. The Texas-native’s volume has been the key to his success, as he has averaged 4.31 SLpM including his UFC personal-best 111 in his battering of James Moontasri. Despite focusing almost entirely on his striking, Morono has more submission wins (5) and then wins by knockout (4). He was holding his own early against Niko Price before suffering a nasty knockout at the end of round 2.

Burkman is returning to Welterweight after a failed 1-3 stint at 155-pounds.

It is shocking that Burkman is still on the roster considering how much he has struggled of late. Morono volume and is going to be the key to his success. Josh simply doesn’t offer enough offence to earn a decision win and his faltering durability raises questions if he will be able to go the full 15-minutes, my prediction is Alex Morono to defeat Josh Burkman by TKO.

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185lbs- Tim Williams (15-3-0) vs OSKAR PIECHOTA (10-0-0)

In the opening fight of the night, multi-time TUF competitor Tim “The South Jersey Strangler” Williams takes on UFC sophomore Oskar Piechota. Piechota debuted with a decision victory over Jonathan Wilson to remain undefeated for his career. Williams got the call on the strength of a 5-fight winning streak that includes victories over Nah-Shon Burell and Jay Silva.

Williams is the taller man by 2 inches, but they share the same 76″ reach. Piechota is 4-years younger.

The Polish fighter put together a strong debut, outlanding his foe by a lopsided 56-17 count. He has shown marked improvements in his striking in recent fights, including a pair of knockout wins in his last 2 regional bouts. If the fight hits the ground he offers a very strong BJJ game and can work from both top and bottom positions. Against Wilson, he went for a trip takedown and quickly transitioned to a standing back mount to control the rest of the round.

Between his time on the reality show and a failed late notice replacement bid, Williams is long overdue to make his UFC debut. Recording 9-wins by submission, Williams is constantly looking to close the distance and drag his opponent to the floor. As his nickname implies, the majority of his wins have come by some form of choke. If he can’t get the tap, look for him to grind out his opponent with a constant flow of takedowns and top position.

Williams took part in both TUF 17 and 19 seasons. He finished 1-2 defeating Bojan Velickovic and dropping bouts to Dylan Andrews and Dhiego Lima.

“The South Jersey Strangler” is going to be hard-pressed to finish Piechota on the mat as the Pole appears to be the superior grappler. If they stay on the feet, the edge in speed and power both lie with Oskar. Williams’s best course of action would be to hold Piechota on the cage and the mat while looking for a decision. That won’t be easy. Piechota will do some damage during the early exchanges and eventually take advantage of a desperate takedown attempt- my prediction is Oskar Piechota to defeat Tim Williams by submission.

155lbs- Damien Brown (17-11-0) vs Dong Hyun Kim (15-8-3)

Headlining the prelims, Damien “Beatdown” Brown continues his UFC run when he takes on “Maestro” Dong Hyun Kim in the Lightweight division. Brown was last seen dropping a split decision to Frank Camacho resulting in his UFC record falling to 2-3. Kim has won back to back fights after finishing Pride Legend Takanori Gomi- he is now 2-2 in the promotion.

Kim is an inch taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. Kim is the younger fighter by 4-years.

South Korea’s Dong made tidy work of Takanori Gomi, ending the fight in just 90 seconds. He dropped him with a straight left before swarming him for the finish. Kim has been apart of a couple of entertaining back and forth standup wars, losing both by knockout. He will stand and trade on the feet, but he effectively utilized his Judo background landing a 4-pack of takedowns in his win over Brendan O’Reilly.

Brown landed more strikes in his last fight, 104, than he did in all of 4 previous UFC contests. Brown is scrappy and a willing combatant, but in his 2 wins, he has been the beneficiary of the shortcomings of his opponents. One fighter gassed badly in the second half of their fight and the other was undone by his general lack of durability. In defeat, either Brown’s TDD has failed him or he has come up short on the feet either getting knocked out or taking too much damage.

Brown has been finished 4-times by submission and twice by knockout. Kim has been finished 4-times, split evenly between knockouts and submissions.

Kim has the ground skills to both control Brown on the mat and prevent him from scoring his own takedowns. While both men have been finished on feet, Kim appears to be the more durable fighter with the superior work rate and technique. Look for Kim to trade early with “Beatdown” before switching gears to a clinch and takedown-based attack to control the rest of the action- my prediction is Dong Hyun Kim to defeat Damien Brown by decision.

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185lbs- Rob Wilkinson (11-1-0) vs Israel Adesanya (11-0-0)

In the penultimate prelim fight, Aussie “Razor” Rob Wilkinson makes his sophomore appearance when he takes on the debuting Israel Adesanya of New Zealand. Wilkinson suffered a middle round TKO loss to Siyar Bahadurzada in his debut, the first pro loss of his career. Adesanya debuts in the UFC on the strength of an impressive knockout loaded record, including a summer of 2017 knockout of Melvin Guillard.

Wilkinson is an inch taller than Adesanya and 3-years younger. They will share the same lengthy 80″ reach. The Aussie is the younger man by 3 years.

Having finished the majority of his opponents on the mat, Wilkinson is a wrestle first fighter. He completed 2 of his 4 takedown attempts in his debut, but struggled to keep his foe on the floor. He will look to crash his opponent into the cage before changing levels for the shot. On the feet, he offers a decent left jab, but nothing overly complex. Once Wilkinson begins to slow down, his takedowns and striking become far less effective- but he will continue to push forward.

After compiling an impressive kickboxing record, Adesanya has transitioned his striking prowess to the world of MMA. He has finished all 11 of his opponents via knockout, 5 in round 1 and 6 more in the middle frame. Adesanya throws a nice variety of kicks, including hard low kicks. He’ll work behind a left jab when setting up his offence and uses fakes and feints to help break down his opponent’s defence. Guillard shot early on Israel and for the most part,  Adesanya was able to defend and eventually offer a nice throw of his own.

While on the regional circuit, both men held the AFC Middleweight title. Wilkinson captured the belt in early 2016, while Adesanya won and defend the title in the second half of 2017.

This fight will come down to Wilkinson’s ability to score takedowns. If he can put Adesanya on the floor and keep him there, that will take the Isareal sizeable striking advantage out of the equation. Conversely, if Adesanya’s TDD is up to the test he should be able to do a lot of damage. Wilkinson lacks the athleticism and cardio to threaten Israel beyond a couple early TDAs- my prediction is Israel Adesanya to defeat Rob Wilkinson by TKO.

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145lbs- Alexander Volkanovski (16-1-0) vs Jeremy Kennedy (11-0-0)

In a battle of rising Featherweight prospects, Canada’s Jeremy “JBC” Kennedy goes toe to toe with Alexander “The Great” Volkanovski. Still undefeated, Kennedy has won a trio of fights to start his UFC run, most recently defeating Kyle Bochniak. Volkanovski is also 3-0 inside the Octagon, besting the likes of Mizuto Hirota and Shane Young in his last fight.

At 5’11”, Kennedy is 5 inches taller than Volkanovski, but they will share the same 71″ reach. The Canadian is the younger man by 4-years.

The takedown game of “RBC” has been at the focal point of his success. Over his 3 UFC triumphs, Kennedy has completed 21 takedowns at a 56% completion rate while stopping 100% of his opponent’s TDAs. Using his hands to set up his shot, Kennedy offers a quick level change. He will also work from the clinch when looking to get the fight to the mat. While his striking is still a work in progress, his aggressive forward push has served to cover up his technical shortcomings.

Not to be outdone, Volkanovski has put up some solid numbers on the mat as well. The Aussie has completed 1 of every 2 of his shots, landing a total of 12 takedowns in 3 bouts. Once on the ground, Volkanovski utilizes solid top pressure and can land some decent ground and pound. He does have some power on the feet, especially in his overhand right, but his aggression has opened him to getting taken down on a couple of occasions.

This fight was originally scheduled to take place back in November, but Kennedy withdrew with a back injury.

If this fight stays vertical, the right hand of Volkanovski could be the deciding factor. That being said, the key here will be the constant swarming attack of Kennedy. Volkanovski can be taken down and the relentless pace of Kennedy is going to keep Alexander on the defensive when he isn’t on his back- my prediction is Jeremy Kennedy to defeat Alexander Volkanovski.

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125lbs- #4 Jussier Formiga (20-5-0) vs #8 Ben Nguyen (17-6-0)

A pair of Top 10 ranked Flyweights go head to head as Jussier Formiga takes on adopted Australian Ben “Ten” Nguyen. Formiga is coming off of a submission win over Ulka Sasaki, one fight removed from dropping a decision to Ray Borg that potentially cost the Brazilian a title shot. Nguyen has won back to back contests, earning a decision over Geane Herrera and a submission victory over Tim Elliott.

Formiga will have a 2″ reach advantage, despite both men standing 5’5″. Ben “Ten” is the younger man by 3-years.

The Brazilian is an elite level grappler, boasting the most dangerous back take in the division. He has won 7-times by RNC.  Despite his improvements on the feet, Jussier has completed zero takedowns over his 4 UFC losses compared to 13 completions over his 6 wins. His ability to synch up the sub following just a single completion limits his overall takedown numbers. If he can’t score the initial takedown, Formiga is very crafty and capable of scrambling his way to a better position.

Nguyen, a BJJ Brown belt, has showcased his skills on the mat. He has 5 submissions overall, 4 by RNC and 2 in the UFC. Conversely, his only UFC defeat came largely on the mat against Louis Smolka who wore him out with a constant flow of transitions and GNP. Ben would be best suited to keep this fight standing and utilize his striking to get the better of Formiga. He has good power and solid technique in which to deliver it.

Putting up a UFC personal best 105-strikes in his second last win, Nguyen averages 3.25 SLpM more than Formiga.

Jussier may only need 1 opportunity to end this fight if he can get in position to use his ground attack. Ben has the advantage on the feet, but Formiga has made enough improvements that he can hold his own. Look for Formiga to get the fight to the mat early and often, smothering Ben “Ten” while digging for the finishing sequence- my prediction is Jussier Formiga to defeat Ben Nguyen by decision.

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155lbs- Ross Pearson (21-12-0 1NC) vs Mizuto Hirota (19-8-2)

In the Headlining bout of the FightPass portion of the card, “The Real Deal” Ross Pearson goes head to head with Japan’s Mizuto “Pugnus” Hirota in the Lightweight division. Pearson has dropped 4 consecutive fights and has just 3 wins over his last 10 outings. Hirota suffered a decision loss to Alex Volkanovski ending his 5-fight unbeaten streak; he was 1-0-1 since returning to the promotion.

Hirota struggled to make weight for his last fight and had to pull out. This will be his first fight at Lightweight since 2012. Pearson is an inch taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. Pearson is the younger fighter by 3-years.

Although Pearson builds the majority of his offence around his striking, his questionable chin is a concerning vulnerability. Despite the loss to Hooker, he showed noticeable changes to his offence; offering a greater variety of techniques and a more varied pace. Ross is a capable counter striker, but he is far more effective when he leads the exchanges.

Hirota, also primarily a striker, has 1o wins by knockout and has never been finished by strikes. “Pugnus” has never finished an opponent on North American soil. Working behind a left jab, he will sit the pocket and throw short quick combinations. Hirota has struggled with his volume, currently carrying a -0.25 striking exchange rate. This stat directly corresponds with his 8-7 record in decisions.

Giving up 17 takedowns over his 5 UFC contests, Hirota has struggled defensively when opponents have looked to wrestle him.

Both fighters could opt to integrate some wrestling or clinch work into their attack, but this bout should be won and lost in the striking exchanges. Pearson needs to continue to be aggressive, push the pace, and outwork Hirota from start to finish. Both fighters are inclined to close, sometimes controversial decisions, but Pearson will do more with his boxing- my prediction is Ross Pearson to defeat Mizuto Hirota by decision

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135lbs- Teruto Ishihara (11-4-2) vs Jose Quinonez (7-2-0)

In the Bantamweight division, Road to the UFC: Japan co-champ Teruto Ishihara takes on TUF Latin American alumni Jose “El Teco” Quinonez. Ishihara snapped a 2-fighting losing streak with a decision win over Rolando Dy, he had dropped back to back fights to Artem Lobov and Gray Maynard. Quininez has won a trio of consecutive fights after dropping a decision to Alejandro Perez in the TUF Latin American Finals.

Quinonez is an inch taller, but they will share a 69″ reach. Teruto is the younger man by a year and will be making his Bantamweight debut in the UFC.

Boasting an impressive 8 wins by knockout, Ishihara demoed his power in his first 2 UFC victories and nearly finished Dy. Utilizing a lot of movement, Teruto does a good job of mixing together speed and power. He is 9-2-1 in fights that last less than 10 minutes, but 1-2-1 when forced beyond the 2nd frame. He has had issues with his cardio- slowing down in the second half of fights and struggling to match his opponent’s output.

Showcasing an evolving skill set, Quinonez has landed a combined 10 takedowns over 4 fights. He offers a decent striking attack, darting in and out to limit his opponent’s opportunities to attack. He does have a tendency to stand a little tall which can create openings for his opponent to land power strikes. The cardio of Quinonez should be a key advantage in his fight, especially if he can push his opponent early.

Teruto gave up 11 takedowns in his upset defeat to former Lightweight title challenger Gray Maynard.

Ishihara needs a knockout, most likely in the first round in order to win this fight. Quinonez’s edge in cardio and more varied attack is going to be difficult for him to overcome as the fight moves into rounds 2 and 3. Look for Quinonez to weather the early storm before taking over the fight with takedowns and a more technical approach to striking- my prediction is Jose Quinonez to defeat Teruto Ishihara by decision.

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170lbs- Luke Jumeau (12-4-0) vs Daichi Abe (6-0-0)

In the opening fight of the night, Luke “Jedi” Jumeau looks to rebound from his first defeat since 2013 when he takes on promotional newcomer Daichi Abe in the Welterweight division. Abe defeated Hyun Gyu Lim is his UFC debut to maintain his perfect professional record. Jumeau failed to build on his debut victory over Dominques Steele when he dropped a decision to Shinso Anzai last September.

Both men stand 5’11” with Jumeau holding a slight 1″ reach advantage. Abe is the younger fighter by 3-years.

Despite entering this fight at 1-1, Jumeau has been outlanded by his opponent in each of his fights. This could be partially the result of his willingness to sit back and counter strike as his opponent pushes forward. When pushing the attack, he throws a decent 1-2 and will mix in leg kicks. Against Abe, he spent some time fending off takedown attempts, with mixed results, which also inhibited his ability to land strikes.

Finishing 4 of his 6 career wins via knockout, Abe continued to showcase his power in his debut. He packs consider pop in his left hand and will counter with it. At the onset of his career, he was known to come out aggressive and overwhelm his opponent, but he has since opted to slow his pace and utilize a more calculated approach. Working his way inside the significant reach of Lim, Abe relied on his kicks, solid head movement, and a stout chin to withstand the damage.

Jumeau ran afoul of both Jake Matthews and Li Jinliang in back to back fights in 2013. He lost both contests by submission.

On the feet, Abe appears to be the slightly more active striker with an edge in power. With both fighters often relying on their counter striking skills, this bout could have some sizeable moments of inactivity. The deciding factor will come down to Abe’s Judo-based grappling skills. Luke has had issues both in and outside of the UFC when put on his back and if Abe takes that route, this is his fight to win- my predictions is Daichi Abe to defeat Luke Jumeau by decision.

