The UFC returns “down under”, as two legendary heavyweights are set to collide. Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir looks to get back into the win column, after coming up just short against Andrei Arlovski. The loss would end a two fight win streak, one in which was surprising given Mir’s age (36) and the fact that he had lost four consecutive fight prior. As for Mir’s opponent, that would be in the form of the “Super Samoan” Mark Hunt, who is coming off a TKO win over Antonio Silva. Hunt made quick work in the rematch, avoiding replicating the first fight, which I’d say was the greatest heavyweight fight ever (Antonio Silva was on the juice though).
The fight between Mark Hunt vs. Frank Mir is an interesting one though, in which it features contrasting styles. Mark Hunt is striker, who carries immense power and he has a legendary chin. Frank Mir is a grappler, who along with Fabricio Werdum, is hands down one of the best submission artist in mixed martial arts. It’s clear that Hunt will look to avoid getting into any grappling exchanges and keep this one standing. As for Mir, I’m not sure whether he’s going to be smart and get inside on Hunt to grapple him or he’s going to keep this “K1 Mir” act going. I’d strongly advise against it, as Hunt is way more of a threat on the feet than Mir’s last two knockout victims (Antonio Silva, Todd Duffee). Also on the card is a super interesting welterweight bout, featuring two top contenders in Hector Lombard and Neil Magny. The welterweight division is seemingly getting crowded and if George St. Pierre returns, all hell will break loose. Anyways, to the Predictions!
Main Card (Fox Sports 1, 10 p.m. ET)
206-265 lbs: Mark Hunt vs. Frank Mir – I can only see this fight going two ways, as either Mark Hunt knocks Frank Mir out or Frank Mir submits Mark Hunt. It’s your classic striker vs. grappler and it’s all comes down to if Mir can get this fight to the ground. If he can’t, then he enters a world in which Hunt will inflict serious damage on him. Mir, has also been known to not fight to his strengths, which is odd given his experience and that he’s a smart guy. I think a great example of that is against Todd Duffee, where he threw caution to the wind, bit on his mouthpiece and flung leather. Mir surprisingly won that battle and knocked out Todd Duffee , but that’s not the type of fighter Mir is. If you do that against Hunt, just pre-tuck yourself in to bed for the night. I don’t think that’s going to be the case, I actually think Mir will try and grapple with Hunt. However, I believe Hunt will shrug off any of those grappling exchanges and light up Mir on the feet. So, I’m going to pick Mark Hunt to win by knockout in the very first round.
170 lbs: Neil Magny vs. Hector Lombard – What an intriguing bout, as Neil Magny returns to the octagon for his 11th fight in a little over two years. Magny seems to be born from the same cloth as Donald Cerrone, as they are by far the most active UFC fighters in the last few years. Hector Lombard can’t say the same, as he hasn’t fought since January of 2015. Not due to injury, but because he tested positive for anabolic steroids. It’s a shame, given that he’s 38 years old and times dwindling down for him to make a run for UFC Gold. As for the fight, I have Hector Lombard. I just think he’s too well rounded, has more of an ability to finish the fight and is very durable. Magny is great, don’t get me wrong. However, he’s been hittable of late (Lim, Gastelum) and Lombard packs more of punch than any fighter Magny has faced. Magny should use his height and reach to jab away at Lombard to keep him at bay, however the explosiveness of Lombard will create issues there. The only thing I’m banking on, is that the explosiveness after a year off from action is still there. Lombard by KO!
155 lbs: Jake Matthews vs. Johnny Case – This is a battle of two young prospects out of the lightweight division. I’m going to be brief here as I believe Johnny Case will win, on the basis of him being well rounded, experienced and I can notice progression during each fight. Matthews I have no doubt has a bright future, but he’s only 21 years old. He struggled against Akbarh Arreola in his last fight, which is a real turnoff. So, with that, I got Case to win his 13th fight in a row via decision.
