Last week’s UFC 205 and Bellator cards were great, but this week will somehow be even more loaded than last week was, at least as far as quantity is concerned. Today, there will be 2 UFC Fight Night cards, a damn good Bellator card, as well as the Ward/Kovalev boxing match.
The latter three will all take place at night, but in the states, UFC Fight Night 99 will begin at 11:30 in the morning, since it’s taking place in Ireland. The original headliner in Gunnar Nelson vs. Dong Hyun Kim, as well as the headlining prelim bout between Neil Seery and Ian McCall were both scrapped, and yet, the card still has a lot of promise. The whole thing will take place on UFC Fight Pass, and hopefully, it’ll get the day off to a great start.
Prelims (12:30/11:30am CT, UFC Fight Pass)
Charlie Ward (2-1) vs. Abdul Razak Alassan (6-0)
A 2-1 fighter in a UFC card? Apparently so! Ward won both his fights via decision, and got knocked out in his lone loss. This is essentially a showcase bout for Hassan, who’s won every fight via knockout, all within 2 minutes. UNless Ward can grind one out for 15 minutes, the story writes itself. Prediction: Alhassan via tko, round 1.
Brett Johns (12-0) vs. Kwan Ho Kwak (9-0)
Up next, undefeated Welsh Bantamweight Brett Johns will make his UFC debut against a fellow unbeaten fighter. He’s won six fights via decision, four via submission and twice via knockout. Once a Cage Warriors champion, Johns enters the Octagon as the Titan FC Bantamweight champion. Meanwhile, Kwak has won six fights via knockout and three via decision, with his most recent win coming against former UFC fighter Alptekin Ozkilic. In the end, I see both me putting on a decent affair, that will go the distance. I’ll go with Johns, but an upset shouldn’t shock anyone. Prediction: Johns via decision.
Marion Reneau (6-3) vs. Milana Dudieva (11-4)
WOmen take the stage next. Reneau, a part-time fighter who’s a high school gym teacher when not training, is 2-2 inside the octagon. She’s lost two straight though, although her last bout was a borderline robbery. All three of her losses are decisions, but she’s finished five of her six career wins, including four in the first round. Dudieva is tough, with nine of her 11 wins coming via finish, including four submissions. She’s 1-1 inside the octagon though, and this is her first fight since April 2015. I believe that rust will play a role here, and I think she’ll suffer her third submission loss today, in what could be a very intriguing fight. Prediction: Reneau via submission round 2.
Zak Cummings (19-5) vs. Alexander Yakovlev (23-7-1)
The next fight belongs on a televised Fight Night main card, at least. Cummings is very underrated. One of the most overlooked fighters to come out of the famed 17th season of the Ultimate Fighter, the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt has won of his six UFC bouts, and has finished 14 opponents, including nine via submission. Yakovlev has a lot of hand to hand combat, Sambo and freestyle wrestling skills, but is 2-3 inside the octagon. A loss today, and he could lose his UFC career. He does have seventeen finishes, but that said, he does have three submission losses. So, while he stands a chance tonight, I see Cummings either winning a decision or pulling off a late submission. Prediction: Cummings via decision or late submission.
Justin Ledet (7-0, 1NC) vs. Mark Godbeer (11-2)
Heavyweights take the stage next. Ledet is fighting for the fourth time this year, and won his UFC debut by decisioning Chase Sherman. It was his only decision win, with four of the six previous wins coming via submission, and two via knockout. Godbeer is no joke though. He’s never gone the distance or even to the third round, has nine knockout wins, and has won four of his last five wins. I don’t think he’ll win, but all he needs is one strike. Someone will get finished, and it should be a damn fun fight. Prediction: Ledet via tko, round 3.
Anna Elmose (3-1) vs. Amanda Cooper (1-2)
The second of two female bouts on the card is next, as two relatively green women take the stage. Elmose has had every fight end via knockout, including her UFC debut against Germaine de Randamie, which was her lone loss. Meanwhile, TUF: 23 runner-up Cooper has had every pro fight end via submission, including her UFC debut in the finale against Tatiana Suarez, despite being a boxer. It’ll be an interesting fight, and I like both women, but it’s essentially a tossup. I guess that since Cooper has a more well-rounded attack, I’ll say she’ll pepper Elmose with shots while staying out of range, before ultimately winning via submission in what could be a really fun fight. Prediction: Cooper via submission round 2.
Kevin Lee (13-2) vs. Magomed Mustafaev (14-1)
A pair of underrated Lightweights are next on deck. Kevin Lee is a Division 2 wrestler who’s 6-2 inside the octagon, and while seven of his wins have come via decision, three of his last four fights ended in the first round. That includes a first round tko loss against Leonardo Santos last December. Sadly for him, Mustafaev is a killer. The Russian has won 13 straight bouts, and has never gone the distance. He’s won 10 fights via knockout, four via submission, and his lone loss came via submission back in his second ever pro fight, in July 2011. He’s got nine first round finishes, and is 2-0 inside the octagon. Today, I see him garnering his 14th straight win, 11th via knockout, tenth first round finish and third win inside the octagon. Prediction: Mustafaev via ko, round 1.
