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UFC Fight Night 80: Vanzant vs Namajunas Breakdown

Dan Tom

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Rose1

Rose Namajunas (3-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’5″ Age: 23 Weight: 115 lbs Reach: 65″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Angela Hill (10-3-15)
  • Camp: Grudge Training Center (Colorado)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair
  • Overall Fight Grade: B

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 20 Finalist
+   Black Belt Karate
+   Black Belt Tae Kwon Do
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   3 first round finishes
+   Accurate shot selection
^   Variates her attacks
+   Good counter punching
+   Dangerous submission game
^   Explosive hips
+/-Will fight from bottom
–    Often succeeds position
+   Improved wrestling

Paige1

Paige Vanzant (6-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’4″ Age: 21 Weight: 115 lbs Reach: 65″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Alex Chambers (9-5-15)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good
  • Overall Fight Grade: B+

Supplemental info:
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   Wrestling base
+   2 Submission wins
+   1 first round finish
+   Aggressive pace & pressure
+   Excellent scrambling ability
^   Always in motion
^   Rarely succeeds position
+   Solid top pressure
+   Effective ground striker
–    Lacks head movement
^   Open for counters
+   Improved submission game

Summary:

For the main event of the evening, we are treated to a fun Straw-weight scrap as Rose Namajunas steps in to take on Paige Vanzant. This may very well be the first of many meetings considering the respective ages & stages of each woman’s career. This will be something to consider when looking at this match-up, as this is generally the window were competitors show the most fight-to-fight improvements. As we were reminded in the Rousey vs Holm fight, the overall sample size of women’s MMA is still in its infancy and should be tempered as so. With those said intangibles aside, let’s attempt to jump into the technical action based on what we have seen from these ladies.

Starting off on the feet, both girls possess different striking styles but more importantly, different approaches. Rose has the more refined technical kickboxing game, as she’ll stalk her opposition while measuring with variating kicks. Aside from keeping her hands up, Paige shows a borderline disdain for on-coming offense as she’ll come straight forward and establish her presence. Her consistent aggression, volume, and pace, has largely fueled this one-way traffic onslaught. Though Paige has yet to be rocked much less dropped with this approach, her lack of head movement could cost her against a striker like Rose.

Though not showing “single shot” stopping power, there are some subtle things Namajunas does really well and could potentially have play here. As her opposition comes forward in attack, Rose will often take one step back putting her in an opposite fighting stance by default. From here, Rose’s initial back step will give opponents the impression of retreat, as she’ll use this bait to draw them into check hooks. Now Paige may very well eat these for an appetizer before smiling and taking here down, but none the less this will be something to watch for in this fight. I don’t mean to discount the takedown defense of Rose with that statement, as she showed improved wrestling in the short glimpse we saw in her last outing.

Namajunas does, however tend to get upright in her stance and has subsequently struggled when it comes to takedown defense as I see that being the key factor in this fight. Though Rose has wicked arm-bars powered by her explosive hips, her willingness to pull guard or fight from her back may hurt her in this match. Though showing more submission variety than Paige, she tends to operate from a very wide guard which could be trouble against a positional threat like Vanzant. With relentless top pressure, Paige stays busy from knee slide passes to her effective ground striking. Showing to struggle with this style in her fight with Carla Esparza, Roses best chances of containing Paige will be capitalizing on the 21 yr olds mistakes through aggression.

Counter strike availabilities aside, Paige will also give positional gifts as she’ll often expose her back trying for hip tosses & throws(As seen in round 1 in her fights with Curran & Herrig). Here the savvy Namajunas can steal this fight from Paige or at the very least sway its momentum. Should Rose make Paige fight on technical terms, we could see her take Vanzant back to school with an in-cage lesson or two. But if Namajunas can’t dictate the distance or momentum, then Vanzant should find her way to the clinch and proceed with her agenda from there. I encourage Fantasy plays, but caution parlays as this is a coin flip fight that likely won’t see judges. I really love “Thug” Roses style and although I don’t consider her performance against Esparza a condemnation of her skills, I have to make my picks in accordance so what I see. And unless there’s a first round finish, then I expect Paige Vanzant to run away with this one.

