Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) set sail for the Wembley Arena earlier this week, home of this Saturday afternoon's (Feb. 16, 2013) UFC on FUEL TV 7 fight card in London, England, headlined by an Interim bantamweight title fight between temporary titleholder Renan Pegado and top division contender Michael McDonald.
Let's not overlook some of the other up-and-coming talent on tomorrow's televised offering, including Jimi Manuwa and Gunnar Nelson, among others. And let's hope they show the fighter walkouts, because I want to see Matt Riddle dodging English loogies at every turn.
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire card on fight day (Sat., Feb. 16, 2013), starting with the Facebook Prelims, which are scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. ET, as well as the six-fight main card, which is slated to air at 3 p.m. ET on FUEL TV.
So, who gets it done across the pond? I'm glad you asked...
Nostradumbass predicts: Can Michael McDonald win this fight? That all depends on whether or not he can land the money shot like he did against Miguel Torres, because outside of a flash knockout, I really don't see any area where he's better than Renan Pegado.
"Mayday" is just 22-years-old and has a bright future in this sport, but when you line up their current resumes on the overhead projector, you see victories over Alex Soto, Chris Cariaso and Edwin Figueroa for McDonald compared to wins over Urijah Faber, Scott Jorgensen and Brad Pickett for Pegado.
And then there's that whole 29-wins-in-a-row thingy.
I also don't like that "Mayday" has so many issues with his hand. One blow to the Brazilian's skull and that baby can pop, which is like taking the bullets out of your gun heading into a firefight.
"Barao" has him beat in speed and submissions, as well (watch the "One Punch" finish), and has already proved that he can last through the championship rounds by turning away "The California Kid." Outside of Dominick Cruz, I'm not sure if anyone at bantamweight is a legitimate threat to this guy.
Downward, Christian soldier.
Final prediction: Pegado def. McDonald via submission
Nostradumbass predicts: Dustin Poirier has been something of a sentimental favorite after his appearance in the finely-crafted documentary "Fightville." Outside of his rise to prominence inside the promotion's busy 145-pound division, "The Diamond" has shown that basic fundamentals are the foundation for winning fights.
Just ask Josh Grispi.
The loss to Chan Sung Jung was a learning experience, but I'm not sure the lesson completely sank in. He was hit way too often against Jonathan Brookins in a winning performance and if he turns this into a slugfest against Cub Swanson, he's toast.
It ain't easy being green.
Not including Jose Aldo, I don't know how many people can stand and bang with this guy and he's certainly come a long way under the tutelage of Greg Jackson. I think the Ross Pearson win was the one that really made me sit up and take notice and he made a mockery of Charles Oliveira.
His ground game, however, is a bit suspect.
I think Poirier can submit him just as Lamas did. After all, the Brabo is his favorite finisher. But I get this uneasy feeling that he'll try to make it a firefight and end up on the wrong side of a Swanson swarm, which will put him ass over tin cups and right to the back of the featherweight line.
Final prediction: Swanson def. Poirier via technical knockout
Nostradumbass predicts: Jimi Manuwa calls himself the "Poster Boy," which is apropos, because he is the poster boy for big, muscular fighters who run out of gas after the opening frame. See what happens when you end nine of your 12 wins inside the first round?
You get spoiled!
Especially when you get to beat up guys like Shaun Lomas, who is an incredible 14-40 (he's no quitter, I'll give him that). In fact, none of Manuwa's first eight wins have come over an opponent with a winning record.
By my estimation, Manuwa has five minutes to win this fight and very well could, depending on which Cyrille Diabate shows up to fight. Sometimes we get the lethal striker with tenacious aggression, other times we get a listless light heavyweight who looks like he'd rather be anywhere but inside the Octagon.
The Frenchman is getting up there in age so I'm not sure how much longer he can do this dance. Since Manuwa is hardly a jiu-jitsu ace, I think it's fairly safe to say this thing plays out on the feet. To that end, "The Snake" can use his kickboxing pedigree -- as well as his ridiculous reach -- to stymie the raging bull and tire him out.
