After a great card last week in Kansas City, Missouri, the UFC is back in action in Nashville, Tennessee. Headlining the card is a pair of Featherweight sluggers in Cub Swanson and Artem Lobov. It’s an odd matchup, in which Swanson is a top five featherweight, whereas Lobov isn’t even sniffing the UFC’s top fifteen rankings. However for Lobov, this is the opportunity of a lifetime. With a mere 13-12 record, to headline a card and fight a top Featherweight and have a chance to catapult themselves into the top five is borderline crazy. It makes me wonder why Cub Swanson took the fight, although he could be looking at this as an easy paycheck and free exposure. A loss though, would be devastating.
Co-Headlining the card, “The Nightmare”, “The Dream”, o wait now “The Lionheart” Diego Sanchez returns to the octagon to take on Al Iaquinta. In what should be an entertaining fight, with the majority of it being on the feet, I think it’s safe to put a side bet that this one has Fight of the Night written all over it. Sanchez, is coming off an impressive victory over Marcin Held. A victory that was definitely needed, as it had appeared that the tank was nearly empty. As for Iaquinta, it’s been a long road back. Injuries and issues with his UFC contract kept him out of action for over two years, even forcing him to be a real estate agent. It kind of sucks too, as Iaquinta had built an impressive four fight win streak with three TKO victories and controversial decision over Jorge Masvidal prior to his leave of absence. With momentum stunted, it should be interesting to see if Iaquinta can shrug the rust off against a veteran like Diego Sanchez.
Anyways, let’s get to the Predictions!
UFC Fight Night 108 Main Card on FOX Sports 1 (10 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Cub Swanson vs. Artem Lobov – I really don’t want to short change Lobov here, as he does have a punchers chance. However, he’s not a proven winner and while he showed massive improvements in his last fight, he was dropped in the third round and almost finished in a fight he was dominating. Anyways, Swanson is clearly the more talented, experienced and overall better fighter. If he chooses not strike, his grappling easily trumps the one-dimensional Lobov. This is of course Cub Swanson we are talking about though, a willing brawler, who is coming off one of the greatest fights I’ve ever seen against Doo Ho Choi.
As for a prediction, I obviously have Swanson. Lobov might think he’s the hardest puncher in the Featherweight division, but wait until he fights a top notch Featherweight like Cub Swanson and feels real power. Lobov bit off more than he can chew and kills his progression with an absolute beatdown at the hands of Swanson. So with that, I got Swanson via second round knockout.
155 lbs.: Al Iaquinta vs. Diego Sanchez – This is a tough fight to call, in which you have a mixed martial arts pioneer in Sanchez, clearly past his prime against a guy who hasn’t fought in over two years in Al Iaquinta. If Iaquinta hadn’t had injury and issues with his UFC contract that forced him out of the sport, he’d potentially be in the mix for fighting for the Lightweight title. I mean, he’s won four straight, with three TKO victories and a decision victory over Jorge Masvidal. You know what, as much as Sanchez is always going to be in the fight, I’m trusting Iaquinta didn’t lose a step since his departure. So with that, I have Iaquinta shaking off the rust en route to a decision victory.
205 lbs.: Marcos Rogerio de Lima vs. Ovince Saint Preux – I find it crazy how De Lima ever fought at Middleweight, as the guy can’t even make Light Heavyweight (205 lbs.) He’s a Heavyweight at this point and he’s sort of a fun fighter, in which you know he’s either going to finish his opponent or get finished in the very first round. It’s probably a combination between having no technique and just winging punches, as well as having a three minute gas tank. So, despite OSP falling on hard times of late with three consecutive defeats, I think he’s got this one in the bag. He just needs to keep distance and avoid the expected bull rush of De Lima, sort of like a Matador. After that, the hometown favorite OSP should easily put away De Lima in round one.
135 lbs.: John Dodson vs. Eddie Wineland – I’ve got Dodson here. I believe that combined with his insane speed and Wineland’s hands down fighting style, it’s going to be a striking clinic. That’s not to say that Wineland can’t catch Dodson, but I just don’t like his style against a high volume in-and-out striker. So with that, I believe Dodson frustrates Wineland and picks him apart en route to a dominant decision victory.
155 lbs.: Joe Lauzon vs. Stevie Ray – This is a tough fight to call. Ray is a distance fighter who doesn’t deal well with pressure fighters, which Lauzon exactly is. However, Lauzon sometimes looks like a punching bag out there or a straight up killer. I guess a real-life Jekyll & Hyde. But, I’m still going to side with him here. I feel like he’s going to be the more active fighter and have more “ooo” moments enough to edge out a decision victory.
