Fox Sports 1 Prelimes (8PM/ET)
Joe Proctor (10-3) vs. Justin Edwards (9-4): The kickoff to the televised events is going to take place in the lightweight division. Joe Proctor is a 29 year old 5 fight veteran of the octagon. He will be entering his 6th fight in the UFC. He has finished 6 of his 10 professional fights by way of 4 submissions and 2 KO/TKO’s. Joe is a phenomenal fighter on the mat on his back and in top position. He works every single day in the gym on his jiu-jitsu as well as his boxing and conditioning. He is also known for his great takedown defense which since being in the UFC is at a 75% of opponents takedowns defended. He is a good standing fighter though regardless of the fact that he isn’t particularly known for his abilities standing. He will still look to get this fight to the mat though and will try and get in position for his favorite submission move and try and lock in the guillotine. In the opposite corner of this opener is Justin Edwards. Justin is a very complex fighter to say the least. He has had a very rough go of it since joining the UFC going 2-4 since being a part of the organization and I feel you could see him be released form the company if he loses this fight, falling 2-5 in the UFC. Now to the positives about his fighting, he is a finisher. He has finished 8 of his 9 fights. He has won 7 of those 8 by submission and the last one by KO. His 4 losses though seem to show why he finishes fights, 3 of those 4 loses have come by decision, he must really hate the judges. His fight style contains a good jiu-jitsu ability and a good Greco-roman fighting style as well. He in other words is truly awesome on the mat just like his opponent as shown through his 7 wins by submission. Unlike his opponent though he doesn’t have a good takedown defense at all, only defending 27% of the takedowns against him. Now I want Edwards to be able to work on his footwork standing and become a better striker personally because he is an extremely explosive fighter with the ability to come at his opponent with incredible speed. His hands are extremely powerful and regardless of his one KO/TKO in his career he packs the ability to get a lot of KO’s and knockdowns is he could just improve his feet and become a better fighter standing. I think this fight takes very little time to get to the mat being Edwards’ terrible takedown defense and I think Proctor will control this fight one the mat as well. I am going to take Joe Proctor in a first round guillotine choke for the win.
Chris Wade (9-1) vs. Christos Giagos (11-3): This is another fight in the lightweight division. Chris Wade is an amazing wrestler with good kickboxing skills. His wrestling skills show when you look at his fight record though, only finishing 3 of his 9 victories and all 3 are by way of submission. He is a finish the fight fast or take the decision type of fighter it would seem considering all 3 of his finishes are in the first round. Wade will most likely have his standing game overlooked but that would be a mistake because he is a skilled kickboxer who might try and get his first career KO here in this fight. Now standing opposite of Chris Wade is Christos Giagos. Christos is an underrated fighter and who has finished 9 of his 11 victories. He is complete opposites when it comes to Chris Wade and I think he is the much more exciting fighter. He is coming into this winning 5 of his last 6 fights, this being only his third fight in the UFC. His 9 finishes contain 6 KO/TKO’s and has 3 more by submission. Christos is a very well rounded fighter as you can tell by his somewhat balanced different ways of winning his fights. He has a ton of heart and will power and can take a beating if it comes down to it. This fight will most likely have an absolutely crazy first round as both fighters seem to come out fast and look to finish fights in the first round. If it makes it past the first round look for Christos to try and control the fight standing or on the mat. I think Christos Giggos will win this fight in the second round by way of KO/TKO.
Brian Ebersole (51-16-1, 1NC) vs. Omari Akhmedov (14-2): This fight is a welterweight battle between two good fighters with great talent. Now over to Ebersole is where I would like to start. This guys has 69 fights professionally but only EIGHT of those are in the UFC. Ebersole though having 69 total fights under his name is only 34 years of age and will be ready to show how much the MMA experience he has pans out. He has 34 wins by stoppage which is equivalent to his age which is kind of cool and probably as rare as a feat as there really is. His 34 wins that have been through stoppage are evenly split with 17 KO’s and 17 submissions. This guy is the definition of well-balanced as you can tell by his stoppages. Brian like I said though has only fought in 8 UFC fights meaning he had a lot of professional fights outside of the UFC. Ebersole since joining the UFC though has proved his incredible record isn’t just a fluke as has won 6 of his 8 fights inside the octagon. He was a former division 1 wrestler and knows how to grind and control a fighter during his fights. His fight style though is an unorthodox style and keeps fighters off-balance against him. Now facing up against the monsterous Ebersole is Omari Akhmedov who is 27 years of age and has only 16 fights so a lot less wear and tear on him. This is his 4th fight inside the octagon and is entering this fight at 2-1 since joining the UFC going win-loss-win. That being said he has won 12 of his last 13 fights professionally. This guy though is an absolute monster himself and loves to finish every single fight. He has finished 11 of his 14 wins and TEN, yes I said it TEN of those have been in the first round. The most incredible part of those 10 first round finishes is that he has finished 4 of those in less than two minutes. Now if you’re asking how his 11 finishes are completed they are done through 6 KO’s and 5 submissions. His strengths would have to be his incredible striking and his ability to get some powerful takedowns. This fight is going to be really tough to call because both of these guys have incredibly well rounded games and have always seemed to have the ability finish their respective fights. It truly comes down to the guy with the most experience you could imagine vs. a less worn down fighter with tons of skill and a strong starter. I am going to have to pick Omari Akhmedov to win this one by a KO in the first round.
