-185 #13 Ashlee Evans-Smith (5-1) vs. +150 Ketlen Vieira (7-0)
Ashlee Evans-Smith: 4x All American Collegiate wrestler Ashlee Evans-Smith gave new comer Veronica Macedo a painful introduction to the octagon in her last bout this past September. Evan-Smith overpowered the smaller fighter taking her down at will and landing copious amounts of ground and pound before getting the stoppage in the third.
Evans-Smith is improving her striking and footwork with every performance, the elite wrestler worked her Muay Thai extensively with Team Oyama for this matchup. Evans-Smith will have a Wrestling advantage over most women and the improved striking may be her ticket to breaking into the top ten for the first time.
Ketlen Vieira: Nova Uniao prospect Ketlen Vieira made an impressive UFC debut in her victory over No-Cal vet Kelly Fasholz. Vieira used her high level Judo skill to throw Fasholz numerous times throughout their fight. She did fade in the third round and ended up eating more strikes than necessary on the feet, but did enough to hold on for the win.
Vieira is a Black Belt in Judo and Jujitsu and with a head coach like Andre Pederneiras her Muay Thai should be improving daily. At only 25 Vieira is one of the more promising young fighters in the Bantamweight division and was included in our rising stars list from the start of the year. The New Breed: Top Fighters 26 Years Old And Younger In Every UFC Weight Class
The Fight: When two high level grapplers get together it can often turn into a kickboxing match. Neither of these ladies will have an edge in the grappling and both of their striking has appeared rudimentary. Vieira will have an advantage in the clinch and will be able to out work Evans-Smith inside to win a razor close decision. Vieira Split Decision
-400 Zak Cummings (20-5) vs. +300 Nathan Coy (15-6)
Zak Cummings: TUF 18 competitor and veteran of almost every major promotion Zak Cummings, got back on the winning track by submitting Alexander Yakovlev last November. The Southpaw striker showcased his rarely seen submission skills submitting the lanky Russian with a straight armbar in the second round.
Cummings is an elder statesmen in the fight game and is still only 32 despite his “mature” physical appearance. He is well rounded and will weed out the fighters that are not top 15 ready and will continue his search for the that signature win that proves he himself is ready for the next level.
Nathan Coy: Strikeforce, Bellator and TUF vet Nathan Coy makes his return to the octagon for the first time in over a year. Last time in the cage Coy outworked Jonavin Webb in a grueling decision, evening his octagon record to 1-1.
The former All American Wrestler has done it all in his decade plus in the fight game and now with his the 39th birthday right around the corner the ATT coach and fighter will look to make his final chapter his best yet.
The Fight: Coy’s game is grinding in the clinch and on the mat, Cummings has shown he is well adept at keeping distance. Cummings will land hard shots when he is not defending the take down and will secure a choke on a exhausted Coy late in the fight. Cummings RNC 3rd
+260 Anthony Smith (26-12) vs. -340 Andrew Sanchez (10-2)
Anthony Smith: 28 year old veteran brawler Anthony “Lionheart” Smith has been a winner in eight of his last nine bouts. His most recent win came in a performance of the night TKO stoppage of Elvis Mutapcic this past December.
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. Now is the Nebraskan’s time to prove he’s more than a big fish in a small pond.
Andrew Sanchez: TUF 23 champion Andrew “El Dirte” Sanchez was victorious in his first bout since leaving the reality show. Sanchez defeated scrappy veteran Trevor “Hot Sauce” Smith in a one sided decision.
This will mark the first time Sanchez has fought on the same card as Bash Brother Jake Collier, he will fight right before his long time training partner and look to set the tone for the Missouri fighters. Sanchez should get a main card ranked opponent if he can win impressively against a veteran like Smith.
