Yuta Sasaki (18-3-2) vs. Willie Gates (12-6)
Yuta Sasaki – At one time “Ulka” Sasaki was on track to be the new young face of Japanese MMA, the former Shooto standout was 17-1 when he debuted in the UFC against Canadian submission specialist Roland Delorme. Sasaki made quick work of Delorme submitting him with a rear naked choke in 1:06 of the first round.
Sasaki did not fare nearly as well in his next two matches, being submitted via neck crank by Leandro Issa and stopped with strikes in the second round by France’s Taylor Lapilus, appearing overmatched and overpowered in both of these Bantamweight contests..
Sasaki was given this fight on short notice replacing SBG Irishmen Paddy Holohan, who abruptly announced his retirement citing a rare blood disorder. It will be Sasaki’s debut at Flyweight, a move he hopes will re-energize his career.
Willie Gates – Willie “Whoop ass”Gates has been on both sides of the ass whooping in the octagon. The California native and training partner of Lightweight contender Bobby “King” Green put together a solid 11-4 record on the California circuit before making his UFC debut in 2014.
Gates debuted on short notice against top 5 Flyweight John Moraga, replacing the injured Jussier Formiga. Gates scored some points on the feet early but was ultimately overmatched and submitted in the third round.
Gates redeemed himself with a quick 1:36 finish against Darrell Montague, showing the explosiveness and precise striking that got him to the show.
In his last outing Gates was bullied around the cage by Rofusport grinder Dustin Ortiz, before being pounded out with punches and elbows in the third.
The Fight: This will a modern day striker vs grappler match up, though both are proficient in all aspects of the fight game, Gates will surely look to keep this one standing while Sasaki’s best chance of victory will be on the mat.
At 1-2 in the Octagon both fighters are in desperate need of this victory, Gates’s defeats in the octagon have come at the hands of top 10 talent, while Sasaki has come up short against much less accomplished fighters.
These two like to start fast, so look for this one to end early. Gate’s speed and power will be to much for Sasaki, earning him the stoppage in the first with strikes. Gates TKO 1st
Leon Edwards (10-3) vs. Dominic Waters (9-4)
Leon Edwards: “Rocky” Edwards has had mixed results in the UFC so far, the Brit has racked up a 2-2 record, at time showing absolute perfection while at others times appearing to be completely out of his league.
Edwards’ wins have come against Seth Baczynski and Pawel Pawlek, the Baczynski fight was a :08 knockout, the second fastest in the Welterweight division.
His Losses have come against tough grapplers Claudio Henrique Da Silva and TUF: ATT vs Blackzilians winner Kamar Usman.
Dominic Waters – Waters, a retired marine has come up short in both of his octagon appearances. Waters made the switch to the Jackson/Wink camp prior to his last fight and will be looking to keep his roster spot in Rotterdam.
Waters was Roy Nelson’s first pick on season 16 of TUF, he lost his first match to the eventual season runner up Mike Ricci.
His debut against George Sullivan was a back and forth battle that he came out on the wrong side of. It was a close fight and him losing was not outrageous, but one judge scored the fight 30-25 giving Sullivan two 10-8 rounds, which did not happen.
Waters then lost in the first round to South Korean phenom Dong Huyn Kim when he got trapped in a crucifix position and pounded with strikes.
The Fight: I expect to see a much improved Dom Waters, for the first time in his UFC career he will have a full fight camp and be training full time. Not to say Edwards does not have the ability to end this fight at any moment, he does, however Waters is with an elite camp now, which combined with his natural talents will equal success for this athletic 27 year old. expect Waters to take this fight to the ground and control it there throughout. Waters Unanimous Decision
Kyoji Horiguchi (16-2) vs Neil Seery (16-11)
Kyoji Horiguchi – Japan’s number one ranked Flyweight has been impressive in his six stateside fights, winning all but his title fight against Demetrious Johnson.
Horiguchi was the number one student of Kid Yamamoto and the Killer Bee fight team, but made the transition to the States to train with ATT in hopes of perfecting his game to the American style of fighting. He has an unusual amount of power for someone with his speed.
Last time out Horiguchi defeated Muay Thai standout Chris Cariaso via unanimous decision, if he can get by Seery he will be on a short list of fighters to get a rematch with Johnson for the Flyweight strap.
Neil Seery – Dublin Ireland’s own, Neil Seery is the definition of a blue collar fighter, technically he is near flawless and a tough as they come, in his 27 professional fights has never been knocked out.
Seery is 3-2 in the octagon with his losses coming against Louis Smolka and Brad Pickett. His biggest win to date was over TUF vet Chris Beal, handing him his first professional loss.
A win over Horiguchi would immediately put the 36 year old in title contention and a welcomed challenger in a somewhat stagnate Flyweight division.
The Fight: Seery is a prototypical gate keeper fighter, he will dispatch of anyone not ready for the top 10 but does not quite have the talent to compete with the division’s elite. unfortunately for Seery, Horiguchi is a proven elite fighter of the division and will have no trouble handling the Irish lad. Horiguchi Unanimous Decision
Yan Cabral(12-2) vs. Reza Madadi (13-4)
Yan Cabral: Nova Unaio’s Cabral has some of the best BJJ for MMA, he uses his striking to effectively get in close to land take downs. His submission skills may be some of the best in MMA today, but his lack of wrestling and striking have held him back from ascending to the next level.
