UFC Fight Night: Whittaker vs. Brunson (Prelims) Breakdown&Predictions

+125 Marlon Vera (7-3-1) vs. -145 Ning Guangyou (6-3-1)

Bantamweight (135)

Marlon Vera: TUF: Latin America semi-finalist Marlon “Chito” Vera was forced off of his season due to a contagious skin infection, but made enough of an impression on the UFC’s higher ups to earn a fighter contract. Now on his fourth octagon bout Vera will be looking to bounce back from a close decision loss to Davey Grant earlier this year.23 year old Vera has a deadly Jiu Jitsu game and has ended five of his seven wins via the submission. He has recently began training with other high level grapplers Ian McCall, Carla Esparza and Joe Soto under legendary mma coach Colin Oyama.

 Chito steps in the octagon with one simple goal and that is to win and win so impressivly the UFC will give him a bonus so that he can use that to pay for the necessary surgery to give his daughter a smile. Chito’s daughter, Ana Paula, was born with a rare syndrome called moebius. The condition makes it so that Ana can not control her facial expressions or eye movement. You can donate to a Gofundme page for Ana Paula here. https://www.gofundme.com/f2uvqzxw

Ning Guangyou: TUF : China champion Ning Guangyou is finally making his return to the octagon after a year long hiatus. Guangyou’s last bout was a controversial split decision to Marco Beltran in a fight where Guangyou completely controlled the pace of the stand up and landed a few take downs.

The 34 year old southpaw has knockout power in both hands and a smothering powerful wrestling game to go along with it. “Smasher” has been training at Thailand’s Tiger Muay thai the past couple years fine tuning his technique to land his monstrous overhand left. A false positive drug test and visa issues have kept him sidelined over a year. Expect to see a guy chomping at the bit to get back in there to test his skills.

The Fight: Guangyou was too tentative in his fight with Beltran and it ended up costing him the decision. I expect to see a much higher work rate for the Chinese wrestler and as far as Vera goes timidity has never been an issue. This is Guangyou’s fight to lose, he has dominant top control and Vera does not shy away from fighting off of his back. If Guangyou can stay out of the sub he will take decision. Guangyou Unanimous Decision

 

+115 Yao Zhikui (2-4) vs. -135 Jenel Lausa (6-2)

Flyweight (125)

Yao Zhikui: TUF: China semi-finalist Yao “The Conqueror” Zhikui will step into the UFC cage for the fourth time in Melbourne. Zhikui was a noticeable stand out on the Chinese version of TUF, at only 21 what he lacked in technique and experience he made up for with brute power and toughness. He went 1-1 in his first two octagon appearances going to a split decision on both occasions. In his last bout Zhikui injured his arm on a Freddy Serrano take down and was unable to continue.

Zhikui began his training with his older brother Yao Honggang and Tiequan Zhang at China Top Team. More recently Zhikui relocated to Florida’s Blackzilians Fight Team and is sparring with the best fighters in the sport.

Jenel Lausa: Jenel “The Demolition Man” made a name for himself in the Pacific X-Treme Combat (PXC) promotion, where he was 4-1 and recently won the flyweight title. Lausa defeated former PXC bantamweight champion Crisanto Pitpittunge in a grueling five round decision.

Lausa began his combat career as a professional boxer where he complied a 7-0 record before making the crossover to mma fulltime. His hands are his best weapon but he’s also a BJJ brown belt and owns two submission victories in his young career.

The Fight: This is one of the many fights on the cancelled Philippines Fight Night show that had to be rescheduled. Lausa has a technical striking advantage over Zhikui, but that will be the only aspect of the fight he will be superior. Zhikui showed promising potential while training at the smaller regional Chinese Top Team. Under the guidance of one of the best camps in the sport I expect to see a flyweight contender. Zhikui will land take downs at will and will get the stoppage via ground and pound. Zhikui TKO 2nd

-145 Dan Hooker (14-6) vs. +125 Jason Knight (17-2)

Featherweight (145)

Dan Hooker: 26 year old Kiwi Dan “The Hangman” Hooker showed off his dangerous submission game in his March bout with Mark Eddiva. Hooker sunk in a guillotine choke on the formidable Pilipino and got the tap in the first round. The submission victory is Hooker’s sixth, he’s also finished six of his opponents via the KO/TKO proving he is a all around threat and fighter of the future.

At 6’0″ Hooker is enormous for the featherweight division, he has mastered utilization of his 75 inch reach in training with Roger Huerta and company at Thailand’s Tiger Muay Thai. His long limbs also give him a definitive advantage when it comes to sinking in chokes on the mat. At 2-2 in the UFC,  I expect to see many more W’s than L’s in Hookers future octagon performances.

Jason Knight: 24 year old Mississippi native Jason “The Kid” Knight recently picked up his first UFC victory edging out Jim Alers in a split decision. The win was following a short notice debut loss to Tatsuya Kawijiri, not too many were anxious to fight “The Crusher” on two weeks notice, but Knight jumped at the opportunity to fight on the TUF: 22 Finale, especially considering he unsuccessfully attempted to try out for that season of TUF. 

Training under UFC vet Alan Belcher, one can assume that Knight is proficient in the striking realm. But where her really makes his money is on the matt, 10 of 17 of Knight’s victory have come via the submission. He attacks from a ultra slick rubber guard which he will continually chain submission attempts from until one lands. Knight is a great addition to the lightweight division and has the skills to add some high profile scalps to his collection.

