-125 Seohee Ham (16-7) vs. +105 Danielle Taylor (7-2)
Seohee Ham: Former DEEP Jewels featherweight champion Seohee Ham’s last two bouts in the octagon have been very close decisions. The first was a victory over Cortney Casey in a fight of the night war and the most recent was a loss to Bec Rawlings, both fights took part mainly in the striking realm and could have gone either way.
“Hamderlei Silva” trains with the Dong Hyun Kims at South Korea’s Busan Team MAD where she is adding judo and jiu jitsu to her already stellar kickboxing game. At 1-3 in the UFC this is a must win for the 29 year old Ham.
Danielle Taylor: Prison guard and Former King of the Cage strawweight champion Danielle Taylor had her work cut out for her in her debut. She filled in for Justine Kish on two weeks notice to take on number ten ranked Maryna Moroz. Despite the short camp and a seven inch reach disadvantage Taylor gave Moroz all she could handle before losing split decision.
Taylor is a muay thai specialist whose “Dynamite” nickname is incredibly accurate, the Californian has ended three of her seven wins via knockout and came very close to earning her fourth in her debut. Taylor definitely packs a wallop, but at only five feet tall she will more than likely be at a noticeable size disadvantage in any strawweight bout. She is one of many women that would benefit from an atomweight division in the UFC.
The Fight: Taylor will need the knockout if she is going to come away with this one, which as stated before, she is more than capable of. However, Ham is no rookie in the striking game, she has eleven pro kickboxing bouts and won’t see anything she hasn’t seen before against Taylor. The smart money is on Ham being able to avoid Taylor’s haymaker right and pick her apart over three rounds. Ham Unanimous Decision
+125Tyson Pedro (4-0) vs. -145 Khalil Rountree (5-1)
Light Heavyweight (205)
Tyson Pedro: Young Aussie Tyson Pedro gets called up to the big leagues on two and a half weeks notice after compiling a 4-0 record on the Australian fight circuit. Pedro joins his training partner, heavyweight prospect Tai Tuivasa who also recently signed to fight in the world’s premier fight promotion. The two train together at New South Wales, Lions High Performance Centere.
Pedro is a finisher, in his four professional bouts he has four first round stoppages, all under four minutes. With three submissions and one knockout he is a true mixed martial artist and will be well prepared for a battle anywhere the fight may go.
Khalil Rountree: TUF: 23 finalist Khalil Rountree will return to the cage after a frustrating loss to Andrew Sanchez in the season’s finale. Rountree was unable to prevent the takedown from Sanchez and lost a unanimous decision. Rountree was ultra impressive on the show, best remembered for the rib-shattering soccer kick that he landed on Mo De’Reese in his entry fight.
Rountree splits up his training between Las Vegas’ up and coming Syndicate MMA and The Wand Fight team, also located in Vegas. His style is very reminiscent of his mentor Wanderlei Silva, everything he does in the octagon is violent and severe, his finishes are brutal displays of power and force.
The Fight: Pedro’s hands are not at the level that would suggest he would want to trade with Khalil. His best chance is to clinch Rountree and try to drag him in to deep waters where he will lose some of his explosiveness. Khalil knows people are looking to take him down, I expect him to be prepared, keep his distance, and find Pedro’s chin early. Rountree Knockout 1st
+145 Kyle Noke (22-9-1) vs. -170 Omari Akhmedov (16-3)
Kyle Noke: Former Aussie coach on TUF: Nations and Australian mma pioneer Kyle Noke has lost a few heart-breakers his last two octagon showings. First he lost a very controversial split decision to new comer Alex Moreno and than was submitted by Japanese vet Keita Nakamura in a fight that he was dominating early.
At 6-5 in his past UFC bouts, 36 year old Noke is in danger of being relegated to a UFC ambassador down under. The long time Jackson/Wink fighter can compete with the majority of the welterweight division, but if he has any future in the sport he has to have fights like this one to prove his relevance in modern day mma.
