-170 Joshua Stansbury (8-4) vs. +145 Jeremy Kimball (14-6)
Light Heavyweight (205)
Joshua Stansbury: Ohio native and TUF: 23 semi-finalist Josh “The Sandman” Stansbury will be coming off of a hard fought decision loss to Devin Clark at the TUF: 24 Finale last December. Stansbury did not have a horrible showing in his last fight, he did well in the striking exchanges, but Clark was able to outpoint him with take downs and clinch control.
The 32 year old fighter left Ohio to train with former cast members Khalil Rountree and Cory Hendricks at Las Vegas’s Syndicate MMA. It will be interesting to see the drastic improvements that training with an elite camp has on Stansbury’s fighting style. With the lack of depth at 205 everyone, including Stansbury is one impressive performance away from being a contender.
Jeremy Kimball: 26 year old Colorado based prospect Jeremy Kimball was unsuccessful in a short notice UFC debut earlier this year. Kimball fought Marcos Rogerio de Lima on a weeks notice, he was holding his own in the early going, but got caught by a looping right hand following a slip and was never able to recover.
Kimball is part of the new generation that has been training for the sport of MMA since day one. Day one for Kimball was when he was eight years old and introduced to combat sports by his Dad Ernest Kimball. His home gym is at elevation in Colorado, but he spends his fight camp’s learning from John Crouch at the MMA Lab. He has had issues making 185 pounds, but he is undersized for 205 and may have to drop back down if he has championship aspirations.
The Fight: If this were to go the distance I would favor the younger, more well rounded and smaller framed Kimball. However Stansbury has a killer squeeze and he will catch Kimball in a guillotine early and force the tap. Stansbury Guillotine 1st
-125 Tony Martin (11-3) vs. +105 Johnny Case (22-5)
Tony Martin: Winner of three of his last four, Tony Martin gave Alex White a rude welcoming to the Lightweight division at Fight Night 103. Martin pressed the action the entire fight, scoring multiple take downs and draining White’s gas tank in the clinch en route to a decisive unanimous decision.
Martin channeled his longtime coach and UFC veteran Brock Larson in his last dominant Wrestling performance. But the 27 year old is no slouch on the feet working extensively with Kru Mark Dellagrotte and more recently Glory Kickboxing superstar Nieky Holzken in Holland. A third consecutive win would put this young talent on the doorstep of the top fifteen for the first time.
Johnny Case: Iowa native Johnny “Hollywood” Case returns to action following a sixteen month layoff due to injuries. Case will be looking to bounce back from a submission loss to young Aussie Jake Matthews who over powered the slick veteran for two and a half rounds before submitting him in the third. The loss brought Case’s octagon record to 4-1 and was his first defeat in six years.
The former RFA champion recently switched camps from San Diego’s Alliance MMA to the MMA Lab to train alongside former UFC Lightweight champ Benson Henderson in Phoenix. The 27 year old fighter is one the more experienced young fighters in the game having 27 pro fights to his career already. His strength is in his well roundedness and slick strikes, a win here would put him back on track to be a future star at 155.
The Fight: These two have bad blood dating back to the Mid West regional circuit where Martin accused Case of ducking him on their way up. Case will have the experience and striking advantage while Martin has more raw talent. Martin will be able to over power Case if he can get a hold of him. Martin will accrue enough top time and clinch control to eek out a close one. Martin Split Decision
-145 Jared Gordon (12-1) vs. +125 Michel Quinones (8-1)
Jared Gordon: CFFC Featherweight champion Jared “Flash” Gordon is the most recent signing from Dana White’s adventures in his “Looking for a Fight” reality web series. Gordon impressed White and crew in his February title defense and earned a contract to compete in Mixed Martial Art’s premier promotion on the spot.
The Renzo Gracie pupil is one of the highest rated prospects to come out of the tri-state area in years. Gordon’s is a well rounded fighter who is proficient in every area and has rounded out his game training with diverse partners like Philipe Nover and Marcos Galvao.
Michel Quinones: Long considered one of the top prospects in the state of Florida, Michel “Capo” Quinones will make his UFC debut on the heels of a five fight win streak including a first round head kick knockout of TUF veteran Billy Quarantillo in April of last year.
Quinones trains with many of the ATT affiliates, but began his journey training under Roger Krahl at ATT Sunrise. His quick, technical striking abilities and strong take down defense will make him a guy to watch in the stacked Featherweight division.
The Fight: Gordon will have the quicker hand speed but Quinones has a more diversified attack and finishes his combos with punishing kicks. Quinones will outpoint in a kickboxing match that will be an early contender for fight of the night. Quinones Unanimous Decision
+300 Devin Powell (8-1) vs. -365 Darrell Horcher (12-2)
Devin Powell: New Hampshire’s Devin Powell earned his UFC roster spot by impressing Dana White on the Maine episode of “Looking for a Fight“. His debut however was not as impressive, Powell fought Drakkar Klose who was able to take away Powell’s reach advantage by blitzing in with strikes and clinching Powell against the cage. He did not take an absorbent amount of damage, but failed to mount any offense of his own.
Powell is a BJJ Blackbelt and is the owner and operator of Nostos MMA in Somersworth, New Hampshire where he holds his fight camps. The 29 year old Maine native is a well rounded prospect, but lacks the elite training partners that most of the top tier fighters from big camps will have. We will see if he can win one for the little guys or is forced to move his fight camps to a bigger gym to improve the level of training partners.