Kyoji Horiguchi (17-2) vs. Ali Bagautinov (14-4)
How these two Flyweights aren’t at least on the main card is beyond me. They’re both great fighters, former UFC title challengers, are a combined 10-3 inside the octagon, and have lost only to champion Demetrius Johnson, with Bagautinov also losing to longtime contender Joseph Benavidez. Horiguchi has only had one of his five UFC bouts since his debut end prior to the third round, while Bagautinov has gone the distance on five straight occasions. Both have finishing ability but unless Horiguchi lands a flush shot that ends Bagautnov’s night, I see this one ending via decision. I’ll go with Horiguchi, but a Bagautinov win shouldn’t surprise anyone. Prediction: Horiguchi via decision.
Magnus Cedenblad (14-4) vs. Jack Marshman (20-5)
In the headlining prelim bout, underrated Swedish Middleweight will take on the debuting Jack Marshman, in a slot that was garnered due to Ian McCall vs. Neil Seery being scrapped yesterday. The second Welshman on the card, Marshman has finished 17 of his 20 victories, including 12 via knockout. He’s also won eight of his last nine bouts, including six straight.
Thta said, Cedenblad is really, really good. He’s won 14 of his last 16 bouts, including 11 of his last 12 and four straight UFC bouts, three of which came via finish. He’s won 12 of his 12 fights via finish-seven via knockout and five via submission, and I believe he’ll make a statement in this fight. Prediction: Cedenblad via tko, round 2.
Main card (4/3c, UFC Fight Pass)
Teruto Ishihara (9-2-2) vs. Artem Lobov (12-12-1, 1NC)
Opening up the main card is a bout between a Japanese finisher and an Irishman who’s best known for being in Conor McGregor’s posse. A knockout artist on TUF, Lobov has gone the distance in 17 of 26 career fights, with a subpar 6-9-1 record, with a no contest in them. He’s 1-2 inside the octagon, and a loss could spell his release.
Ishihara is a member of Team Alpha Male, and eight of his nine wins have come via knockout, six of them in the opening round. He’s 2-0-1 inside the octagon, and while Lobov seems to find ways to stick around, I believe the Japanese knockout artist will knock him out. Prediction: Ishihara via knockout, round 1.
Alexander Volkov (26-6) vs. Timothy Johnson (10-2)
Up next, a former Bellator Heavyweight champion will make his UFC debut. That man, Alexander Volkov, won the vacant title in late 2012, lost it in late 2013 to Vitaly Minakov, and after winning the Heavyweight tournament final in early 2014, left for Russia for a few bouts. When he returned to Bellator in mid-2015, he lost a pair of split decisions, before fighting in Russia again. Two finishes at M-1 later, he signed with the UFC, and will make his debut in Ireland today, having won 18 fights via knockout.
Johnson is a finisher who’s won nine of ten bouts via finish, but has had two of his three UFC bouts go the distance. He’s 2-1 inside the octagon, and definitely underrated. That said, Volkov is a different beast, and Johnson is tough, but I see him succumbing to Volkov’s power by the second round at the latest. Prediction: Volkov via knockout, round 1.
Ross Pearson (19-12, 1NC) vs. Stevie Ray (19-6)
The initial co-main is now the main event of the card, and this fight doesn’t have any major stakes division wise, but it should still be quite fun. Pearson is a fan favorite because he fights a lot, and always puts up a fun and fan-friendly fight. That said, he has lost three of four fights, and four of six, all of them going the distance. The TUF: 9 Lightweight winner won his first three UFC bouts, but is 8-9 with a no contest since then. He’s a fan favorite but still, a loss could end his UFC career.
Ray is filling in for James Krause on short notice, but he might honestly be the tougher fight here. The former Cage Warriors champion has eight submission and six knockout wins to go with his five decision wins, and has never had a losing streak. Well, he’s 3-1 inside the octagon, with his last fight being a loss. I want to pick Pearson with all my heart, but my head says Ray will pull off the upset, and that’s what I’ll have to go with. Prediction: Ray via submission, round 3.
Gegard Mousasi (40-6-2) vs. Uriah Hall (12-7)
In the new main event of the evening, Mousasi and Hall will fight for the second time in 14 months. In their first encounter, Hall shocked everyone when he won via jumping spinning back kick, flying knee and punches, looking like the monster he came across as in TUF: 17 a few years earlier. Since then, Mousasi has won three straight, while Hall has lost two straight. To this day though, that loss remains Mousasi’s lone knockout loss in 48 career fights, and he wants his loss back.
Mousasi is a world-renowned finisher who’s ended 33 of 40 career victories prior to the final bell, 21 times via knockout and 12 times via submission. The Judo black belt continues to be very active, and will look to cement contender status with a win tonight.
Meanwhile, Hall is fighting to stay in the UFC. Now 32 years old, three and a half years into his UFC career and with a 5-5 UFC record, he is no longer a contender. He looked lost in his TUF 17 finale split decision loss to Kelvin Gastelum in April 2013, before losing another split decision the following August, against John Howard. He then won five of his next six, four of which were first round finishes, capped off by the stunning win over Mousasi. He’s two straight since, first via one-sided decision to Robert Whitaker, and then a first round knockout loss to Derek Brunson in September. He can win this fight, no doubt about it. However, I feel like his career has plateued, while Mousasi is still rolling, and that will show tonight. Prediction: Mousasi via tko, round 2.