They can take away our dignity by making men wear skirts, but they will never ... take ... our freeeeeeeeedom!
So went the (paraphrased) famous words of William Wallace from the movie Braveheart, portrayed by an American-born Australian.
Similarly, nobody remotely Scottish will be playing a starring role in UFC Fight Night 72 in Glasgow, Scotland, this Saturday (July 18, 2015) on FOX Sports 1 (full card here). But there will be plenty of Englishmen and Irishmen.
Hey, close enough, right?
This card doesn't have any superstars on it and after UFC 189, everything you bite into is going to taste a bit like haggis. But at the very least, there are some good fighters to be watched, including the last man to humble the "Notorious" Conor McGregor.
There's also betting and bragging rights on the line here, so let's get things started:
Lightweight (155 lbs.): Leonardo Mafra (12-2, 1-2 UFC) vs. Steven Ray (17-5, 1-0 UFC)
Mafra: Brazilian, 26, turned pro in 2011, 8 wins by knockout, fighting out of American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose
Ray: Scottish, 25, turned pro in 2010, 8 wins by submission, fighting out of Higher Level MMA and Dinky Ninjas
Chill Factor: Neither guy is terribly experienced in UFC but as a graduate of TUF Brazil in 2012, Leonardo Mafra has been fighting and training against a far higher caliber of competition than his Scottish counterpart. I wouldn't say that I've seen anything in the style of either fighter that indicates a cool and calm type of fighting, but Mafra has the benefit of training at one of the premiere MMA gyms in the world and some of that has got to rub off. Advantage: Mafra
Fear Factor: Literally five minutes after making a Braveheart joke we get a kid whose nickname is Braveheart. Jesus. Anyway, there's no chance that either fighter has a fearsome reputation that anybody would be concerned about. For Mafra, it's a matter of finding consistency at an elite level after winning time and again on the regional circuit. For Ray, he'll want to follow up his impressive UFC debut with another finish. Advantage: Nobody
IQ Factor: I can't say I've seen enough tape on Ray to formulate an educated opinion on his mental strengths or weaknesses. We do know, however, that Mafra has been prone to mental errors and carelessness that has seen his only two losses in his career come in UFC. Advantage: Nobody
Muscle Factor: This one is all in Leonardo Mafra's court. At only 5'10" the Brazilian has competed as a welterweight most of his career but much like Diego Sanchez chose to go on The Ultimate Fighter at 185 pounds where he was manhandled. Despite performing well at 170, the best weight class for Mafra is 155 pounds where he successfully debuted against Cain Carrizosa at UFC Fight Night: Maia vs. LaFlare in March. Mafra is a very strong fighter at this weight class and will be able to resist the takedown attempts of Ray, while working where he does best: on the feet. Advantage: Mafra
X-Factor: Scotland is situated close enough to England that Ray has had plenty of experience competing in BAMMA and Cage Warriors and owns a pair of wins over a veteran some UFC fans may remember in Curt Warburton (or not, he went 1-2 and was cut). At 25 years old he's certainly got a lot of growing up and improving to do so nobody really knows how good he'll be on Saturday. He will, however, be fighting in front of his fellow countrymen. The big question here is whether Ray can really improve at a world class level while fighting out of "Dinky Ninjas" in Nowhereville, Scotland. There is no chance he's training with the kind of murderers Mafra gets at AKA. But who knows? Scotland is country with a unicorn on its coat of arms so anything can happen. Advantage: Ray
All Factored In: Mafra def. Ray via unanimous decision
Welterweight (170 lbs.): Leon Edwards (9-2, 1-1 UFC) vs. Pawel Pawlak (11-1, 1-1 UFC)
Edwards: English, 23, turned pro in 2011, BAMMA welterweight champion, fighting out of American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose
Pawlak: Polish, 26, turned pro in 2010, 6 wins by knockout, fighting out of Gracie Barra Lotz
