Michael Chiesa vs. Colton Smith
These two TUF competitors will square off to start things up on the main card of UFC Fight for the Troops 3. Colton Smith previously fought at welterweight where he was able to showcase his wrestling, cardio, and superior grinding skills to out-point nearly every fighter he faced. When he suffered a KO loss to Robert Whittaker, he made the decision to drop down to lightweight. Here, he’ll be even stronger and more physically imposing which should make his job a whole lot easier. However, against Michael Chiesa, nothing comes easy. Chiesa is a crafty submission specialist who has made a habit of pulling out spectacular finishes. He’s not the most intimidating fighter, but he’s effective and is a brutal choke-artist. That being said, Colton Smith is determined and dedicated. It’s a stylistic nightmare for Chiesa as Colton Smith should be able to take him down with ease, and most likely defend submission attempts for a very lack-luster decision victory.
Colton Smith via Unanimous Decision
Jorge Masvidal vs. Rustam Khabilov
Another pair of lightweights will take the stage as Strikeforce stand-out and MMA veteran Jorge Masvidal is set to make his third UFC appearance in which he has won his previous two. Masvidal will be facing Rustam Khabilov, a prospect out of Russia who has also scored 2 UFC victories. Khabilov is an explosive sambo fighter who utilizes strong takedowns, and vicious striking to overwhelm his opponents. While he does possess a unique set of skills that the UFC hasn’t had much experience in seeing, Masvidal is a proven veteran who has been around many top level fighters. Jorge is striker who can hang with the best of the them, and throw as hard as any. However, lately he’s been rounding out his wrestling and grappling game, so this should be a big test to see where he’s at. Khabilov should be at a disadvantage in technique, but Rustam’s explosiveness and control in the clinch should lead to a very close decision victory. It’ll be a back and forth bout, but Khabilov’s glue-like clinch fighting and explosive blurbs of strikes should be enough to get the nod.
Rustam Khabilov via Split Decision
Yoel Romero vs. Ronny Markes
Romero made a bang entry into the UFC when he knocked out Clifford Starks with a flying knee. Romero was being labeled as a wrestler, as he does have Olympic experience in freestyle wrestling, so to put on a performance like that makes Romero a very dangerous guy. Opposite of him will be one of the most composed and game competitors in the middleweight division. Ronny Markes hasn’t quite received the credit he deserves after going 3-0 in the UFC, and carrying a 7-fight win streak. While Markes may not be the most exciting, he’s effective and knows how to win. His style and well-rounded skill set makes me believe in consistency over potential explosion in Yoel Romero. Markes will get banged up and put to the test, but his high-level grappling and grit will be enough to steal a decision.
Ronny Markes via Split Decision
Liz Carmouche vs. Alexis Davis
Another pair of bantamweight women will make a scene as Liz Carmouch battles Alexis Davis. Carmouche made herself known by putting Ronda Rousey in a tight spot when she took her back and put her in trouble with a neck crank. Her opponent, Alexis Davis, is a game fighter who is very similar to Carmouche. Davis does have the advantage in already having a win in the UFC, but that won’t have much of an affect on the outcome of this fight. Determining who wins will come down who can control clinch engagements, land ontop, and score points. I don’t see either fighter finish eachother as they both have nearly identical styles, but Carmouche is the physically stronger fight which leads me to believe in her. Davis will keep things interesting by providing solid defense and counters, but Carmouche will be too much. Expect this fight to go down as Fight of the Night as we see very intense grappling exchanges between these two.
Liz Carmouche via Unanimous Decision
Tim Kennedy vs. Rafael Natal
At the top of the card is out not-so-great of a main event in Tim Kennedy and Rafael Natal. While neither fighter has the star power nor exciting style, this is a very evenly contested bout as Natal is a serious dark horse in the UFC middleweight division. Kennedy scored an uneventful UFC debut win against Roger Gracie, but will want a dominant win here to really make him known. Rafael Natal is an aggressive fighter who looks to get into wild exchanges, but can also take the fight to the ground and dominate. Kennedy on the other hand is a bit more collected, technical, but equally as well-rounded. Ontop of that, Kennedy is by far the better conditioned fighter. Look for Natal to gain an early lead as his aggressive stand-up gives Kennedy trouble while he tries to adjust, but eventually the tides will sway in favor of Kennedy as Natal slows. It’ll be a late-fight TKO for Kennedy as his continual onslaught of strikes and ground-and-pound takes home the victory.
Tim Kennedy via 4th Rd TKO