-120 Polo Reyes (6-3) vs. -110 Dong Hyun Kim (13-7-3)
Polo Reyes: TUF Latin America 2 semi-finalist “Marco” Polo Reyes will return to the Octagon following his debut victory over fellow cast member Cesar Arzamendia.
Reyes began training at Alliance MMA in San Diego after his stint on the show. Eric Del Fierro and crew will supply much needed assistance with his take down defense, while fine tuning his striking to maximize his knockout power.
Dong Hyun Kim: “Maestro” will make his lightweight debut after suffering a knockout via slam by Dom Steele at welterweight. Kim is a natural lightweight and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make his UFC debut in his native South Korea.
Kim is not yet on the level of his training partner who shares his namesake, but does have a similar well rounded game to complement his Judo base. The 27 year old South Korean’s skills are much better than his record would suggest, expect him to be a tough out for the 155 pound division.
The Fight: Reyes does his best work on the feet and has the most success with opponents that opt to duke it out with him. His ground work is improving, but will be a serious weakness in this match up.
Kim is durable and very skilled on the mat, he will not back down from a striking battle but will be constantly looking for an opening to engage in a clinch where he will get this to the ground and work a little ground and pound before securing Reyes’s back, and a rear naked choke. Kim RNC 1st
+105 Kevin Casey (9-4 2NC) vs. -125 Elvis Mutacic (15-4)
Kevin Casey: One of the few Rickson Gracie Black Belts in MMA (or the world for that matter) and son in law of Muhamed Ali, Kevin Casey has had lofty expectations to live up to. A poor performance on TUF 17, which included two losses and the less than stellar 1-2 and 2NC record that has followed, have left the 34 year old with very little room for error.
The heavily muscled Casey was suspended for a year for testing positive for anabolic agent Drostanolone. Many of Casey’s issues have come from fatiguing in the later rounds, maybe a trimmer Casey will have the stamina to hang around later into his fights.
Elvis Mutacic: “The King” is a product of the hard scrapping mid west fight circuit, formerly a student of Miletich Fighting Systems, Elvis has since moved his camp to Arizona to train with Aaron Simpson, Ryan Bader, and C.B Dolloway at Power MMA.
Mutacic lost his UFC debut in January to Francimar Barroso, Elvis took the fight at light heavyweight on 7 days notice and was ground down by the much larger Barroso.
Elvis has a few notable wins at middleweight including Sam Alvey, Zak Cummings, and Cesar Muntante.
The Fight: Mutacic is by far the more well-rounded fighter, but does not excel anywhere like Casey does on the ground. Mutacic also has a bad habit of standing in front of his opponents, leaving him open for take downs.
Casey has had recent success with his hands but will need to use his grappling in this match up. Casey will win the first two with his BJJ but began to fade at the end of the second and lose the third round. If he can make the bell in the third he will have done enough to win a decision.Casey Unanimous Decision
-205 Jonathan Wilson (7-0) vs.+175 Luiz Henrique Da Silva (10-0)
Light Heavyweight (205)
Jonathan Wilson: “Johnny Bravo” only needed :50 to put away Chris Dempsey in his UFC debut. Wilson landed a left straight that dropped Dempsey and followed him down with pin point hammer fists that forced “Big John” to jump in.
Training out of Millennia MMA with top tier strikers like Lorenz Larkin and Saad Awad have properly prepared this powerful southpaw for the best the sport has to offer at light heavyweight.
Luiz Henrique Da Silva: “Henrique Frankenstein” started his pro career in December of 2013, in that short period he has racked up a 10-0 record with 9 knockouts and 1 submission. Granted most of his competition wasn’t elite, but finishing all of your professional opponents is impressive regardless of the skill level.
Last time out, Da Silva showed a solid chin against UFC vet Ildemar Alcantara eating multiple hard shots before finishing Alcantara with one punch in the second round.
The Fight: Prospects are few and far between in the light heavyweight division, with a combined 93% knockout rate in their 17 fights it is easy to get excited about the potential for these two big men.
Wilson’s chin has yet to be tested like Da Silva’s was in the Alcantara fight, but he appears to be the more technical fighter. I would be surprised if this one made it out of the first. Wilson Knockout 1st
+115 Sean Strickland (17-1) vs. -135 Tom Breese (10-0)
Sean Strickland: At 6 1′ Strickland is a very tall welterweight, and he makes great use of his height on the feet with a crisp jab and very technical in and out combos. He is the prototype for the next generation of fighter, good every where and improving with every performance.
4-1 in the UFC, Strickland is on the verge of cracking the top 15 at welterweight. His ceiling is very high, but he will need to work on his aggressiveness and forward movement on the feet or he runs the risk of losing decisions despite his pinpoint counter strikes.
Tom Breese: Breese has literally lived at the gym since 2013, he lives in the dorms above Montreal’s Tristar gym and dedicates his every waking moment to Mixed Martial Arts. The English prospect is enormous for welterweight at 6 3′ and has boxing that is as good as you will find in the sport. 3-0 thus far in his octagon career, Breese has the physical and mental tools to be a future champion.
Before I declare Breese GSP’s successor, I would be remiss to not mention his last performance against wily Japanese vet Keita Nakamura. Breese won a unanimous decision but “K-Taro” exposed many holes in Breese’s takedown defense, landing multiple trips throughout their bout. I’m sure Firaz and company took keen notice of this fact and will be working to eliminate this flaw.
The Fight: This could very easily be a championship bout five years from now. These are two of the best prospects in the sport and its a shame they are meeting so early in their journeys.