Official Pick: Vanzant – Inside the distance

Miller1

Jim Miller (25-6-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’8″ Age: 32 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 71″
  • Last Fight: SD win / Danny Castillo (7-25-15)
  • Camp: Miller Bros MMA (New Jersey)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickoxing
  • Risk Management: Fair
  • Overall Fight Grade: B-

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   3 KO victories
+   9 first round finishes
+   14 Submission wins
+   Aggressive pressure & pace
+   Dangerous short elbows
+   Accurate right hooks
+   Good inside leg kicks
^   Sets up his combos
+   Dangerous transition game
^   Hunts subs from all positions
–    Gives position for submission
–    Struggles w/positional grinders
–    1-3 in Southpaws in the UFC

The Ultimate Fighter Live Finale: Chiesa v Iaquinta

Michael Chiesa (12-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’1″ Age: 27 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 75.5″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Mitch Clarke (4-4-15)
  • Camp: Sikjitsu (spokane, WA)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate
  • Overall Fight Grade: C+

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 15 LW Winner
+   Amateur MMA Titles
+   Purple Belt BJJ
+   5 first round finishes
+   5 Submission wins
+   Strong inside the clinch
^   Good TD’s against cage
+   Excellent mount/back mount
^   Solid striking & controls
+   Improved stand up
^   Long & effective punches
–    Shells up & leans forward
^   Body shot & uppercut openings
–    Often backs up to cage
–    Lacks head movement

Summary:

In the evening’s Co-Main Event is a promising Lightweight battle of submission specialists, as Jim Miller takes on Michael Chiesa. With Jim trying to retain his Top 15 spot and Michael trying his best to break into it, we’ll likely be treated to a war of who wants it more. This fight may also be a measurement of each man’s respective career apexes, as one man looks ahead while the other is possibly looking in his rear view mirror. As one of the divisions long-time best, Jim Miller is well experienced in turning away his share of young lions. Michael Chiesa however, will possess problems that have traditionally troubled Jim as he is a tall & rangy Southpaw (Miller being 1-3 against Southpaws in the UFC).

Though striking is not being his strong suit, Chiesa has shown a steady improvement as he’s built on his accuracy & combinations. Primarily using his lead side attacks to gauge distance, Michael’s best shots come from his left side as he’s displayed solid crosses & kicks. Heavily reliant on his reach and height, Michael shows a lack of head movement and will have to mind the counters of Miller. Chiesa also will revert to a shell defense as he tends to lurch forward and lower his head. This traditionally opens up body shots and uppercuts, two things Jim dispenses in healthy amounts. Should Chiesa have shored up his defensive tendencies, he could frustrate or take Miller out of his game from range. But with Michaels propensity to close distance regardless of how of he’s doing, I suspect this fight to be decided in close.

Though known for his submission game, it’s Chiesa’s underrated clinch game that’s often the key to his success and in my opinion, the key factor in this fight. Despite having the on-paper advantage in Jiu-Jitsu, Jim Miller has shown to struggle with grinding grappling styles, especially in the clinch with bigger fighters(as seen in his bouts with Healy, Henderson, Diaz, and Dariush). In said clinch space is also where Michael is best at utilizing is length & frame as he’ll wear on opposition while attempting takedowns as they’re available. This will be Michael’s most tangible path to sway momentum his way in this fight. Favoring hip tosses with over-hooks up high, to looking for double-legs from down low, Chiesa is most dangerous when on top. He’s especially effective from mount, as his amazing base/controls allow him to ground strike and open up finishes.

If Chiesa means direct this match toward his strengths, he’ll have to navigate treacherous waters to do so. Though Michael has the tools to beat Miller on the mat, the savvy grappler seems to be a hair behind when it comes to scrambles & transitions(as is sometimes common with long & lanky frames). Luckily for Miller, the transition game is where he makes his money as his offensively-minded stylings fuel his solid submission variety. Favoring the Guillotine, Jim may have ample opportunity given Chiesa’s tendency to lead with his head in ground exchanges. Despite Michaels shown defense & composure, I could see Jim jumping on a choke in transition if Chiesa’s not careful(or especially if he’s hurt).

Although it’s won him fights, Jim’s hunger for submissions at the cost of position has plagued him in his defeats. Like a kid taunted by a carny over a carnival game, Jim Miller can’t help but try his hand should you give him a body party to hold. That said, I see his style potentially paying off should the New Jersey native still show the same teeth. I’d caution parlay picks here as this should be a closely contested affair. However, Fantasy plays are recommended as I don’t see this one going to distance in either direction. Though youth & career trends generally hold high value for me, I can’t deny what I’m seeing stylistically. Should Miller channel his “inner-savage“, I suspect we’ll see a submission finish.

