(I wrote this hours ago, but the server screwed up. Sorry!)
Ready for another night of fights, MMA fans! We are all still basking on the afterglow of UFC 189, which was followed up by a solid TUF 21 Finale the following day. Just three days later, the UFC comes to San Diego, putting forth an unprecedented third event in six days!
Like the previous two cards, this one is pretty damn good looking. From the Fight Pass prelims, all the way to the headlining bout, the card seems to be loaded with entertainment. Without further ado, here are my picks for the prelim portion of the UFC Fight Night: Mir vs Duffee card.
Fight Pass Prelims (7/6c, UFC Fight Pass)
Andrew Craig (9-3) vs. Lyman Good (19-3, 1NC)
The night’s opening bout is surely one to watch, as Lyman Good, a former Bellator Welterweight Champion, and one of the promotion’s staples, gets set to make his octagon debut.
Simply put, he deserves better than this, and the UFC knows that. But, they had to bury him since, well, he was a Bellator fighter. That said, he’s miles ahead of Craig, and has finished every fight since getting his release from Bellator. Craig has lost three of four, and is lucky to get another fight with the UFC. Unfortunately, it’ll be his last with the promotion. Prediction: Good via tko, round 1.
Kevin Casey (8-3, 1NC) vs. Ildemar Alcantara (21-7)
A pair of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belts take the stage next, as Kevin Casey returns from his unceremonious year-long suspension for testing positive for an anabolic steroid, against the always game Ildemar Alcantara. Both men specialize on the ground, but also possess some serious knockout power. Alcantara has ten career knockouts, while Casey has knocked out each of his last three opponents.
On top of that, both men are former champions in regional competition. Casey was recently the RFA Middleweight champion, while Alcantara held that honor at Jungle Fight. Alcantara has gone 4-2 inside the octagon, while Casey is 0-1 with a no contest. Both men are worthy of a higher spot on the card, but it is what it is. In the end, I can see either man winning this fight. My head says one thing, but my gut disagrees. Head pick: Casey via decision. Gut pick: Alcantara via late submission.
Televised Prelims (8/7c, FS1)
Sean Strickland (15-1) vs. Igor Araujo (25-7, 1NC)
Two talented Welterweights take the stage next, as Igor Araujo puts his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills up to the test against Sean Strickland. Araujo, a black belt, earned his UFC spot by winning ten of his previous eleven bouts, and boasts 17 submission wins. He has since gone 2-1, all inside the octagon, and is coming off a knockout loss to George Sullivan.
As for Strickland, the former King of the Cage champion began his career with a spotless 15-0 mark, ending 11 of his bouts early. He lost a decision to Santiago Ponzinibbio in his Welterweight debut this past February, and is looking to rebound from his first career loss.
I see this fight being a back and forth battle. Araujo is an excellent grappler, so Strickland will have to keep it on the feet. I see him doing that successfully, en route to a unanimous decision victory. Prediction: Strickland via unanimous decision.
Rani Yahya (20-8, 1NC) vs. Masanori Kanehara (25-11-5)
Yahya is a grappler who’s been in the UFC for a while. Kanehara is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, who was the first Featherweight champion for the Japanese powerhouse promotion known as Sengoku. He won his UFC debut, but I still can’t take him seriously inside the octagon. Yahya is a stiff test, who is an even better grappler. I don’t see him getting his 17th submission win, but he should win for sure. Prediction: Yahya via grinding decision.
Sarah Moras (4-1) vs. Jessica Andrade (12-4)
Andrade is vicious. Moras has a chin. This will end in a violent decision. Prediction: Andrade via one-sided unanimous decision.
Sam Sicilia (14-5) vs. Yaotzin Meza (21-9, 1NC)
Big ups to Meza for winning on April 11 and keeping his slot with the UFC. Unfortunately, he might lose it tonight. If he grapples with Sicilia, he should win. But, if he gets caught with a shot, it will likely end both his night, as well as his UFC tenure. Unfortunately, that’s what I see happening. Prediction: Sicilia via tko, round 2.