-350 Rustam Khabilov (19-3) vs.+285 Leandro Silva (19-3-1)
Rustam Khabilov: Rustam “Tiger” Khabilov is widely considered the second best Dagestani wrestler, behind his life-long training partner and number one lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagamedov. He has successfully bounced back from back-to-back losses, with wins over Norman Parke and Chris Wade in his last two bouts.
Khabilov has lost some of the hype that he had when he debuted in 2012, but he is still a top 10 talent and is slowly fighting his way back into relevance in the lightweight division. At 29 Khabilov isn’t exactly a young prospect anymore, but he still has time to put together a title run if he can string together a few victories.
Leandro Silva: “Buscape” will step in for Reza Madadi who suffered an undisclosed injury earlier this month. This is a huge opportunity for Silva who is coming off of a split decision loss to Jason Saggo in June. Prior to the Saggo defeat he had consecutive wins over Efrain Escuerdo and Lewis Gonzales.
Silva trained with the muay thai focused Brazilian Chute Boxe team for many years, but has recently made the move to Coconut Creek to join the American Top Team. He is a well rounded fighter with a top level skillset, but has left the majority of his UFC bouts in the hands of the judges, which is always a gamble.
The Fight: There is a huge talent discrepancy in this match up, props to Silva for taking this fight on short notice, but barring an injury I don’t see a path to victory for him in this fight. Khabilov will use his Greco Roman suplexes and dominant top control in a one sided decision. Khabilov Unanimous Decision.
-110 Scott Askham (14-2) vs. -110 Jack Hermansson (13-2)
Scott Askham: Yorkshire fighter Scott Askham is coming off of a picturesque first round head kick knockout of Chris Dempsey in February. The 28 year old Northern Englander has gone 2-2 in his four UFC bouts, but his losses have been close decisions and he could easily be 4-0.
Askham has showcased a well versed game in the octagon, tossing opponents with slick judo throws and executing sneaky BJJ sweeps from the bottom. But where he really shines is in space with his kickboxing. The lanky middleweight uses his reach expertly with his punches and kicks, of his 14 wins nine have come via KO/TKO. Askham will be a very tough out in the middleweight division, especially for those looking to test him on the feet.
Jack Hermansson: Swedish Cage Warriors middleweight champ Jack “The Joker” Hermansson has earned his way into the UFC by dominating European competition, including a victory over UFC vet Karlos Vemola, in which he broke his opponent’s arm with an armbar when Vemola refused to tap.
This will be Hemansson’s second stint in a big American promotion, in 2012 he was signed to the UFC’s biggest competitor Bellator, but went 0-2 and was quickly cut from the roster. Hermansson is much improved from his time in Bellator and will be an intriguing addition to the UFC’s middleweight division.
The Fight: This is a fine piece of matchmaking and has serious Fight of the Night potential.Both of theses fighters will sort it out on the feet if given the choice. Hermansson will have a speed advantage but be at an unfamiliar height disadvantage. Askham’s forward pressure will be the deciding factor in this bout. Hermansson relays heavily on his counter striking, while Askham tends to push a more active pace. Askham Split Decision
-110 Jarjis Danho (6-1-0 1NC) vs. -110 Christian Colombo (8-1)
Jarjis Danho: A Syrian refugee now living in Germany, Jarjis Danho is a former power lifter who has swimmingly integrated his past training in to his mma arsenal. He displayed a serious chin in his UFC debut against Daniel Omielanczuk, but not much else. He lost a technical decision when he could not continue following a low blow in the third.
“Man Mountain” is a fitting nickname for the 6’3″ 265 pound fighter who wears XXXL gloves. Danho is a very raw talent with heavy power and rudimentary technique. After he was unable to put Omielanczuk away with his initial attack he was rendered defenseless by his lack of conditioning. If he is unable to improve his cardio he is going to have trouble finding success against the elite athletes in the UFC.
Christian Colombo: 36 year old Danish kickboxer Christian Colombo will make his UFC debut in Hamburg, his record does not have much on it in terms of talent, his biggest win is over German journeyman Andrea Kraniotakes and his lone defeat as a professional came to UFC vet Viktor Pesta via RNC in 2012.
As suggested by his “Godzilla” nickname Colombo is a large man, at 6’5″ 265 he is one of the few fighters who will have to cut weight to make the heavyweight limit. The mammoth Viking will look to utilize his unusual size and technical striking background to make a name for himself in the octagon.
The Fight: Colombo does not appear to have the skill level to compete in the UFC. He is painfully slow on the feet and willing to trade, which is why I believe he was brought in, to showcase the punching power of the local favorite Danho. Unfortunately I do not believe we will be able to see if Danho has made any improvements on his cardio in this one. Danho Knockout 1st
-150 Taylor Lapilus (10-2) vs.+130 Leandro Issa (13-5)
Taylor Lapilus: 24 year old French bantamweight Taylor “Double Impact” Lapilus is a good representation of the next generation of mma talent. 2-1 in his young UFC career he has proven to be a well-rounded prospect on the rise. He lost his last bout to tough Mexican Luchador “Goyito” Perez, in a fight he controlled early but faded in the later rounds.
Lapilus has recently spent time with John Kavanaugh, Conor McGregor and company at SBG Ireland, no doubt working on his cardio issues. If he can maintain the pace that he set early in the Goyito fight, Lapilus has the skill set and athleticism to quickly rise up the bantamweight rankings.
