Bellator, XFC, TUF Live, TUF Brazil, BAMMA; in the six weeks that the UFC has been away, we’ve still had our fair share of MMA, but it feels good to have the familiar octagon back on Saturdays. The kick-off to what will be a very busy summer for everybody in the MMA world, UFC on FUEL TV: Gustafsson vs. Silva goes down Saturday afternoon, emanating from Stockholm, Sweden. It will signify the UFC’s first trip to Sweden, and deliver one of the most diverse cards in UFC history. With solid fighters from throughout Europe and North America, there will be no shortage of excitement. Realistically, there may not be a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than barbecuing and watching elite athletes beat the living hell out of each other. The preliminary card gets under way at 12:30pm ET, and will be available in its entirety on the UFC’s Facebook Page. Here’s a quick preview of the six preliminary bouts. The preview of the main card will come a little later this evening.
-Eric Wisely vs. Jason Young
Eric Wisely had an unenviable start to his UFC career. Despite being a highly touted prospect, he found himself on the wrong end of a rare calf slicer, courtesy of Charles Oliveira. Still, the stock of Wisely has hardly taken a dive. “Little Lee” looks for his first UFC win in Sweden. Also looking for his first victory is Jason Young, who was fed to the wolves upon his arrival inside the octagon. Despite coming up short against Dustin Poirier and Michihiro Omigawa, the Brit has shown some serious striking, and this bout should give us a good indication where he is in his MMA career. While Jason has the edge on the feet, without question, he also has the unfortunate distinction of having British wrestling. I expect a fun scrap to open the evening, but I believe this is Wisely’s time to shine. I’d expect a late submission.
-Simeon Thoresen vs. Besam Yousef
Joachim Hansen protege, Simeon Thoresen comes into this bout with a staggering 14 submissions in 16 wins. While “The Grin” is more than capable of holding his own on the feet, it’s glaringly obvious where he wants the bout to go. Across the cage will be Undefeated Swede Besam Yousef. Yousef is a fast starter who is hard to handle when he hits his groove, which should prove interesting. The Norwegian could easily find himself on the wrong end of some massive shots early on, but I believe he’ll be taking Yousef down and adding another name to his list of submission victims.
-Yoislandy Izquierdo vs. Reza Madadi
Undefeated Championship Fighting Alliance titleholder Yoislandy Izquierdo finally makes his UFC debut. He’s a very well-rounded fighter who has some pretty flashy striking, heavy hands, and a killer instinct that he will need in a fight such as this. The hometown boy, Reza “Mad Dog” Madadi is a tenacious fighter. The Stockholm-based grappler brings a solid ground game into the bout, as well as great takedowns, and a good fight IQ. Lots of hype surround both men, and both have the tools to defeat the other, without question. Izquierdo has heavy hands, whereas Madadi has a grappling acumen that could give anybody problems. Look for Madadi to use his good gameplanning and intelligence during the fight to exploit his opponent’s weaknesses, take him down, and likely take him the distance.
-Magnus Cedenblad vs. Francis Carmont
Another hometown favorite, Magnus Cedenblad, makes his UFC debut in his own backyard. A much talked about Swedish prospect, who once put together four straight TKO victories with his fists, has come into his own in his last few bouts, demonstrating a largely underrated ground game. Friend and training partner of Georges St. Pierre, Francis Carmont, looks for his seventh straight win. Between his experience, being a part of a top training camp, and his strong abilities in each facet of the MMA game, Carmont is certainly capable of big things inside the octagon. Magnus is more than capable of giving the Frenchman a rough night, but it’s more likely that Carmont takes it to the Swede for the full fifteen, en route to a decision win.
-Cyrille Diabate vs. Tom DeBlass
Age is but a number for Cyrille Diabate, the 38 year old is perhaps an unlikely success story in the UFC, joining the promotion late in his career. However, at 2-2 under the ZUFFA banner, this fight could be an important one, as the Frenchman looks to rise above the .500 mark. Much discussed prospect Tom DeBlass, whose entire career has played out in Ring of Combat, gets a chance to turn some heads in Stockholm. A BJJ black belt with some serious ground skills, the American has all the potential in the world. Diabate, by all means, should win. On paper, he has the reach and skill set to get him the W. Looking at styles, however, the grappling acumen of DeBlass should be the difference maker. Expect a takedown, a submission, and a dejected Diabate.
-Papy Abedi vs. James Head
Judo specialist Papy Abedi gets a shot at redemption after suffering the first loss of his career at the hands of Thiago Alves. A heavy handed fighter, his ground and pound is not something you want to ever be on the receiving end of. James Head is a solid fighter in his own right. Despite coming off nearly a year layoff, the extremely large welterweight hopes to finally score his first UFC win. Questionable gas tanks should be on full display in this bout. I like both fighters, but if this fight makes it out of the first round, it could get very, very ugly. When it comes down to it though, Head had very little to offer Nick Ring when they fought, and the Swede should be able to capitalize quick, get Head to the ground, and pound him out quickly.