The Fight: This match up is tailor made for Hooker, he be at a two inch height and four inch reach advantage, which will give the lanky Knight an unfamiliar challenge. Hooker has been submitted twice in his career, but they were both early on and I expect he has improved vastly since than. Hooker will score big on the feet while landing sparse ground and staying clear of submissions on the mat. Hooker Unanimous Decision

+110 #15 Ben Nguyen (15-6) vs. -130 Geane Herrera (9-2)

Flyweight (125)

Ben Nguyen:  Former computer technician Ben”10″ Nguyen had his rapidly rising stock temporatly halted by Hawaiian braddah Louis Smolka who put on a mma clinic out striking and out grappling Nguyen before finishing him off in the second with strikes on the ground.  Ngyuen will be looking to regain some of the momentum he built up when he started his UFC career 2-0 finishing both Alp Ozkilic and Ryan Benoit in the first round of their respective matches.

Nguyen is still very much a factor in the flyweight division, Punch-Face.com highlighted him earlier this year as one of five Asian fighters to keep an eye on (See Below). The adopted Aussie well versed in all aspects of fighting and at 28 we can expect to see him in the flyweight top 15 for many years to come. You can check out that article here: 5 Asian UFC Fighters Whose Name You Should Know

Geane Herrera:  Geane “The Revolutionary” Herrera is the first fighter from the Tampa Bay area to make it big in the mma world. 1-2 in the UFC Herrera is coming off of a narrow decision loss to #8 ranked flyweight Ali “Puncher” Bagautinov. Geane lost the first half of their fight mostly on the ground. He came on late to give Bagautinov all he could handle but ran out of time and lost a close decision.

Herrera is 1-2 in the UFC but has taken two of those fights on very short notice. He is a new breed elite talent, but unlike many athletes at the top of their sport he has financial trouble dedicating the proper time needed to compete with the best in the division. If Herrera can win and pick up a performance bonus it may be the catalyst needed to vault him into the top of the division. Punch-Face.com also highlighted Herrera at the start of the year as a guy to watch in 2016. 5 Fighters That Will Breakout In 2016.

The Fight: These two represent the future of the division, it’s a shame that they have to face off so early in their careers. Once Herrera got warmed up against Bagautinov he showed a little of what he is capable of, this should be Herrera’s breakout fight winning the striking and ground battle on his way to a victory on the cards. Herrera Split Decision

 

+125 Damien Brown (16-9) vs. -145 Jon Tuck (9-3)

Lightweight (155)

Damien Brown: Former Australian Army infantry soldier Damien “Beatdown” Brown has had two drastically different outcomes in his two octagon bouts. His debut was on short notice against Alan Patrick and he was lay and prayed for the extent of the fight. His first UFC fight with a full camp was a first round knockout of TUF Latin America 2 alum Cesar Arzmendia.

Brown is a government certified badass and will put on a show if he can find a willing dance partner. But in a sport where the elite have never had a job other than fighting, it will be difficult to imagine him as anything more than a hometown favorite brought in to duke it out with guys at the bottom of the division.

Jon Tuck: “The Super Saiyan” Jon Tuck does not have the most impressive UFC resume on paper, 2-3 in his first five Tuck’s losses have been to some of the sports rising stars like Norman Parke, Keven Lee and TAM newcomer Josh Emmett and all were very close decisions. While his victories over Tae Hyum Bang and Jake Lindsay were decisive submission stoppages.

The first Chamorro to set foot in the octagon has proudly represented the peoples of the Marinas Islands, but he is now pat the stage of his career where he is just happy to be there. He has the all around skills to make a run in the lightweight division, but he must win in fights like this one which will earn him the bouts against the blue chip prospects or ranked opponents.

The Fight: Tuck has a tendency to engage in stand up battles, which training with KINGS MMA has more than prepared him for. However if Brown has a path to victory in this fight it is on the feet. Tuck is a legitimate submission artist and once he gets the early striking out of his system he will get this to the mat and sink in a choke. Tuck RNC 2nd

+200 Daniel Kelly (11-1) vs. -235 Chris Camozzi (24-11)

Middleweight (185)

Daniel Kelly: Australian Judoka Olympian Daniel Kelly pleased the partisan Melbourne crowd with his last victory over TUF Brazil 3 champion Antonio “Shoelace” Carlos Jr. Kelly was dominated on the mat early, but as the fight went into deeper waters Carlos Jr faded and Kelly came to life pounding out the gassed Brazilian in the first minute of the third round.

Now 4-1 since his underwhelming TUF: Nations showing, 39 year old Kelly has put together an unexpected run at middleweight, showing that specialist still have a place in this sport. Kelly represents a bygone era of mixed martial arts where fighters did one thing, but they did that one thing dam good. Even though his Judo and toughness will earn him victories at this level, once he starts to come across the dynamic cross trained younger fighters of today’s fight game, he is going to have a hard time competing.

Chris Camozzi: 30 year old Camozzi has long been a fighter who has seemed to be on the verge of achieving his potential. Camozzi want into his last fight with Thales Leites on a three fight win streak and appeared primed for his entrance into the top 15. But Leites exposed Camozzi’s lack of take down defense over a three round jiu jitsu clinic, that ended with Camozzi back at square one.

Camozzi has been in and out of the UFC for the past six years, it has felt like Camozzi has been threatening to become a contender for a long time. His stand up is more than adequate to trade with any one in the division, as he showed in wins over acclaimed strikers like Vitor Miranda and Luiz Cane. But if he is unable to sure up his take down defense it will be difficult to keep him on the roster for much longer.

The Fight: This is a turning point fight for Camozzi, either he is able to thwart off the hulking Judoka and unleash a barrage of strikes or he is thoroughly out grappled for three rounds like the Leites fight. Even though Kelly is stronger than Leties and has more methods of scoring take downs, he does not posses the wild one punch striking that Leites has. With Camozzi not being concerned with a striking threat he will stay on his feet and out point the Olympian in a stand up battle. Camozzi Unanimous Decision

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