170lbs- Sergio Moraes (12-4-1) vs Tim Means (27-9-1 1NC)

In the headlining bout of the undercard, Sergio “Panther” Moraes looks to get back on the winning track when he takes on Tim “The Dirty Bird” Means in the Welterweight division. Moraes is coming off a KO loss to Kamaru Usman, he was an impressive 6-0-1 prior to the Usman loss. Means dropped a split decision to Belal Muhammad, he is 7-4-0 with a No Contest since returning to the promotion.

Means is 2 inches taller than Moraes and will have a 3″ reach advantage. He is the younger man by 2 years.

Moraes is one of the most accomplished and skilled BJJ Black belts on the card. Conversely, he has just a single win via submission since the summer of 2013. Sergio routinely forgoes his grappling skills in favour of a more fan-friendly, but far less effective striking attack. Means has been submitted 4-times in his career, including twice over his last 3 defeats. He will be more than willing to maintain his vertical base and trade hands with Moraes on the feet. Means offers a brutal striking repertoire, mixing together punching combinations, kicks, and a solid clinch based attack.

Moraes has completed just a single takedown over his last 5 UFC bouts. On the feet, Means lands almost 2 strikes per minute more than the Brazilian offers.

If Moraes was more committed to his grappling he could exploit Means on the floor and scoop up the victory. Unfortunately, his willingness to stand and trade is going to get him in trouble against the faster and more skilled stand-up fighter. Even if the BJJ ace opts to try and take him down, Means has decent TDD and will keep the fight standing- my prediction is Tim Means to defeat Sergio Moraes by TKO.

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155lbs- Alan Patrick (14-1-0) vs Damir Hadzovic (11-3-0)

In the Lightweight division, Brazil’s Alan “Nuguette” Patrick welcomes “The Bosnian Bomber” Damir Hadzovic to his homeland. Patrick has won back to back fights after suffering the first loss of his pro career- he most recently bested Stevie Ray. Hadzovic dropped his debut Mairbek Taisumov, but rallied to earn a come from behind knockout of Marcin Held.

Patrick is 2 inches taller and will have a 4″ reach advantage. Alan is also the older man by 3-years and has been inactive for nearly 17-months.

“Nuguette” comes into the fight having never lost at home, including a pair of wins in the UFC. In each of his 4 UFC triumphs, he has recorded at least 1 takedown and he is coming off a pair of fights where he completed 5 takedowns in each. Hadzovic is coming off a performance in which he gave up a 4-pack of completions and spent the majority of the fight on his back, offering limited offence.

While Damir wasn’t able to mount much offence, he showed against Held how dangerous he can be when he is able to remain vertical. Patrick can strike, but he tends to be a little wild and leaves himself open at times to getting hit.

Hadzovic has to either land a massive shot and score the finish or find a way to consistently shut down the takedown attack of Patrick. Neither will be easy. Patrick is far from an elite level ground fighter, but his combo of athletic skill and aggression will be too much for Hadzovic to fend off- my prediction is Alan Patrick to defeat Damir Hadzovic by decision.

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135lbs- Douglas Silva de Andrade (24-2-0 1NC) vs Marlon Vera (10-4-1)

In the 135-pound division, Douglas Silva de Andrade returns to Brazil for the first time in almost 2-years when he takes on Ecuador’s Marlon “Chito” Vera. Vera dropped a decision to John Lineker, ending his 3-fight winning streak- he is 4-3 in the promotion. Andrade was submitted by Rob Font, failing to build on a pair of wins over Cody Gibson and Henry Briones.

“Chito” is an inch taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. Vera is the younger man by 7-years.

Andrade offers devastating knockout power. He has finished 19 opponents by knockout and moves forward behind heavy handed barrages. He stopped Briones with a spinning back fist and to go along with his UFC-best 72 significant strikes. Vera doesn’t have the big power numbers, but he showed against Picket that he is capable of picking up the finish on the feet. Where Vera does his best work is on the mat. He has a crafty submission game, attacking off is back- looking to either finish the fight or work to a superior position.

Vera’s willingness to go to his back to set up his offence has created issues with the judges if he can’t get off the mat. He is 2-4 in fights that go to the scorecards.

Without a strong wrestling attack or overwhelming power, Vera is going to struggle to gain Andrade’s respect. This will allow Andrade to continuously move forward and force Vera to fight off his back foot- my prediction is Douglas Silva de Andrade to defeat Marlon Vera by decision.

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135lbs- Iuri Alcantara (34-9-0 1NC) vs Joe Soto (18-6-0)

In a battle of vets trying to gain some traction in the division, Iuri Alcantara takes on former title challenger Joe Soto. Soto’s 3-fight winning streak was halted in just 30-seconds following a snappy calf slicer submissions from Brett Johns. Alcantara has lost back to back fights, most recently suffering a decision defeat to Alejandro Perez.

A former Lightweight and Featherweight competitor, Alcantara is 3 inches taller and will have a 6″ reach advantage. Soto is the younger man by 7-years.

The Brazilian is an incredibly frustrating fighter. He is dangerous everywhere the fight goes, but his passivity frequently overshadows his skills. His opponents have found success outworking him with a combo of striking offence and takedowns. Soto has a strong transition game on the mat and is a capable submission threat, but he hasn’t showcased an overwhelming takedown attack. When on the feet, he relies on grit and pressure to find success when trading hands.

Alcantara’s finishing prowess is impressive and Soto has been stopped 3 times by submission and twice by knockout. Conversely, Alcantara has struggled with his output, surpassing the 50-significant strike mark just once in his last 14-fights.

Soto isn’t nearly as dangerous on the feet, but his willingness to move forward and attack is going to score against Alcantara’s inactivity. Joe tends to come on stronger as the fight advances while Iuri will slow down. Soto has to be mindful of walking into the teeth of Alcantara’s power or submission game, but my prediction is Joe Soto to defeat Iuri Alcantara by decision.

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125lbs- #14 Deiveson Figueiredo (13-0-0) vs Joseph Morales (9-0-0)

In the Flyweight division, a battle of undefeated fighters will feature Brazil’s Deiveson Figueiredo taking on Joseph “Bopo” Morales. Figueiredo is 2-0 in the UFC after a narrow split decision win over Jarred Brooks. Morales maintained his unblemished mark with a submission victory over Roberto Sanchez in his debut.

Morales is an inch taller and will have an inch reach advantage over Figueiredo. Morales is the younger fighter by 7-years.

Utilizing his power and top position offence, Figueiredo was able to get his debut opponent out of the cage after 10-minutes. In is second appearance, he gave up 7 takedowns and spent large portions of the fight defending off his back. Training out of Team Alpha Male, Morales has shown himself to be a capable submission fighter. “Bopo” has finish 5 opponents by submission, 4 by rear-naked choke. That being said, he did spend the majority of his fight on his back prior to getting the sub.

Figueiredo was gifted the win against Brooks, mounting limited offence and attempting ineffective guillotines off his back.

Morales has some power in his hands, but not enough to hang with Figueiredo on the feet. Despite his submission skills, the American lacks the wrestling needed to routinely put Deiveson on his back. Look for Figueiredo to walk him down, landing power and stuffing takedowns- my prediction is  Deiveson Figueiredo to defeat Joseph Morales by TKO.

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115lbs- Maia Stevenson (6-4-0) vs Polyana Viana (9-1-0)

In the Strawweight division, the debuting Maia Stevenson takes on fellow UFC debutante Polyana Viana in the opening fight of the night. After a rocky 1-4 start to her career, Stevenson has torn through 5-straight wins, ending 2016 with a 5-1 record. Viana rebounded from the first loss of her career back in 2104 to win 5 straight fights.

At 5’5″, Viana is an inch taller than her opponent, but she will have a marked 5″ reach advantage. Viana is the younger fighter by 10-years while Stevenson has been out of action by 14-months.

Stevenson’s rough start to her pro career quickly changed when she started to compete under the Gladiator banner. Known for putting together mismatched fights, Stevenson’s 6-0 run in the promotion came against opposition with a combined record of 0-23 with 22 losses by finish. By comparison, Viana’s last 3 opponents are a combined 8-5. She has finished all 9 of her win, 4 by knockout and 5 by submission.

A brief run on TUF 26 saw Stevenson get overwhelmed by Sijara Eubanks, falling by sub. Viana won the Jungle Fights title in 2015 and defended it on multiple occasions.

Stevenson is old for the division and her level of competition has been non-existant. She needs to keep this fight standing where she could have a slight edge. That being said, Viana ground game is the strongest skill set on either side of this fight and Polyana should be able to take this fight to the mat with ease- my prediction is Polyana Viana to defeat Maia Stevenson by submission.

155lbs- Erik Koch (15-5-0) vs Bobby Green (23-8-1)

In the headlining fight of the undercard, Erik Koch looks for some consistency when he takes on “King” Bobby Green in the Lightweight division. Koch is coming off an upset loss to Clay Guida which continued his pattern of alternating wins and losses dating back to 2013. Green is now winless in his last 4 fights after battling Lando Vannata to a draw in his most recent outing.

Both men are 5’10” and have the same 71″ reach. Koch is the younger man by 2-years.

Koch is a capable striker, with good power and sound technique. He has run into some trouble when his output has dropped off, allowing his opponent to outwork him. Green has an almost 2-1 edge in strikes landed per minute, but he tends to allow his opponents to keep the exchanges close which makes it difficult to gain an edge in the eyes of the judges. Koch is coming off a loss that saw him struggle to stay off his back. While Green hasn’t shown a lot of offensive wrestling in recent outings, he may look to test Koch’s counter wrestling.

While both fighters have been a little more active of late, each missed all of 2015 and have struggled to match the success of their early UFC careers.

Koch is talented, but his struggles with volume and TDD are massive vulnerabilities that have made it difficult for him to pick up a win without finishing his opponent. Green’s use of volume and pressure will be his keys to success here. His tendency to trash talk instead of attacking is frustrating, but he should still find plenty of offensive volume between his boxing and his wrestling- my prediction is Bobby Green to defeat Erick Koch by decision.

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145lbs- #15 Mirsad Bektic (11-1-0) vs Godofredo Pepey (14-5-0)

Highly touted Featherweight prospect Mirsad Bektick looks to rebound from his first career loss when he takes on the always dangerous Godofredo Pepey. Pepey is coming off a decision loss to Shane Burgos, but he is 4-2 over has 6 fights. Bektic was on his way to victory against Darren Elkins before tiring and getting knocked out- he is 4-1 in the promotion.

Bektic is an inch taller than Pepey, but he will give up 3 inches to reach to the Brazilian. Mirsad is the younger man by 4 -years.

Both fighters do the majority of their best work on the mat. Bektic has averaged just under 4 completed takedowns per fight in the UFC while Pepey has secured a trio of wins by submission inside the Octagon- tapping out 8 opponents in total. Pepey routinely relies on his opponent to take the fight to the floor before attacking with an aggressive guard. While he may idealize fighting on the mat- Bektic is monstrous from top position.

Bektic should have the advantage on the feet, but Godofredo’s willingness to throw high risk/ high reward attacks like a flying knee makes him dangerous.

Pepey will pull guard, but that would prove to be a massive mistake against Bektic. Mirsad can generate significant power from top position and Pepey has been stopped via GNP on multiple occasions. Unless Pepey can catch Mirsad with something unconventional, the stylistic matchup significantly favours Bektic- my prediction is Mirsad Bektic to defeat Godofredo Pepey by TKO.

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125lbs- Katlyn Chookagian (9-1-0) vs Mara Romero Borella (12-4-0 1NC)

Continuing to flesh out the newest UFC division, Katlyn Chookagian makes the cut down to 125 pounds to take Mara Romero Borella. Chookagian took a split decision from Irene Aldana after dropping a split one fight earlier to Liz Carmouche. Borella made a successful debut at UFC 216 with a tidy first round submission win over Kalindra Faria.

Chookagian is 3 inches taller than Borella, but she will have to overcome a 1″ reach deficit. Katlyn is the younger fighter by 3-years.

Borella bulldozed her way through her debut, snapping up a quick submission- the fifth of her career. In her previous outings, Borella’s top game has been the key to her success, but getting the fight to the mat could be easier said than done. Chookagian has showcased serviceable TDD, but she did give up a 4-pack of completions in her loss to Carmouche. On the feet, Katlyn utilizes good head movement and footwork while peppering away with sharp strikes from the outside.

The American is coming off her UFC-best 105-significant strikes landed.

Chookagian has to stay off the cage and if she does, this should limit Borella’s opportunities to take her down. Katlyn will have a sizeable advantage on the feet and if her TDD holds up, she will find success augment her volume boxing with a decent kicking attack to outwork her foe- my prediction is Katlyn Chookagian to defeat Mara Romero Borella by decision.

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115lbs- #11 Randa Markos (7-6-0) vs Juliana Lima (9-4-0)

In a battle of tough Strawweights looking to crack the top 10, Canada’s Randa “Quiet Storm” Markos takes on “Ju Thai” Juliana Lima. Markos has alternated wins and losses dating back to 2013; she most recently dropped a split decision to Alexa Grasso, failing to build on her upset split decision victory over Carla Esparza. Lima is coming off a submission loss to Tecia Torres- she is 3-3 in the promotion with 2 of her losses coming against the first two women to hold divisional gold.

Lima is an inch taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. Markos is 3-years younger.

It is fairly evident how Lima is going to win fights at this level. Over her 3 victories, she has compiled 8 takedowns compared to just 2 in her 3 defeats. Markos struggled to stay vertical in her debut defeat and was taken down 4-times by Esparza despite getting the win. The Canadian can also go offensive with her ground fighting, putting Grasso on the floor 4-times.

Although she comes from a kickboxing background, Lima has found little success with her striking and averages almost a strike less per minute than Randa.

Lima is going to have to ground Randa for the duration of this fight which is going to be difficult with Randa’s activity level off her back. Markos has shown she can overcome giving up takedowns by being the more active fighter on the feet, an area that Lima has struggled. Juliana simply won’t score enough points on the floor to outduel Markos’s offensive output- my prediction is Randa Markos to defeat Juliana Lima by decision.

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125lbs- Justine Kish (6-1-0) vs Ji Yeon Kim (6-1-2)

In the first of 2 Women’s Flyweight fights on the card, Justine Kish returns from the first loss of her career to take on South Korea’s Ju Yeon Kim. Kim is also coming off of her first defeat, falling via decision to Lucie Pudilova by decision. Kish was upset by Felice Herrig in her last fight after winning her first 2 Octagon outings.

Kim is coming down from Bantamweight and is 2 inches taller than Kish to go along with an 8″ reach.

Despite being touted as a strong ground fighter, Kim spent her entire debut working behind a lead left hook or jab. She showed some pop in her hands and a willingness to sit and exchanged. In addition to being an all offence fighter, Kish relies heavily on muscling her way out of bad spots. From the clinch and on the mat, Justine will forgo technique and simply try to force her opponent into the position she wants. Utilizing technique, Herrig was routinely able to counter Kish and win the superior position.

With both girls making a divisional change there are some added elements of unknown. It will be interesting to see how Kish fairs not cutting weight, but fending off larger opponents. For Kim, the cut to 135 could be interesting, but if it goes well her size and reach will be a massive edge.

Kish is aggressive and while she has been able to overwhelm her previous opponents, that won’t be the case here. Kim’s long reach will allow her to routinely land on Justine as she bull rushes forward. Once they lock up, Kim will find success defending and countering Kish’s attempt to put her on the mat- my prediction is Ji Yeon Kim to defeat Justine Kish by decision.

