UFC FIGHT NIGHT: Grocke’s preview and predictions including Swanson vs. Lobov, Diego vs. Iaquinta, OSP, Dobson, Lauzon

By Michael Grocke, MMATorch contributor

UFC Fight Night Nashville
Cub Swanson vs. Artem Lobov

UFC Fight Night 108 is live from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee on Saturday night. The main event takes place in the featherweight division as Artem Lobov takes on UFC veteran Cub Swanson. The co-main event is a lightweight battle between longtime UFC vet Diego Sanchez and Al Iaquinta.

The six fight main card also includes: Ovince Saint Preux who will be looking to put a halt to a three fight skid taking on Marcos Rogerio De Lima; MMA Torch’s 10th ranked bantamweight John Dobson takes on Eddie Wineland; fan favorite Joe Lauzon goes up against Steven Ray, and in a fight that probably won’t go to the judges, Jake Ellenberger takes on the heavy handed Mike Perry.

The early prelims will air on Fight Pass starting at 5:30 PM CT, with Fox Sports 2 taking over at 7 PM CT for the prelims. The main card will air on FS1 starting at 9 PM CT.

Main Card

Artem Lobov (14-12-1, 1 NC) vs. Cub Swanson #4 (24-7) – Featherweight 145 lbs.

Current Odds: Swanson -650; Lobov +450

The fact that Artem Lobov is in the main event of a UFC card says a lot about where the promotion is in 2017. But here we are, none the less. Lobov’s record is just over .500 at 14-12 with seven of the wins coming via decision. He is 2-2 under the UFC banner and 2-0 in his last two fights, beating Chris Avila at UFC 202 and Teruto Ishihara at UFC Fight Night 99 both by decision.

MMA Torch’s #4 ranked featherweight Cub Swanson enters Saturday’s fight on a three fight winning streak. Swanson has fought every name there is to fight in the division. Although he suffered losses to fighters such as Frankie Edgar, Max Holloway and Ricardo Lamas he does own victories over Dustin Poirier, Charles Oliveira, Jeremy Stephens and Doo Ho Choi.

Lobov is primarily a striker who likes to sit back and wait for his opportunity to land a knockout punch. While it looks as though he’s added a few wrinkles to his offense such as adding more kicks and making an effort to throw at a higher volume, his biggest advantage is his ability to counter punch with power. Lobov has a below average ground game so if his plan is to take Swanson to the ground his night will come to an end quickly. I expect Lobov to stand and try to maintain distance while avoiding going to the ground at all costs. Considering the caliber of opponents Artem has fought, Swanson will be the biggest challenge of his career.

Cub Swanson clearly has the advantage regardless of where the fight goes. He has a ton of experience and has been inside the cage with the top featherweights in the world. His last fight against Choi proved his durability and ability to take a punch. Lobov’s game plan will be to stand and trade with Swanson, but unfortunately for him, Swanson has only been knocked out once in seven losses. Cub is stronger, faster, better on the feet, better on the ground and just overall better than Artem Lobov. If there is one concern, it’s the possibility of Swanson coming back too soon after his war with Choi in December.

Pick: Swanson by submission

Diego Sanchez (29-9) vs. Al Iaquinta (12-3-1) – Lightweight 155 lbs.

Current Odds: Iaquinta -430; Sanchez +330

Longtime UFC veteran Diego Sanchez steps into the cage for the thirty-eighth time on Saturday night. He’s 3-3 over his last six fights, alternating wins and losses. His most recent fight occurred at UFC Fight Night 98 where he won a unanimous decision over Marcin Held in a fight he looked excellent in. Sanchez has fought every big name in the division over his long career and will look to try to make yet another statement by taking out the heavily favored Al Iaquinta.

Al Iaquinta returns after a two year layoff and enters Saturday night’s fight riding a four fight winning streak. The win streak started with three straight TKO finishes against; Rodrigo Damm, Ross Pearson and Joe Lauzon. The fourth win came at UFC Fight Night 63 where he won a split decision over Jorge Masvidal that most thought he should have lost.

This is a tough match-up for Diego Sanchez. Al Iaquinto is an excellent boxer who works at a quick pace with a high volume of strikes. He mixes up his punches well and will occasionally throw in some kicks to keep his opponents off balance. While Iaquinta is competent on the ground, I expect him to try and keep this fight on the feet.

Diego Sanchez showed some grit in his last fight against Marcin Held. He was able to take Held down and control him for most of the fight leading to well-deserved win by decision. I expect Sanchez’s game plan to be similar in this fight. He’s going to want to avoid getting into a slug fest against a much superior striker and get the fight to the ground. Once there he can try and keep Iaquinta down while working for submissions. The problem is Iaquinta has excellent take down defense, so if that avenue isn’t there for Sanchez I don’t see him winning this fight.

Unless the two year layoff has a negative effect on Iaquinta, this is his fight to win.

Pick: Iaquinta by TKO

Marcos Rogerio De Lima (15-5-1) vs. Ovince Saint Preux (19-10) – Light Heavyweight 205 lbs.

Current Odds: Saint Preux -160; De Lima +130

To say Ovince Saint Preux needs a win on Saturday night would be an understatement. OSP has lost his last three fights in a row and needs a win to stay relevant in the light heavyweight division. His most recent loss was at UFC Fight Night 104 where he dropped a split decision to Vlokan Oezdemir.

Marcos De Lima is 2-2, alternating between wins and losses over his last four fights. The Brazilian’s most recent fight occurred at UFC on FOX 23 where he finished Jeremy Kimball in the first round. De Lima will look to make it two wins in a row by taking out OSP on Saturday night.