Official Pick: Miller – Inside the distance

Sage1

Sage Northcutt (6-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 19 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 74.5″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Frank Trevino (10-8-15)
  • Camp: Gracie Barra (Katy, TX)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair
  • Overall Fight Grade: B-

Supplemental info:
+   Black Belt Tae Kwon Do
+   Black Belt Kajukenbo
+   Purple Belt BJJ
+   5 first round finishes
+   100% finish rate
+   4 TKO victories
+   Good distance management
^   Fights all-the-way in or out
+   Strong in clinch
^   Looks of trips/TD’s
+   Active transition game
^   Always looks for back
+   Solide lead side-kick

Pfister1

Cody Pfister (12-4-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’10” Age: 25 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 73″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Yosdenis Cedeno (7-11-15)
  • Camp: Nick’s Fight Club (Texas)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Boxing
  • Risk Management: Fair
  • Overall Fight Grade: D+

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   TUF 15 contestant
+   Wrestling Base
+   7 first round finishes
+   3 Submission wins
+   4 KO victories
+   Strong pressure against cage
^   Looks for double & single legs
+/-Heavy on lead foot
^   Leg kick vulnerability
–    Head upright in exchanges
+   Always looks for back
–    Struggles off his back

Summary:

Since his debut at UFC 192, the Super-Star potential in Sage Northcutt has seemingly taken storm of MMA conversations. However, with great hype comes great expectation as the 19yr old begins his UFC ascension against Cody Pfister. A fellow Texas native, Pfister found his way from the wrestling mats to the regional MMA scene where he picked up multiple titles. Relying heavily on his wrestling base, Cody primarily uses his punches to set up his shots. Often shooting from distance, Pfister will make way toward the fence where he’s most effective. Using a strong (and sometimes stalling) cage pressure, Cody will switch off from Double to Single-leg takedown attempts.

Though Pfister’s straight forward approach is pretty rinse-wash-and-repeat, It will actually be his best strategy to contain(and for his sake control) the scrappy & explosive Karate striker. Heavily experienced in traditional martial arts competition, Sage has shown to integrate his skills into MMA with little issue. The key to Northcutt’s standing game (as is the key to most Karate based styles) is distance management as he’ll play from outside to inside ranges. His key tool to dictating this action is his lead leg kickings attacks. Primarily using his side-kick(thrown to the lead thigh & ribs), Sage also possesses solid body & leg kicks off the same foot. Leg kicks, in particular, will serve him well in this fight given Pfister’s heavy lead-leg (and often flatfooted) stalking approach.

Giving the a clear advantage standing to Sage, Cody’s best chances to dictate this fight will certainly be in close. He will, however, have to be careful on his attempts as Northcutt shows to be strong in the clinch with solid under-hook awareness & defensive fundamentals. Sage also scores the majority of his takedowns off of his opponents failed attempts, which means Pfister can’t afford any weak penetrations. Should Northcutt get on top, the grappling edge pendulum should swing heavily in his favor. Though Sage’s ground striking pace is accurate & furious, the young gun tends to get a little overaggressive on submission attempts as he’ll often lose position. Against a solid scrambler like Pfister this could present problems, but looking at both men’s skills-sets and operating speeds, I don’t suspect so.

It’s very hard to not come off as discounting the skills of Pfister or over-praising Sage here, but as easy as it is to criticize the matchmaking, the truth is Sage is still just 19 yrs old in the UFC deepest division. This is more than an appropriate fight to gain a better value on where he’s at, and how he fairs against a style he’ll likely see in his future. Unfortunately for Pfister, I don’t see a clear or tangible path to victory for him in this fight. Sage’s price will be that of a high favorite but more than worth it for your Fantasy MMA team.

Official Pick: Northcutt – Inside the distance

UFC 185: Theodorou v Narvaez

Elias Theodorou (11-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’1″ Age: 27 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 76″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Roger Narvaez (3-14-15)
  • Camp: Mecha MMA (Canada)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good
  • Overall Fight Grade: C+

Supplemental info:
+   TUF Nations MW Winner
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   6 KO victories
+   2 first round finishes
+   This camp @ Serra-Longo
+   Very Athletic & Strong
+   Shows in-fight IQ
+   Consistent Movement & Pace
+   Powerful kicking game
^   Variates attack well
+   Accurate off-beat jab
^   Follow behind kicks
–    Hands low exiting range
+   Good TD’s against the cage
+   Intelligent ground striking
+   Solid positional/transition game
+   Excellent spacial awareness
^   Hand positioning to forearm framing

TSantos2

Thiago Santos (11-3)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 31 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 76″
  • Last Fight: KO win / Steve Bosse (6-27-15)
  • Camp: TATA Fight Team (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Moderate
  • Overall Fight Grade: C

Supplemental info:
+   TUF Brazil Alum
+   Muay Thai Titles
+   Jiu-Jitsu Accolades
+   6 first round finishes
+   7 KO victories
+   KO power
+   Powerful left Thai kicks
^   Thrown from Southpaw
+   This camp @ American Top Team
+   Consistent footwork & movement
^   Manages distance well
+   Hard right body kicks
+   Fast hand speed
^   Dangerous hooks
–    Head upright in exchanges
^   Counter availabilities
+/-Limited ground time in UFC fights
?   Questionable overall ground game

Summary:

Kicking off the main card is another promising striking affair as Middleweights Elias Theodorou and Thiago Santos do battle. A Brazilian Army Paratrooper with a Muay Thai base, Santos has translated his skills into MMA nicely as he’s proven to be an always game competitor. Despite having more UFC fights than his opponent Theodorou, we’ve actually seen a lot less of Thiago as 4 of his last 5 fights have not made it out of the first round(not to mention a combined ground time of under 45 seconds in said bouts). Theodorou on the other hand, has given us a lot of looks at his all-around game in just 3 fights. The former Model has shown to translate his athleticism, passion, and intelligence into MMA as he’s consistently traveled & trained around the world in pursuit of improvement since winning TUF Nations.

