They're gonna need an even newer Jersey after this one.
Two big, powerful Light Heavyweight contenders collide in Newark's Prudential Center this Saturday evening (Jan. 30, 2016) as Anthony Johnson and Ryan Bader headline UFC on FOX 18 with a potential 205-pound title shot on the line.
In addition, Josh Barnett takes on Ben Rothwell in an important Heavyweight showdown, while prospects Jimmie Rivera and Sage Northcutt challenge powerhouses Iuri Alcantara and Bryan Barberena,
But, before all that, we've got nine heaping "Prelims" undercard bouts to set the stage. The first three will stream live on Fight Pass, so as usual, it's time to break them down.
170 lbs.: Randy Brown vs. Matt Dwyer
Randy Brown (6-0), a product of Dana White’s "Lookin’ for a Fight" program, enjoyed a 4-2 amateur career before joining the professional circuit. Once there’ he’s earned six stoppages in six fights, four of them by knockout.
He will give up two inches of height to Matt Dwyer (8-3).
The 6’4" Dwyer entered UFC on a five-fight win streak, one which came to an abrupt end courtesy of Russian destroyer Albert Tumenov. A Superman punch on William Macario gave him his first UFC victory, after which he fell short in a "Fight of the Night"-winning brawl against Alan Jouban.
All eight of his professional wins have come via knockout.
There’s pretty much no footage of Brown, but what I’ve heard is not good. In addition to his lack of pro experience, he’s apparently a terribly inexperienced grappler, and while Dwyer can’t exploit that hole the way a Yan Cabral or Sergio Moraes could, it’s still a notable issue.
Further, for all of his technical deficiencies, Dwyer is ludicrously tough and packs a serious punch. If Brown tries to slug it out, I don’t believe he can overcome the Canadian’s wealth of slugging experience. Dwyer eventually overwhelms him with strikes, perhaps with a couple of takedowns mixed in, after maybe seven or so entertaining minutes.
Prediction: Dwyer via second-round technical knockout
145 lbs.: Damon Jackson vs. Levan Makashvili
Damon Jackson (9-1) joined UFC as the Legacy FC Featherweight champion, but came up short in his late-notice debut against Yancy Medeiros up at 155 pounds. He returned to Featherweight to face Rony "Jason," who tapped Jackson with a triangle choke, but failed a post-fight drug test for a diuretic.
He has never gone the distance as a professional, submitting seven opponents.
Levan Makashvili (10-2) was originally slated to debut against Nik Lentz before illness felled "The Carny" just before showtime. Instead, he defeated Mark Eddiva in his first Octagon appearance, then lost a split decision to Hacran Dias in a clash of grinders last June.
Georgia’s "Hornet" will give up three inches of height to the 5’11" Jackson.
This is one of those fights that’s going to be either really good or really bad. Ideally, Jackson can threaten enough off of his back to force a proper ground battle. More likely, however, Makashvili embraces the grind, shutting Jackson down against the fence and on the mat.
Jackson is definitely a finishing threat, but it’s hard to imagine Makashvili leaving the openings "The Leech" would need. Makashvili wins this with pressure and top control.
Prediction: Makashvili via unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Felipe Olivieri vs. Tony Martin
Felipe Olivieri (14-4) joins UFC on a three-fight win streak, all of them via first-round knockout. The Nova Uniao-trained product last fought in April after 1.5 years out of action. He has 13 stoppage wins in total, 10 of them knockouts.
Tony Martin (9-3) got no matchmaking favors in his first two UFC fights as he faced and fell to current contenders Rashid Magomedov and Beneil Dariush. A submission of Fabricio Camoes righted the ship, although Martin could not repeat that effort against Brazilian jiu-jitsu master Leonardo Santos.
He owns seven wins via submission.
Martin is a monstrously huge Lightweight with brutally effective grappling, a powerhouse capable of holding his own on the mat against extremely good jiu-jitsu artists for one round. The problem is that he gasses with remarkable consistency; he won the first round in all three of his UFC defeats before falling apart in the second.
That said, Olivieri’s inconsistent and has fought just once since 2013. It’s anyones fight if he can get out of the first round, sure, but I’m not convinced he gets there. Martin manhandles him down and cranks his arm the wrong way for the Brazilian’s first career submission loss.
Prediction: Martin via first-round submission
Six more UFC on FOX 18 undercard matches to preview and predict tomorrow, capped off by the return of "The Sponge."
Don't miss it, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on FOX 18 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. ET, and then the remaining under card balance on FOX Sports 1 at 5 p.m. ET, before the FOX main card start time at 8 p.m. ET.