Blagoy Ivanov — the former World Series of Fighting Heavyweight champion who defeated Fedor Emelianenko in sambo — finally enters the Octagon this Saturday (July 14, 2018) against returning slugger Junior dos Santos inside CenturyLink Arena in Boise, Idaho. Earlier in the evening, Sage Northcutt faces spoiling specialist Zak Ottow, Dennis Bermudez takes on Rick Glenn in an early “Fight of the Night” candidate, and Randy Brown throws down with Niko Price in a clash of Welterweight finishers.
We got four more UFC Fight Night 133 “Prelims” undercard bouts to preview and predict (check out the first batch here). Let’s wrap this up, shall we?
135 lbs.: Eddie Wineland vs. Alejandro Perez
With his UFC career on the ropes following losses to Johnny Eduardo and Bryan Caraway, Eddie Wineland (23-12-1) smashed Frankie Saenz and Takeya Mizugaki to prove he was still a factor at 135 pounds. He couldn’t quite chase down John Dodson his next time out, however, dropping a decision in Nashville.
This will be his first fight in 15 months.
Alejandro Perez (20-6-1) has not tasted defeat since his second UFC bout, going 5-0-1 with wins over some solid Bantamweight competition. His three-fight win streak includes decisions over Andre Soukhamthath and Iuri Alcantara, plus a knockout of Matthew Lopez in April.
He has knocked out nine professional opponents and submitted another five.
I’ve probably said it before, but I’ll say it again: It’s hard to get a bead on Perez. His wins over Soukhamthath and Alcantara looked to be products of his opponents’ bad gameplans and he was losing to Lopez before the latter fell apart. Though Wineland is past his best, he has the takedown defense to keep it on the feet and the power to crack Perez’s shaky jaw.
“Diablito” has a habit of surprising both me and the bookies, but Wineland just seems all wrong for him. So long as he’s willing to let his hands go, Wineland catches him with a right hand sometime in the second.
Prediction: Wineland via second-round technical knockout
145 lbs.: Darren Elkins vs. Alexander Volkanovski
Darren Elkins (24-5) came out of nowhere to rocket up the Featherweight rankings with six consecutive wins, four of them upsets. After defeating Mirsad Bektic and Dennis Bermudez last year, “The Damage” began his 2018 campaign with a comeback submission of Michael Johnson in St. Louis.
He stands four inches taller than Alexander Volkanovski (17-1) at 5’10,” though their reaches are identical.
Volkanovski has won 14 consecutive fights, 11 by stoppage, since his lone professional loss, including four UFC victories. His latest win was his most brutal yet, a two-round mauling of unbeaten Jeremy Kennedy that featured some of the most devastating ground-and-pound in recent memory.
Ten of his 13 stoppage wins have come by form of knockout.
This fight is a stylistic nightmare for Elkins, but so were his last three match ups, all of which he won. In other words, logic goes out the window when Elkins steps into the cage. I mean, I’m still going to make the logical pick, but I’ll feel really stupid if I’m wrong again.
Volkanovski is incredibly strong, adept with his takedowns, and downright frightening from top position. Elkins isn’t adept enough on the feet to steer clear of those booming overhand rights, either, and “The Great” hasn’t shown any cardio issues despite pushing a torrid pace. He tears up the hyper-durable Elkins everywhere the fight goes on his way to a decision win.
Prediction: Volkanovski via unanimous decision
125 lbs.: Justin Scoggins vs. Said Nurmagomedov
The enormously talented Justin Scoggins (11-4) remains unable to stay out of his own way. After dominating Josh Sampo and Ray Borg, “Tank” tapped to Pedro Munhoz and Yuta Sasaki in fights he was dominating up to that point, dropping his recent record to 2-4.
He owns six professional wins and four amateur wins by knockout.
Said Nurmagomedov (11-1), fighting out of Mark Henry’s camp alongside Frankie Edgar and Marlon Moraes, made his name on the Russian circuit with strong runs in ACB and Akhmat Fight Show. Though he lost to fellow UFC competitor Magomed Bibulatov in the former, he won the latter’s Bantamweight grand prix in 2016.
This will be his Flyweight debut.
What’s interesting about this fight is that it’s almost a mirror match up. Both men are strong grapplers who utilize offbeat kicks on the feet. Scoggins looks to be the sharper takedown artist and pack more stopping power, but here’s the thing: There is nobody in UFC, maybe nobody in mixed martial arts (MMA), who’s failed to live up to his potential more than “Tank.” He seems to have this mental block demanding that he wrestle no matter how well he’s doing on the feet and has gotten choked out for doing it three times.
Nurmagomedov is a quality prospect, albeit short on finishing ability. That said, Scoggins has all the tools to control this fight wherever it goes. I can’t wait to see how he screws it up this time.
Prediction: Nurmagomedov via second-round submission
145 lbs.: Kurt Holobaugh vs. Raoni Barcelos
Four years removed from his first UFC run and sporting a three-fight win streak, Kurt Holobaugh (17-4) torched Matt Bessette on the first episode of Dana White’s “Tuesday Night Contender Series” to earn himself a contract. Soon after, however, the commission discovered that Holobaugh had illegally used an IV to rehydrate, overturning the knockout win to a “No Contest” and resulting in a nine-month suspension.
Holobaugh went 8-2 (1 NC) between UFC runs, scoring six non-overturned finishes in that span.
A loss in his second RFA appearance failed to slow Raoni Barcelos (11-1), who secured the promotion’s Featherweight title two fights later. He successfully defended it with wins over upcoming “Tuesday Night Contender Series” hopeful Bobby Moffett and current UFC competitor Dan Moret.
This will be his first fight in nearly two years, as a planned debut against Boston Salmon last year fell through.
I was profoundly bummed when we missed out on Barcelos vs. Salmon, because that would have been an incredible fight. I’m still excited to see him in the Octagon, though. The Brazilian is a dangerous counter-puncher with A+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu credentials and quality wrestling to back it up. If he weren’t already 33 years old, I’d be touting him as a true blue-chip prospect.
He’s still pretty damn good, though, and his striking style seems like a good answer for Holobaugh’s aggression. He’s also the better grappler, so he can fall back on that if Holobaugh starts getting to him. Barring the very real possibility of ring rust, Barcelos potshots his way to victory.
Prediction: Barcelos via unanimous decision
Junior dos Santos is and always has been must-watch television, not to mention the oodles of top-notch prospects making their Octagon debuts. Don’t miss it! See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 133 fight card this weekend, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” undercard bout at 6:30 p.m. ET, followed by the FOX Sports 1 “Prelims” undercard bouts at 8 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10 p.m. ET, also on FOX Sports 1.