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155lbs- Vinc Pichel (10-1-0) vs Joaquim Silva (10-1-0)

In the Lightweight division, the heavy-handed Vinc “From Hell” Pichel takes on Brazil’s “Netto BJJ” Joaquim Silva. Pichel has won 3 consecutive fights, most recently knocking out Damien Brown for his first UFC stoppage victory. Silva, still undefeated, earned a split decision win over Reza Madadi, the second split decision victory in his 3-fight UFC run.

The American is 2 inches taller and will have a 3″ reach advantage. Joaquim is the younger man by 7-years.

It was the takedown game of Pichel that lead to his early UFC success; scoring 8 completions in each of his first 2 UFC wins. Conversely, Silva is coming off of a winning effort that saw him get taken down 5-times. Silva is a BJJ Black belt. Joaquim does offer a capable striking attack. He has recorded 5 wins by sub including 1 in the UFC. Pichel was getting outworked in his last fight before landing a short counter to end the fight.

Pichel returned for his last fight after a near 3-year layoff.

Each man as an avenue for victory here. Pichel could rely on his power, but Silva has never been knocked out. Vinc could also go the wrestling route, but Silva’s TDD and scrambling skills could short circuit that. Conversely, the American has a tendency to let himself get outworked on the feet and Silva is the more active striker and has shown recent improvements- my prediction is Joaquim Silva to defeat Vinc Pichel by decision.

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170lbs- Niko Price (10-1-0 1NC) vs George Sullivan (17-5-0 1NC)

In the Welterweight division, Niko “The Hybrid” Price returns after suffering the first loss of his pro career when he battles “The Silencer” George Sullivan. Price fell via 2nd round submission to Vicente Luque, he has just a single win over his last 3 fights after his win over Alex Moreno was overturned. Sullivan is just 1-2 over his last 3 with stoppage losses to Alexander Yakovlev and Tim Means- his only win during this current stretch came over Dominic Waters.

Sullivan hasn’t seen action in almost 2 years after facing a PED suspension. Both men are 6’0″, but Sullivan will have a 3″ reach advantage. Sullivan is the younger man by 8-years.

Sullivan is a bruiser, usually winning his fights based on his ability to bully his opponent around the cage while landing hard strikes. If he can get the fight to the mat he can generate some decent power from top position. Price will be a willing combatant on the feet, utilizing his Muay Thai attack. He has 7 wins by knockout, but he was hurt on the feet by Luque before getting subbed.

Price hasn’t been a massive takedown threat since coming to the UFC, but he did successfully exploit Brandon Thatch’s poor grappling defence in his debut.

Sullivan has to make this fight ugly and even then that might not be enough. Considering his age and long layoff, he is a tough spot against a better athlete with superior technique. Look for Price to rebound from his first career defeat and batter “The Silencer” from start to finish- my prediction is Niko Price to defeat George Sullivan by TKO.

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145lbs- Austin Arnett (14-3-0) vs Cory Sandhagen (6-1-0)

A late add to the card, Austin “The Golden Boy” Arnett’s unsuccessful performance on the Contender’s Series wasn’t enough to stop him from getting the call to the big show, he will take on LFA veteran Cory Sandhagen. Arnett had rattled off 13-straight victories prior to his last outing, losing to recent UFC debutant Brandon Davis. Sandhagen dropped his initial fight in LFA, but finished his run strong with back to back wins and is making a very quick 1-week turnaround for his debut.

Arnett will have a slight 1″ height advantage and a 2″ reach advantage. Sandhagen is the younger man by a year.

Despite the loss to Davis, Arnett slugged it out and impressed the brass. He has split his 12 stoppage wins evenly between knockouts and submissions. Sandhagen doesn’t boast the same level of experience, finishing 4 opponents 2 each by knockout and submission. It is worth noting that the majority of Arnett’s recent success has come in shorter fights, with only 3 of his last 14 fights to go beyond round 2. This could be partially responsible for his slowdown as his last fight progressed.

Arnett’s last 3 opponents are a combined 16-24 while the last 3 fighters that Sandhagen has defeated, carry a total record of 15-7.

This is a hard fight to call with both fighters getting such a late call to fight. With Sanhagen making such a quick turnaround after a quick fight, he should be in a better spot having gone through a recent camp. If Arnett can’t get the early finish, there is a good chance he experience a bit of a sow down- my prediciton is Cory Sanhagen to defeat Austin Arnett by Decision.

145lbs- Kyle Bochniak (7-2-0) vs Brandon Davis (8-2-0)

In the headlining bout of the undercard, Boston’s own Kyle “Crash” Bochniak takes on “Killer B” Brandon Davis in the Featherweight division. Bochniak has gone 1-2 in the UFC which includes a controversial split decision win over Enrique Barzola. Davis has won 7 fights in a row, including a solid decision victory on his Tuesday Night Contender’s debut.

Davis is 3 inches taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. He is also the younger fighter by a year.

“Crash” could easily be winless in the UFC. Bochniak was overwhelmed by the wrestling of Jeremy Kennedy, giving up 8 takedowns and struggling to do much offensively. He has been on the wrong end of the striking totals in each of his 3 UFC bouts. Davis showcased a solid striking attack built around hard punches and his ability to keep moving forward. He has a trio of knockouts, appearing to be a “death by accumulation” type striker.

Bochniak doesn’t appear to have a single outstanding skill and this could be part of the reason he has struggled at the UFC level. Beyond his low kicks, his lack of a reliable wrestling game or consistent vertical output has made winning decisions difficult. Conversely, Davis could look to his wrestling or his volume striking to secure the win here- possibly a combination of both.

With Bochniak fighting at home, he will be amped up, but Davis’s aggressive style will put him on his back foot for the duration of the fight. If “Crash” can’t find a way to short-circuit the pressure, his issues with getting outworked will continue here- my prediction is  Brandon Davis to defeat Kyle Bochniak by decision.Paragraph breaker

170lbs- Sabah Homasi (11-7-0) vs Abdul Razak Alhassan (8-1-0)

In a rematch from UFC 218, “The Punisher” Sabah Homasi looks to avenge his controversial loss to “Judo Thunder” Abdul Razak Alhassab in the Welterweight division.  Alhassan is 2-1 in the UFC including his win over Homasi which was a rebound fight after the first loss of his career. Homasi is 0-2 in the UFC, he was defeated by Tim Mean in his short notice debut.

Homasi is 2 inches taller than Alhassan, but ARA will have a 1″ reach advantage. Homasi is 3 years younger.

In their first meeting, Homasi landed 39 significant strikes compared to Alhassan’s 27. Sabah found some success with his takedowns and landed some quality strikes in close from the clinch position. Alhassan also did some damage in tight, but he was doing his best work letting go at distance with massive bombs.

While Alhassan was throwing and landing with big power, his willingness to throw everything into his offence was clearly tiring him out. His loss to Akhmedov was the result of his less than stellar TDD and Homasi may look to revisit that vulnerability. Homasi was hurt, but the fight was stopped early. Regardless, he has now been knocked out 4-times. That is concerning. Equally as concerning is Alhassan questionable ability to win a fight that goes beyond the first frame.

It would appear that Homasi could look to his wrestling to win this fight, but he seems way too willing to throw down and exchange with Alhassan on the feet. Alhassan got rocked, but his chin still appears to be better than Homasi’s and that will pay off when the leather starts to fly- my prediction is Abdul Razak Alhassan to defeat Sabah Homasi by knockout.

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125lbs- #10 Dustin Ortiz (17-7-0) vs Alexandre Pantoja (18-2-0)

In the Flyweight division, Dustin Ortiz looks to pick up back to back wins for the first time since mid-2014 when he meets TUF alumni Alexandre Pantoja. Ortiz is coming off a win over Alex Sandoval, only his 3rd win in his last 7 fights. Pantoja is 2-0 in the UFC, taking a submission win over Neil Seery and a split decision over Eric Shelton.

Both men stand 5’5″, but Pantoja will have a slight 2″ reach advantage, he is the younger fighter by 2 years.

A capable ground fighter, Pantoja has locked up 7 wins by submission- 5 by RNC. Against Shelton, it was a back and forth scramble on the mat with the Brazilian gaining the edge. Ortiz has showcased his mat skills on more than one occasion. He averages 2.67 TDs per fight and is one of the best scramblers in the division. He has struggled at times against elite grapplers that could take him down and keep him there.

The American is coming off a brutal knockout win, hurting and finishing Sandoval with an early flurry. Ortiz does the majority of his striking with the intent of closing the distance to set up his takedowns. Conversely, Pantoja offers a decent kicking game at range and will use the clinch and knees to batter his foe in close.

Pantoja is capable wherever the fight goes, but Ortiz’s ability to scramble on the mat is going to give him some issues. Both in his TUF tournament loss and his narrow win over Eric Shelton, his opponents found success putting him on the mat and grinding him down. Ortiz’s pace is going to give Pantoja issues early and help the American pull away late- my prediction is Dustin Ortiz to defeat Alexandre Pantoja by decision.

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145lbs- Dan Ige (8-1-0) vs Julio Arce (13-2-0)

After “Boston Strong” Charles Rosa withdrew from the fight, Julio Arce steps up on short notice to face fellow Tuesday Night Contender’s Series competitor Dan “Dynamite” Ige. Ige scored a 3rd round submission win on the show and has won 6 fights in a row. Arce picked up a middle frame TKO win to extend his streak to 5 straight wins dating back to a pair of losses to Brian Kelleher.

Both men are 5’7″, with Arce holding a slight 1″ reach advantage. Arce is the older man by 2 years and stepping up to take this fight with roughly 3 weeks to prep.

Ige comes into the fight having finished his opponent in 6 of his 8 wins, 4 by submission. He has a trio of opening-round finishes from earlier in his career with his only defeat coming via split decision. Arce is 6-1 on the scorecards with to go along with 3 wins by knockout and 4 submission wins.

In his last bout, Ige scored an early takedown and then after rocking his opponent, he changed levels for a single leg and subsequent ground and pound. When he was taken down he immediately threatened off his back before getting back to his feet. A former Bantamweight, Arce appeared to have issues with the size of his last opponent, who was routinely holding him on the cage. Arce started to find success when he gain separation and started landing his power strikes in succession.

If Arce can maintain distance, he has the striking ability to either work his way to a decision or score a knockout. That being said, his struggles with adversaries that like to work in close will be a major vulnerability against Ige’s wrestling-heavy approach. The short notice and lack of prep will make it more difficult for Arce to fend off the TDAs as the fight advances- my prediction is Dan Ige to defeat Julio Arce by decision.Paragraph breaker

145lbs- Matt Bessette (22-7-0) vs Enrique Barzola (14-3-1)

In the FightPass headliner, Bellator veteran Matt Bessette makes his UFC debut opposed by TUF Latin America winner Enrique Barzola in the Featherweight division. Bessette suffered a first-round knockout on the Contenders’ series, but the fight was overturned- he had won 7 in a row. Barzola is 3-1 in the UFC, with his only loss a contentious split decision defeat to Kyle Bochniak.

Bessette is 3 inches taller than Barzola, but they will share the same 70″ reach. Enrique is the younger fighter by 5 years. Bessette is replacing Allen Arnold on roughly a week’s notice.

Prior to suffering a hard knockout loss, Bessette showcased some decent short range striking. He has a tendency to rely on his head movement to avoid damage, but once he gets hit the damage starts to pile up. The Bellator vet has 7 wins by knockout. Barzola has been working on his striking, showing improved footwork and angles to go along with a strong left jab and decent kicking attack.

Landing a combined 21 takedowns over 3 UFC wins, Barzola’s wrestling has been the key to his success. His improved striking has allowed him to set up his double leg more effectively. He had some issues keeping his opponent on the mat, but he kept pressuring and continued to land takedowns. As the fight progressed, the takedowns came easier and the top control longer.

Bessette has some solid power, but if he is unable to land early his style of close-range striking puts him in the direct path of Barzola’s quick level changes. Barzola will use his movement to bait the American forward before shooting a double leg. The short notice will result in Bessette slowing down as the takedowns pile up- my prediction is Enrique Barzola to defeat Matt Bessette by decision.

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155lbs- Islam Makhachev (14-1-0) vs Gleison Tibau (41-11-0)

In the opening fight of the night, 26-fight Octagon veteran Gleison Tibau returns to action to take on Russian-born Islam Makhachev. Makhachev is 3-1 in the UFC, most recently defeating Nik Lentz and Chris Wade to rebound from the first loss of his career. Tiba has dropped back to back contests, including a DQ loss to Abel Trujillo.

Both men are 5’10”, but Tibau will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. Tibau is the older fighter by 8 years.

The Brazilian has been on the shelf for 26-months which could create some ring rust issues. Equally as concerning, Tibau is known for his significant weight cut and the new weight cutting requirements could create issues when he tries to get down to the divisional limit.

Islam has leaned heavily on his ground game, securing 12 takedowns spread of his 3-UFC wins. Conversely, Tibau possesses some of the best TDD in the sport, defending 92% of his adversaries’ tries. Back in 2012, he stuffed all 13 takedown attempts by Khabib Nurmagomedov. Makhachev offers a variety of takedown techniques, but if he is unable to get Tibau off his feet- he will need to rely on his aggression and pace as the focal point of his attack. Tibau is a serviceable striker, but he is far from fleet of foot and works more measured pace.

The layoff is most likely going to impact Gleison both due to ring rust and conditioning. If he doesn’t get off to a good start and then fades, Makhachev is going to simply outwork him. Look for the Russian to push the pace and keep Tibau backtracking, even if he is unable to score any takedowns- my prediction is Islam Makhachev to defeat Glieison Tibau by decision.

145lbs- #10 Darren Elkins (24-5-0) vs Michael Johnson (18-12-0)

In the headlining act of the undercard, the loveable Darren “The Damage” Elkins heads into enemy territory when he takes on Missouri’s own Michael “The Menace” Johnson. Johnson has just a single win in his last 5 outings and is coming off a very entertaining, but unsuccessful fight against Justin Gaethje. Elkins is riding an impressive 5-fight winning streak which includes his come from behind upset of Mirsad Bektic and a split decision win over Dennis Bermudez.

Cutting down to Featherweight for the first time, Johnson will have a slight 2″ reach advantage over Elkins, but they will stand the same 5’10”.

There are a couple of key x-factor surrounding Johnson heading into this fight. While he is fighting at home, he has openly voiced his displeasure at being left off the main card. Additionally, as mentioned above, he is making his divisional debut which could severely impact his performance. Conversely, Elkins is enjoying his strongest period of UFC stability with his 2nd 5-fight UFC winning streak.

Johnson is a solid striker, relying on speed and technique backed with decent power to get the better of the exchanges. That being said, he has struggled to maintain a consistent output at times- faltering as the fight advances. Elkins has shown himself to be quite durable and able to grind out a full 15-minutes, breaking his foe down with pressure and pace.

Johnson’s cardio has been a bit of a question mark and he has proven himself susceptible to being taken down. He has openly admitted in the media that the weight cut has been difficult and if that is true, he is going to struggle with Elkin’s pressure. Elkins isn’t pretty and may drop the opening round, but he will simply keep coming until Johnson wilts- my prediction is Darren Elkins to defeat Michael Johnson by decision.

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155lbs- James Krause (24-8-0) vs Alex White (12-3-0)

In the Lightweight division, “The” James Krause looks to build on a strong TUF run when he takes on Alex “The Spartan” White. Krause is riding a 3-fight winning streak, including wins over Daron Cruickshank and Shane Campbell. White has won 2 of his last 3 UFC outings, most recently besting Mitch Clarke by TKO.

