Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing mixed martial arts (MMA) fans a four-fight main card for UFC Fight Night 37 on Fight Pass, which takes place tomorrow afternoon (March 8, 2014) inside the O2 Arena in London, England.
Not that it matters.
If you already paid your 10 bucks, you get the entire fight card in one place, making the imaginary line that separates the main card from the prelims nothing more than a formality.
Speaking of formalities, a lot of folks have pegged the Alexander Gustafsson vs. Jimi Manuwa headliner as nothing more than a layover for "The Mauler," a way to notch a win over a respectable opponent and get back into that Jon Jones rematch everyone wants to see.
I'm not sure "Poster Boy" got the memo.
In the co-main event, Melvin Guillard will make one last attempt at relevancy inside the promotion's crowded 155-pound landscape at the expense of former teammate and rising "Menace" Michael Johnson, who continues to look better each time out.
For a Fight Pass card, we could do worse. On that note, let's get moving...
205 lbs.: Alexander "The Mauler" Gustafsson (15-2) vs. Jimi "Poster Boy" Manuwa (14-0)
Nostradumbass predicts: Welp, we should probably just go ahead and say it out loud: Most of us are expecting Jon Jones to defeat Glover Teixeira at UFC 172, not long after Alexander Gustafsson disposes of Jimi Manuwa at UFC Fight Night 37.
It just feels a little too neat and tidy.
That would make Manuwa a great choice for spoiler, considering he's not only undefeated inside the cage, but also a frightening finisher, not having seen the judges' scorecards in 14 professional fights. But that record can be a bit misleading. Seductive, no question, but misleading.
Half of the "fighters" he's defeated, like the 15-41 Shaun Lomas, have a losing record.
In addition, he's had a string of bizarre performances under the UFC banner, winning his last two by way of injury. But that's not really the red flag in this contest. It's the fact that Gustafsson has faced far better competition in his young career.
True, he's crushed his share of cans, but I'll rank wins over Thiago Silva and Mauricio Rua -- as well as a razor-thin loss to Jon Jones -- higher than mishaps against the likes of Cyrille Diabate and Ryan Jimmo. In fact, "Poster Boy" has never even faced a fighter ranked in the top 10.
There just isn't enough there to lean toward the upset.
I would expect Manuwa to make this a tough fight in the first couple of rounds. He's a powerful striker and will undoubtedly be energized by the hometown crowd. But "The Mauler" will be better conditioned and once the Brit runs out of gas in the second half of the fight, he's likely to be taken down and tapped out.
Final prediction: Gustafsson def. Manuwa via submission
155 lbs.: Melvin "The Young Assassin" Guillard (31-12-2) vs. Michael "The Menace" Johnson (14-8)
Nostradumbass predicts: Melvin Guillard turns 31 at the end of this month, so it might be time to drop that "Young" part of his nickname. The reason I mention his age is because the "Assassin" has 47 professional fights and has been competing inside the Octagon for nearly a decade across a span of more than 20 bouts.
If he was going to do something special, he probably would have done it by now.
But here we are all these years later and Guillard can't even crack the top 15 of his division. He's also a paltry 2-4 with 1 no contest over his last six fights. That doesn't leave me with much confidence heading into tomorrow's bangfest against Michael Johnson.
"The Menace," who has experienced his share of inconsistencies, has never looked better.
In layman's terms, Johnson is on his way up while Guillard is on his way down and they happen to be meeting somewhere in the middle. I was particularly impressed with how Johnson dismantled Joe Lauzon before stiffening Gleison Tibau.
On the flip side, Guillard wiped the floor with Mac Danzig before his fight against Ross Pearson ended inconclusively.
But all that really proved is what we already knew. "The Young Assassin" is wickedly fast with his hands and can knock anyone out if he lands clean. But I don't think the fleet-footed Johnson is going to play the role of sitting duck and will instead look to use a superior gameplan -- rather than a straight-up boxing match -- to get the "W."
Final prediction: Johnson def. Guillard via unanimous decision
125 lbs.: Brad "One Punch" Pickett (23-8) vs. Neil "2 Tap" Seery (13-9)
Nostradumbass predicts: While Brad Pickett was never able to reach the summit of the 135-pound mountain, he doesn't lose to scrubs. So if you can't get into the title picture, but still have no trouble knocking around the rest of your weight class, you shed some skin and try your luck elsewhere.
That could spell trouble for Neil Seery.
Naturally, that all depends on what kind of toll the weight cut took on "One Punch," who makes his flyweight debut tomorrow in London after mixing it up against heavier guys like Renan Barao and Michael McDonald. Even if the last couple of days have been miserable, it's hard to weigh that over the fact that Seery is making his Octagon debut -- at home -- on super short notice.
I don't like his chances.
Seery got off to a rocky 1-4 start but has since turned it around in the second half of his career; however, I don't see any names on his list of wins that would convince me to pick the upset and Octagon jitters certainly don't help. Pickett probably has the better ground game but "2 Tap" possesses a nice blend of knockout and submissions, so I don't think it's a lock.
I would expect a fast-paced, spirited affair that sees Pickett take over in the second and third rounds.
Final prediction: Pickett def. Seery via unanimous decision
170 lbs.: Omari Akhmedov (12-1) vs. Gunnar "Gunni" Nelson (11-0-1)
Nostradumbass predicts: I'm not a big fan of picking fighters who are coming off huge layoffs, especially when they involve a knee injury. But I think Gunnar Nelson might be okay here because his opponent -- who hasn't seen the cage for four months -- isn't polished enough to give him pause.
But Omari Akhmedov is still dangerous.
In order for the Russian to seal the deal across the pond, he's got to drop one of his patented bombs on "Gunni," which won't be as easy as it sounds, even with the Icelander's sloppy defense. His footwork is puzzling and while he gets tagged, Nelson is usually good about staying away from the power punch.
And the ground game belongs to him.
Akhmedov is a talented Sambo grappler with an arsenal of deadly chokes, but he won't have the luxury of bullying his opponent on the ground. That's because Nelson -- who twice turned heads in Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) -- is smooth as silk in the scramble and for my money, the better overall ground fighter.
It wouldn't surprise me to see the Dagestani try to go for the kill and instead find himself waking up after the fact.
Final prediction: Nelson def. Akhmedov via submission
That's a wrap.
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 37 fight card on fight day, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m. ET, right on through the main card -- also on Fight Pass -- which is slated to begin at 3 p.m. ET.
For previews and predictions on the preliminary card fights click here and here. To see all the odds and betting lines for UFC Fight Night 37 click here and remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of "Gustafsson vs. Manuwa."
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.