(1)Stephen Thompson vs. (8)Darren Till
(NOTE: This war written before Darren Till missed weight.)
In a matter of months, we have witnessed Darren Till emerge from relative obscurity into one of the divisions most interesting contenders. We saw him earn a 3-0-1 record in his first 4 UFC bouts in impressive fashion, but he wasn’t exactly blowing people’s minds. Then came his break out performance against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, and everything changed. Till made quick work of Cerrone, finishing him with strikes in the first round, and in the process showed that he is here to stay.
Following the Cerrone fight Till made it clear that he wanted a top contender in his next fight, and after a bit of a back and forth with Kamaru Usman on Twitter, it would be Stephen Thompson who would take the fight.
Thompson is a two-time title challenger, and the top ranked contender in the welterweight division. He has only been decisively beaten once in his career and it was early on in his second fight in the UFC, against Matt Brown. Other than the loss to Brown, Thompson’s only MMA failures are a majority draw and a lackluster decision loss to champion Tyron Woodley.
This is a fight between two highly skilled strikers but the similarities end there. Thompson is a karate fighter, with a stick and move, in and out sort of attack that is heavy on kicks and straight punches. Till is more of a Muay Thai based fighter who utilizes pressure, and probably has the advantage if he can close the distance against Thompson which will be no easy task.
Overall, I think we can expect this fight to be contested mostly on the feet, though Thompson has shown himself capable if the fight does go there. This one could go either way but with the experience factor in the corner of Thompson, I think he will end the Till hype train at least for now.
Prediction: Stephen Thompson over Darren Till via Unanimous Decision
(9) Neil Magny vs. Craig White (Welterweight)
Neil Magny is competing for the first time in 2018 when he faces UFC new comer Craig White. Magny has an impressive career win list with victories over Hector Lombard, Johny Hendricks, Carlos Condit, and Kelvin Gastelum. He is a durable and rangy fighter, with good cardio and well-rounded skills. He is coming off a victory over Carlos Condit and will look to make it two in a row against White.
Craig White is a UFC new comer who is taking this fight on short notice after Gunnar Nelson was pulled due to injury. He holds a 14-7 record and has won 4 straight fights but looking at his record it appears as though Magny will be his toughest competition by far. Anything can happen in this sport of course, and White will have a bit of a home town advantage, but the safe bet is that Magny wins this fight and perhaps we can see him rebooked with Nelson sometime later.
Prediction: Neil Magny over Craig White via TKO Round 2
Arnold Allen vs. Mads Burnell
Arnold Allen debuted in the UFC back in 2015 but has competed only 3 times so far, and is currently sitting at 3-0 in the UFC, and 12-1 overall. He has a pro kickboxing record, and a background in amateur boxing, so he will probably look to keep this fight on the ground against Mads Burnell who has 5 submissions wins to his credit.
Burnell will be fighting in the octagon for the 3rd time and is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Mike Santiago. Normally a long layoff in-between fights is considered a bad thing but having competed just 3 times in 3 and a half years, it doesn’t appear to have much of an effect on Allen and for that reason I think he will keep his UFC undefeated streak alive.
Prediction: Arnold Allen over Mads Burnell via Unanimous Decision
Jason Knight vs. Makwan Amirkhani (Featherweight)
Things were looking up for Jason Knight around this time last year. He was riding a four-fight win streak, with performance bonuses in three of the four fights when he was matched up with division stalwart Ricardo Lamas. Lamas stopped the streak for Knight, and a loss to Gabriel Benitez just a few months later left Knight with a completely different streak. Two straight losses for a guy that has lost just four fights in total must be frustrating, but if he wants the losing streak to end he will not have an easy time getting it done.
Makwan Amirkhani has shown himself to be an adept wrestler, with highlight reel KO capabilities, and a good camp behind him. Knight also trains at a good gym and has shown himself to be quite capable of winning fights in the octagon. While he has struggled as of late I think we will see Knight get back on track with a late submission win over Amirkhani. He is still just 25 years old and could have a very bright future ahead of him.
Prediction: Jason Knight over Makwan Amirkhani via Submission Round 3
Davey Grant vs. Manny Bermudez
Davey Grant is coming into this bout likely fighting for his job. He is 1-2 in 3 UFC bouts with 2 stoppage losses and is coming off a loss in his last fight.
Manny Bermudez is coming into the bout with an undefeated 11-0 record in MMA, and a 1-0 record in the UFC. He had a few notable bouts on the regional circuit and has 8 submission wins to his credit. Davey Grant has been susceptible to submissions in the past so as long as Bermudez can get this fight down to the ground I think this is his fight to win.
Prediction: Manny Bermudez over Davey Grant Submission Round 2
Eric Spicely vs. Darren Stewart (Middleweight)
Eric Spicely has had a roller coaster of a UFC career so far. After debuting on short notice against Sam Alvey, Spicely went on to won two straight fights by first round submission. Since those wins though he has suffered back to back defeats and could be in a position of needing a win to keep his job.
Darren Stewart hasn’t had much success in the UFC so far and will be looking for his first win in 5 fights this Saturday.
Prediction: Darren Stewart over Eric Spicely via TKO Round 2
Claudio Silva vs. Nordine Taleb (Welterweight)
Claudio Silva is a bit of an interesting case to look at. He is currently 11-1, and 2-0 in the UFC. He holds a notable win over Leon Edwards, but it was back in 2014 and that was actually the last time that Silva competed in a fight. He has dealt with a series of injuries and was actually scheduled to face Nordine Taleb back in 2015 but it fell through.
In the time since Silva last competed we have seen Taleb fight 6 times, picking up 4 wins, including two in a row coming into the Silva fight. Time off in-between fights is nothing new for Silva, as he has taken large bits of time off over the years, but Taleb has been fighting pretty well as of late and for that reason I am think he will get the win.
Prediction: Nordine Taleb over Claudio Silva via Unanimous Decision
Dan Kelly vs. Tom Breese (Middleweight)
Dan Kelly is one of the more interesting fighters in the UFC. He is a four-time Olympian in Judo and has managed to put together a respectable UFC career even though he got a pretty late start. Kelly is 6-3 in the UFC, with notable wins over Rashad Evans and Antonio Carlos Junior, and has shown the ability to outwork, and outlast much younger opponents.
Breese is just that, much younger, nearly 15 years to be exact, and he possess some good grappling skills of his own. He was undefeated before losing his last fight to Sean Strickland, but it was at welterweight all the way back in 2016. Assuming he can avoid any sort of issues with ring rust I think that Breese should be able to walk away with a win, but Kelly has proven, himself to be more than capable and this is my dark horse for fight of the night.
Prediction: Tom Breese over Dan Kelly via Unanimous Decision
Brad Scott vs. Carlo Pedersoli Jr. (Welterweight)
Prediction: Brad Scott over Carlo Pedersoli Jr. via Split Decision
Gillian Robertson vs. Molly McCann (Women’s Flyweight)
Prediction: Gillian Robertson over Molly McCann via Unanimous Decision
Elias Theodorou vs. Trevor Smith (Middleweight)
Elias Theodorou over Trevor Smith via Unanimous Decision
Gina Mazany vs. Lisa Lansberg (Women’s Bantamweight)
Lisa Lansberg over Gina Mazany via TKO Round 3