-115 Josh Stansbury (8-3) vs. -115 Devin Clark (6-1)
Light Heavyweight (205)
Josh Stansbury: Ohio native and TUF: 23 competitior Josh”The Sandaman”Stansbury was impressive on TUF winning his first two fights on the show before being stopped by Khalil Rountree in the semi finals. His first official UFC bout came at the TUF 23 finale where he threw down with fellow cast member Cory Hendricks in a back and forth brawl that Stansbury manged to eek out a decision in with a few well timed take downs.
After his victory over Hendricks, Stansbury called for the winner of his season of TUF. Even though he did not get his wish it is a smart strategy, he knows the coming on the scene at 31 does not leave for time for growing in the cage and if he is going to make a run in the painfully shallow light heavyweight division he needs to book high profile fights.
Devin Clark: Devin”Brown Bear”Clark is stepping in for an injured Jake Collier on a little more than a months notice. Clark lost his UFC debut in his hometown of Sioux Falls this past July. He was knocked out by “Platinum” Perry sidekick Alex Nicholson with only three seconds left in the first round.
Clark is taking a risk accepting this fight on short notice knowing that a loss would almost certainly mean he would be cut. He was baited into a brawl with the tough as nails Nicholson and failed to implement his strong wrestling. If he is going to have success in the UFC he will need to diversify his attack.
The Fight: Clark was forced to cut to 185 for the first time in his pro career for his UFC debut. Now fighting at his more comfortable light heavyweight we should get a better representation of his capabilities. Unless the cut drastically effected his performance I saw nothing in Clark’s game that would snuggest he will be able to defeat Stansbury. Stanbury will take this one in a competitive but decisive decision. Stansbury Unanimous Decision
-120 Elvis Mutapcic (15-4-1) vs. -110 Anthony Smith (25-12)
Elvis Mutapcic: “The King” left it all in the cage at UFC 199, after dropping the first two rounds to Kevin Casey, Mutapcic rallied back in the third and managed to get a 10-8 round over the totally gassed Casey and salvage a draw from his lackluster start. Now 0-1-1 in the octagon Elvis will have his back up against the wall in his third UFC bout.
After training last camp with the Power MMA team in Arizona, Elvis returned home to train at the Roundkick gym in Iowa for this fight. He has the heart, toughness and experience to be a contender at middleweight and if he can perform like the guy that beat Sam Alvey, Zak Cummings and Cezar Ferriera he should have no issue hanging around the UFC for many years to come.
Anthony Smith: 28 year old veteran brawler Anthony “Lionheart” Smith had his eight fight win streak snapped by Cezar Ferrieria this past July. Smith was unable to stop the take downs of “Mutante” and lost a unanimous decision. The loss was Smith’s first in over two years and brought him to 1-1 in the octagon.
Smith fights with the all or nothing mentality that Dana White loves. In his 37 professional bouts Smith has only left it in the hands of the judges three times. He has out grown the local shows winning belts in multiple promotions across the country, he may have also outgrown his local Nebraska gym. If Smith is going to beat the best fighters in the world he will need to move to an elite camp and train with the best fighters everyday.
The Fight: These two represent the best talent the mid-west has to offer and were actually scheduled to meet in January for the Victory FC title before Muatapcic was called up to the UFC. This should close a pick em fight, Smith will have the reach, athleticism and power advantage, but Elvis will have the superior grappling. It will be Smith early and Mutapcic later on in a close one. Mutapcic Split Decision
+125 Kailin Curran (4-3) vs. -155 Jaime Moyle (3-1)
Kailin Curran: 24 year old Hawaiian Kailin Curran was submitted by veteran Felice Herrig in her last bout, dropping her third fight in the octagon. Curran’s UFC bouts have played out in a very unusual way. In her first two fights against Paige Van Zant and Alex Chambers she started out fast, almost getting the finish in both, but faltered in the third and was defeated by stoppage. In her third bout against Emily Kagen-Peters it was the exact opposite, she lost the first two and pulled it out in the third.
Curran is long on talent but short on experience, she entered the UFC with only two professional fights, and is learning the ropes against the best women fighters in the world and will ultimately be a much better fighter for it in the long run.
Jaime Moyle: TUF: 23 competitor Jaime Moyle won her entrance fight in to the house with a rear naked choke but lost her first tournament bout to eventual finalist Amanda Cooper by a razor thin majority decision. The Syndicate mma fighter earned her invite to the show by going 3-1 in Invicta FC, including a unforgettable three round battle with Amy Montenegro.
Moyle’s strong suit is her submission grappling but her striking is not far behind, the only thing that is worrisome about Moyle is her diminutive stature. At only five feet she may have trouble with larger women lay and praying her on the mat. If the UFC creates a 115 pound atomweight division Moyle’s name should be one of the first added to the rankings.
