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Predictions! UFC Lincoln ‘Prelims’ Preview – Pt. 1

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a bevy of “Prelims” fights to both UFC Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1 this weekend (Sat., Aug. 25, 2018) when UFC Fight Night 135: “Gaethje vs. Vick” storms Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln, Nebraska. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg kicks off the UFC Fight Night 135 “Prelims” party with the first installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

Social media rivals Justin Gaethje and James Vick take center stage this Saturday (Aug. 25, 2018) when they headline UFC Fight Night 135 inside Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska. Meanwhile, 10 pounds south, Michael Johnson attempts to end his current slump at Andre Fili’s expense, while Angela Hill fights Cortney Casey and Jake Ellenberger attempts to finally breathe life back into his Octagon career against Bryan Barberena.

Before all that, though, seven “Prelims” undercard bouts will set the stage on UFC Fight Pass and then FOX Sports 1. So let’s work our way up, starting from the bottom:

125 lbs.: Joanne Calderwood vs. Kalindra Faria

The strong Invicta FC run for Joanne Calderwood (11-3) earned her the No. 2 seed on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 20, where she defeated Emily Kagan before falling to Rose Namajunas. She has since struggled to maintain consistency and enters the Octagon on the heels of losses to Jessica Andrade and Cynthia Calvillo.

This will be “Dr. Kneevil’s” first fight in 13 months.

Kalindra Faria (18-7-1) had faced a “Who’s Who” of women’s mixed martial arts (MMA) veterans on her road to the Octagon, including Claudia Gadelha, Vanessa Porto, Jessica Aguilar and Karolina Kowalkiewicz. She ultimately made her UFC debut on a three-fight win streak, but came up short against Mara Romero Borella and Jessica Eye.

Seven of her 12 stoppage wins have come via (technical) knockout.

When Calderwood is on, she’s a match for anyone in the 125-pound division in the standup. That’s the rub, though, as she’s underperformed in the past and seems to lack the venom in her strikes she had during her Invicta FC days. I do expect her to look a lot better at her natural weight class, though, and I wasn’t terribly impressed with Faria’s UFC efforts.

There’s always the worry of the layoff and Calderwood’s inconsistency, but I like the style match up here. She’s busier and cleaner than the Brazilian on the feet and shouldn’t have too much to worry about in the takedown department. JoJo gets back on track by pot-shotting her way to a decision win.

Prediction: Calderwood via unanimous decision

155 lbs.: Drew Dober vs. Jon Tuck

Drew Dober (19-8) has come into his own since a 1-3 UFC start, winning four of his last five bouts. He is coming off of a knockout win over Josh Burkman and subsequent Fight of the Night slugfest against Frank Camacho in Charlotte.

He will give up three inches of height and reach to “The Super Saiyan.”

Jon Tuck (10-4) — once a red-hot prospect going into TUF 15 — has yet to find his footing in the Octagon, going even (4-4) since injury cut short his run on the show. After consecutive split decision losses to Josh Emmett and Damien Brown, Tuck choked out what’s left of Takanori Gomi for his first win since 2015.

This will be his first fight in 14 months.

The book is out on Tuck. For five-to-seven minutes, he’s a fast, athletic beast with one-shot knockout power and a lethal grappling game. For the rest of the fight, he’s a plodding mess saved by top-notch durability. The guy’s had eight UFC fights and gassed in all but one of the ones that went past the first round, so I don’t think that’s something he can fix.

Unfortunately for him, Dober is ridiculously durable and is learning to put some real heat behind his punches. Expect Tuck to look like a world-beater in the first round, only to once again run out of steam and get pieced up on the feet.

Prediction: Dober via unanimous decision

135 lbs.: Rani Yahya vs. Luke Sanders

Rani Yahya (25-9) — who ended his World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) run on a two-fight losing streak — continues to chug along, winning six of his last seven. His current run includes consecutive submissions of Henry Briones and Russell Doane.

He has submitted 19 opponents by more than a half-dozen different methods.

Luke Sanders (12-2) hit quite the bad luck streak after a dominant debut, falling to Iuri Alcantara and Andre Soukhamthath despite strong starts against both. He finally managed to break the slump in April with a decision over Patrick Williams.

“Cool Hand Luke” has knocked out six professional opponents and has six first-round finishes overall.

Yahya has done extremely well for himself as a miniature Demian Maia, pushing hard for early takedowns and outlasting those opponents he can’t submit in the first two rounds. It makes his fights annoyingly hard to predict, as there’s no real middle ground between his style working or not working, but at least it keeps things interesting.

What has me picking him here against a strong wrestler is Sanders’ fight with Alcântara. Sure, he laid an unholy smackdown on the Brazilian, but he got caught in the most telegraphed leglock I’ve ever seen in the process. That’s a simply unacceptable lapse against someone like Yahya, who’s got the ground game of a bear trap with arms. Yahya drags him down in the first few minutes, takes his back as he tries to scramble up, and finishes him with a rear naked choke.

Prediction: Yahya via first-round submission

Four more UFC Fight Night 135 “Prelims” bouts remain to preview and predict, among them the return of Mickey Gall and the latest from Bantamweight prospect Cory Sandhagen. Same time as always, Maniacs!

Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 135 fight card this weekend, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” undercard bout at 6:30 p.m. ET, followed by the FOX Sports 1 “Prelims” undercard bouts at 8 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10 p.m. ET (also on FOX Sports 1).

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Predictions! Full Bellator 204 Main Card Preview For ‘Caldwell Vs. Lahat’

Noad Lahat

Bellator 204: “Caldwell vs. Lahat” takes place tomorrow night (Fri., Aug. 17, 2018) at Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. With no other contenders on the horizon for awhile at Bantamweight, a unique non-title fight has emerged for the main event pitting two men with 12 wins each against each other for pride and glory.

Let’s break it down:

145 lbs.: Darrion Caldwell (12-1) vs. Noad Lahat (12-3)

When Darrion Caldwell walks into the Sanford Pentagon the crowd can chant “The Champ Is Here” like Jadakiss. With only one blemish on his record for his entire professional mixed martial arts (MMA) career — contested almost entirely inside the Bellator cage — Caldwell is a homegrown Bantamweight champion. He made it look it easy by wrestling Eduardo Dantas to defeat at Bellator 184, then made it look even easier with a first round finish of Leandro Higo in March. Caldwell has put such a stamp on his weight class that for the moment — at least — there’s literally nowhere to go but up.

That makes Israeli fighter Noad Lahat the man of the hour for his second main event in a row. With a 3-1 record in Bellator’s competitive Featherweight division, Lahat is certainly on the rise toward a title shot somewhere down the road. Even though he was born in Petah Tikva he fights out of American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) in San Jose, already well known as one of MMA’s elite stomping grounds for current and future world champions. Lahat has scored submissions in 50 percent of his wins (six out of 12) and — given that Caldwell’s lone loss comes via a guillotine choke — that has to give Lahat a lot of confidence going into this fight.

That’s the good news for Lahat. Now, here’s the bad news: Even though he’s a naturally strong and stocky 145-pound fighter, he gives up both height (5’9” vs. 5’10”) and reach (69” to 74”) to Caldwell. “The Wolf” has always been an incredibly tall drink at Bantamweight, so going up for this fight is simply a matter of cutting less weight, which may if anything make him stronger and faster. Caldwell is also in the habit of training for five rounds, but here he can dump his gas tank quicker for a non-title fight. Even though Caldwell only has one knockout versus five submissions, his striking technique and reach are what can rock the bells of opponents to make them vulnerable to a finish. If it doesn’t come the decorated collegiate champion can double Lahat to the ground over and over to grind out a win.

Final prediction: Darrion Caldwell wins via unanimous decision

170 lbs.: Logan Storley (8-0) vs. A.J. Matthews (9-7)

This fight isn’t necessarily as lopsided as their pro MMA records may indicate. Veteran experience benefits Matthews as he’s had twice as many fights at 30 as the younger Storley has at 25. Matthews has also been on the wrong end of a few split decisions, including a fight with Andre Fialho that could have gone either way. After an emotional win over his friend Kendall Grove, Matthews has proved himself ready for this fight, but Storley is as blue chip a wrestler as they come and learned from one of the best as both an amateur and a “pro.” Matthews does have some stopping power (six knockouts), but we haven’t seen it since 2014, and Storley is what Jim Ross would call a “hoss” — he’s got thick, stocky strength straight off the farm in Webster, S.D., with six knockouts. Matthews is a good test of his potential.

Final prediction: Logan Storley wins via technical knockout

135 lbs.: James Gallagher (7-0) vs. Ricky Bandejas (10-1)

Bandejas comes to Bellator straight out of Cage Fury Fighting Championship (CFFC) in New Jersey. The former CFFC interim champion boasts a 10-1 record with three knockouts and three submissions. By now you know “The Strabanimal” Gallagher, but if you need a refresher he’s a training partner of Conor McGregor out of Straight Blast Gym (SBG) in Dublin, Ireland, submitting all but one opponent he has faced. Gallagher is so young (21) that he can only be getting better with age, and that’s a scary prospect for nearly every Featherweight out there — only he’s going the opposite direction of Caldwell and cutting to 135 pounds. He’ll still be the bigger man at 5’9” vs. 5’7,” so if he doesn’t have a difficult drawn out weight cut this is his fight to lose, although Bandejas didn’t sign a multi-fight deal just to be anyone’s stepping stone.

Final prediction: James Gallagher via majority decision

145 lbs.: Tywan Claxton (2-0) vs. Cris Lencioni (4-1)

Featherweight prospects get a nice share of the main card spotlight on the same night as Gallagher thanks to this bout. Tywan Claxton’s nickname is “Speedy” although only one of his professional wins was “fast” per se — his flying knee knockout of Jonny Bonilla-Bowman at Bellator 186. That highlight reel finish gained him some viral fame and a bigger push from Bellator though, so he’ll get another fight with a slightly more experienced man. If Claxton keeps it standing he should score the win whether or not he makes the highlight reel again.

Final prediction: Tywan Claxton via unanimous decision

That’s a wrap!

MMAmania.com will deliver coverage of Bellator 204 tomorrow with Paramount Network fights starting at 9 p.m. ET. To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.

