The UFC heads to Salt Lake City on Saturday August 6th for UFC Fight Night, which will be its last card before the hugely anticipated Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz 2 UFC 202 Pay-Per-View (PPV) later this month. The names fighting on this card may have nowhere near the star power of UFC 202, but there is plenty of potential for some really interesting fights, fan friendly stoppages, and even a glimpse at a potential future championship contender who will headline the Saturday night card. I take a look at some of the best fights on the card and make some predictions.
Notable UFC Fight Pass Prelim Bout:
Cub Swanson (5th) vs Tatsuya Kawajiri (14th) (Featherweight 145lbs)
Preview: Cub Swanson is looking to continue his 2016 climb back into title contention after losing to top contenders Frankie Edgar and Max Holloway last year. Swanson was able to rebound Hacran Dias his last time in the octagon, and a win against Tatsuya Kawajiri would likely get him back into talks against a top 5 opponent in the division. Swanson has an elite ground game with his black belt in jiu-jitsu and his ability to get dominant positions with ease during scrambles on the mat. Swanson will face a long in the tooth 38-year old Kawajiri who despite his age, is a savvy battle tested Mixed martial arts (MMA) veteran capable of making whoever he faces have a difficult night. He is looking to rebound from his last fight, a lopsided loss to Dennis Bermudez. Kawajiri will look to test Swanson’s confidence and ability to defend against submissions which have been Swanson’s only real weak spot during his MMA career. Fans of the ground game will get a plethora of grappling and jiu-jitsu, when these two enter the octagon to close out the Fight Pass Prelims.
Odds: Swanson (-380) vs Kawajiri (+315)
Prediction: Swanson is a prohibitive favorite in this fight and rightfully so in my opinion, as his losses have only been against elite championship level talent, something that has long since passed Kawajiri by due to his age. This is not to say Swanson can afford to coast, despite his black belt in jiu-jitsu he’s gotten submitted too many times, to take a veteran like Kawajiri with submission skills lightly. I think Swanson wants to make a statement that gets him back into title contention and force the ref to stop it late.
(Swanson via TKO Round 3)
Notable Fox Sports 1 Prelim Bouts:
Court McGee vs Dominique Steele (Welterweight 170lbs)
Preview: Court McGee is personifies the term: ‘grinder’; he has a ton of heart, great cardio, and a decent well-rounded set of mixed martial arts skills. However, he lacks a top end skill set leading to most of his wins coming via split or unanimous decision, making him tough to market in the modern UFC if you are not a title contender. He returns to his home state of Utah looking to rebound against Dominique Steele and stay on these UFC televised cards after suffering a big knockout loss in April of this year, to another fighter on this card Santiago Ponzinibbio. If McGee is hoping to get his first finish since 2010, the UFC has done him a favor by matching him up with a wild ground and pound brawler in Steele. Since coming to the UFC in 2015 Steele has been in three action packed bouts which saw him get knocked out, knock his opponent out, and lose a decision but qualifying for the “Fight of The Night” post-fight bonus for his efforts.
Odds: McGee (-200) vs Steele (+170)
Prediction: If McGee can avoid getting taken down by Steele repeatedly, he should out strike Steele and take him into deep waters for another close unanimous ‘Court McGee style’ victory.
(Court McGee via Unanimous Decision)
Notable Main Card Fights:
Thales Leites (12th) vs Chris Camozzi (Middleweight 185lbs)
Preview: The fight between Thales Leites and Chris Camozzi is an intriguing fight because it has the potential to end in many ways: it is a candidate to have “submission of the night” if Leites drags Camozzi into his world on the mat, it could get “Knock Out of the Night” if Cammozi is able to connect a clean shot on Leites, and it could easily end up being “Fight of the Night” due to both fighters having multiple ways to hurt each other while also both having the stamina and ‘chin’ to be involved in previous fights of the night on other cards. Leites is trying to break back into the top after suffering back to back losses to Gegard Mousasi and current champion Michael Bisping. He will look to utilize his elite level ground game to submit and punish Cammozi on the ground if he can get him there. Cammozi is hoping to continue his resurgence into the UFC as he now holds a three fight win streak after being cut in 2014 due to losing five straight fights. Cammozi has made the most of his second chance, and while Leites may hold a definitive advantage on the ground Camozzi is not out of his element there either, as well as maintaining a significant striking advantage against Leites if he can keep the fight standing.
