CURRENT RECORD: 30-16
The Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, Canada is the latest venue for the UFC. Headlining Fight Night 105 is a heavyweight slugfest between Derrick Lewis and Travis Browne. Lewis comes into this fight on the back of a five fight win streak, wining four by knockout. “Hapa” Browne has been suffering a bad run of form, losing his last two and four of his last six. In some senses this is a cross roads fights for both men; a win for Lewis puts his name firmly in the title picture, a win for Browne would show he is still a relevant fighter in the division. In the co-main event, two middleweights in desperate need of a victory will face off as Hector Lombard and Johny Hendricks both search for their first win after both suffering three losses straight. Elsewhere on the card, there are exciting match ups between Elias Theodorou and Cezar Ferreira, Nordine Taleb takes on Santiago Ponzinibbio and in the women’s bantamweight division; Carla Esparza will take on Randa Markos. Fight Night 105 promises to be an interesting night of fights not to be missed, so be sure to be tuned in so you don’t miss out.
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. TRAVIS BROWNE
Derrick Lewis ended 2016 undefeated; beating all four of his opponents to climb to #8 in the rankings. In a division that currently lacks significant depth; another impressive display here from the “Black Beast” could set him up for a potential number one contender clash. While Lewis has been on the rise, Travis Browne’s form has dramatically fallen. “Hapa” had a positive start to his UFC career, going 7-1-1 to set up a title eliminator against Fabricio Werdum; a fight he lost by unanimous decision. Since then, Browne has joined forces with Edmond Tarverdyan and to put it bluntly; he’s gotten steadily worse. Browne was once a fearsome striker but he has now become slow and predictable; leaving far too many openings for opponents to catch him and if his defence hasn’t improved drastically then Lewis will find a way to connect. From “Black Beasts” 17 victories, 15 have been by KO; if he connects cleanly then his opponent is going to sleep. Unless Browne utilizes his solid clinch game I can only see this going one way, a heavy haymaker knocking Browne out cold.
Lewis by KO.
JOHNY HENDRICKS vs. HECTOR LOMBARD
Since losing the welterweight title in 2014, Johny Hendricks career has not only stalled but began to rapidly decline; “Big Rigg” has only won once in his four fights since. Hendricks was once revered for his soul-crushing left hand and dominant wrestling but both these skills have deserted him in the past two years. Mix all this in with failed weight cuts and constant talk of retirement and you have an athlete that has lost his way in the sport. Hector Lombard hasn’t been enjoying a good spell as of late either, his last win was in 2014 and along with a failed drug test and suspension, his performances levels have begun to seriously drop. The judo gold medallist is a vastly experienced competitor, having competed in 43 pro fights; amassing a record of 34-6 and he is a very versatile fighter. Moving up in weight class may suit Hendricks and if he was able to return to the “Big Rigg” of old, he could get the job done but as of late, he has looked really disinterested and I think Lombard will have too many tools in his locker to inflict enough damage and claim a decision victory.
Lombard by decision.
SAM SICILIA vs. GAVIN TUCKER
Sam Sicilia and Gavin Tucker are two featherweights with something to prove. Sicilia desperately needs a turn in his fortunes after suffering consecutive losses to Doo Ho Choi and most recently to Gabriel Benitez. Sicilia has never set the featherweight division alight, producing a UFC record of 6-5 and better fighters have been cut for less, so a win here is paramount. Gavin Tucker is the hometown hero making his UFC debut, undefeated in his mixed martial arts career thus far; he has finished 8 of his 9 opponents to date. “Guv’nor” has a chance to launch himself onto the world stage with a big performance here and despite Sicilia being the more experienced of the two, I think Tucker gets the job done. Tucker has a more complete game and a larger arsenal of attacks and I expect him to get another finish here, either by strikes or submission.
Tucker by KO.
ELIAS THEODOROU vs. CEZAR FERREIRA
“The Spartan” Elias Theodorou, returns to his native Canada hoping the crowd can spur him on to another victory. Theodorou bounced back from his first career loss by defeating Sam Alvey last time out, to boost his record to 12-1. Theodorou has a background in kickboxing, which is evident in his stand up but he excels when applying his wrestling, a tactic I expect he will apply on Saturday. Cezar Ferreira went through a purple patch in 2016, winning all three of his contests. The dangerous Brazilian loves to engage an opponent and mix things up but my concern isn’t for his attacks but for his defence. Four of Ferreira’s five defeats have come by knockout and he has a tendency to leave his chin out to be tagged. Ferreira will look to push forward and seek openings but I think Theodorou’s superior wrestling and ground and pound style will help him go on to claim a decision victory.
Theodorou by decision.
SARA McMANN vs. GINA MAZANY
Gina Mazany takes this fight on just two weeks’ notice and will face a tough debut against the experienced Sara McMann. Mazany has only been competing in MMA for two years and is so far undefeated from four fights, winning two by knockout and one a piece by submission and decision. “Danger” has steady crisp boxing and she will learn a good ground game due to her allegiance to Team Couture but her wrestling isn’t yet on par with Sara McMann. Originally expected to face Liz Carmouche, Sarah McMann is well used to facing the best of women’s MMA; she has only suffered three losses in her career and they were against women’s champion Amanda Nunes and former champions Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate. I expect to see McMann come racing out and look for a takedown from the get go, once there, she will work tirelessly to trap a submission. If that fails she will keep Mazany pinned and frustrate her for the duration.
McMann by decision.
ALESSANDRO RICCI vs. PAUL FELDER
You’re guaranteed one thing when Paul Felder is involved; he brings the fight! “The Irish Dragon” starts off composed but that soon goes out the window as he pushes forward intent on a brawl. Felder doesn’t mind eating one punch if it means he lands one of his own, he will constantly push the pace and stay in his opponents face. Alessandro Ricci had been contemplating retirement prior to getting the call late last year from the UFC, Ricci went on to lose his debut but showcases some of his skills in the process. The Canadian born fighter has a mixed martial arts record of 10-4 and has never been finished in his career. Ricci’s main focus is his stand up and this is where this fight should take place, Felder and Ricci should trade blows for the majority of this bout. As the fight wares on, I expect Felder to start taking hold and land the more significant strikes, claiming a victory from the judges’ scorecards.
Felder by decision.
Best of the Rest.
Nordine Taleb vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio
Pozinibbio to win.
Carla Esparza vs. Randa Markos
Esparza to win.
Aiemann Zahabi vs. Reginaldo Vieira
Zahabi to win.
Jack Marshman vs. Thiago Santos
Marshman to win.
Gerald Meerschaert vs. Ryan Janes
Meerschaert to win.
Bet of the Day.
The adventurous bet: all 11 predictions in an accumulator is about 114/1.
The inbetweener bet: McMann, Felder, Marshman, Zahabi and Lewis all to win is 10/1.
The conservative bet: Derrick Lewis to win by KO is 5/4.
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