+100 Arnold Allen (11-1) vs. -120 Makwan Amirkhani (13-2)
Arnold Allen: 23 year old English prospect Arnold ” Almighty” Allen has been as good as advertised in his first two UFC bouts. Allen won his debut beating Alan Omer on short notice and followed it up with a decision victory over thirty three fight veteran Yaotzin Meza. Allen had a fight with Mirsad Bektic canceled due to injury and has been sidelined for fourteen months.
Allen is a next generation type fighter who doesn’t stand out as excellent anywhere, but also doesn’t have any noticeable flaws in any part of his game. He has trained extensively at Tristar over the last year and will benefit from Firaz Zihabi’s emphasis on training all aspects of the sport equally.
Makwan Amirkhani: 28 year old rising Finish star Makwan “Mr. Finland” Amirkhani is undefeated in his three UFC appearances with his last win coming over TUF Smashes Alum Mike Wilkinson the last time the UFC came to the O2. Also included in those victories is an 0:08 knockout of another Brit TUF Alum Andy Ogle.
Amirkhani is another young well rounded fighter and after making the move to train full time under John Kavanagh at SBG Ireland he is in position to become the UFC’s next big things. But the super star may never take flight unless the UFC gives in to his demands of holding a show in his home country. Mr.Finland claims that he will not step back into the octagon until it is in Finland.
The Fight: These two are the future of the sport and this will be a preview of what fighting will look like five years from now. Amirkhani is the more dynamic fighter but his tendency to give away rounds due to inactivity is troubling. With a full year at SBG under his belt Mr. Finland will slightly out score Arnold to pick up the victory and bring a little bargaining power to the table to get a show in his country. Amirkhani Split Decision
-141 Brad Pickett (26-13) vs. +121 Marlon Vera (8-3-1)
Brad Pickett: Many thought Brad “One Punch” Pickett might follow Urijah Faber’s lead in leaving the gloves in the octagon after their December bout. But with this event in his backyard on the calendar three months later Brad Pickett figured what better place to end it all then where it all began.
His gutty performance in the Faber fight confirmed that the thirty eight year old Londoner still has something left in the tank. But training with a crop of next generation twenty somethings at American Top Team can really highlight the effects of father time. Pickett will be remembered in the sport as a fan favorite who laid it all on the line for our entertainment and no matter how bloodied and battered he may have been he could change the course of a fight with just ONE PUNCH.
Marlon Vera: TUF: Latin America semi-finalist Marlon “Chito” Vera jumped on this opportunity to fight on the main card against a hometown hero on one weeks notice. Vera is filling in for Enrique Birones who had to withdraw from this fight on very short notice, but Vera stepped in and saved the hometown send off for Pickett.
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. But Vera 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
The Fight: Vera’s strongest weapon is his BJJ, but Pickett’s wrestling will be strong enough to keep the fight standing and he is smart enough to stand up if he should find him self in Vera’s guard. The fairy tale knockout wont occur but Pickett should pick up the win to end his career the proper way. Pickett Unanimous Decision
-355 #9 Gunnar Nelson (15-2-1) vs. +290 Alan Jouban (15-4)
Gunnar Nelson: Stoic Icelandic ninja Gunnar “Gunni” Nelson’s path to superstardom has been slowed in the past year. Nelson has been sidelined for close to a year following his submission victory of the at the time red hot Albert Tumenov. He spent the year recovering and honing his skills with the SBG Ireland crew and will back to full strength come fight night.
In light of the Khabib vs. Ferguson fiasco Gunnar’s years of speaking out against drastic weight cuts are starting to hit home. Nelson is one of few fighters that does not cut a large amount of weight to fight and if the athletic commission’s do mandate a maximum night of fight weight Nelson will be on the forefront of guys ready to fight at their everyday weight.
Alan Jouban: Versace model/Muay Thai fighter Alan “Brahma” Jouban recently picked up his sixth octagon victory out striking face tatted Floridian “Platinum” Mike Perry in a three round Muay Thai clinic. The win was Jouban’s biggest to date and it earned him this matchup, his first against a ranked opponent.
6-2 in his octagon bouts, Jouban has failed to secure a signature win over a ranked opponent, this fight could be the breakout performance that gets him ranked for the first time in his career. At 35, Jouban has little room for error if he is to fulfill his championship aspirations.
The Fight: Jouban is a world class striker, but Nelson is the better mixed martial artist. Gunni will keep Jouban off balanced, mixing take downs into their striking exchanges, wearing Jouban down with ground and pound before sinking in the choke. Nelson Rear Naked Choke 3rd
-137 #4 Jimi Manuwa (16-2) vs. +117 #7 Corey Anderson (6-2)
Light Heavyweight (205)
Jimi Manuwa: English knockout artist “Poster Boy” Jimi Manuwa picked up a huge knockout win over the fifth ranked Ovince St. Preux . Manuwa has only lost to top five opponents Anthony Johnson and Alexander Gustafsson and if he keeps knocking guys out he will get another crack at a top five guy.
Manuwa did not start training mma until he was 28, there are some advantages to starting so late in the sport. Physically his body has not gone through the punishment that most 36 year old fighters have, especially considering he was barely touched the first three years of fighting. This will be a true test of Manuwa’s resilience and give us a clear picture of this enigmas potential.
Corey Anderson: TUF 19 champion Corey “Overtime” Anderson bounced back from a split decision loss to Shogun Rua by knocking out stare down professional Sean O’Connell to advance his octagon record to 6-2.
Anderson won The Ultimate Fighter as a over powering wrestler, since the show he has spent time traveling the Tri-State area to train with Renzo Gracie, Frankie Edgar and Ricardo Almeida. At 27 Anderson is one of the younger fighters in the Light Heavyweight rankings and will be a contender for years to come.
The Fight: This fight is designed to be a home town pleaser, Mauwa has no doubt knockout power and Anderson has proved to be chinny in the past. If it were a three round fight Anderson might be able to avoid any hard shots and outwrestle Manuwa, but over five rounds Manuwa will land the blow that turns out Anderson’s lights. Manuwa Knockout 2nd
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