Given both men’s stylings, I suspect this fight should be primarily contested standing. Starting off on the feet, Thiago will come out with a slightly more active footwork approach than most Muay-Thai practitioners(probably due to his background in Capoeira). Using his movement to set up kicks, it’s his left kick to the body & head which is his best weapon. Though this is Santo’s most dangerous kick, it’s also his most predictable as he’ll often switch to Southpaw solely to throw it. These linear setups & attacks are where I see Theodorou capitalizing in this fight. Elias’s natural athleticism translates to consistent, but more importantly, intelligent movement, as I see that being the key factor in the standing exchanges.

Managing and often dictating the distance, Theodorou shows excellent outside-foot-awareness and lateral movement as he’ll create angles to attack or exit. Elias also possess an accurate jab which he’ll throw in off-beat rhythms (against the grain of the perceived timing) as you’ll usually see him follow up his kicks with this technique. It’s when Theodorou exits range without his “safety-jab” that he’s most vulnerable as he tends to leave with his hands low. If Santos can pick up on this and time a counter, it will certainly be his best chances to sway the fight in his favor. Based on movement, I give the advantage standing to Theodorou and may have to side with him on the floor as well with limited ground footage on Santos.

Despite the regional Jiu-Jitsu accomplishments of Thiago, I have to base my analysis on what I see/what is shown. And in this case, I see Theodorou’s pressure style being able to navigate Santos to a cage-clinch position somewhere in this fight. From there he’s shown excellent take-downs from the fence as his strength supplements his shown natural understanding of the ground game & leverage. I also feel Elias will continue his trend of fight-to-fight improvements, as he’s spent this camp with the Serra-Longo fight team enjoying the likes of Chris Weidman for training partners. I don’t wanna discount Santos skills as he possesses all the tools as a fighter to get it done, but this is a bad styles match up for him as I’ll be siding with the promising Canadian prospect to come out topside.

Official Pick: Theodorou – Decision

Preliminary Card Predictions

  • Tim Means def. John Howard
  • Omari Akhmedov def. Sergio Moraes
  • Kevin Casey def. Antonio Carlos Junior
  • Aljamain Sterling def. Johnny Eduardo
  • Santiago Ponzinibbio def. Andreas Stahl
  • Danny Roberts def. Nathan Coy
  • Zubaira Tukhugov def. Phillipe Nover
  • Kailin Curran def. Emily Kagan

Recommended Plays

Fantasy MMA Picks

High Tier Picks:

-Sage Northcutt
-Tim Means
-Page Vanzant

Low Tier Picks:

-Jim Miller
-Thiago Santos
-Rose Namajunas

Pieces for your parlay:

-Tim Means
-Elias Theodorou
-Santiago Ponzinibbio

Props worth looking at:

-Tim Means – Inside the distance
-Jim Miller – by Submission
-Sage Northcutt – Inside the distance

Fights to avoid:

-Kevin Casey vs Antonio Carlos Junior
-Michael Chiesa vs Jim Miller
-Paige Vanzant vs Rose Namajunas

For the complete analysis of future & past UFC events visit MixedMartialAnalyst.com and for future breakdowns & your latest in worldwide MMA news, stay tuned & follow @MMALatestnws MMALatestNews.com

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MMA Latest’s UFC 216 Betting Preview

Harry Davies

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The UFC returns to the fight capital of the world, as the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas hosts UFC 216, a fantastic PPV card with two title fights at the top of the bill.

Eight months after we were supposed to have one, an interim lightweight champion will be crowned on Saturday night. Top contenders Tony Ferguson (23-3) and Kevin Lee (16-2) will go to battle in the main event of UFC 216. Having polar opposite fight styles, this title fight will certainly be an intriguing contest.

Looking to break the record for the most consecutive title defenses on the night, UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson (26-2-1) faces #3 ranked Ray Borg (11-2). A conclusion that should have already been established, Borg pulled out of a scheduled bout with “DJ” at UFC 215 due to illness.

Amongst the title fights are a plethora of exciting match-ups, such as the heavyweight contest between Derrick Lewis and Fabricio Werdum, and the preliminary bantamweight bout between hot prospect Tom Duquesnoy and Cody Stamman. We bring you the best bets on the card to earn yourself an extra few quid or so.


