UFC pay-per-views are normally among the top of what the UFC has to offer, but this event doesn’t really belong in that list. Although Luke Rockhold against Yoel Romero is not to be missed for many and Mark Hunt is always in sight, the rest of it doesn’t matter much.
Fortunately, the battles in advance do not say anything about the result afterwards. Dutch people don’t have to pay 65 dollars to watch only this event thanks to FOX Sports and so it can always be fireworks. Several fighters at this event are certainly capable enough for that.
Tyson Pedro vs. Saparbek Safarov Tyson Pedro may kick off the main card. The Australian was put back on earth in September by Ilir Latifi and is allowed to build another series against Saparbek Safarov. Safarov seems to be a good opponent for this.
Safarov is a little smaller than the average lightweight, while Pedro is a big boy. In addition, Pedro has a physical style and wide range and he will want to bring it to the ground for strangulation. He did so earlier with other standing fighters like Khalil Rountree. Pedro standing is also better, although the chin of the Russians held up well against Gian Villante. But probably Pedro doesn’t go for maximum testing.
Winner: Tyson Pedro Mode: Submission (rear-naked choke), round 1
Jake Matthews vs. Li Jingliang Matthews and Jingliang are both diverse and have their own preferences where a fight takes place, but can get out of the box anywhere. Jingliang probably goes for a kickbox party, Matthews goes for a ground fight.
Matthews is better standing than Jingliang on the ground, although Chinese is making a lot of progress. The Leech is longer and won four battles in a row, but probably Matthews is able to expose his weak points on the canvas.
Winner: Jake Matthews Mode: Unanimous jury decision (3x 29-28)/strong>>.
Tai Tuivasa vs. Cyril Asker Tuivasa seems to be a talent to keep an eye on in a division where talent is scarce. He is young and energetic, which he let in his debut against Rashad Coulter. In his own country, he opposes Cyril Asker, a thirty-year-old with an equal number of loss-making profit-sharing parties in the UFC. In short: Tuivasa should win this.
Bam Bam Bam has booked all his victories via knockout and this fight will be no different. Asker is slow and less athletic, so he has to keep pace with his basic skills. There are still some questions about Tuivasa’s condition, so that is the way out for the Frenchman. But then he must first survive standing up against the knock-out machine and that is probably not going to succeed.
Winner: Tai Tuivasa Mode: TKO, round 1
Mark Hunt vs. Curtis Blaydes A classic battle between striker and grappler. Hunt fights for his place in the division against the emerging Blaydes and it’s up to The Super Samoan to do what he always wants: knock out someone. It is a lot smaller than Blaydes, which may be a problem.
Blaydes will thus exploit his physical benefits. In his UFC debut against Francis Ngannou he showed that he can catch a blow and per fight Razor shows improvement. The last time that Hunt had to fight a good and big wrestler was Brock Lesnar and Blaydes I think I was able to do the same. Only then with more energy and better standing skills.
Winner: Curtis Blaydes Mode: Unanimous jury decision (3x 30-27)
Luke Rockhold vs. Yoel Romero Puur looked at the skills Rockhold should win this. He can finish it anywhere, is versatile and is potentially the best fighter in the weight class. The only hole in his harness is his armour. His defence is not the best. He sometimes wants to keep his hands too low and it sometimes even looks nonchalant as he fights.
Who then is a very bad opponent to encounter? An athletic and explosive fighter that is incredibly unpredictable. Someone like…. Yoel Romero. The Soldier of God is probably the best wrestler of the weight class (and perhaps in the whole UFC), but has swept away standing many opponents from nowhere as Chris Weidman and Lyoto Machida.
Rockhold must therefore be very sharp because some moment of weakness can be fatal against Romero. He has paid a great price in the past and if he is not too hard, we must assume that he does not underestimate Romero and therefore wins. Perhaps he will not fight so attackingly because of this, so the battle in the later rounds will be decided. This is also related to Romero’s age, weight problems and fitness.
Winner: Luke Rockhold Mode: TKO, round 4
PRELIMS: Damien Brown vs. Dong Hyun Kim Damien Brown Rob Wilkinson vs. Israel Adesanya Israel Adesanya Jeremy Kennedy vs. Alexander Volkanovski Alexander Volkanovski Jussier Formiga vs. Ben Nguyen Jussier Formiga
Ross Pearson vs. Mizuto Hirota Ross Pearson Teruto Ishihara vs. José Alberto Quiñónez José Alberto Quiñónez Luke Jumeau vs. Daichi Abe Daichi Abe
BONUS AWARDS Fight of The Night: Luke Rockhold vs. Yoel Romero Performance Of The Night: Israel Adesanya & Tui Tavasa
FIGHTER TO WATCH
Israel Adesanya As has already been said, this event does not have too much to offer that makes it indispensable. On pay-per-view, it is likely to be bought no more than 200,000 times (where Dutch people don’t have to benefit from it) and an interim title is worth much less than an undisputed title. Unless you are a real fan of Hunt, Blaydes, Romero or Rockhold, this event can be exchanged for a proper sleep rhythm.
Earlier on this event is the debut of someone who has visited this site more often: Israel Adesanya. The former GLORY kickboxer with eleven knock-outs in eleven battles and no loss parties has all the ingredients of a true star and a public favourite: personality, style and skills. The latter will now really be tested in the world’s largest MMA organization against Rob Wilkinson, a battle with a small history.