-320 Charlie Ward (2-1) vs. +260 Abdul Razak Alhassan (6-0)
Charlie Ward: SBG prospect Charlie Ward got a shot at the UFC after only three professional fights. The early call up may be partly due to his megastar training partner Conor McGregor, but it’s mainly due to his extreme toughness and raw knockout power. Ward made worldwide news when his opponent Joao Carvalho tragically died after their April fight.
Ward lost his debut to current BAMMA champion John Phillips who was 16-6 at the time of their fight. He bounced back from the loss with two wins in an impressive fashion to get the call to fight on this Dublin card. Ward’s hands are very heavy and his wrestling is strong, he will be an interesting addition to the welterweight division.
Abdul Razak Alhassan: Abdul ” Judo Thunder” Razak Alhassan as you might be able to guess by his nickname is a decorated judo black belt. And for the UFC die-hards, no this is not the same Razak Alhassan that had his arm contorted in horrifying angles by Steve Cantwell in 2008. This Alhassan is a three fight Bellator vet and put together a impressive 6-0 record en route to the big show.
Alhassan is a top prospect out of Marc Laimon’s Team Takedown and proved to be much more than a dominant grappler in his six wins. All of his victories have come via TKO/KO, not too shabby for a guy whose base is grappling. His striking technique is pretty rudimentary but the power is evident and he should pick up the finer points of the game as he progresses.
The Fight: Alhassan has more big fight experience and far superior grappling credentials, but I have a feeling this is going to turn into a brawl and Ward’s bare knuckle boxing gypsy style will thrive. Ward will come away the winner of a slugfest, getting the Dublin crowd primed for a night of wars. Ward Knockout 1st
-205 Brett Johns (12-0) vs. +175 Kwan Ho Kwak (9-0)
Brett Johns: Undefeated Welshmen Brett “The Pikey” Johns has earned his call up to the octagon by winning belts in two major promotions. Johns first won the European Cage Warriors title by defeating James Brum in a dominant five round decision and followed that up with a championship run stateside winning and defending the Titan FC bantamweight strap.
23 year old Johns is a life long Judoka and thrives in grinding battles of cardio. But he is very much a mixed martial artist and has no issues trading in the pocket to set up his takedowns. He will be looking to put his home camp, the Chris Rees Academy and Wales MMA, on the map with a impressive win in this one.
Kwan Ho Kwak: Korean Top Team member “Handsome” Kwan Ho Kwak has also done his fair share of belt collecting outside of the UFC. Kwak holds the PXC and Top FC bantamweight title with his biggest win coming against UFC vet Alptekin Ozkilic in his last fight.
The 27 year old South Korean is extremely athletic and fights in a fashion that is similar to his training partners Hyu Gyu Lim and Tae Hyun Bang, that unorthodox creative stand up, excellent takedown defense and endless cardio. Kwak showcased his cardio in his title defense against Ozkilic going five rounds and not losing a beat.
The Fight: Regardless of who comes out on top here I think both of these guys have a bright future in the UFC. Kwak is the much better athlete, but Johns is the more well rounded martial artist. Johns will land multiple power doubles and work ground and pound throughout. Johns Unanimous Decision
-220 Marion Reneau (6-3) vs +185 Milana Dudeiva (11-4)
Marion Reneau: “Belizean Bruiser” Marion Reneau will return to the cage for the first time since a February controversial split decision loss to Ashlee Evans-Smith. Reneau stuffed all of the wrestlers takedowns and won the stand up battle but still came away with the defeat despite 16 of 17 media sources scoring the fight for Reneau.
Reneau is one of the more well rounded ladies in the bantamweight division, she submitted Jessica Andarde on the mat and held her own with Holly Holm on the feet. She was late to the world of mma not taking her first pro bout until she was 33.Now 38 she will have zero room for setbacks if she has championship aspirations.
Milana Dudeiva: Russian Judo/Sambo practitioner Milana Dudiva began her UFC career going 1-1 against two Sik-Jitsu fighters. She was gifted a split decision win over Elizabeth Phillips and was stopped with heavy ground and pound by Julianna Pena in the first round of their bout. She has been inactive since the Pena fight in April of last year due to the birth of her daughter.
Dudeiva showed flashes of excellence in her two fights, landing high level Judo throws against both opponents before losing position on the mat. Her stand up is one dimensional but that one dimension is an A-bomb-like overhand right that has put three of her opponents to sleep. Dudeiva is strong in the clinch but is undersized at 135, she would be a good fit for the flyweight division if the UFC decides to add it in 2017.
