Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, will host a potential five rounds of Lightweight mayhem this Saturday evening (July 28, 2018) when Dustin Poirier and Eddie Alvarez duke it out once again in UFC on FOX 30’s electric main event. Earlier in the evening, former champions Jose Aldo and Joanna Jedrzejczyk begin their journeys back to the top against Jeremy Stephens and Tecia Torres, respectively, while Olivier Aubin-Mercier opens the main card against surprise contender Alex Hernandez.
UFC on FOX 30 features four “Prelims” undercard matches that will be showcased on FOX’s broadcast as well (check out the Fight Pass portion here), so let’s have a look:
170 lbs.: Jordan Mein vs. Alex Morono
Following a comeback knockout loss to Thiago Alves, Jordan Mein (30-12) announced his retirement from the sport, only to return nearly two years later and suffer consecutive decision losses to Emil Meek and Belal Muhammad. “Young Guns” managed to steer out of his three-fight skid in Dec. 2017 with a decision over Erick Silva at UFC on FOX 26.
Sixteen of his 23 stoppage wins have come by form of knockout, including two in UFC.
Alex Morono (14-4) stormed out of the gate in his Octagon career with consecutive upsets of Kyle Noke and James Moontasri, only to suffer a later-overturned knockout loss to Niko Price and drop a split decision to Keita Nakamura. “The Great White” got back in track in February with a lovely guillotine of Josh Burkman in Austin.
He will give up an inch of height and reach to Mein.
Every Jordan Mein fight these days boils down to whether he’ll fight up to his capabilities. He’s a devastating boxer when he’s firing on all cylinders, but there are times when he just looks flat-out disinterested in the cage despite someone trying to punch his head off. It’s infuriating and baffling.
If he’s in the right headspace, he should throttle Morono, who makes up for his ungainly striking with durability and aggression. After watching Mein struggle with lesser strikers like Emil Meek, though, I can’t have any faith in his ability to execute. So, Morono outworks him to a narrow decision win.
Prediction: Morono via split decision
145 lbs.: Hakeem Dawodu vs. Austin Arnett
Hakeem Dawodu (7-1-1) entered UFC with considerable fanfare after a destructive run in World Series of Fighting (WSOF), entering his debut opposite Danny Henry as a considerable favorite. Pundits like myself got some egg in the face, however, as Henry dropped him with a right hand and damn near tore his head off with a guillotine in just 39 seconds.
All but one of his wins have come by (technical) knockout.
Austin Arnett (15-4) came up short on “Tuesday Night Contender Series” against Brandon Davis, but impressed enough to earn a call up to the Octagon five months later. Cory Sandhagen had no intention of letting that feel-good story continue, though, and put away Arnett with vicious body shots in the second round.
He is four inches taller than Dawodu, but will give up an inch of height.
As disastrous as his debut was, I still have faith that Dawodu has a ceiling somewhere in the Top 5. His offensive striking is downright beautiful and his counter-grappling is solid when his brain hasn’t just been knocked somewhere into the third row. If he’s even remotely as good as I think he is, he should obliterate Arnett.
“Golden Boy” has been outclassed on the feet in two consecutive fights by guys whom Dawodu would take behind the woodshed should they fight. There’s really no clear avenue of victory for Arnett unless Dawodu’s chin is somehow irreparably broken after that knockdown against Henry. Dawodu tears him up on the feet and finishes it with his favorite left hook to the body.
Prediction: Dawodu via first-round knockout
155 lbs.: Islam Makhachev vs. Kajan Johnson
After getting knocked flat by Adriano Martins in his sophomore Octagon appearance, Islam Makhachev (15-1) proved he was still one to watch with one-sided decisions over Chris Wade and Nik Lentz. His latest victory was his most impressive yet, a 57-second one-punch knockout of Gleison Tibau in Boston.
He has submitted six opponents and knocked out another three.
The fortunes of Kajan Johnson (23-12-1) went from bad to worse when — fresh off a brutal knockout loss in The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): “Nations” semifinals — he suffered another nasty knockout loss to Tae Hyun Bang in his Octagon debut. He has since rattled off four straight, however, including a one-punch knockout of Adriano Moraes in which he was a four-to-one underdog.
He will have five inches of reach on Makhachev.
As much as Johnson has been defying expectations lately, it’s hard to picture this going well for him. Makhachev’s wrestling has been downright overwhelming during his UFC tenure and his striking is starting to come together as well. Johnson won’t have the opportunity to use his length advantage when he’s constantly on the fence or on his back, and he’s not enough of a one-shot knockout artist to make Makhachev leery of constantly pushing for the takedown.
Johnson’s good enough at staying on his bicycle to avoid most of Makhachev’s punches, but he’s going to struggle mightily to steer clear of those takedowns for 15 minutes. The Dagestani racks up top control and submission attempts en route to a clear victory.
Prediction: Makhachev via unanimous decision
205 lbs.: Gadzhimurad Antigulov vs. Ion Cutelaba
Gadzhimurad Antigulov (20-4) entered UFC on a 12-fight win streak, 11 of those by first-round finish and eight of them in two minutes or less. He’s thus far maintained that efficiency in the Octagon, tapping Marcos Rogerio de Lima and Joachim Christensen in a combined 2:28.
This will be his first fight in 14 months after injuries sank planned bouts with Ion Cutelaba (13-3) and Aleksandar Rakic.
Before reaching UFC, Cutelaba had never had a fight last longer than 0:29 into the second round and owned six knockouts in less than one minute apiece. He has since gone even (2-2) in the Octagon itself, most recently flattening Henrique da Silva in 22 seconds.
He’s coming off a 13-month layoff of his own after USADA took issue with his ozone therapy.
I will be astonished if this fight doesn’t produce at least one bonus. These are two of the most reckless, finish-focused fighters in the entire UFC, Antigulov specializing in quick-kill submissions and Cutelaba in bell-to-bell power punching.
Somebody’s napping or tapping before too long.
This boils down to the first five minutes, when both men are fresh and Cutelaba has yet to pile on the attrition. Antigulov has quality wrestling and Cutelaba’s insane pursuit of the knockout leaves him vulnerable. If “The Hulk” can escape the first few minutes, he should be able to wear Antigulov down and bury him in punches, but I say Antigulov bowls him over and taps him in a scramble within the first few minutes.
Prediction: Antigulov via first-round submission
UFC on FOX 30’s violent main event and Jose Aldo vs. Jeremy Stephens alone make this a must-watch event. The rest is just icing. See you Saturday, Maniacs
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on FOX 30 fight card this weekend, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” undercard bouts at 4 p.m. ET, followed by the FOX “Prelims” undercard bouts at 6 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10 p.m. ET (also on FOX).