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Predictions! UFC 227 Fight Pass ‘Prelims’ Preview – Pt. 1

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a bevy of “Prelims” fights to both UFC Fight Pass and FX this weekend (Sat., Aug. 4, 2018) when UFC 227: “Dillashaw vs. Garbrandt 2” storms Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg kicks off the UFC 227 “Prelims” party with the first installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has sequels on the mind this Saturday (Aug. 4, 2018) as T.J. Dillashaw and Demetrious Johnson defend their respective titles against former foes Cody Garbrandt and Henry Cejudo inside Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. UFC 227 will also feature a Featherweight crossroads fight between Renato Moicano and Cub Swanson, as well as top women’s Strawweight prospect Polyana Viana against The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) veteran J.J. Aldrich.

Prior to the start of the pay-per-view (PPV) main card, eight “Prelims” undercard bouts will set the stage, the latter four on FX for once. So let’s first check out the Fight Pass lineup:

125 lbs.: Jose Torres vs. Alex Perez

Jose Torres (8-0) went from the world’s top amateur to Titan FC’s Flyweight and Bantamweight champion in just five fights, both titles which he defended. While bulking up for a crack at the Featherweight belt, “Shorty” got a short-notice call to the Octagon, where he struggled early against Jarred Brooks before “The Monkey God” knocked himself out with a slam.

Torres has knocked out four opponents, including Brooks, and submitted another two.

Alex Perez (20-4) rebounded from the first two-fight skid of his career, which included the loss of his Tachi Flyweight title to future Ultimate Fighter competitor Adam Antolin, with four consecutive regional wins and an anaconda choke of Kevin Gray on “Tuesday Night Contender Series.” He has been equally impressive in UFC itself, choking out Carls John de Tomas and upsetting Eric Shelton by decision.

As you might imagine from his opponent’s nickname, Perez is two inches taller, though their reaches are identical.

Considering the short notice and the massive weight cut Torres had to go through to make 125 pounds, I can forgive his shaky performance against Brooks. When he’s on, “Shorty” is as good as anyone in the world, and I expect we’ll see a much better performance here.

Perez is a damn good wrestler who seriously impressed me against Shelton, but Torres’ boxing is quite a bit sharper, and Perez will find him much more difficult to keep on his back. Torres has the skills to keep it standing, sneak in a takedown or two of his own, and get to work with punching combinations. Perez should take the first round, as Torres is notoriously slow to get going, but expect “Shorty” to take over once the combos start flowing.

Prediction: Torres via unanimous decision

135 lbs.: Ricardo Ramos vs. Kyung Ho Kang

Ricardo Ramos (11-1) came up short in his “Lookin’ for a Fight” appearance opposite Manny Vazquez, but earned a call up after choking out future “Tuesday Night Contender Series” hopeful Alfred Khashakyan. Following a decision over Michinori Tanaka, Ramos faced fellow prospect Aiemann Zahabi and wiped him out with an awesome spinning elbow.

He has gone the distance just twice as a professional, submitting six.

Kyung Ho Kang (14-7) put on one of 2014’s best fights against Michinori Tanaka, but was unable to capitalize on his momentum due to South Korea’s mandatory military service. He returned to action earlier this year, choking out TUF: “Latin America” alumn Guido Cannetti at UFC Fight Night 124.

“Mr. Perfect” has submitted 10 opponents and knocked out another two.

Most of the odds are already out for this event and Kang is around a two-to-one underdog. That doesn’t quite reflect the reality, which is that this is an extremely winnable fight for the Korean. Not only can he match Ramos’ height, he looks to be a fair bit thicker than the Brazilian and is enormously strong for the weight. In addition, he’s a sufficiently skilled takedown artist to put Ramos on his back and tricky enough to hold his own on the mat against the Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace.

Kang has faded in the past, but his sheer physicality and ground skills seem like just the ticket to overwhelming the Brazilian. He banks at least two rounds through top control and submission attempts to get the decision.

Prediction: Kang via unanimous decision

115 lbs.: Danielle Taylor vs. Weili Zhang

After a loss to the much, much taller Maryna Moroz in her Octagon debut, Danielle Taylor (9-3) got back on track with narrow decisions over Seo Hee Ham and Jessica Penne. Shew as unable to do the same against J.J. Aldrich, however, and is now sitting on a .500 UFC record.

As usual, the 5’0” Taylor will give up height, specifically four inches this time.

Weili Zhang (19-1) has not tasted defeat since her professional debut, establishing herself as one of China’s best fighters … period. She has been exceedingly efficient about it, too, going past the second round just once in her current streak.

She has knocked out nine and submitted six.

Some Chinese fighters have greatly exceeded my expectations upon joining UFC, but none have impressed me before their debuts as much as Zhang. She’s aggressive, powerful, entertaining and throws some lovely combinations. She’s borderline Top 10-quality already, an excellent addition to the roster.

Though Taylor has legitimate one-punch power and Zhang has been hurt before, “Dynamite’s” measly 30 percent striking accuracy and notoriously low work rate make this an uphill battle for her. Therefore, expect Zhang to rack up points with her low kicks and boxing on her way to a dominant decision.

Prediction: Zhang via unanimous decision

135 lbs.: Marlon Vera vs. Wuliji Buren

Marlon Vera (12-5-1) put together an impressive three-fight win streak, among them stoppages of Brad Pickett and Brina Kelleher, to unexpectedly become a legitimate contender. He has since dropped decisions to power-punchers John Lineker and Douglas Andrade, though neither managed to significantly hurt him.