Krause is 2 inches taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. White is the younger fighter by 2 years.

Despite a strong run on TUF: Redemption, against larger opponents, Krause was unable to overcome the wrestling heavy attack of the eventual winner. James is a well-rounded and capable fighter anywhere the fight takes places. White has had some issues with his TDD, giving up 5 takedowns over his last 2 defeats. Krause may look to exploit this vulnerability.

White has split his 10 wins evenly between knockouts and submissions. He has some pop in his hands, but he is also quite hittable and at times he will leave his chin exposed. Moving up from Featherweight should alleviate some of the issues he has had with speed, but he still appears a little clunky at times in his striking technique.

Krause is the more experienced and well-rounded fighter. Utilizing a more varied attack, he should find success during the striking exchanges, but if White starts to turn the fight in his favour on the feet look for Krause to take him down- my prediction is James Krause to defeat Alex White by submission.

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155lbs- Matt Frevola (6-0-0) vs Marco Polo Reyes (8-4-0)

Continuing the push of new fighters migrating from Dana White’s contender series, Matt “The Steamrolla” Frevola makes his UFC debut against the always entertaining Marco Polo Reyes. Reyes is coming off of a TKO loss to James Vick, the only loss of his 4-fight UFC run. Frevola scored a 2nd round submission win over Jose Flores to earn the call to the UFC- he went 2-0 in 2017.

They share the same 71″ reach, but Reyes is the taller man by 2 inches. Frevola is 6-years younger.

Despite the biggest win total on his record coming in the submission column, Frevola showed his willingness to throw hands in his last fight. He stung his opponent early with a big flurry and kept engaging on the feet. Reyes has developed a reputation for flying fisticuffs and will no doubt engage Matt from the opening bell.

Reyes is coming off a TKO loss, but he has proven himself decently durable in previous bouts. He likes to brawl, but he does have some service striking technique. Frevola could opt to short circuit Reyes on the feet by changing levels for a takedown. Marco has been taken down at least once in 3 of his 4 fights and submitted twice in his career.

This contest could turn into a downright fire-fight with both men swinging for the fences early. Reyes’s vulnerability on the mat is going to be the key for Frevola. “The Steamrolla” will augment his punching prowess with takedowns and top control- my prediction is Matt Frevola to defeat Marco Polo Reyes by submission.Paragraph breaker

170lbs- Thiago Alves (26-11-0) vs Zak Cummings (21-5-0)

Former Welterweight title challenger Thiago “Pitbull” Alves will look to build on his last win when he takes on Zak Cummings. Cummings has won back to back fights, submitting both Nathan Coy and Alexander Yakovlev. Alves is coming off a strong victory over former Middleweight title challenger Patrick Cote.

The American is 3 inches taller and will have a sizeable 5″ reach advantage. Cummings is the younger man by a year.

Cummings has developed a reputation as a grinding wrestler, but he is far more than that. He offers a skilled submission game to go along with an underrated striking attack. Conversely, Alves is well known for his lethal Muay Thai based attack. With Cummings standing southpaw, that will further open him up to the power kicking attack of Thiago.

While Cummings does his best work when he uses pressure, Alves should have a sizeable speed advantage and can counter strike. Santiago Ponzinibbio had a lot of success against Cummings as the faster more dynamic striker, similar to what Alves should offer. If Zak can’t score on the feet, he will revert to his takedown game. While Thiago has been taken down in recent fights, he is far from easy to put on the floor with regularity.

For Cummings to win, he has to avoid absorbing too many kicks from Thiago and outwork him everywhere the fight goes. Unfortunately, Alves is simply too talented a striker for Cummings to trade with and Thiago will land the more impactful strikes from start to finish- my prediction is Thiago Alves to defeat Zak Cummings by decision.Paragraph breaker

125lbs- Kalindra Faria (18-6-1) vs Jessica Eye (11-6-0 1NC)

In the constantly growing Women’s Flyweight division, Jessica “Evil” Eye enters the cage in desperate need of a victory when she battles UFC sophomore Kalindra Faria of Brazil. Eye has lost 4 in a row and 5 of 6- all of her losses have come against former title challengers, a champion, and the top-ranked Julianna Pena. Faria was submitted in her debut by underdog Mara Romero Borella- ending her 3-fight losing streak.

Faria is an inch taller than Eye, who will be fighting at 125-pounds since 2013. The girls are almost exactly the same age, but Eye hasn’t fought in almost 16-months.

Predominantly a striker, Eye has struggled tremendously once her opponent has been able to establish their ground attack. In addition to getting stuck on her back, Eye becomes hesitant to engage on the feet for fear of being taken down again. Faria does have 5 submission wins, but she was badly wiped out on the mat in her debut.

Faria has some decent power and isn’t afraid to sit in the pocket and trade hands with her opponent. She will work behind a jab, but once she opens up she can get a little wild. The more technical striking of Eye will give her issues if she doesn’t remain composed.

Returning to her appropriate division, Eye should benefit from not facing physically bigger opposition. She still needs to be mindful of getting taken down, but look for her counter wrestling to hold up better. Eye will use her volume and pace to get the better of the exchanges- my prediction is Jessica Eye to defeat Kalindra Faria by decision.

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135lbs- Talita Bernardo (5-2-0) vs Irene Aldana (7-4-0)

In the Women’s Bantamweight division, Irene Aldana continues her search for her first UFC win when she squares off with promotional sophomore Talita Bernardo. Aldana lost her debut to Leslie Smith before dropping a split decision to Katlyn Chookagian. In her debut, Bernardo suffered a 3rd round TKO loss to Marion Reneau in the final seconds of the 3rd round.

Aldana is 5 inches taller than her counterpart, but they will share the same 68″ reach. Irene is the younger fighter by a year.

Mexico’s Aldana has finished her opponent in all 7 of her wins- 5 by knockout. All 7 of her wins have come in the opening frame compared to a dismal 0-4 record beyond the first 5-minutes. Harbouring similar numbers, Berardo has a quartet of first frame finishes- all by sub, with just a single decision victory.

This contest should come down to who can keep this fight in their realm of dominance. Bernardo found success early putting Reneau on the floor, but Aldana is coming off a fight where she stopped all 11 of her foe’s TDAs. Once Talita was forced to compete on the feet, she looked completely out of her depth.

Talita gassed hard in her last fight, but she took it on short notice. Regardless, Aldana has strong enough TDD to keep this fight on the feet and blast away with a vastly superior striking arsenal- my prediction is Irene Aldana to defeat Talita Bernardo.

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115lbs- Danielle Taylor (9-2-0) vs JJ Aldrich (5-2-0)

In a battle of still developing Strawweight prospects, Danielle “Dynamite” Taylor makes her 4th Octagon walk when she meets Denver’s JJ Aldrich. Taylor is coming off a big win over former title challenger Jessica Penne, she has won back to back fights. Aldrich scored her first UFC win with a decision victory over Chan-Mi Jeon- she lost her debut to Juliana Lima.

At 5’5″, JJ is 5 inches taller than the diminutive Taylor and she will have a 7″ reach advantage. Aldrich is the younger woman by 3-years.

Taylor is undersized for the division which has created some issues against rangier fighters. That being said, she did find more success landing with regularity against Penne. While Aldrich doesn’t offer as much power as Taylor, she has put up better output numbers. She moves well and keeps her hands up, but she had some issues with her last opponent’s power.

Neither girl has showcased a strong offensive grappling attack, but Aldrich appears to be defensively vulnerable if her opponent opts to take her down. She was submitted both on the Ultimate Fighter and in her first pro loss. Lima took her down 4-times and held prolonged top control.

Taylor has narrowly edged out her last 2 opponents and could easily be 0-3. Aldrich is the longer fighter and more active. Look for her to use her kicks and a quick jab to pick away at Taylor while she tries to close the distance with limited success. JJ outworks Taylor and avoids taking too much damage, my prediction is JJ Aldrich to defeat Danielle Taylor by decision.

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145lbs- Mads Burnell (8-1-0) vs Mike Santiago (21-9-0)

In the Bantamweight division, Mads Burnell of Denmark makes his second UFC appearance when he meets fellow sophomore Mike Santiago. Burnell had won 3 fights in a row prior to jumping into the cage with Michel Prazeres and getting submitted. Not faring much better, Santiago had won 9 straight fights prior to falling to Zabit Magomedsharipov by submission.

Despite sharing a 69″ reach, Santiago is 2 inches taller than his opponent. Burnell is the younger man by 5-years.

A pair of numbers jump off the stats page with this fight. Burnell has secured 5 wins by submission, including a pair of tricky Japanese neckties in his last 2 victories. For Santiago, he was tapped in his debut and has been subbed 8 times overall- accounting for 80% of his defeats. Santiago is far from helpless on the mat himself, tapping out 9 opponents.

Santiago is very aggressive and he should have the edge on the feet, but his constant forward push will open him up to well-timed level changes from Burnell. It is also worth noting that Burnell took his debut against a hulking lightweight, but for this fight, he is returning to Featherweight where he is more suited to compete.

If Santiago can stay vertical, he should have the edge on the feet. That being said, the noteworthy submission numbers here are hard to overlook- my prediction is Mads Burnell to defeat Mike Santiago by submission.Paragraph breaker

135lbs- Kyung Ho Kang (13-7-0 1NC) vs Guido Cannetti (7-3-0)

To open Sunday Night’s festivities, South Korea’s “Mr. Perfect” Kyung-Ho Kang finally returns to action when he takes on Argentinean Guido Cannetti. Cannetti’s last win came over Hugo Viana back at UFC 190 to level his UFC record at 1-1. Kang has secured back to back wins, most recently scoring a split decision win over Michinori Tanaka.

A very large Bantamweight, Kang is the taller man by 3 inches and will have a 4” reach advantage. “Mr. Perfect” is the younger man by 8 years.

Both fighters have been out of action for a prolonged period of time; Kang hasn’t fought in 4 years due to Military service and Cannetti hasn’t fought in roughly 3 years partially the result of a USADA suspension. With both men out of action, it is difficult to discern how this will impact either man’s performance.

Kang is both bigger and younger than Cannetti and will have a sizeable advantage in grappling. Cannetti likes to brawl which is probably his best avenue to victory, but at nearly 40-years old- he is going to struggle to hold up if he can’t secure an early finish.

The biggest concern for Kang is how the new weight cutting requirements will impact him. If the cut goes well,”Mr. Perfect” will find success on the feet early, but ultimately revert to his ground skills to take over the fight- my prediction is Kyung Ho Kang to defeat Guido Cannetti by submission.

205lbs- Khalil Rountree Jr. (7-2-0) vs Michal Oleksiejczuk (12-2-0)

In the headlining fight of the undercard, Khalil Rountree Jr. looks to continue his winning ways when he meets the debuting Michal Oleksiejczuk. Rountree Jr. has won back to back fights over Paul Craig and Daniel Jolly- both by violent knockout. Oleksiejczuk has won 9 consecutive fights, earning him the call to the UFC.

Oleksiejczuk is replacing Gokan Saki on roughly 1-month’s notice for this fight. Rountree is an inch taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. Oleksiejczuk is the younger man by 5-years.

The Polish fighter has finished his foe in 9 of his 12 wins, 8 by knockout. Oleksiejczuk pushes forward aggressively, looking to walk his foe down and land at will. This can often lead to him overwhelming his opponent, but also opens himself up to getting hit. He has been knocked out once and was dropped in his most recent fight. Despite his big knockout totals, he doesn’t throw with overwhelming power.

At the other end of the spectrum, Rountree can generate a tremendous amount of power in just about everything he throws. At distance, Khalil will attempt to slam home fight-ending punches, augmented by a serviceable kicking attack. In close, Rountree lands hard elbows and knee strikes that can finish a fight with a single flush connection. The biggest area of concern for Khalil has been his defensive grappling. He has proven difficult to take down in recent action, but once put on the mat he struggles.

Both fighters have been categorized as undersized Light Heavyweights, but that won’t be an issue in this fight.

Oleksiejczuk is aggressive and fearless- that is going to cost him here. A gameplan built around eating punches against a power puncher like Rountree is a recipe for disaster. Rountree is the more calculated fighter and the more dangerous which will serve as the perfect counter for his opponent’s reckless style- my prediction is Khalil Rountree Jr. to defeat Michal Oleksiejczuk by knockout.

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145lbs- #15 Myles Jury (16-2-0) vs Rick Glenn (20-4-1)

In the Featherweight division, Myles “Fury” Jury jumps back in the cage to meet “The Gladiator” Rick Glenn. Jury is coming off a TKO stoppage win over Mike De La Torre, snapping a 2-fight losing streak. Glenn has won back to back fights after upsetting Canadian prospect Gavin Tucker in September.

This will be Jury’s 3rd fight at 145 pounds. Glenn is 2 inches taller than Jury, but will give up 3 inches of reach. Rick is the younger fighter by a year.

In reality, Jury has had just over 7-minutes of cage time since cutting to 145-pounds.

Against De La Torre, Jury scored an early single leg before showcasing his scrambling skills and eventually securing the GNP stoppage. Over his UFC career, Myles has leaned heavily on his wrestling in victory. During a 4-fight stretch of wins, Jury completed 12-takedowns. He has solid top control and can do decent damage with his top position strikes. When standing, Myles works behind a jab and is strong defensively.

Glenn put together a solid effort in his last fight, battering and overwhelming his adversary. He carries a pretty consistent pace when engaging and usually scores finishes through an accumulatation of damage. He landed 142 significant strikes against Tucker and augmented his output with a quartet of takedowns. “The Gladiator” got off to a bit of a slow start against Phillipe Nover before rallying, but he never got started in a one-sided loss to Evan Dunham.

Glenn’s aggression can result in him taking a lot of damage and also has walked him into some takedowns and prolonged periods spent on his back.

The big question here is how will Jury fair at 145-pounds in a more demanding fight? If he fades, Glenn will outwork and steal a decision. If he doesn’t, Jury’s superior striking defence and wrestling will have him ahead on the scorecards. Jury gets off to a strong start and stays ahead- my prediction is Myles Jury to defeat Rick Glenn by decision.

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185lbs- Marvin Vettori (12-3-0) vs Omari Akhmedov (17-4-0)

In the Middleweight division, Italy’s Marvin Vettori squares off with Russian born Omari Akhmedov. Vettori is coming off a decision win over Vitor Miranda to improve his UFC record to 2-1. Akhmedov bested Abdul Razak Alhassan for his second consecutive win.

Akhmedov has competed at Welterweight during his entire 8-fight UFC run. Both men are 6’0″ tall, but Vettori will have an inch reach advantage. The Italian is 6 years younger.

A Combat Sambo Master, Akhmedov got back to his takedown-heavy attack in his last 2 fights. Omari has landed a combined 9 takedowns over his last 2 UFC wins. On the feet, he offers hard low kicks and decent pop in his strikes. He has been known to fade in fights and his chin has given out on multiple occasions, but he is coming off a pair of hard-fought decision wins.

Vettori showcased solid hand speed coupled with a decent pace of attack. When not leading the exchanges, Marvin was scoring with a decent counter striking attack. The Italian augments his striking with opportunistic takedowns, closing the gap in the face of his opponent’s attack. He has won 8 of his 12 victories by submission, including his debut.

