UFC Fight Night Primer: Ecochard’s preview of Jimi Manua vs. Corey Anderson, Gunnar Nelson vs. Alan Jouban, Picket vs. Vera

By Mathew Ecochard, MMATorch contributor

Saturday marks the return of the UFC to London, England with a card that is exclusive to UFC Fight Pass. Headlining the card is local favorite Jimi Manuwa taking on the young Corey Anderson. A retirement fight will occur for Brad Pickett. English fighters are peppered throughout the card and a lot of these fighters are prospects that could start to climb up the rankings with a few wins. The fight card starts around 1:30 p.m. EST and will finish around 7 p.m. EST. The following are previews and predictions for the entire card starting with the Fight Pass prelims.

UFC Fight Pass Prelims (1:30 p.m. EST / 10:30 a.m. PST)

Lucie Pudilova (6-1) vs. Lina Lansberg (6-2) – Women’s Bantamweight Bout

Lina Landsberg is getting a replacement opponent here, but it is someone she is familiar of in Lucie Pudilova. Pudilova will be making her UFC debut against and trying to revenge her only career loss to date as well. Lansberg was fed to Cyborg for her UFC debut, but did manage to make it out of the first round against her. A promising striker, Lansberg shows lots of potential to make a splash in the women’s bantamweight division. Pudilova has a fairly strong game overall and is likely better on the mat than Lansberg, but she couldn’t do enough in their first fight to win so it is hard to say if she has improved enough to take out Lansberg here. With Lansberg’s experience of facing Cyborg in the UFC already, she should have the edge here.

Prediction: Lina Lansberg via Unanimous Decision

Bradley Scott (11-4) vs. Scott Askham (14-3) – Middleweight Bout

Two English fighters should put on a show for the homecrowd as Bradley Scott and Scott Askham are quick starters. Askham is the more technical striker of the two and has the height and reach advantage. Scott is likely to hulk forward, rush in and try to clip his opponent or drop down for a takedown. Askham should be able to keep Scott at range with his jabs and if not, Askham has the gastank to take a decision. Scott has never won a decision while Askham has won three that way. Both men are 2-3 in their UFC careers and the loser could very well be cut here. Askham has more tools and with both men having great chins I don’t see a finish materializing.

Prediction: Scott Askham via Unanimous Decision

Ian Entwistle (9-3) vs. Brett Johns (13-0) – Bantamweight Bout

Young, undefeated propsect Brett Johns has been doing really well so far and even impressed in his UFC debut against (at the time) undefeated fighter Kwan Ho Kwak. Johns mixes his entire game really well and has beaten some solid fighters in Anthony Gutierrez and Walel Watson before coming into the UFC. Ian Entwistle taking on Johns is an interesting match because Entwistle is so good on the ground that Johns may question taking the fight there. Win or lose, Entwistle has never seen a second round in his 12 fight career and that can spell trouble for him here. Johns seems like he really enjoys dragging fights into deep waters and Entwistle may not have the gas tank for that. Johns isn’t always a finisher, but when this fight goes into the later rounds something should materialize for him.

Prediction: Brett Johns via TKO Round 2

Leon Edwards (12-3) vs. Vicente Luque (11-5-1) – Welterweight Bout

Riding high after his biggest career win against Albert Tumenov, Leon Edwards is looking to make it three straight against the improving Luta Livre and BJJ fighter Vicente Luque. Edwards has strong striking but once he hurts people enjoys taking them to the ground and finishing them off there with either punches or submissions. Luque is known as a finisher with 10 of his 11 wins coming from some sort of finish, but Edwards is so durable that he may struggle. If this makes it into the later round I don’t see any way Luque will be able keep it up and not gas out. Edwards just needs to be careful early, but if Edwards drags this out and plays it safe should walk away with a finish late or a decision.

