-515 #5 Jessica Andradre (15-5) vs. +400 Angela Hill (6-2)
Jessica Andrade: Since her drop to strawweight Jessica Andrade has looked unstoppable. In her first bout at 115 pounds she put a one sided beating on former title contender Jessica Penne that was hard to watch. She followed the Penne fight up with another thrashing of rising Scottish star Joanne Caulderwood.
Andrade’s professional losses have come when she was at a significant size disadvantage to her 135 pound opponents. Without the size discrepancy at strawweight she is going to be a tough women to beat. And at only 25 years old she is going to be a factor in the strawweight (possibly flyweight if it should be created) division for many years to come.
Angela Hill: TUF alum Angela “Overkill” Hill returns to the octagon for her second stint in the UFC. In her first go around she went 1-1, but lacked the cage experience to compete on the highest levels. After she was cut from the UFC Hill showed her full potential going 4-0 in Invicta FC, winning and defending their strawweight title.
Hill began training at Alliance MMA following her first stint in the UFC and the move to So Cal would appear to be a perfect fit. Hill who was mainly a kickboxer when she fought in TUF, now displays a wide array of skills to complement her elite striking. A win here in her debut would vault Hill right into the title picture.
The Fight: Hill’s breakout 2016 was one of the best MMA stories of the year, but the leap from Invicta to top five in the UFC is a seemingly insurmountable task. Andrade is going to utilize her size and strength to bully Hill around and close it out with strikes mid way through the fight. Andrade TKO 2nd
-205 Anthony Hamilton (15-6) vs. +175 Marcel Fortuna (8-1)
Anthony Hamilton: Jackson/Wink fighter Anthony “The Freight Train” Hamilton’s last outing was a rough one. He ran into the rising juggernaut that is Francis Nganou. It’s hard to knock Hamilton for the loss because it appears that Ngannou is headed for greatness. 3-4 in his octagon performences Hamilton will need to impress against this newcomer to stay relevant.
Hamilton has run into trouble when he hasn’t been able to establish a striking game to set up his take downs. Training with animals like Overeem and Arlovski will be a huge asset for Hamilton striking game. If he can learn to be more comfortable in the pocket and throw more combos the collegiate wrestlers take downs will come much easier.
Marcel Fortuna: Third degree BJJ black belt Marcel Fortuna will make his UFC debut riding a five fight win streak dating back to 2013. In that period Forutuna also made an appearance on TUF 23 but he was eliminated by Corey Hendricks in his entrance bout.
The Ralph Gracie student will bring a level of BJJ to the octagon that is rarely seen in MMA. However all of his previous fights have taken place at light heavyweight or middleweight. Win or lose I expect Fortuna to drop to 205.
The Fight: Fortuna’s dangerous submissions and Hamilton’s history of submission woes make this match up an interesting one. But the more than 50 pound weight difference will be too significant. Hamilton will be able to defend the subs and pull it off on the cards. Hamilton Unanimous Decision
-320 #6 Ovince St. Preux (19-9) vs. +270 Volkan Oezdemir (12-1)
Light Heavyweight (205)
Ovince St.Preux: Tennessee Volunteer OSP will look to bounce back from back to back losses to Jon Jones and Jimi Manuwa. Losses have been a rare occurrence for the rangy Haitian since he crossed over to the UFC from Strikeforce back in 2013.
OSP is a freak athlete and still has loads of untapped potential, but his unwillingness to make the move to a major camp may be holding him back from becoming an elite talent. There is a reason most MMA stars train at super camps, it becomes more and more difficult to improve when you are the best guy in your gym and OSP is most certainly the best fighter at the Knoxville Martial Arts Academy.
Volkan Oezdemir: See Volkan Oezdemir: From The Alps To The Octagon
The Fight: Oezdemir’s lack of wrestling was painfully apparent when he loss to Anundson in 2013. Since than he has worked obsessively with Greg Jones at improving his grappling skills. I expect to see a drastically improved Oezdemir stuff early take downs and score the upset knockout when OSP attempts to trade. Oezdemir Knockout 1st
-110 Abel Trujillo (15-6) vs. +110 James Vick (9-1)
Abel Trujillo: Since his UFC debut in 2012 Abel “Killa ” Trujillo has been one of the most exciting fighters on the UFC roster. In his last bout he implemented a strategic game plan to pick up the victory over powerful wrestler Jordan Rinaldi. Trujillo has had issues with pacing himself in fights and the Rinaldi fight showcased the maturation of the knockout punchers game.