Shawn Jordan (17-6) vs. Derrick Lewis (12-3): The Main event of the prelims on Fox Sports 1 is lined up for a heavyweight bout with tons of KO power. Let’s start with Shawn Jordan. This guy is a finisher by definition he has 17 wins professionally and 16 of them are finishes. 13 of those 16 finishes are by way of KO and the other 3 obviously by submission. This guy is a giant man he used to be the fullback for the LSU Tigers in college football. Shawn has won 6 of his last 9 fights and has won two straight fights entering this fight. His takedown defense is at 77% which is pretty good and something he should be able to rely on in this fight if it comes down to that of course which to be honest I don’t believe it will. Shawn Jordan is a great fighter with a great skills set. His football background is an almost automatic promise that he will be an extremely athletic fighter. He isn’t just athletic due to his football days they most likely helped mold him into the tough guy that he is because this guy can definitely can one heck of a beating. His fists as you can tell by his 13 KO’s are extremely powerful weapons and he absolutely brings one heck of a one punch KO. I believe Shawn will be extremely tough to beat here in this one because his ground game is pretty underrated and his standing game is a great element to his game. Now that being said though is one tough dude as well Derrick Lewis. Derrick Lewis is a fighter with a ton of heart and he has a great amount of power. He comes into this fight, his fifth fight in the UFC, winning 6 of his last 7 fights. His lone loss in his last 7 fights is too one heck of a heavyweight in Matt Mitrione in a fight where he got absolutely slaughtered in a first round KO. Derrick has finished all 12 of his fights and he knocked 11 of those 12 opponents he has defeated out cold. His fists are quick and extremely strong. Derrick comes out strong too wining five of his fights in the first round. Since joining the UFC Derrick is 3-1, his lone loss being that loss to Matt Mitrione. This fight is going to be interesting and one heck of a main event for the prelims. This heavyweight fight will not fail any fan expectations and should be a fight for the KO to declare the winner. Based off of pure skills I am going to take Shawn Jordan in a brawl with a 2nd round KO after both fighters get bloodied and battered in just the first round.
Main Card on Fox Sports 1 (10PM/ET)
#11. Francisco Rivera (10-4, 1NC) vs.”Bruce Leeroy” Alex Caceres (10-7-0, 1NC): We will kick off the main card with a great bantamweight bout and boy this is going to be fun. I am going to start with the ranked Francisco Rivera. His last fight was a heart breaking loss after getting poked in the eye by Faber the ref. missed the poke and didn’t stop the fight so Faber capitalized by getting his back and submitting him. Francisco has 10 wins professionally which have had 7 stoppages by way of KO/TKO and the other three all by decision. He is a really good striker with some very strong hands with some pretty powerful KO power in each hand. To make his striking game even more effective he has a pretty high strike defense rate at 69% of strikes against him defended. His ground game has yet to really be seen as an offensive feature and 2 of his 4 losses have been to the submission so it really is a bit of a hole in his game. He has been able to defend the takedown pretty well at least with a 74% takedown defense rate. This fight will be right up his alley if he can keep this fight standing and should look for a KO. Now standing opposite of him is someone else who has loss to Faber in “Bruce Leeroy.” He is a very long fighter with an unorthodox fight style and he always seems to be happy and smiling during his fights which is great to see. Bruce has stopped 6 of his 10 wins, 2 by way of KO and the other 4 by submission. This guy is so loved and enjoyed in the UFC his charisma is through the roof the Faber fight was probably a fight with the most charisma in one octagon ever. He is going to probably be willing to stand with Rivera first and if he starts getting shots taken he will be able to take it because he is a very resilient fighter with the ability to take shots and shoot for the takedown if need be. His fight stances always seem to be enjoyable to watch and he is arguably the most unpredictable fighter in the UFC. He is an extremely entertaining fighter and should look for the takedown quick if he wants to win this fight. I am not saying he is a bad stand up fighter but his striking isn’t exactly on par with Rivera’s and with Rivera having a big hole in his ground game, why not capitalize. This is a good opening fight and I am really excited to see these contradictory fight styles clash. I am going to take Francisco Rivera though because I think he will get this fight to stay standing with his takedown defense and land his great strikes and put “Bruce Leeroy” on his butt in the 3rd round with a KO/TKO victory.
