Gerald Meerschaert (28-9) vs. Jack Hermansson (17-4): Up next will showcase a difference in fight styles. Jack Hermansson is coming into this fight with a 6.5 inch leg reach advantage which will probably be a huge favor for him since he's the striker. In fact, 11 of his 17 wins were by knockout, with 3 more by submission. He is not great at takedowns, but has a pretty good defense defending 63% of strikes and 69% of takedowns. His opponent prefers to grapple with 20 wins by submission, even though he isn't afraid to use his striking with 6 wins by knockout. It's interesting to see that his takedown average is pretty low only succeeding 42% of the time, which may mean that he gets taken down a good bit and manages to come out on top. That could be further backed up by seeing his defense stats because he only defends half of incoming strikes and takedowns. I think the way Meerschaert fights and wins is a direct contrast to how Hermansson fights so Gerald is going to have a hard time getting this to the ground. For that reason I see Hermansson controlling this fight and getting a TKO finish in the third.
Jared Gordon (14-2) vs. Joaquim Silva (10-1): This fight will be between two lightweights with almost the same record. Also they are both almost the exact same height, reach and leg reach. They even have the same number of finishes with the slight difference being Gordon has 6 wins by knockout and 2 by submission where Silva has 5 by knockout and 3 by submission. Where they start to differ is that Joaquim Silva is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai. In his 4 UFC fights he hasn't attempted a single takedown and has a pretty decent defense with 64% successful striking and 65% for takedowns. He also lands an average of 3 significant strikes per minute. Gordon on the other hand, lands 6.68 significant strikes per minute which is more than double his opponent. In his three UFC fights he has never been taken down, has a 68% striking defense and 42% takedown success rate. I don't understand who he is training with that makes him prefer his striking so much because he trains with Renzo Gracie and John Danaher. I'm sure everybody knows the Gracie name and for those who don't know John Danaher is the leader of "Danaher's Death Squad" which pretty much encompasses all of his trainees because they are known to absolutely dominate no-gi competitive jiu-jitsu. Including the fact that Gordon is a brown belt I would think he would be lethal on the ground, but it doesn't seem to translate. Even without this massive skill-set, Gordon has better defense than Silva and lands way more often with harder shots so I'm going to call that Gordon will get a knockout in the first.
Bobby Green (24-8-1) vs. Drakkar Klose (9-1-1): This matchup will see a veteran versus a relative newcomer. Drakkar Klose was at one point a finishing machine. In his first 5 fights, he won all of them and 4 of them were by knockout. From there all six of the rest of his fights, including the loss and tie, were all ended by decision. He isn't very successful with takedowns at only 40% success rate, but both his striking and takedown defense are close to 70%. Bobby Green has a slightly better defense than Klose, but when people land on him they land hard because he takes an average of 4.5 significant shots per minute. Green has a good offense being able to secure 9 submission wins, 8 knockouts and 9 finishes in the first. He also lands an average of 5 significant strikes per minute while Klose only lands 3.3 a minute. I think this will be a good back and forth and will last a while because both men take multiple rounds to finish their fights. I'm going to call this a decision win in favor of Bobby Green because of his better defense.
(#10) Jessica-Rose Clark (9-5) vs. (#15) Andrea Lee (9-2): As we come close to wrapping things up for the prelims we see our only female fight for the night. Andrea Lee is an all-around accomplished martial artist. She is certified in Muay Thai, has won multiple state level Golden Gloves for boxing, was 1-0 in pro kickboxing, purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, brown belt in judo and a black belt in Kyokushin karate. In MMA, she has 4 wins by submission and 2 by knockout with 2 in the first. She is also on a 5 fight win streak. Her opponent, Jessica-Rose Clark has an even split of 2 wins by knockout and 2 by submission. Of her three fights in the UFC she is 2-1 with wins over Bec Rawlings and Paige VanZant. 10 of her 14 fights have gone to decision, win or lose, so she has proven she can go the distance. While her striking defense is only slightly less than Lee's (61% to Lee's 67%) Clark absorbs an average of 4 significant strikes per minute while Lee only absorbs and average of 1.6. I think this is going to be a hard fought battle between these two and Lee will come out with a TKO in the third due to extensive martial arts background and her better defense in the cage.
Zak Ottow (16-6) vs. Dwight Grant (8-1): Main event for the prelims is here and we have a man making his UFC debut against someone who is having a rocky start in his UFC career. Dwight Grant is debuting on a 7 fight win streak. 5 of his wins, including his last on Contender Series, have been by knockout. He is also coming in with a 4 inch arm and leg reach advantage. His opponent, Zak Ottow, has won 10 of his fights by submission and 3 by knockout with 9 in the first round. Ottow is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and orange belt in taekwondo. The reason I say Ottow has been having troubles is that he is 3-3 in his UFC career. Due to that his striking and takedown defense is sub-par. As dangerous as his submissions were, he hasn't submitted anybody since 8 fights ago and hasn't gotten any in the UFC. I believe that Dwight Grant will take over here and get a TKO stoppage in the first or second round.