He steps in for the injured Bharat Khandare on two weeks’ notice.

Wuliji Buren (11-5) joined several of his countrymen in Shanghai in Nov. 2017, debuting against Rolando Dy in the midst of a four-fight winning streak. It wasn’t to be five, as “The Beastmaster” lost a wide decision to the Filipino boxer.

He has stopped six opponents, four by submission.

Khandare vs. Buren would have been an interesting clash of wrestlers. This is just going to be a stomp.

Buren really has no clear advantage here outside of his takedowns, and that weapon just puts him in danger of “Chito’s” submission arsenal. On the feet, Vera is the more proven kickboxer, meaning there’s no apparent avenue of victory for the China native. “Chito” touches him up with long-distance kicks until an ill-advised shot from Buren gives him the chance to lock up his neck.

Prediction: Vera via first-round submission

Four more UFC 227 “Prelims” fights to preview and predict tomorrow, including the debuts of two recent “Tuesday Night Contender Series” victors. See you then, Maniacs!

Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 227 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FX at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

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UFC On FOX 30 Predictions, Preview, And Analysis

Three former champions are on the road back to their respective titles as Eddie Alvarez, Jose Aldo, and Joanna Jedrzejczyk return to the Octagon this Saturday night (July 28, 2018) for the UFC on FOX 30 mixed martial arts (MMA) event, held inside Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Not surprisingly, Dustin Poirier, Jeremy Stephens, and Tecia Torres will have something to say about that once the cage door closes in “Stampede City,” while also carving out their own paths to the lightweight, featherweight, and strawweight titles.

Opening the card will be the less important but equally exciting Olivier Aubin-Mercier and Alexander Hernandez. The latter calls himself “The Great” and will have a chance to prove it against the longtime “Canadian Gangster.”

Before we deconstruct the four-fight main card, let’s see what’s happening on the UFC on FOX 30 preliminary line up by clicking here and here. Odds and betting lines for all the “Alvarez vs. Poirier 2” action can be perused here.

Let’s get to work.

155 lbs.: Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez (29-5, 1 NC) vs. Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier (23-5, 1 NC)

Like most bouts that end in a controversial ”no contest,” there is unfinished business between Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier. Though to be fair, the promotion probably wouldn’t have been in any big hurry to run it back had the stakes not been so high. Both Alvarez and Poirier are ranked in the Top 5 and with the division so unreliable these days, it would be nice to have the winner of the UFC on FOX 30 main event on standby for a late 2018 title fight.

Ya’ know, just in case Conor McGregor blows another gasket or Tony Ferguson shreds another limb.

Since they first went to war at UFC 211, Alvarez and Poirier yielded similar results; namely, electrifying wins over lightweight “Highlight” Justin Gaethje. “The Diamond” also squeezed in a thrilling submission victory over Anthony Pettis, an opponent “The Underground King” wrestled past in early 2016. I don’t think we’ll get dramatically different versions of either fighter on Saturday night and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as they are both in the running for the title of most exciting lightweight fighter of all time.

So who wins?

One of the things I like most about Poirier is his ability to evolve from fight-to-fight. He was always a proficient grappler with sneaky submissions, but compare his kickboxing against Cub Swanson at UFC on Fuel TV 7 to the measured, dynamic striker we saw last April and it’s like a completely different fighter. Alvarez, meanwhile, has always had outstanding boxing, which he complements with an underrated wrestling attack. He claims to be coming off the best fight camp of his career and I believe him, and there are probably one or two 155-pound fighters who can beat Alvarez at his best.

Poirier isn’t one of them.

They match up well in all departments, but the image of “The Diamond” going limp against Michael Johnson keeps creeping into my mind. That’s because Poirier, for all his improvements, charges forward with reckless abandon when he smells blood or tastes some of his own. Alvarez is no different in the “let’s make this a bar fight” mentality, but he does a much better job of maintaining his mechanics when it happens. Don’t be surprised to see another “Fight of the Night” after a patient first round, but somewhere late in the contest, when both fighters are bloodied and ready to go for broke, Poirier is going to make a mistake that will likely cost him the win.

Final prediction: Alvarez def. Poirier by technical knockout

145 lbs: Jose “Junior” Aldo (26-4) vs. Jeremy “Lil’ Heathen” Stephens (28-14)

Once the undisputed king of the featherweights, Jose Aldo now finds himself in unfamiliar territory. The Brazilian was never that active as champion and the last time he competed more than twice in one calendar year was back in 2009. In addition, he’s only seen the inside of the Octagon four times over the last four years. To make matters worse, he’s just 1-3 during that span and was finished by knockout/technical knockout in all three losses. Granted, those defeats came against Conor McGregor and Max Holloway, the best the division has to offer, but to watch Aldo get so thoroughly whooped is unquestionably a red flag.

For this fight, “Junior” brings with him the usual bag of tricks. You would be hard-pressed to find a faster striker with more devastating leg kicks — when he decides to actually throw them — and his footwork and cage control have always been problematic for flat-footed power punchers like opponent Jeremy Stephens. On the flip side of that coin, his cardio remains problematic as the fight wears on, symptomatic of his brutal weight cut and advancing age. Since this bout is only scheduled for three rounds, Aldo should be able to make it to the finish line without running out of gas.

