This weekend (Sat., Oct. 4, 2014), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will stage two events from different parts of the world with UFC Fight Night 53 and UFC Fight Night 54 from Stockholm, Sweden, and Halifax, Canada, respectively.
In addition, there are plenty of other interesting match ups UFC will putting on throughout the extensive day of mixed martial arts (MMA) action, with several relevant clashes that could allow some fighters to advance their careers and even move up the rankings.
Without further ado, here's a preview of some of the fighters that may be most likely to earn performance bonuses for their fights at these events:
Gunnar Nelson (Fighting Rick Story): Story is the type of fighter you'd expect to give Nelson a stiff test, but I feel that Iceland native has enough in his wheelhouse to make this fight his. Even though Nelson can be criticized for being excessively passive at times -- and Story has the type of style to put that gameplan to the test -- I believe that over five rounds Nelson can very easily take over this fight. Story is known to come out of the gates quickly, but to also fade very fast, and I think that once he starts to fade, Nelson will come alive and probably grab a submission win.
Max Holloway (Fighting Akira Corassani): Holloway is on fire right now, sporting a three-fight win streak, with all of his wins in that streak being impressive finishes. He's really becoming a very solid fighter, establishing a very entertaining, effective style. Corassani always seems to be just a little better than I give him credit for, but he'll be out of his element here, and I think Holloway has the tools to put him away.
Dennis Siver (Fighting Charles Rosa): Siver hasn't had the best run of things lately, and had his latest win overturned after he tested positive for a banned substance following his fight with Manny Gamburyan. That said, Rosa strikes me as a fighter with little to offer in the UFC, and he's only once faced an opponent with a winning record in his career. Siver is very, very far ahead of anyone Rosa has ever faced, and I expect that to be painfully clear once this fight begins.
Magnus Cedenblad vs. Scott Askham: These are just two fighters you expect to go out looking for a finish. In twenty four combined career wins, these two have finished all but four of them, with a nice balance between submissions and knockouts, showing their well-rounded skillsets. Cedenblad will look to be on top of his game for his home crowd, but Askham will certainly be ready to play spoiler here, and I think this will make for a terrific scrap.
And now onto UFC Fight Night 54 ...
Tarec Saffiedine (Fighting Rory MacDonald): I don't know what it is, but I find it very easy to not believe in MacDonald. Sure, he looks impressive against limited fighters, but I don't for a second believe he can ever come close to matching the legacy of his teammate, Georges St-Pierre, as so many say he is capable of. He hasn't fought anyone who can strike like Saffiedine, and if "Ares" can't get this fight to the mat, I think he's in for a ton of trouble here. MacDonald thrives against opponents who rely on their power when striking, but Saffiedine is nothing like that, and I expect a tactical masterpiece from him tonight as he shocks MacDonald in a huge performance.
Raphael Assuncao vs. Bryan Caraway: Both of these men fight at a frenetic pace, and both are highly skilled on the mat. Assuncao has been hard done by in terms of bantamweight contendership, and probably should've fought for the title by now, but Caraway is the type of guy that will give just about anyone a tough fight, regardless of how good they are. I think we'll see both men get in some big strikes on the feet, but I expect this fight to be a high-paced, wild technical grappling display.
Daron Cruickshank (Fighting Anthony Njokuani): Cruickshank is a very diverse striker, with a lot of speed and good footwork which allows him to effectively utilize his unorthodox style. Njokuani used to be like this, but he seems to have lost a step in recent fights, and I just don't think he's UFC caliber anymore. Cruickshank is too quick and too clever for Njokuani to get his game going, and I think he's going to dominate this fight from bell to bell.
Mitch Gagnon (Fighting Roman Salazar): Gagnon is a solid all-round fighter, and I personally love watching him fight. He's technically capable standing up, but his ground game is just so violently effective that it's hard to think of any lower tier bantamweights that can stop him from imposing his game. Salazar, like so many other new UFC fighters, has been crushing cans in the regional scenes, and I don't think he has what it takes to move on to that next step. Gagnon submission in short order.
And that wraps it up for Saturday's events.
UFC is working hard on improving the talent level on its international shows, and honestly, these two events are fairly high quality in comparison to the recent cards they've put on.
In other words, expect some exciting fights today and tonight courtesy of UFC Fight Night 53 and UFC Fight Night 54.