Karolina Kowalkiewicz (8-0) vs. Heather Jo Clark (7-4)
Karolina Kowalkiewicz: Kowalkiewicz is on the verge of stardom, the 30 year old Pollock made the move up to the big show after wining the KSW Strawweight title and earning a win over Japanese young gun Mizuki Inoue in Invicta.
She was a big underdog in her UFC debut against TUF season 20 standout Randa Markos. however she did not perform like an underdog, she landed the cleaner strikes and displayed a wider array of striking techniques all while defending almost all of Markos’s take down attempts.
A win over a tough vet like Clark would set Kowalkiewicz up for a top 5 opponent in her next outing.
Heather Jo Clark: Heather Jo Clark’s time in the TUF house was marred by “mean girls” Bec Rawlings and Angela Manga, the catty duo took underhanded shots at her throughout the season in an attempt to break her mentally. But it was Clark who had the last laugh when she scored a victory over Rawlings on the finale of the show.
Injuries have kept Clark sidelined for the last year and a half so she will be chomping at the bit to get back in the cage.
Clark trains at Syndicate MMA in Vegas a team that has put them selves on the map lately with a number of fighters on the UFC roster.
The Fight: Clark is very tough, but she lacks the technique and polish to out gun the Polish prospect. Kowalkiewicz is just a little better at every aspect of the game and she will walk away with her hand raised. Kowalkiewicz Unanimous Decision
Nikita Krylov (19-4) vs. Francimar Barroso (18-4)
Light Heavyweight (205)
Nikita Krylov: One thing that can be said for certain about this talented Ukrainian young gun is that he really does not like the sound of bells. Of his 23 fights only one has made it out of the first round and zero of his fights have gone the distance!
Krylov’s base is in Kyukushin Karate, however he is a true next generation MMA fighter who is comfortable where ever the fight may go. Taking a look at Krylov’s wins will further exhibit his well rounded attack, 12 of his wins have come by way of submission while 7 have come via the KO/TKO. This might lead you to believe Krylov prefers to fight on the ground, but the majority of his submission wins have been on opponents that were rocked by his striking.
4-2 in his UFC bouts, Krylov has suffered a few setbacks, but at only 24 years of age “Al Capone” may be hitting his stride, winning his last 3 fights in a total of about 7 minutes.
Francimar Barroso: Nova Unaio’s Fancimar Barroso has also put together a sold resume at 205 going 4-1 with his lone loss coming by way of split decision to Dutchmen Hans Stringer.
Barroso has not been overly exciting in his octagon performances something he is hoping to change in this fight.
Barroso is well rounded and very strong for Light Heavyweight which allows him the ability to impose his will on his opponents and take the fight where ever he wishes.
At 36 years old father time is not on Barroso’s side, but a win over a young stud like Krylov will put his name in big fight talks.
The Fight: If Barroso is to win this fight he will need to make it ugly and long, he will need to get Krylov down and grind him out.
Krylov on the other hand will want to punch in and punch out quickly. Krylov has shown he can handle larger opponents taking a few fights at Heavyweight. His take down defense is the only question in this fight.
In the end Krylov’s elite striking combind with Barroso’s suceptability to the KO will equate to a short night for both fighters. Krylov KO 1 round
Germaine De Randamie (5-3) vs. Anna Elmose (3-0)
Germaine De Randamie: “The Iron Lady” is not only the best striker in women’s MMA she may the best striker in all of MMA. 46-0 in Muay Thai bouts is about as good as you can do.
De Randmie has not had the smoothest transition to MMA compiling a 5-3 record since her debut in 2009. She has run into trouble with grapplers and preventing the take down lay n pray.
De Randamie trains at AKA, the premier gym for improving wrestling and anti wrestling skills. If she can improve her take down defense there is not many women who will be able to trade blows on the feet with the 5 9″ Dutchwomen.
Anna Elmose: Elmose has burst onto the European MMA scene with three straight highlight reel KO’s under her belt.
Elmose also has an extensive Muay Thai background and will have the advantage of training MMA from the start of her career.
“Panda” impressed enough in her first three fights to earn a bout in the sports largest venue on the main card. This alone says what kind of potential this young Dane has.
The Fight: This is an unprecedented rush to a main card against an elite fighter, not since 0-0 James Tony fought Randy Couture has a fighter been on the main card with so little experience.
De Randamie will be far too experienced, she will be able to keep this on the feet and punish the youngster leading to a late round stoppage. De Randamie TKO 3rd round
Albert Tumenov (17-2) vs. Gunnar Nelson (14-2)
Albert Tumenov: The self proclaimed best striker in MMA has made a compelling argument for his case. Albert “Einstein” owns three highlight reel knockouts and a split decision win over highly acclaimed striker Lorenz Larkin.
Tumenov already has the stand up to compete with the elite in the division, but his ground game is still un proven. His lone defeat in the octagon was to Jiu Jitsu centric fighter Ildemar Alcantara.
