World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) never die!
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight division demonstrates its insane depth once again this Saturday evening (Nov. 11, 2017) when former champ Anthony Pettis faces the bruising power of Dustin Poirier inside Ted Constant Center in Norfolk, Virginia. One fight prior, Matt Brown bids farewell to the Octagon after nine years against fellow veteran Diego Sanchez, while Heavyweight prospect Junior Albini attempts to take the next step against former division champion, Andrei Arlovski.
It’s a 3:4 split between Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1 this time around, so let’s get to it:
170 lbs.: Court McGee vs. Sean Strickland
Following his win on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 10, Court McGee (18-6) rattled off three consecutive wins before losses to Costas Philippou and Nick Ring sent him down to Welterweight. The move has produced mix results, as he’s gone 4-3 with a win over Robert Whittaker and, most recently, a narrow loss to Ben Saunders.
At 5’11”, he will give up two inches of height to “Tarzan.”
Sean Strickland (18-2) got off to a red-hot start in his UFC career by submitting Bubba McDaniel, only for a controversial decision win over Luke Barnatt and decisive loss to Santiago Ponzinibbio to grind his momentum to a halt. He picked the pieces back up with three consecutive victories, but got bodied by Kamaru Usman at UFC 210.
He has stopped 12 opponents overall, including eight by form of knockout.
This could be interesting. In Strickland, we have a guy with incredible physical tools who’s regularly undone by his own lack of urgency. He could easily be 3-4 in UFC with better judging ... and it’s entirely his fault. McGee, on the other hand, has almost nothing but urgency. He’s not terribly fast, not terribly strong, not terribly technically adept, but he just never stops. Ordinarily, that would be enough for me to pick him, but Strickland’s just got such massive physical advantages that I can’t do it. Even with Strickland’s rock-bottom fight IQ, he’d be hard-pressed to screw this one up. He jabs McGee up for a decision.
Prediction: Strickland via unanimous decision
205 lbs.: Jake Collier vs. Marcel Fortuna
Jake Collier (10-4) joined UFC with the RFA Middleweight title around his waist, but has struggled to recapture that form, alternating losses and wins in the promotion itself. Most recently, he made the move back to 205 pounds and lost a decision to Devin Clark at UFC on FOX 24.
He will have two inches of height and four inches of reach on “Maozinha.”
Marcel Fortuna (9-2) scored one of the year’s most stunning knockout in February when — despite giving up 48 pounds — he destroyed Anthony Hamilton with one punch. This set up a fight with fellow prospect Jordan Johnson, who edged him in a fight that had the media fairly split.
Though he’s best known for that knockout, he’s primarily a grappler, earning the tap in five of his nine victories.
Collier’s got guts, I’ll give him that, but that’s about the long and short of his skills. While a decent wrestler, he’s slow and mediocre on the feet, not to mention a bit undersized for Light Heavyweight considering his run at Middleweight. Fortuna proved he could handle powerhouse wrestlers in his fight with Johnson and he hits hard enough to crack Collier’s jaw.
This is just a flat-out bad match up for Collier. Fortuna shuts down his takedowns before landing a counter for the finish.
Prediction: Fortuna via first-round technical knockout
185 lbs.: Darren Stewart vs. Karl Roberson
Darren Stewart (7-1) lived up to his moniker during his time on the British scene, scoring four first-round knockouts. His UFC debut against Francimar Barroso ended in bizarre controversy because of an early headbutt and, in the rematch, Stewart struggled with the Brazilian veteran en route to a decision loss.
This will be his Middleweight debut.
Karl Roberson (5-0) didn’t just get a spot on Dana White’s “Tuesday Night Contender Series,” he got the main event slot in Week 3, taking on Legacy veteran Ryan Spann. “Baby K” entered as a slight underdog, but obliterated Spann with elbows in just 15 seconds.
Each of his last three fights has lasted less than two minutes.
Before Stewart’s debut against Barroso, I said that he was clearly not UFC-ready. I turned out to be incorrect, but he’s still incredibly raw and, while dropping to 185 pounds is the right move, I don’t think it’s enough of one to offset his technical issues.
Roberson has legit kickboxing chops; he put Jerome Le Banner down for the count, only to get screwed by the ref. It remains to be seen how he does off of his back and Stewart’s strong enough to throw people around, but the striking edge should give him the fight. He scrambles out of some bad spots early to eventually break Stewart down with strikes.
Prediction: Roberson via second-round technical knockout
Four more UFC Fight Night 120 “Prelims” undercard matches to preview and predict tomorrow, including the return of Sage Northcutt and World Series of Fighting (WSOF) champ Marlon Moraes. See you there, Maniacs!
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 120 card this weekend, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, and then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET before the FOX Sports 1 main card action kicks off at 10 p.m. ET.