It’s an early-morning rumble from Shanghai, China, this Saturday (Nov. 25, 2017) when Michael Bisping — stepping in for Anderson Silva — takes on Kelvin Gastelum in UFC Fight Night 122’s main event, which will stream live online via Fight Pass.
The morning will also see Li Jingliang face Zak Ottow, plus the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) debuts of Wang Guan and Muslim Salikhov against Alex Caceres and Alex Garcia, respectively.
We have three more “Prelims” undercard matches to preview and predict (check out the first batch here), including what might be the most interesting match up of the whole morning. Let’s begin:
145 lbs.: Zabit Magomedsheripov vs. Sheymon Moraes
A protege of Mark Henry, Zabit Magomedsheripov (12-1) emerged as one of the best prospects in the entire sport during an eight-fight, seven-finish run on the Russian scene that saw him earn and defend the ACB Featherweight title. He made his Octagon debut in September, showing off his striking and grappling skills before finishing late replacement Mike Santiago in the second.
He stands five inches taller than Sheymon Moraes (9-1) at 6’1.”
A strong Muay Thai pedigree carried Moraes to victory in his first seven professional bouts, although it wasn’t enough to save him from Marlon Moraes in his World Series of Fighting (WSOF) title shot. Moving back to Featherweight, he knocked out UFC veteran Robbie Peralta and upset the venerable Luis Palomino to earn a spot in UFC.
Five of his nine wins have come by form of knockout.
Magomedsheripov is for real — as far as Featherweight prospects, only recent signee Hakeem Dawodu comes close. His blend of acrobatic striking and quality wrestling, which he works on with the likes of Frankie Edgar and Edson Barboza, is as effective as it is eye-catching. I would be very surprised if Magomedsheripov wasn’t knocking on the door of a title shot by the end of 2019 at the latest.
Moraes is a beast in his own right, packing high-quality Muay Thai and finishing power, but he’s not great on the mat and has a bad habit of overcommitting to his punches. That’s a bad issue to have against someone with this much height and length, especially since Marlon Moraes exploited that weakness and is one of Magomedsheripov’s teammates. Magomedsheripov either rocks him on the counter or takes him down for a submission finish.
Prediction: Magomedsheripov via first-round submission
170 lbs.: Kenan Song vs. Bobby Nash
Following a loss to kickboxing standout Israel Adesanya, Kenan Song (11-3) rattled off six consecutive finishes, including five in the first round. He enters UFC on a losing streak, however, most recently suffering a body shot knockout loss to another terrific kickboxer in Brad Riddell. He officially owns six wins by submission and another four by (technical) knockout, although there’s some disagreement between Sherdog and Tapology that video evidence suggests favors Tapology’s interpretation.
Six wins — five of them by knockout — brought Bobby Nash (8-3) to UFC in January, where he lost an incredible brawl with Li Jingliang. A less-hectic sophomore match up with Danny Roberts appeared to be going his way before “Hot Chocolate” laid “Nashty” out with a counter left hand.
Nash went undefeated (10-0) as an amateur before making his pro debut in 2014.
Song is not bad, per se. There are no gaping flaws in his game and he’s at least capable everywhere. There’s just nothing that stands out about it, nothing to catch one’s eye or that he can lean on when the going gets tough.
Nash has legitimate power and good wrestling — he’s much better than a winless (0-2) UFC record would suggest. He overpowers Song wherever the fight goes, ultimately pounding him out.
Prediction: Nash via second-round technical knockout
115 lbs.: Kailin Curran vs. Xiaonan Yan
Kailin Curran (4-5) — who welcomed Paige VanZant to UFC back in 2014 — has struggled mightily to find her footing, going 1-5 overall in the world’s largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion. She currently finds herself on a three-fight losing streak, although she did put in a solid performance against the favored Aleksandra Albu in July.
She will give up an inch of height to Xiaonan Yan (7-1).
Yan tasted defeat in her third professional fight and, after getting back in the win column, stayed out of the cage for almost five years. She’s been brutally effective since her return, scoring the knockout in four out of five victories.
She has scored five (technical) knockouts in seven victories.
“Fury” is a good nickname for Yan — she fights angry, lobbing heavy punches and a side kick that’s clearly meant to damage instead of maintain range. If Stephen Thompson’s side kick is like a fencing thrust, hers is like being charged by a drugged-up Gaul with a spear poorly whittled out of a boat oar.
She’s sloppy enough with her hands that she leaves plenty of takedown openings, which Curran is ostensibly capable of exploiting, but Curran’s looked so utterly ineffective in UFC that I can’t put any faith in her. Either Curran sits in top position for most of the fight or Yan’s sheer aggression chews her up on the feet, and I’m guessing the latter.
Prediction: Yan via unanimous decision
Hey, at least you have an excuse to not go to sleep on Friday night. See you Saturday, Maniacs!
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 122 card this weekend, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 3:45 a.m. ET right on through the main card that starts at 7 a.m. ET.