The Fight: Reneau will want to be on the move in this fight, she has the superior stand up and will want to hit and move, keeping out of Dudeiva’s clinch. Even if Dudeiva is able to get Reneau down, her top game control has been underwhelming. Reneau’s BJJ is very solid and she will be able to work a get up and continue her stand up dominance. Reneau Unanimous Decision
-173 Zak Cummings (19-5) vs. +148 Alexander Yakovlev (23-7-1)
Zak Cummings: TUF 18 competitor and veteran of almost every major mma promotion, Zak Cummings failed to buck his can crusher label in his last fight where he was thoroughly out struck by rising Argentinian star Santiago Ponzinibbio this past August. Cummings is now 4-2 in the octagon and carving out a niche as a gate keeper-type talent.
Cummings is an elder statesmen in the fight game and is still only 32, despite his “mature” physical appearance. He is well rounded and will weed out the fighters not top 15 ready and will continuing his search for the that signature win that proves he himself is ready for the next level.
Alexander Yakovlev: “Thunder of The North” Alexander Yakovlev was badly defeated by last minute replacement Karmaru Usman, who took a unanimous decision with one judging scoring the fight 30-25. Yakovlev had no answer for Usman’s smothering top game and was forced to swing for the fences in the few moments he was standing in their fight.
Yakovlev has a few big wins on his resume including Paul Daley and Gray Maynard, but he has consistently come up short against larger guys that he can not overpower. His style would be much better suited for lightweight, he made the cut against Maynard and was lights out, it might behoove him to try it again if he falls short here.
The Fight: This battle of southpaws will play out mainly in the striking realm. Yakovlev may look to get this to the ground if he does not have success on the feet, but Cummings has strong wrestling and will have no problems shutting down his shots. Cummings will grind out a scrappy stand up war and get the nod on the cards. Cummings unanimous Decision
-146 Justin Ledet (7-0) vs. +126 Mark Godbeer (11-2)
Justin Ledet: Houston Texas’s Justin Ledet kept his undefeated record intact out-striking the lumbering converted football player Chase Sherman in his debut. Sherman had a bad game plan for their fight choosing to stand and trade with Ledet who came in to the fight with a 5-0 record as a pro boxer.
Ledet has earned stoppages via submission, but the submissions have come against opponents Ledet has rocked on the feet first. His striking will clearly give him an edge against the lower tier fighters of the heavyweight division, if he has takedown defense he may emerge as a prospect to watch, especially if he is allowed to drop down to his natural light heavyweight division.
Mark Godbeer: Bamma heavyweight champion Mark “The Hand Of” Godbeer is debatably the U.K’s top big man. He has has displayed heavy hands and punishing low kicks in his nine knockouts. He did not fare as well on his one trip stateside where he was knocked out by Cheick Kongo in the second round of their Bellator match up.
Godbeer is surprisingly light on his feet for a 245 pound man, his Achilles heel is going to be his wrestling. He frequently gives up easy takedowns which will be disastrous against the better wrestlers in the UFC, but he should be able to stand and trade in his debut.
The Fight: Ledet is the far more technical puncher, but Godbeer has more tools to win the striking battle. Godbeer will slightly edge out Ledet in a striking battle utilizing a plethora of feints and low kicks. Godbeer Split Decision
+107 Anna Elmose (3-1) vs. -127 Amanda Cooper (1-2)
Anna Elmose: The Danish “Panda” Anna Elmose was assigned a seemingly insurmountable debut fight against one of the best strikers in women’s mma Germaine de Randamie and to make matters even worse the bout took place in de Randamie’s native Holland. Elmose had some early success in the clinch against the cage, but was ultimately finished with a knee to the body in the first round.
Elmose trains at Coppenhagen’s Rumble Sports with welterweight UFC fighter Nicolas Dalby. This will mark the first time Elmose has made the cut to strawweight which should be a better fit for her 5’3″ frame.
Amanda Cooper: TUF 23 finalist introduced herself to the world by winning her first three fights on TUF before falling victim to a Brabo choke from Tatiana Suarez in the finals. “ABC” showed a well rounded attack in all four of her TUF performances which included two submission wins for the converted boxer.
Do not be deceived by Cooper’s 1-2 record, her other professional loss came against undefeated rising star Aspen Ladd. She had a 5-1 amateur career which included three knockouts, one submission, and three titles.
The Fight: Cooper can more than handle herself on the feet, but if Elmose can retain half of the power that she possessed at bantamweight this will be a short fight. Cooper has good enough footwork and head movement to avoid eating a shot flush, but Elmose will also be the stronger fighter in the clinch and be able to land hard shots on the ground Elmose TKO 2nd
+102 Kevin Lee (13-2) vs. -122 Magomed Mustafaev (13-1)
Kevin Lee: “The Motown Phenom” Kevin Lee is coming off of an absolute dismantling of fellow twenty-something prospect Jake Matthews. Lee beat the young Aussie outwrestling Matthews and pounding him out with strikes in the first round to pick up his sixth win in his burgeoning fight career.