The Fight: Curran has the talent and explosiveness, but she will lack the technical submission defense to hang with Moyle. If Curran goes out and gets experience on smaller shows she has the potential to return in a few years and be a contender. Moyle RNC 2nd
-130 Dong Hyun Kim (13-8-3) vs. +100 Brendan O’Reilly (6-2-0 1NC)
Dong Hyun Kim: Former Top FC Lightweight champion Dong Hyun”Maestro”Kim’s last fight will be on a short list of the best fights of 2016. The Judo black belt ignored his significant grappling advantage and went toe to toe with Mexican kick boxer Marco”Polo” Reyes. The two stood and traded in a Griffin vs. Bonner type slug fest, Kim landed some hard shots, but ate an absurd amount of blows and ultimately succumb to strikes in the third.
Dong Hyun Kim trains with Dong Hyun Kim at South Korea’s top gym Busan Team Mad and has grappling credentials on par with his much more well known welterweight training partner, but Kim has failed to showcase his world class judo in the octagon. If Kim can stay out of reckless brawls he can do some damage in the lightweight division.
Brendan O’Reilly: TUF: Nations competitor Brendan “The Badger” O’Reilly had a rough outing in his last fight against Alan Jouban. He started out well taking Jouban down with a slick foot sweep, but he was not able to hold him downfor very long and when Jouban got to his feet O’Reilly tried to exchange hands with Jouban and it did not go well.
This will be O’Reilly’s first UFC fight in his natural lightweight division, he will not be at a significant size disadvantage which should allow him to open up more on the feet. A win or FOTN would seem to be a must for the Aussie if he wants to remain employed by the UFC.
The Fight: Kim will limit his striking and implement throws to get this to the mat where he will sink in a choke early. Kim RNC 1st
-260 Rob Font (12-2) vs. +200 Matt Schnell (9-2)
Rob Font: Long time Sityodtong fighter Rob Font played the role of matador in his last bout where he slightly evaded most of the haymakers of charging bull John Lineker. Though he was able to get out of the way of the majority of Lineker’s blows he was not able to mount any offense on the stout Brazilian and lost a decision.
Prior to the Lineker loss Font was unbeaten in his last 11 and was knocking on the door of the divisions top 15. This former CES champion is the real deal, expect to see him competing with the UFC’s best for many years to come.
Matt Schnell: Fresh off of a TUF:24 semi-finals appearance Matt “Danger” Schnell jumped at this opportunity to fill in for the injured Alejandro Perez on two weeks notice, despite being up a weight class from his normal flyweight division.
The Legacy Fighting flyweight champion trains with some of the best fighters in the world at American Top Team Coconut Creek and has displayed a well rounded game that will only improve as the 26 year old spends more time at ATT. Even if Schnell wins this debut fight a move back to flyweight would be his best chance at real success.
The Fight: Scnell’s best chance in this fight is to get Font to the mat and look for a submission. However the BJJ purple belt Font will be more than prepared for the take downs and will be able win this in a one sided striking showcase. Font Unanimous Decision
-115 Gray Maynard ( 13-6-1 1NC) vs. -115 Ryan Hall (5-1)
Gray Maynard: Many wrote former lightweight title contender Gray Maynard off after he lost four fights in a row. But “The Bully” has found new life in the featherweight division where he was dominant in his debut against TUF: Brazil 4 finalist Fernando Bruno in a one sided unanimous decision.
Maynard will possess a significant wrestling and strength advantage over the majority of his new division. After trying out multiple fight camps over the past four years including AKA and Power MMA, Maynard returned to his original team at Xtreme Couture where he had the most success in his career, he will look to regain that 2010 form against this crafty TUF champ.
Ryan Hall: TUF: 22 champion and 50/50 guard master Ryan”The Wizard” Hall will finally return to the octagon after a year long lay off following his TUF win over Artum Lobov. Hall had a fight with Alex White booked for July but it was scrapped after White was forced to withdraw due to injury.
Hall’s unique brand of Jiu-Jitsu has turned heads in the mma community, the leg lock specialist is a constant threat on the ground where he uses his go to 50/ 50 guard to torque an ankle or work a sweep. He spends a large portion of his training camp working with Firas Zahabi at Tristar to improve his stand up and round out his mma game. If Hall’s striking is improved from the show he will be a real wildcard in the featherweight division.
The Fight: This is a pure Wrestling vs. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu match up, if the fight stayed on the feet, I would give the slight edge to Maynard but I don not anticipate much striking in this one. Maynard will use his power wrestling and on point submission defense to win his second fight in a row. Maynard Unanimous Decision