Darrell Horcher: Former CFFC Lightweight champion Darrell “The Saint” Horcher told the UFC he would fight anyone, anytime. Joe Silva took him up on that statement and matched him up with Khabib Nurmagomedov on nine days notice. Horcher stayed trued to his word and fared better than most anticipated. However the Dagestani Grizzly Bear mauler proved to be too much, pounding Horcher out from back mount in the second.
Horcher has been sidelined for the last year due to a horrific motorcycle accident that let him with a broken arm, torn ligaments in his ankle and a huge amount of road rash. Now fully recovered Horcher prepared for his high level BJJ opponent with Team Curran MMA under the guidance of Pride, UFC and WEC veteran Jeff Curran.
The Fight: Powell will be the superior technician on the feet and the ground, but Horcher’s Wrestling will be the equalizer. Horcher will get this to the ground and avoid Powell’s submission attempts off of his back en route to a decision. Horcher Unanimous Decision
-240 #8 Carla Esparza (12-4) vs. +205 #10 Maryna Moroz (8-1)
Carla Esparza: Inaugural Strawweight champion Carla “The Cookie Monster” Esparza recently dropped a controversial split decision loss to Randa Markos in Markos’s native Canada. Esparza controlled the majority of the fight with her dominant Wrestling, but the judges rewarded Markos the decision for her striking attempts from off of her back.
The longtime team Oyama fighter is the best Wrestler in the Strawweight division, but her tendency to lay and pray has hurt her marketability and record. Now 29 the TUF champion is approaching her physical and mental prime, this fight will be huge if she has plans of returning to the top.
Maryna Moroz: Ukrainian stand out Maryna “The Iron Woman” Moroz narrowly defeated UFC newcomer Danielle Taylor in a split decision at Fight Night: 92 last August. Moroz failed to use her significant size and reach advantage over the diminutive Taylor and just eked out the win in a what was for all intents and purposes a Kickboxing match.
Moroz’s excels in Boxing and submission grappling while Wrestling would be her weakest attribute. To remedy this deficiency Moroz traveled to Chicago where she trained at Valle Flow Striking with a bevy of high level Wrestlers including the night’s headliner Michael Chiesa. Moroz had hopes of a quick ascent to the top upon entering the UFC as a green 21 year old. Now 25 with multiple wars to her name she may be ready for her first title run.
The Fight: This is a striker vs. grappler match up with the striker (Moroz) possessing better than average submission capabilities. Esparza will be able to land take downs, but what she does with her top position will determine the fight. Moroz has the bad habit of giving up rounds off of her back in search of the sub. This combined with Esparza’s heavy top game will be enough to slightly off set the damage Moroz lands on the feet. Esparza Split Decision
+280 Vitor Miranda (13-5) vs. -340 Marvin Vettori (11-3)
Vitor Miranda: TUF: Brazil 3 runner up Vitor “Lex Luther” Miranda recently had his three fight win streak snapped by Chris Camozzi. Miranda was unable to find a home for his patented right high kick and ended up being out struck and out grappled by Camozzi in 30-27 across the boards decision.
The 39 year old former K-1 Kickboxer has shown his high kicks to be lethal, but has run into trouble with high level grapplers. This fight will be immensely important for Miranda to prove he is evolving with the sport and has the fire power to hang with the next generation of the fighters.
Marvin Vettori: Former Venator Middleweight champion Marvin “The Italian Dream” Vettori suffered his first set back in the octagon when he lost to Antonio Carlos Junior at UFC 207. Shoeface’s world class BJJ was too much to handle for the young fighter who was forced to fight off of his back for the majority of the fight.
Vettori recently made the move to the states to train under Master Rafael Cordeiro at California’s Kings MMA. Vettori will work with world class strikers like Lyoto Machida, Anderson Silva and Beneil Dariush in perpetration for this huge test against a top of the food chain K-1 level striker.
The Fight: The high kick is always a factor when Miranda is in the cage, but Vettori will be well prepared and will overwhelm Miranda by mixing up his strikes and take downs at a frantic pace. Vettori will find the choke late in the fight when fatigue sets in for the 39 year old veteran. Vettori RNC 3rd
+255 Clay Guida (32-14) vs. -340 Erick Koch (15-4)
Clay Guida: Wildly popular, 11 year veteran of the UFC Clay “The Carpenter” Guida was 1:20 away from pulling off the upset against undefeated BJJ wiz Brian Ortega. Guida used his hectic pace and unorthodox Wrestling to win two and three quarters of the fight against Ortega, before eating a hard knee that turned out Guida’s lights and kept “T-City’s” 0 intact.
35 year old Guida proved he can hang with the new breed of fighter on the way up and will have his hands full with another young gun on Sunday night. You would be hard pressed to find a fighter that has entertained the fans more in the last decade. His recent move to Alpha Male is the perfect fit for his off the wall style and may usher in a new era of Guida greatness.
Erick Koch: Duke Roufus disciple Erick “New Breed” Koch returned from a two year layoff by choking out Canadian Kickboxer Shane Campbell at Fight Night 88. Koch was at peak performance in this fight out striking the world class Kickboxer before submitting him with a rear naked choke in the second.
Koch unfortunately was injured following the Campbell win and was sidelined for another thirteen months, giving him only one fight in the past three years. Koch is finally healthy and at the proper weight class, if the 26 year old can stay injury free the future looks bright for Koch and his army of Kochhead fans.
The Fight: Guida is a machine, but his pressure forward in your face style is not going to match up well against Koch’s calculated, counter heavy striking. Guida will push the pace early forcing Koch to defend the take down, but once Koch picks up his rhythm expect Koch to drop him with strikes before securing a choke on the ground. Koch RNC 1st