170 lbs.: Jake Ellenberger vs. Mike Perry – This fight isn’t going to need the judges, as you have two heavy handed sluggers coming to the plate. Perry I’d probably say is the cleanup hitter, as he’s always looking to knock you out of the park. Ellenberger back in his prime would be batting there, but nowadays I’d have sitting in the five hole. He’s got the power still to do damage, but he’s not a wildman like Perry, who’s always looking for the homerun. Anyways, I’m going to side with Ellenberger. He may not be “The Juggernaut” anymore, but he doesn’t need to be here. He just needs to follow the Alan Jouban gameplan; Keep distance and counter. If he does, I can very well see him countering Perry and turning the lights off. You know what, I got Ellenberger via first round knockout.
UFC Fight Night 108 ‘Prelims’ on FOX Sports 2 (8 p.m. ET):
185 lbs.: Thales Leites vs. Sam Alvey – This should be a good one, as you have two veteran of the sport vying to climb the stacked Middleweight rankings. As for a prediction though, I have Leites. If he’s still got something left in the tank, then I have no doubt he should win this fight. Don’t get me wrong, Alvey is on an impressive four-fight win streak and has heavy hands, but against Marquardt he looked very beatable. He seemed very hesitant to throw hands with his patented power and contempt to engage in the clinch against the fence too often. Leites is a physically strong Middleweight and if he can shore up his cardio issues, he’d be a much better fighter. His striking is serviceable, but his grappling abilities are top notch. If Alvey is contempt to clinch against the fence, he’s going to get reversed and taken down. Something that I think is rinsed and repeated en route to a decision victory by Leites.
125 lbs.: Brandon Moreno vs. Dustin Ortiz – This should be a very closely contested fight, as you have a solid rugged wrestler in Ortiz against a gritty well rounded fighter in Moreno. I’m not sure a finish is going to happen, as both men are very durable. Ortiz, most recently halted a two fight skid, as he was able to edge out Zach Makovsky via split decision. A fight that definitely saved his job, as Makovsky was released soon after the defeat. As for Moreno, other than his early exit on TUF 24, it’s been a really successful UFC tenure. Starting with an upset submission victory over Louis Smolka and then a tough split decision nod over Ryan Benoit, it’s clear Moreno is a talent.
As for a prediction, I have Moreno. He’s a better striker, albeit wild. He’s very aggressive, which could work against him against a wrestler. However, Moreno is an excellent grappler who will offer up submission from his back and he often finds his way back to his feet. With a four inch reach advantage, I could see him picking apart Ortiz, but he needs to keep his distance. It’s something that Moreno doesn’t do often, as he likes a good ole brawl. Anyways, I have Moreno edging this out via split decision.
155 lbs.: Scott Holtzman vs. Michael McBride – I’ve only seen McBride against Lentz, as he fared pretty well early, but then got dominated in the second round. Holtzmann I’ve seen several times and I’ve been impressed by his grappling abilities and even his striking is not bad at times. He seems to enjoy a brawl too, which is always fun. McBride’s striking seemed elementary and if grappling is go-to, I don’t see that even working against Holtzman. This one won’t be pretty, as I have Holtzman winning via a very dominant decision.
115 lbs.: Jessica Penne vs. Danielle Taylor – I’m siding with Penne here. She will be 5 inches taller than Taylor, as well have a sizable 7 inch reach advantage. Also, from what I’ve seen from Taylor, I’m not really impressed. She’s got power in her hands, but she’s very hesitant and is often found circling the cage over ten times in a round like a planet. Penne is a good fighter in my books, as she might not have the best striking abilities, but she makes up for with excellent grappling abilities, submission prowess, ability to take punishment/durability and blood in the water instincts. In other words, this is Penne’s fight to lose, as Taylor offers next to nothing in terms of strikes landed or activity in a fight. So with that, I got Penne via third-round submission.
UFC Fight Night 108 ‘Prelims’ on UFC Fight Pass (6:30 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Cindy Dandois vs. Alexis Davis – This should be an interesting grappling affair between two solid veterans. Dandois, who’s first professional fight was against Marloes Coenen (Decision Victory), finally will make her UFC debut. Winner of three straight, including a solid win over top Featherweight Megan Anderson, Dandois will look to keep the momentum going forward. As for Davis, this will be her seventh fight in the UFC. The one-time title challenger is coming off a rough defeat to Sara McMann, but is still a top ten Bantamweight. Stylistically, this is an even fight, but I’m going with Alexis Davis. It’s not a confident pick, as I think this is bound to be a close fight, but I’m going off the pure grit and toughness of Davis to carry her in a split decision victory.
170 lbs.: Bryan Barberena vs. Joe Proctor – Fun fight, but I have Barberena here. He’s one of those fighters that whatever they lack in skill, they make up in toughness and the ability to stay around in the later rounds. He’s a workhorse when it comes to pace and cardio, a key ingredient in which has allowed him to comeback in several of victories. The only path for Proctor to defeat Barberena is an early submission, otherwise he’s going to succumb to the pace. I choose the later, as I have Barberena winning this via 3rd round TKO.
125 lbs.: Hector Sandoval vs. Matt Schnell – Don’t know too much about either, other than I believe Schnell was on one of the Ultimate Fighters. Anyways, I got him winning this via decision.