Odds: Leites (-163) vs Camozzi (+143)
Prediction: Confidence can sometimes be as important to a fighter as being healthy and Camozzi comes into his fight with Leites with a ton of it. Leites on the other hand was a split decision loss away from being where Micheal Bisping currently resides and is likely struggling with the idea of going from a title contender to fighting an unranked guy in a non-main event. I think Camozzi’s take down defense and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is good enough to keep him out of the danger zone with Leites. I think he’ll use his superior Muay Thai to break down Leites and keep his distance throughout the fight. He may have a scare or two, but he will score a ‘unanimous decision’ win to continue his career resurgence.
(Camozzi via Unanimous Decision)
Dennis Bermudez (8th) vs Rony Jason (Featherweight 145lbs)
Preview: Dennis “The Menace” Bermudez is a bit of an enigma in the Featherweight division and his fight against Brazilian submission specialist Rony Jason will hopefully clarify exactly what fans can expect from him in the future. Bermudez stormed into the UFC after his “The Ultimate Fighter” tv show runner-up finish, with seven straight wins in the octagon putting him into serious conversations for a possible title shot at 145lbs. However that is the closest he’d get to a title shot as he would drop his next two fights, getting submitted and knocked out; before finally rebounding with a decision win against Tatsuya Kawajiri. Bermudez has cardio for days, and loves to break his opponents will with a relentless ground and pound style making life difficult for anyone he fights. He also possesses an incredible take down defense at 91.43% takedowns defended, forcing opponents to hurt him first if they want to get him to the mat. The man tasked with stopping Bermudez is Rony Jason; who is making his first appearance in the octagon now that his yearlong PED suspension has ended. Jason is an animal on the ground and he likely sees some holes in Bermudez’s game as he has been submitted twice in his UFC career, the problem will be how to get Bermudez to the ground to attempt a submission
Odds: Bermudez (-225) vs Jason (+190)
Prediction: It has not been a good run for many of the Brazilian fighters after they’ve returned from their PED suspensions, and I do not believe that trend will change for Rony Jason. Essentially everything he can do on the ground Bermudez can do better. The only real advantage Jason may have is his striking, but he is not an elite striker so the advantage is minimal. The year layoff will inevitably hurt Jason and I think Bermudez gets a late stoppage via TKO with his incredible cardio and ground game tiring out Jason.
(Dennis Bermudez via TKO ref stoppage 3rd Round)
Yair Rodriguez (13th) vs Alex Caceres (Featherweight 145lbs)
Preview: Yair Rodriguez will make his headlining main event debut against the ever tricky Alex Caceres in what he hopes will be his coming out party to the Featherweight Division and the UFC fans who are not yet aware of how dangerous “El Pantera” is. Rodriguez is a perfect 4-0 since joining the UFC in 2014, and has climbed his way into the top 15 ranks after his sensational front kick knockout of Andre Fili earning him performance of the night on UFC 197. Rodriguez has successfully taken down and out struck every single every single opponent he has faced in the UFC. Many believe Rodriguez is only a 3 or 4 fight’s away from being ready to challenge for a title, but Alex Caceres believes he has the style to derail Rodriguez’s hype train. Caceres aka “Bruce Leeroy” is an incredibly gifted and unorthodox striker who uses odd angles, and weird strikes to confuse and overwhelm opponents due to their inability to prepare for fighting a style like his. Caceres also loves to attempt submissions adding an extra wrinkle for his opponents consider when facing him.
Odds: Rodriguez (-275) vs Caceres (+235)
Prediction: No one knows how a fighter will respond once they begin to get the attention and the pressure that comes with being a possible title contender and main event favorite. Several in the MMA media have pegged Caceres as a guy, who can derail the Rodriguez ascension into the Top 10. While Caceres chances cannot be easily dismissed, I don’t think he’s the man to stop Rodriguez. It may take Rodriguez a round to adjust to Caceres awkward style but I think once he gets a good assessment he finishes Caceres potentially as early as the 2nd round. How far Rodriguez can go in the featherweight division is still unknown but he has enough talent and potential that he should dispatch Caceres in impressive fashion and continue his path towards a title shot.
(Rodriguez via KO 2nd Round)
Prediction Record Year to Date (0-0 +/- $0)
*Stats via www.UFC.com
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