185 lbs: Dan Kelly vs. Antônio Carlos Júnior – Every time Dan Kelly fights, it’s just not my cup of tea, as it’s just a sloppy striking contest. It’s also usually against lower tier competition, which isn’t the case here. Antonio Carlos Júnior I believe is a real talent and I could see him outclassing Kelly everywhere. In fact, I would be shocked if Carlos Júnior doesn’t finish Kelly…which is my prediction.
205 lbs: James Te-Huna vs. Steve Bossé – After starting out 5-1 in the UFC, Te-Huna has since dropped three consecutive bouts. He also hasn’t fought since June of 2014, which often is a tough indicator of knowing what your going to get. Bossé is best known for being on the end of vicious head kick knockout by Thiago Santos. It’s also interesting that when the UFC initially signed him, he soon after retired and then came out of retirement to fight for them two years later. In other words, this is the battle of the in-actives. I find this to be a toss up, but I’m going to side with Te-Huna. He’s been in the big dance longer and has had nearly two years to heal from his injuries. While the mileage is high, I think with his back up against the wall, he’s going to avoid a slugfest and fight smart en route to a win.
115 lbs: Bec Rawlings vs. Seohee Ham – This is Bec Rawlings fight to lose, as she’s the bigger, more aggressive and has more an ability to finish the fight. Ham is a technical striker, that I consider to be more well verse in winning rounds (point fighter). Rawlings is not well verse in that aspect, which has already cost her three fights via decision. However, I’m more inclined to pick Rawlings, given that she is training with the UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz. That’s good enough for me, Rawlings via decision.
Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 1, 8 p.m. ET)
170 lbs: Brendan O’Reilly vs. Alan Jouban – I feel for the Aussie here, as while Jouban is certainly flawed, I’m not entirely sure how O’Reilly can win. Jouban is just too dynamic on the feet, that I see this one ending early. So, with that, I got Jouban by first round knockout.
145 lbs: Dan Hooker vs. Mark Eddiva – While it can be stated that both menare similar in some aspects, I think the biggest difference is the strength of competition. Eddiva has dropped two straight against okay fighters, while Hooker has fought Maximo Blanco, Hatsu Hioki and Yair Rodriguez. He’s faired well in each bout, however only defeating Hatsu Hioki. Usually I like fighters with their backs against the wall, which is definitely Eddiva, but Hooker’s heart and determination is unmatched. I think the Aussie defends his home turf, winning via submission!
135 lbs: Leslie Smith vs. Rin Nakai – While I think that Leslie Smith is the smart pick, I’m actually going to side with Rin Nakai. Smith obviously has a drastic height and reach advantage, which could lead to an early knockout. However, I think we could witness a smothering gameplan from Nakai. She’s super strong and is a good grappler, enough to implement a healthy dose of takedowns and top control. Smith is relentless and will attack from the bottom (if she winds up there), so it could lead to some interesting round scoring. I’m not sure exactly why I just don’t pick Smith, but I guess I believe that Nakai’s grappling and pure strength will come up huge here.
170 lbs: Richard Walsh vs. Viscardi Andrade – This is a coin flip, as I’m not entirely impressed with either fighter. Walsh is super sloppy in striking and grappling, while Andrade is equally a mess. I guess the only way to decide this, is to go with the hometown fighter (which helps on the scorecards sometimes). So, I got Walsh via a “slopfest” decision.
Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass, 6:30 p.m. ET)
155 lbs: Ross Pearson vs. Chad Laprise – Fun Fight! I think the UFC is really pushing Fight Pass in the right manner, as they keep headlining it with intriguing fights. As for this fight, it’s going to be all on the feet and I’m more reluctant to side with Ross Pearson. The experience and his technical, yet powerful hands should be the difference here. Plus, he’s due for a win according to his win one, lose one (My Cousin Vinny) pattern.
155 lbs: Alan Patrick vs. Damien Brown – I know nothing of Brown, except for the fact that he’s in trouble in this fight. Patrick is a huge lightweight and is very awkward with his movements. He’s got some power and he can grapple if need be. The win over John Makdessi was good sign of how good Alan Patrick can be, so with that I have Patrick winning via KO.