Fabricio Werdum vs. Derrick Lewis – Heavyweight Bout

Fabricio Werdum to win by Submission – 11/4 – SkyBet

The debate of who is the best BJJ practitioner in MMA is ongoing. Some say ‘Jacare’ Souza, some say Demian Maia, some say Werdum. “Vai Cavalo” is a master on the mat, and although he hasn’t racked up a submission win since defeating Cain Velasquez in June of 2015, we expect Werdum to submit Lewis on the night.

In Lewis’ last fight against the unyielding Mark Hunt, we saw what happened when someone could take “The Black Beast’s” best punches. By the third round, Lewis was exhausted and Hunt secured the TKO finish in the fourth.

Expect Lewis’ reckless ground game to be his downfall in this heavyweight contest. Given his size, he often finds himself just standing back up when underneath his opponent, this is where Werdum can capitalize and secure a submission of some sort to finish the fight.

Demetrious Johnson vs. Ray Borg – Flyweight Title Fight

Demetrious Johnson by KO or Submission – 10/11 – Paddy Power

Would you be surprised if I told you that Demetrious Johnson has four finishes in his last six wins? Most would. The stigma surrounding ‘DJ’ is that he doesn’t finish fights, well the numbers don’t lie and we think we will see another finish from ‘Mighty Mouse’ this weekend.

From manhandling an Olympic gold medal wrestler in Henry Cejudo, to submitting an elite BJJ black belt in Wilson Reis, Johnson can do it all as he continues to improve fight after fight.

Given the weight cutting problems Borg has had in the past, it wouldn’t be surprising to see “The Tazmexican Devil” struggle to keep up with the pace Johnson fights at. Expect ‘DJ’ to break the record for most consecutive title defenses in style, perhaps in the later rounds.

Tony Ferguson vs. Kevin Lee – Interim Lightweight Title Fight  

Total Rounds: Over 2.5 – 4/6 – Betfair

 

Lee on the other hand couldn’t be so different. His methodical and calculated approach to fighting contrasts that of the free-flowing Ferguson. It’s the first time Lee has been booked for five rounds in his career, whilst “El Cucuy” has already showed he can go 25-minutes at over 7000-feet in altitude.

Whilst Ferguson has tallied up a few first and second round finishes in his UFC career, expect the solidity of Lee to be his biggest asset in the fight. It’s unlikely we will have a foregone conclusion in the early rounds, so jump on these odds whilst you can.

Our longshot fourfold: Tom Duquesnoy, Lando Vannata, Beneil Dariush and Pearl Gonzalez – £5 returns £34.95 – Betway.

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BAMMA 30 – Full Fight Card, How to Watch and Betting Odds

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Tomorrow night BAMMA is back in Ireland for yet another cracking night of fights. This card will be aired live from start to finish providing non-stop action from about 6.30pm until about 10:30/11pm. The Prelim card will be available to view on the UNILAD Facebook page from 6:30 followed by the televised section of the card live on Dave from 9pm.

The event is of course taking place in the 3Arena, doors will open as early as 5pm for those attending the event that are eager to get there before the rest. For those looking to attend and still without tickets, there are still some available here.

For those looking to make a bit of money on the card, back our favourite fighter or maybe just chance your arm on a gut feeling you may have on one of the fights. BAMMA have now officially partnered with BetBright.com so here’s your chance.

Live odds currently stand at:
*Odds are subject to change*

Chris Stringer 9/2  v Niklas Stolze 1/20

Blaine O’Driscoll 1/10  v Harry Hardwick 7/2

Maciek Gierszewski 11/4  v Steve Owens 1/6

Ben Forsyth 6/4 v Matt Clempner 2/5

Henry Fadipe 3/1  v Ion Pascu 1/6

Decky Dalton 1/9 v Mick Brennan 4/1

Daniel Olejniczak 1/4  v Richard Kiely 2/1

Rhys McKee 5/6 v Richie Smullen 5/6

Daniel Barez 5/1  v Ryan Curtis 1/10

Aaron Kennedy 5/1  v Fabian Edwards 1/10

Paul Redmond 15/8 v Rob Sinclair 2/5

Alan Philpott 15/8 v Shay Walsh 1/3

BAMMA 30: Philpott Vs. Walsh Fightcard

Main Card – Live on Dave from 9 pm Main Event – BAMMA World Bantamweight Title: Alan ‘The Apprentice’ Philpott (16-9) Vs. Shay Walsh (16-4)

Co-Main Event – Lightweight Feature Bout: Rob ‘C4’ Sinclair (13-4) Vs. Paul ‘Redser’ Redmond (11-6)

Middleweight Bout: Fabian ‘The Assassin’ Edwards (1-0) Vs. Aaron Kennedy (Debut)

