MMA fans, UFC on FOX 14 is well underway. In fact, the main card has already started. Unfortunately, this article did not get published before the main card started. I just got back, and was unable to publish the article until now. As for the prelim picks, I have not watched the prelims yet, so I cannot tell how well my picks went just yet. However, here are my main card picks.
Main card (10/9c, FOX)
Akira Corassani (12-5, 1NC) vs. Sam Sicilia (13-5)
A pair of TUF castmates kick off the main card, in what will likely be “loser leaves town” matchup. Corassani was a part of Season 14, while Sicilia participated on Season 15. Corassani might be a black belt in Taekwondo, but he’s been knocked out five times, while accomplishing the opposite just once. After winning his first three UFC contests, he’s been knocked out in his last two.
As for Sicilia, he has only gone the distance three times. He’s finished 11 fights, losing four in that manner. He’s just 3-5 in his UFC tenure, and has never beaten any fighters who have been anywhere near contention. Luckily for him, Corassani is not a contender. I see this being a fairly entertaining striking battle, and even though Sicilia always seems to avoid UFC release, I feel the time will run out on him tonight. Prediction: Corassani via split decision.
Phil Davis (13-2, 1NC) vs. Ryan Bader (18-4)
Two wrestlers take each other on in the next fight on the main card. That means one of two things: either one will outwrestle the other, or the result will be a questionable striking affair. Either way, the loser will finally be written out of the title picture. I would expand, but the mere thought of this fight makes me want to dose off. If really makes me feel for the audience in the stadium, who will have to watch this after midnight local time! Since I have to pick a winner, I’ll go with the peskier of the two, who’s annoyances never ceases to exist. Prediction: Davis via decision.
Gegard Mousasi (35-5-2) vs. Dan Henderson (30-12)
The co-main event of the evening would be a surefire headliner, had it taken place a few years ago. Alas, now it just seems sad. Mousasi is coming off a submission loss to Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza last September, his second loss in three fights. He is a bonafide finisher, winning via knockout 18 times, submissions 12 times, and fights a lot (20 combined fights in 2005, 2006 and 2008, third fight in 2013).
Meanwhile, Dan Henderson is a legend. He is a Strikeforce, two-time PRIDE and Ring of Kings champion, as well as the winner of the UFC 17 Middleweight tournament. He has been viewed as a legend for over a decade, and in 2011, he was surging. Since missing his UFC title shot against then and current UFC Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones, the man has lost four of his last five. The only win of that stretch came in a comeback over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua last March, in a fight where Henderson was getting starched. I think he’ll compete in his drop to Middleweight, but I do not see him succeeding. Prediction: Mousasi via tko, round 3.
(1) Alexander Gustaffson (15-2) vs. (3) Anthony Johnson (18-4)
Ah, the main event. And what a main event it is. Both fighters are finishers, and the winner will get the next shot at the Light Heavyweight belt held by longtime kingpin Jon Jones.
Alexander Gustafsson is coming off a ten-month layoff, after mauling (pun intended) previously undefeated Jimi Manuwa last April in Sweden. That was his first fight since the controversial loss to Jones in September 2013, a fight which many view to be one of the greatest fights in MMA history. He has knocked out ten opponents.
As impressive as Gustafsson’s resume is, the comeback of Anthony Johnson is nothing short of awe-inspiring. He was with the UFC from June 2007 until early 2012. He went 7-4 with the promotion, but his UFC stint was marred by three failed weight cuts, two as a Welterweight. His weight cutting issues saw him fighting Vitor Belfort in a Middleweight bout at UFC 142, but he missed weight by 12 pounds, lost the fight, and was released afterward.
The release clearly got Johnson to check himself, and he has not lost since. He has won eight straight, five via finish. He won the first ever WSOF main event against Andrei Arlovski at Heavyweight, and began his second UFC stint with a stunning domination over Phil Davis last April, and a 44-second knockout over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC on FOX 12 in July. He is the only obstacle standing in Gustafsson’s way in the Light Heavyweight division.
I see this fight being a burner that could go either way. However, I will go with the hometown star, who has deserved a rematch against Jones. I see it going late, and being a thrilling fight. Prediction: Gustafsson via tko, round 4.