The Big Russian was most likely ahead on the scorecards in his 2 recent defeats before fading, so moving up to Middleweight could alleviate some of those issues.

Vettori should have the edge in activity when striking, but Omari will land the more impactful offense- especially with his low kicks. The key here is going to be the ground game of Akhmedov. Look for him to put Vettori on the floor with regularity to help him secure the opening 2 rounds before a possible slow down- my prediction is Omari Akhmedov to defeat Marvin Vettori by decision.

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125alleviateT1]#13 Louis Smolka (11-4-0) vs Matheus Nicolau (12-2-1)[/T1]

In the Flyweight division, Louis “Da Last Samurai” Smolka takes on Brazil’s Matheus Nicolau. Nicolau was last seen upsetting former title challenger John Moraga to run his winning streak to 5 in a row. Smolka began his UFC run 5-1, but has since dropped a trio of fights with his most recent defeat coming to Tim Elliot.

Smolka is 3 inches taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. Nicolau, the younger man by 2-years, hasn’t fought in almost 17-months.

The Hawaiian-born Smolka’s key to success has been his aggressive grappling attack and constant flow of offense. Conversely, his willingness to routinely engage and attack on the mat has put him in some difficult positions to work out of.

Nicolau, a BJJ Black belt, does have 4 wins by submission and scored a trio of takedowns in his debut. He showcased solid TDD against Moraga and a concise striking attack.

Smolka has given up 17 takedowns over his last 3 defeats compared to 10 completions over his last 3 victories.

Louis is facing a must-win scenario against a fighter coming off a prolonged layoff. His style of “suicide grappling” can be costly, but if he survives the early exchanges it will test Nicolau’s heart. The prolonged layoff could lead to improvements for Nicolau, but ring rust could also be a factor. Look for the pace of Smolka to be the key against a fighter that tends to lag between attacks- my prediction is Louis Smolka to defeat Matheus Nicolau by decision.

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135lbs- Tim Elliott (15-8-1) vs Mark De La Rosa (9-0-0)

To open the card, former Flyweight title challenger Tim Elliott bumps up a weight class to take on the debuting Mark De La Rosa. Elliott was booked to fight at the Fox event, but was pulled after a couple different opponents pulled out- Tim has gone 1-1 since his title fight defeat. De La Rosa has yet to taste defeat in his career, including a pair of victories by submission in 2017.

Elliott is bumping up to Bantamweight for this fight. He is an inch taller and will have an inch reach advantage over De La Rosa. The UFC newcomer is 8 years younger. This fight was put together on 2 week’s notice.

The former title challenger relies heavily on his wrestling when attacking. Elliott has completed at least a single takedown in 7 of his 9 UFC contests, including his personal best 12 in his last victory. He is coming off his 3rd career submission defeat which has been a product of his aggressive ground attack. His striking is still a work in progress, centred around a lot of movement in hopes of setting up his wrestling.

The debuting De La Rosa, offers a solid mix of wrestling and submission skills equating to 5 victories by sub- 4 by RNC. While he has finished his opponent in 6 of his 9 pro bouts, he has a spent some decent time in the cage; including a 5-round victory and only a trio of bouts ending in the opening frame. On the feet, Mark shows good head movement and sharp boxing skills despite holding just a single knockout win.

De La Rosa joins his wife, Montana, as the first husband and wife duo to compete in the UFC at the same time.

Elliott was desperate for an opponent after his last fight was eventually scrapped. Moving up to 135 takes away one of his biggest assets- his size. De La Rosa is not big, but Elliott isn’t going to be able to out-muscle him. If Elliott is unable to drag De La Rosa off his feet, look for Mark to use superior head movement and technique to get the better of the striking exchanges- my prediction is Mark De La Rosa to defeat Tim Elliott by decision.

205lbs- #14 Jared Cannonier (10-2-0) vs #15 Jan Blachowicz (20-7-0)

In the headlining contest of the undercard, “The Killa Gorilla” Jared Cannonier squares off with Poland’s Jan Blachowicz. Big Jan is coming off a much-needed submission win over Devin Clark, he was an abysmal 1-4 over his previous 5 UFC fights. Cannonier defeated Nick Roehrick by knockout to slip his UFC record over the .500 mark at 3-2.

Blachowicz is 3 inches taller than his American counterpart. He will also have an inch reach advantage and he is a year older. Jan is stepping in with a month to prep for the fight.

“The Killa Gorilla” gained notoriety with his hands down approach to defence in his win over Ion Cutelaba. The Texas-native has decent power in his hands, working behind a left jab and periodically throwing a counter left hook. Against Roehrick, he was attacking from a variety of angles and landing multiple power strikes in succession. He maintained a consistent output, never overextending himself, but constantly pressuring.

With 2 of his 3 UFC wins coming by opening opening-round, Blachowicz has looked good in spurts. In his loss to Alexander Gustafsson, he was landing decent strikes early before getting put on his back for the duration of the fight. The statistical output of the big Pole has been a concern. Over his last 3 defeats, he has given up 11 combined takedowns and currently carries a -0.15 striking exchange rate. The conditioning of Blachowicz has also failed him in recent action.

Cannonier has had issues with his TDD; he gave up 3 completions against Glover Teixeira and 6 in his win over Cutelaba.

Blachowicz has an executable path to victory via his wrestling, but his cardio will not allow him to pull it off. Even if Jan lands a couple early takedowns and controls the opening frame, look for him to start to fade in round 2. Cannonier is the more consistent and more impactful striker, especially over a full 15-minutes. He will find success landing big strikes against a tiring opponent- outworking him for the duration- my prediction is Jared Cannonier to defeat Jan Blachowicz by decision.

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185lbs- Julian Marquez (6-1-0) vs Darren Stewart (7-2-0 1NC)

In the Middleweight division, Darren “The Dentist” Stewart steps up to take on the debuting Julian “The Cuban Missle Crisis” Marquez. Stewart is winless in the UFC, most recently succumbing to Karl Roberson via submission in early November. Marquez is getting the call after a knockout win on the Contender’s Series, he also scored a 2016 TKO victory over Matt Hamill.

Marquez is 2 inches taller and will have a 1″ reach advantage.

Stewart is aggressive and wild. He has finished 5 opponents by knockout- 4 in round 1. He appeared to have his first UFC stoppage in the books until his debut victory was overturned due to a headbutt. While he found success overwhelming his opponents on the regional scene, he has not be as successful in the UFC. His reckless attack tends to compromise his cardio and makes it difficult for him to compete as the fight advances.

Marquez has power in his hands, stopping all 6 of his wins by knockout. He has 4 opening round wins. Jabbing his way into the pocket, look for Marquez to willingly exchange and throw out massive bombs while absorbing what his opponent has to offer in return. His head kick finish in his last fight came after he hurt his opponent with a couple of heavy-handed barrages. He showed decent TDD in his last fight but did spend some time on his back. Despite his lack of submission wins, he has shown a willingness to attack his opponent’s neck when he sees the opportunity.

Stewart landed just 6 significant strikes in his debut prior to getting tapped out.

This fight should be fireworks for as long as it lasts. Marquez appears to have the better chin and he should have the edge in power deployment. Stewart is just too wild and if he fades Marquez should be right there to capitalize. This fight could hit the mat with a knockdown or a takedown and Marquez should have the edge there as well- my prediction is Julian Marquez to defeat Darren Stewart by TKO.

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170lbs- Chad Laprise (13-2-0) vs Galore Bofando (5-2-0)

TUF Nations Welterweight winner Chad “The Disciple” Laprise takes on UFC sophomore Galore Bofando. Laprise has won back to back bouts, both by TKO, most recently finishing Brian Camozzi in the 3rd round at UFC 213. Bofando made an impressive debut, flattening Charlie Ward in just over 2-minutes at UFC Fight Night 113.

Laprise is making his second consecutive outing at Welterweight since missing weight in August. Bofando is an inch taller and will have an inch reach advantage. Laprise is a year younger.

The Brit comes from a kickboxing background and came out throwing a variety of kicks early against Ward. He holds his hands low, switches stance, and launches forward when attacking. Between offensive outburst, look for Galore to bounce around the cage in an unorthodox manner which can frustrate his adversary. He has had issues with fighters that focus on wrestling and clinch fighting.

While he has got away from it in recent fights, Laprise has shown he can wrestle. The Canadian offers a consistent striking pace, averaging 4.87 SLpM and surpassing the 70-strike mark on 4 occasions. Laprise moves well and throws sound combinations, augmented by hard low kicks. Where he has got into trouble has been with when his opponent opted to push forward, clinch up, and grind on him. He is far better when he can maintain separation.

Bofando is fighting for just the 3rd time since 2012, enduring a couple of prolonged breaks between fights.

Bofando’s unconventional striking style makes him dangerous, but there are some serious questions about the economics of his style. How long can he hold up without an early finish? Will his style be effective against a more well-rounded and composed opponent? Laprise is dangerous on the feet, but more importantly, that should allow him to close the gap and set up his clinch and takedown game- my prediction is Chad Laprise to defeat Galore Bofando by decision.

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125lbs- #11 Tim Elliott (15-8-1) vs Pietro Menga (13-0-0)

In the Flyweight division, recent TUF winner Tim Elliott looks to get back on track when he takes on incredibly late notice replacement Pietro “Pitbull” Menga. Elliott was subbed by Ben Nguyen to drop to his record to 1-2 since returning to the UFC. Menga is undefeated, including a 41-second knockout in Bellator the last time he saw action.

Both men are 5’7″, but Menga will have a 1″ reach advantage. Pietro is the younger man by 2-years, but he is stepping in on just 3 days notice after having sat out for almost 17-months.

Yet to taste defeat, Menga has secured 8 wins by submission over 11 finish. He is 2-0 on the cards while stopping 8 opponents in the opening round. The majority of his submission wins have come by some form of choke, including an opportunistic guillotine. Menga’s wrestling is a bit of a question mark, making it difficult for him to drag opponents down with regularity. On the feet, he stopped his Bellator foe with a hard straight left- his most dangerous weapon.

Elliott came close to defeating the champ and after a strong performance against Smolka, he suffered an unfortunate setback via submission. With a trio of submission losses on his record, but an average of 4.38 takedowns per fight at a 64% completion rate- Elliott lives and dies on the mat. He carries a relentless pace that will overwhelm his opponent but also leaves him open to losing position and possibly getting subbed.

Tim landed his UFC best 12 takedowns in his win over Louis Smolka and scored 4 completion against the reigning champion.

Menga is coming in on very short notice and he hasn’t competed in well-over a year. Additionally, he has finished the majority of his opponents in the opening round and he is facing an opponent that carries a torrid pace. That being said, Elliott has to avoid being too reckless early and allowing Menga to catch him in a sub. Elliott will push the pace early, force Pietro to work hard, and take the fight over as he slows- my prediction is Tim Elliott to defeat Pietro Menga by decision.

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155lbs- John Makdessi (14-6-0) vs Abel Trujillo (15-6-0 1NC)

Canadian Lightweight, John “The Bull” Makdessi could be on his last UFC leg when he takes on Abel “Killa” Trujillo. Trujillo was submitted by James Vick to stop his 3-fight winning streak, he has won 5 of his last 7 fights. Makdessi is coming off a highlight reel knockout defeat to Lando Vannata- he is just 2-5 during his current skid.

Both men stand 5’8″, but Trujillo will have a slight 2″ reach advantage. Makdessi is 2-years younger.

Makdessi is a striking specialist, drawing on his Tae Kwon Do and Karate background when attacking. He offers a capable striking offence, built around his unique sideways stance and a variety of kicks. Where he has struggled has been with his ability to distance himself in close fights and fending off aggressive ground-based opponents.

A former NAIA All-American, Trujillo has submitted 4 opponents and picked up multiple ground-based knockouts and decisions. He has averaged 2.38 takedowns per fight at a 51% completion rate. Abel is aggressive and throws everything with power. “Killa” has had issues with fading as the fight advances and he struggled to find his range against Vick before getting subbed.

Makdessi has landed more strikes than his opponent in 9 consecutive fights, including a career-best 114 strikes in his loss to Yancy Medeiros. He is 5-4 during that stretch.

This fight really comes down to whether or not Trujillo can utilize his wrestling effectively. His struggles with conditioning suggest he needs an early finish. Makdessi’s jab and kicking arsenal will make it tough for Abel to close the distance and once Trujillo starts to slow down, look for “The Bull” to take over- my prediction is John Makdessi to defeat Abel Trujillo by decision.

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185lbs-Alessio Di Chirico (10-1-0) vs Oluwale Bamgbose (6-3-0)

In the Middleweight division, Italy’s Alessio Di Chirico takes on the “Holy War Angel” Oluwale Bamgbose. Di Chirico is 1-2 in the UFC, most recently suffering a submission loss to Eric Spicely back in January. Bamgbose was finished by Paulo Costa by knockout- handing him his 3rd UFC loss in 4 fights.

Di Chirico is an inch taller, but Bamgbose will have a 4″ reach advantage. Alessio is the younger fighter by 2-years.

Bamgbose has finished 6 opponents by knockout, accounting for all of his career victories- all in the opening round. Conversely, he is 0-2 in fights that go beyond the first frame, losing both contests by knockout. He is an unorthodox striker, using a lot of movement to set up his techniques.

Di Chirico put up decent striking stats in his lone UFC victory and mixed in a couple of takedowns. Unlike his opponent, he has a 5-1 record in fights that go outside of the first round. Alessio throws a lot of single strikes, but he is a much more conventional striker when compared to the “Holy War Angel”.

Di Chirico’s only UFC victory came during his first trip to Canada back in the summer of 2016.

While Bamgbose is the far more dangerous fighter, he is also far more vulnerable, especially on the mat. Di Chirico should have significant conditioning advantage if this fight goes beyond the midway mark, but that probably won’t be the case. Once he has been put on his back, Bamgbose has almost nothing to offer and Alessio will capitalize on this- my prediction is Alessio Di Chirico to defeat Oluwale Bamgbose by TKO.Paragraph breaker

170lbs- Jordan Mein (29-12-0) vs Erick Silva (19-8-0 1NC)

In the FightPass prelim headliner, Canada’s Jordan “Young Gun”Mein takes on Brazil’s Erick Silva. Mein has lost a trio of bouts, including a decision loss to Belal Muhammad at UFC 213. Silva hasn’t fared much better of late- he is coming off a TKO loss to Yancy Medeiros and has just a single win over his last 4 fights.

Both men are 6’0″, Silva will have a 1” reach advantage while Mein is the younger man by 5-years.

Mein has a wealth of experience for a young fighter, but that also equates to a significant amount of mileage on his body. He has been finished 7-times- 3 by knockout. “Young Gun” is a dangerous striker, throwing strong combinations, using good head movement, and managing his distance well. He did a lot of damage with his low kicks against Muhammad. He has had issues with cardio and managing his activity rate later in the fight.

A legit finisher, Silva can end a fight both on the feet and the mat. Unfortunately, he has looked a shell of his former self in recent action. The Brazilian’s cardio has been notoriously bad, but he has been trying to be a little more conservative early in his fights to help him later. He currently carries a -1.5 striking exchange rate. Silva has good power and will target the body to upon up his opponent’s chin.

Despite being well under 30-years of age, Mein opted to temporarily retire from MMA which still raises some questions about his mental preparedness even after his return.

Silva is 1-3 in the UFC when fighting outside of Brazil. His cardio and durability are major question marks, but so is Mein’s mental focus. Silva would be best served to put Mein on the mat and work his grappling game, but look for him to be drawn into a striking battle. Mein will land the better strikes and test the chin of Silva early in the fight- my prediction is Jordan Mein to defeat Erick Silva by TKO.

