Top-ranked Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight contenders take center stage this Saturday afternoon (March 18, 2017) as Corey Anderson (No. 7) heads into hostile territory to face knockout artist Jimi Manuwa (No. 4) in London, England.
In addition, Gunnar Nelson takes on Alan Jouban in a clash of Welterweight prospects and Brad Pickett fights for perhaps the last time against Marlon Vera. We’ve got nine “Prelims” undercard matches to preview and predict before the four-fight main card, so let’s do a batch of five to start.
185 lbs.: Tom Breese vs. Oluwale Bamgbose
Despite making his name as a grappling specialist, Tom Breese (10-1) announced his UFC arrival by demolishing Luiz Dutra Jr. and Cathal Pendred in a round apiece. “The Octopus” then took a decision over Japanese veteran Keita Nakamura before dropping a split to Sean Strickland at UFC 199.
At 6’3,” he stands four inches taller than Oluwale Bamgbose (6-2).
The waters proved a little too deep for Bamgbose in his late-notice Octagon debut, which saw him fall to Uriah Hall’s ground-and-pound halfway through the first. He roared back with a 60-second drubbing of Daniel Sarafian, but couldn’t capitalize on an early knockdown against Cezar Ferreira and wound up losing a decision.
All six of his wins have come by first-round knockout.
Bamgbose’s last fight showed us what happens when he can’t get the early finish: Nothing good. “Holy War Angel” burned himself out against a longer, rangier opponent who managed to survive the early onslaught and expose his still-lacking grappling.
Breese ticks all of those boxes without the handicap of “Mutante’s” shaky jaw.
While it remains to be seen how Breese’s imposing style will work against bigger men, his wrestling and submission skills are way more than Bamgbose can handle. “The Octopus” holds his own on the feet before dragging Bamgbose down and choking him out.
Prediction: Breese via first-round submission
170 lbs.: Leon Edwards vs. Vicente Luque
Leon Edwards’ (12-3) up-and-down UFC career seemed destined for another valley when he was matched up against Russian destroyer Albert Tumenov at UFC 204. Undaunted, he exploited “Einstein’s” lingering grappling issues to score a third-round submission, just the third of his career.
He will give up an inch of height to the 5’11” Vicente Luque (11-5-1).
Representing Blackzilians on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 21, Luque choked out Nathan Coy before losing a split decision to Hayder Hassan in the climactic showdown. He’s since emerged as an unexpected contender with four consecutive stoppage wins, including brutal knockouts of Hector Urbina and Belal Muhammad in his last two fights.
His 10 stoppage wins are split evenly between knockouts and submissions.
There’s a very good chance this one winds up being “Fight of the Night.” Both men are extremely capable finishers and, at just 25, both figure to have bright futures ahead of them. The match up itself is extremely close, but I’m leaning toward Luque for several reasons.
The first is that Luque figures to have a considerable grappling edge, one larger than the deficit he’s facing on the feet. The other is that, while Edwards has had to dig deep at times, Luque has been more or less unstoppable since losing to Michael Graves in his UFC debut.
Sure, Edwards has been facing stiffer competition, but it’s hard to argue with the sort of confidence Luque’s garnered. He finds his way to Edwards’ neck in the second.
Prediction: Luque via second-round submission
135 lbs.: Ian Entwistle vs. Brett Johns
Ian Entwistle’s (9-3) dogged pursuit of the submission carried him to eight first-round wins, but proved his undoing in his UFC debut when Dan Hooker punished him with elbows. “Enty” got back on track with a 64-second submission of Anthony Birchak, only for history to repeat itself against Alejandro Perez.
No fight of his has ever lasted longer than 4:04.
Brett Johns choked out Walel Watson for the Titan FC Bantamweight title in 2015, but lost it on the scale before a split decision win over Anthony Gutierrez. He nonetheless got the chance to join UFC, where “The Pikey” out-dueled Korean bruiser Kwan Ho Kwak in Belfast.
Four of his six stoppage wins have come by submission.
Look, we all know exactly how this is going to go: Either Entwistle gets a highlight-reel submission in the first few minutes or Johns smashes him to bits while “Enty” cranks on a hopeless kneebar. To get an idea of which outcome I find more accurate, my greatest struggle in predicting this fight is deciding whether Johns will pound him out or choke him out.
Entwistle always has a chance, but he’s long past the point of diminishing returns. Johns keeps his legs out of trouble and bashes his way to a stoppage.
Prediction: Johns via first-round technical knockout
185 lbs.: Brad Scott vs. Scott Askham
Representing Britain on TUF: “Smashes,” Brad Scott (10-4) defeated Xavier Lucas and Benny Alloway before falling to Robert Whittaker on the Finale. He’s alternated wins and losses since, most recently dropping a decision to the surging Krzysztof Jotko in London. This will be hist first fight in over a year and just his third in the last three.
Scott Askham (14-3) — who entered UFC as the reigning BAMMA Middleweight champion — has struggled to stay consistent. He has also alternated losses and wins in his 2-3 run, dropping decisions to Magnus Cedenblad, Krzysztof Jotko and Jack Hermansson.
Nine of his professional wins have come by form of knockout.
Askham’s definitely got the higher ceiling of the two both literally and figuratively. While he’s come up short more than I expected him to, he’s still a towering, durable iddleweight with a lot of power in his limbs. Scott, meanwhile, doesn’t have any standout skills besides toughness and I expect him to struggle with the range.
Regardless of whether Askham ever lives up to his potential, he has more tools and quite a bit more stopping power than the “Bear.” He catches him with something gnarly late in the first.
Prediction: Askham via first-round technical knockout
135 lbs.: Lina Lansberg vs. Lucie Pudilova
Known as the “Elbow Princess,” Linda Lansberg (6-2) answered the call when Cris “Cyborg” needed an opponent for her first UFC headliner. Despite her Muay Thai experience, Lansberg had no answer for her foe’s physicality and ultimately succumbed to strikes in the second.
Four of her six wins have come by form of knockout.
After a decision loss to Lansberg in her fourth professional fight, Lucie Pudilova (6-1) picked up a regional title to kick off a three-fight win streak. She earned submissions in her two most recent bouts, leaving her record an even mix of knockout, submission, and decision wins.
She replaces the injured Veronica Macedo on short notice.
Protip: don’t watch the first fight between these two. I’m pretty sure literally 10 of those 15 minutes were Lansberg holding Pudilova against the fence and throwing knees to the thigh. Neither of them came out looking impressive.
Is a year and a bit enough to make a difference? Probably not, especially not on short notice.
Lansberg more or less got the clinch whenever she wanted and Pudilova’s entire exit strategy was to wait for the referee. The latter does have a four-inch height advantage, but didn’t seem terribly adept at using it. Second verse same as the first as Lansberg clinches her way to another decision.
Prediction: Lansberg via unanimous decision
Four more UFC Fight Night 107 undercard matches to preview and predict tomorrow, including prospect Marc Diakiese and the return of Joe Duffy. Same time as always, Maniacs!
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 107 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. ET, before the four-bout Fight Pass main card start time at 5 p.m. ET.