Before UFC 206 this Saturday night, we have the UFC’s second trip to New York State this month on Friday night when they come to Albany with a card headlined by Derrick Lewis vs. Shamil Abdurakhimov. The entire card will be shown on UFC’s Fight Pass Subscription service. Previews and predictions for the entire card follow:
UFC Fight Pass Early Prelims
(#15) Juliana Lima (8-3) vs. JJ Aldrich (4-1) – Womens’ Strawweight Bout
It’s hard to know where Juliana Lima stands in the strawweight division because her wins were against unranked opponents and her losses were to the champion and number three contender and former champion. She has solid striking and grappling but can be outclassed by someone who is stronger in either of those areas. JJ Aldrich has strong Taekwondo, but hasn’t been challenged against higher levels of competition. Lima will be Aldrich’s biggest test to date, but stylistically the match-up should favor Lima here. Aldrich’s style is much like Nina Ansaroff’s so look for a similar fight to play out here.
Prediction: Julianna Lima via Unanimous Decision
Keith Berish (5-0, 1NC) vs. Ryan Janes (8-1) – Middleweight Bout
After a setback Ryan Janes is finally making his UFC debut after a year long layoff against undefeated fighter Keith Berish. Janes is dangerous on the ground with seven submission wins out of his eight total victories. The rear-naked choke is the favorite weapon of Janes with all his submission wins coming way of it, except for one due to strikes. Keith Berish is also competing for the first time in quite awhile with his last bout happening summer of 2014 in a NC (originally a loss) to Robert Drysdale. The striking and grappling of Berish are solid but he hasn’t stood out anywhere and he on the shorter side even for a middleweight. Ryan Janes should be the better fighter and will look to get to the ground and be the first official loss for Berish.
Prediction: Ryan Janes via Submission Round 1
Frankie Perez (10-2) vs. Marc Diakiese (10-0) – Lightweight Bout
Frankie Perez retired from the game at age 26 and now at age 27 he will make his comeback. Perez has some good striking but an even better wrestling and BJJ game. Training with the likes of Frankie Edgar, Edson Barboza and Eddie Alvarez is only going to strengthen your game so Perez has the assets available for him. Marc Diakiese impressed in his debut by knocking out Lukasz Sajewski in the second round something no one had done until that point. If Diakiese can keep the fight standing he can surely get a KO win against Perez, but he needs to keep on his feet, something he struggled to do against Sajewski. Look for a slow Perez to come out after not fighting for over a year and the fresh Diakiese to have gotten past any octagon jitters and put on a clinic here.
Prediction: Marc Diakiese via TKO Round 1
Tiago Trator (20-5-2, 1NC) vs. Shane Burgos (7-0) – Featherweight Bout
Two well rounded fighters go at it in the featherweight division. Tiago Trator has looked good in his UFC fights besides being caught and beat up by Mike de la Torre. Shane Burgos has been made out to be a strong prospect, being physically strong, young and tall for the weight class has given him the proper attributes for success. Burgos is still very green and is taking on a long fight veteran early in his career, but he has beaten some tough fighters already and could very well pull off an upset here. Trator will likely try to make this a tedious bout, but Burgos will bring the excitement.
Prediction: Shane Burgos via Submission Round 2
Andrew Sanchez (9-2) vs. Trevor Smith (14-6) – Middleweight Bout
Ultimate Fighter competitor Andrew Sanchez is dropping down a weight class to take on middle of the pack, gritty middleweight Trevor Smith. Sanchez has a smothering style and some power in his punches. Smith has some good wrestling and BJJ skills, but in the UFC he hasn’t shown much of his BJJ. Smith doesn’t have the best stand-up and hasn’t proven to be much of a threat to his opponents there. Sanchez could take the fight down and grind it out, but he is probably the better fighter on the feet so he might decide to keep it standing. No matter where the bout takes place, Smith will most likely come out with his fourth UFC loss.
Prediction: Andrew Sanchez via TKO Round 1
Joe Gigliotti (7-1) vs. Gerald Meerschaert (24-8) – Middleweight Bout:
Joe Gigliotti will look to get back to his winning ways after an extremely disappointing UFC debut. Gigliotti is young and may have succumbed to the first UFC fight jitters because prior to his loss he had a very impressive seven fight win streak. Gerald Meerschaert is a longtime veteran of the sport and is finally getting a shot in the UFC here. The strongest part of Meerschaert’s game by far is his submissions, being able to finish off opponents with the likes of arm-triangles, kimuras and triangle chokes he can catch his opposition with just about anything. Gigliotti will hopefully look better in this bout than his debut bout, but until he shows some sort of promise he will be looked at as the underdog by me.