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170lbs- Nordine Taleb (13-4-0) vs Danny Roberts (14-2-0)

The first of 5 Canadians to hit the cage, Nordine Taleb takes on the U.K.’s own “Hot Chocolate” Danny Roberts in the Welterweight division. Taleb has alternated wins and losses over his last 4 fights and currently holds a solid 5-2 record inside the Octagon. Roberts is 3-1 since making his debut, falling only to Mike Perry while finishing Bobby Nash in his last fight.

Both men are 6’1″ and have the same length reach, but Roberts is the younger man by 6-years.

The French born Canadian is coming off a typical performance- win the takedown battle and be the more active striker. Over his 5 UFC wins, Taleb has completed 15 takedowns. The majority of his top game has been focused on establishing and maintaining control and then attacking. He did show his power against Erick Silva, scoring the vertical KO. Working behind his jab and a series of kicks, he held is own in a close fight with Santiago Ponzinibbio.

Roberts has had some issues with his TDD. He has given up a combined 9 takedowns over his 3 wins. Getting up off his back has been a key to his success and he showed his submission skills in his debut victory. The Brit has finished 5 opponents, by submission, most by choke. Offensively, Danny will attempt a takedown, but has had limited success. Tossing out a right side jab, Roberts will follow with a good left hook. He struggled and faded under the pressure of Perry before getting stopped.

Despite finishing 11 of his 14 wins, Roberts has just a trio of opening round stoppages.

Roberts can not afford to relinquish takedowns to Nordine with regularity. While Danny has been able to overcome them in the past, Taleb will make them count. Nordine will keep the striking exchanges close, utilizing his jab and kicks to back Danny up before catching him with a level change and prolonged top control- my prediction is Nordine Taleb to defeat Danny Roberts by decision.

125lbs- Alexis Davis (18-7-0) vs Liz Carmouche (10-5-0)

In the headlining act of the undercard, a rematch of former Bantamweight title contenders goes down in the newly created Flyweight division as Alexis “Ally-Gator” Davis takes on Liz “Girl-Rilla” Carmouche. Davis most recently defeated Cindy Dandois by decision to improve to 2-2 over her last 4-fights. Carmouche has won back to back matches, to level her record at 2-2 over her last 4 outings.

Liz has not fought for over a year and has competed just once a year dating back to 2014. Both girls are 5’8″, but Davis will have a 2″ reach advantage.

Their first fight took place back in 2013, with Davis earning a decision win. She edged out the striking exchanges by a count of 50-43, utilizing a strong series of low kicks to back Carmouche up. Carmouche is at her best when she is the more physical fighter, especially from top position. She completed 6 takedowns in her last 2 fights. She struggled to find much success on the mat against Davis the first time around. Davis has the edge on the feet, especially when she is able to get her leg kicks involved. Carmouche hits hard, but lacks the technical skills and volume to keep up with Davis over a full-15 minutes.

Carmouche’s prolonged layoff and lack of overall activity hasn’t caught up with her yet, but Davis could change that. If Liz can work her wrestling, she can take this fight over. If she can’t she will stick around, but get second best of the striking exchanges. Liz has faded a bit in the second half of her last couple of fights and she will here as well- my prediction is Alexis Davis to defeat Liz Carmouch by decision.

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135lbs- Luke Sanders (11-1-0) vs Andre Soukhamthath (11-5-0)

In the Bantamweight division, “Cool Hand” Luke Sanders looks to rebound from his first career loss when he takes on Andre “The Asian Sensation” Soulhamthath. Sanders started strong but was subbed by Iuri Alcantara- he is now 1-1 in the UFC. Soukhamthath has dropped a pair of narrow split decisions to start his UFC run and could be on the outside looking in with a loss.

Soukhamthath is 3 inches taller than Sanders and he will have a 3″ reach advantage as well. Andre is the younger fight by 3 years.

Finishing 7 opponents by knockout, Soukhamthath has good pop in his hands but has struggled to find the mark with regularity in the UFC. He carries a negative striking exchange rate through 2-fights and is a dismal 1-5 in decisions. Sanders has some decent pop of his own, but the key to his success will be his striking. He is the far more active striker than Soukhamthath and mixes up his offence much more effectively.

A lack of urgency in Soukhamthath’s attack has been his downfall in a pair of close fights. Sanders is a more active and technically sound striker than either of Andre’s first 2 opponents. Sanders is also capable of taking the action to the mat if he needs to change gears- my prediction is Luke Sanders to defeat Andre Soukhamthath by decision.Paragraph breaker

125lbs- Carls John De Tomas (8-1-0) vs Alex Perez (18-4-0)

In the Flyweight division, “Golden Boy” Carls John De Tomas makes his second UFC appearance when he takes on the debuting Alex Perez. Perez has fought in a variety of regional organizations, but most recently he found success on the Tuesday Night Contender’s series leading up to his UFC debut. De Tomas made his debut back at UFN 111, dropping a decision to Naoki Inoue.

Perez is an inch taller, but De Tomas will have a 6″ reach advantage.

The inaugural UFC fight for Perez will come after 22 pro-bouts, providing him with a solid wealth of experience to build on. He is 10-1 on the scorecards, building his attack around his strong wrestling skills. He has shown continued development in all aspect of his attack, but he has been submitted on 3 occasions. De Tomas has also largely built his success around his takedown game. He did land a pair of takedowns in his debut, but failed to find enough success on the feet or from top position to earn the nod. On the feet, De Tomas showed he still has work to put in.

Perez is the superior wrestler which will either equate to an advantage on the ground or at the very least the ability to keep De Tomas from his greatest strength. Look for Perez to routinely get the better of striking exchanges and capitalize on De Tomas’s increasing desperation to score a takedown- my prediction is Alex Perez to defeat Carls John De Tomas by decision.

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135lbs- Frankie Saenz (11-5-0) vs Merab Dvalishvilli (7-2-0)

In the Bantamweight division, Frankie Saenz looks to end a 3-fight losing streak when he welcomes UFC newcomer Merab Dvalishvilli. Saenz started his UFC career with a trio of wins, including an upset of Iuri Alcantara- he is coming off a split decision loss to Augusto Mendes. Dvalishvilli began his pro career 1-2, but has rattled off 6 consecutive victories, including a 2-0 start to 2017.

Both men are 5’6″, Dvalishvilli is 11-years younger than Saenz.

After fighting into the final round in 7-straight fights to being his MMA career, Dvalishvilli has picked up a pair of finishes in his last 2 fights. He has solid power in his hands and works a strong top position game. Saenz, a former NCAA D-1 wrestler, leaned heavily on his wrestling early in his UFC run but has struggled defensively early. In addition to giving up 9 TDs over his last 4-fights, Saenz has struggled to match his opponent’s vertical output and his chin has been a bit of an issue.

Saenz is not the same fighter when he can’t find success with his wrestling. Dvalishvilli will defend Frankie’s TDAs and land a few of his own to score crucial top position control. The UFC debutante, gets the better of the striking exchanges as well, outpointing Saenz over the full 15-minutes- my prediction is Merab Dvalishvilli to defeat Frankie Saenz by decision.

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135lbs- Alejandro Perez (19-6-1) vs Iuri Alcantara (34-8-0 1NC)

In the Bantamweight division, TUF Latin American winner Alejandro Perez takes on dangerous Brazilian Iuri Alcantara. Perez took a split decision from Andre Soukhamthath in his most recent affair to improve to 4-1-1 inside the UFC cage. Alcantara is coming off a submission loss to Brian Kelleher, snapping his 2-fighting winning streak- he is now 9-5 with a No Contest in the UFC.

Alcantara is 3 inches taller and will have a 4″ reach advantage. Perez is the younger fighter by 9-years.

Mexico’s Perez has battled through a couple closely contested fights. His volume is decent, but he tends to let his opponent set the pace, most notably against Albert Morales. Alejandro offers some heavy leg kicks which can take away from the movement of his opponent. Alcantara is trending towards a fighter that fell short of his perceived potential. He is dangerous anywhere the fight goes; with double digits wins by both knockout and submissions. Defensively, he is proving vulnerable against opponents that will push the pace in pursuit of the finish.

Perez tends to be a slow starter, but he has found success rallying late. With Iuri’s cardio issues, if Perez keeps it close early he could certainly pull away late. Conversely, Perez’s willingness to sit back and let his opponent attack him will allow Alcantara to fight at his pace. The Brazilian has more power and is the greater submission threat- my prediction is Iuri Alcantara to defeat Alejandro Perez by TKO.

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155lbs- Chris Gruetzemacher (13-2-0) vs Davis Ramos (6-2-0)

In the Lightweight division, Chris “Gritz” Gruetzemacher makes his 3rd walk to the Octagon when he meets UFC sophomore, Davi Ramos. Ramos lost his debut to Sergio Moraes via decision- he is 2-2 over his last 4 fights. Gruetzemacher won his debut but suffered a middle frame submission loss to Chas Skelly in his next fight.

To grab a short notice opportunity, Ramos debuted at Welterweight, but he is more suited to fight at 155-pounds. Both men will stand 5’8″ with Davi holding a slight 2″ reach advantage. Gruetzemacher is moving back up from 145 after his last fight.

An elite level BJJ Black belt, Ramos was unable to find any success on the floor in his debut. He has submitted 4 opponents as a pro. On the feet, he landed some decent strikes, but his standup is clearly a secondary aspect of his attack. Gruetzemacher is far from an elite level striker, but he makes up for it with pressure and volume. He will most likely attempt to blend together striking barrages with clinch work and a timely takedown.

Ramos is the superior athlete and will benefit from having a full camp and competing at a more appropriate weightclass. Gruetzemacher should try to use his defensive wrestling early to keep Ramos off the mat, at least early on. That being said, Ramos’s packs enough power to give “Gritz” pause and potentially win the striking exchanges. The American looked out of his depth when put on his back and Ramos will feast on his first chance to control the action on the mat- my prediction is Davi Ramos to defeat Chris Gruetzemacher by submission.

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185lbs- Antonio Braga Neto (9-2-0 1NC) vs Trevin Giles (10-0-0)

In the opening fight of the night, Antonio Braga Neto steps back into the Octagon to square off with Trevin “The Problem” Giles in the Middleweight division. Braga Neto is 1-1 in the UFC, submitting Anthony Smith before dropping a decision to Clint Hester. Giles is undefeated, knocking out defeat of James Bochnovic in his UFC debut.

At 6’3″, the Brazilian is 3 inches taller than Giles to go along with a 3″ reach advantage. Giles is 5-years younger and Braga Neto has been out of action for an astounding 43-month layoff.

The layoff for Antonio is a massive factor, but there is no denying his skills on the mat. He has submitted his opponent in 7 of his 9 wins. After tapping Smith, Braga Neto got off to a good start against Hester, but ultimately faded a dropped a decision. Giles has some pop in his hands and has shown himself to be a capable grappler, but not on his opponent’s level. Giles stopped his adversary in his debut after a prolonged sequence of ground and pound. In this fight, he will need to focus more on remaining vertical and working his striking instead of hitting the mat.

Braga Neto showed he is still a capable grappler, even when exhaustion sets in. That being said, a near 4-year layoff is going to further impact his in-cage performance if he isn’t able to snatch up the early finish. Look for Giles to force Braga Neto to work hard in pursuit of the takedown, all the while punishing him with his hands- my prediction is Trevin Giles to defeat Antonio Braga Neto by TKO.

155lbs- Charles Oliveira (22-7-0 1NC) vs Paul Felder (14-3-0)

In the headlining fight of the night, Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira takes on Paul “Irish Dragon” Felder in the Lightweight division. Oliveira subbed Will Brooks in his official return to Lightweight- he is 2-3 over his last 5. Felder has picked up back to back TKO wins, stopping Stevey Ray and Alex Ricci to improve to 4-1 over his last 5.

Felder is an inch taller than Oliveira, but the Brazilian will have a 4″ reach advantage. “Do Bronx” is the younger man by 5-years.

The “Irish Dragon” has made noteworthy strides in his Fight IQ in recent fights, opting for a more functional approach over some of his more flashy techniques. Felder struggled at times with his output when throwing various spinning attacks, but over his last 2 fights, he has found a lot of success throwing higher percentage techniques. A wizard on the mat, Oliveira has won 14-times by submission including 9 in the UFC. The Brazilian has vastly improved his wrestling, helping him to set up his grappling game. On the feet, Oliveira is a very capable striker and willing to throw high-risk manoeuvres as he is not afraid to be taken down.

Over his last 9-fights, Oliveira has scored at least a single takedown in 8 of those contests.

With Oliveira’s pension for folding under pressure, Felder could easily score a finish in this fight. Conversely, the Brazilian’s much-improved wrestling is going to put Felder in some tough spots. Look for Oliveira to get in close and either take the fight to the mat or work from the clinch to set up his grappling attack- my prediction is Charles Oliveira to defeat Pau Felder by submission.

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170lbs- #15 Alex Oliveira (17-3-1 1NC) vs Yancy Medeiros (14-4-0 1NC)

A pair of former 155-pounders that have made the jump to Welterweight look to take the next step as Brazil’s Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira takes on Yancy Medeiros. Oliveira has won back to back fights, knocking out Ryan LaFlare and submitting Tim Means- he is undefeated over his last 5. Medeiros is 2-0 since making the jump up in weight, most recently knocking out Erick Silva.

At 5’11”, Oliveira is an inch taller than Medeiros. He will have a 1″ reach advantage and is a year younger.

Oliveira continues to round out his offensive attack, showcasing a solid striking attack augmented by an improving ground and clinch game. In similar fashion, Medeiros has shown noteworthy improvements in his grappling skills- submitting his opponent in 3 of his last 5 wins. Yancy carries a much better striking pace than Oliveira, but he also gets hit a lot. This is concerning considering he has been knocked out twice and hurt on multiple occasions. While Oliveira’s technique might falter at times, he is the far more durable fighter.

“Cowboy” has completed 20 takedowns over his 7 UFC victories.

The durability factor and the variety of ways that the Brazilian can win this fight are the keys to his success. Look for Oliveira to bully Yancy in the clinch and potentially take him to the mat. While a finish on the floor via sub is certainly a possibility, my prediction is Alex Oliveira to defeat Yancy Medeiros by TKO.

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155lbs- David Teymur (6-1-0) vs Drakkar Klose (8-0-1)

In the Lightweight division, a pair of recent successful underdogs go head to head when David Teymur fights Drakkar Klose. Klose upset Marc Diakiese via split decision in his last fight, improving to 2-0 in the UFC. Teymur upset Lando Vannata in the co-main event of UFC 209- he is now 3-0 in the UFC with a pair of finishes.

Teymur will have a 3″ reach advantage and is a year younger. They are both 5’9″.

Klose narrowly edged out Diakese with a slightly more active striking attack to go along with a trio of takedowns. He is an aggressive power puncher, working behind his jab and throwing decent combinations. If he closes the distance, Drakkar can do damage in the clinch or transition to a takedown attempt. A nasty kickboxer, Teymur offers a striking attack built around sound technique and stopping power. He throws a variety of kicks mixed with strong punching combinations and hard knee strikes. He can also do damage in the clinch if the action gets close, but this also opens him up to being taken down.

Teymur is coming off his UFC-best 90 significant strikes landed while Klose put up 68 in his UFC debut.

