Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) hits Rotterdam, Netherlands, for the first time this Sunday (May 8, 2016) as Ahoy Rotterdam hosts UFC Fight Night 87, which will air live and free on FOX Sports 1. Alistair Overeem faces Andrei Arlovski in the main event, while Stefan Struve and Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva look to end their current skids at one each others' expense.
Oh, and Albert Tumenov will also square off with Gunnar Nelson in an excellent Welterweight showdown.
Before all that, though, we've got four "Prelims" undercard matches that will follow the UFC Fight Pass portion (more on those here). Check out the FOX Sports 1 undercard line up below:
155 lbs.: Rustam Khabilov vs. Chris Wade
Suplex master Rustam Khabilov (18-3) suffered his first two-fight losing streak following a perfect (3-0) start to his UFC career, tapping to a Benson Henderson rear-naked choke and dropping a split decision to Adriano Martins. Though he had a tougher time of it than expected, he re-entered the win column in February with a decision over Norman Parke.
He replaces the injured Rashid Magomedov on short notice.
Chris Wade (11-1) ended his UFC debut in just 72 seconds, but had to go the distance to take out Lipeng Zhang and Christos Giagos. He reminded fans he could still finish in his most recent bout, where he choked out Ultimate Fighter competitor Mehdi Baghdad late in the first.
Four of his wins have come by submission, two via guillotine and two via rear-naked choke.
I’m not sure if Khabilov lost his mojo after the Henderson fight or what, but his last two fights have seen a serious lack of aggression from the Sambo specialist. Still, the stylistic match up favors him here, as he’s got the edge in striking and should be able to hold his own in the wrestling.
Wade doesn’t have Henderson’s endless cardio, Martins’ strength and boxing, or Parke’s volume. Expect Khabilov to box up the young prospect, mixing in his trademark throws along the way.
Prediction: Khabilov via unanimous decision
185 lbs.: Magnus Cedenblad vs. Garreth McLellan
Sweden’s Magnus Cedenblad (13-4) gave the then-surging Francis Carmont all he could handle in his Octagon debut in 2012, but ultimately tapped to a rear-naked choke. Injuries have kept him to just three fights in the last four years, though he’s won all three and scored a "Performance of the Night" bonus in the process.
He has stopped 11 opponents overall, six via knockout.
The six-fight win streak for Garreth McLellan (13-3) came to an end at the hands of Bartosz Fabinski’s relentless takedowns in his UFC debut. He managed to right the ship last October with a ground-and-pound beatdown of former Legacy FC champion Bubba Bush in a sizable upset.
The South African will give up two inches of height to "Jycken."
It’s a shame that Cedenblad’s been so banged up; the Swede’s fun to watch and a capable finisher in every area. In this case, though, all he’ll need is his grappling. McLellan’s wrestling game is terribly underdeveloped, a fact I don’t expect to change soon considering he’s already in his mid-thirties.
Cedenblad’s length ought to carry him through the striking until he decides to overwhelm "Soldier Boy" on the mat. "Jycken" chokes him out late in the first.
Prediction: Cedenblad via first-round submission
155 lbs.: Nick Hein vs. Jon Tuck
Nick Hein (13-2-1) entered the UFC on a seven-fight unbeaten streak and made it eight in his debut, only to drop a decision to James Vick his next time out. The stocky German has since picked up decision victories over Lukasz Sajewski and Yusuke Kasuya.
He will give up two inches of height to the 5’10" Jon Tuck (9-2).
As is standard for "Super Saiyans," Tuck took a little while to power up in his UFC career, going 2-2 in his first four. He looked better than ever his last time out, where he dropped and stopped durable Korean brawler Tae Hyun Bang late in the first round.
He’s stopped nine opponents overall, five via submission.
Hein’s obviously extremely strong and has some decent pop in his left hand, but he’s painfully passive at times. Though he’s currently favored by the bookies, he’s got a stiff challenge ahead of him. Tuck’s the bigger puncher, has a length advantage, and is significantly more aggressive.
The big issue here is that Tuck tends to wilt late. Luckily, Hein doesn’t push the kind of pace that can strain his cardio. Tuck wins enough of the striking exchanges to take the decision victory.
Prediction: Tuck via unanimous decision
UPDATE: Nick Hein has withdrawn due to injury. This post will be updated when and if a replacement is found for Tuck. UPDATE AGAIN: Tuck will face Josh Emmett, whom I am not presently familiar enough with to make an informed prediction.
155 lbs.: Yan Cabral vs. Reza Madadi
Despite bowing out of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Brazil 2" with a broken hand, Nova Uniao’s Cabral got called up to UFC, where he defeated David Mitchell in his debut. He’s since gone 1-2, sandwiching a submission of Naoyuki Kotani between losses to Zak Cummings and Johnny Case.
Eleven of his wins have come by submission.
A 2-1 start to the UFC career of Reza Madadi (13-4), including an epic comeback submission of Michael Johnson, gave way not to a triumphant run through the division, but to a jail sentence for robbery. He returned after two years away against Norman Parke, who took a clear decision over the Sweden-based Iranian.
He has submitted eight opponents overall.
Despite Cabral’s grappling chops, I favor Madadi. Cabral’s been overwhelmed on the mat before, and while Madadi may not have Cummings’ ridiculous size advantage, his relentless takedown assault can be an absolute chore to deal with. Further, his aggression should work well on the feet, where neither man is a major factor.
Cabral’s dangerous and did far better against Case than I expected, but I’m still calling upset. Madadi grinds his way to a decision win.
Prediction: Madadi via unanimous decision
Several people are going to get punched really, really hard and you can watch it for free. See you Sunday, Maniacs!
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 87 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. ET, and then the remaining under card balance on FOX Sports 1 at 12 p.m. ET, before the FOX Sports 1 main card start time at 2 p.m. ET.