Stephens has experienced something of a career resurgence after hooking up with Alliance MMA, smashing his way up the 145-pound ladder and landing at No. 4 in the official rankings. While that sounds impressive, he’s only beaten one featherweight currently ranked in the Top 10. That was Josh Emmett at UFC on FOX 28, a bout that also saw him in all kinds or trouble before his thunderous comeback. I don’t know if we are seeing a brand-new “Lil’ Heathen” or simply a more refined, polished version of the one who already existed. Stephens has always had knockout power and like Aldo, he knows how to put a little mustard on those leg kicks.

Stephens, a former lightweight, holds a one-inch advantage in both height and reach. Without an effective jab, I’m not sure either of those will be a factor against Aldo. Both fighters like to stand and bang and the Brazilian has been doing it longer — and to much better results — against the toughest guys in the division. I know he’s coming off a dreadful stretch, but until I see Aldo get tooled by someone who isn’t the featherweight champion, I have to assume he’s still got the chops to beat everyone else in his weight class, Stephens included. I’m expecting “Lil’ Heathen” to fall in love with the killing blow, not be able to land it, then spend a majority of the bout clomping around the cage in frustration. “Junior,” meanwhile, will enjoy his role of mouse (to cat) and rack up enough points to make this a clean sweep on the judges’ scorecards.

Final prediction: Aldo def. Stephens by unanimous decision

115 lbs.: Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-2) vs. Tecia “Tiny Tornado” Torres (10-2)

Joanna Jedrzejczyk is unquestionably the second-best strawweight in UFC and her consecutive losses — the second of which was razor-thin — is a prime example of how every great fighter has a foil. Newly-crowned champion Rose Namajunas may or may not be the better all-around combatant but in this sport, it doesn’t matter. Stylistically, “Thug Rose” is just a bad match up for the power-punching Pole and that cost her 115-pounds of gold. For her sake, I hope the ex-champ doesn’t attempt to overhaul her style or plan of attack, because the Jedrzejczyk who lost to Namajunas is still good enough to beat Tecia Torres.

The “Tiny Tornado” also lost to Namajunas but more tellingly, Jessica Andrade, who is probably the third-best gal in the division after knocking around Claudia Gadelha last September. That means Torres is probably going to remain in the middle of the pack and it’s not like we’ve seen anything spectacular in her eight trips to the Octagon. She’s gone to a decision in 11 of her 12 fights and there’s just no way she’s going to outpoint Jedrzejczyk in a three-round contest. Since they aren’t friends and haven’t crossed paths while sharing space at American Top Team (ATT), inside information is unlikely.

Torres is a talented striker who is well versed in both karate and kickboxing. But she comes into this bout with a five-inch disadvantage in both height and reach. Against Jedrzejczyk, a five-time IFMA Muay Thai amateur world champion, that’s a death sentence. She could, in theory, fall back on her serviceable wrestling, but Jedrzejczyk has a takedown defense of 81 percent, compared to an abysmal 43 percent for Torres. Both combatants can do three rounds without breaking a sweat and that pretty much says it all: there just aren’t any areas where Torres is better. Jedrzejczyk has defeated Andrade (No. 2), Gadelha (No. 3), Karolina Kowalkiewicz (No. 4), and Carla Esparza (No. 6). As for Torres, her biggest win to date came over the No. 7-ranked Michelle Waterson, her only victory over a Top 10 fighter, and her run on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 20 was underwhelming, at best.

Torres is tough, no question about it, but she’s going to take a beating en route to a pretty decisive loss on the scorecards.

Final prediction: Jedrzejczyk def. Torres by unanimous decision

155 lbs.: Olivier “The Canadian Gangster” Aubin-Mercier (11-2) vs. Alexander “The Great” Hernandez (9-1)

Olivier Aubin-Mercier has continued to fly under the radar after coming up short in the finale of TUF: “Nations” back in early 2014. Since then, “The Canadian Gangster” has gone 7-1 with five violent finishes. That said, his destruction of Evan Dunham at UFC 223 — his fourth straight win — was the first time in his professional career that he’s ended a fight by way of knockout. I guess when you have eight submissions in 11 wins, it doesn’t matter if you can land the one-hitter quitter. Conversely, the 29 year-old Canadian has never been stopped in his career but somehow has failed to crack the Top 15 of his division.

I don’t know if that will change with a victory over the unheralded by extremely dangerous Alexander Hernandez, who made a smashing debut — literally — with his first UFC appearance back in March, demolishing lightweight veteran Beneil Dariush with one terrifying punch. What I like about “The Great” is his ability to finish the fight both on the feet as well as on the ground, evidenced by four knockouts against two submissions. I don’t want to get too excited, as we’ve only seen him compete once under the UFC banner, but he certainly didn’t seem too concerned with Octagon jitters his first time out.

