Apparently, this is a thing.
Riding high on a two-fight win streak, Straight Blast Gym (SBG) veteran Artem Lobov headlines an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) event for the first time this Saturday evening (April 22, 2017) when he takes on Cub Swanson in the main event of UFC Fight Night 108, live and free from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.
The six-fight main card will also see Al Iaquinta make his return to the cage against Diego Sanchez, Ovince St-Preux attempt to halt his current skid against Marcos Rogerio de Lima, and John Dodson lock horns with Eddie Wineland in an excellent clash of power-punchers.
UFC Fight Night 108 features seven “Prelims” undercard matches this time, three on the familiar Fight Pass and four on our old friend FOX Sports 2. Onward to the Internet!
135 lbs.: Alexis Davis vs. Cindy Dandois
Following her knockout loss to Ronda Rousey, Alexis Davis (17-7) returned to the cage with an impressive armbar submission of Sara Kaufman for her sixth win in seven fights. Pregnancy delayed her next fight until 19 months later, when she suffered the first submission loss of her career to Sara McMann.
Eight of her professional wins have come by submission, all eight by either armbar or rear-naked choke.
Cindy Dandois (8-2) — who made her professional debut in 2009 with a decision over Marloes Coenen — has faced a “Who’s Who” in M-1 and Invicta, including recent Invicta title challenger Yana Kunistskaya, Cyborg-slayer Jorina Baars, and current Invicta Bantamweight champion Tonya Evinger. “Battlecat” won three straight since falling to Evinger in 2014, submitting Featherweight champion Megan Anderson and Jessamyn Duke in the process.
She has not gone to the judges since her pro debut.
If all goes well, this could be an excellent grappling battle. Both women have top-tier grappling games and aggressively pursue submissions. Davis might be the stronger wrestler, while Dandois is willing to pull guard if needed.
It might wind up being the striking that decides it. Davis has a decent-if-basic kickboxing game, particularly with her low kicks, while Dandois just looks uncomfortable on the feet. Her one-dimensional offense makes it easy for Davis to snuff out takedown attempts. “Ally-Gator” spends enough time on top and lands enough on the feet to take a comfortable decision.
Prediction: Davis via unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Bryan Barberena vs. Joe Proctor
Consecutive upset wins over Sage Northcutt and Warlley Alves had Bryan Barberena (12-4) riding high with nine wins in his previous 10 fights. Colby Covington proved more difficult to overcome, battering Barberena for a one-sided decision win.
He has finished nine of his professional opponents, eight by form of knockout.
The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 15’s Joe Proctor (11-4) defeated Jordan Rinaldi and Chris Tickle on the show before running afoul of James Vick in the quarterfinals. Nearly five years in UFC have seen him amass a 4-3 record, including a knockout loss to Magomed Mustafaev in his last fight.
This will be his first fight since the Mustafaev loss 16 months ago.
The Barberena playbook isn’t exactly complicated, but it’s damn effective against those unable to either physically overpower him or pick him apart at range. The former is going to be more difficult now that he’s back at Lightweight and Proctor doesn’t have the tools to pull off the latter.
Being very big, very tough, and immune to getting tired can carry you quite a ways in UFC, especially against opponents coming off major layoffs. Proctor might give him some early issues, but Barberena’s pressure ought to carry him to a late stoppage win.
Prediction: Barberena via third-round technical knockout
135 lbs.: Hector Sandoval vs. Matt Schnell
Hector Sandoval (13-3) jumped right into the deep end in his Octagon debut when he stepped up on short notice to replace Demetrious Johnson against Wilson Reis. Though the Brazilian proved too much to handle, Sandoval proved his chops with a decision over Colombian Oylmpian Fredy Serrano at UFC on FOX 22.
He will give up six inches of height to the 5’8” Matt Schnell (10-3).
Schnell, the interim Legacy FC Flyweight Champion, submitted Matt Rizzo in the opening round of TUF 24, but fell to eventual winner Tim Elliott in the quarterfinals. He bit off more than he could chew in his UFC debut when he stepped up in weight to face Rob Font on short notice, suffering the first knockout loss of his career.
He has submitted six professional opponents and knocker out another two.
I keep thinking of this fight as a newbie versus a veteran, then I remember that Sandoval’s got more fights and his strength of schedule isn’t all that much worse than Schnell’s outside of the latter’s last few fights. “Kid Alex’s” speed and wrestling pose a threat that Schnell, height advantage notwithstanding, isn’t equipped to handle.
Schnell’s issues with takedown defense figure to be the deciding factor. That’s because he’s unlikely to finish Sandoval off of his back and the difference in hand speed makes the striking every bit as hairy. Sandoval scores with enough takedowns and flurries to win the decision.
Prediction: Sandoval via unanimous decision
Fan-favorite Sam Alvey heads UFC on Fight Night 108’s four “Prelims” we’ve got left to preview and predict, while Brandon Moreno faces his stiffest test to date in the second slot. Same time tomorrow, Maniacs!
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 108’s fight card, 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 2 at 8 p.m. ET, before the FOX Sports 1 main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.
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