Cabral dropped to Lightweight following a decision loss to Zach Cummings. Cummings is very big for Welterweight and used his size advantage to effectively neutralize Cabral’s submissions.
The move down paid dividends, Cabral submitted Japanese Veteran Naoyuki Kotani in the first round with a rear naked choke.
Cabral will be looking to right the ship after dropping a close decision to Johnny Case in Brazil at Fight Night 77.
Reza Madadi: Iranian born Swedish resident Reza Madadi has a extensive background in Freestyle and Greco Roman wrestling. While wresling is his base, Madadi has used his submissions to finish 8 of his 13 wins.
Madadi earned his shot in the octagon by beating three UFC vets in a row; taking out Junie Browning, Carlo Prater and Rich Clementi with in a six month period.
Madadi’s biggest win came over Michael Johnson, Madadi was almost knocked out by a head kick in the first but came back to submit the top ten fighter with a Darce choke in the third round.
He will look to get back on the winning track after dropping his last fight to TUF: Smashes Champ Norman Parke.
The Fight: This fight has the potential to be incredibly exciting or resemble an amateur kickboxing match. For the fans sake I hope they choose to engage each other in a grappling contest as opposed to a glorified toughman fight. If it does hit the mat, Madadi is the stronger of the two but Cabral the better technician.
With Cabral coming down from Welterweight I don’t see Madadi being able to overpower the naturally larger man. Cabral will gain superior positions on the mat and the standup battle will be even. Cabral Split Decision
Magnus Cedenblad (13-4) vs. Garreth McLellan (13-3)
Magnus Cedenblad: Swedish born and bred Magnus Cedenblad said he began training MMA because he “wanted to kick like Cro Cop”. Though he doesn’t quite have the kicking power of Cro Cop, Cedenblad has become a well rounded prospect in the Middleweight division.
Training with Alpha Swede Alexander Gustafsson at the Allstars Training Center in Sweden, Cedenblad has proven himself in the octagon collecting a 3-1 record. His lone defeat came in his debut to Tristar standout Francis Carmont. Cedenblad dominated the first round of their fight before falling victim to some heavy ground and pound that helped Carmont secure a fight ending rear naked choke.
Cedenblad has displayed great take downs and slick submissions in the cage, if he can get his level of striking to half that of training partner Gustafsson, he may be competing with the upper echelons of Middleweights very soon.
Garreth McLellan: South African Gareth McLellan is a converted Rugby player who has won multiple Karate Championships. McAllen is one of the first South African to make it to the big stage, but claims there are many more waiting in the wings at his Fightfit Militia home gym.
McLellan’s debut was less than stellar, he was smothered by Polish Juodoka Batosz Fabinski for three rounds en route losing a unanimous decision.
His next bout was against Legacy Fighting Champion Bubba Bush. The first round of the fight looked like a repeat of McLellan’s debut, Bush fought hard for the take down and controlled the round from the top. Bush shot for an early take down up against the fence when McLellan used a crafty fence grab to wind up on top of the gassed Bush. McLellan paced himself on top well and was able to pound out Bush with only :02 seconds left in the third.
The Fight: Joe Silva must have seen something in McLellan that suggest he will be able to be compete in this match up. But from a non insider perspective this seems like a mismatch. McLellan’s weakness’s play right in to Cedenblad’s strengths. Look for Cedenblad to score an early take down and sink in a guillotine choke towards the later part of the first round. Cedenblad Guillotine Choke 1 round
Rustam Khabilov (18-3) vs. Chris Wade (11-1)
Widely considered the second best of the emerging Dagestani fighters, only behind life long training partner Khabib Numagamedov. Rustam has suffered a few setbacks but still has the tools to put together a title run.
Khabilov’s debut was a violent introduction to the world of Combat Sambo, he suplexed TUF Live vet Vinc Pichel thee times, rendering him unconscious on the third.
After two more wins against very game opponents in Yancey Medeiros and Jorge Masvidal Khabilov received a five round main event fight against former champ and number one contender Benson Henderson. Khabilov was in the fight early scoring a few take downs and landing a few haymaker uppercuts. But as the fight progressed “Bendo” began to take over getting the better of the exchanges and pushing the pace of the fight. Then in the start of the fourth Henderson landed a uppercut straight combo that sent Khabilov crashing to the canvas, Henderson followed him down and sunk in the rear naked choke.
Khabilov continued to slide losing his next match a lackluster decision to Adriano Martins, where he seemed to hesitate to commit to anything.
Khabilov narrowly won his last fight eking out a decision over Norman Parke.
Khabilov will be looking to regain some of the hype he had in 2013 when many were crowning him the future lightweight king.
Chris Wade: Islip New York’s Chris Wade was a three time division 3 All American and amateur kickboxing champ before he began his MMA career.
Wade has started his UFC run perfect going 4-0 with his biggest win coming over TUF China champion, Lipeng Zhang.
Training with partners like Ryan Laflare and Dennis Bermudez will defiantly help this 28 year old prospect achieve success on the next level of competition.
The Fight: This is one step up too much for the up and coming Wade. Wade is a legit prospect but Khabilov is going to be too skilled and strong for Wade at this stage of his career. Khabilov Unanimous Decision