CURRENT RECORD 130-73-3
Hot on the heels of UFC 205 see’s the promotions return to Belfast, Northern Ireland for the first time in nine years for Fight Night 99 and just to get it out of the way early; I shall be in attendance. Unfortunately injury has deprived us of honorary Irishman Gunnar Nelson taking on Dong Hyun Kim but the replacement is just as, if not better as the rematch between Gegard Mousasi and Uriah Hall takes centre stage. In the co-main event, Stevie Ray steps in on short notice to take on fellow Brit Ross Pearson in a battle that will pit Scotland against England, respectively. Elsewhere on the card, and a surprising omission from the main card is a long awaited contest between Neil “2Tap” Seery; who will make his final walk to the octagon as he is set to retire, and Ian “Uncle Creepy” McCall. Flyweights Kyoji Horiguchi and Ali Bagautinov will face of in one of the standout fights on the card, adopted Irishman Artem Lobov takes on Japanese starlet Teruto Ishihara and there is a UFC debut for another Irish prodigy Charlie Ward as he faces off against Abdul Razak Alhassan. A great night if fights not to be missed, which I won’t in case I didn’t mention before I’ll be there, so make sure you too are tuned in.
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.
GEGARD MOUSASI vs. URIAH HALL
The first time these pair met Hall handed Mousasi his first ever KO loss; in devastating fashion no less, connecting with a spectacular jumping spinning back kick that sent Mousasi crashing to the mat. Since that fight, both their careers have taken different turns, Mousasi has won his last three on the spin; two by KO, whereas Hall has lost both his contests. Hall has all the attributes to be a top middleweight, he is huge specimen that holds a reach advantage over most in the division but he seems to always get drawn into his opponents game plan rather than utilizing his own. Mousasi is one of the best middleweights on the planet, from his 48 fights he has won 40 and finished 33 of them early. “The Dreamcatcher” is extremely well rounded and is comfortable wherever the fight takes place; be it on the feet or the canvas. I think Hall got a lucky connection when these met last and I expect Mousasi to avenge that loss on Saturday.
Mousasi by KO.
ROSS PEARSON vs. STEVIE RAY
Stevie Ray takes this fight on three weeks’ notice and comes up against dangerous striker Ross Pearson who is in desperate need of win. Ray only recently competed at Fight Night 95, where he lost by unanimous decision; his first loss for the UFC and will be eager to bounce back with a victory here. Ross Pearson has begun to decline of late, he has lost in last two and prior to that he had been bouncing between wins and losses. Pearson is a come forward fighter with some crisp boxing but lately he has become stagnated and predictable, the change of opponent will suit him as Ray will be more inclined to stand and trade but I don’t think Pearson has that killer instinct anymore. Stevie Ray has come on leaps and bounds since joining the UFC and I think he is a little better in every department than Pearson, I think Ray will surprise him here.
Ray by decision.
TIMOTHY JOHNSON vs. ALEXANDER VOLKOV
This will be an interesting matchup between two heavyweights eager to make their name in a division that lacks a depth of challengers. Timothy Johnson is currently 10-2, 2-1 with the UFC and is a dominant wrestler with a smooth submission game to compliment his ground skills. Volkov is a dangerous Russian with bombs for hands, 18 of his 26 victories have come by knockout. Volkov is an experienced competitor having competed in 32 pro fights thus far and he is a former Bellator heavyweight champion. Johnson will come into this fight nearly 30 pounds heavier but will give away a 3inch reach advantage. Johnson is solid on the ground but isn’t as fluid in the stand up, Volkov hasnt got the best takedown defence but nonetheless I think he will get the job done on the feet. This is a fight that could go either way but I expect Volkov to do enough to get the decision.
Volkov by decision.
ARTEM LOBOV vs. TERUTO ISHIHARA
After losing in the Ultimate Fighter Finale to Ryan Hall, Lobov followed that up by again losing; this time to Alex White, before getting back on track last time out beating Chris Avila. Lobov has an unspectacular record of 12-12 and is known for having one punch knockout power; a skill he has become far too dependent on. His opponent on Saturday is Japanese starlet Teruto Ishihara, a knockout artist who has compiled a professional record of 9-2. Ishihara cuts the angles in the cage superbly well and is a master at sticking and moving. Lobov is by no means a one trick pony but he relies on throwing the haymaker too often and this will suit Ishiara perfectly as he will counter punch his way to victory. I expect this to go the three rounds with Ishihara coming out good on the judges’ scorecards.
Ishihara by decision.
Best of the Rest.
Neil Seery vs. Ian McCall
McCall to win.
Magnus Cedenblad vs. Jack Marshman
Cedenblad to win.
Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Ali Bagautinov
Horiguchi to win.
Kevin Lee vs. Magomed Mustafaev
Lee to win.
Anna Elmose vs. Amanda Cooper
Elmose to win.
Justin Ledet vs. Mark Godbeer
Ledet to win.
Zak Cummings vs. Alexander Yakovlev
Cummings to win.
Marion Reneau vs. Milana Dudieva
Reneau to win.
Brett Johns vs. Kwan Ho Kwak
Johns to win.
Charlie Ward vs. Abdul Razak Alhassan
Alhassan to win.
Bet of the Day.
The adventurous bet: all 14 predictions in an accumulator is about 300/1.
The inbetweener bet: Ishihara, Volkov, Ray and Mousasi to win is 6/1.
The conservative bet: I can’ not back Seery to end his career with a big win; get it at 3/1 otherwise get Mousasi by KO at 17/10.
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