Out with the old, in with the new?
Surging Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight contender, Derrick Lewis, steps into hostile territory this Saturday evening (June 10, 2017) when he takes on combat sports legend Mark Hunt inside Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand.
UFC Fight Night 110 will also feature Olympic judoka and out-of-nowhere Middleweight contender Dan Kelly against Derek Brunson, as well as Dan Hooker vs. Ross Pearson and Ion Cutelaba vs. Luis Henrique da Silva.
Of the 10 fights that will air on FOX Sports 1 this weekend, four will serve as “Prelims” undercard matches (check out the Fight Pass portion here). Here they are, dissected for your entertainment.
155 lbs.: Damien Brown vs. Vinc Pichel
Damien Brown (17-9) — riding a five-fight win streak — stepped up on short notice to face Alan Patrick in his Octagon debut, losing a decision to the big Brazilian. He’s since bounced back with a brutal knockout of Cesar Arzamendia and gritty split decision over Jon Tuck, the latter in front of a Melbourne crowd.
“Beatdown” has submitted eight opponents and knocked out another three.
Vinc Pichel (9-1) — Team Dominick Cruz’s sixth pick on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 15 — submitted John Cofer before dropping a majority decision to Chris Saunders in the quarterfinals. The hits kept coming in his UFC debut, which saw him suplexed into oblivion by Rustam Khabilov, but he enters Saturday’s bout on a two-fight win streak.
This will be his first fight since May 2014.
Boy howdy, do I love trying to assess fighters coming off of three-year layoffs. Mixed martial arts (MMA) is not kind to those attempting induction over the course of months, much less years. Well, enough whining.
Pichel isn’t the finishing powerhouse his seven (technical) knockout wins suggest, but he’s a strong wrestler with a capable top game. Without significant backslide, that’s enough to carry him past Brown, who’s gutsy as hell but was getting torn apart by Jon Tuck before Tuck gassed. Plus, knocking out Cesar Arzamendia and his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad chin isn’t a huge accomplishment.
If Pichel can fight for the full 15 minutes, he’s got this. Indeed, a steady diet of takedowns carries him to his third UFC victory.
Prediction: Pichel via unanimous decision
170 lbs.: Luke Jumeau vs. Dominique Steele
The Force has been strong with “The Jedi” Luke Jumeau (11-3) in the last few years, racking up six consecutive stoppage wins since losses to Jingliang Li and Jake Matthews. Most recently, he took on another UFC veteran in Vik Grujic and knocked him silly after a tough first round.
He owns five wins by knockout and another four by decision.
Despite losing his last two, Dominique Steele (14-8) has lived up to his nickname since his UFC debut loss to Zak Cummings. Following a vicious slam knockout of Dong Hyun Kim, “Nonstop Action-Packed” went to war with Danny Roberts and Court McGee in fights that could have easily been scored his way.
His seven stoppage wins are split evenly between knockouts and submissions.
Jumeau’s got some seriously heavy hands and a solid array of low kicks to back them up, but he’s so flat-footed and prone to kicking without set up that he’s prone to getting taken down rather easily. He managed to survive against Grujic, who came in over six pounds overweight and didn’t have the steam to maintain his attack, but Steele never stops coming and has some nasty slams for those too slow to get their hips out of the way.
The big question is whether Steele -- who has been knocked out four times — can survive enough punishment to bring his wrestling to bear. I say he does! Expect him to exploit Jumeau’s single punches to land counter takedowns and hang out in top position for the decision.
Prediction: Steele via unanimous decision
125 lbs.: John Moraga vs. Ashkan Mokhtarian
John Moraga (16-6) — one of the first members of UFC’s Flyweight division — currently finds himself on the first multi-fight losing streak of his career. He hasn’t exactly rolled over, though, hanging on against Joseph Benavidez before tough fights against Matheus Nicolau and Sergio Pettis.
Four of his eight submission wins have come by guillotine.
Fighting as high as 150 pounds and as low as 125, Ashkan Mokhtarian (13-1) has become Australia’s top Flyweight during his five-year career. He’s currently riding a six-fight win streak that includes five finishes and a 27-second head kick knockout in his divisional debut.
He owns six wins by knockout and another six by submission.
Mokhtarian and his crew have a decent-sized social media presence. What they don’t have is any complete fight footage from the last two years; in fact, the most recent I could find aside from a 50-second clip of ground-and-pound was his 2015 fight with Honggang Yao, who took him down effectively at will before Mokhtarian caught him in a heel hook.
Moraga will never touch the title or crack the seemingly impenetrable Johnson-Benavidez-Cejudo barrier, but he’s as scrappy and mean as they come. The pace and ferocity he offers are not the sort of thing you want to deal with in your first real world-class fight. He ought to have the wrestling to overwhelm Mokhtarian and — even if he can’t consistently hit takedowns — he can do enough damage in transition to get the win.
Prediction: Moraga via unanimous decision
170 lbs.: Kiichi Kunimoto vs. Zak Ottow
Kiichi Kunimoto (18-6-2) has enjoyed one of the stranger UFC careers in recent memory. After winning his debut due to disqualification, he defied +400 odds to submit Daniel Sarafian before getting a questionable split decision over Richard Walsh in Saitama.
This will be his first fight since losing to Neil Magny in Feb. 2015.
Making both his Lightweight and UFC debut on short notice, Zak Ottow (14-4) came up big against Josh Burkman for his fifth consecutive victory. Returning to Welterweight, he replaced Mike Graves against Sergio Moraes and fought his way to a split decision loss to the grappling ace.
He replaces the injured Warlley Alves on less than one month’s notice.
The deciding factor here might be size. Ottow has historically competed at Welterweight, but he can make 155 pounds on short notice. In a match that will likely be determined by who spends more time on top, that could be trouble. Though Kunimoto isn’t an elite takedown artist, he’s a very persistent one, and Ottow may not have the firepower to keep him honest.
Ottow has a good defensive guard, keeping Moraes locked up for several minutes. Still, even if Kunimoto can’t get his passing going, he’s good enough to stay on top and rack up points. Kunimoto scores enough clinch takedowns to get the decision.
Prediction: Kunimoto via unanimous decision
UFC Fight Night 110’s main event may only last 30seconds, but it’ll be a fun 30 seconds. See you Saturday, Maniacs!
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 110’s fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, and then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 a.m. ET, before the FOX Sports 1 main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.