Prediction: Leon Edwards via Unanimous Decision

Tom Breese (10-1) vs. Oluwale Bamgbose (6-2) – Welterweight Bout

England’s own Tom Breese is returning to fight for the first time since his first career loss in a close decision to Sean Strickland. It’s been about 9 months so it’ll be interesting to see if Breese has changed anything about his gameplan, maybe he will return to his more aggressive ways. Breese has natural gifts in that he is standing at 6’3” and that is fairly large for the 170 lb division. Oluwale Bamgbose is an extremely dangerous first round fighter with his explosive and powerful punches paired with some quickly fired head kicks. Where Bamgbose struggles is anywhere past the first few minutes as his style makes him get fairly obvious after the first couple minutes. Tom Breese has the size and skill to make this his fight and he will likely do so. Breese is tough enough and can pour it on so he will get a finish before the final bell.

Prediction: Tom Breese via Submission Round 2

Marc Diakiese (11-0) vs. Teemu Packalen (8-1) – Lightweight Bout

One of the biggest prospects to come out of England, Marc Diakiese looks to impress the local crowd with a knockout when he takes on submission fight Teemu Packalen. Packalen is 1-1 in the UFC losing a decision and winning via submission in his last bout. Winning via submission 6 times, Packalen has used 5 different submission techniques to do so. While Packalen is dangerous on the ground, every fight starts on the feet and that is definitely Diakiese’s favorite department of the sport. Diakiese has some quick hands and flashy techniques that cause his opponents to stumble. If Diakiese can stop the takedown attempts from Packalen, then this will be an easy fight for him.

Prediction: Marc Diakiese via Unanimous Decision

(#12) Daniel Omielanczuk (19-6-1, 1NC) vs. (#14) Timothy Johnson (10-3) – Heavyweight Bout

Daniel Omielanczuk and Timothy Johnson are two ranked heavyweights that are both struggling to keep their rankings with recent losses. Daniel Omielanczuk recently had a three fight winning streak snapped with a submission loss to Stefan Struve. Although he is has good grappling and striking Omielanczuk doesn’t possess the skills to really make it into the top of the division as he faulters against fighters who are really good in certain aspects of the game such as the great wrestling of Jared Rosholt or the submissions of Stefan Struve. Timothy Johnson is just 2-2 in his UFC career so far, but looked really good in his loss to Alexander Volkov and had him in some dangerous positions before losing that split decision loss. Johnson has the better weapons here and should pull off the slight upset.

Prediction: Timothy Johnson via Split Decision

Darren Stewart (7-0, 1 NC) vs. Francimar Barroso (18-6) – Light Heavyweight Bout

This bout is a rematch for these two fighters from UFC Fight Night 100 where the bout was ended with a TKO from an accidental headbutt and was later overturned to a no-contest. Darren Stewart has really good striking and was looking to be in good shape in that bout before the headbutt. Francimar Barroso’s biggest win was a decision against Ryan Jimmo, but has losses to Hans Stringer and Nikita Krylov that slowed down any hype behind him. Kickboxing and BJJ are his strong suits, but his chin has shown three times in the past to not be the strongest. Look for a similar outcome to their first bout, but more of a legitimate finish with Barroso getting sucked into Stewart’s game.

Prediction: Darren Stewart via TKO Round 1

Joe Duffy (15-2) vs. Reza Madadi (14-4) – Lightweight Bout

Reza Madadi is a really strong all around fighter, he is extremely durable, has high level grappling and decent striking. Madadi has alternated wins and losses in the UFC most recently getting a TKO win over Yan Cabral in May of last year. Madadi had a rough time against Norman Parke when he couldn’t stand and trade and got outgrappled so he was exposed slightly in that fight. Joe Duffy had a two fight streak broken when he had a rough fight against Dustin Poirer. Rebounding from that first UFC loss, Duffy looked insane with a 25 second rear-naked choke win against the strong grappler Mitch Clarke. Duffy’s striking is crisp and his submissions are there too but the most interesting part of Duffy is he his incredible finishing instinct. Madadi has never been finished, but if anyone was going to be able to it would be Duffy.

Prediction: Joe Duffy via Submission Round 1

UFC Fight Pass Main Card (5 p.m. EST / 2 p.m. PST)

Arnold Allen (11-1) vs. Makwan Amirkhani (13-2) – Featherweight Bout

Two very exciting fighters with similar career paths are squaring off in whats should be a great main card opener. Arnold Allen is primarily a boxer/kickboxer but he does have a few submissions to his name. Allen is 2-0 inside the UFC while Makwan Amirkhani is 3-0. Amirkhani has better wrestling than Allen with his Greco-Roman style and mixes it with submission wrestling. This fight should be fast paced and entertaining. Out of their three losses, Amirkhani only was finished once. These fighters will likely see a decision but it could be the fight of the night. Amirkhani’s grappling chops makes me think that he will be able to take this one.