From there, it's a veritable shooting gallery.
Final prediction: Diabate def. Manuwa via unanimous decision
Nostradumbass predicts: So Gunnar Nelson is supposed to be the next big thing at 170 pounds because he has amazing jiu-jitsu and cut his teeth in Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC). He even won his UFC debut by submission. I'm sure somewhere in Brazil, Demian Maia is thinking 'Yeah, so?'
Get in line, buster.
Since "Gunni" is the greatest thing to come out of Iceland since LazyTown, there's a lot of hype on his entry into the ranks of what could be one of the toughest weight classes in mixed martial arts (MMA). Rumor has it he's got hands, too, but pounding out guys like Iran Mascarenhas (0-4), Barry Mairs (1-1) and Adam Slawisnki (1-5) is not exactly the stuff of legend.
If you're caught up in all the hype, just remember what happened to "Wonderboy," and the well-rounded Santiago (10 wins by KO/TKO, 13 by submission) is about as durable as they come.
"The Sandman" had a dreadful 0-2 run with the UFC back in 2011, his second run inside the Octagon, but taking on Brian Stann and Demian Maia in back-to-back fights is a pretty tall order for any fighter. This won't be a cakewalk, but it's a winnable fight if he keeps himself upright.
Jorge hasn't been submitted in 35 professional fights, either, and I don't believe that streak will end tomorrow.
Final prediction: Santiago def. Nelson via split decision
Nostradumbass predicts: Ryan Jimmo has won 17 fights in a row and tied the UFC for fastest knockout with a seven-second thrashing of Anthony Perosh in his Octagon debut. Not bad for a guy who got bounced from The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 8 in the opening round.
Too bad it all ends tomorrow night.
That's because James Te Huna hits like a Mack truck, finishing 10 of his 15 victims by way of knockout or technical knockout. If Joey Beltran's head wasn't made of Nerf, he'd probably be on that list as well. The Aussie is weak on the ground, but I don't expect it to get there and even if it did, Jimmo's ground game isn't a "big deal," having been responsible for just two wins by way of submission.
This one is to be decided on the feet.
With both guys coming out firing, still fresh as a daisy and light on their feet, I have to favor Te Huna. I'm not saying Jimmo won't land or even have his moments, but when push comes to shove, volume means nothing in the face of power.
Something Igor Pokrajac learned the hard way in Te Huna's UFC debut.
Final prediction: Te Huna def. Jimmo via knockout
Nostradumbass predicts: I'm really looking forward to this fight just because I want to see if the British fans still hold a grudge against Matt Riddle for suggesting their teeth look like little chunks of butter. If Chael Sonnen can make it out of Brazil in one piece, I think the former TUF guy will return home unscathed as well.
But can he bring home a win?
Riddle is a durable wrestler and a heck of an athlete, but he's a below average fighter. We've all seen that GIF where the self-described pot head unleashes a furious combination a full two feet out of range. That could explain why he is 2-2 with one no contest over his last five fights and hasn't had a finish in two-and-a-half years.
Which is right around the last time Mills went to a decision.
While his technical knockout loss to Rory MacDonald was hardly "Beautiful," it came against a fighter many consider the next title contender at 170 pounds, so it's easy to overlook. In addition, he holds notable wins over rough-and-tumble veterans like Marius Zaromskis, Jake Hecht and Duane Ludwig.
Doesn't guarantee him a win.
Riddle is not the prototypical fighter and therefore is kind of hard to prepare for. How do you train for a bar fight? I think there's a good chance he wins, too, if he abandons the stand up and humps his way to victory. Hey, a win is a win, right? And what better way to stick it to the Brits!
Final prediction: Riddle def. Mills via split decision
That's a wrap, folks.
For previews and predictions on the preliminary card fights click here and here. To see all the odds and betting lines for UFC on FUEL TV 7 click here and remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of "Barao vs. McDonald."
What do you think? Now it's your turn ... let us have it in the comments section and share your thoughts and picks for tomorrow night's event.