This Saturday is UFC on FOX 8 in Seattle, and it will be headlined by a flyweight title fight and co-headlined by Jake Ellenberger and Rory MacDonald as they fight for the next number one contender to the 170lbs belt. As most cards headlined by flyweights don’t usually receive a lot of attention, I think this card has some massive potential to be a great one. This card is full of underdogs, but also full of complete toss-ups. Let’s take a look at the prelims first!
John Albert vs. Yaotzin Meza
Set to kick off the prelims on Facebook is a bantamweight bout between John Albert and Yaotzin Meza. For those who don’t know who Meza is; Meza is 19-8 in MMA and lost his UFC debut by taking on Chad Mendes on short notice. Meza was knocked out in the first round, but was also fighting at featherweight when he’s naturally a bantamweight.
Both Albert and Meza are primarily grapplers, so by the Laws of MMA Logic, this fight is going to come down to who can instigate control in takedowns – whether that’s defending them, or scoring them. Albert is the stronger fighter, and also has more UFC experience despite being on a 3-fight skid, but those two things alone make me favor him in this bout. I also favor him on the feet, as Meza’s stand-up in his debut looked just short of toddler-status. I’m going to pick John Albert by decision as he out-points Meza on the feet, and doesn’t let Meza get anything going on the ground.
Albert via Unanimous Decision
Aaron Riley vs. Justin Salas
Returning after nearly a 2-year hiatus, Aaron Riley comes back to MMA to fight Justin Salas. Salas is 1-1 in the UFC, winning his debut over Anton Kuivanen by decision but then was knocked out by Tim Means in his follow up fight. Now Salas takes on Aaron Riley, a long-time UFC veteran who first debuted back at UFC 37, but before that was fighting as early as 1997 – yeah, Aaron Riley has some serious mileage on him.
In this bout, both guys are pretty well-rounded and don’t really seem to favor any part of the game more than the other as they have their fair shares of TKO’s, decisions, and submissions. Hands down, the biggest difference between these two is experience; Riley has roughly 9 years of experience over Salas and I think that’s going to really be clear. Expect Riley to start off a little slow as he is coming off a gigantic lay-off, but eventually he’s going to settle down and use his well-rounded skill set and aggressiveness to overwhelm Justin Salas en-route to a 3rd round TKO. Salas has been known to have a weak chin, and from a heavy hitter like Riley it won’t take much to get the job done. However, I expect Riley to use his wrestling and grappling early in the fight to get comfortable, but will let his hands go in the 3rd.
Aaron Riley via 3rd Round TKO
Julie Kedzie vs. Germaine de Randamie
Set to kick off the prelims on FX is an exciting bout in the woman’s bantamweight division as Julie Kedzie faces Germaine de Randamie.
This bout has some serious potential to be a real barn-burner as both women are primarily strikers. Julie Kedzie holds a 3rd-degree black belt in Taekwondo, while Germaine de Randamie holds an astounding kickboxing record of 37-0. I think it’ll be really interesting to see a unique stand up battle between these two – but this is MMA, and that means we should expect these girls to try to take the other one out via grappling. I think this fight will come down to who is the better grappler, or more specifically, who’s physically stronger. Expect some good stand-up exchanges early on in the fight, but eventually like anyother women bout, it’s going to turn into a wild brawl. When it does, I’d favor Julie Kedzie as she has far more experience grappling and wrestling and is also the bigger fighter. I’ll take her by a close decision as Germaine remains tough, and scores some good strikes on the feet; but it’ll be Kedzie’s wrestling and top game that will win on points.
Julie Kedzie via Split Decision
Ed Herman vs. Trevor Smith
This middleweight bout will feature Ed Herman and Trevor Smith, two guys that are expert grapplers and have the majority of their wins by submission. After being shut down in a less-than-stellar fight against Jake Shields, Herman jumped to Strikeforce as a late-replacement to face Jacare Souza as nobody else would accept the fight. Despite being submitted in the first round, Herman received a lot of praise for his valiant efforts and taking a fight that nobody else would. In this fight with Trevor Smith, Herman is looking to get his first win since early 2012. For Trevor Smith, he too will also be looking to get back in the win column as he lost his last bout against Tim Kennedy by submission.
Trevor Smith is hands down a grappler; he only has one fight that he won that wasn’t by decision, and that was his MMA debut where he won by knock out. What is more impressive is that he’s a first-round finisher; 9 of his 10 wins are in the first round. Trevor Smith is a dangerous fighter no doubt, but in his last fight he was shut down. Tim Kennedy showed that if you have solid defense, you don’t have anything to worry about. Ed Herman is very experienced, an expert grappler himself, and should have no troubles avoiding the ground game of Trevor Smith and winning by whatever he wants. For some reason I’m leaning towards a second-round TKO for Herman, perhaps from ground and pound as Smith will get desperate and find himself in a bad position.
Ed Herman via 2rd Round TKO
Yves Edwards vs. Daron Cruickshank
This lightweight tilt will feature two very exciting stand-up fighters that never fail to put on an exciting fight. UFC vet Yves Edwards will take on Daron Cruickshank who was a TUF competitor and is 2-1 in the UFC.
