+130 Chase Sherman (9-1) vs.-150 Justin Ledet (6-0)
Chase Sherman: Former division III linemen Chase Sherman has made a smooth transition to mma. 9-1 with nine first round KO/TKO’s Sherman has displayed raw power and a willingness to trade in the pocket.
The 26 year has done the majority of his training under UFC vet Alan Belcher in Missisippi. His lone defeat came at the hands of current UFC middleweight Alex Nicholson via a spinning back fist. Sherman earned his biggest win in his last outing scoring a victory over 6’8″ UFC vet Jack May.
Justin Ledet: Houston Texas’s Justin Ledet has also finished all of his six victories, but has finished his bouts in a variety of methods including four submissions to go along with two knockouts. Ledet will bring a technical striking game into the octagon backed by his 5-0 pro boxing record.
Ledet has fought most of his career at light heavyweight, but his 6’4″ frame should be able to add the weight needed to compete with heavyweights, his speed and technique will be an intriguing addition to the heavyweight division.
The Fight: Ledet will own a speed and technique advantage while Sherman will have the size and athleticism edge. I suspect Sherman to work take downs after losing the initial stand up exchanges.
Neither fighter has not gone into deep waters in their career yet, this will be their first test. Sherman’s take downs and cardio from his collegiate background should give him the edge. Sherman will land enough on the feet and rack up enough top control on the ground to pick up the nod. Sherman Unanimous Decision
-380 #5 Cub Swanson (22-7) vs. -315 #14 Tatsuya Kawajiri (35-9-2)
Cub Swanson: ” Killer Cub” bounced back nicely from consecutive losses to Frankie Edgar and Max Holloway, he picked up a dominant decision victory over Nova Uniao prospect Hacran Diaz.
Cub has always been considered one of the most talented fighters on the featherweight roster, but has come up short in the big fights. At 32 Swanson has to start racking up some ranked opponent victories to get back into the title picture. A win over a vet like Kawajiri should get him a top five match up , possibly a chance to avenge his loss to Ricardo Lamas where Cub got caught in a arm triangle after dominating Lamas for a round and a half.
Tatsuya Kawajiri: Once considered a top ten lightweight in the world, Kawajiri has failed to evolve his fighting style to modern day mma and has put up a pedestrian 3-2 record under the UFC banner.
Though he mainly does one thing, Kawajiri does that one thing better than anyone else in the game. The “Crusher” has dominant take downs and smothering top control. He may not ever fight for a title again, but if a featherweight’s take down defense is not up to par, they are in for a long night against Kawajiri.
The Fight: This has trap fight for the #5 Swanson written all over it. Swanson is a heavy favorite, but his weakness has been powerful wrestlers and Kawajiri is the prototype of a powerful wrestler.
Swanson shines in fight’s with guy’s who are wiling to stand and trade with him and Kawajiri will certainly not do that. Kawajiri’s wrestling and solid chin will earn him the upset victory. Kawajiri Unanimous Decision
-220 Teruto Ishihara (9-2-2) vs. +185 Horacio Gutierrez (3-2)
Teruto Ishihara: Co winner of TUF: Road To Japan, Teruto Ishihara fought to an anticlimactic draw with fellow finalist Mizuto Hirota in his UFC debut. “Yashabo” made up for his lackluster debut with a ultra impressive finish over talented striker Julian “Juicy J” Erosa in his last bout.
Ishihara is a unorthodox southpaw striker with knockout power and solid take down defense. If Ishihara receives the right match ups he could sneak his way into the featherweight top 15 with in a few fights.
Horacio Gutierrez: TUF: Latin America 2 runner up Horacio Gutierrez earned a reputation as a hungry young striker in his stint on the show. Gutierrez’s highlight of the season was a knockout victory over surging lightweight prospect Marco Polo Reyes.
After TUF Gutierrez moved with many of his fellow Mexican prospects to the Chicago area to fine tune their skills with elite fight camps. Only 25 Gutierrez has raw power and technical striking, but will need to improve his wrestling if he is going to have success at the highest levels.