The Fight: Smith throws heavy and Sanchez was knocked out by Kevin Casey who is not a man known for his devastating punching power. The knockout is always a possibility but Sanchez does a terrific job of staying out of boxing range until he shoots for the take down. Smith will spend this fight trying to stay on his feet and whiffing on big shots. Sanchez Unanimous Decision
-145 Devin Clark (7-1) vs. +115 Jake Collier (10-3)
Light Heavyweight (205)
Devin Clark: Former RFA Light Heavyweight title holder Devin “Brown Bear” Clark scored his first octagon victory over Josh Stansbury this past December. Clark mixed up his wrestling and Boxing to perfection to outpoint the TUF 23 alum in a clear cut unanimous decision.
The Stansbury win was Clark’s first fight in his natural 205 pound division. His debut was at Middleweight after deemed a 185er by Dana White on “Looking For A Fight”. Read about the 26 year old Sioux Falls native’s road to the octagon in our latest fighter profile here: Devin Clark: Tougher Than Your Average Bear
Jake Collier: Missouri based Middleweight Jake Collier evened up his UFC record to 2-2 with a come from behind TKO victory over debuting Brazilian Alberto Uda. Collier suffered a badly broken nose early in the fight but chomped down on his mouthpiece and pulled off the knockout mid way through the second.
The second half of the dynamic duo that is the Bash Brothers lacks the technical proficiency of Sanchez, but makes up for it with grit and toughness. Collier has a well rounded game with a great build for the division, if he can tighten up his technique he will be a force at 205.
The Fight: Clark will be at a height and reach disadvantage but should have no issues getting inside being the faster, stronger man. Clark will again mix up his Boxing and Wrestling to keep the scrappy Collier off balance before getting the ground and pound stoppage late in the fight. Clark TKO 3rd
-250 #8 Aljamain Sterling (12-2) vs. +195 Augusto Mendes (6-1)
Aljamain Sterling: Serra Longo prize pupil Aljamain Sterling dropped his second close decision in a row against number three raked Raphael Aussuncao. The counter strikers engaged in a lackluster stand up battle that could have gone either way.
Aljoe is still a top five competitor but he will need to make improvements to his Boxing to set up his take downs against better grapplers. Ray Longo will need to get Sterling to push the pace on the feet and create more take down opportunities.
Augusto Mendes: Third degree BJJ Black Belt Agusto “Tanquinho” Mendes picked up his first octagon victory this past January. Mendes slightly edged out Arizona based Wrestler Frankie Saenz in a split decision. The win cam on the heel of a unsuccessful UFC debut loss to current Bantamweight champ Cody Garbrandt.
UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby must think quite highly of Mendes, two of his first three UFC opponents have been ranked in the top ten. There is no doubt Mendes is a dangerous submission threat, but he has only been a pro MMA fighter for four years and has not had a chance to develop against similarly matched competition.
The Fight: Sterling will be the superior striker and his wrestling will nullify Mendes’s submission game. Sterling Unanimous Decision
+230 #12 Louis Smolka (11-3) vs. -300 #9 Tim Elliot (14-7-1)
Louis Smolka: Hawaiian local boy Louis “Da Last Samurai” Smolka dropped his second fight in a row losing a unanimous decision to surging Flyweight Ray Borg. However the loss did come amidst controversy due to Borg missing weight by four pounds. The unfortunate thing is at the end of the day no one will remember the advantage Borg had by not cutting those last few pounds and it will just show as a L on Smolka’s record.
Smolka came out of the blocks swinging winning his first five of six octagon bouts. Despite the impressive start he is now on the verge of dropping three in a row an action usually punished with a pink slip in today’s ultra competitive UFC.
Tim Elliot: TUF 24 champion Tim Elliot made the most of his reality show redemption opportunity winning his season and taking the champ a full twenty five in a back and forth battle that proved he was a worthy contender.
The 30 year old Glory MMA product has punched his ticket back in to the big show and will now look to solidify his spot as a contender. Elliot’s losses have come against guys like Benividez, Dodson and Mighty Mouse and he was competitive in all of them. Now with his confidence higher than ever he will be primed for a run to another title shot.