Aubin-Mercier is a southpaw but gives up two inches in reach. I want to say that he’s faced stiffer competition across his four years in UFC but to be honest, some of the names on his resume are not that far off from the regional competition Hernandez has been knocking around on the local circuit. It’s hard to make a convincing case for either fighter because they cancel each other out in just about every category. “The Canadian Gangster” is a two-time junior national champion in Judo whereas “The Great” was a decorated high school wrestler. Both have serious ground skills though Hernandez likely has the edge in power. Will it be enough to make it two straight in UFC? Probably not, but this fight will still be too close to call, even after three rounds of back-and-forth action.

Final prediction: Aubin-Mercier def. Hernandez by split decision

There you have it.

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on FOX 30 fight card on fight night (click here), starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX at 6 p.m. ET, before the FOX main card start time at 8 p.m. ET.

For much more on UFC on FOX 30 click here.

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ONE: ‘Reign Of Kings’ Preview (Pt. 2)

ONE: “Reign of Kings” is set for the MOA Arena this Friday night in Pasay, Philippines. It will be headlined by an interim bantamweight title bout between Martin Nguyen and Kevin Belingon and also features Renzo Gracie, Shinya Aoki and Eduard Folayang.

That makes this a big event and the fans will be firmly behind Folayang, Belingon and the other Filipinos. There’s also three ONE “Super Series” bouts with a chance for the Filipino audience to witness some Muay Thai and kickboxing.

Here’s my preview of the top half of the card. For part one click here.

170lbs.: Gary Tonon vs. Rahul Raja

Gary Tonon (1-0) is a decorated BJJ black belt and No Gi Grappling world champion. He seemed to drag his MMA debut out a bit longer than was strictly speaking necessary in order to showcase his new striking skills.

Rahul Raja (4-2) lasted just 21 seconds on his ONE Championship debut. It will be interesting to see whether Tonon plays this safe by winning with a submission or decided to test his stand up skills against the Indian.

170lbs.: Eduard Folayang vs. Aziz Pahrudinov

For the second fight in a row Eduard Folayang (19-6) faces a promotional newcomer with an impressive record. We know what we are going to get from the Filipino by now, he has a wushu striking style and kicks very hard.

Aziz Pahrudinov (20-0-1) is a southpaw but doesn’t look like he has much to offer in striking terms. The Russian appears to primarily be a wrestler so the challenge for Folayang will be to avoid getting taken down and overwhelmed by ground and pound.

185lbs.: Renzo Grazie vs. Yuki Kondo

Renzo Gracie (13-7-1-1) will always be a legend, even though he hasn’t won a fight since 2007. The Brazilian is 51 and is going up against a younger, more active opponent.

Yuki Kondo (60-34-9) is 42 but fought three times last year. The age and recent experience are two huge factors in the Japanese veterans favour, he’s remained active throughout his career.

170lbs.: Shannon Wiratchai vs. Shinya Aoki

Shinya Aoki 40-8-0-1) is looking to work his way back into title contention after back to back defeats against Eduard Folayang and Ben Askren. With ONE Championship heading for Japan in 2018 the timing is good.

Aoki is being gently nurtured towards the top of the lightweight rankings. Last time out he easily handled

145lbs.: Kevin Belingon vs. Martin Nguyen (for interim bantamweight title)

Martin Nguyen (11-2) bids to win a ONE Championship title in a third division, although an asterisk will remain besides this achievement until he beats Bibiano Fernandes, who is the actual bantamweight champion.

Kevin Belingon (18-5) has won five straight fights since his loss to Fernandes. But the reality is that he is facing an opponent who knocked out a team mate who is 3 inches taller and 20lbs heavier than him.

In MMA size matters, that’s why we have weight classes. And while Belingon is clearly faster than Eduard Folayang he is much smaller which makes it hard to envisage him faring much better against Nguyen than his team mate did.

Nguyen went the distance with Fernandes on his bantamweight debut and nearly won, so he is obviously comfortable in the division. That makes it almost impossible to see the two division champion losing.

Even if Belingon can use his speed to land strikes he probably won’t have enough power to topple an opponent who is far bigger. Nguyen only needs to land one right hand to finish the fight, whereas his opponent will need to get in and out without taking punishment for 25 minutes if he wants anything out of this.

The entire ONE: “Reign of Kings” card will be available to view live and free using the newly launched app which you can download here. The first four fights will also be live on twitter and facebook.

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ONE: ‘Reign Of Kings’ Preview (Pt. 1)

ONE: “Reign of Kings” is set for the MOA Arena this Friday night in Pasay, Philippines. It will be headlined by an interim bantamweight title bout between Martin Nguyen and Kevin Belingon and also features Renzo Gracie, Shinya Aoki and Eduard Folayang.

That makes this a big event and the fans will be firmly behind Folayang, Belingon and the other Filipinos. There’s also three ONE “Super Series” bouts with a chance for the Filipino audience to witness some Muay Thai and kickboxing.

Here’s my preview of the bottom half of the card.

155lbs.: Sor Sey vs Xie Bin

Xie Bin (4-1) is already a veteran of five ONE fights and is riding a four fight winning streak, making him arguably the most successful male Chinese fighter on the roster. He is tall for a bantamweight and likes to use his height and reach to land strikes and chokes.

Sor Sey (4-2) will be the second Cambodian fighter that Bin has faced, and he won the first fight by submission. Both men have identical records but the Khmer fighter might struggle with his opponent’s reach, and will definitely be at a disadvantage on the ground.

