Another Week, another Fight Night. UFC is back with Fight Night 107 from the The O2 Arena in London, England. This card looks thin compared to last week’s card, something that the English fans have complained about ever since the card was announced. Headlined by hard-hitting Light Heavyweights Jimi Manuwa and Corey Anderson and also featuring the retirement fight of Brad Pickett, this is still an exciting card. Hardcores are definitely tuning in!
Let’s not waste any time and start talking about the fights!
Jimi Manuwa (16-2) vs. Corey Anderson (9-2)
This Light Heavyweight fight pits number four ranked Jimi Manuwa against number six ranked Corey Anderson. While these two are close in their rankings, there is a huge gap, age-wise. Anderson is 10 years younger than his opponent. This is a battle of contrasting styles: Boxer vs Wrestler, old vs young etc. All these dynamics make this a very interesting fight. While there are no title implications to the fight, a win her for either of these guys can put them in a title eliminator situation, as the division is one of the thinnest in all of MMA.
Manuwa has what appears to be a good record but he lost to the two top guys he has faced, before knocking Ovince Saint Preux out in an excellent performance. He will likely need to replicate that same performance to beat Corey Anderson.
Manuwa is a striker. He is not a very technical striker, but he is a dangerous one. He possesses the power to shut the lights out of any guy in the division. His punches and kicks are explosive and fast, and while he is pretty limited when it comes to combinations, he does pick his shots intelligently. He likes to go to the body to open up the head and attack the legs with kicks. The biggest weakness in his game is wrestling and that is where Anderson excels. Manuwa is by no means terrible when it comes to takedown defense, but he’s no Jon Jones either. He ends up spending a lot of energy trying to defend takedowns and doesn’t do well when the fight hits the mat either.
Corey Anderson is the fighter with the most upside in the UFC Light Heavyweight division right now. Only four years into his MMA career, he is already in the top ten and is potentially looking to crack the top five with a win here. He has good hands but his strength is wrestling. He is a strong wrestler and takes almost everyone down in his fights. His problem often times is his carelessness in his boxing, sometimes relying on hooks rather than working with his jab. All in all, he has the tools to beat a guy like Jimi Manuwa, if he follows a game plan.
Prediction: Manuwa is a dangerous striker and if he wins this fight, it will be by KO/TKO. Likewise, Anderson has to avoid Manuwa’s power punches and stay on the outside and use his wrestling. He is more than capable of taking any man down and holding him there with some vicious ground and pound. He will probably do the same here and gain a TKO victory in the later rounds of the fight.
The Pick: Corey Anderson by TKO
Gunnar Nelson (15-2-1) vs. Alan Jouban (15-4)
This fight right here is a potential show stealer. In a matchup of two Welterweight contenders, Iceland’s BJJ ace Gunnar Nelson will take on the American Alan Jouban. This is probably the most unpredictable fight on the card as both men complement each other in many ways.
With a background in Muay Thai, Jouban is a very accomplished striker and is one of the most exciting prospects in the very deep Welterweight division. Jouban has gone from being a brawler to a much disciplined fighter and is riding a three fight win streak. Although rarely seen, his Jiu-Jitsu is crafty and dangerous, thanks to Edgy Brah (you know who I am talking about).
Jouban’s primary strength is his striking. He likes to move across the Octagon, firing kicks and punches while doing so. He has great ability to dart in with power shots and slide back out of range to safety, circling his opponents and moving. He is a product of 10th Planet, and is more than capable on the ground. He, however, prefers to fight on his feet.
Nelson, a product of SBG Ireland and Mjölnir gym in Iceland and a teammate of Conor McGregor, is another exciting prospect in this division and an incredibly unpredictable fighter himself. He has finished all but one of the fights that he has won, with an astounding 11 coming by way of submission. This should not be surprising though. A Renzo Gracie Black Belt, Nelson is a decorated BJJ practitioner and is one of the best black belts in MMA (I know Demian Maia schooled him, but that’s Demian Maia).
With his grappling pedigree, Nelson is still a very good striker and usually uses his strikes to set up submissions. He is extremely explosive and is good at closing the distance.
This fight looks even on paper, with Jouban looking favorable on the feet and Nelson looking favorable on the ground. Best way for Nelson to win would be to take Jouban to the ground and work his constricting magic.
Prediction: Jouban will like to stick and move and avoid all takedowns. Nelson on the other hand, would look to drag the fight to the floor and submit Jouban. This is easier said than done, as Jouban has excellent takedown defense and he’s no picnic on the ground either. Jouban will probably end up implementing his game plan and get a decision here.
The Pick: Alan Jouban by decision
Brad Pickett (25-13) vs. Marlon Vera (8-3-1)
Brad Pickett will bid adieu to the fight game after this one last go. His final test was supposed to be Enrique Briones, but a last second injury has forced Marlon Vera in Briones’ place. This is a must-see fight for a lot of fight fans, considering the fact that one of the more beloved fighters in the sport is retiring.
Brad Picket may have lost a lot of fights lately, but there was a time when he was counted among the best Bantamweights in the world. He has a win over a guy who most consider pound for pound the best fighter in the world today. That’s right. He has a win over ‘Mighty Mouse’ Demetrious Johnson. Only losing to some of the best smaller weight fighters in the world in the era that UFC didn’t have his division, the MMA audience at large never got to see the best of Brad Pickett. On a two fight loosing skid, Brad would like his swan song to end in a win, something that has alluded him for the majority of his time in UFC.
Marlon Vera is a young up and comer and has had only four fights in the UFC, winning two and losing two. He is at his most dangerous on the ground, but lacks the skills to bring the fight there at will. He has good striking but has ways to go before developing it into a dangerous one. He is also prone to allowing himself to be backed into the fence, losing advantage both in the fight and on the scorecards.
Brad Pickett is a very well rounded fighter, with great takedowns and some technical and dangerous boxing. He should be able to handle Vera’s style fairly easily, as easy as it can get in combat! He will probably look to implement a safer game plan here, trying to go out on a win, with his head held high. Wrestling figures to be the most important aspect of the fight, which Pickett holds significant advantage in.
Prediction: This fight is probably going to be wrestling heavy with Pickett trying to take Vera down and hold him there. His all round game will give Vera troubles and Vera’s takedown defense will probably not stop Pickett from imposing his will on the fight.
The Pick: Brad Pickett by decision
Arnold Allen (11-1) vs. Makwan Amirkhani (13-2)
This Featherweight bout is another potentially exciting fight on the card. Makwan Amirkhani is best known for his 8 second knockout of Andy Ogle. Arnold Allen is a relatively unknown fighter, who will probably get a lot of love in his home country.
Arnold Allen is a very well rounded fighter, who can do well in all departments of the game. The problem with that is he is not extraordinary at anything; he is just good at everything.
There is no such issue with Amirkhani, who has a wrestling background. He is an excellent wrestler with some legit ground skills. He is dangerous even on his back and can scramble to his feet anytime. His wrestling is beautiful and he can drag the fight to the floor when he wishes. He is also dangerous on the feet, where his athleticism makes him a threat from all angles.
Prediction: While Allen’s takedown defense is not bad, Makwan will probably succeed in taking him down. Also Amirkhani is dangerous on the feet, so it will be interesting to see Allen’s strategy in this fight. It would not surprise me if he decided to take Amirkhani down. I expect Amirkhani to take Allen down and control him on the ground and get a unanimous decision.
The Pick: Makwan Amirkhani by decision.
This event marks the last time we ever see Brad Pickett fight. The MMA world will miss him. Thanks for the memories, Brad.