-105 Cesar Arzamendia (7-3) vs. -115 Damien Brown (15-9)
Cesar Arzamendia: “Goku” had a respectable semi finalist showing on TUF Latin America 2. But it was his first fight after the show that garnered him the most attention. Arzamendia threw down with castmate “Marco” Polo Reyes, in a back a forth war that earned them fight of the night.
Arzamendia is tall for a featherweight, at 5 11″he has a height advantage that gives this muay thai champion an edge on the outside and in the clinch. On the ground he can hold his own with 4 of his 7 victories coming by way of submission. Arzamendia will have a rare third chance to prove he belongs in the UFC, an opportunity he can ill afford let pass.
Damien Brown: Damien “Beatdown” Brown made his octagon debut this past March when the UFC came to his native Brisbane. Brown fought Alan Patrick on only seven days notice. Even though he didn’t come away with the win, Brown fought well enough to earn a second shot with a full training camp.
Brown is serviceable everywhere, but excels nowhere. A BJJ purple belt and long time veteran of the Australian fight circuit, if Brown is going to have success in the UFC it’s going to be through toughness and grit, because his skill is not that of the highest level.
The Fight: If Brown has chance to get a win in the UFC this might be it. Arzamendia will be moving up from 145 pounds and will be at a strength disadvantage, if Brown can use his mass to control this bout on the ground I can see him pulling off a decision.
But the scenario most likely to play out will be a striking match, in which case Arzamendia will be able to out point Brown with superior foot and clinch work. Arzamendia Unanimous Decision
-220 Michael Graves (6-0) vs. +185 Bojan Velickovic (14-3)
Michael Graves: With the season of TUF: ATT vs. Blackzilians now a distant memory, Michael Graves has proven that he is more than a reality fighter and at 2-0 in the UFC, he is knocking on the door of being a contender at only 25 years old.
In his last bout Graves handled “Looking For a Fight” prospect Randy Brown fairly easily. Graves is a all around tough dude that is just as comfortable exchanging in the pocket as he is shooting a double leg. A win here would give him 3 in a row and increase his bargaining power when that first non TUF contract comes up for signing.
Bojan Velickovic: Team Elevation fighter Bojan Velickovic made his debut one weight class up from his normal welterweight. Bojan surprised many when he looked huge at middleweight. Following his Middleweight debut win over Italian Alessio Di Chirico, Bojan decided to move back down to the more comfortable welterweight.
A long time veteran of the mid west circuit, Bojan cut his teeth in hard scraps in small venues. Now on the largest stage in the mma world, this Serbian southpaw has the chance to prove he belongs with the worlds elite and move one step closer to getting off of the under card.
The Fight: Bojan will be the larger man and own an 11 fight experience advantage, but Graves is a special kind of fighter and everything Bojan does well, Graves does just a little better.
Expect Bojan to come out with the early lead and land the better strikes in the first, but as Graves settles in his take downs will come easier and easier on a fading Velickovic who cuts a massive amount of weight. Graves will take round 2 and 3 with dominant grappling to take home his 3rd octagon victory. Graves Unanimous Decision
-300 #7 Wilson Reis (20-6) vs. +250 Hector Sandoval (12-2)
Wilson Reis: Reis recently received the heart breaking news that his title fight with Demetrious Johnson was off due to undisclosed injuries. Reis could have chose to have his title fight rescheduled but instead opted to stay on the card. The argument could be made that #7 ranked Reis didn’t deserve the title opportunity, but problems like this will occur in a division where the champ is as dominant as “Mighty Mouse” has been.
Reis showed guts risking his title shot, but it will help to legitimize his number one contender status if he can deal with this highly touted prospect in convincing fashion.
Hector Sandoval: Team Alpha Male fighter Hector “Kid Alex” Sandoval has long been considered one of the best flyweight prospects not in the UFC. Sandoval was a stand out high school wrestler, so he is a natural fit at TAM. Sandoval’s wrestling is strong but at 5’2″ he is undersized for the for the flyweight division.
Sandoval throws wild looping hooks in his stand up game, closely resembling his mentor Urijiah Faber. This opportunity may not be in the most ideal conditions, but he has nothing to lose and if he can pull off a victory he jumps right into the flyweight top 15.
The Fight: This is a huge task for a debuting fighter, Sandoval’s experience and age will help his transition to the big show, but Reis is three skill levels higher than anyone Sandoval has fought.
