The UFC is back in action, as they begin their tour of eleven events in eleven weeks starting with UFC Fight Night 118 in Gdańsk, Poland. Headlining the card are two top notch strikers in UFC staple Donald Cerrone and rising talent Darren Till.
When announced, fans clamored over why Donald Cerrone was fighting a relatively unknown commodity in Darren Till. The reasoning also stemmed from a UFC rankings point of view, basically stating that this fight does nothing for Cerrone, but is huge for Till. However, in my opinion, this is a fun stylistic fight. Why have we strayed from making these types of fights, the one’s in which has the potential for major fireworks. The UFC rankings and everyone including mine are off anyways, as it’s completely subjective. Cerrone vs. Till is the fights we need to making more of and I’m just mad that this potential barnburner is going far under the radar.
Anyways, let’s get to the Predictions!
UFC Fight Night 118 Main Card (3 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Donald Cerrone vs. Darren Till – I can’t wait for this fight! I mean, where is the love? Stylistically we have two strikers who are going to go toe to toe with each other for potentially five rounds. Everyone get’s caught up in “Names” and yes Till is relatively unknown, but he’s a killer. You just don’t go 15-0-1 because you suck…
Anyways, although I could see Till upset Cerrone, I’m not siding that way. I believe that experience and the fact that Cerrone has fought best-of-the-best, as well as fought and defeated rising talent before is a huge factor in this fight. Remember when Myles Jury was all rave and stepped into the octagon with a perfect 15-0 record against Donald Cerrone? Well, Cerrone dominated Jury. While I don’t think he does the same against Till, as I see a competitive fight for the first three rounds. However in those championship rounds, I believe that Till will fade and Cerrone’s pace and pressure will break Till. So with that, I have Cerrone via knockout in the 4th round.
115 lbs.: Jodie Esquibel vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz – I know Esquibel comes from Invicta where she was pretty successful, but fighting a talent like Kowalkiewicz is a totally different ballgame. In my opinion, Kowalkiewicz takes this fight wherever she wants and eventually submits Esquibel in the later rounds.
205 lbs.: Jan Blachowicz vs. Devin Clark – Blachowicz is 1-4 in his last five fights and desperately needs to win in order to stay in the UFC. Clark on the other hand has bounced back since losing his UFC debut by winning two straight fights. While I should side with Clark, as he’s a wrestler and Blachowicz has struggled against really anyone who can set up a takedown. I just believe that I’ve seen improvements in Blachowicz to suggest that he can keep this one on the feet and finish Clark on the feet. If you’ve seen Blachowicz’s fight against Alexander Gustafsson, he actually was the better striker and forced Gustafsson to turn into a wrestler. Anyways, like I said, I’ve got Blachowicz via knockout.
185 lbs.: Oskar Piechota vs. Jonathan Wilson – Based on the trajectory of Jonathan Wilson and the fact that Oskar Piechota is mowing down opponents within the first round, I’m going to have to side with the promotional newcomer Piechota. After watching a couple of his fights, his grappling abilities aren’t too bad and his power is legit. I’m actually excited to see his debut and as I’ve already stated, I’ve got Piechota. Let’s go by knockout in the first round.
UFC Fight Night 118 Prelims (12 p.m. ET):
155 lbs.: Marcin Held vs. Nasrat Haqparast – Held is too talented to lose four consecutive fights in the UFC. At 25 years of age, Held has plenty of time to grow, but he must win in order to stay in the UFC. I think he should easily win this one though, as Haqparast is jumping in on short notice and hasn’t fought any quality competition. So with that, I have Held taking this one via submission
135 lbs.: Brian Kelleher vs. Damian Stasiak – I’m conflicted in this prediction, as I’ve seen Kelleher go into Brazil and beat Iuri Alcantara via submission in the first round. Then when he fought on home soil in Long Island, he faltered via submission to Marlon Vera. It’s a mixed bag, just like his opponent Damian Stasiak. A fighter who is excellent on the feet with his karate background and on his back looks formidable to submit foes. However, Stasiak can’t stop a takedown and that’s ultimately where Kelleher will capitalize in this fight. This one should be close, but I’ll take the wrestler and better grappler to win this fight via split decision.
185 lbs.: Ramazan Emeev vs. Sam Alvey – I’m very high on the UFC signing Emeev, as he’s got enough talent to quickly rise up the Middleweight division. However, this is a tough debut, as Sam Alvey is not to be taken lightly. He’s got legit power in his hands, but his hesitancy to throw strikes has cost him in several fights. It’s going to cost him here too, as Emeev’s aggression and pace is going to be enough on the scorecards to get him the nod.
145 lbs.: Andre Fili vs. Artem Lobov – This is a toss-up and at first I was siding with Lobov based on his toughness, power, forward pressure and Fili’s inabilities to mix in takedowns with his striking. However, Fili will have a massive 9 inch reach advantage and I could see the Team Alpha Male product constantly circling away while peppering Lobov with his jab. That’s unless Fili decides to fight reckless, which has often seen him on the wrong end of a highlight reel finish. Let’s hope for my prediction’s sake, as I’ve got Fili via decision.
170 lbs.: Salim Touahri vs. Warlley Alves – Never head of Touahari, but it’s a huge opportunity and a major step up in competition. The last part is going to be his downfall, as Alves is on another level and is a very talented fighter that’s desperate to get back into the win column. Cardio issues aside, Alves shouldn’t need the full three rounds to get this done. So with that, I got Alves via submission.
135 lbs.: Aspen Ladd vs. Lina Lansberg – Don’t know too much about either women, except for the fact that Lansberg got smoked by Cyborg and then she was awarded a decision victory that should of went the other way. In fact, I’m going the other way here. Ladd via decision.
145 lbs.: Felipe Arantes vs. Josh Emmett – When Emmett stormed onto the UFC scene with two consecutive wins, I thought this Team Alpha Male product might be the real deal. However, when he fought promitional newcomer Desmond Green, a weakness was pointed out for me. If Emmett can’t get the takedown, on the feet he could be technically outpointed. Which is exactly what I can see Arantes doing, as I have him pulling off the upset via decision.