The Fight: This is going to be a fun striking battle, Gutierrez has the power to end this early, however his aggressive style will play right into Yashabo’s slick counter strikes. Ishihara TKO 1st
-140 David Teymur (4-1) vs. +120 Jason Novelli (11-1)
David Teymur: 4x Swedish muay thai champion David Teymur, represented Team Europe on the 22nd season of TUF under the tutelage of coach Conor McGregor. Teymur made it to the semi finals where he was out grappled by Marcin Wrzosek. In his first official UFC bout Teymur knocked out fellow swede and TUF Europe teammate Martin Svensson.
Teymur trains at the Allstars Training Center along side Alexander Gustafsson and Ilir Latifi. If he can improve his take down defense Teymur will be a tough out for the 155 pound division.
Jason Novelli: At 37 Novelli will be one of the older UFC rookies to ever step into the octagon. He debut in 2005 but did not fight again for another eight years in 2013. Novelli does not have the professional experience that most 37 year old fighters have, but also does not have the wear and tear one would expect of a fighter his age.
Novelli fought UFC vet Yosdenis Cedeno in his last bout in Titan FC and came away with a draw. Novelli is a boxer/wrestler who’ training at Eddie Bravo’s 10th Planet Gym have helped turn him into a serious submission threat,with six of his eleven wins coming by way of submission.
The Fight: Novelli has a tendency to be goaded into striking matches and much of the time he comes out on top. However if Novelli decides to trade with Teymur he may have a short night. I expect Novelli to want to impress in his debut and get caught by the more technical Teymur while attempting a high risk attack. Teymur TKO 1st
+130 Viktor Pesta (10-2) vs.-150 Marcin Tybura (13-4)
Viktor Pesta: The first and only Czech fighter to set foot in the octagon, Pesta has showcased an iron chin, grinding take down ability and excellent cardio, but above all he has impressed with his elite athleticism. Pesta transitions from striking to grappling flawlessly, but has lacked the technical proficiency to thrive in the UFC.
Pesta recently moved his camp to Boca to train with the Blackzilians, his work with Neil Melanson and Henri Hooft will go a long way to unlocking the superstar fighter that lay dormant in this freak athlete.
Marcin Tybura: Former M-1 champion Marcin Tybura is widely considered one of the more intriguing heavyweight prospects of the last few years. His debut against North Dakota grizzly bear Timothy Johnson did not go his way, when Tybura discovered that he was not going to be able to get Johnson to the ground he fell back on mediocre striking and lost a decision.
Tybura is a powerful, smothering wrestler with punishing ground and pound, but is going to have trouble in the UFC if he does not improve his limited striking abilities in order to set up his take downs.
The Fight: Pesta’s athleticism will be enough to stuff Tyubura’s take downs, the big question in this fight is how much has Pesta’s striking improved? Pesta will not want to engage Tybura on the mat, he should utilize a stick and move game plan on the slower Tybura and keep clear of the clinch.
Pesta is 26 and at the age where fighters improve leaps and bounds in short periods, especially when they receive elite training. This will be Pesta’s breakout performance where he puts it all together. Pesta Unanimous Decision
-200 Court McGee (18-5) vs. +170 Dominique Steele (14-7)
Court Mcgee: TUF 11 winner Court McGee suffered his first stoppage loss in his last outing against ATT striker Santiago Ponzinibbio. Court was unable to overwhelm Ponizinibbio with his hectic pace and was dropped by an overhand right, followed up by a short amount of ground and pound that forced Herb Dean to step in.
5-4 in his UFC service, McGee has fell short to most of the higher end talent he has faced, but his combination of an iron chin and outstanding cardio will make up and coming fighters earn their prospect status if they can make it through the “Crusher”.
Dominique Steele: “Total Non Stop Action” Dom T. has lived up to his nickname in the octagon. In his last fight Dom started out strong against England’s Danny Roberts, Steele landed a powerful slam and landed heavy ground and pound throughout the first. As the fight progressed Dom faded and Roberts took home a close decision.
Steele is only 28 and has time to grow, but if can not learn to control his chaos he is going to find himself on the wrong side of decisions when he does not get the early finish. At 1-2 in the octagon, action packed or not Steele will need this win to keep his job.
The Fight: Both of these fighters push a grueling pace, with Steele being the more explosive and powerful fighter while Court is more economical and calculated. Steele will come close to getting an early stoppage but not be able to close the show and lose the second and third rounds to the crafty veteran McGee. McGee Unanimous Decision