Unless there’s an early stoppage, this fight will come down to which fighter has more left in the gas tank come the later rounds. Both fighters have similar strengths and weaknesses. They are both excellent strikers with more than enough power to end the fight with one punch. OSP likes to use his jab and front kicks to keep distance while on the other hand, De Lima prefers to close distance and punish his opponents in the clinch.

Neither OSP nor De Lima excel on the ground, but I would give the edge to OSP. This should be an exciting fight. While I expect both fighters to keep the fight standing, I think OSP has a clearer path to victory by taking De Lima to the ground. He is the better wrestler and De Lima has been submitted twice in four losses.

Pick: De Lima by TKO

Eddie Wineland (23-11-1) vs. John Dobson #10 (19-8) – Bantamweight 135 lbs.

Current Odds: Dobson -475; Wineland +350

Top flyweight contender John Dobson has lost three times in his last twelve fights. Those three losses came against John Lineker and current champion and pound for pound best fighter in the world Demetrius Johnson, twice. He’ll look to get himself back into a title fight with a win over Eddie Wineland on Saturday night.

After dropping two fights in a row, MMA veteran Eddie Wineland enters this fight on a two fight winning streak. He finished Frankie Saenz at UFC on FOX 20 and then he stopped Takeya Mizugaki at UFC on FOX 22.

Both fighters prefer to stand and strike. Wineland in particular is strictly a boxer who rarely, if ever goes to the ground. While Dobson will attempt a take down here and there, I don’t expect him to have success taking this fight to the mat. Due to Eddie’s ridiculous take down defense and his lack of interest in a round game I expect this fight to remain standing.

Both Wineland and Dobson have the power to end the fight at any time, Dobson clearly has the advantage in speed and quickness. The problem with Dobson’s game is his low volume. Couple that with Wineland’s high volume and pace, Dobson runs the risk of giving rounds away. That said, I like Dobson in this one. He has more ways to win this fight. I especially prefer his more well-rounded offense compared to Wineland’s. I also think the speed of Dobson will give Eddie fits all night.

Pick: Dobson by decision

Stevie Ray (20-6) vs. Joe Lauzon (27-13) – Lightweight 155 lbs.

Current Odds: Ray -200; Lauzon +160

Longtime UFC veteran and fan favorite Joe Lauzon steps into the cage for his 40th professional fight on Saturday night. He is 3-3 over his last six fights alternating wins and losses. His most recent fight was at UFC Fight Night 103 where he was awarded the split decision in a fight even he thought he didn’t deserve. While Joe’s days of competing for titles are behind him, his fights remain must see.

Scotland’s Steven Ray was riding a five fight win streak until he dropped a decision to Alan Silva Alves at UFC Fight Night 95. He returned at UFC Fight Night 99 where he got back in the win column by taking a split decision from Ross Pearson. He’ll look to make it two in a row on Saturday night.

Stevie is a finisher with fourteen of his twenty pro wins coming by either submission or knockout. However, lately he has shown the ability to outpoint his opposition by going the distance in his last three fights. He is 2-1 in those fights. I expect Ray to keep the fight standing so he can utilize his excellent striking. While he’s decent on the ground I don’t see him beating Lauzon there.

Joe Lauzon’s path to victory lies in his ability to get Ray to the mat. If he chooses to stand and trade with Ray I don’t see the fight going well for him. Lauzon is a tremendous grappler with a deadly submission game. Of Joe’s twenty-seven pro wins, eighteen are by submission. An area of concern for Lauzon has always been his cardio. The longer the fight goes, the smaller Joe’s window of opportunity becomes.

Stevie Ray is younger, faster, and stronger and has a better gas tank. As long as he doesn’t get caught early in the fight, it’s his fight to win.

Pick: Ray by decision

Mike Perry (9-1) vs. Jake Ellenberger (31-12) – Welterweight 170 lbs.

Current Odds: Perry -150; Ellenberger +120

This will be Jake Ellenberger’s 44th professional fight. He has fought every big name there is over his twelve year career. Obviously Jake’s skills aren’t what they used to be. He has only won two fights over his previous eight. His most recent fight occurred at The Ultimate Fighter 24 Finale where he was stopped in the first round by Jorge Masvidal.

Heavy handed Mike Perry suffered the first loss of his career after winning his first nine fights when he dropped a decision to Alan Jouban at UFC on FOX 22. The knockout artist boasts nine knockouts in nine wins.

Both fighters can end the fight with one punch. I do not expect a technical classic here. Perry will look to close distance while loading up for the knockout blow. Fighting this style opens Perry up to get hit fairly easily but the guy’s chin is made of granite and just walks through punches. Ellenberger has the power to end anybody’s night with one punch so it will be interesting to see how Perry’s chin holds up.

While I expect both guys to come out and throw hands, Ellenberger would be wise to use his wrestling to get Perry to the ground. Once there he can take advantage of Perry’s inexperience and either try to outpoint him or work for a submission. While I would like to see Ellenberger apply this strategy, I don’t see it happening.

Pick: Perry by TKO

Prelims Quick Look

Alvey -105 over Leites -125

Ortiz -145 over Moreno +115

Holtzman -305 over McBride +245

Penne -115 over Taylor -115

Early Prelims Quick Look

Davis -280 over Dandois +220

Barberena -345 over Proctor +275

Schnell -140 over Sandoval +110

Enjoy the fights!

NOW CHECK OUT ANOTHER PREVIEW OF THIS EVENT: UFC FIGHT NIGHT PRIMER: Ecochard’s preview of Swanson vs. Lobov, plus Ellenberger, Diego Sanchez, Lauzon, Dodson

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.