“Gunni” is one the best BJJ practitioners in MMA and will be an incredible test for Tumenov at this stage in his career.
Gunnar Nelson: Stoic Icelandic ninja Gunnar Nelson’s path to superstardom has been slowed in the past year. Nelson started his UFC stint going 4-0 with three first round submissions, but he has come up short to dominate smothering grapplers Rick Story and Demian Maia.
Nelson is a big critic of weight cutting, which is part of the reason he has been beaten by larger men. If “Gunni” would make the cut to Lightweight he would defiantly benefit, but as that does not to appear to be happening anytime in the near future he will need to work tirelessly on his wrestling. His current home gym is Connor McGregor’s SBG gym in Ireland, a gym not known for their wrestling prowess. A move to a more wrestling focused gym like AKA would go along way to making Nelson a more complete fighter.
The Fight: Nelson will have the distinct advantage on the mat and his elusiveness on the feet will keep him out of trouble against the heavy handed Tumenov.
Nelson will be able to score a few crucial take downs and do enough to win a unanimous decision. Nelson Unanimous Decision
Antonio Silva (19-8) vs. Stefan Struve (30-8)
Antonio Silva: “Bigfoot” Silva is somewhat of an enigma, he has shown he can beat the best (Alistair Overeem, Fedor Emilenenko) or lose to Eric Pele. In fairness to Bigfoot all of his losses other than Pele have been to fighters who are currently ranked in the top 10 in the UFC.
Currently ranked #12 in the Heavyweight division Silva is still with in striking distance of another title shot. His size and strength give him an advantage over almost every fighter on the UFC roster.
Bigfoot’s chin seems to be deteriorating with age, at 36 if he is not able to shore up his striking defense he will not be able to endure many more knockouts.
Stefan Struve: Struve has overcome possible career ending heart abnormalities and multiple concussive knockouts in his combat sports career. Now 28 Struve should be filling out his seven foot frame and coming in to his athletic peak.
Stuve certainly has the talent to win the big fights, as he has displayed in his wins over current title challenger Stipe Miocic and Big Nog, but has come up short in big fights more times than not.
If Struve can fulfill his potential and use his reach to keep his foes at a distance he will be a tough puzzle to solve for heavyweights, some a foot shorter.
The Fight: This is essentially a battle for legitimacy in the Heavyweight division, with the winner back in the hunt and the loser looking down the barrel of retirement. Struve will be the younger of the two by nearly a decade and has the bigger upside. But Bigfoot has the strength and training camp advantage.
This fight is a coin toss, because both fighters have knockout power and questionable chins. Bigfoot has shown he can take a beating in fights against Mark hunt and Fabricio Werdum, for this reason he will be able to endure minor damage before landing the knockout blow late in the first. Silva knockout 1 round
Alistair Overeem (40-14) vs. Andrei Arlovski (25-11)
Alistair Overeem: Alistair has had quite the storied career and accomplished more than probably any human being alive across the different forms of combat sports. But his shot at the UFC title fight has always been just out of reach. When he first entered the octagon he put a beating on Brock Lesnar and was scheduled to challenge for Dos Santos’s belt. A dirty drug test put an end to that chance. Then he returned and was all but assured he would receive a title shot if he beat Bigfoot Silva. Which he was well on the way to doing before getting clipped in the third.
There are many more examples of a title fight just eluding “The Reem” but even with all of these past setbacks Alistair is ranked #3, and once again one fight away from a title fight. His past suggests this fight will not go his way, based on Arlovksi’s late resurgence in back and forth slugfests and Overeem’s history of gassing, The Reem’s fans will not be able to exhale in this one until we see The Reem’s hand raised in victory.
Andrei Arlovski: Arlovski has made an unprecedented comeback in the Heavyweight division. The former Champ, appeared the game had passed him by and the MMA media was quick to bury him as a fighter of the past.
When Arlovski resigned with the UFC the MMA media chuckled at the idea of a bygone era fighter trying to compete with the modern day gladiators. His first win back was written off as a fluke and a blown decision, but when he followed the Schaub win up with two 1st round knockouts of Bigfoot Silva and Travis Browne the media stopped laughing and took notice.
Arlovski is still only 37 which seems unbelievable considering he was the champ over a decade ago. If Arlovski is able to pull off the upset he will also be one fight away from regaining his title.
If he does fall short in this bout Arlovski would be a hell of a wildcard at 205. Always undersized as a Heavyweight, Arlovski would bring scary power to an already murderous division.
The Fight: The camp drama has added a whole new element to this fight. With Greg Jackson and Mike Winklejohn choosing to corner Arlovski he will be at a clear advantage knowing what Alistair is working on and his strengths and weaknesses.
Unfourtunantly for Arlovski it won’t make a difference, Alistair is the superior striker and even if his team doesn’t have his back the Dutch crowd will. Arlovski will soon find out “if you ain’t Dutch you ain’t much”. Overeem knockout round 1