Chill Factor: At just 23 years of age Leon Edwards is already a household name in England where he won the BAMMA welterweight title last May. A consistently active fighter, Edwards now benefits from training at AKA in San Jose, a move that immediately paid off with an eight second destruction of Polish-Canadian fighter Seth Baczynski. Now he's set to do the same to Polish-Polish fighter Pawel Pawlak, who showed all kinds of frustration in his fight against Peter Sobotta in his UFC debut when he couldn't keep it standing. Advantage: Edwards
Fear Factor: Nothing to write home about here but Edwards is coming off an eight second knockout while Pawlak has gone to the judges in the only two fights he's taken outside of crushing tomato cans in Poland. The only scary thought is how much better Edwards is getting while training at AKA when he was already pretty damned good in England. Advantage: Nobody
IQ Factor: Leon Edwards is obviously a gifted fighter but has shown weakness in the takedown defense department, particularly in giving up three to Claudio Silva en route to a split decision loss in his UFC debut. Pawlak is likely to test that takedown defense in their fight if he can't find an advantage on the feet. Advantage: Nobody
Muscle Factor: To be honest, I don't see this as really being a problem in this fight, which will probably be dictated on the feet. Both guys are a fan of the knockout and have only gone to wrestling when they were forced to do so. If it does go to the ground both fighters own submissions there as well so it will probably be a matter of who gains the initiative in the exchanges. Advantage: Nobody
X-Factor: On paper at least, Edwards should destroy Pawlak. He's younger, trains at a better facility, has faced better competition in his career and is improving each time he fights. The only question here is how much has he improved since last November. An eight second flash knockout doesn't tell us a whole lot about his abilities, so we'll see whether close fights like his match against Claudio Silva was a growing pain or not. Advantage: Edwards
All Factored In: Edwards via knockout in Round 2
Women's Strawweight (115 lbs.): Joanne Calderwood (9-1, 1-1 UFC) vs. Cortney Casey-Sanchez (4-1, UFC debut)
Calderwood: Scottish, 28, turned pro in 2012, #7 in the official UFC Strawweight rankings, fighting out of Dinky Ninjas Fight Team, The Griphouse Gym
Casey-Sanchez: American, 28, turned pro in 2013, 4 first round finishes, fighting out of Freak Animal Fitness in Mesa, Arizona
Chill Factor: Damn, you know the UFC is trying to make a squash match when the hometown favorite is facing a woman about whom the promotion has zero biographical information and couldn't even bum a photograph for. Now it's up to Calderwood to go out and deliver a beatdown for the fans. But I would say the pressure here is all on Calderwood. She's coming off an absolutely embarrassing loss against a similar nobody at UFC Fight Night: Gonzaga vs. Cro Cop 2 in Krakow, Poland in April. And if Casey-Sanchez loses, well, she was supposed to lose, so she has nothing to lose. Advantage: Nobody
Fear Factor: There's nobody to fear in the pillow-fisted 115-pound women's division except for the champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Calderwood has a reputation as a ferocious fighter who muscles opponents to the ground, but hasn't finished anybody in her last four outings. Meanwhile, the big question mark is in Casey-Sanchez, who does own three consecutive first round finishes, albeit in minor league organizations. Advantage: Nobody
IQ Factor: It's hard to say anything about Case-Sanchez that would be an educated guess. But Calderwood has, until her last fight, demonstrated good fight instincts and an ability to stay out of trouble. The question here is whether the armbar she succumbed to in 1:40 in Poland was a mental lapse or a weakness to be exploited on a regular basis. Advantage: Nobody
Muscle Factor: Barring a surprise by Casey-Sanchez, you'd got to assume that Calderwood is going to bully her opponent as she has done in every fight since her career began. It is the tenacity of Calderwood in this department that earned her the 2014 Fan Favorite Fighter of the Year Award. She was also involved in the TUF 20 Fight of the Season against #4 ranked Rose Namajumas, a fight she did very in before falling to a kimura. Advantage: Calderwood