Lonsdale European Flyweight Title: Ryan ‘Chaos’ Curtis (4-0) Vs. Daniel Barez (7-4)

 

UNILAD Prelims – Live on UNILAD Facebook page from 6.30 pm

Lonsdale European Lightweight No.1 Contenders Bout: Rhys ‘Skeletor’ McKee (5-1) Vs. Richie Smullen (3-0)

Welterweight Bout: Ion ‘Bombardierul’ Pascu (15-7) Vs. Henry ‘Herculeez’ Fadipe (9-8-1)

Lightweight Bout: Ilkin “Monster / Hulkin’” Gasimov (4-1) Vs. Phillip ‘Honeybadger’ Mulpeter (7-5)

Welterweight Bout: Richard Kiely (1-0) Vs. Daniel ‘Obi Wan’ Olejniczak (1-0-1)

Welterweight Bout: Kiefer ‘BDK’ Crosbie (2-0) Vs. Dariusz Swierkosz (3-1)

Light Heavyweight Bout: Ben ‘Spider Monkey’ Forsyth (2-2) Vs. Matt Clempner (1-0)

Featherweight Bout: Decky ‘The Diamond’ Dalton (6-3) Vs. Mick ‘Basher’ Brennan (4-7)

Featherweight Bout: Arann McGuire (1-1) Vs. Dylan Logan (0-1)

Welterweight Bout: Steve Owens (2-0) Vs. Maciek Gierszewski (1-0)

Bantamweight Bout: Harry Hardwick (2-0) Vs. Blaine O’Driscoll (4-1)

*SWING BOUT*  Lightweight Bout: Niklas ‘Green Mask’ Stolze (8-2) Vs. Chris ‘The Menace’ Stringer (11-12-1)

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UFC Fight Night 107 Breakdown:

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Jimi Manuwa vs Corey Anderson

In a main event which was has come under a lot of criticism, two top ten ranked light heavyweights do battle as Corey Anderson takes on hometown favorite Jimi Manuwa at London’s O2 Arena.

With the hometown crowd in his favor, “Poster Boy” Jimi Manuwa will look to come out aggressively and push forward as he usually does with heavy low kicks and powerful punches. Possessing devastating power in both hands and feet, Manuwa will look to attack the legs of his opponent in an attempt to close range and deliver lethal hooks to either the body or head, much like we seen in the second round of his last outing against Ovince St. Preux.

Corey Anderson, a skilled boxer in his own right, prefers to employ a more calculated strategy which relies heavily on volume and movement as opposed to landing single heavy shots. With a clean jab and a snapping right straight to go along with it, “Overtime” will look to land an accumulation of straight shots from bell to bell, sometimes doubling up on the jab in an effort to set up his right and mask his takedowns. Whilst boxing may be Anderson’s biggest strength on the feet, he has also showcased powerful low kicks, particularly to the inside leg of a southpaw fighter. Despite the fact that Manuwa is not a southpaw, the utilization of low kicks could pay dividends for the American as he will look to stifle the forward momentum of “Poster Boy”.

With 14 finishes by way of KO or TKO, the power advantage is most certainly in the corner of Manuwa, something which could prove pivotal to his success on Saturday night. Despite being a fundamentally sound boxer, it is Anderson’s tendency to get hurt which has cost him dearly in the past. One need only cast an eye back to his 2016 bout with Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua, a fight in which ‘Overtime’ was enjoying great success, only to end up on the canvas at the end of rounds 1 & 2 after eating hard counter shots from the Brazilian, and end up on the losing end of a split decision. Should Manuwa get the opportunity to land cleanly on Anderson, it could spell the end for the American.

The wrestling of ‘Overtime’ could prove key in this bout as we have seen Manuwa taken down in the past. A decent defensive grappler “Poster Boy” will look to either get to the fence in an effort to get back to his feet or choose to lock his half guard down and wait for the referee to stand things up. The far superior wrestler, Anderson has an excellent double leg which he masks well with strikes and level changes. Once on top, the American will look to land strikes from half guard or side control, much like we seen in his most recent bout with Sean O’Connell. Expect ‘Overtime’ to land takedowns early in the fight as he looks to put ‘Manuwa’ on his back and neutralize the Brit’s colossal power.

The major question mark surrounding this fight will be whether or not Corey Anderson can withstand the offense of Jimi Manuwa for all five rounds, something which I feel he can not. I expect Anderson to dominate the early portion of this fight with superior wrestling, but feel that Manuwa will land at some stage and send the English crowd into raptures.

Pick: Jimi Manuwa Inside the Distance


Gunnar Nelson vs Alan Jouban

Iceland’s favorite son makes his return to the octagon this Saturday night as Gunnar Nelson takes on Alan Jouban in the co-main event of the evening. With both men coming off victories in 2016, this is a high-stakes bout which will have serious implications on the upper end of the 170-pound division.

