This one's not going 25 full mixed martial arts (MMA) minutes.
Europe's premier Light Heavyweight fighters will do battle this Saturday (March 8, 2014) as uncrowned king, Alexander Gustafsson, takes on unbeaten Jimi Manuwa in the main event of UFC Fight Night 37, which will emanate from 02 Arena in London, England.
In addition, Michael Johnson will aim to extend his unexpected rise to Lightweight contender status when he faces Melvin Guillard, who is still looking to establish himself as one of the 155-pound division's elite.
The entire Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) card will stream on Fight Pass service. The four-fight main card will be joined by a half-dozen "Prelims" under card scraps, the first three of which we will examine as soon as you finish reading this sentence.
Here we go:
135 lbs.: Davey Grant vs. Roland Delorme
With eight chokes and a technical knockout on his record, Davey Grant (8-2) was selected to represent Ronda Rousey in the men’s tournament of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 18. After submitting Louis Fisette in the second round, he reached the finals by default following Anthony Gutierrez’s failure to make weight, only to tap out to Chris Holdsworth’s rear-naked choke.
Grant has never gone past the halfway point of the second round.
Despite scoring an early knockdown, Roland Delorme (9-2) found himself unable to handle the length and striking acumen of Alex Caceres, dropping a split decision back in September. The defeat snapped a four-fight unbeaten streak in the UFC, though it admittedly included an overturned knockout loss to Francisco Rivera.
Delorme has only gone the distance in victory once, submitting seven.
Delorme has power and very solid grappling; however, his fundamental flaw is that he can’t synthesize them. He’s either winging power shots or shooting. There’s no using one to disguise the other.
Grant should have the takedown defense needed to make this into a striking battle, where he ostensibly has the advantage. If the fight does wind up hitting the mat, I feel Grant is sufficiently skilled to handle himself there, too.
Delorme’s nothing if not entertaining, so expect a good show from both men as Grant exploits Delorme’s rough striking technique to earn the decision win.
Prediction: Grant via unanimous decision
170 lbs.: Igor Araujo vs. Danny Mitchell
Though Igor Araujo (24-6) made it only to the quarterfinals of TUF 16, he redeemed himself once in UFC, upsetting Brazilian giant Ildemar Alcantara in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The victory marked his thirteenth in his previous 14 matches, the sole defeat to fellow UFC competitor Rashid Magomedov.
The Jackson-Winkeljohn-trained product has picked up 17 submissions during his nine-year career.
Though was stopped by Kendall Grove in June 2013, Danny Mitchell (14-4-1) has been busy since, tapping out Victor Peixoto and two-fight Octagon veteran Besam Yousef. "The Cheesecake Assassin" is now 5-1-1 in his last seven bouts, drawing with TUF 19’s Cathal Pendred.
He owns nine submission wins, among them a flying triangle and a twister.
Mitchell is fun as hell to watch -- he’ll try flying scissor heel hooks, twisters and any other sort of ridiculous grappling you can think of. Unfortunately, I do not believe he has the positional control necessary to upset a veteran like Araujo.
Creative flair is all well and good, but as we’ve seen time and time again: Aggression in grappling is no substitute for control.
If Araujo elects to take it to the ground (Mitchell’s poor wrestling makes it Araujo’s prerogative), we could have ourselves a terrific little scrap. Though Mitchell will likely give him some scares, I believe Igor capitalizes on Mitchell’s grappling flamboyance to choke him out midway through.
Prediction: Araujo via second-round submission
125 lbs.: Phil Harris vs. Louis Gaudinot
Though he fell in his Octagon debut to Darren Uyenoyama, Phil Harris (22-11) managed to right the ship 13 months ago, edging out Ulysses Gomez in front of the former’s countrymen. Unfortunately, John Lineker stepped in to send Harris' UFC record back below .500, knocking him out with a vicious shot to the solar plexus.
Of his 17 stoppage wins, 13 have come via tapout.
Despite earning "Fight of the Season" on TUF 14, Louis Gaudinot (6-3) got his UFC career got off to a rocky start, suffering a tremendous beatdown against Johnny Bedford. While he managed to upset Lineker in a "Fight of the Night" performance soon after, Timothy Elliott proved a tougher nut to crack, handing Gaudinot his second UFC defeat.
His wins are evenly distributed between knockout, submission and decision.
I really feel Gaudinot is a lot better than his UFC record indicates -- Bedford is a couple dozen pounds bigger than him and Elliott has tungsten where his jaw should be. Gaudinot is incredibly resilient and should have both the wrestling and overall grappling advantage over Harris.
Harris is just unremarkable -- he’s an okay striker and a solid grappler, but he has nothing that really makes him stand out among UFC’s flyweights. Whether in a brawl or on the mat, Gaudinot ostensibly has the edge and I expect him to coax the tap in the second stanza.
Prediction: Gaudinot via second-round submission
Three more UFC Fight Night 37 "Prelims" to preview and predict tomorrow, all of which look ripe for impressive finishes.
See you then!
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.