The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight division is in a state of turmoil. This Saturday evening (Aug. 27, 2016), two of the 170-pound division’s best will look to thrive in that chaos as Carlos Condit takes on Demian Maia in the main event of UFC on FOX 21, which will take place inside Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The venue will also host Anthony Pettis’ Featherweight debut opposite Charles Oliveira, as well as the return of Paige VanZant against Bec Rawlings.
We’ve got seven "Prelims" undercard matches this time around thanks to an injury to Josh Emmett (at least at the time of this writing), four on FOX and three on Fight Pass. Check out the online line up below:
185 lbs.: Garreth McLellan vs. Alessio Di Chirico
South Africa’s Garreth McLellan (13-4) entered UFC on a six-fight win streak, five of those wins by submission. "Soldier Boy" has gone 1-2 in the promotion itself, pounding out Bubba Bush between losses to Bartosz Fabinski and Magnus Cedenblad.
He has submitted nine opponents overall and knocked out another three.
Alessio Di Chirico (9-1), meanwhile, made his Octagon debut last April with nine professional wins and three amateur victories to his credit. In a competitive bout, Di Chirico settled for a decision loss to Elevation Fight Team’s Bojan Velickovic.
He has stopped eight opponents, four each by knockout and submission.
The core of McLellan’s struggles is his underdeveloped wrestling. He was being handily outgrappled by Bubba Bush before a well-timed fence grab turned the tide and, while his top game may have been able to stand up to Magnus Cedenblad’s grappling, he was left at the mercy of the taller man’s striking.
Di Chirico’s a physically strong man with a solid wrestling game and that’s all he needs to be to take McLellan out. The Italian gets his first official UFC win with a grapple-heavy onslaught.
Prediction: Di Chirico via unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Ning Guangyou vs. Marlon Vera
Ning Guangyou (5-3-1) scored two impressive knockouts on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "China" before dispatching Yang Gianping in Macau. A knockout of Royston Wee followed, after which he dropped to Bantamweight and lost an uneventful split decision to Marco Antonio Beltran.
Three of his five wins have come by knockout.
Marlon Vera's (9-3-1) upkick knockout produced one of the best highlights on TUF: "Latin America," although a skin infection sadly cut his run short. The jiu-jitsu specialist has gone 1-2 in UFC itself, earning a "Performance of the Night" bonus for his submission of Roman Salazar.
He is three inches taller than Ning at 5’8."
Vera simply hasn’t shown the level of wrestling a Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist needs to excel in UFC. Attacking from his guard worked against Roman Salazar, but he had few answers for Davey Grant’s takedown game. Even though Ning is fairly raw, he’s an excellent wrestler out of a great camp in Tiger Muay Thai, giving him the edge in the stylistic match up.
Ning’s power makes him the bigger threat on the feet and I’m not convinced Vera can put him on his back. If he can avoid the passivity that screwed him against Marco Beltran and allowed a woefully outclassed Royston Wee to last two rounds, I expect TUF winner to earn the victory.
Prediction: Ning via second-round knockout
185 lbs.: Adam Hunter vs. Ryan Janes
In Canada’s Elite 1 promotion, Adam Hunter (7-1) won both the Light Heavyweight and Middleweight titles with first-round knockouts. After defending the latter with another stoppage, he took just 40 seconds to crush former UFC competitor Chris Dempsey in his first stateside appearance.
All seven of his wins have come by stoppage, six of them via knockout.
Ryan Janes (8-1) cut his teeth in Armageddon FC before a one-time appearance on World Series of Fighting (WSOF): "Canada." He went on to win Battlefield FC’s Middleweight belt and successfully defended it in July 2015. He’s scored rear-naked choke submissions in seven of his eight wins.
There’s very little footage out there of Janes, but what little I’ve seen compares favorably to Hunter’s body of work. While the latter can hit, he’s a fairly awkward and labored striker who doesn’t seem to have any consistent plan of attack on the feet. Plus, his knockout of Chris Dempsey is mitigated by the fact that it was Chris Dempsey, who got knocked out three times in UFC in increasingly brutal fashion.
Janes has more experience going the distance and I expect his grappling attack to pay dividends. He finds an eighth rear-naked choke once Hunter starts to fade.
Prediction: Janes via second-round submission
Four more UFC on FOX 21 "Prelims" undercard fights to preview and predict tomorrow, including a couple of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) winners and Sam Alvey in the featured bout.
Same time as always, Maniacs!
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on FOX 21 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, and then the remaining under card balance on FOX at 6 p.m. ET, before the FOX main card start time at 8 p.m. ET.