Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to action this Saturday (March 18, 2017) inside O2 Arena in London, England, for the UFC Fight Night 107: "Manuwa vs. Anderson" mixed martial arts (MMA) event.
In the Fight Pass-exclusive headliner, scheduled for five rounds, UFC light heavyweight contenders Jimi Manuwa and Corey Anderson will bang it out to separate contender from pretender.
That’s not all.
In the welterweight co-main event, Alan Jouban and Gunnar Nelson collide for a spot in the 170-pound title chase, while Brad Pickett throws leather for the final time in his combat sports career opposite Marlon Vera.
Let’s take a closer look at those Fight Pass main card bouts, as well as the featherweight scrap pitting Arnold Allen against Makwan Amirkhan, in the UFC “London” preview below.
For a closer look at the UFC Fight Night 107 “Prelims” click here. Latest odds and betting lines for “Manuwa vs. Anderson” click here.
Let’s get crackin’...
205 lbs.: Jimi “Poster Boy” Manuwa (16-2) vs. Corey “Overtime” Anderson (9-2)
Nostradumbass predicts: Jimi Manuwa talks a good game. He says the sorts of things that garner attention, like “I can beat Jon Jones!” and similar silliness. “Poster Boy” also lambasted the rest of the 205-pound division for turning down fights against him.
But Manuwa had two opportunities to make good on that bravado and came up short on both attempts. After getting starched by Alexander Gustafsson in his first headlining role (under the UFC banner), the hard-hitting Brit got laid out by Anthony Johnson at UFC 191.
To be the man, you gotta beat the man.
I don’t believe he’ll ever be the elite fighter he hopes to be, particularly at age 37, and his No. 4 ranking is wayyy too high, but he’s still good enough to lay waste to most of the mid-tier fighters who hover at around the .500 mark.
Corey Anderson included.
What troubles me about “Overtime” — who may or may not still call himself “Beastin’ 25/8” — is that he’s failed to evolve over the course of eight fights. He looks more comfortable than he did capturing The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 19 crown, but his skill set remains unpolished and predictable.
Anderson wins a majority of his fights by being the better athlete and flat-out working harder. But only capturing two finishes in eight attempts is a result of his paint-by-numbers offense, complemented by his size and strength.
What can he bring to this fight?
Pretty much the same thing he brings to every fight. I can envision a scenario in which he frustrates Manuwa by closing the distance and unleashing his dreaded mug-and-slug, but I’m not convinced he can keep that up for five rounds.
Not when “Poster Boy” can end this charade with one punch.
Prediction: Manuwa def. Anderson by knockout
170 lbs.: Alan “Brahma” Jouban (15-4) vs. Gunnar “Gunni” Nelson (15-2-1)
Nostradumbass predicts: I’m surprised at how wide the gap is between Alan Jouban and Gunnar Nelson, at least in terms of betting lines, as the Icelander is nearly a three-to-one favorite on some of the books.
I think a lot of folks are still enamored with Nelson’s mystique, but in reality, he’s a spectacular grappler with some unspectacular wins. That might sound like harsh criticism for a fighter with five submission victories inside the Octagon, but “Gunni” does not hold a win over anyone in the top 15 of his division.
And yet he’s sitting pretty at No. 9.
Conversely, Jouban has yet to find a home in the official rankings despite the exact same record as Nelson while competing under the UFC banner: 6-2. Like his opponent, none of those victories will knock your socks off, but the important thing is that he’s winning.
Like any Nelson fight, the outcome will largely depend on whether or not “Gunni” can get this fight to the floor. He’s a strong starter with a tendency to fade in the later rounds while Jouban can maintain a serviceable pace throughout.
“Brahma” is also much better on the ground than he gets credited for.
Nelson is an accomplished striker but his laissez-faire approach to offense won’t win him enough points against the busier Jouban. Assuming his takedown defense holds up, and it probably will, the handsome one should be able to work his way to a clear-cut decision.
Prediction: Jouban def. Nelson by unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Brad “One Punch” Pickett (25-13) vs. Marlon “Chito” Vera (8-3-1)
Nostradumbass predicts: There was a time when Brad Pickett was very special. While he was certainly a big deal in British MMA, he was equally important to all fighters fighting in the lower weight classes.
It was not that long ago when UFC didn’t have anything south of 155 pounds.
That’s why “One Punch” — who made noise in both Cage Rage and WEC — helped pave the way for the lighter-weight fighters and he does hold a victory over Demetrious Johnson and came oh-so-close to polishing off Thomas Almeida.
But his decline has been tough to watch.
The power-punching Pickett is not inept on the ground but this fight won’t get there unless it’s by accident, or by design from Marlon Vera. “Chito” hasn’t won back-to-back contests in over three years across the span of seven fights and is unlikely to show “One Punch” anything he hasn’t already seen.
Picking Vera would not because he’s the better fighter, but rather because Pickett has fallen off ... hard. Still, it’s difficult to pick against a combatant who has faced so many talented fighters over the years. If he fights to win and not to impress the hometown crowd, he should be able to repel his opponent, who is coming in on short notice.
Prediction: Pickett def. Vera unanimous decision
145 lbs.: Arnold “Almighty” Allen (11-1) vs. Makwan “Mr. Finland” Amirkhan (13-2)
Nostradumbass predicts: If this was a battle of nicknames, this bout would end in a draw. Outside of that tomfoolery, this is an exciting match up between two talented prospects in a division that could use some new blood.
Allen was not victimized by Octagon jitters during his 2015 debut, submitting Alan Omer before moving on to outpoint Yaotzin Meza roughly six months later. He’s well rounded and tenacious, though perhaps a bit directionless.
Amirkhan is fighting out of SBG Ireland, a place that is now credible thanks to the success of Conor McGregor. Don’t discount it, as it landed Artem Lobov — a face-punching zombie — a UFC main event.
The streaking “Mr. Finland” is an aggressive wrestler who loves to bang and one of his best attributes is his ability to go for broke in any position. How long that gameplan lasts as he works his way up the featherweight ladder remains to be seen, but for a combatant on the level of “Almighty,” it should do just fine.
Prediction: Amirkhan def. Allen by submission
There you have it.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 107 fight card on fight night (click here), starting with the UFC Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. ET, before the UFC Fight Pass main card start time at 5 p.m. ET.
For much more on this weekend’s UFC Fight Night 107 event click here.