Two former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champions with mean streaks for miles duke it out this Saturday evening (Dec. 16, 2017) at Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg, Canada, as Rafael Dos Anjos and Robbie Lawler look to make a case for a Welterweight title shot in the main event of UFC on FOX 26.
The four-fight main card also features Ricardo Lamas against Team Alpha Male prospect Josh Emmett, another Welterweight slugfest between Santiago Ponzinibbio and Mike Perry, and a Light Heavyweight crossroads fight between former title contender Glover Teixeira and top prospect Misha Cirkunov.
Before all that, we’ve got eight “Prelims” undercard matches to set the stage split 6:2 between FOX Sports 1 and Fight Pass. Read up on the first two below.
170 lbs.: Jordan Mein vs. Erick Silva
Jordan Mein (30-12) called it a career in 2015 after Thiago Alves — fighting back from a disastrous first round — knocked him out with a savage body kick. He made his return in Dec. 2016, but has yet to taste victory, turning in listless performances against Emil Meek and Belal Muhammad.
Though just 28, he made his amateur mixed martial arts (MMA) debut nearly 16 years ago.
Once viewed as a future star in the Welterweight division, Erick Silva (19-8) is just 1-3 since his 2015 submission of Josh Koscheck. He managed to rebound from his one-punch knockout loss to Nordine Taleb by choking out Luan Chagas, but suffered a technical knockout loss to Yancy Medeiros in his native Brazil this past June.
He owns 12 professional wins by submission.
Hoo boy ... I’m surprised the cage can handle the weight of the wasted talent inside it. Mein is a legitimate stud on the feet, but his wrestling is lackluster and he’s looked flat-out disinterested since returning to the cage. I’m tempted to pick him anyway considering Silva’s shaky chin and history of lackluster performances but, if nothing else, Silva is active and strong on the mat.
And beating Chagas is more impressive than anything Mein’s done in his comeback.
So long as Silva doesn’t get too comfortable on the feet, I say he saps Mein’s will with takedowns and submission attempts before ultimately locking up the rear-naked choke sometime in the second round.
Prediction: Silva via second-round submission
170 lbs.: Nordine Taleb vs. Danny Roberts
Two unsuccessful bids on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) weren’t enough to slow Nordine Taleb (13-4), who has gone 5-2 in the organization itself. After giving the surging Santiago Ponzinibbio a great fight in February, he shut down Swedish karateka Oliver Enkamp in hostile territory three months later.
He was originally booked to fight Sultan Aliev, while Danny Roberts (14-2) was supposed to take on Sheldon Westcott.
“Hot Chocolate” took out Nathan Coy and Dominique Steele in his first two Octagon appearances before suffering a knockout loss to Mike Perry with just 20 seconds left in the fight. He rebounded in a big way in September by knocking Bobby Nash cold in Glasgow.
He owns six professional wins by knockout and another five by submission.
I wasn’t high on Taleb early in his UFC career, as I couldn’t put aside the memory of his one-sided beating from the much smaller Marius Zaromskis or find anything noteworthy in his robotic striking, but he’s grown on me. He’s got thudding kicks, solid wrestling, and a chin that stood up to the best Ponzinibbio could dish out.
Roberts has a similar generalist skillset, which should make for a fun, competitive fight. Taleb’s kicks and sheer physicality have me leaning his way, though, and he’s got the durability to survive Roberts’ punches. Taleb edges the striking at range in between power takedowns for the decision.
Prediction: Taleb via unanimous decision
Six more UFC on FOX 26 “Prelims” undercard matches to preview and predict, including the debuts of a top Flyweight prospect and a “Tuesday Night Contender Series” standout. Same time as always, Maniacs.
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on FOX 26 card this weekend, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, and then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 5 p.m. ET before the FOX main card action kicks off at 8 p.m. ET.