Early Fight Pass Prelims (6 PM/ET):
#5 (5) Tecia Torres (8-1) vs. Juliana Lima (9-3): I have no clue how the Tiny Tornado herself is on the fight pass prelims. Lima is a great opponent for Torres as she poses a threat standing as much as Tecia does and she could finish a fight on her feet. I don’t think Lima would go for the ground and she will stay up and keep looking for her strikes. Lima will use her 5 inch reach advantage and land strikes to keep Tecia at a distance. Now on the opposite side of Lima is the beastly tornado herself Tecia Torres. Tecia is one of the fastest strikers in the UFC not just the women’s division and she knows how to land. I know there is a 5 inch reach advantage that she has to face but I believe she will go for it and close the distance and use her insane speed to land a ton like normal. I think this fight will be interesting to see if the distance makes the difference because I believe without the distance advantage Tecia is the better fighter but 5 inches is a significant difference. I honestly think we will see the better fighter win regardless and Tecia will pick up the win in her first professional stoppage victory and grab a 3rd round TKO.
Gray Maynard (13-7-1, 1NC) vs. Teruto Ishihara (10-3-2): This fight in the lightweight division is going to be a battle. Ishihara is a monster and this kid could develop into something special as his two wins showed his skills and his last fight was a tough loss to Lobov but I believe he can find his way back on the right track tonight if he keeps this fight standing and land his left fist. Now his opponent has lost 5 of his last 6 fights as Gray is at 38 years of age probably going to leave the gloves in the octagon after this one win or lose. I think Maynard needs to get this thing to the ground and grind out the win if he wants to have a hope because he doesn’t want to leave this fight standing against this kid. I think this one ends early though as Ishihara will land early and often and pick up a 1st round KO over Maynard and we will thank Gray for a great career when it is over.
FS1 Prelims (7 PM/ET):
Jessica “Evil” Eye (11-6, 1NC) vs. Aspen Ladd (5-0): Alright these two women kick off the night in the women’s bantamweight division and it should be a good one if it goes how I see it going. Aspen is a 22 year old prospect for the UFC and she will be making her debut here during fight week and I personally believe she is one to watch out for moving forward. She is an extremely well-rounded talent and her fists can end someone’s night early and if they knock you to the ground she can get mount and finish on the mat as well. I really like what she can bring to this division but she will have an extremely tough test her biggest of her career against Jessica Eye. Jessica has picked up 4 losses in a row and really needs to turn her luck around as her UFC career could be on the line. Jessica is going to need to use her veteran knowledge of the octagon and really keep herself at her own pace. She needs to avoid Aspen from gaining control of this fight and just use her power to avoid takedown attempts. Jessica is a great fighter who just has lost her way as of late and I hope for her sake she finds it because I don’t want to see the UFC without her. That being said I believe Ladd starts with a little bit of jitters but she picks up the pace late round 1 and picks up that momentum round 2 and picks up a KO halfway through round 2. Watch out ladies Ladd is coming in this division.
Ed Herman (24-12, 1NC) vs. CB Dollaway (16-9): Here is a light heavyweight showdown between two aggressive finishers who love to finish fights. CB will use his grit and heart and tough wrestling style to get in Ed’s face and look for his powerful hands to end the night. Of the two fighters CB has gone to decision more often and could do the same as he can grind out some opponents and really pick up impressive smothering wins. He is coming off a 3 fight losing streak and needs to find a way to turn it around ASAP or could be in danger with the UFC powers that be. Now his opponent Ed Herman is one aggressive dude, this guy beat Glover pre-UFC. He has the talent just he never seems to be able to get a streak going that shows off his skill set. I love Ed’s skills on the mat not that he picks up submissions exclusively because he has some of the best ground and pound and he looks to take opponents down so he can pound them out for a win or to point where he can grab a submission. This fight will provide I believe some fireworks and both fighters could both get rocked at some point and I think it will be a flurry but I think somewhere in round 3 Ed Herman finds a way to grab the TKO finish.
James Krause (23-8) vs. Tom Gallicchio (19-10): The Welterweight division is on display in this one. Gallicchio is entering his UFC debut and is coming in winning 4 of his last 5 fights. Tom is someone to watch in the Welterweight division because he is a submission expert in particular a RNC expert as he has 13 of his 19 wins via submission and 12 of those 13 are by RNC. The guy has great BJJ and wrestling skills he is a dual threat on the mat but he hasn’t ever stopped anyone on his feet and I worry that he could run into some serious walls in the UFC if he doesn’t find a way to get his standup to be more of a threat. Now his opponent James Krause is one hard dude to predict and his standup game is tricky to stop. Now his ground game is backed by a great BJJ skill set and has finished over half his fights on the mat in his professional career. He unlike his opponent though can turn someone’s lights off with his standup as he has done that 6 times in his professional career. I really like this fight as it has the potential to see a finish and some serious display of skills at the same time. This one is so tough for me to call because I have no idea who is better off on the mat and Krause is probably the better fighter on his feet and should look to keep it there just for his own edge. I am having a hard time with this one and actually could see this one go the distance due to the same fight styles clashing and Krause picks up the unanimous decision.