Both guys are coming off of losses, so expect these two to really come out and want a win. At the same time, they’ve both naturally exciting so we could see a real barn-burn here where they may mutually agree to just stand strike with each other. If this fight turns into a grappling situation, things could get very interesting. Daron Cruickshank is the stronger of the two, and probably has the better wrestling skills as we have seen him use some pretty good takedowns before. However, Edwards has a very underrated submission game that could use to keep Cruickshank on the defensive side of things. Edwards long legs and arms make it easy for him to snag chokes and armlocks from weird angles that Cruickshank may not be ready for. All in all, I think this fight will be primarily a stand up fight with it being very even. Both Edwards and Cruickshank like to throw lots of kicks, so look for some flashy techniques coming out of both corners. I’d say Cruickshank has the edge in power, with Edwards having the power in speed and movement, but I don’t see this fight ending on the feet. I think Cruickshank will try to steal rounds by scoring last-second takedowns, but I see Edwards using his sneak submission game to choke-out Cruickshank at the end of round 2.
Yves Edwards via 2nd Round Submisson
Mac Danzig vs. Melvin Guillard
Perhaps the most underrated fight in this entire card. Mac Danzig and Melvin Guillard will do battle in a fight between very experienced UFC lightweights. Both of these guys have been around for the longest time and will both try to get back into their winning ways. Danzig is coming off of a close decision loss to Takanori Gomi while Guillard has dropped two straight to Jamie Varner and Donald Cerrone.
If you’ve seen Melvin Guillard fight, the one thing you need to know is that this guy contains tons and tons of TNT inside of his frame – pure explosiveness. Whether its his boxing or his wrestling, this guy has done some insanely incredible things. However, he’s lost several times because guys just know how to shut him down. He’s a fairly mentally weak fighter, so if you confuse him and keep him turtled up, you can easily out-point him which is the tactic that I think Danzig is going to try to use. Danzig is an experienced grappler who has just know started to really improve his striking. Danzig showcased his never-seen-before power when he knocked out Joe Stevenson with a counter left hook – like I said, it was never-seen-before but now that we’ve seen it, Guillard needs to be careful when throwing.
Guillard’s punching combinations are often fast, wicked, and powerful. He throws very unorthodox punches from weird angles, but often leaves himself vulnerable to counters. Danzig should be looking for those small windows to throw counters and frustrate Guillard. A frustrated Guillard will often do stupid things, like shoot for takedowns when he’s winning the fight on the feet. In my opinion, Danzig has a big edge on the ground so if Guillard shoots for a takedown, it’s only favorite Danzig. Mac has some seriously good submission skills and could easily catch Guillard off guard, which is what I think will happen. I see this being a classic Melvin Guillard-fight where he comes out, looks like the greatest striker ever, but eventually begins to get frustrated and tries to take the fight to the ground. From there, Danzig will slap on a submission late in the first round and make it 0-3 for Guillard.
Mac Danzig via 1st Round Submission
Danny Castillo vs. Tim Means
This next bout will be yet another lightweight fight as stand-out wrestler Danny Castillo will face the scrappy striker, Tim Means. Castillo is coming off of perhaps the biggest win of his career when he shut-down talented grappling prospect Paul Sass earlier this year. Castillo has always been known for his talented wrestling skills, and explosive power. Tim Means on the other hand is about the opposite. Means is a tall and scrappy fighter who always comes out to bang. His length advantages often give him massive favors on the feet, and he uses that to out-strike his opponents. Although he lost his last fight, Means has some serious potential and has loads of fighting experience.
Unfortunately, I see this fight being the snoozer-of-the-night. Tim Means is solid on his feet, but Castillo is an expert and getting fights to the ground, and dominating them from the top position. Unless Means can score a one-shot KO, which isn’t unbelievable, then I see Castillo scoring takedown after takedown to win a decision. The one thing Castillo will need to watch out for however, is Means bottom game. Means does have an underrated grappling game courtesy of his long limbs. But Castillo should have no problem staying safe in the guard and battering Tim Means for a 30-27 decision.
Danny Castillo via Unanimous Decision
Set to “headline” the prelims is an exciting lightweight bout – yes, another lightweight fight – that will feature two guys are red hot in the UFC right now. Michael Chiesa, the TUF season 15 winner, is 2-0 in the UFC and has shown that he is the real deal in his victories that were both won by submission. Chiesa is an expert grappler and loves to use his rear-naked choke technique to finish the majority of his fights. Jorge Masvidal on the other hand is an exciting striker who has loads of fighting experience, and never comes to disappoint. Masvidal’s boxing tells his story as he used it in his UFC debut, combined with some takedowns, to out-point Tim Means for a decision victory. Masvidal is a fresh taste in the UFC’s lightweight division and has received the fans approval for his exciting style. This fight has the potential to be a real fun fight.
When breaking this fight down, it is in fact a “striker vs. grappler” scenario; Chiesa wants the fight on the ground, and Masvidal wants it on the feet. However, let’s say Chiesa does infact score a takedown or pull guard. Jorge Masvidal has only lost twice by submission in his 24-7 record, so I don’t think Masvidal will be in that much trouble – yes, he should avoid the ground at all times, but if he finds himself in a bad spot, I have confidence that Masvidal will hang tough and prevail. On the feet, expect it to be all Masvidal. Chiesa hasn’t really shown much of his striking, as he usually gets fights to the ground right away. Unfortunately for Chiesa, Masvidal has some skilled wrestling skills as well and could keep Chiesa in a stand-up bout with him for 15 minutes if he chooses to. I see that happening as Masvidal stuffs takedowns, out-boxes Chiesa, and prevails through one or two “close-calls” on the ground to pick up another decision win for “Gamebred”.
Jorge Masvidal via Unanimous Decision