Joe Soto (15-3) vs. Anthony Birchak (11-2): Here is another fight in the bantamweight division and boy does it have the potential to be a show stealer. The fighter out of the red corner, Joe Soto is a freakishly good fighter who has only fought one fight before in the UFC. His one fight he filled in for Renan Barao in his supposed to be rematch against Dillashaw and got a title shot in his very first UFC fight. Soto lasted a whole five rounds with the champ before getting KO’d in the final round, he was really impressive in his UFC debut especially against a champion. To make his UFC debut even more impressive he took the fight with the champion on a ONE day’s notice and almost took the current champion the full 25 minutes. Joe is a great wrestler and is really well-rounded in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He has finished 13 of his professional wins 8 of which by submission and the other 5 are by way of KO. The ability to KO his opponents is impressive because of how good of a fighter he is on the ground and most of the time his striking game is overlooked. Joe is a monster finishing 8 of those fights in the first round meaning he has finished over 50% of his wins in the very first round. This kid has been around the best too, he was Jon Jones’ college roommate and teammate. Joe is someone I think that should get ranked pretty quickly after winning a few fights here in the UFC because this guy has a real chance once he develops a bit more to be a true title contender. Now standing opposite of him is Anthony Birchak who is just like Soto in his second UFC fight and coming off a tough loss to start his UFC career. His first fight ended in the first round in 3 minutes and 56 seconds to a submission. The good news for Birchak is that this loss was a robbery it seemed as Birchak was the only of the two to land any strikes and he also initiated the takedown that got him submitted. Once he got his opponent to the mat he wound up losing control and found himself submitted but I believe he will put that behind him and show off his true skills. Anthony professionally has finished 9 of his 11 victories. Six of those finishes are by way of submissions and the other three by KO/TKO. Birchak as well as Soto has finished a bit over 50% of his fights in the first round showing that these two both love to come get it right off the bat. Birchak is a great wrestler and his ability to get a submission is unbelievably smooth. This fight is going to be a lot of fun two guys who can both rise through their division squaring off. Both fighters are extremely good submission artists with pretty good stand up striking games. I am going to take the guy who went toe to toe with the champ though and pick Soto to win in the 2nd round by way of submission, I want to go with the rear naked choke.
Thiago Tavares (23-5-1) vs. Brian Ortega (8-0, 1NC): In this fight we move up a weight class from the previous two and go to the featherweight division. This fight here will be a decent fight. Thiago Tavares is a good fighter and has shown some of that by winning 5 of his last 7 fights. This though will only be his second fight in the featherweight division, currently 1-0 in this division. He has finished 15 of his 23 professional wins 13 of them are by submission and the final 2 are by KO/TKO. He has won his last two fights, his last loss comes to a future champion in Khabib Nurmagomedov which is nothing to be ashamed of obviously. This guy is an extremely strong featherweight with a lot of power and a great skill set. Thiago’s submission game is one of the best in his own division behind probably Khabib and Rafael dos Anjos, it is the strongest part of his game and means he will look to take the fight to the mat. Now standing up Thiago has one of the most dangerous Muay Thai games not in his division but in the UFC in general this guy is right up there with Anderson Silva and is someone to be feared to say the least. I truly believe if he can pull off this win he will find himself ranked in the featherweight division. Now standing opposite of Tavares is a guy who has yet to pick up a professional loss in Brian Ortega. Brian is undefeated and won his first and only fight so far in the UFC but it was ruled a no contest after he tested positive for steroids. Ortega has a very solid, extremely well-rounded game and is going to be hard to beat if he is on. He has only finished 50% of his fights all 4 finishes are by submission. The impressive part of his finishes though are the fact that he has finished three of those fights in the very first round. He is a fighter who loves to come out fast obviously but afterwards he seems to slow down and grind out some fights and can become a boring fighter to watch at times. I hope this fight stays fast paced even if it goes to the mat this thing has the potential to be special. I think Thiago will win this fight though in the second round by way of submission giving Ortega his first loss professionally.