Angela Hill (6-3) vs. Ashley Yoder (5-2): I love this fight because they are counter opposites and could be both looking to get ranked in the strawweight division with a win. Ashley Yoder is coming off one tough loss to Justine Kish but I believe she learned a lot from it and we will see an improved Ashley Yoder here. This girl is a good stand-up fighter but her skill-set on the ground is great and will be where she looks to take this fight. Ashley has the 4 inch height difference and so forth brings a 5 inch reach advantage and will use her distance well and look for her takedowns with that advantage. Now her opponent Angela Hill is one bad girl with some heavy quick hands and she will be looking to land those heavy hands. If Angela lands she can stop almost anyone she is a savage warrior in the cage and she doesn’t know the word quit and makes for an interesting opponent for Yoder because they are counter opposites but this will be a test for Angela due to the 5 inch reach advantage of her opponent. I think this fight is over if this thing goes to the ground Angela will need to keep this thing standing and if she goes to the mat she needs to get up quick and avoid letting this thing stay on the mat. Now that being said I think she does that well early but round 2 Ashley Yoder finds the takedown early and picks up a submission victory.
FS1 Main Card (9 PM/ET):
Jordan Johnson (7-0) vs. Marcel Fortuna (9-1): To kick off the TUF Finale main card we have a brawl in the light heavyweight division. These two beasts are great fighters with the ability to finish very well especially from the mat. Marcel Fortuna is a will be making his UFC debut at LHW in this fight as his first fight which was a win I may add was at heavyweight. This guy has a great ground game with 6 stoppage wins in which 5 have been through submission and his one KO win was his UFC debut when he stopped Anthony Hamilton in the 1st round. This kid can hit and he will do so if this fight stays standing as he proved it during his heavyweight debut. I am excited to see what he does at LHW in this one but he is facing an unbeaten monster in Jordan Johnson. Jordan has stopped 5 of his 7 and impressively stopped 3 of those in 62 seconds or less. He is a machine and will be entering this fight as the aggressor and use his power and wrestling grind to keep himself close and most likely take this fight to the mat. Jordan landed 4 takedowns in his 1st career UFC fight in which he won and will look to do so again and could grind it out with some ground and pound or look for the RNC on the mat. This fight will be very interesting as these are two big LHW’s and we shall see some pure power and ground skills. I am not sure who the true edge goes to here but I will take Jordan Johnson via unanimous decision.
Brad Tavares (14-5) vs. Elias Theodorou (14-1): This middleweight showdown is going to be so much fun between two guys who can take a shelling and stay in the fight. Now this fight will promise to be a grind and two guys looking for the ranks and belong. Elias Theordorou could be described with one word CARDIO but there is so much more to his game. This dude is one tough machine who I personally believe might be impossible to knock out. The thing I love about Elias most though is that cardio he can come get someone for the whole 15 minutes endure a beating while doing so and just keep coming and never tire. Elias has stopped exactly 50% of his professional wins and he picks up the decision wins with some true grind out victories where he looks so impressive through them. Now standing opposite of this machine is Brad Tavares. Brad will be bringing an equivalent toughness and a phenomenal stand-up. Brad is known for his ability to stop fights in the first round and if he comes out aggressive will be looking to do so again in this one primarily using his fists. Brad has a big test here in front of him because Elias is not someone Brad can assume he will take out by knock out and needs to make sure he doesn’t gas himself in this one. If Brad can pace himself keep his gas tank from running out he could grind this fight with Elias and put up a shot for fight of the night. When it comes down to picking this fight I am going to go with the kid I believe someday will find himself in the title picture and take Elias Theodorou by way of unanimous decision.
