UFC Fight Night 103 will mark the first UFC event of 2017 and oddly enough, it will be headlined by a legend who is coming out of retirement over two years later in B.J. Penn against perhaps the UFC’s best prospect in Yair Rodriguez. Penn, returns to the octagon for the first time since the beatdown he endured to Frankie Edgar back in July of 2014. He looked a shell of himself in that fight and retirement had seemed like the only choice. However, he’s taken time off, paired up with top trainer Greg Jackson and is talking about making another run. As for Rodriguez, this will be an opportunity to not only add a legend to his resume, but continue to sour up the Featherweight rankings. The TUF: Latin America winner is undefeated in the UFC, notching already five wins. His style is must watch, as his unpredictability offers pure excitement. Surprisingly, it’s only resulted in one knockout in the UFC, but boy was it a highlight.
Co-Headlining the card, is UFC veteran and submission expert Joe Lauzon taking on a young fellow submission expert in Marcin Held. Stylistically, this fight has the makings to be an exciting grappling affair with plenty of submission attempts.
Anyways let’s get to the Predictions!
FOX Sports 1 Main Card (10 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Yair Rodriguez vs. B.J. Penn – Who would of thunk, that B.J. Penn would not only come out of retirement, but he would accept a bout against a rising talent in Yair Rodriguez. Penn, who’s 38 years old has nothing left to prove, he’s already a UFC Hall-of-Famer and legend of the sport. However, he’s rested up for over two years and paired with one of the best trainers in Greg Jackson to make this comeback fight. It’s really hard what to expect from Penn, but it’s got be a whole lot better than what he looked like in his last outing. As for Rodriguez, he’s the best prospect in the UFC and is certainly a fighter that will put butts in seats once he becomes more known. His dynamic striking abilities and unpredictability makes for pure entertainment. It’s also earned him five wins in the UFC and has him closing in on the top ten of the division.
As for a prediction, while this screams like an easy win for Rodriguez especially considering Penn’s last performance, inactivity and age…I think otherwise. Penn has always been a fighter with more talent than anyone, but because he chose to stay in Hawaii and train with lesser known trainers and fighters, it’s hampered his career. He’s now at Jackson-WinkleJohn’s and I’m certain they straightened him out and he seems motivated…which you know a motivated B.J. Penn is unstoppable. So I’m going old-school here and siding with Penn, via decision.
155 lbs.: Joe Lauzon vs. Marcin Held – Stylistically, this is going to be an awesome fight. Both men are solid grapplers, who are always on the prowl for submissions. Lauzon, who is tied for the most UFC bonuses, is almost guaranteed to deliver an exciting fight. His last fight, fellow veteran Jim Miller edged out a split decision victory in a “Fight of the Night”. Held, the former Bellator superstar made an unsuccessful UFC debut against Diego Sanchez. He was thoroughly beaten on the feet and neutralized on the ground. His patented leg lock never came to fruition and lost him the positional battle. As for a prediction, I’m siding with Lauzon. He’s a much better striker and should easily shrug off Held’s leg lock attempts. So with that, Lauzon via decision.
170 lbs.: Court McGee vs. Ben Saunders – Fun fight, but there is only one route of victory for McGee in this fight. He has to implement a heavy dose of take downs and neutralize Saunders active guard. He has to make it an ugly and boring fight. As for Saunders, he’s got the striking advantage and his grappling skills are some of the very best in the division. And as I mentioned, he’s got an active guard, which has caught several opponents in submissions. With more routes to win, I’m going with Saunders to win via submission.
125 lbs.: John Moraga vs. Sergio Pettis – Originally, Pettis was supposed to face flyweight contender Jussier Formiga, which wasn’t the best of matchups. Formiga would pull out due to an injury and in stepped John Moraga. Another tough matchup and one that I don’t think Pettis is ready for yet. Moraga is a formidable striker with heavy hands and is equipped with a sneaky guillotine choke if you attempt to take him down. Pettis is a talent and is well rounded, but I haven’t seen anything in which he superior in. So with that said, I’m siding with Moraga to take this one via submission.
FOX Sports 1 “Prelims” (8 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Augusto Mendes vs. Frankie Saenz – If you recall, Mendes is the guy who took a short notice fight against the now-UFC Bantamweight Champion Cody Garbrandt? Bad call and another in taking this fight. Saenz is a known commodity in the bantamweight division, having fought Urijah Faber and beating Iuri Alcantara. Poor Mendes…Saenz takes this via decision.
265 lbs.: Oleksiy Oliynyk vs. Viktor Pesta – The last time Oliynyk graced the octagon, Daniel Omeilanczuk defeated him in a slop fest decision. The loss ended an 11-fight win streak, two of which came in the UFC. As for Pesta, it’s almost a guarantee that he needs a win to keep his job. He’s been on the end of two vicious knockout defeats and overall holds a 1-3 record in the UFC. As for a prediction, I’m siding with Oliynyk. He may be 13 years older than Pesta, but he’s a far superior grappler and if his cardio is better this time out, he should have no issue in this fight. So with that, I have Oliynyk via submission.
155 lbs.: Tony Martin vs. Alex White – I used to think that Alex White might be an up-and-coming talent, but he appears more of a mid-tier lightweight. Martin isn’t any better, but he’s a huge lightweight and his grappling is very sharp. I think he’s going to easily impose his strength on White, out grappling him to an eventual submission victory.
155 lbs.: Drakkar Klose vs. Devin Powell – Never heard of Drakkar Klose, but I do know who Devin Powell is due to Dana White’s show “Looking for a Fight”. From what I saw, he’s not the most athletic guy or overwhelmingly talented, but he’s got grit and toughness which allow him to eventually weather the storm on his opponents. So with that, I’m going with the known and siding with Powell via decision.
UFC Fight Pass “Prelims” (6 p.m. ET):
115 lbs.: Nina Ansaroff vs. Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger – The featured bout of the prelims is a somewhat intriguing one, as we have two strikers. However, although Jones-Lybarger is super durable and has gotten a rough draw in her two UFC fights, Ansaroff is going to be too quick in this bout. Her quickness is going to lead to a very thorough decision victory.
265 lbs.: Walt Harris vs. Chase Sherman – Another bottom tier Heavyweight bout, which could result in a early knockout or a long dragged out and boring decision victory. As for the winner, I’m going to side with Walt Harris, although I keep rewinding that headkick knockout he endured to now Light Heavyweight Nikita Krylov. Anyways, Harris has fought better competition and seems to be somewhat improving each bout. So with that, Harris via decision.
205 lbs.: Joachim Christensen vs. Bojan Mihajlovic – Gosh this preliminary card is brutal, um I guess Christensen on the account that Mihajlovic got smashed by Francis Ngganou in like a minute. So with that, Christensen via TKO.
265 lbs.: Cyril Asker vs. Dmitrii Smoliakov – This has to be the absolute bottom of the Heavyweight division, which is why I have little to no clue who these two men are. The coin flip goes to Smoliakov, who wins by KO!