Trujillo is in search of his fourth straight victory and a spot in the lightweight top 15. His explosiveness have made him must see TV and win over a young, hungry fighter would signify he is ready for the next level of competition.
James Vick: Lloyd Irvin star pupil James “The Texecutioner” Vick will make his long awaited return following his first professional loss to Beneil Dariush last June at UFC 199. The loss brought Vick’s UFC record to 5-1 since his debut in 2013
Vick is on the cusp of making the transition from prospect to contender, he has been brought along gradually since he exited the TUF house and now at 29 years old the former Golden Gloves boxer must go through another heavy puncher to prove he is ready for the big fights.
The Fight: Much of Vick’s difficulties against Dariush arose because of the constant threat of the take down. With Trujillo the threat will be present but not nearly as dangerous. Vick will use his seven inch height advantage, six inch reach advantage and smooth footwork to stay on the outside of Trujillo’s heavy shots and win a technical striking match. Vick Unanimous Decision
-315 #12 Alexa Grasso (9-0) vs. +265 Felice Herrig (11-6)
Alexa Grasso: 23 year old Mexican super prospect Alexa Grasso made her highly anticipated debut against TUF alum Heather Jo Clark in her native country. Grasso did not disappoint the hometown fans, she used her superior technique to out class Clark in a three round striking clinic.
Grasso is a new breed fighter, she has better than average boxing, muay thai and BJJ, as well as excellent takedown defense. She is still very young, but she will have championship fights in her future if she is not rushed up the ladder too quickly.
Felice Herrig: TUF alum and women’s MMA pioneer Felice “Lil Bulldog” Herrig picked up her second octagon victory submitting young Hawaiian prospect Kailin Curran in her most recent bout this past July. Herrig will look to spoil another young stars ascent to the top in this co-main event match up.
Herrig’s muay thai is as good as anyone in the division (except Joanna champion) and as a longtime student of BJJ black belt Jeff Curran she is now slouch on the ground. Her weakness is her lack of wrestling, a flaw exposed by Alph Female Paige Van Zant. If she’s been able to improve upon her wrestling with one of the many elite wrestling coaches in the Chicago area, she may be able to make a run in the strawweight division.
The Fight: This fight is going to be a striking match and there are not many women that can hang with Herrig on the feet. Alexa Grasso is one of them. Grasso’s hand speed and foot work is a thing of beauty, I expect her to outpoint Herrig in a memorable war. Grasso Split Decision
-190 #9 Dennis Bermudez (17-5) vs. +165 Chan Sung Jung (13-4)
Dennis Bermudez: Dennis “The Menace” continued his climb back into title contention with a one sided decision victory over Rony Jason. Bermudez started his UFC career with a seven fight win streak before falling to Ricardo Lamas and Jeremy Stephens in consecutive fights.
Bermudez is coming in to his fighting prime turning 30 this past December. He possesses lights-out power and top notch MMA wrestling. His recent training with mma coach extraordinaire Ryan Parsons will continue to evolve his game and tighten up his striking skills, inching him closer and closer to a shot at the belt.
Chan Sung Jung: More commonly known as “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung recently completed his mandatory two year military stint in the Republic of Korea’s Armed Forces. Last time we saw the fan favorite in the octagon he was gutting out a tough championship defeat to Jose Aldo after dislocating his shoulder early in the fight.
The Korean Zombie earned his ghoulish moniker from his ability is absorb massive amounts of punishment and continue to move forward. He is also a masterful technician owning the only twister submission in UFC history. Jung should’ve been able to heal up any nagging injuries over the last two and a half years and we should witness the best version of The Korean Zombie.
The Fight: It’s difficult to not get caught up in the excitement surrounding Jung’s return and as tempting as it may be to pick him, his path to victory seems narrow. Bermudez is better everywhere and coming off of a two year lay off is never a good thing. The Korean Zombie will be able to eat a horrific amount of punishment but, the accumulative damage will eventually be too much. Bermudez TKO 4th