The longest-tenured Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Dutch fighter headlines the promotion’s return to the Netherlands this Saturday (Sept. 2, 2017) when Stefan Struve attempts to extend his win streak against fellow towering Heavyweight slugger Alexander Volkov.
Former UFC women’s Featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie was originally set to co-headline, but an injury forced Brazili’s Talita de Oliveira to step in against Marion Reneau. In addition, Siyar Bahadurzada takes on unbeaten late replacement Rob Wilkinson and Leon Edwards looks for his fourth straight win against Bryan Barberena.
UFC Fight Night 115, which features eight “Prelims” undercard matches, can be found exclusively — in its entirety — on Fight Pass. Here are the last of the undercard appetizers (check out the first batch here):
170 lbs.: Darren Till vs. Bojan Velickovic
Darren Till (14-0-1) staked his claim as one of the most promising young United Kingdom-bred talents with his brutal knockout of Wendell Oliveira and gutsy war with Nicolas Dalby. After 17 months out of action, he returned to the cage in May with a decision over Jessin Ayari in Stockholm, though he did miss weight badly.
Nine of his 14 professional wins have come by form of knockout.
Bojan Velickovic (15-4-1) entered UFC with the RFA Welterweight Title around his waist and promptly went 1-1-1 in his first three fights. He went on to face Nico Musoke in hostile territory and, after a rough start, came back to knock the Swede out with less than thirty seconds left.
“Serbian Steel” will have two inches of reach on Till.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m not impressed with Velickovic. He does a poor job of exploiting his massive size for the division and is just awkward overall. That’s not enough against Till, a big boy in his own right with far superior striking.
With the layoff behind him, Till’s only real question mark is whether he can still safely make 170 pounds. Even with that concern, the technique gap is too great for me to pick against him. Till shuts down Velickovic’s wrestling and picks him apart for a wide decision win.
Prediction: Till via unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Mairbek Taisumov vs. Felipe Silva
Mairbek Taisumov (25-5) put his forgettable win over Tae Hyun Bang in his Octagon debut and subsequent upset loss to Michel Prazeres behind him with four consecutive knockout victories, one of which earned him a “Performance of the Night” bonus. Unfortunately, injuries and visa issues have kept him to just one fight in the last two years, an uppercut finish of Damir Hadzovic in April 2016.
Fourteen of his 25 professional wins have come by form of knockout.
Felipe Silva (8-0) punched his ticket to UFC with five knockouts in his first seven fights, including a first-round finish of UFC vet Anton Kuivanen in the latter’s native Finland. He made it six for eight in his debut, a 73-second body shot knockout of Shane Campbell in hostile territory.
He stands three inches taller than the 5’9” “Beckan.”
This one looks like it’ll produce at least one “... of the Night” bonus. Taisumov is a power-punching dynamo and Silva has plenty of stopping power of his own. Even with the layoff, I’ve got Taisumov here.
Though Silva’s got quality power and a quality array of strikes, his eagerness to engage inside puts him in the squatter Taisumov’s wheelhouse. In addition, “Beckan” can wrestle if needed and has significantly more pro experience. With more tools and greater speed in his corner, Taisumov is in an excellent position to secure another highlight reel finish. They brawl for a few fun minutes before a Taisumov right hand ends things.
Prediction: Taisumov via first-round technical knockout
155 lbs.: Michel Prazeres vs. Mads Burnell
Michel Prazeres (22-2) has come into his own since opening his UFC career 2-2, winning four straight. His last two wins were the most impressive of the bunch, an upset decision over Gilbert Burns and a 102-second thrashing of Josh Burkman.
At 5’6,” “Trator” is three inches shorter than Mads Burnell (8-1).
Burnell, Denmark’s latest prospect, made a name for himself with five first-round submission wins, several in less than two minutes. He’s won three straight, including two by Japanese Necktie.
He replaces Islam Makhachev on less than a month’s notice.
This is among the toughest match ups Burnell could possibly have gotten in his debut. He’s a submission artist, small enough to make Featherweight, up against a bulldozer of a man with terrific grappling chops. So long as Prazeres’ cardio hold up, he’s more or less unstoppable, and it’s been holding up pretty damn well.
It remains to be seen if Prazeres can maintain his pace against other physical specimens, but Burnell has neither the strength nor the style to really make the Brazilian work. Endless takedowns and top control carry Prazeres to a fifth straight win.
Prediction: Prazeres via unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Rustam Khabilov vs. Des Green
Three consecutive UFC victories, including a suplex knockout of Vinc Pichel and “Fight of the Night”-winning war against Jorge Masvidal, earned Rustam Khabilov (21-3) a headlining spot against Benson Henderson at UFC Fight Night 42. Though he came up short there and in a subsequent fight with Adriano Martins, he’s fought his way back into contention with four consecutive wins.
Five of his nine stoppage victories have come by submission.
Des Green (20-5) — a former Bellator tournament finalist and Titan FC champion — put together a four-fight win streak to earn a shot in UFC. In his April debut, “The Predator” faced Team Alpha Male slugger Josh Emmett and defied the odds to take an entertaining split decision.
He stands two inches taller than Khabilov at 5’10.”
This is the fifth time in a row that UFC has booked Khabilov against a wrestler. I’m going to go out on a limb and say this one doesn’t end any differently than the other four. He’s the stronger takedown artist of the two and should hold a slight edge on the feet thanks to his power.
We’re not going to see any more finishes out of Khabilov until he can fully get his aggression back, but we’re probably not going to see any more losses outside the top ten, either. Khabilov spends enough time on top to take the decision.
Prediction: Khabilov via unanimous decision
Eh, there are some good prospects here and we haven’t had a UFC card in like a month. I’ll take it.
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 115 card on Saturday, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. ET, and then the remaining main card balance on Fight Pass at 3 p.m. ET.