Fight Night Main Card
Jim Miller (29-12) vs. Charles Oliveira (23-8): After a larger than usual prelim card we are moving into the final four. Kicking off the main card is a fight between two veteran lightweights. Miller has spent over a decade in the UFC and Oliveira is the current record holder for most wins by submission in UFC history. Oliveira is coming into this fight with a 2 inch height and 3 inch reach advantage. This probably comes into play for his 16 career wins by submission and 6 by knockout with 14 for them coming to an end in the first, while also a wielder of a black belt in both Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai. He has a solid defense with 54% of incoming strikes defended and 60% of opposing takedowns. These two have fought before in 2010 and Jim Miller put an end to Oliveira's 14 fight unbeaten streak. Miller is also a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but was a Division I wrestler in college as opposed to Oliveira's Muay Thai. Miller has 15 submissions and 4 knockouts making him a good matchup to Charles and probably why he won the first time. However, Miller may have a slightly better striking defense with 59%, but he has a worse takedown defense with 47% which works in Oliveira's favor since he prefers the ground. On top of that, Miller has only won 1 of his last 5 fights so I think that Oliveira is going to end this with a submission in the second.
(#11) Rob Font (15-4) vs. (#2 Fly) Sergio Pettis (17-5): Up next is a bantamweight bout looking to see where Sergio lands with his weight class shift. This is his first fight at bantamweight since 2014. I didn't realize this without looking it up, but he has shifted multiple times between bantamweight and flyweight in his career and has just admitted in a recent interview that he occasionally gets up to 170 in between fight camps. Upon hearing that I am personally relieved that he has decided to go up and hope he fits better in the new class. Doing a little extra research after seeing this i found out that Sergio is 9-1 at 135 and 8-3 at 125. While those records are pretty similar, 4 of his six finishes were at (135)bantamweight. I think these extra 10 pounds will create a monster most people haven't quite seen from this Pettis. In addition to those facts he is also a 2nd degree black belt in taekwondo, a black belt in Roufusport kickboxing and a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Rob Font is an aggressive striker that Pettis will need to take caution over. Font has a 2 inch height and reach advantage. He also has 7 wins by knockout and 4 by submission with 7 finishes in the first. Where his weakness lies is his grappling. Regardless of his purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, he has only completed 29% of his attempted takedowns and has only defended 25% of opposing ones. I also noticed he is only a white belt in Muay Thai even though he trains at Team Sityodtong, which is a worldwide Muay Thai gym where he trains out of the famous Boston area gym headed by Mark Dellagrotte. With that kind of knowledge and experience backing him he has a ton of room to grow in his standup and clinch. I believe that Pettis will take advantage of Font's weakness and take this to the mat where he gets a submission in the second.
(#5) Edson Barboza (19-5) vs. (#14) Dan Hooker (18-7): The co-main is upon us and as a Barboza fan this is probably the fight I'm most excited for. Dan Hooker has finished almost all of his wins with 9 knockouts and 7 submissions making only 2 wins by decision. He is a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and was 9-1 as a pro kickboxer. His striking defense and takedown accuracy are alright sitting around 50%, but his takedown defense is 76%. Barboza has a lower finishing rate than his opponent, but he still has 11 wins by knockout and is known for being very fun to watch. Edson Barboza is similar to Andrea Lee in martial arts experience. He is a black belt in both taekwondo and Muay Thai, which earned him many National awards in Brazil, is a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and was a pro kickboxer with a record of 25-3(22 KO's). This fight is going to be nuts with both men being outstanding strikers and both having a great takedown defense to probably keep this fight standing. I don't think this will last long though because neither have a great striking defense so with a good back and forth Barboza will get the knockout towards the end of the first.
(#4) Kevin Lee (16-4) vs. (#8) Al Iaquinta (13-4-1): Main Event time and we get to see the rematch between Kevin Lee and Al Iaquinta. Last time was in 2014 and Iaquinta won by decision. In his career, Iaquinta has won 7 fights by knockout and 1 by submission with 5 first round finishes. For being a college wrestler he has a surprisingly low takedown accuracy with only 28%, but has defended 77% of opposing takedowns. Since he doesn't fight often, people may only know him from his loss to Khabib and may think poorly of him. I want to let those people know, and maybe remind old fans, before that he was on a five fight win streak beating names such as Ross Pearson, Joe Lauzon, Jorge Masvidal and Diego Sanchez.On the other side of the cage, Kevin Lee is coming in with a whopping 7 inch reach advantage. Some fighters are unaffected by being at a reach disadvantage, but with a brawler like Lee it could be tough. Kevin Lee was an undefeated Division II college wrestler before dropping out to pursue an MMA career. In MMA he has gathered 8 wins by submission and 2 by knockout. Lee is a high-energy fighter that mixes heavy shots and constant clinch and takedown pressure. His goal is to wear you out, beat you up, and lock up a submission before you even know what happened. In their last fight, Kevin Lee didn't start with the intensity he normally shows and Iaquinta was able to get more takedowns and attempt a few submissions of his own. Lee began to come back, but Al kept the lead the whole fight. It needs to be noted that fight happened four years ago and Lee has won 10 of his 12 fights since and Iaquinta has only won 5 of 7 fights. Lee has fought close to double the amount and in my opinion has grown a lot more in that time. I believe he has gotten faster and more aggressive and with how close the last fight was I think that will make the difference and he will pull out a submission win in the third.