Sandoval does have a punchers chance, but it’s not a great one, Reis’s stand up was greatly improved in his last fight against Dustin Ortiz, he will use quick combos to set up his take downs where he will be able to finish the fight. Reis RNC 2nd
-105 Anthony Hamilton (14-5) vs. +105 Damian Grabowski (20-3)
Anthony Hamilton: Greg Jackson and Ivan Salaverry trained Anthony Hamilton punched his ticket into the UFC by going 12-2 and winning the MFC title. Once in the big show Hamilton’s results have been mixed.2-3 in the octagon, Hamilton has run into trouble with proficient strikers. Hamilton is a former Junior College National wrestling champion who does his best work from on top. He’s run into to trouble when he hasn’t been able to establish a striking game to set up his take downs. Training with animals like Overeem and Arlovski, Hamilton can’t help but improve on his feet. If he can learn to be more comfortable in the pocket and throw more combos, his takedowns will come much easier. Damian Grabowski: Bellator and M-1 veteran Damian Grawbowski compiled an ultra impressive 20-2 record outside of the octagon, he fought mostly local talents, but did have a few notable wins including Dion Staring and Eddie Sanchez. Grawbowski is a smaller heavyweight at 225 pounds and was matched against the enormous Derrick Lewis in his debut. Grawbowski felt the power of a true heavyweight and he did not take it well, Lewis got him out of there in the first with massive haymakers that landed on the downed Grabowski. Grawbowski is a submission threat, but is going to have trouble implementing his clinch take downs against larger heavyweights. If he is unsuccessful in this bout a drop to 205 would make sense for the Polish veteran. The Fight: Smith is a much larger man and should be able to use his size and wrestling to neutralize Grabowski’s submissions. Hamilton did suffer a loss to Oleksiy Oliynyk who has a very similar style to Grabowski’s, but it was Hamilton’s debut and Oliynyk caught him in his trademark neck crank that catches a lot of fighters off guard because it is so rarely used. Hamilton Unanimous Decision
+190 Ross Pearson (21-11-0-1 NC) vs. -255 Jorge Masvidal (29-11)
Ross Pearson: Ross will hope to continue his very peculiar 10 fight streak of winning one then losing one. Earlier this month Brooks dropped a unanimous decision to new comer and former Bellator lightweight champion Will Brooks.
Pearson is one of the most active fighters on the UFC roster with 20 fights since winning TUF, 7 years ago. He has won the majority of them with very technically sound kickboxing and stifling take down defense. Ross will try to avoid losing back to back fights for the first time in his 11 year career.
Jorge Masvidal: “Gamebred” has lost so many close decisions, that anytime his fights go to the cards it’s hard to exhale until you see his hand raised. Coming off of two split decision losses to Lorenz Larkin and Ben Henderson, Masvidal will do everything in his power to keep this one out of the hands of the judges.
For my money this former street brawler is the most technically sound fighter in the sport. Watching him is like watching a seminar on how to fight mma, everything is textbook. A strong case could be made for Masvidal being undefeated in the UFC, if he continues to fight at the level he does, the calls will start going his way much more frequently.
The Fight: Credit to Ross for taking this fight on short notice, but it was a horrible decision. Stylistically he does not match up well in this bout at all, Masvidal is too fast, too slick and too versatile for his limited attacks.
Masvidal will have his way in this one, it will be much closer on the feet than when Masvidal is able to get the fight down. However Ross is no easy out, I see this one going to the scorecards but Masvidal will make the judge’s job much easier in this fight. Masvidal Unanimous Decision
-205 #11 Nikita Krylov (20-4) vs. +175 Ed Herman (24-11)
Light Heavyweight (205)
Nikita Krylov: If the judges need a bathroom break, this fight would be a good opportunity to step away, in Krylov’s 24 professional fights 0 have gone the distance, in fact only two have left the first round.
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 further exhibits his well rounded attacks, 13 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.
Winning his last four in a row and knocking on the door of the top 10, Krylov will officially throw his old time gangster hat into the contenders ring if he is victorious Saturday night.
Ed Herman: “Short Fuse” decided to stop making the cut to 185 after failing to build any momentum in the middleweight division over the last 10 years. His decision appeared to be the right one, in his first bout a bulkier, healthier looking Herman knocked out the heavily favored Tim Boetsch with a knee in the second round. The knockout came as a surprise too many because Herman was not known for his knockout power at middleweight.
The TUF 3 runner up has a much brighter future at light heavyweight.Herman suffered from a speed disadvantage in almost all of his fights, if he can put on more muscle he will make for some interesting match ups down the road at 205.
The Fight: Krylov will pose many of the same problems that the quicker middleweight fighters posed for Herman, except he has the power of a heavyweight. Krylov will have a definitive speed advantage, but he will need to work to keep out of Herman’s improved clinch.
Krylov will win the stand up battle forcing a shot from Herman where Krylov will sink in a guillotine early. Krylov Guillotine 1st