UFC FIGHT NIGHT 101 “Whittaker vs. Brunson” PRIMER: Ecochard’s fight by fight preview of Saturday night’s event

By Matthew Ecochard, MMATorch contributor

The UFC’s trek through the end of the year continues this Saturday night when Robert Whittaker takes on the hot-streaking Derek Brunson. The bouts will start at 6:30 p.m. EST on UFC Fight Pass, continue to Fox Sports 1 at 8 p.m. EST, and the main bouts will occur starting at 10 p.m. EST on Fox Sports 1. The following are previews and predictions for the entire card:

UFC Fight Pass Prelims

Yao Zhikui (2-3) vs. Jenel Lausa (6-2) – Flyweight Bout:

While he hasn’t beaten any world beaters, Jenel Lausa’s last three opponents have winning records so he hasn’t been beating cans either. Yao Zhikui was a participant on TUF: China, but lost in the semi finals. He isn’t particularly strong on the feet but has some submission skills. Lausa shouldn’t have much trouble winning this fight anywhere it goes and I would be really surprised with a Zhikui win here.

Prediction: Jenel Lausa via Unanimous Decision

Marlon Vera (7-3-1) vs. Ning Guangyou (5-3-1) – Bantamweight Bout

In a fight where the loser may be leaving town Marlon Vera will square off against China’s Ning Guangyou. Vera is a BJJ black belt and is definitely going to be taking this fight to the ground. Guangyou is more standup oriented than anything else. This is a striker vs. grappler match up of lower quality proportions. Guangyou isn’t too hard to take down so look for him to be taken down and finished off.

Prediction: Marlon Vera via Submission Round 1

Dan Hooker (14-6) vs. Jason Knight (17-2) – Featherweight Bout

Dan Hooker has been consistent in alternating wins and losses in his UFC career thus far but he hopes to break that trend and get a second straight win against Jason Knight. Hooker has a nice Muay Thai game complimented by solid submissions skills. He just doesn’t always seem to put it all together, but if he is on point he can really be trouble for his opponents. Jason Knight had a tough first bout in the UFC against Tatsuya Kawajiri in which he lost a decision, but he beat Jim Alers in his last bout. Knight owns some crazy submission wins with a gogoplata and an inverted triangle choke. Knight definitely wants to take this to the ground where he will have the advantage. This bout should be an entertaining grappling match with Knight just taking the lead and pulling out a submission in the middle of the bout.

Prediction: Jason Knight via Submission Round 2

Fox Sports 1 Prelims

(#15) Ben Nguyen (15-6) vs. Geanne Herrera (9-2) – Flyweight Bout

Two flyweights look to rebound from tough losses and come back near the top 15. Ben Nguyen is a very strong Taekwondo fighter with good takedown defense and improving BJJ. He lost last time out to ranked #11 fighter Louis Smolka. Geanne Herrera has faced some tough competition in the UFC and sandwiched a win over Joby Sanchez in between losses to Ray Borg and Ali Bagautinov. Herrera should have the advantage on the ground if he gets the fight there, standing he might be in for a long night. The fight should be a real MMA fight with the bout going to the ground at some point. Herrera is tough so I don’t expect a stoppage, but Nguyen should be the more technical fighter here.

Prediction: Ben Nguyen via Unanimous Decision

Rich Walsh (9-5) vs. Jonathan Meunier (7-1) – Welterweight Bout

In what should be a mostly striking fight between Richard Walsh and Jonathan Meunier one should have a pretty clean advantage. Richard Walsh needs to fight for his career here because he will certainly be cut if he loses and goes to a 2-4 record in the UFC. Walsh is a good striker but doesn’t have much of a ground game and hasn’t been able to translate his striking to MMA too well. Meunier lost his first UFC bout to a high level wrestler, against someone in the style of Walsh, he will likely have more success. Look for Meunier to bully Walsh and earn a stoppage early on.

Prediction: Jonathan Meunier via TKO Round 1

Damien Brown (16-9) vs. Jon Tuck (9-3) – Lightweight Bout

Damien Brown and Jon Tuck could both be fighting to keep their spots on the rosters. Tuck is 3-3 in the UFC and Brown is 1-1. Jon Tuck has a fun all around game but definitely is best on the ground and is where he got two of his three UFC wins from. His performance over Jake Lindsey was his best where he finished the fight with heel kicks to his body, making Lindsey submit. Brown looked strong in his last bout, pushing the action and landing a nasty right hook multiple times in the first round. If Tuck can take down Brown he has been susceptible to submissions. Their styles are similar but Tuck has the better skill set and less holes in his game, look for a tough battle here.

