Scouser slugger Darren Till looks to prove he’s more than just hype this Sunday (May 27, 2018) when he faces former two-time Welterweight title challenger Stephen Thompson in Liverpool, England, headlining UFC Fight Night 130 inside Echo Arena. The FOX Sports 1-televised main card also sees Craig White step up on short notice to fight Neil Magny, Arnold Allen face Mads Burnell, and Makwan Amirkhani return to the Octagon after a year away from the sport to fight Jason Knight.
UFC Fight Night 130’s FOX Sports 1 broadcast also includes four “Prelims” undercard bouts (check out the Fight Pass portion here). Check ‘em out:
170 lbs.: Claudio Silva vs. Nordine Taleb
After suffering a disqualification loss in his professional mixed martial arts (MMA) debut, Claudio Silva (11-1) worked his way to UFC with eight stoppages in his next nine fights, six of them in the first round. His UFC career has seen him out-grapple Brad Scott and take a contentious decision over Leon Edwards.
Thanks to multiple injuries, this will be the first fight for “Hannibal” since Nov. 2014.
Two unsuccessful runs on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) weren’t enough to dissuade Nordine Taleb (14-4), who has won three of his last four and fought Santiago Ponzinibbio to an extremely competitive decision in that lone loss. His latest win was arguably his biggest yet, a 59-second demolition of Danny Roberts that earned him “Performance of the Night.”
He stands two inches taller than Silva and will have three inches of reach.
One would think that UFC would give Taleb at least a fringe contender at this point, but instead he gets a gimme that will do nothing for his stock. Silva is one of the most one-dimensional grapplers in UFC, absolutely hopeless on the feet and not terribly adept with his takedowns. He barely beat an extremely green Edwards and was getting eaten up by Scott in their stand up exchanges.
Oh, and he’s been out for 2.5 years.
Taleb’s exponentially better than Silva on the feet and is more than capable of stuffing his takedowns all night long. He sprawls-and-brawls his way to a decisive victory, possibly securing a late stoppage.
Prediction: Taleb via unanimous decision
185 lbs.: Dan Kelly vs. Tom Breese
Despite his age and knees that look fit to snap at any moment, Dan Kelly (13-3) opened his UFC career 6-1, doing so as an underdog in every single bout. A 76-second knockout loss to Derek Brunson stopped him in his tracks, after which he lost a snoozer to Elias Theodorou in Nov. 2017.
The Judo Olympian has submitted five professional opponents and knocked out another three.
Tom Breese (10-1) made his way to the Octagon on the strength of his ground game, which netted him seven finishes in seven fights, but proved his well-roundedness with knockouts of Luiz Dutra and Cathal Pendred in his first two Octagon appearances. After taking a decision over Keita Nakamura, Breese took on Sean Strickland at UFC 199 and lost a controversial split decision.
This will be his Middleweight debut and his first fight in nearly two years.
It’s impossible not to love Dan Kelly, but I’ve got to be realistic here. Breese is a terrible match up for him even with almost 24 months of cage rust. Breese is three inches taller than Kelly and has just as much reach, not to mention the skills to actually use that length to great effect. Worse, he’s a strong wrestler in his own right and packs more power than Kelly on the feet.
Kelly faces an uphill battle in the stand up and he’s going to struggle to get the clinch he needs to score takedowns. In short, Breese chews him up with one-two combinations for a one-sided decision victory.
Prediction: Breese via unanimous decision
185 lbs.: Brad Scott vs. Carlo Pedersoli Jr.
Brad Scott (11-5) — Welterweight runner-up on TUF: “The Smashes” — elected to drop back to 170 pounds after going 3-3 as a UFC middleweight and suffering a knockout loss to Jack Hermansson in his most recent appearance. “The Bear” was set to face Jack Marshman, also making his Welterweight debut — in March before the Welshman botched his weight cut and had to withdraw.
He has knocked out and submitted five opponents apiece.
Italy’s Carlo Pedersoli Jr. (10-1) has not lost since his fourth professional fight, stopping four of his next seven opponents. His most recent victory was his biggest, a split decision over former UFC competitor Nicolas Dalby just one month ago.
He steps in for the injured Salim Touahri on little more than one week’s notice.
Pedersoli is boatloads of fun to watch, mixing aggressive karate with viciously slick grappling, but these aren’t ideal circumstances for his debut. He’s on a four-week turnaround after a grueling fight and is stepping up in weight.
That said, Scott’s been consistently underwhelming in UFC. His three Octagon victories came over Michael Kuiper, Dylan Andrews and Scott Askham, none of whom are currently on the roster. Hell, Askham nearly beat him on one leg. Pedersoli has the better striking variety and is dangerous enough on the mat to keep “The Bear” honest. Pedersoli lands enough heavy kicks and threatens enough submissions to earn a narrow win.
Prediction: Pedersoli Jr. via unanimous decision
125 lbs.: Molly McCann vs. Gillian Robertson
Molly McCann (7-1) — the delightfully nicknamed “Meatball” -- last tasted defeat in her second professional fight, since which she has stopped three of six opponents with strikes. She last fought in February, winning the Cage Warriors women’s Flyweight title with a second-round stoppage of Bryony Tyrell.
She will give up two inches of height to Gillian Robertson (4-2).
Robertson — representing Team Justin Gaethje on TUF 26 — fell to No. 2-ranked Barb Honchak in the Round of 16. She found quite a bit more success at the Finale, though, submitting teammate and No. 8-seed Emily Whitmire via first-round armbar.
“The Savage” went 9-2 as an amateur before debuting professionally in 2016.
McCann is most certainly a welcome addition to the division. She’s a dangerous boxer with legitimate power and a mean streak to match — if you’ve got Fight Pass, her Cage Warrior bouts are well worth watching. Robertson should give us a good idea of her current capabilities, as the former’s wrestling and submissions are a legitimate threat to the occasionally overaggressive “Meatball.”
This match up boils down to McCann’s takedown defense and scrambling ability, as this is her fight to lose if she keeps it on the feet. I say she does, overwhelming Robertson en route to a mid-round technical knockout finish.
Prediction: McCann via second round technical knockout
You cannot in good conscience miss Darren Till vs. “Wonderboy,” and UFC Fight Night 130 has got a pretty solid supporting cast. No excuses! See you Sunday, Maniacs.
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 130 fight card this weekend, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” undercard bouts at 10 a.m. ET, followed by the FOX Sports 1 “Prelims” undercard bouts at 11 a.m. ET, before the main card start time at 1 p.m. ET, also on FOX Sports 1.