Dustin “the Diamond” Poirier (17-4) vs. Yancy Medeiros (11-2, 1NC): For this fight we move up one weight class again to the lightweight division. Now this fight has one of my favorite fighters who somehow isn’t ranked anymore according to the UFC’s rankings that is, and it’s frustrating to me, in Dustin “the Diamond” Poirier. The Diamond has won 4 of his last 5 fights and his only loss during that span was to the soon to be champion Connor McGregor. The Diamond has finished all but three of his fights 8 by way of KO and the other 6 obviously by way of submission, 10 of those finishes are in the very first round. Dustin is a very well-rounded fighter one of the most well-rounded fighters in his division probably. He is an incredibly tough opponent to face because he gets into his opponents heads with his trash talking and normally backs it up to say the least. The Diamond is young too only 26 years old and I think he can truly be a title contender and one day a champion in the UFC as long as he keeps working because this kid is just an absolute monster. The fans should be on their feet for almost this whole fight because the Diamond will be bringing it. His opponent is Yancy Medeiros who is only one year the elder and is known for his incredible fighting skills. Yancy is another one of the well rounded fighters in his division not as much as Dustin is but he is good on the mat as well as striking. He his ability to block the takedown should be well documented as he has an 88% takedown defense success rate. Yancy is a finisher just like Dustin, as he has finished 9 of his professional 11 wins. Those 9 stoppages showcase his ability to get the KO with 6 of them being by way of KO the other 3 being submissions. This guy is a very strong fighter with the ability to stop a fight in the first round having 5 stoppages recorded in the first round. I like Yancy’s upside and think his skill set is going to make him a ranked lightweight one day and just like his opponent could one day be a title shot competitor. This fight I will put my bias aside but honestly it doesn’t matter I think Dustin is the better fight right now and I have Poirier winning with a first round KO of Mederios.
#9 “Big” Ben Rothwell (34-9) vs. #13 Matt Mitrione (9-3): The co-main event of the evening is between two big guys in the heavyweight division! This fight will guarantee a knockout finish! The big boy Ben Rothwell is going to bring the freakish power for sure. Big Ben might be huge but he can fight well on the mat and isn’t someone you really want putting his weight on top of you wearing you out. This guy though his striking game deserves to be talked about for a bit. This guy is as strong as they come and loves to stand there and punch someone in the face because this guy can take a hell of a beating. Now regardless of this guy’s large size and weight he has some of the fastest hands and quick feet you could see in the heavyweight division. This guy is one of the best finishers in the UFC and is a veteran with 43 fights under his belt and is only 33 years of age. Ben has finished 31 of his fights 27 of them by KO almost guaranteeing a KO with 4 more by way of submission. Big Ben is a brutal warrior who will be coming out hard and fast looking for a KO and to put on a show for the fans. I believe if Ben wins this fight the UFC will move him ahead of Mir and Hunt and get him up to the top 7 where he belongs. Now standing opposite of the beast Rothwell is Mitrione. Matt has only 12 fights under his belt professionally and is already 36 years old but don’t count his age as a negative. He has one quality that Ben has that could turn this fight into one of the best of the year, both of these dudes are absolutely mentally crazy and have a reckless abandon to them. Matt just like Ben though is extremely strong and can take one heck of a beating. His striking is his strongest suit and the reason for that would be due to his incredible strength and his fast hands. Matt is a great athlete, the reason he is 36 with only 12 fights is because he was a 6 year player for the New York Giants at defensive tackle. Only one of this guy’s wins have gone to decision as the other 8 victories have all been through way of KO. This fight between two heavy, fast handed, UFC heavyweights could easily steal the show from the main event and this fight will be a great one and is so tough to call. I am going to pick the one I think who will dig just a bit deeper and is a bit crazier and take Ben Rothwell in a 2nd round KO both fighters come out bloody and battered looking for fight of the year honors.
#13 Tim Boetsch (18-8) vs. Dan Henderson (30-13): A middleweight bout makes up the main event of this fight night on FOX Sports 1. Tim Boetsch is a heavy handed KO artist. Tim is a good wrestler though as it’s one of his strong points and can really deliver a strong ground and pound too once he wears his opponents out on the mat. He has finished 13 of his professional fights 10 of them by KO and the other 3 by some pretty quick submissions. This guy has as much heart as they get when it comes to the UFC and he is a fun fighter to watch. His nickname is the Barbarian for a good reason, he can really fight with the intention to just knock his opponents head off. The opponent though for his is the legendary, hall of famer Dan Henderson. Dan is 44 years of age and still can fight. Let me tell you for being 44 years of age his hands either one can put someone to sleep in a matter of seconds. Dan is known for his incredible wrestling as well as his brutal punches and he as well as Tim can deliver a deadly ground and pound. Henderson has a granite chin and can take a massive beating and still be standing in your face ready to knock you out with one punch. Dan can go the distance better than anyone, a lot of his fights have gone to decision while he has collected 14 KO’s. Dan is the most mentally tough and determined fighter I have ever watched and with all honesty is part of my inspiration behind doing MMA. But anyway to the prediction I am going to pick Dan Henderson to turn it around and win this thing and silence all the doubters about if he has anything left in the tank or not? I am taking Dan Henderson to win this fight in a 3rd round KO.
- Matt K