Except for a hard fought debut loss to Al Iaquinta and a fluke knockout loss to Leonardo Santos, Lee has been close to perfect in his octagon performances. If Lee can close out this year at a flawless 3-0, top 15 opponents will be waiting for him in 2017.
Magomed Mustafaev: 28 year old Dagestani uber-prospect Magomed Mustafaev returns from a nearly one year hiatus looking to pick up his third octagon victory. Last December Mustafaev made short work of TUF alum Joe Proctor with heavy body kicks and punishing ground and pound.
Not only has Musatfaev won 14 of his 15 bouts, he has never gone to the third round. With ten wins via knockout and four via submission, he is an all around threat that is always going for the kill. Mustafaev lacks the dominant wrestling that countrymen Khabib Nurmagomedov possesses, but trumps the number one contender when it comes to knockout power. A win here would put Mustafaev in top consideration.
The Fight: This battle of elite young talent should produce a legitimate contender in the lightweight division. Mustafaev is an incredibly explosive striker and throws heat early and often. Lee’s past history of being knocked out with one punch is worrisome, but his footwork and overall defense has grown leaps and bounds.
Outside of the one punch threat I feel safe in saying Lee should win every round. For being a Dagestani Mustafaev spends an unusual amount of time on his back, Lee will capitalize on his sub par takedown defense and control this fight on the ground, dragging the Russian fighter to deep waters where his explosiveness will be stifled out. Lee Unanimous Decision
-195 #4 Kyoji Horiguchi (17-2) vs. +170 #8 Ali Bagautinov (14-4)
Kyoji Horiguchi: Former Krazy Bee and current ATT fighter Kyoji Horiguchi recently picked up his sixth UFC win over tough as nails Irish veteran Neil Seery. Horiguchi controlled their fight from bell to bell, winning every aspect of their May bout. At 6-1 in his first three years in the UFC, Horiguchi has solidified himself as one of the best young talents in the sport.
Outside of Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benividez I’m not sure there is anyone in the flyweight division that can give Horiguchi a decent fight. With multiple camps at ATT, 26 year old Horiguchi is evolving into a complete fighter and represents the best challenge to “Mighty Mouse’s” legendary championship reign.
Ali Bagautinov: Russian Master of many Sports Ali “Puncher” Bagautinov bounced back from back to back losses to Demetrious Johnson and Joe Benavidez by narrowly defeating Tampa prospect Geane Herrera in a close decision.
Bagautinov is the best flyweight outside of the the current top five. He has the power to finish every 125 fighter, but he lacks the elite speed that all of the guys at the top of the division own. A victory in this fight would be Bagautinov’s biggest to date and set him up for a fight with the winner of December’s Benavidez vs. Cejudo fight.
The Fight: Bagautinov is a good puncher, but Horiguchi is a good puncher, kicker and grappler. Not to say Bagautinov can not do all of those things, Horiguchi is just on another level. Horicguchi will be first to the punch with his expertly timed blitzes and avoid Baguitinov’s heavy counters en route to a decision. Horiguchi Unanimous Decision
-255 Magnus Cedenblad (14-4) vs +215 Jack Marshman (20-5)
Magnus Cedenblad: Super Swede Magnus Cedenblad did his best impression of his idol Mirko Cro Cop in his last fight, head kicking South African Garreth McLellan before finishing him nine unanswered uppercuts against the cage. 4-1 in the octagon, Cedenblad’s lone defeat came in his debut to Francis Carmont in a fight that he was controlling throughout before getting caught in a RNC.
Cedenblad splits his camps between Sweden’s Allstars Gym with the Alpha Swede Aleaxnder Gustafsson and the elite AKA camp in San Jose. Cedenblad is a bonafide middleweight talent, at 34 he must get the win to get the high profile match-ups that will introduce him to the rest of the world.
Jack Marshman: The first Welshman signed to the UFC (he was closely followed by Brett Johns) Jack Marshman has earned his UFC call up by putting together an impressive 20-5 record against the U.K’s top talent’s. His last victory over Frenchmen Christopher Jacquelin earned him the Cage Warriors Middleweight belt and garnered him enough attention to get this opportunity.
Marshman is a heavy handed fighter that does his best work in close, trading hard shots in the pocket. He has a decent ground game but prefers to sort things out on the feet. His biggest win to date is over English UFC vet Che Mills.
The Fight: It’s tough to imagine a scenario where Marshman comes away victorious in this match up. Cedenblad will use his six inch reach advantage and improving striking game to keep Marshman at a distance and close the distance for takedowns when available. Cedenblad TKO 2nd