X-Factor: For Casey-Sanchez and her less than two years of MMA experience we don't really know what we're getting on Saturday. Based on her first round finishes she could turn out to be the next big thing at 115 pounds in the UFC. Or she could be a scrub who beat scrubs on the scrub circuit. There's only one way to find out. Advantage: Casey-Sanchez
All Factored In: Calderwood def. Casey-Sanchez via unanimous decision
Lightweight (155 lbs.): Joseph Duffy (13-1, 1-0 UFC) vs. Ivan Jorge (26-4, 2-1 UFC)
Duffy: Irish, 27, turned pro in 2008, owns win over Conor McGregor, fighting out of Tristar in Montreal
Jorge: Brazilian, 34, turned pro in 2001, Black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, fighting out of Team Tavares in New Jersey
Chill Factor: Much like his brash countryman, Duffy is a calm fighter in the cage, scanning for weaknesses and exposing them with precision. His dismantling of Jake Lindsey was textbook in his UFC debut. Ivan Jorge, meanwhile, like many Brazilians relies upon sudden frantic bursts of speed and exertion, particularly in attempting takedowns where he is solid on the ground. With 13 submissions to his name, Jorge very much enjoys being on top on the mat. Advantage: Duffy
Fear Factor: It's hard not to be at least a little intimidated by the man who last defeated Conor McGregor. Even if it was nearly five years ago. Even if he since lost to a relative unknown fighter named Ivan Musardo via guillotine choke. But Duffy is also a nasty finisher inside the cage/ring, with four knockouts and eight submissions in 13 wins. Duffy does not like going to the judges. If Jorge wants to take Duffy down he'll have to contend with a fighter who effortlessly submitted McGregor in 38 seconds. Advantage: Duffy
IQ Factor: It's hard to argue that a man with 15 years professional MMA experience doesn't have the advantage here, but in watching their fights you'll notice that Duffy has a much more controlled style that lends to better decision-making and opportunities. Jorge is a big, muscly bruiser who likes to use his size to dominate his smaller opponents and that doesn't always help him in pacing himself or in finding the right moment to strike. Advantage: Duffy
Muscle Factor: The obvious choice here is Jorge because clinching and grappling is his M.O. but we don't really know for sure. Duffy is no buttercup and he's not likely to be bullied around by Jorge, even if he does get top position. And again, Duffy owns a plethora of first round submission finishes, so taking him down may not lead to the sort of success Jorge is envisioning. Still, until proven otherwise, you've got to assume the Brazilian has the strength advantage. Advantage: Jorge
X-Factor: Just how good is Joseph Duffy? We don't really know. Yes, he finished Conor McGregor, but that was a long time ago. Yes, he has a boatload of first round finishes, but mostly against nobodies (except Norman Parke, that is also extremely legit). Yes, he knocked out Jake Lindsey, but the kid was already on a two fight losing streak. I guess what I'm trying to say is that the world could be Duffy's oyster, or he could be riding an undeserving level of hype. We had the same trepidation about McGregor, and look where that got us. I'd like to believe that not only is Duffy for real, he's a future contender. We'll find out Saturday. Advantage: Duffy
All Factored In: Duffy def. Jorge via knockout in Round 1
Lightweight (155 lbs.): Ross Pearson (17-8, 9-5 UFC) vs. Evan Dunham (15-6, 8-6 UFC)
Pearson: English, 30, turned pro in 2004, TUF 9 winner, fighting out of Alliance MMA in California
Dunham: American, 33, turned pro in 2007, 1st Degree Black Belt under Robert Drysdale, fighting out of Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas
Chill Factor: Both of these guys are longtime UFC veterans with a huge amount of experience. They are patient and competent strikers on the feet where this match is likely to be contended. There's nothing that either fighter hasn't seen before or prepared for a thousandfold over. Advantage: Nobody
Fear Factor: Pearson is a fighter who usually wins one or two, loses one, etc. Dunham is trying to bounce back from an awful losing streak. The only fear in this fight is another failure and possible cut from the UFC. Things look a little better for Pearson, who is more like 3-1 in his last four given the robbery against Diego Sanchez. Dunham meanwhile has won just once in his last four, although he faced a murderers row of top contenders prior to defeating Rodrigo Damm. Advantage: Nobody
