If UFC Fight Night 116 proved anything, it’s that the most overlooked cards without star power can absolutely deliver. I mean, eight of the ten bouts resulted in finishes, with definite highlight reel material. So, could we potentially be in for an encore at UFC Fight Night 117? I think yes!
Headlining the card is once promising Light Heavyweight contender Ovince St. Preux, who looks to make it two straight victories against returning UFC veteran Yushin Okami. On August 8th, 2015, Ovince St. Preux was believed to be a definite contender and potential threat to Jon Jones in the Light Heavyweight Division. However, Glover Teixeira would halt that talk, as OSP was finished in the 3rd round. The next five fights would see OSP regress, as he lost three of them. As for Okami, it’s been over four years since he last fought in the UFC. A knockout defeat at the hands of Jacare Souza, saw the eighteen UFC fight veteran surprisingly get cut. With a 13-5 UFC record and title challenge under his belt, you best believe that Okami has the experience and whereabouts of how exactly to edge out victories.
Anyways, let;s just get to the predictions!
UFC Fight Night 117 Main Card on FXX (10 p.m. ET):
205 lbs.: Ovince Saint Preux vs. Yushin Okami – I appreciate Okami for stepping in and getting back into the UFC like this, but this won’t be pretty. Even despite a regressed OSP, his athleticism and sheer size advantage will finish this one inside one. No discredit to Okami, but he’s been fighting at Welterweight (170 lbs) his past five fights and will make the jump up 35 lbs to Light Heavyweight. That’s pretty ridiculous!
Okami’s a grappler and without a size or strength advantage, he won’t be able to implement his game. He’s basically got to shoot his shot early and go for broke to get this one the mat, otherwise and what’s going to my prediction, he’s going to be matted on his back via knockout.
115 lbs.: Jessica Andrade vs. Claudia Gadelha – Love this fight, but I’m siding with Gadelha. I think her strength at Strawweight is unmatched and her striking at times is awkward, but effective. She’s got a granite chin and if she somehow get this fight to ground, her top control is smothering and dangerous. Andrade is a brute, as she uses her granite chin to walk down opponents and implement her volume striking. However, her toughness will be tested against the cage and perhaps the mat, as I fully expect Gadelha to bring it. A win here would warrant a third crack at Joanna Champion and one in which be another classic. So with that, I got Gadelha via decision.
155 lbs.: Takanori Gomi vs. Dong Hyun Kim – Honestly, this fight is sad. Gomi should clearly retire, as he’s lost four straight fights via submission or T/KO in the first round. The “Fireball Kid” has nothing left to prove in an already decorated career that saw him once regarded as the number one Lightweight on the planet. However, he wishes to continue to fight and it’s against a kill or be killed fighter in Dong Hyun Kim. The tough as nails striker has only one UFC victory, but has already established himself as a brawler with a chin on him. Please watch his fight against Polo Reyes for reference.
Anyways, I should go with the easy pick and side with DHK via knockout, but maybe Gomi comes into this bout
juiced to the gills with extra incentive on retiring on a win in his home country of Japan. Gomi via KO!
205 lbs.: Henrique da Silva vs. Gokhan Saki – I really should pick da Silva here, as his route to victory can easily be obtained via grappling. However, he’s lost three straight fights and was brutally knocked out in his last outing by Ion Cutelaba. I expect more of the same for “Frankenstein”, as the UFC looks to showcase Saki in this fight. Prepare to watch striking at it’s best, as Saki knocked out da Silva in the first round.
145 lbs.: Rolando Dy vs. Teruto Ishihara – What the hell happened to Ishihara? I used to be so high on him, as his tenacity and constant forward pressure used to break opponents. Instead, he’s getting broken a 38 year old Gray Maynard who was 1-5 in his last six heading into that bout. The regression of Ishihara is scary, but this is the right opponent to turn it around. Dy isn’t going to throw awkward strikes to set up constant takedowns like Gray Maynard. He’s going to get walked down and knocked out, resulting in Ishihara grabbing the microphone in his post-fight interview and telling the quiet and respectful Japanese crowd “I love my Japan bitches”. Again, my prediction is Ishihara via KO!
125 lbs.: Jussier Formiga vs. Ulka Sasaki – This is a fight in which Formiga needs to desperately win in order to ever contend for the belt. He’s been way too inconsistent, as he’s gone 5-4 inside the octagon. Oddly enough, every opponent he’s lost to in the UFC, has gone on to fight for the title in their next fight. That would mean he’s already dropped four title eliminators…
Anyways, Sasaki surprised in his last fight against Justin Scoggins. In a fight that was more competitive than I thought, Sasaki eventually slapped on rear-naked choke to complete the upset. However, he’s 2-3 in the UFC and the majority of his losses came against grapplers. Sasaki himself is a grappler, but Leandro Issa and Wilson Reis proved to be more superior. Formiga is a one of the most decorated grapplers in the Flyweight division and his striking is starting to come around. I expect Formiga to control wherever he wants to fight and eventually slap on a submission victory late in the third when Sasaki goes for broke.
UFC Fight Night 117 Prelims on FXX (8 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Alex Morono vs. Keita Nakamura – This is a tough fight to call and could very well be your fight of the night. Morono is a solid striker, who uses his footwork and volume striking to pick apart foes. On the other hand, Nakamura has a very awkward and rugged fighting style. On the feet, he’s nothing special, but he’s tough and is very willing to take a shot to give one back. However, his bread and butter is his top notch grappling abilities. If he Nakamura can take Morono down, his top control is mothering and submission prowess is dangerous.
Again, this a tough fight to call, but I got Nakamura edging out a decision victory. With a 27-1-1 record in Japan, I’ll take that success and potentially a hometown discount from the judges.
115 lbs.: Chan-Mi Jeon vs. Syuri Kondo – Who and Who? Kondo via decision.
170 lbs.: Shinsho Anzai vs. Luke Jumeau – I expect Anzai to implement a heavy dose of wrestling, with the key of making this fight an ugly grappling match. However, Anzai’s wrestling is too predictable and Jumeau just dealt with a physically strong wrestler in Dominique Steele. So with that, I believe Jumeau will keep the action on the feet and finish Anzai via TKO!
170 lbs.: Daichi Abe vs. Hyun Gyu Lim – After Lim impressed against Tarec Saffiedine back at UFC Fight Night 34, I really thought he could become a force. I mean, Lim’s a massive Welterweight, standing at 6’2 with a reach of 79 inches. He’s got dynamite in hands, as he’s showed in his three UFC victories. He’s also got porous striking defense, as he’s gotten viciously knocked out in his last two fights. Quite frankly, Lim is turning into a kill or be killed fighter. Fun for the fans, but the best strategy for longevity…
As for a prediction, I expect a more technical Lim, with his power eventually ending the fight late in the first round. His UFC career hangs in the balance!