Klose needs to work his clinch attack in conjunction with his wrestling to remove Teymur’s striking from the equation. Teymur’s focus should be on maintaining distance with his long-range weapons and then punishing Klose with counters and clinch strikes when the gap closes. Ultimately, the Swede is more defensively prepare to shut down his opponent’s attack- my prediction is David Teymur to defeat Drakkar Klose by decision.

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115lbs- #9 Felice Herrig (13-6-0) vs #11 Cortney Casey (7-4-0)

On a weekend dominated by WMMA, “The Little Bulldog” Felice Herrig puts her top 10-spot in the rankings on the line when she takes on “Cast Iron” Cortney Casey. Herrig has won a trio of fights since making her return, including a decision victory over Justine Kish. Casey is coming off a win over highly touted Jessica Aguilar and is 3-1 over her last 4 fights.

Casey is 3 inches taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. Casey is the older fighter by 3-years.
“Cast Iron” is coming off her first win to transpire outside of the opening round. She has been improving her striking and packs a decent pop in her punches. Casey has split her 6 finishes evenly between knockouts and submission. Her counter wrestling has been an issue, with 14 takedowns given up over 6 fights. Herrig is a good striker, but not huge on volume, but she does her best work when she strings her combinations together. When on the mat, Felice has a solid grappling game and will transition from position to position looking for the finish. Over her current winning streak, she has been on the right side of a one-sided takedown battle.

Casey won Fight of the Night in each of her first 2 UFC fights, both losses, but she has failed to earn another bonus over her current 3-1 run.

Casey continues to improve, but her issues on the mat persist. Herrig is the type of fighter that knows how to exploit an opponent’s weakness and she will most certainly look to put Casey on the floor early and often. The aggression grappling attack of Felice, coupled with her striking will be enough to outwork Casey- my prediction is Felice Herrig to defeat Cortney Casey by TKO.

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170lbs- Sabah Homasi (11-6-0) vs Abdul Razak Alhassan (7-1-0)

In the headlining bout of the FightPass prelims, Sabah “The Punisher” Homasi makes his second UFC appearance when he takes on “Judo Thunder” Abdul Razak Alhassan in the Welterweight division. Homasi had won 3 in a row prior to getting the call to the UFC where he was stopped in the middle round by Tim Means. Alhassan is coming off his first career loss, dropping a split decision to Omari Akhmedov- he took just 53 seconds to win his promotional debut by knockout.

Homasi is 2 inches taller than Alhassan, but ARA will have a 1″ reach advantage. Homasi is 3 years younger, but he hasn’t fought in just under 16-months.

This fight has absolute fireworks written all over it. Alhassan has finished all 7 of his victories by opening round knockout and Homasi has 8 TKO/KOs on his record. Homasi throws with power, but he will over-extend at times and leaves his chin open to be hit with counters. Similarly, everything that Alhassan throws is intended to finish the fight. He constantly threatens with a big right hand, hard uppercuts and well-timed knee strikes. His undoing against Akhmedov came with his TDD. He was put on his back on multiple occasions and forced to fight the longest bout of his career. Homasi did pick up a pair of takedowns against Means which could be an option in this fight.

All 7 of Alhassan’s knockouts have come inside the opening 90-seconds, including 5 in the first minute.

Homasi has been stopped 3-times by knockout which suggests that Alhassan is the more durable fighter. “The Punisher” should look to ground his foe and test his cardio, but he appeared to slow quite badly in his debut as well. This fight stands a very good chance of degenerating into a firefight and the better chin should prevail- my prediction is Abdul Razak Alhassan to defeat Sabah Homasi by knockout.

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205lbs- Jeremy Kimball (15-6-0) vs Dominic Reyes (7-0-0)

In the Light Heavyweight division, Jeremy “Grizzly” Kimball takes on “The Devastator” Dominic Reyes. Kimball upset Josh Stansbury in his UFC sophomore appearance after taking a short notice fight and falling to Marcos Rogerio de Lima. Reyes made an impactful debut, stopping Joachim Christensen in just 29-seconds.

At 6’4″, Dominic is 4 inches taller than Kimball and he will have a 5″ reach advantage. Kimball is the younger fighter by 2-years and has had some issues making weight in previous fights.

Both men have power; Kimball has stopped 11 of 15 by KO/TKO and Reyes 5 of 7. Reyes moves well and works behind long straight punches. Christensen was dropped with a pair of straight lefts with Reyes showing a lot of composure throughout the finishing sequence. He has fought beyond the opening round just once which raises questions about his cardio. While “Grizzly” is far from a hulking specimen, he throws a decent variety of kicks and stopped Stansbury with a short right hand. The biggest areas of concern for Kimball has been his TDD and submission, but so far Reyes has preferred to remain vertical.

Kimball spent the early part of his career at Middleweight, including a quarter-final loss in the Season 9 Bellator tournament.

Stemming from fighting a division above where he should be, Kimball’s best attribute is arguably his quickness. Unfortunately, Reyes is pretty quick himself and he has the length advantage to further help him during the exchanges. Reyes will keep Kimball at the end of his strikes and eventually land something significant to put him down- my prediction is Dominic Reyes to defeat Jeremy Kimball by TKO.

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265lbs- Justin Willis (5-1-0) vs Allen Crowder (9-2-0 1NC)

In the Heavyweight division, Justin “Big Pretty” Willis welcomes Bellator and Tuesday Night Contenders series alumni Allen Crowder. Willis took a decision over Jame Mulheron in his debut, extending his winning streak to 5 straight. Crowder has won 4 in a row, including a TKO victory on Dana’s show and another in his only Bellator outing.

Crowder is 2 inches taller than Willis, but Justin will have a 2″ reach advantage and should weigh in roughly 20 pounds heavier. Willis is the younger man by 2-years.

The UFC newcomer has finished 5 opponents by knockout. He throws decent punches but has a tendency to move forward into the clinch when attacking. His ground game is a bit of a question mark as he spent some time on his back early in the fight, not finding an advantage until his opponent gassed out. Willis fought at a measured pace in his debut, mixing together powerful strikes and a trio of takedowns. His issues with cutting weight is a concern, but his size gives him a big advantage once he gets on top. Despite his size, he is pretty quick for the division which can create some issues for his foe.

Crowder has been knocked out twice in his career including a 2015 TKO loss to Curtis Blaydes.

Crowder was an underdog in his “Contenders” bout and didn’t look that great until his opponent faded. Willis’s mix of speed and power will give Crowder trouble when exchanging. More importantly, once “Big Pretty” integrates his wrestling, Crowder will struggle to get off his back- my prediction is Justin Willis to defeat Allen Crowder by TKO.

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115lbs- Amanda Cooper (2-3-0) vs Angela Magana (11-8-0)

To open the second night of UFC action, Amanda “ABC” Cooper takes on the infamous online attention seeker, Angela “Your Majesty” Magana in the Strawweight division. Cooper is coming off a submission loss to the popular Cynthia Calvillo and she has just a single win over her last 4 contests. Magana has lost 4 consecutive fights, including both of her UFC bouts.

Cooper is 2 inches taller than Magana, but Angela will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. Cooper is the younger fighter by 8 years.

Magana hasn’t fought since the summer of 2015, a near 29-month layoff. Cooper has fought 4-times since then. Magana has almost been a non-factor since debuting on TUF. She has struggled to match her opponents both on the feet and the mat, losing the striking battle 143-45 and giving up 4 takedowns to just 1 from her foe. She also tired noticeably against Torres over 3 rounds. Cooper has had issues on the mat both defending takedowns and submissions- Magana’s biggest strength. If taken down, she will attack off her back. “ABC” should have an advantage is striking skill and output, but she will need to remain vertical to exploit it.

With a combined UFC record of 1-4, the loser of this fight could be on their way out of the promotion.

Magana could win this fight with a takedown-heavy approach, but the layoff and age are major concerns. Even when active, her cardio was below average and the layoff won’t improve it. Cooper will have to fend off some early TDAs and get up if taken down, but she will be the more active fighter especially in rounds 2 and 3- my prediction is Amanda Cooper to defeat Angela Magana by decision.

 

125lbs- Nico Montano (3-2-0) vs Roxanne Modafferi (21-14-0)

In the newly minted main event, Nico Montano looks to continue her improbable run to the championship when she takes on late replacement and long time WMMA veteran Roxanne “The Happy Warrior” Modafferi.

Roxy is 2 inches taller and will have a 5″ reach advantage. Montano is the younger fighter by 6-years.

Modafferi has a massive advantage in experience with 30 more pro fights. She will look to establish her top game and has found some success stopping opponents with her GNP. Conversely, her semi-final defeat came largely on her inability to stay vertical. Roxy works to remain active on the feet, throwing a variety of techniques that appear to be awkward, but still effective. Montano has done a decent job of staying active, out-working her opponents on the feet and defending takedowns. As a pro, she has finished a pair of foes by knockout, but is 1-2 in decisions.

Regardless of the outcome, it will be a Cinderella story come true. Either the unknown Montano completes her unexpected run to the title or the well-liked veteran Modafferi finally reaches the pinnacle of the sport. Modafferi will be better suited for the big light of the Octagon and should find success outworking Montano on the feet to go along with some prolonged top control time- my prediction is Roxanne Modafferi to defeat Nico Montano by TKO.

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125lbs- Lauren Murphy (8-3-0) vs Barb Honchak (10-3-0)– Cancelled

On the heels of a couple of alterations to the main card, former Invicta Bantamweight champion Lauren Murphy takes on on the former Invicta Flyweight champ Barb “Little Warrior” Honchak. Honchack was defeated by Nicco Montano via decision in the semi-finals she has won 9 straight fights at as a pro dating back to late 2010. Murphy went 1-3 in the UFC, including a pair of losses to former title challengers- she lost out to current finalist Nico Montano in the opening round of the tournament.

Murph is 3 inches taller than Honchak and she will have a 2″ reach advantage. The former BW champ is the younger fighter by 4-years.

Barb throws a serviceable 1-2, but her attack is built around closing the distance and utilizing either the clinch or her wrestling to grind out her foe. She does a good job of remaining active and simply outworking her opponent in all facets of the game. Murphy lost to top-flight competition in the UFC, but they are still defeats and her early tournament exit was a tough pill to swallow. She is a gritty, but flawed fighter. Her TDD has been a question mark, along with her activity rate. She struggled to mount much offence either on the mat or the feet against Montano.

This bout should come down to Barb’s offensive volume. Even if Murphy is able to match her striking output, look for Honchak to find success with her TDs and clinch game along the cage. Honchak starts her climb to UFC title contention with a gritty effort- my prediction is Barb Honchak to defeat Lauren Murphy by decision.

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135lbs- Sean O’Malley (8-0-0) vs Terrion Ware (17-6-0)

In the Bantamweight division, Sean “Sugar” O’Malley makes his promotional debut across the cage from promotional sophomore Terrion “Flash” Ware. O’Malley is coming off a win on Dana White’s Contenders Series and has finished 3 consecutive opponents in the opening round. Ware dropped a competitive decision to Cody Stamann in his debut ending his 4-fight winning streak.

O’Malley is 3 inches taller than Ware and will have a 1″ reach advantage. He is also the younger man by 8-years. Ware debuted at 145-pounds.

In his debut, “Sugar” threw a lot of flashy techniques, with mixed results. Defensively, O’Malley was getting lit up and really didn’t find any success until he simplified his offence. His reliance on spinning attacks and a kick-heavy approach also appeared to diminish his cardio early in the affair. Ware went the distance in his debut, and has gone 3 rounds or more in 16 of 23 pro bouts. His TDD has been a point of contention, but his striking was pretty consistent when he was vertical.

O’Malley’s striking is only effective if he can land a finishing blow. His lack of long fighter experience, the potential for Octagon jitters, and his taxing style of striking will be his downfall in a longer fight. Look for Ware to routinely beat him to the punch, utilizing a more linear striking style to counter the flash over functionality style of “Sugar”- my prediction is Terrion Ware to defeat Sean O’Malley by decision.

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125lbs- Christina Marks (8-8-0) vs Montana Stewart (7-4-0)

In the headlining fight of the undercard, Christina Marks takes on LFA veteran Montana Stewart. Stewart was victorious in her final pre-UFC fight, ending a 2 fight losing streak against noteworthy opponents Mackenzie Dern and Cynthia Calvillo. Marks is currently riding a 3-fight winning streak dating back to a 2015 loss to Sarah D’Alelio.

Stewart is an inch taller than Marks.

Stewart builds her attack around her strong mat game, combining her wrestling background with her ever improving BJJ skills. She has finished 5 of her 7 wins by submission, mainly focusing on arm bars and Rear-naked chokes to close the show. She is also a capable scrambler when unable to land a clean takedown. Her striking is still a work in progress which is something that Marks will look to capitalize on. Christina is a Muay Thai based striker with solid power and nice variety of weapons. That being said, she has struggled at times to remain vertical. Of her 8 defeats, 6 have come by submission, including multiple subs by armbar and RNC.

This fight is pretty simple. If Marks can stay on her feet, she should be the front-runner. Unfortunately for Christina, that will be easier said than done. The combination of Stewart’s ground game and Marks’s porous defensive grappling suggest this fight is headed south- Montana Stewart to defeat Christina Marks by submission.

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125lbs- DeAnna Bennett (8-3-0) vs Melinda Fabian (4-3-1)

Team Alvarez stablemates, DeAnna “The Argentine Assassin” takes on Hungarian-born Melinda Fabian. Bennett was bounced from the TUF tournament in the Quarter-finals by Sijara Eubanks via first-round KO- she had lost 3 straight as a pro. Fabian failed to make it out of the round of 16, dropping an opening round submission- she is coming off a loss in her final pre-UFC fight.

Fabian is the taller girl by 2 inches and has fought as high as Bantamweight, while Bennet has spent some time at Strawweight.

Bennett entered the tournament as the #4 ranked fighter in the bracket compared to Fabian who was pencilled in at #7. “The Argentine Assassin” as a sizeable advantage in quality of experience with a 4-3 record in Invicta and having dropped a split decision with the #1 ranked fighter in the competition. Fabian does have a couple of noteworthy names on her ledger, but her last 3 foes have a combined record 3-4. Bennett will exchange on the feet and isn’t afraid to pursue the takedown either. Fabian was taken down on the show and almost immediately subbed. She has been subbed twice as a pro. Her striking looks a little stiff and deliberate despite her use of erratic movement to avoid getting tagged.

Bennett has just a pair of submission wins, but she has shown a willingness to put her opponent on the floor. She would be best-served to exploit Fabian’s vulnerability on the mat and put her on her backside. That being said, Bennett appears to be the better striker and all of Fabian’s wins have come on the mat. Either way, Bennett either outworks her from top position or on the feet- my prediction is  DeAnna Bennett to defeat Melinda Fabian by decision.

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125lbs- Ariel Beck (4-4-0) vs Shana Dobson (2-1-0)

A pair of fighters that made early tournament exits meet up as Ariel Beck meets Shana Dobson in the Flyweight division. Dobson lost via TKO in the opening round to the top-ranked Roxanne Modafferi, her only loss as a pro came against tournament finalist Nico Montano. Beck was subbed by Montano Stewart in the round of 16 and has lost back to back fights as a pro.

Beck last competed in December of 2016, removing her from regular competition for almost an entire year.