125lbs.: Joshua Pacio vs. Pongsiri Mitsatit

This fight has been several months in the making and is a clash of styles that pits the Muay Thai of Pongsiri Mitsatit (9-0) against the wushu of Joshua Pacio (14-2). The Thai has a more impressive record but the Filipino has faced higher level opposition.

That could make this an interesting striking match. But Pacio has the advantage in wrestling terms and might employ a takedown orientated strategy here, Mitsatit’s Muay Thai won’t help him if he’s on his back.

125lbs.: Rene Catalan vs. Stefer Rahardian

Rene Catalan (4-2-0-1) is riding a four fight winning streak. He’s a multiple time wushu world champion with a sold ground game but none of the opponents he has beaten are of quite the same calibre as Stefer Rahardian.

Rahardian (8-0) is one of the top fighters in the strawweight division. The Bali MMA prospect is a submission specialist who has already beaten a top ranked Filipino in the MOA Arena, decisioning Eugene Toquero in 2017.

150lbs.: Chamuaktong Fightergym vs Brown Pinas (Muay Thai)

Chamuaktong Fightergym is a former Lumpinee champion, Rajadamnern champion and Toyota Marathon winner. He’s competing at his natural weight and is still very much in his prime which could be bad news for Brown Pinas.

It’s rare to see fighters of Chamuaktong’s calibre losing to non Thai opponents unless they are giving away weight or reaching retirement age. Neither applies here and there’s little chance of Pinas winning if they are using boxing gloves, the smaller gloves make things a bit more unpredictable.

160lbs.: Armen Petrosyan vs. Chris Ngimbi (kickboxing)

Armen Petrosyan might not be the best kickboxer in his family but he’s a veteran of around 100 fights who has beaten the likes of Vuyisile Colossa and Dzhabar Askerov. He’s going up against an opponent who has lost to his brother twice, but went the distance both times.

Chris Ngimbi dropped a decision to Yodsaenklai Fairtex on his ONE Super Series debut but will be looking to bounce back with a win here. He’s faced some of the world’s top kickboxers but has come up short on the scorecards more often than not.

145lbs.: Panicos Yusuf vs. Han Zi Hao (Muay Thai)

Panicos Yusuf is one of the top fighters from the UK, which has a thriving Muay Thai scene. He’s been in with the likes of Manachai PKSaenchaigym and Sergio Wielzen and is a very technical fighter capable of making adjustments during the fight.

China isn’t renowned for it’s Muay Thai but Han Zi Hao is a Thai Fight and Top King veteran who has been in with solid fighters like Victor Pinto and Rungravee Sasiprapa. Under normal rules and scoring I would favour Yusuf but in the ONE Super Series anything can happen.

The entire ONE: “Reign of Kings” card will be available to view live and free using the newly launched app which you can download here. The first four fights will also be live on twitter and facebook.

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Invicta FC 30 Primer: A Preview Vid Smorgasbord

There’s a good bit of MMA going down over the weekend, not the least of which is the latest installment of everyone’s favorite all-female promotion, Invicta FC.

Invicta FC 30 will bring us a main event between two of their top atomweights, and it’s a safe bet that, unlike all the other Invicta weight classes, the 105-pound class is safe from being pillaged by the UFC. Seriously, after the UFC’s female flyweight debacle, whoever wins between Jinh Yu Frey and Minna Grusander on Saturday night will likely get to be on Invicta posters for a while.

TUF vet and UFC refugee Heather Jo Clark will make her Invicta debut as well. It’s been nearly two years since her last fight, and she’s fighting a no-name, so she could win this one!

Anyway, here are some preview vids to get you motivated to watch.

The post Invicta FC 30 Primer: A Preview Vid Smorgasbord appeared first on Caged Insider.

Caged Insider

Invicta FC 30 Primer: A Preview Vid Smorgasbord

There’s a good bit of MMA going down over the weekend, not the least of which is the latest installment of everyone’s favorite all-female promotion, Invicta FC.

Invicta FC 30 will bring us a main event between two of their top atomweights, and it’s a safe bet that, unlike all the other Invicta weight classes, the 105-pound class is safe from being pillaged by the UFC. Seriously, after the UFC’s female flyweight debacle, whoever wins between Jinh Yu Frey and Minna Grusander on Saturday night will likely get to be on Invicta posters for a while.

TUF vet and UFC refugee Heather Jo Clark will make her Invicta debut as well. It’s been nearly two years since her last fight, and she’s fighting a no-name, so she could win this one!

Anyway, here are some preview vids to get you motivated to watch.

The post Invicta FC 30 Primer: A Preview Vid Smorgasbord appeared first on Caged Insider.

Caged Insider

Invicta FC 30 Primer: A Preview Vid Smorgasbord

There’s a good bit of MMA going down over the weekend, not the least of which is the latest installment of everyone’s favorite all-female promotion, Invicta FC.

Invicta FC 30 will bring us a main event between two of their top atomweights, and it’s a safe bet that, unlike all the other Invicta weight classes, the 105-pound class is safe from being pillaged by the UFC. Seriously, after the UFC’s female flyweight debacle, whoever wins between Jinh Yu Frey and Minna Grusander on Saturday night will likely get to be on Invicta posters for a while.