Leandro Issa: Third degree BJJ black belt Leandro Issa left his native Brazil to train at the Singapore based world renown Evolve MMA camp. Since joining the UFC roster Issa’s results have been mixed, he was submitted by BJJ blue belt Russell Doane in his debut, but bounced back from that with submission wins over Jumbieke Tuerxun and Ulka Sasaki, earning him a ranked opponent in Iuri Alcantara. He lost a unanimous decision to Alcanta and has not fought since his bout in August of last year.
Issa is a incredible BJJ fighter, but in a sport that is evolving at a breakneck speed, if he has not added to his combat arsenal the sport will pass the 32 year old Issa by. He trains at an incredibly diverse camp that will have high level sparing partners in every skill to help mold Issa into a next gen fighter.
The Fight: Unless Issa’s striking and wrestling have improved by leaps and bounds he is going to have his hands full in this fight. Lapilus is too well rounded to attack with a single discipline. Issa will have trouble getting takedowns and get picked apart on his feet as Lapilus coasts to a decision victory. Lapilus Unanimous Decision
-240 Ashlee Evans-Smith (4-1) vs +205 Veronica Macedo (5-0-1)
Ashlee Evans-Smith: 4x All American Collegiate wrestler Ashlee Evans-Smith first appeared on the national mma radar when she was the first to defeat controversial transgender fighter Fallon Fox. She lost her UFC debut to Raquel Pennington in a heart breaking fight where she controlled the entire first round with her wrestling, but was choked unconscious at the horn by an unorthodox bulldog choke. She bounced back impressively picking up a split decision over #11 Marion Reneau in a match that was predominantly a kickboxing bout.
Evans-Smith has shown a ardent effort to become a complete fighter, exemplified by her fight with Reneau where the All American wrestler chose to stand and strike the entire match. The rapid striking improvement is impressive, but Evans-Smith cannot neglect to utilize the wrestling advantage she owns over most women.
Veronica Macedo: 20 year old Veronica Macedo took this fight on three weeks notice, stepping in for the injured Germaine De Randaime. The Venezuelan born, Florida raised and Polish trained Macedo is a lifelong martial artist but only began her professional career six months ago. In that six months she has fought six times and racked up a 5-0-1 record, causing the UFC to take notice of this youthful go-getter.
Macedo has displayed a well-rounded skillset in her burgeoning career, stopping fights with heel hooks and head kicks. At only 5’3″ she is going to be small for the bantamweight division, we should get a good idea what class her future UFC bouts will take place in based on her performance against Evans-Smith.
The Fight: Macedo is very light on her feet and if Evans-Smith implements the kickboxing game plan that she did against Reneau, she runs the risk of getting outpointed on the feet. If she uses her strikes to set up her takedowns this should be a fairly easy victory for her. Evans-Smith Unanimous Decision
+105 Peter Sobotta (15-5-1) vs. -125 Nicolas Dalby (14-1-1)
Peter Sobotta: German native Peter Sobotta made his debut in the octagon seven years ago when he was only 23. He had a rough go of it in his first stint, getting cut in 2010 after losing his first three fights. Sobotta fought his way back in to the UFC by 2014 and won his first two bouts back, but came up short in his last outing to Aussie vet Kyle Noke.
Sobotta is a protege of BJJ legend Dean Lister and has the grappling credentials that you might expect from a student of Lister. He has tried to integrate striking into his mma tool bag, but usually is worse for the wear when he tries to stand and trade. Sobotta’s future success in the octagon relies on his ability to get fights to the floor.
Nicolas Dalby: 31 year old Dane Nicolas Dalby demolished the European and Scandinavian competition he faced prior to his UFC days. Once joining the sport’s premier organization his success has waned, 1-1-1 in his three bouts Dalby has had difficulties adjusting to the higher skill level of his octagon opponents.
Dalby was outclassed by Zak Cummings in his last bout, but he never quit and you could see him making adjustments and improving as the fight progressed. He was a big fish in a small pond, now swimming with the big fish, Dalby has the skills to hang, he just has to put it all together, something he has failed to do thus far.
The Fight: This should be a classic striker vs. grappler match up, but Sobotta has shown overconfidence in his striking abilities in the past. I expect him to lose the striking game early and take punishment from Dalby on the ground in the latter rounds. Fighting in a opponent’s home is never easy, but Dalby has the full arsenal needed to shut Sobotta out. Dalby Unanimous Decision
+100 Jessin Ayari (15-3) vs. -120 Jim Wallhead (29-9)
Jessin Ayari: 24 year old German prospect Jessin Ayari punched his ticket to the big show by reeling off seven wins in a row dating back to 2013. His most recent victory over UFC vet Mickael Lebout in April, was his biggest to date.
Ayari splits his training between Planet Eaters and Hammers fight teams. The two camps give him great diversity in training partners, with great grapplers like Peter Sobotta and Dean Lister at Planet Eaters and strikers Jarjis Danho at the Hammers team. Ayrai has eight submissions on his record but prefers a stand-up fight and usually engages in grappling exchanges defensively.
Jim Wallhead: “Judo” Jim Wallhead has been a mainstay on the British mma scene for the past ten years. 32 year old Wallhead will finally get his opportunity to showcase his skills in the UFC after he got the call to replace Norse up-and-comer Emil Meek, who violated USADA procedures and was pulled from the card.
Wallhead has seen an uptick in his success since he began training with the London Shootfighters team two and a half years ago. Despite his Judo moniker, Wallhead will gladly exchange on the feet and is a strong candidate to pick up a few fight of the night bonuses in his future octagon bouts.
The Fight: This bout will be a true mixed martial arts fight, both of these guys have diverse attacks and we should see this one play out in many positions. In every position Wallhead will have the slight advantage, a fight with a vet like Wallhead will be a huge task for the 24 year old, one Ayari is not ready for just yet. Wallhead Unanimous Decision