A grappler of the highest order, Nelson has compiled a 6-2 record since joining the UFC. With 5 of them coming by way of submission it is no great mystery as to where his biggest strength lies. A well rounded and intelligent fighter, Jouban is at his most comfortable on the feet where he can utilize his sharp muay-thai, despite being a technically gifted striker, “Brahma” has a thirst for violence which he often looks to quench by engaging in wild brawls, a habit which has earned him successes and failures alike.

The 11 submission victories on the record of “Gunni” may lead you to believe that he is but a one trick pony, this, however, is not the case at all. With a karate base, the Icelander has a lightning quick right straight which he lunges forward with to close the distance and a serviceable kicking game to accompany it. Defensively, Nelson does tend to leave himself exposed, as he keeps his hands very low, relying on reflexes and speed as opposed to a more conventional method of defense. This can cause him problems as the fight progresses, which we saw against Rick Story, as Gunnar ate shots aplenty when he became tired in the latter rounds. Although the right hand of Nelson is a formidable weapon, his reliance on it can also become a hindrance when he fails to set it up, Story was able to time the right hand and return fire with multiple counter shots time and time again, something which was key to his victory. The addition of a left hook is something which Nelson has benefited greatly from in recent fights as it proved pivotal in victories over Brandon Thatch and Albert Tumenov, both of whom are dangerous strikers in their own right.

Despite gaining a reputation as a brawler, Jouban turned in a very mature performance last time out, as he put his feud with the brash Mike Perry to bed and emerged victorious via unanimous decision back at UFC on Fox 22.  Although his slow starts have gotten him in trouble in the past, when allowed to settle into the rhythm of a fight “Brahma” is a threat with his diverse repertoire of kicks and left straight from the southpaw stance, a punch which caused Perry a great deal of trouble and even left him on the canvas at one point. This could be an important weapon against Nelson as he primarily fights from an orthodox stance, meaning the opportunity to land the straight punch will be there for Jouban, just as it will be “Gunni”. Where Jouban excels is when he is given the opportunity to unload with strikes against an opponent with their back on the cage, much like we seen during his demolition of Brendan O’Reilly.

In terms of technical striking, Alan Jouban would appear the more diverse and dangerous, yet Nelson’s constant improvement on the feet leave a cloud of doubt over who may hold the advantage.

When debating who may have the advantage in the grappling department, things become a great deal clearer. Gunnar Nelson is one of the finest grapplers to ever grace the sport, as his record would suggest. Few are superior when it comes to MMA grappling than the stoic Icelander, eclipsed only maybe by Demian Maia, a man who handed him only his second career loss just two fights ago. Despite being on the losing end of a lopsided decision, Nelson gave a great account of himself when the success Maia has had since then is taken into account. For “Gunni” to take the fight south, he will attempt to bait Jouban forward, where he will then look to hit a reactive takedown by establishing a body-lock, and then looking for either an inside or outside trip. Although the American is a competent grappler who has never been submitted, his habit of starting slow coupled with Nelson’s grappling prowess could spell major trouble here.

Look for Nelson to get the takedown early, pass to mount, and soften Jouban up with strikes as he patiently awaits any opportunity to pounce on a submission.

Pick: Gunnar Nelson by Submission


Brad Pickett vs Marlon Vera

As the curtain closes on the career of Brad Pickett, few could have imagined a more fitting send-off for a true pioneer of the sport as he gets a chance at one last victory in front of an adoring home crowd. Standing in the Londoner’s way is a fighter at the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of experience, at just 24 years of age Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera is still a developing prospect, but a win in enemy territory on Saturday night would do wonders for his progression.

The style of Brad Pickett is one which relies heavily on his boxing fundamentals, as the nickname “One Punch” would suggest. Often looking to incorporate a low calf kick as a set-up, the Londoners best weapons are his hooks to the body and head. Where the Brit has struggled most in the past has been at range, sometimes finding it difficult to get inside on the longer fighter, this was glaringly obvious in his bout with Cisco Rivera. Despite getting the nod from the judges, Pickett was forced to fight on the outside for large portions of the bout as Rivera kept him on the end of his straight shots. This inability to get inside can sometimes frustrate Pickett and force him to push forward in a reckless manner, something which has caused him a lot of trouble in recent fights as he can become quite hittable.

The range could be a key factor in this bout, as the preferred strategy of Marlon Vera on the feet is to sit on the outside and throw kicks in an effort to fully capitalize on his length. “Chito” will enjoy a 2.5” reach advantage over the Brit and as we have seen in the past, keeping Pickett at range is key to stifling his offense. Although Vera has looked a far more comfortable kicker than puncher in his UFC career so far, Pickett has been susceptible to counter hooks in the past, so it would be no surprise if we see an improved punching game from Vera on Saturday Night. “Chito” does tend to leave his back to the cage however though as he looks to strike from the outside, this could spell trouble against a puncher like Brad Pickett as it will allow him to cut the cage off and get inside on the taller man.

