Tap or nap ... no need for judges here.
Two of the most devastating Light Heavyweight finishers will lock horns across the pond this Saturday (March 8, 2014) when Alexander Gustafsson -- fresh off of his near-defeat of division champion Jon Jones -- looks to rebound against unbeaten knockout machine Jimi Manuwa in the main event of UFC Fight Night 37.
The London, England-based card, which will emanate from 02 Arena, will also feature a Lightweight clash between Melvin Guillard and Michael Johnson, as well as Brad Pickett's Flyweight debut and the return of Gunnar Nelson.
We examined the first three UFC Fight Night 37 "Prelims" bouts -- streamed live via "Fight Pass" digital network -- set to grace your browser of choice yesterday right here. We've got three more where that came from below:
205 lbs.: Cyrille Diabate vs. Ilir Latifi
Consecutive victories over Tom DeBlass and Chad Griggs went a long way toward erasing the memory of the submission loss Cyrille Diabate (19-9-1) suffered courtesy of Anthony Perosh in Nov. 2011. The 6’6" striker couldn’t make it three in a row, though, bowing out because of injury after the first round of his bout with the aforementioned Manuwa.
Diabate will enjoy a 10-inch height advantage over Ilir Latifi (7-3).
Latifi got his shot at Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) stardom when his training partner, Gustafsson, suffered a cut just one week before a scheduled bout with Gegard Mousasi. Said shot unfortunately fizzled out after 15 minutes of being controlled by the Armenian’s powerful jab.
"The Sledgehammer" has scored five stoppages in his mixed martial arts (MMA) career.
I am always quick to bring up Diabate’s iffy jaw and incompetent ground game, but it’s hard to picture Latifi overcoming such a ridiculous length disadvantage. Ilir was entirely neutralized by Mousasi’s jab, indicating that he does not possess the quickness or timing necessary to close the distance on an opponent looking to engage at long range. The distance at which he will be forced to shoot will also go a long ways towards mitigating his wrestling advantage.
Latifi has a puncher’s chance, but I honestly think Diabate will simply demolish him at range.
The Snake knocks him out in one.
Prediction: Diabate by first-round technical knockout
185 lbs.: Luke Barnatt vs. Mats Nilsson
Chael Sonnen’s first pick on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 17, Luke Barnatt (7-0) was not quite able to live up to those lofty expectations, falling to Dylan Andrews in the quarterfinals. He’s found a bit more success in UFC proper, however, decisioning Collin Hart at the Finale and stopping Andrew Craig in Oct. 2013.
He stands five inches taller than Mats Nilsson (11-2-1).
Nilsson came up short in the battle for the name of Sweden’s top Middleweight, dropping a decision to Tor Troeng back in May 2012. Undaunted, he has since won two straight, most recently stopping Denniston Sutherland with brutal ground-and-pound.
A grappling specialist, he has tapped out five foes.
Barnatt, in my opinion, still has a ways to go before he can dish out and avoid the sort of damage a 6’6" middleweight should. Against a skilled grappler with mediocre wrestling, though, what he’s got is more than enough.
It’s as simple as this: Nilsson does not have the ability to take down Barnatt. He is not fast enough to exploit Barnatt’s lack of coordination nor technical enough to take advantage of the holes Barnatt leaves in his striking. By all rights, Barnatt should dominate him with straight punches and short knees when Nillson tries to shoot.
When Barnatt takes on a man with the speed and power to close the distance and land with authority, it will be back to the drawing board. Nilsson is not that man.
Prediction: Barnatt by second-round technical knockout
185 lbs.: Brad Scott vs. Claudio Henrique da Silva
An 8-1 record, all wins via stoppage, earned Brad Scott (9-2) a spot on TUF: "Smashes," where he fought his way to the Finale and earned "Fight of the Season" along the way. While he lost to Robert Whittaker at the Finale, he rebounded by submitting Dutchman Michael Kuiper in Oct. 2013.
The 6’1" Scott is seven years younger and five inches taller than Claudio Henrique da Silva (9-1).
Da Silva -- the Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructor at London Shootfighters -- has not tasted defeat since being disqualified in his professional debut. His last time out, he defeated former UFC fighter Xavier Foupa-Pokam by decision, going past the second round for the first time in his career.
He is a black belt under Ricardo Vieira and has submitted six opponents.
I hate picking fights that come down to takedown defense. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it until unproven jiu-jitsu aces enter the Octagon wearing neon signs indicating whether they can actually take the guy down.
If da Silva ends up on top, da Silva wins. If it stays on the feet, Scott pieces him up and takes home the decision. It’s that simple.
Well, if there’s one rule of European MMA, it’s to never assume the Englishman won’t get taken down; therefore, let’s go with da Silva.
Prediction: da Silva by first-round submission
Two big hitters in a five-round war and contenders galore. It might even be worth skipping tea time.
See you there, Maniacs.
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 37 fight card this weekend (Sat., March 8, 2014) right here, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" at 12:30 p.m. ET, right on through the Fight Pass main card bouts at 3 p.m. ET.
Current UFC "Prelims" Prediction Record 2014: 28-15