The Fight: Don’t be fooled by the jump kicks and summersault’s Elliot is a Wrestler at heart and it will be his Wrestling that will be the difference maker in this match up. Smolka may land clean a few times on this feet but he will have trouble stopping Elliot from taking it to the ground if he chooses to. Elliot Unanimous Decision
+280 Bobby Green (23-7) vs. -370 Rashid Magomedov (19-2)
Bobby Green: Inland Empire’s “King” Bobby Green has had trouble making it to the cage as of late. He’s only fought twice in the past three years and both of those were losses. Green ascended the rankings quickly going 4-0 in his first UFC bouts, but he has fallen from the rankings and contenders picture due to his inactivity.
Now fully healed from a torn ACL we should be getting the best version of Green. The best version of Green is a tough man to beat, he is light on his feet has unbelievable foot work and lighting quick hands. At 30 if Green can stay healthy he will have many high profile match ups in his future.
Rashid Magomedov: Dagestani Rashid Magomedov lost his spot in the Lightweight rankings following a decision loss to Beneil Dariush this past September. Magomedov climbed the ladder quickly going 4-0 before the Dariush loss, which was his first in six years.
Unlike his countrymen Khabib Nurmagamedov and Rustam Khabilov, Rashid Magomedov makes his living on the feet. Magomedov is a master of sport in army hand to hand fighting with an emphasis on counter striking and expert take down defense.
The Fight: Both men are striking technicians, but they both prefer to counter, which can make for a lackluster fight. Ring rust is a real thing and Green’s activity level will effect his performance. Magomedov will find his timing mid fight and slightly out score Green in a very close striking battle. Magomedov Split Decision
+325 Patrick Williams (8-4) vs. -450 Tom Duqesnoy (14-1)
Patrick Williams: Florida fight circuit standout Patrick Williams has been sidelined for nearly two years due to injuries. In his last octagon performance Williams only needed 0:23 to choke out TUF Latin America champion Alejandro Perez with a power guillotine that put the Mexican Wrestler to sleep.
Williams was a D-I Wrestler at ASU with the likes of Ryan Bader, Cain Velasquez and CB Dollaway. The former Wildcat is also a very tricky striker that throws power punches from unorthodox angles. Williams prepared for this camp at ATT Coconut Creek, a move that was necessary to compete with the best Bantamweights in the world.
Tom Duqesnoy: The UFC has had their eyes on BAMMA Featherweight and Bantamweight Champion Tom Duquesnoy since he was nineteen year old. Now 23 Duquesnoy feels he is ready to make the jump from the regional European circuit to the big show to do battle with the best the world has to offer.
Duquesnoy has been at the Jackson/Wink Academy for the past three years and is well versed in every aspect of fighting. The French uber prospect’s octagon debut has been a long time coming and now we will get to see if it was worth the wait.
The Fight: Duquesnoy is the real deal, unless Williams has made huge improvements to his striking in the past two years he is going to have a difficult time in this match up. Williams will be the stronger fighter, but he will have trouble getting a hold of the speedy Duquesnoy. Duquesnoy will get the stoppage with ground strikes mid way through. Duquesnoy TKO 2nd
+120 Roy Nelson (22-13) vs. + -150 Alexander Volkov (27-6)
Roy Nelson: Fan favorite Roy “Big Country” Nelson got back on the winning path his last bout by knocking out Bigfoot Silva in the second round. The knockout victory was a welcome return to the Big Country of old following a very un Roy Nelson like grappling match against “The Black Beast” Derrick Lewis.
At 40 years old Nelson showed he still has the pop to bang with the world’s best, but a fight against a top contender would not be a good idea from here on out. Hopefully Nelson takes a few more bouts this year and calls it a career.
Alexander Volkov: Former Bellator heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov is the newest guy to jump ship on Scott Coker and sign-up with the bad guys. Volkov narrowly escaped his first octagon test when he took a split decision over tough as nails U.S American Timothy Johnson.
Volkov is a much needed talent infusion into the lifeless heavyweight division. The 6’7″ Russian will bring in a striking and submission game that will make for some entertaining match ups with guys currently on the roster.
The Fight: Nelson is a more technical version of Johnson and will have better luck closing the distance on Volkov and scoring take downs if necessary. Volkov’s long frame is huge asset in the striking but it will be a detriment to his take down defense. Nelson Unanimous Decision