CURRENT RECORD 162-91-3
Less than a month after hosting their first ever show in New York, the UFC returns for Fight Night 102. Headlining the card is a clash between two heavyweights who are aiming to get into the title picture as Derrick Lewis takes on Shamil Abdurakhimov. In the co-main event another heavyweight blockbuster will take place when the ever improving Francis Ngannou squares off against the ever present Anthony Johnson. Elsewhere on the card, there are notable fights between Corey Anderson and Sean O’Connell, Juliana Lima will fight newcomer JJ Aldrich and undefeated Englishmen Marc Diakiese makes his second appearance in as many months, as he takes on Frankie Perez in a lightweight clash. This isn’t the most prominent card of the year; mainly due to a host of injuries and being squeezed in the night before UFC 206 but nonetheless don’t discount it and be sure to be 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.
DERRICK LEWIS vs. SHAMIL ABDURAKHIMOV
Derrick Lewis has been on a four fight win streak, knocking out three with only the granite chin of Roy Nelson defying the inevitable. In fact, 14 of Lewis’ 16 wins have come by knockout. “The Black Beast” packs some serious power and in his own words, his style is based on; “swangin’ and bangin’”. Shamil Abdurakhimov has being fighting for eight years and holds a professional record of 17-3, 2-1 with the UFC. Abdurakhimov is more than capable of holding his own on his feet but is just as comfortable at taking the fight to the ground and grinding out a victory. “Abrek” may opt to take this fight to the mat and test Lewis’ cardio in going the five rounds but I think Lewis will be waiting to catch Abdurakhimov when he dives in. I think Lewis lands the killer punch early and claims yet another stoppage victory.
Lewis by knockout.
FRANCIS NGANNOU vs. ANTHONY HAMILTON
Ngannou is an exciting prospect for the heavyweight division. The French native has a record of 8-1 and none of his fights have yet to see the third round; five have come by knockout and three by submission. “Predator” is extremely well rounded and has an incredible reach of 83inches; to put that into perspective; Stefan “Skyscraper” Struve has a reach of 84inches. Anthony Hamilton has had mixed results since joining the UFC in 2014 going 3-3 and yet to record back to back wins. Last time out the “Freight Train” knocked Damien Grabowski out in just 14 seconds. Hamilton has some wonderful wrestling and great boxing but I think Ngannou outclasses him in all areas. I expect Ngannou to dominate this fight and continue his rise up the rankings.
Ngannou by knockout.
GIAN VILLANTE vs. SAPARBEK SAFAROV
Gian Villante has been in and around the top 15 for some time but has yet to set the world alight. After finally recording his first back to back victories with the UFC, he then went 1-2 in his next three, most recently losing a decision to Ilir Latifi at UFC 196. Villante is rarely in a dull fight and comes to swing; 9 of his 14 wins have been by KO. His virtue is his stand up but he also, he has a solid ground game that is helped by training with former middleweight champion Chris Weidman. Saparbek Safarov takes this fight on just 7 days’ notice, having spent his entire career fighting in his native Russia; he now makes his first bow with the UFC. Safarov has a record of 8-0; with only his last contest being the first to reach a second round. He is an explosive fighter with legitimate power but his one downfall may be his inexperience. 7 of his 8 fights have been in Russia and none were against elite level fighters. Villante isn’t the most prolific light-heavyweight around but he has enough experience to be able to grind out a decision.
Villante by decision.
COREY ANDERSON vs. SEAN O’CONNELL
Sean O’Connell is just fun to watch. His pre-fight wind ups are legendary and when he steps into the cage he always brings the fight. “The Real OC” is on a two fight skid and from his six fights with the UFC he has only won two; they came against a 43year old vet and Matt Van Buren whose record at the time was 6-4 and has since been cut from the roster. Corey Anderson joined the UFC in 2014 with a record of 3-0, since then he has fought ten times for the promotion, going 5-2 in the process. Anderson has a complete ground game but his stand up still needs improving. For this fight he will look to take O’Connell down and avoid the crazy exchanges that O’Connell thrives in. I expect Anderson to take this to the mat and work his way to a decision victory.
Anderson by decision.
Best of the Rest.
Juliana Lima vs. JJ Aldrich
Lima to win.
Randy Brown vs. Brian Camozzi
Brown to win.
Joe Gigliotti vs. Gerald Meerschaert
Meerschaert to win.
Andrew Sanchez vs. Trevor Smith
Smith to win.
Tiago Trator vs. Shane Burgos
Trator to win.
Frankie Perez vs. Marc Diakiese
Diakiese to win.
Keith Berish vs. Ryan Janes
Janes to win.
Justine Kish vs. Ashley Yoder
Kish to win.
Bet of the Day.
The adventurous bet: all 12 predictions in an accumulator is about 177/1.
The inbetweener bet: Lima, Diakiese, Villante, Ngannou and Lewis all to win is 4/1.
The conservative bet: Lewis and Ngannou to win by KO is 2/1.
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