IQ Factor: I can't really give this one to either fighter. Both are disciplined standup fighters who are more than competent on the feet but have been prone to carelessness in the past, getting them knocked out. Pearson's aggression against Al Iaquinta backfired by getting knocked out just as it did against Cub Swanson. Dunham deciding to stand and trade with Edson Barboza and Donald Cerrone didn't work out that well either. This fight could similarly end with a flurry in which the unlucky fighter is the one who is more careless in the exchange. Advantage: Nobody
Muscle Factor: I haven't checked the betting lines on this one but I suspect it's very even given the fact these guys match up so evenly everywhere. Pearson has been taken down just 11 times in his entire 14 fight UFC career, and has managed to out-muscle guys when the need arises. Dunham is also stingy on the takedowns and actually managed to take Lightweight Champion Rafael dos Anjos down three times in a losing effort in 2013. But chances are neither fighter is going to the ground so it shouldn't matter. Advantage: Nobody
X-Factor: If anybody gets an edge in this fight it's Pearson because he's fighting close to home where he will get a hometown cheer, even if it's technically in Scotland. Pearson has also been the more active fighter since April 2013, putting in six fights compared to Dunham's four (five if you go back a few more months). Still, it's hard to really pinpoint any factor that would give either guy a boost. Advantage: Pearson
All Factored In: Pearson def. Dunham via split decision
Middleweight (185 lbs.): Michael Bisping (26-7, 16-7 UFC) vs. Thales Leites (25-4, 10-3 UFC)
Bisping: English, 36, turned pro in 2004, TUF 3 winner, fighting out of HB Ultimate and a bunch of other gyms
Leites: Brazilian, 33, turned pro in 2003, First degree Black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Welton Ribeiro, fighting out of Nova Uniao
Chill Factor: The knock against Michael Bisping is that he's boring but that's also his most effective means of victory. His crisp and accurate punches, though they lack any and all power, have earned him decision victories over CB Dollaway, Alan Belcher, Brian Stann and others. His high volume offense wears guys down as well, so he will actually get finishes if he lands enough such as he did against Cung Le, Jason Miller and Jorge Rivera. Leites is a very experienced fighter but possesses none of the same poise as "The Count." Advantage: Bisping
Fear Factor: With three consecutive finishes in the UFC and this renaissance Leites is on you've got to be concerned as a Bisping fan, knowing the Brit has succumbed to the power punch before. But Bisping isn't going to change his gameplan for Leites other than expecting the takedown and the odd wild swinging attack. Should he stay clear of both of those dangers he should easily cruise to victory. Advantage: Nobody
IQ Factor: Bisping is one of the most intelligent fighters in the UFC, as difficult as that is to admit. He finds ways to win against guys with better striking and grappling, by using his strengths to take the fight to where he has the best chance of winning. That means a lot of movement and cardio to tire out muscled opponents (like Leites), volume punching, and lots of feints and a varied attack to keep his opponent guessing. Advantage: Bisping
Muscle Factor: If Leites gets a hold of Bisping and drags this to the ground it could be very hard to get back up again. Bisping is a great wrestler as he demonstrated against Chael Sonnen, but he's not primarily a wrestler and has been controlled by fighters like Tim Kennedy. Leites has become a double threat with his new-found power striking but his base has always been world class BJJ. Advantage: Leites
X-Factor: There's nothing we haven't seen from Bisping before and he'll be the same gatekeeper who shut the door on so many middleweights trying to climb the ladder to the top. The problem with Bisping is he's always choked against true contenders as he did against Vitor Belfort, Chael Sonnen and Luke Rockhold. The question is whether Leites is a true contender or just another to be stopped at the gate. Advantage: Leites
All Factored In: Bisping def. Leites via unanimous decision
That's a wrap!
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