TUF vet and UFC refugee Heather Jo Clark will make her Invicta debut as well. It’s been nearly two years since her last fight, and she’s fighting a no-name, so she could win this one!

Anyway, here are some preview vids to get you motivated to watch.

The post Invicta FC 30 Primer: A Preview Vid Smorgasbord appeared first on Caged Insider.

Caged Insider

Predictions! UFC Hamburg ‘Prelims’ Preview – Pt. 1

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a bevy of “Prelims” fights to both UFC Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1 this weekend (Sun., July 22, 2018) when UFC Fight Night 134: “Shogun vs. Smith” storms Barclaycard Arena in Hamburg, Germany. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg kicks off the UFC Fight Night 134 “Prelims” party with the first installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

The inimitable Mauricio “Shogun” Rua returns to the cage for the first time in 2018 this Sunday night (July 22, 2018) when the Brazilian meets late replacement Anthony Smith inside Barclaycard Arena in Hamburg, Germany

The FOX Sports 1 fight card also features Glover Teixeira against Corey Anderson, Stefan Struve versus Marcin Tybura in an all-Europe heavyweight battle, and local standout Abu Azaitar’s Octagon debut opposite knockout artist Vitor Miranda.

Seven “Prelims” with some fresh faces are in store for the morning people among you. Let’s look at the first three airing at 10:30 a.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.

135 lbs.: Manny Bermudez (12-0) vs. Davey Grant (8-3)

Bermudez caught the UFC’s eye with nine first-round finishes in his first eleven victories, including several in under two minutes. It took him a bit longer in his UFC debut, but he nonetheless got the finish via guillotine against Albert Morales. All but one of his eight submission wins has come by choke.

Grant, the runner-up on The Ultimate Fighter 18, has faced difficulties both in and out of the ring, debuting in 2013 and fighting just three times in that span. He was supposed to fight Bermudez in May, but came down with a staph infection just days before showtime. He stands two inches taller than Bermudez at 5’8.”

Bermudez’s ultimate ceiling will boil down to how well his wrestling develops. As lethal as his ground game is, it’s not worth squat if he can’t consistently get it to the ground. Grant is a capable enough wrestler for this to be an informative matchup and a decent test that I believe Bermudez can pass.

After seeing Grant struggle with Damian Stasiak, I don’t see him having a lot more success against a spry young submission artist, especially with nearly two years of rust to shake off. Bermudez scores an early takedown and secures a fight-ending choke on the way back up.

Prediction: Bermudez by first-round submission

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

Kimball’s short-notice UFC debut against Marcos Rogério de Lima went disastrously, but “Grizzly” bounced back with a bonus-winning knockout of Josh Stansbury in just 81 seconds. Things went right back to disastrous, though, as he tapped to a Dominick Reyes choke in Detroit. All but one of Kimball’s victories since 2013 have come inside the distance.

A protégé of Mirko Cro Cop, Stosic has knocked out seven professional opponents, all but one of them in the first round. His current eight-fight winning streak includes two finishes in under a minute and a first-round stoppage via leg kicks. This will be his light heavyweight debut.

If you’ve got a dangerous new striker to welcome into the UFC, Kimball’s your man; he’s durable and skilled enough on the feet to pose a threat and too incompetent on the mat to start wrestling if things go south. He should be lunchmeat against Stosic, who packs quite a bit more power and can take things to the mat should he get into dire straits.

My only real reservation here is that Stosic is 230 pounds and built like a brick wall. Each leg alone look like it would have to cut to make lightweight. So long as he can drop the weight safely, though, this is a heavyweight against a blown-up middleweight. Stosic tears up that lead leg for a late finish.

Prediction: Stosic by third-round TKO

145 lbs.: Damian Stasiak (10-5) vs. Liu Pingyuan (11-5)

After getting outwrestled by Yaotzin Meza in his Octagon debut, Stasiak proved his grappling chops were still legit with impressive submissions over Filip Pejic and Davey Grant. He couldn’t do the same against fellow submission artist Pedro Munhoz and, one fight later, fell to Brian Kelleher’s relentless pressure in a Fight of the Night war. “Webster’s” seven submission wins include five by rear naked choke.

Liu, one of the stars of China’s Wu Lin Feng promotion, picked up five wins in 2016 and two more in 2017 before signing to the UFC. He was set to debut against Bharat Khandare in Shanghai, but wound up withdrawing due to injury, allowing Song Yadong to make his first Octagon appearance instead. He has won 11 of his last 12 after starting his pro career 0-4.

Liu looks like another solid prospect out of China. Going by his shirt in one of his more recent fights, he’s training out of Tiger Muay Thai, which is one of Asia’s best camps. He’s got power, plenty of aggression, and can finish things on the mat as well.

His issue right now is polish; he’s so fixated on the knockout that he tends to overextend with his power swings. In addition, he’s fairly unproven against decent opposition. If nothing else, Stasiak is tough as nails and has a nasty submission game. Liu has the tools to be a contender, but for right now, I say Stasiak capitalizes on his overeagerness to lock up an early finish.

Prediction: Stasiak by first-round submission

Tomorrow’s four fights previewed for FOX Sports 1 include a pair of strong featherweight prospects and Emil Meek’s latest appearance, so be sure to stop by and have a look with us.

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