This weekend marks the final event before the hotly anticipated rematch between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz but don’t for one second discount this weekend’s Fight Night as just a gap filler because this card is sprinkled with several potential “fight of the night” bouts. The main event, although not household names, see’s two featherweight prospects go toe to toe, The Latin America Ultimate Fighter winner Yair Rodriquez faces off against Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres,. Both are exciting fighters, eager to climb the ranking, a win for either man will put them in line for bigger contests in the near future. The Co-main event sees fellow featherweights Dennis Bermudez and Rony Jason also attempt to push their names up the ranking list and ensure they too have bigger match ups to come. Elsewhere across the card, middleweights Thales Leites and Chris Camozzi face off, Court McGee looks to get back to his winning ways against Dominique Steele, the” Japanese Conor McGregor” Teruto Ishihara will again be looking to showcase his talents against Horacio Gutierrez and on the Fight Pass prelims, the ever exciting Cub Swanson battles Tatsuya Kawajiri. Salt Lake City is in for twelve fun filled fights so make sure you don’t miss a second of the action either.
As always, I will now break down all the main card fights, give my predictions and of course, put my own “Armchair Expert” title on the line.
YAIR RODRIQUEZ vs. ALEX CACERES
Yair “El Pantera” Rodriquez comes into this bout on a five fight winning streak that he will look to extend at the expense of Alex Caceres. “Bruce Leeroy” is coming here on the back of two consecutive victories of his own; firstly dominating Masio Fullen and then most recently, comfortably beating Cole Miller and even though he looked imposing in both fights, he will need to hope everything clicks for him to cause Rodriquez any serious trouble. Rodriquez has looked like a natural since signing with the UFC almost two years ago, winning four straight fights, including a flying head kick knockout of Andre Fili, most recently at UFC 197. At only 23, Rodriquez has plenty of room left to grow but can make a big statement of intent with a notable win over Caceres. I expect Rodriquez to continue making a name for himself by putting Caceres to sleep early.
Rodriquez by KO.
DENNIS BERMUDEZ vs. RONY JASON
The featherweight division is jam packed with classy fights and this contest continues with that tradition. Bermudez was on a 7 fight winning streak, before it came to an abrupt halt, against Ricardo Lamas at UFC180. He then followed that up with another devastating TKO loss to Jeremy Stephens but he has since got back to his winning ways and will look to string another streak together, starting by defeating Rony Jason. Jason has only won once since 2013 and hasn’t looked the same fighter that convinced the UFC to snap him up in late 2012, his last fight was overturned to a “No Contest” after Jason tested positive for a banned substance. Jason’s seven fights under the UFC banner, with the exception of Jeremy Stephens, haven’t been against elite opposition and I don’t see what he plans on doing differently to stop one of the featherweight divisions’ mainstays. Bermudez should control this fight from start to finish, however long that takes.
Bermudez by decision.
THALES LEITES vs. CHRIS CAMOZZI
Thales Leites steps foot in the Octagon in desperate need of a victory, having lost his last two fights, albeit against current middleweight champion Michael Bisping and then Gegard Mousasi. He knows this is a results based business and three losses in a row is never a good sign for any fighter. Chris Camozzi, on the other hand, is on a great run of form; winning his last three straight and five of his last six, the one loss coming against Jacare Souza. They say there is nothing more dangerous than facing a fighter whose back is against the wall and in this case I think Leites will prove that statement to be true. He knows what needs to be done; he’s a more well-rounded fighter and has a wealth of experience that should see him over the line. Leites has won 14 fights by submission and I expect he finds a way of sneaking another one in here.
Leites by submission.
SANTIAGO PONZINIBBIO vs. ZACK CUMMINGS
This bout has all the ingredients to be fight of the night; Zak Cummings has incredible resilience and heart, while Pozinibbio possesses dynamite in his hands, this will either be an early night or a back and forth brawl. Cummings is a talented wrestler and won’t want to spend too long standing up with someone like Pozinibbio, that being said Cummings has never been knocked out. If Cummings can find a way to hold him down and keep him there, he could grind out a victory but I can’t see him doing enough to avoid Pozinibbio’s hands for 15 minutes. There is a first time for everything and I think Cummings may taste the first knockout of his career.
Pozinibbio by KO.
TREVOR SMITH vs. JOE GIGLIOTTI
Joe Gigliotti makes his UFC debut against veteran Trevor Smith. Gigliotti has yet to go the distance in his short seven fight career that includes three knockouts and four submissions. But he has a tough task against him, in Trevor Smith. “Hot Sauce” is an accomplished wrestler who, once he gets his opponent down, goes to work on trying to lock in a submission. This is one of these fights that could go either way. If the hype is to believed Gigliotti continues his run, if he crumbles under the pressure, Smith will take advantage of it and grind him down. Smith has looked vulnerable on his feet at times and this is where Gigliotti holds the advantage, once he can stuff the takedowns I expect Gigliotti to land a big shot flush on Smiths chin.
Gigliotti by KO.
MARYNA MOROZ vs. DANIELLE TAYLOR
The women’s Strawweight division is really starting to heat up with prospects and either woman knows a win here could propel them up the ladder. Taylor is an aggressive fighter who takes the fight to her opponent, she is slight for the weight class but she makes up for it with her destructive combat style. Despite this, she faces a daunting task in taking on Maryna Moroz, the Ukrainian is only 24 yet she has already shown she has a great understanding of MMA. After beating Joanne Calderwood in her UFC debut the “Iron Lady” then dropped a decision to Valerie Letourneau before picking apart Cristina Stanciu in her most recent outing. This contest against Danielle Taylor can help showcase her superior boxing and with a seven inch height advantage, it will be difficult for Taylor to get in close enough to cause any damage. Taylor will go out ready for battle but ultimately it is Moroz’ fight to lose.
Moroz by decision.
Best of the Rest.
Court McGee vs. Dominique Steele
McGee to win.
Viktor Pesta vs. Marcin Tybura
Pesta to win.
David Teymur vs. Jason Novelli
Teymur to win.
Teruto Ishihara vs. Horacio Gutierrez
Ishihara to win.
Cub Swanson vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri
Swanson to win.
Chase Sherman vs. Justin Ledet
Ledet to win.
Bet of the Day.
The adventurous bet: all 12 predictions in an accumulator is about 217/1
The conservative bet: Leites to win by submission is 4/1
Don’t forget to keep update on all things “Ultimate Fight Chat” by liking and following all the links on the homepage.