So nice they did it twice ...
Frankie Edgar’s broken face has allowed former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight God-Emperor Jose Aldo another crack at 145-pound champion Max Holloway, whom he will face in the main event of UFC 218 this Saturday evening (Dec. 2, 2017) inside Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan.
The pay-per-view (PPV) card will also feature a Heavyweight slugfest between veteran Alistair Overeem and power-punching prospect Francis Ngannou, not to mention Henry Cejudo vs. Sergio Pettis and a potential “Fight of the Year” between Justin Gaethje and Eddie Alvarez.
We’ve got four more “Prelims” undercard matches to preview and predict (check out the Fight Pass portion here) to go before we get to the big show, so let’s not waste time:
155 lbs.: Paul Felder vs. Charles Oliveira
Paul Felder (14-3) burst onto the scene with a spinning back fist knockout of Danny Castillo in his second UFC appearance, only to hit a 2-3 skid that saw him stopped by Francisco Trinaldo. He recently got back to his bludgeoning ways, stopping Alex Ricci and Stevie Ray with brutal efficiency to earn consecutive “Fight of the Night” bonuses.
“The Irish Dragon” has knocked out nine professional opponents and submitted one other.
A 1-3 skid, which included two massive failures on the scale, sent Charles Oliveira (22-7) back to the Lightweight division after five years at 145 pounds. His return proved a triumphant one as he choked out Will Brooks midway through the first round, earning a performance bonus for which he was finally eligible.
He replaces the injured Al Iaquinta on around one month’s notice.
Oliveira is always going to be hit-and-miss considering his weight issues, mental lapses and the sheer aggression that leaves him vulnerable to submissions from less-credentialed grapplers, but he’s a damn good fighter. The key here, I believe, is his underrated wrestling — he has taken down the likes of Ricardo Lamas and Will Brooks, who are no slouches in that department.
Felder is bigger and by far the more potent striker, but Oliveira has a penchant for winning fights he’s not supposed to and I’m not convinced “The Irish Dragon” can keep it standing long enough to bring that to bear. Oliveira scores an early takedown and transitions to the back for another submission victory.
Prediction: Oliveira via first-round submission
170 lbs.: Alex Oliveira vs. Yancy Medeiros
Alex Oliveira (18-4-1) saw a career-best win over Will Brooks marred by failure on the scale, then struggled with Tim Means before an illegal knee ended things. He has since proven his mettle by submitting Means in a rematch and bouncing back from a tough first round to knock out Ryan LaFlare with one punch.
“Cowboy” has knocked out 11 opponents and submitted another four.
Hawaii’s Yancy Medeiros (14-4) made the move to Welterweight after a trio of tough fights, a questionable decision win over John Makdessi sandwiched between brutal losses to Dustin Poirier and Francisco Trinaldo. The move has paid early dividends with stoppage wins over Sean Spencer and Erick Silva, the former of which earned him “Performance of the Night.”
He will give up one inch each of height and reach to “Cowboy.”
Medeiros is absurdly game, has a keen eye for snatching submissions, and can do real damage on the feet. He’s also hopelessly easy to hit and has a propensity for getting dropped hard. He struggled against heavy punchers at lightweight and, unless the weight cut was a major factor in that, that doesn’t bode well for him against Oliveira.
“Cowboy” is enormously strong, durable and powerful ... though his technique can be shaky. Medeiros is there to be hit and simply cannot stand up to that level of firepower. Oliveira leaves enough openings that a surprise Medeiros choke isn’t out of the question, but the likelier outcome is that we get a few minutes of brutal back-and-forth action before Oliveira finds the mark with his right hand and batters Medeiros for the finish.
Prediction: Oliveira via first-round technical knockout
155 lbs.: Drakkar Klose vs. David Teymur
Drakkar Klose (8-0-1) — fighting out of The MMA Lab — overpowered “Lookin’ for a Fight” product Devin Powell in his Octagon debut, but entered his next fight with Marc Diakiese as an underdog. Heavy low kicks carried him to a split decision victory and established him as a prospect to watch at 155 pounds.
He will give up three inches of reach to Sweden’s David Teymur (6-1).
A decorated kickboxing background wasn’t enough to carry Teymur to victory on The Ultimate Fighter 22, as he lost a majority decision to teammate Marcin Wrzozek in the quarterfinals. He’s found significantly more success in the UFC itself with two knockout victories and a Fight of the Night decision over Lando Vannata.
He has knocked out four opponents as a professional.
This is a very, very good fight between two very, very good young prospects. Though Klose has the wrestling edge, I’ve got this for the Swede.
Klose is still at the point in his development where he compensates for technical deficiencies with enthusiasm. He will straight-up charge at people to close the distance and Teymur is exponentially better at punishing that than the likes of Devin Powell. In addition, Teymur isn’t nearly as reckless as Diakiese and, as such, will present far fewer opportunities for high-power takedowns.
Klose might still get him to the ground once or twice, but Teymur’s superior power and striking technique have me leaning his way. He shuts down enough of Klose’s wrestling offense and lands enough eye-catching shots to edge the decision.
Prediction: Teymur via split decision
115 lbs.: Felice Herrig vs. Cortney Casey
Despite a loss to Randa Markos on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 20, Felice Herrig (13-6) has come into her own in UFC, winning four of five bouts. Her last two fights have been her most impressive, as she upended top prospect Alexa Grasso before overwhelming Justine Kish in Oklahoma City.
“Lil’ Bulldog” stands three inches shorter than Cortney Casey (7-4) at 5’4.”
A winless (0-2) UFC start gave way to dominant stoppage wins over Cristina Stanciu and Randa Markos, propelling Casey into contendership. Claudia Gadelha proved too much to handle, but Casey again showed her skills with a one-sided decision over Jessica Aguilar in Dallas.
“Cast Iron” has knocked out and submitted three professional opponents apiece.
Herrig has undoubtedly improved leaps and bounds since she first joined UFC, showing strong striking and an ever-evolving grappling game. Casey may be just a bit too much for her; however, “Cast Iron” is massive for the weight and, unlike Kish, actually bothered to learn some technique to complement her enormous strength.
Though Casey struggled with Gadelha, almost everyone in the division fares just about as well against “Claudinha” and she did manage to dominate a very capable grappler in Markos. Sheer strength carries her to victory as she walks Herrig down and does damage from top position.
Prediction: Casey via unanimous decision
UFC 218 features some solid scraps that you flat-out do not want to miss. See you Saturday, Maniacs!
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 218 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the pay-per-view (PPV) main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.