With 8 pro fights to just 3 for Dobson, Beck has an edge in both quality and quantity of experience. She appears to be primarily a striker, working behind a right jab that she will go to the body with. In her only Invicta fight she found some success defending the takedown, but ultimately got put on her back and was forced to fend off multiple sub attempts. Dobson is also a striker, she uses a lot of movement but throws primarily in single strikes. She will mix in kicks to the legs and body with her boxing, but she would benefit from an increase in output.

Neither fighter is an overwhelming striker, but Dobson appears to pack a little more pop in her strikes and her movement is going to give Beck’s jab-heavy attack issues. Beck’s vulnerability on the mat could open up some opportunities for Dobson to score points. Look for the less experienced fighter to show the greater improvements coming off the show- my prediction is Shana Dobson to defeat Ariel Beck by decision.

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125lbs- Rachael Ostovich-Berdon (3-3-0) vs Karine Gevorgyan (3-2-0)

A pair of fighters look to make amends for their early tournament exits when Rachael Ostovich squares off with Karine Gevorgyan. Ostovich managed to escape the opening round before being turned away, she is has split her 4 fights under the Invicta banner with a record of 2-2. Gevorgyan suffered a jarring knockout defeat in the round of 16- she snapped a 2-fight losing skid in her final pre-TUF contest.

Gevorgyan will stand 5 inches taller than Ostovich.

Gevorgyan’s pre-TUF competition is pretty underwhelming, but not surprising considering where she has been fighting out of. She has a trio of wins by sub, including a pair of RNC. She lacks a strong defensive wrestling game, struggling when pressed by a capable wrestler. Ostovich will look to capitalize on Karine’s questionable mat game. Rachael is a decent grappler, but she is far from an elite level takedown artist. Her willingness to drive on a takedown and keep working should result in Gevorgyan eventually hitting the mat. If forced to stay on the feet, Ostovich should have the edge based on aggression.

Ostovich has faced the superior competition and has the superior skill set. Additionally, the glaring hole in Gevorgyan’s game is just too big for Rachael not to capitalize on. The American eventually drags her foe to the floor and starts working her top game until a submission presents itself- my prediction is  Rachael Ostovich to defeat Karine Gevorgyan by submission.

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125lbs- Gillian Robertson (3-2-0) vs Emily Whitmire (2-1-0)

The opening fight of the night will feature Canada’s Gillian “The Savage” Robertson of Canada take on Emily “Spitfire” Whitmire. Robertson was defeated in the opening round by Barb Honchak via TKO- she is 3-1 in her last 4 fights with her only loss coming to the surging Cynthia Calvillo. Whitmire escaped the opening round before yielding to top ranked Roxanne Modafferi, he is coming off a decision win in her last pro bout.

Whitmire is 3 inches taller than her opponent, but the Canadian is the younger fighter by 4-years.

Whitmire’s record isn’t overly deep, but she does have a couple of submission wins as an amateur to go along with a pair of decision victories as a pro. In similar fashion, Robertson has secured both of her pro wins via sub to go along with a 4-pack of submissions as an amateur. Both girls are scrappy on the feet and willing to exchange, but all indications are that they do their best work on the mat.

There is a lot of unknown here on both side. Each girl is still very early in their MMA careers and the key could be who improves the most since their time on the show. Robertson put up a decent effort against Honchak who is an elite 125-pounder. Her submission resume suggests she could capitalize on Whitmire’s defensive gaps on the floor- my prediction is Gillian Robertson to defeat Emily Whitmire by submission.

145lbs- Zabit Magomedsharipov (12-1-0) vs Sheymon Moraes (9-1-0)

Capping off the early morning undercard, WSOF veteran Sheymon Moraes makes his UFC debut when he takes on Russia’s Zabit Magomedsharipov in the Featherweight division. Moraes finished his career under the WSOF banner with a record of 3-1, including a knockout win over Robbie Peralta and a submission loss to champion Marlon Moraes. Magomedsharipov made a successful Octagon debut, besting Mike Santiago by submission to extend his winning streak to 9.

Magomedsharipov is 6’1″, standing 5 inches taller than Moraes. He is the younger fighter by a year.

The lanky Russia showcased his well-rounded attack in his debut, offering a variety of kicking techniques before eventually working his way to an RNC finish.While he has the length, Zabit is still working on developing the use of his reach. His opponent found success closing the gap early and pressing him both with strikes and takedown attempts. Moraes has finished 5 opponent by knockout utilizing a Muay Thai based offensive attack. He has good speed on the outside and once he closes the distance look for him to land hard elbows and knees. He has only finished one opponent in the opening round and has shown himself capable of winning on the cards with a 4-0 record in decisions.

It is worth noting that Magomedsharipov trains alongside the aforementioned Marlon Moraes which should provide Zabit with additional insight throughout his camp.

Moraes appears to be getting overlooked here by the oddsmakers. That being said, Magomedsharipov’s length and grappling game is going to give him issues. Look for Zabit to keep the Brazilian on the outside with his kicks and force Moraes into desperation gap closes where he will be at risk of being taken down- my prediction is Zabit Magomedsharipov to defeat Sheymon Moraes by decision.Paragraph breaker

170lbs- Kenan Song (11-3-0) vs Bobby Nash (8-3-0)

Bobby Nash will try to turn his fortunes around in a must-win fight when he takes on Kenan Song in the Welterweight division. Nash is 0-2 inside the Octagon, dropping a pair of fights to Danny Roberts and Li Jingliang by knockout. Song was defeated in his final 2 pre-UFC bouts, but he had won 5 straight fights prior to the setback.

Both men are 6’0″ feet tall, but Nash will have a slight 2″ reach advantage. Kenan is the older fighter by 16-days.

Nash has some power with 6 wins by knockout and he found success early against Li and Roberts. Unfortunately, he began to slow down after the opening round and was finished shortly after. His aggressive forward pressure puts him in position to land his offence, but it also makes him quite hittable. Song has secured 4 wins by knockout compared to 6 submission victories, but all 4 of those TKO stoppages have come over his last 5 wins. The majority of his offence against his last foe centred around him closing the distance and takin him down. Kenan is far from an overwhelming striker, opting to keep things relatively simple.

Despite losing each fight, Nash landed both more strikes and takedowns than each of his opponents.

Nash has looked much better than his record would indicate. Song is going to struggle to find success against a superior wrestler, forcing him to rely on his striking to win this fight. Nash is the more aggressive striker and appears to have the greater power. Despite similar 2-fight losing streaks, Nash has faced the far superior competition- my prediction is Bobby Nash to defeat Kenan Song by TKO.

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115lbs- Kailin Curran (4-5-0) vs Xiaonan Yan (7-1-0 1NC)

In the Women’s Strawweight division, Kailin Curran puts her UFC roster spot on the line against promotional debutant Xiaonan”Fire” Yan. Curran is an unspectacular 1-5 in the UFC, most recently losing a decision to Aleksandra Albu. Yah hasn’t competed in 2017, most recently settling for a No Contest at Road FC 34 due to a cut to her opponent caused by a clash of heads.

The ladies will share a 65″ reach, but Yan will stand an inch taller and is 2-years older than Kailin. Xiaonan hasn’t fought in just over a year.

Curran has struggled mightily, but she has faced good competition. More concerning, is she has been finished in 3 of this 5 defeats. Curran’s defensive wrestling has been a major point of concern, giving up 15 takedowns over her 6 UFC fights to go along with a pair of submission defeats and a TKO loss on the mat. Her striking is decent, but she has a tendency to let her attack trail off. Yan has TKOed 5 opponents on the strength of her aggressive striking attack. She has finished 4 opponents inside the opening 5 minutes. Look for “Fury” to engage behind heavy punches and a stiff front kick.

Yan’s last opponent carried a 21-10 record, but prior to that bout, she faced a trio of competitors that currently have a combined record of 2-5.

Curran’s struggles have largely been on her inability to stay vertical, but she has also struggled when pushed by her opponent. Yan’s aggressive style will exploit both the defensive lapses in the Kailin game and drain her cardio has the fight pushes beyond the opening round- my prediction is Xiaonan Yan to defeat Kailin Curran by TKO.

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145lbs- Yadong Song (9-3-0 2NC) vs Bharat Kandare (5-2-0)

In the Featherweight division, China’s Yadong “Terminator” Song steps in on short notice to take on India-born Bharat “Daring” Kandare. Song has won back to back fights heading into his short-notice debut, he is 3-2 over his last 5 outings. Kandare is also making his UFC debut off of a defeat, snapping his 5-fight winning streak that saw him finish all of his opponents.

Song is an inch taller than his opponent and at 19 years of age, he is 10-years younger than Kandare. He is debuting with just a week to prepare.

Kandare has fought both at Featherweight and Bantamweight, so he is far from a hulking specimen. He relies heavily on his wrestling attack looking to ground his opponent and go to work from top position. He has secured a single win by knockout and 4 submission victories. His reliance on the mat game walked him into a triangle/armbar combo in his last fight- the second sub loss off his career. Song is quick and can crack, but he is far from a finished product. He has split his 4 stoppages evenly between knockouts and submission while going 5-2 on the scorecards. He will need to remain strong defensively to avoid getting put on his back with regularity.

Kandare was a perfect 5-0 competing in India’s Super Fight League, but he went 0-2 outside the organization.

With a pair of debuting and relatively unknown fighters, it can be difficult to get a good feel for how the fight will play out. That being said, the wrestling heavy attack of Kandare will be the difference here. Kandare should find success taking Song down and overwhelming him on the ground- my prediction is Bharat Kandare to defeat Yadong Song by submission.

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265lbs- Chase Sherman (11-3-0) vs Shamil Abdurakhimov (17-4-0)

In a battle of the two most recognizable names on the prelims, Chase “The Vanilla Gorilla” Sherman looks for this 3rd straight win when he takes on Shamil “Abrek” Abdurakhimov in the UFC’s Heavyweight division. Sherman is coming off a decision win over Damian Grabowski and 1 fight earlier he stopped Rashad Coulter- he is 2-2 in the UFC. Abdurakhimov suffered a TKO defeat to Derrek Lewis in an ugly bout, he is also 2-2 in the UFC.

Sherman should outweigh Abdurakhimov by roughly 15-pounds. Sherman is also an inch taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage.

Sherman has shown significant improvements over his recent outings. He blasted Coulter with low kicks until Rashad could barely stand and then knocked him out. Over his last 2 fights, he has landed an impressive 111 and 1o3 significant strikes. On the negative side, he does stand a little tall and is hittable. Coulter had him in some trouble at times and Walt Harris stopped him with strikes. Shamil was arguably ahead of Lewis on the scorecards before he was put on his back and finished. Despite 7 wins by knockout, Abdurakhimov has yet to stop a single opponent in the UFC. He works a decent short range boxing attack, successfully outworking Anthony Hamilton in the pocket. He does appear to have a vulnerability on the mat with both Lewis and Tim Johnson getting the better of him once scoring a takedown.

All 10 of Sherman’s pre-UFC fights ended inside the opening round. Since coming to the UFC he fought beyond in the mid-way mark of each of his 4 bouts.

Shamil’s lack of knockout power is a bit concerning, especially when considering his volume has been far from overwhelming. Sherman’s improving attack, both in activity and technique, will be the difference here. Chase should also have the edge in power. Sherman needs to avoid pressing too hard early and tiring, but “The Vanilla Gorilla” will outwork Abdurakhimov on the feet and possibly consider mixing in a takedown when give the chance- my prediciton is Chase Sherman to defeat Shamil Abdurakhimov by decision.

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135lbs- Wu Yanan (9-1-0) vs Gina Mazany (4-1-0)

In the Women’s Bantamweight division, Gina “Danger” Mazany goes toe to toe with UFC debutante Wu Yanan. Mazany lasted just 74-seconds in her UFC debut where she was submitted by former title challenger Sarah McMann. Since suffering the first loss of her career, Yanan has picked up back to back wins via stoppage.

Wu is 2 inches taller than Mazany and she will have a 1″ reach advantage. Yanan is also the younger fighter by 8-years.

Mazany ran afoul of McMann in her debut and didn’t fare much better against Juliana Pena in her TUF bout. She works best when moving forward and aggressively engaging her foe by flurries of punches. Once in range, look for her to either attack in the clinch or go for a takedown and subsequent ground and pound. Wu is equally aggressive and will attack both on the feet and on the floor. The quality of competition she has faced has been minimal and her only career loss, coming against Yana Kunitskaya, came largely on her inability to get up after being taken down.

Wu’s last 3 victories came over opponents’ with a combined record of 0-8.

This fight will most likely come down to who scores the first takedown. Additionally, I see Mazany as the more likely to get back up if she is taken down early. Wu is fighting at home, but I give Mazany the edge in quality of experience. Gina gains the positional advantage and keeps Wu on her back- my prediction is Gina Mazany to defeat Wu Yanan by Decision.

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145lbs- Wuliji Buren (10-4-0) vs Rolando Dy (8-6-1 1NC)

In the Bantamweight division, 2-fight UFC veteran Rolando “The Incredible” Dy takes on China’s Wuliji Buren. Dy is 0-2 inside the Octagon, suffering losses to Alex Caceres and Teruto Ishihara in September. Buren has won a trio of consecutive bouts since a dismal 1-4 stretch covering most of 2016.

Buren will have an inch reach advantage and stand an inch taller to go along with being the older fighter by a year.

Buren has been underwhelming over is professional run, facing very low-level competition and struggling through most of 2016. He was finished 3-times during that span. There is minimal footage of Wuliji available, but his overall attack is relatively simple. He throws his punches as single strikes with the odds 2 punch combo. Conversely, Dy comes from a strong striking background and while he has struggled in the UFC, he has shown himself to be a capable striker on the regional scene. He certainly should have the experience advantage having fought the far superior competition.

Tapology has Buren ranked 29th of 259 Chinese based Featherweights.

Dy had a much better showing in his second UFC fight and this is a sizeable step back in competition. Rolando should find success landing strikes against the single note offence of Buren who tends to be a defensibly vulnerable- my prediction is Rolando Dy to defeat Wuliji Buren by TKO.

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265lbs- Cyril Asker (8-3-0) vs Yaozong Hu (3-0-0)

To open the card, France’s Cyril “Silverback” Asker looks to even his UFC record when he takes on late notice replacement Yaozong “Bad Boy” Hu in the Heavyweight division. Asker is coming off a TKO loss to Walt Harris, failing to capitalize on his stoppage victory over Dmitry Smoliakov last January. Hu will be making his first appearance in 2017 after turning pro in 2016 where he won all 3 of his fights.

Hu is the taller man by 3 inches, but he will have just a single inch reach advantage. The UFC newcomer is 10-years younger than his foe, but he has not competed in just over 11-months.

Hu is stepping in on 5-day’s notice to take the biggest fight of his career. His 3 pro opponents have combined for a record of 1-6. While has finished all of his adversaries, it is a little concerning that he was only able to take one out in the opening round. Asker has not gone beyond the first frame in any of his last 5 fights, including his 2 UFC defeats. “Silverback” does his best work from the clinch and top position. If he can close the distance without taking too much damage, he should have the advantage in close range against Hu.

Asker landed just a pair of strikes in his loss to Harris, but he was able to limit Smoliakov to just 5 significant connections in his lone UFC victory.

Even before entering the cage, Hu is up against a number of difficult scenarios. While Asker is far from an elite or even middle of the road Heavyweight, he offers a style that will test and ultimately overwhelm a young and inexperienced fighter. While limited footage of Hu exists, everything else suggests he isn’t ready for this opportunity- my prediction is Cyril Asker to defeat Yaozong Hu by TKO.

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 w