Jared Cannonier (9-2) vs. Nick Roehrick (7-0): Another LHW showdown and these guys could bring some more excitement even after the previous fight. Nick Roehrick is brand new to the UFC and will be making his debut against a big tough dude here. Nick is a very skilled mixed martial artist. He can handle a fight in all situations and I personally believe the UFC LHW division needs help badly and he is one of those guys along with his opponent who could bring something to be excited about to this division. Nick likes to land the uppercut a lot and if he can get the clinch or the good distance he might finish the fight with his loved uppercut. I believe he is going to be successful in this fight if he can pick his shots and make sure he doesn’t leave himself open for Cannonier’s heavy hands. If he can do this he has a shot at winning this one in his UFC debut. Now his opponent is one bad dude. Cannonier is one physical freak of nature with incredible boxing skills and great foot work to set himself up for his strikes. The speed of his hands is one of the best in the UFC LHW division and I believe if he can figure out the small holes in his game soon he could become a serious title contender soon. In 6 of his 7 stoppages in his professional career they have been in the 1st round. I believe this fight could have the potential for a throw down in the 1st round and slow down after they gas themselves some. Now that being said I don’t see this fight going more than 1 round and Cannonier players spoiler to Roehrick’s UFC debut. I have Cannonier winning this one by way of 1st round TKO.
Marc Diakiese (12-0) vs. Drakkar Klose (6-0-1): No offense to Michael Johnson or any of the other fighters on this card this is the fight I am most excited for here in the lightweight division. First we have Drakkar who is an explosive fighter with one tough chin that will not go down easy. This kid fights with a lot of heart and grit and will push for the win. This kid is a great fighter as truly this division is getting so deep and this kid is just proof of it. Now he doesn’t look for the ground and isn’t known for fighting on the mat but if it goes there he could grab a win as he has some skills on the mat as he was a collegiate wrestler. I believe in his 2nd UFC fight we will see some improvement as he will need it as he is about to run into a buzzsaw named Mark Diakiese. Mark is one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC and I personally believe his skill set and abilities are poised for a long title reign one day. I have watched his pre-UFC fights and all 3 of his UFC fights and each time I just saw WOW. His stand-up is unorthodox as he throws crazy kicks and punches and goes from 0-100 in less than a second. His ground game is way over looked and this kid can handle himself on the mat and when he gets tested there later in his career we will see that. But for this fight expect him to pace out his opponent and then explode with some flashy strikes and look for the KO as he could be a highlight reel finisher his whole career. I believe that this fight is going to be a little one sided just based off what I have seen from them both. I have Diakiese by way of KO in round 2.
Dhiego Lima (14-5) vs. Jesse Taylor (32-15): Here is the TUF Finale after a crazy season in which my 3rd favorite TUF fighter of all time was eliminated, Hayder Hassan, and we are down to just two. This fight is in the welterweight division and we will see two guys looking for redemption in the UFC. Taylor is a 34 year old fighter who hasn’t fought in the UFC since 2009 where he lost to Luke Rockhold. His UFC stint was fairly short as he was 1-3 in the UFC before his departure from the organization. This dude is one tough hard hitting man and I think at 170 lbs he is a real threat. I really liked what I saw from him this season during TUF. Jesse beat other UFC vet James Krause to earn his spot in the finals by way of submission and is here to prove he belongs this time. He is a scrappy dude and will not fight ever below a full hearted effort. Now his opponent Dhiego Lima is 28 years old and is looking for redemption in his UFC return as he has been gone for the past 2 years. He lost on the previous season of TUF that he compete on in the finals to Eddie Gordon. Lima is a very good well-rounded fighter who I am excited to see get another shot in the UFC. Lima was who eliminated Hassan in the opening round via decision and beat other TUF finale carder Tom Gallicchio by decision to get here for the finale. Lima is going to have to pace himself and look to grind out a win over his opponent. I think this fight is going to be a crazy ride of passion between these two. Now to pick a winner who is guaranteed a spot back in the UFC I would have to give the edge to Jesse Taylor who I believe picks this one up in round 2 by way of submission.
#5 (5) Michael Johnson (18-11) vs. Justin Gaethje (17-0): This main event will easily be incredible and this could show the test for the lightweight division. Justin is coming over from WSOF where he was champ and still undefeated is ready to prove he belongs with the big dogs. Justin is an incredible striker and he would look to finish this thing via KO but his ground game is undervalued because of his ability to finish so well standing up. This guy has stopped 15 of his 17 fights and I am seriously blown away by some of them when I watch them. I truly think he will prove he belongs win or lose because his talent is undeniable. Now his opponent is a guy I have been frustrated with in the UFC because I am a big time believer of Michael Johnson and his skills. The issue is sometimes it looks like he comes into fights with a lack of a push and then other times like the Poirer fight he comes after it with an aggression and picks up the win. If Michael just like Uriah Hall can come after his wins each and every single fight with an aggression and desire he could become champ one day. I love this fight because if Michael comes after this one with aggression and passion to win this fight could easily become fight of the year. I am beyond pumped about this one and I hope it doesn’t let us down as fight fans but with these two I am pretty sure we won’t be let down. I am going to take who I believe is the underdog based off rank and experience in the UFC and taking Justin Gaethje to win this fight via 4th round KO over Michael Johnson.
- Matt Koontz