Omari Akhmedov: The ‘Wolverine” jumped at this opportunity to fill in for an injured Dominique Steele. Akhmedov is coming off of back to back losses to Sergio Moraes and Elizeu Zaleksi dos Santos and will have his back up against the wall with a pink slip almost certain if he drops his third in a row.
Akhmedov has the Combat Sambo credentials that you would expect from a Dagestani fighter, but he has relied much more on his striking than many of his countrymen. He has not had the success of some of his compatriots, like Khabib Nurmagomedov and Rustam Khabilov, but he puts on entertaining fights, already pocketing two fight of the night bonuses. Noke will be a perfect measuring stick to see what Ahkmedov is capable of.
The Fight: Noke has been susceptible to the knockout in the past, but his footwork and head movement is adept enough to avoid Ahkmedov’s looping hooks. Look for Noke to outstrike Ahkmedov on the feet using technical attacks and tight defense. Noke Unanimous Decision.
-355 Jake Matthews (11-2) vs. +290 Andrew Holbrook (11-1)
Jake Matthews: Australia’s best shot at a future champion is 22 year old Jake “the Celtic Kid” Matthews. The young Aussie has shown incredible potential and despite his recent setback to fellow rising prospect Kevin Lee, Matthews is among the most well rounded combatants in the lightweight division.
4-2 thus far in his UFC career, Matthews has flirted with the lightweight top 15, but has failed to solidify himself as a contender. He has begun to venture outside of his dad’s XL8R gym to train with some of the sports top camps, which will rapidly improve his skill set. Once Matthews’s mental capabilities mirror his physical tools he will be an extremely tough fight for everyone in the division.
Andrew Holbrook: Protege of fellow Indiana native and UFC workhorse Chris “Lights Out” Lytle, Andrew Holbrook was gifted a split decision victory over Ramsey Nijem in his octagon debut. Not so fortunate in his Sophomore fight, he was TKO’d 34 seconds into his bout with Jaquim “Netto BJJ” Silva, suffering his first professional loss.
Holbrook the former Colosseum Combat champion was perfect on the regional Midwest circuit, winning all of his initial 10 bouts in that area. The 30 year old will need to prove that he is worthy of competing on the highest level in this co-main event.
The Fight: Everything about this match up feels like a showcase for the young Aussie fighter. Everywhere Holbrook is good, Matthews is better and younger. Matthews will get the knock down on the feet and finish it of with ground and pound. Matthews TKO 1st
+115 #7 Robert Whittaker (17-4) vs. -135 #8 Derek Brunson (16-3)
Robert Whittaker: TUF: Smashes champion Robert Whittaker has been flawless since making the move up to the Middleweight division. 4-0 with victories over divisional contenders Uriah Hall and Rafael Natal, “The Reaper” is the youngest fighter in the top 15 and appears to be the future of this powerhouse division.
The 25 year old Kiwi was in the running for a fight with one the five elite middleweights, but if he can win this main event match-up he will garner the media and fan attention needed to make his name a recognizable contender and marketable opponent for a top five fighter once the head of the division sorts it self out a little more.
Derek Brunson: Former All-American wrestler and Blackzilian stand out has been on a warpath in the middleweight division. Winner of his last five with his last four being first round knockouts, Brunson has proven that his striking skills have evolved to match the level of his wrestling.
32 year old Brunson is clearly fighting in the best form of his career, if he can make this his sixth straight victory in the octagon a fight with Gegard Mousasi would be a bout that would pique the interest of hardcore and casual fans alike. The two were scheduled to meet up at UFC 200 but injuries forced Brunson out of the bout.
The Fight: Brunson has mastered using his 77 inch reach on the feet, but his best chance for victory in this bout would be to revert back to his wrestling roots. Whittaker has displayed solid takedown defense, a skill he will need to utilize frequently in this bout. My gut says Brunson will underestimate Whittaker’s durability and fade after hitting him with everything he has. Whittaker TKO 4th