Prediction: Makwan Amirkhani via Unanimous Decision

Brad Pickett (26-13) vs. Marlon Vera (8-3-1) – Bantamweight Bout

A farewell fight for Brad Pickett occurs here in his home country. Pickett has only won 2 of his last 8 fights and those two both came in England. A lot of Pickett’s losses came to top competition though to the likes of Michael McDonald, Ian McCall, Thomas Almeida and Urijah Faber. Pickett is known for his striking, but he actually has more finishes by submission than knockouts. The hand speed of Pickett isn’t what it used to be, but it is hard to find anyone tougher on the roster. Marlon Vera is 2-2 in the UFC, he is young and is a BJJ based fighter, but he is only a brown belt in BJJ. Vera won’t be able to get Pickett down and he certainly shouldn’t be able to hang with him on the feet. Look for Pickett to get a happy send off in front of his English fans.

Prediction: Brad Pickett via Unanimous Decision

(#9) Gunnar Nelson (15-2-1) vs. Alan Jouban (15-4) – Welterweight Bout

Only two losses have tarnished the record of Gunnar Nelson, a dissapointing and close split decision loss to Rick Story and a dominating performance from Demian Maia. Nelson is a wizard on the ground and has very unique striking with his Goju-ryu Karate style. Nelson is definitely the far superior grappler here and will certainly be looking for the takedown after testing the waters of the striking match. Alan Jouban is a known striker with a strong Muay Thai background, but the UFC likes to bring up the fact that has dabbled into professional modeling as well. Jouban has also only lost twice in the UFC and those were against Warley Alves and Albert Tumenov. A three fight win streak is on the line for Jouban here, but I can’t see him staying on his feet and knocking out Nelson. At some point Nelson will get Jouban down and be able to finish him.

Prediction: Gunnar Nelson via Submission Round 2

(#4) Jimi Manuwa (16-2) vs. (#7) Corey Anderson (10-2) – Light Heavyweight Main Event (5 Rounds)

The main event features a big light heavyweight showdown with ramifications for the top end of the division. Jimi Manuwa has the second scariest knockout power in the division behind Anthony Johnson and most recently knocked out Ovince Saint Preux in monstrous fashion in October of last year. Corey Anderson is 10 years the youth here at 27 years old and is an NCAA D3 wrestler. This match is very much striker versus grappler at its core much like the co-main event. Let’s break down the strengths and weaknesses of each fighter and what their keys to victory.

Jimi Manuwa has suprisingly strong takedown defense to backup his power. In his two losses, Manuwa has shown his open chin and how likely he could be in getting knocked out himself. Alexander Gustafsson used the clinch and wide strikes to get around the straight forward striking of Manuwa. Anthony Johnson just came forward brutally and knocked him out cold. Manuwa has a solid gas tank shown in his win over Jan Blachowicz which went to a decision, and if he is on his game Manuwa can strike smoother than most and will likely TKO just about anyone he faces. He needs to keep this fight standing and be the aggressor in order to take out Anderson.

In his loss against Mauricio Rua, Corey Anderson just wasn’t doing a whole lot. Rua was beating him to the punch and Anderson just didn’t fall back on his wrestling enough which would be the area to beat Shogun in. Anderson does have power in his hands, but he relies on it too much when he should be taking his opponents down and using reigning donw punches from the top. If he gets in range with Manuwa he needs to shoot for a takedown early and do whatever it takes to get it to the mat. There is just much more likelyhood that Manuwa keeps this fight at the distance he likes and finishes off Anderson, who has shown how much he dislikes to get hit in the past.

Prediction: Jimi Manuwa via KO Round 2

CHECK OUT THIS PREVIOUS ARTICLE: UFC Fight Night Primer: Vitor Belfort vs. Kelvin Gastelum headlines Saturday night’s event in Brazil on FS1

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