Offensively, the Englishman would appear the superior wrestler, should the fight hit the ground, though, Vera is notoriously tricky from his back as his long legs allow him to threaten with triangles and arm-bars. Despite being the better wrestler, Pickett may struggle to mount any substantial offense on the mat, as the Ecuadorian is very good at avoiding damage on the bottom by breaking the posture of his opponent and constantly threatening with submissions and sweeps. There is always the possibility that Pickett will grind out a decision by remaining busy on top, but against a grappler as tricky as “Chito” I feel that is an unlikely outcome.

The experience of Brad Pickett could serve him well here; I do however expect to see great improvements from Vera here as he proves too dynamic for the aging Brit.

Pick: Marlon Vera via Decision


 Arnold Allen vs Makwan Amirkhani

Two of featherweights finest prospects do battle as we kick off the main card with a much-anticipated bout between Arnold “Almighty” Allen and “Mr. Finland” Makwan Amirkhani.

A man with no shortage of confidence, the exuberant Makwan Amirkhani quickly captured the attention of fans and fighters alike as he burst on to the scene with an impressive eight-second victory over Englishman Andy Ogle. Hoping to fare better than his countryman this time out is Arnold Allen, who had a tricky task in his premiere UFC outing as he faced the experienced Alan Omer. Despite emerging victorious in the end, many believed he was well on his way to being handed a debut loss before locking up a guillotine in the final round. Both men have continued their winning ways since then and remain undefeated in the promotion, something which will stay true for only one come Saturday night.

With good boxing fundamentals and a solid kicking game, Arnold Allen is undoubtedly the cleaner of the two on the feet. Often looking to counter from Southpaw after slipping shots, “Almighty” has been susceptible to right straights in the past from opponents in the Orthodox stance, this was visible during his debut bout with Alan Omer as he ate a lot of straight shots early on. Although he did adapt well as the fight progressed by slipping and countering, it is still something of which to be wary. The threat of a right hand from Amirkhani will be almost non-existent, as he fights from a southpaw stance and uses his striking purely as a means of taking the fight to the floor. Should “Mr. Finland” get the fight to the ground, that is where he excels, something which his UFC career to date has highlighted.

The wrestling of Arnold Allen has looked much improved since making the move to Tri-Star, in the past “Almighty” has struggled when pressed against the cage, as he was held there for large portions against Alan Omer and Marcin Wrzsozek. This hole in his game seemed slightly remedied in his most recent outing against Yaozin Meza, as he was able to defend the takedowns of Meza on numerous occasions. Offensively, the Englishman is a competent wrestler who will use trips to take the fight to the canvas, but against a wrestler of the caliber of Amirkhani, it is doubtful he will seek any form of takedown.

So far in his UFC career, Makwan Amirkhani’s modus operandi has been simple, get the fight to the ground and use his superior wrestling to get the victory. Looking to take the fight south from the first bell, “Mr. Finland” will take any opportunity to shoot or grab a leg in what is a predictable yet effective offensive strategy. This has proved fruitful so far in his UFC career as both Masio Fullen and Mike Wilkinson have fallen victim to the Finns dominant wrestling. Most effective when on top, Amirkhani is a very patient and fluid grappler who will often wait for his opponent to move before committing himself. When in side control, he will often look for a crucifix or pass to mount. Although Allen has shown a good ability to get up in the past, he may struggle against a ground game as smothering as Amirkhani’s.

Should this one stay on the feet, Arnold Allen will likely enjoy great success as the technically superior striker, the big question mark, however, will be whether he can fend off the takedown attempts of “Mr. Finland”. Amirkhani tends to get caught in guillotines as he is shooting for takedowns, and as we have seen from Allen in his UFC debut, he needs just one opportunity to latch on to a neck. I do feel however though that the technical top game of Amirkhani will prove too much for the young brit, as he picks up the victory via decision.

Pick: Makwan Amirkhani via Decision

 


Preliminary Card:

Joe Duffy vs Reza Madadi: Joe Duffy*

Francimar Barroso vs Darren Stewart: Darren Stewart

Daniel Omielanczuk vs Timothy Johnson: Timothy Johnson

Vicente Luque vs Leon Edwards: Vicente Luque

Marc Diakiese vs Teemu Packalen: Marc Diakiese

Tom Breese vs Oluwale Bamgbose: Tom Breese*

Ian Entwistle vs Brett Johns: Brett Johns*

Scott Askham vs Brad Scott: Brad Scott

Lina Lansberg vs Lucie Pudilova: Lina Lansberg*

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