Bec Rawlings (6-4) vs Seohee Ham (16-6)
Bec Rawlings: “Rowdy” Bec Rawlings has gone 2-2 since her Strawweight Invicta title fight with Carla Esparza in 2013. Rawlings has better than average submission skills and can hold her own on the feet, but she has faltered against strong wrestlers who expose her less than stellar take down defense. Rawlings, a Brisbane native, needs this W desperately to keep her spot on the UFC Strawweight roster.
Seohee Ham: South Korean kickboxer Seohee Ham has been impressive in both of her octagon bouts. Her debut against Joanne “Jojo” Caulderwood was a back and forth stand up war that she lost by decision. Her next bout with Courtney Casey was a very similar stand up affair that saw her coming out on the winning end. Ham has the some of the best striking in the division, if she can keep fights standing she will be a tough out for any Strawweight.
The Fight: Rawling’s best chance in this one will be getting it to the mat and working for a submission. However, she has a history of being baited into striking matches. Ham’s striking will be far superior, and if she can keep it standing she will win this one on the judge’s cards. MY PICK: Ham Unanimous decision
James Te Huna (18-8) vs Steve Bosse ( 10-1)
James Te Huna: Te Huna has the power and chin to go blow for blow with anyone in the Middleweight division. The 34 year old kiwi is 5-4 in the octagon, but is coming off of 3 consecutive losses to Glover Texeria, Shogun Rua and Nate Marquardt. His encounters with the top of the division have not gone well, Te Huna needs to get this win to show he is ready for another shot at the top 15 contenders.
Steve Bosse: Steve Bosse’s UFC debut did not go great. Thiago “Marreta” Santos landed a head kick that nearly decapitated the French-Canadian fighter, and was widely considered the KO of the year. The hockey goon turned pro-fighter has another tough test in Te Huna, however Bosse’s training at Tri-Star with Firas Zahabi and crew, should give him the tools to make this fight a real humdinger.
The Fight: I cant imagine this one making it out of the first round. Both possess lights out power and both are willing to sit in the pocket and trade. Anything can happen when two heavy-handed guys like this meet, but the safe money is on Te Huna to be the one that lands the knockout blow in this one. Te Huna’s experience and chin give him a clear cut advantage over the scrappy Bosse. MY PICK: Te Huna KO 1st
Daniel Kelly (10-1) vs Antonio Carlos Junior (6-1-1)
Daniel Kelly: Kelly another TUF: Nations alum has done well since his time on the show, going 3-1 in his last four fights, Kelly has displayed elite grappling. The 4-time Olympic Judoka has crossed over seamlessly to MMA. His lone professional loss was a 49 second TKO at the hands of “Smiling” Sam Alvey. At 38 years old, time is not on the side of Kelly, he will need to win out if he is to be a contender in the Middleweight.
Antonio Carlos Junior: TUF: Brazil 3 champ Antonio Carlos Junior has looked dominant in most of his octagon appearances. The Pan-Am Gold medalist recently made the drop to middleweight after being out-muscled by the “Wrestling Barista” Patrick Cummings. He should be larger than most at Middleweight and enjoy a substantial strength advantage over his foes. Carlos Junior has the skill set, age (26) and camp (ATT) to vie for the belt in the coming years.
The Fight: This one should be interesting, their grappling might cancel each other out, turning this into a sloppy kickboxing match up. If Kelly is to win he will need to follow the blueprint that Cummings laid out, and smother Carlos Junior for three rounds. However Carlos Junior is going be much stronger down a weight class and will be able to fend off Kelly’s shots. Kelly’s submission defense is strong enough to prevent the finish but he will get outpointed by the younger Carlos Junior. MY PICK: Carlos Junior Split decsion
Jake Matthews (10-1) vs Johnny Case (22-4)
Jake Matthews: Jake “The Celtic Kid” Matthews might be Australia’s best chance at producing a UFC champion. The 9-1 Aussie has looked dominant at times in the cage, taking opponents down at will and pounding them into submission. His down fall is his lack of high level experience and the fact that his dad is his trainer. If Matthews makes the move to train with an elite camp the sky is the limit for this youngster.
Johnny Case: “Hollywood” has come along way from the local Iowa circuit where he cut his teeth. Now training in San Diego at the Alliance Training Center with fellow Iowan and long time friend Jeremy Stephens, Case has been on a roll. Currently on a 12 fight winning streak, Case has not lost a fight since 2010. His uninhibited personality combined with his exceptional talent may be the recipe for the next superstar at 155 pounds.
The Fight: This fight five years from know might go down a bit differently, but come Saturday night Case will be too much for young Jake Matthews. Case is far too crafty and technical to be bullied around and will be able to pick apart Matthews on the feet. MY PICK: Case TKO 3rd
Hector Lombard (35-4-1) vs Neil Magny (17-4)
Hector Lombard: Not only is Hector Lomard the strongest Welterweight, he might be the strongest fighter in the UFC period. But after his most recent win over Josh Burkman, we found out that Lombard’s freak strength might have been enhanced through science, he tested positive for PEDs and was consequently fined $53,000 and suspended for one year. Fresh off of his suspension Lombard will eager too perform in front of his adopted country.
Neil Magny: Magny has possibly improved more than any fighter to ever come out of the TUF house. Once destined for a career consisting of prelim bouts, Magny has grown into an elite mixed martial artist. Behind his extreme growth is UFC vet and BJJ coach Elliot Marshall and the rest of the coaches at Colorado’s Grudge Training Center. In addition to his great camp, Magny has unparalleled work ethic and a reach of 81 inches, which is unheard of for a Welterweight. Magny’s ascent up the ranks was delayed by BJJ wizard Demain Maia, but a win over a perennial top 10 guy like Lombard would set him up to be competing for a title with in a year.
The Fight: This fight might be tailor made for Magny. Lombard will have a hard time closing the distance to get by the pterodactyl like wing span of Magny. If Lombard does get the fight to the ground Magny has good enough BJJ to work his way back up. Magny will be the weaker of the fighters in the clinch, but will rack up enough points everywhere else to take this one on the scorecards. MY PICK: Magny Unanimous decision
Frank Mir (18-10) vs Mark Hunt (11-10)
Frank Mir: Of Frank Mir’s 28 Pro fights, 26 of them have taken place in the UFC. Mir has been the premier submission fighter in the Heavyweight division for the last 14 years. His combination of strength and technique endow him with unrivaled submission holds that end fights in the most violent ways. At only 36 the former Heavyweight champ has already put together a hall of fame career, in this match with Hunt,Mir will look to solidify his spot as the most dangerous submission fighter in the history of MMA.
Mark Hunt: The “Super Samoan” Mark Hunt is such an entertaining fighter that he might finish his career under .500 and still be a hall of fame fighter. Hunt’s ability to inflict and absorb damage are unmatched in combat sports. Hunt nearly reached the apex of the sport in 2014 when he fought Fabricio Werdum for the interim Heavyweight Title at UFC 180. Hunt came up short that night,to many fans chagrin, since his title bout he has gone 1-1, losing a five round skirmish with Stipe Miocic that left both combatants bloodied and battered. Most recently Hunt TKO’ed “Bigfoot” Silva in the first round in a rematch to their classic slugfest that ended in a draw. With how shallow the Heavyweight division is Hunt may get another shot at the belt if he can string together a few wins.
The Fight: This fight can go one of two ways, Mir tries to strike with Hunt and loses consciousness or more likely Mir will look for the takedown and work for the submission. If Hunt has had one weakness in his game it’s his submission defense. Mir striking is more than competent and will put him in position to get this fight to the ground.
MY PICK: MIR Kimura 1st