Prediction: Jon Tuck via Split Decision

Daniel Kelly (11-1) vs. Chris Camozzi (24-11) – Middleweight Bout

Besides a loss to Bruno Santos, Chris Camozzi has really only lost to the highest level of athletes in the UFC’s middleweight divison. Daniel Kelly has only one loss in the octagon to Sam Alvey and was pretty impressive in his victory over Antonio Carlos Junior. Camozzi is a Muay Thai fighter, but really mixes in takedowns and submission attempts to round out his game. Judo is the base for Daniel Kelly, but for a man aged 39, he is still improving his striking and submission skills. This bout should be a fun scrap, but it’s hard to say Kelly will get the better of the younger Camozzi because he isn’t the same level of mixed martial artist that his losses came against. This could go either way, but I’d swing with Camozzi’s veteran skills here.

Prediction: Chris Camozzi via Unanimous Decision

Fox Sports 1 Main Card

Seohee Ham (16-7) vs. Danielle Taylor (7-2) – Women’s Strawweight Bout

Technically speaking Seohee Ham should be one of the best fighters in the division at 115 lbs, the problem being is that she is naturally a 105 lb fighter. The size of Ham is keeping her from excelling with her excellent kickboxing game as she can just be bullied around in this weight class. Luckillly for Ham, Danielle Taylor is primarily a striker as well and should allow for Ham to implement her game plan. Taylor is fairly skilled on the feet but Ham should be just a hair better overall and be able to fight her own fight.

Prediction: Seohee Ham via Unanimous Decision

Khalil Rountree (5-1) vs. Tyson Pedro (4-1) – Light Heavyweight Bout

Khalil Rountree was hyped enormously by Anderson Silva prior to his stint on the Ultimate Fighter reality series, but during the show he didn’t quite live up to the hype. His standup is some of the scariest in the division just based on power and brute strength alone. Tyson Pedro is a relative unknown, but his strength is certainly in his grappling and submissions shown by his victory over Don Endermann in the Australian Fighting Championship promotion. Pedro will certainly come out looking for a takedown. If Rountree keeps it standing he should make quick work of Pedro, if Pedro gets the takedown same can be said for him. This bout won’t last too long and I’m seeing an improved wrestling game of Rountree to keep it standing.

Prediction: Khalil Rountree via KO Round 1

Yusuke Kasuya (9-2-2) vs. Alex Volkanovski (13-1) – Lightweight Bout

The debuting striker Alex Volkanovski gets a chance to impressive in his home country of Australia against the grappler Yusuke Kasuya. Volkanovski is a solid prospect who is a monster in close range battles, he loves to take down his opponent and put out ruthless ground in pound and hard shots in the clinch. Kasuya is a relentless grappler and will not stop until he grabs an arm or locks in a choke.
Kasuya lost his debut to the bigger and stronger Hein and he will most likely have some similar issues against Volkanovski. Look for Volkanovski to be the aggressor and finish this bout late.

Prediction: Alex Volkanovski via TKO Round 3

Kyle Noke (22-9) vs. Omari Akhmedov (15-4) – Welterweight Bout

While other bouts might be loser leaves town, this one most definitely should be as both Kyle Noke and Omari Akhmedov are on two fight losing streaks already. Both of these men have similar styles and can really take the fight anywhere. Akhmedov is more likely to still have something left in the tank at this point in his career. Noke may knock him out though as he will be surrounded by his people in Australia. Look for the homeland to rally behind Noke and inspire a KO.

Prediction: Kyle Noke via TKO Round 2

Jake Matthews (11-2) vs. Andrew Holbrook (11-1) – Lightweight Bout

This is a very well made co-main event with two prospects who have struggled to get into the rankings in the UFC. Holbrook is a strict submission expert who can submit nearly anybody if he gets them down into his realm. Matthews is the more complete martial artist where his skills are pretty fluent everywhere and not just in one particular area. He would definitely prefer to stay standing and battle it out there against the dangerous grappling of Holbrook. Matthews is still a very green prospect at age 22 and win or lose here will continue to grow. Look for a finish to this bout as both love to go for it and I’m guessing Matthews can counter the Holbrook offensive and finish the bout.

Prediction: Jake Matthews via Submission Round 1

(#7) Robert Whittaker (17-4) vs. (#8) Derek Brunson (16-3) – Middleweight Main Event (5 Rounds):

Both of the men in the main event are on five fight win streaks and will really be a fight away from a title fight with a win here. Robert Whittaker and Derek Brunson are both primarily strikers, but can wrestle if necessary. Their styles are similar and they both fight exciting fights with the intent to finish. The question here is who the better man is and who can implement their game plan better. Whittaker is more of a technical boxer and if he gets into his rhythm he will knockout his opponent. Brunson is the slicker striker who can sneakily counter and outstrike opponents. Lately Brunson has become more aggressive and he hits very hard leading to four first round knockouts in a row. This fight is a very close fight and while Whittaker is savvier he may have a hard time bullying around the large Brunson. Look for a fast paced main event and a finish certainly before 5 rounds.

Prediction: Derek Brunson via KO Round 1


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