Strickland’s lack of aggression and tendency to wait for the fight to come to him will be his downfall. Strickland will be at a rare height disadvantage, last time he faced a taller opponent (Luke Barnatt) his output was abysmal, Breese’s striking is considerably better than Barnatt’s. If Strickland decides to make this a ground battle he will find that Breese possesses the better BJJ.
Breese takes this one in mainly a striking bout with a few exchanges on the mat that will favor Breese. Breese Unanimous Decision
-180 Cole Miller (21-9 1 NC) vs. +155 Alex Caceres (11-8 1NC)
Cole Miller: 32 year old Miller will be stepping into the octagon for the 19th time Saturday night. He has been a mainstay on the UFC roster since his 2007 appearance on TUF season 5.
Miller has seen it all in his time in the cage, the long time ATT student has made huge improvements in his boxing to go along with his top level BJJ. Injuries have plagued “Magrinho”, slowing down his momentum towards a title run, but if Miller can stay healthy, his experience, physical tools ,and skill level are that of a title contender.
Alex Caceres: “Bruce Leeroy” has floated around the .500 mark since his flashy introduction to MMA fans in the 12th season of TUF. His unorthodox striking and creative ground work have proved to be a tough out.
Caceres moved back up to the featherweight division after dropping three fights in a row at bantamweight. He made a successful featherweight return against TUF Latin America alum Masio Fullen and will be looking to add a huge win to his resume against Miller Saturday night.
The Fight: This is a nightmare match up for Caceres, Miller’s technical boxing and body kicks will give him problems standing and his flashy strikes will leave him vulnerable to the take down.
Miller will get the better in the striking, leading to a late submission on the mat. Miller Rear Naked Choke 3rd
-150 #6 Jessica Penne (12-4) vs. +130 Jessica Andrade (13-5)
Jessica Penne: Former Invicta atomweight champion will look to bounce back from her strawweight title match defeat to Joanna Jedrzejczyk in June of last year.
The Alliance MMA BJJ Blackbelt is naturally better suited for the 105 pound atomweight division, but since atomweight has yet to be introduced in the UFC , Penne will need to utilize her BJJ to control her larger opponents in the strawweight division.
Jessica Andrade: This will be Andrade’s debut strawweight fight, she had a strength advantage over most of her opponents at bantamweight, so she should be extremely strong for a strawweight.
At only 5 2′ Andrade will be much better suited for the 115 pound division and a win over the 6th ranked fighter in the division would place her in the title picture immediately.
The Fight: Andrade will have a significant strength advantage, but she does her best work on the mat with heavy ground and pound. On the ground Black Belt Penne will be more than happy to work off of her back against the Blue Belt Andrade.
Penne may pull guard or get dropped with a shot on the feet, but once they go to the ground Penne will sink in a triangle to get the tap. Penne 1st Triangle Choke
-195 #10 Beneil Dariush (12-2) vs.+170 James Vick (9-0)
Beneil Dariush: Dariush is filling in for an injured Evan Dunham, looking to make a quick rebound from his April rear naked choke loss to Michael Chiesa.
Student of Muay Thai legendary trainer, Master Rafael Cordeiro, Dariush’s credentials on the feet are slowly catching up to his elite grappling.
He is still ranked in the top 10 at lightweight and will try to solidify his spot while preventing an up and coming prospect from using him as a stepping stone into the top 10.
James Vick: 29 year old Texan James Vick will be attempting to join a small group of fighters to start their UFC careers 6-0. He is coming off of a unanimous decision win over TUF Brazil 4 champ Glaicio Franco.
The former golden gloves boxer has rounded out his martial arts repertoire training with BJJ quasi-cult leader Master Lloyd Irving.
Any fighter with a 6 fight win streak will have to be considered for their divisions top 10 and a win over Daruish would officially move Vick from prospect status to contender status.
The Fight: Joe Silva is throwing Vick into the fire for his first ranked opponent, a match up with the 15th ranked Dunham would have been a more appropriate test for the undefeated prospect.
Daruish keeps his hands pretty low, but does a good job of keeping his head off of the centerline and Vick lacks one punch knock out power.
Dariush is better than Vick in every aspect of the fight game, he will control this fight where ever it should end up. Daruish Unanimous Decision
-265 #12 Brian Ortega (10-0) vs. +225 Clay Guida (32-13)
Brian Ortega: “T-City” is coming off of a dramatic victory over angry Brazilian Diego Brandao. Ortega was down on the score cards, but managed to lock up a triangle with only 1:37 left in the 3rd keeping his undefeated record intact.
Ortega’s BJJ is something special, his ability to chain together submission attempt after submission attempt is a thing of beauty, but he needs to improve his stand up drastically if he is going to compete on the next level.
Clay Guida: Possibly the most active fighter of the last decade, Guida will be making his 23rd appearance in the octagon since his debut in 2006. 12-10 in that period Guida has been the quintessential gate keeper, first at lightweight and now at featherweight.
At 34 it is highly unlikely that Guida will ever make it to a title fight, but he is one of the few fighters who has job security in the UFC thanks to his insane pace and huge fan base.
The Fight: Common sense says the young BJJ upstart will submit the aging Tasmanian devil who has fell victim to submissions on 9 previous occasions. But when you’re dealing with Clay Guida common sense goes out the window.
Guida will out work Ortega on the feet and stifle Ortgea’s submission attempts en route to removing Ortega from the ranks of the unbeaten. Guida Unanimous Decision