Prediction: Gerald Meerschaert via Submission Round 1
Randy Brown (8-1) vs. Brian Camozzi (7-2) Welterweight Bout
In what should be one of the most even matches of the night Randy Brown will look to keep have a win streak for the first time in the UFC against newcomer Brian Camozzi. Both of these fighters can strike, wrestle and roll well. Camozzi and Brown both are young, tall and slender fighters. The comparison leaves these two fighters looking to be very similar and it is hard to say who has the advantage, if there is much of one for either fighter. Brown will likely have a slight edge in striking and Camozzi should have a similar edge on the ground. In a bout that’s a toss up, look for a tough decision victory and I’m leaning towards the man with the UFC experience.
Prediction: Randy Brown via Split Decision
Justine Kish (5-0) vs. Ashley Yoder (4-1) – Women’s’ Strawweight Bout
UFC newcomer Ashley Yoder is a lighter Ronda Rousey of sorts with her ability to get the armbar victory in the vast majority of her fights. Her judo and other skills might not be as quality as Rousey’s but she can definitely end a fight with her submissions. Justine Kish is an accomplished kickboxer who has looked pretty sharp in her MMA fights so far as well. Her bouts so far have shown she is learning out to grapple and can hold her own in that department. If the fight stays standing it will be all Kish, if it goes to the ground, Yoder should be able to get yet another armbar victory. In a grappler vs. striker match, I tend to lean towards the established grappler.
Prediction: Ashley Yoder via Submission Round 1
UFC Fight Pass Main Card
(#15) Gian Villante (14-7) vs. Saparbek Safarov (8-0) – Light Heavyweight Bout
Number 15 ranked Gian Villante has been fairly inconsistent in his UFC career which can be seen in the fact that he beat Corey Anderson last year, but is ranked below him this year. The striking of Villante has always been his strong suit with a kickboxing style that meets a high school wrestling background. Villante stumbles when he is outclassed technically or is not being the more active fighter. The debuting Saparbek Safarov is a hard stylistic match for Villante. He he also likes to strike and has beaten fighters with more experience than Villante. Safarov could pull off the upset here, but look for the UFC veteran to pick up another win in a fun battle.
Prediction: Gian Vllante via Unanimous Decision
(#9) Corey Anderson (9-2) vs. Sean O’Connell (17-8) – Light Heavyweight Bout
It looks like to me that the UFC wants Sean O’Connell gone, why else would they want to pit him against a top ten competitor when he has lost his last two bouts and is 2-4 overall in the UFC already. O’Connell likes to make fights gritty and doesn’t mind trading away to earn fight of the night honors. He has some overall decent skills, but definitely prefers the striking game. Corey Anderson’s gameplan is simple, take the fght down and wrestle his opponent into giving up. Anderson is willing to stand and trade and can normally hold his own, but his fights play out better for him if he just takes down his opponent and grinds away. There isn’t much of a chance for O’Connell here so expect a full fifteen minutes.
Prediction: Corey Anderson via Unanimous Decision
(#12) Francis Ngannou (8-1) vs. Anthony Hamilton (15-5) – Heavyweight Bout
The monster that is Francis Ngannou hopes to keep trucking through his opponents when he faces Jackson Wink fighter Anthony Hamilton. Ngannou is such a freak athlete in that he can move incredibly fast and has huge power that he uses in combination to overwhelm his opposition. Although he hasn’t shown it much in the UFC, Ngannou also has the potential to submit his opponents. Hamilton has alternated wins and losses throughout his UFC career, going 3-3 so far. Enjoying to stay on the feet, Hamilton might be in for a quick night as he has shown the ability to be knocked out before. Njannou will likely put away Hamilton in the first two rounds, the question is just how long will he last.
Prediction: Francis Ngannou via KO Round 1
(#10) Derrick Lewis (16-4, 1NC) vs. (#15) Shamil Abdurakhimov (17-3) – Heavyweight Main Event (5 Rounds)
The main event has two very large men battling it out to try to climb up the rankings and get even bigger opponents the next time out. Derrick “the black beast” Lewis has been on a tear in the UFC winning his last four fights in a row including Roy Nelson in his last bout. Lewis been working on his takedown defense and getting back to his feet so he can do what he does best and put people to sleep. Shamil Abdurakhimov is 1-2 in the UFC and edged past Walt Harris in his last fight. Abdurakhimov will ultimately be looking for a takedown against Lewis and try to keep the fight there to wear him down a bit. Derrick Lewis needs to keep the fight standing, but his fight against Roy Nelson should have definitely made him into a better fighter. The knockout should materialize for Lewis here in the first couple of rounds.
Prediction: Derrick Lewis via KO Round 2