English sensation, Darren Till, returns to mixed martial arts (MMA) action for the first time since his Welterweight title shot this Saturday (March 16, 2019), taking on the indefatigable Jorge Masvidal in UFC Fight Night 147’s main event. ESPN+ subscribers will also get to see another pivotal 170-pound battle between Leon Edwards and Gunnar Nelson, as well as a Light Heavyweight bout that pits former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir against surging prospect Dominic Reyes.
O2 Arena in London, England, will also host seven “Prelims” undercard bouts this weekend, so let’s start from the bottom.
185 lbs.: Tom Breese vs. Ian Heinisch
Tom Breese (11-1) burst onto the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) scene with brutal knockouts of Luiz Dutra Jr. and Cathal Pendred, then followed them up with a decision over the durable Keita Nakamura. A controversial split decision loss to Sean Strickland prompted a move to 185 pounds, where he took out Dan Kelly in May 2018.
He has gone past the second round just three times as a professional, submitting six opponents.
Ian Heinisch went from winning the interim LFA Middleweight title to brutalizing Justin Sumter on “Contender Series” in the span of three months. He made his Octagon debut soon after, upsetting the resurgent Cezar Ferreira in Buenos Aires.
He replaces the injured Ferreira, who himself replaced the injured Alessio Di Chirico, on just over a month’s notice.
As intimidating as Heinisch is, Breese appears perfectly equipped to take him out. I’ve noted in the past that Heinisch tends to just burst into range with haymakers rather than employ set ups, and the 6’3” Breese has the range and blistering one-two combination to punish that all night. In addition, Breese is a stout wrestler in his own right, and though Heinisch looks the physically stronger of the two, Breese’s range management should give him plenty of time to snuff out “The Hurricane’s” double-legs and secure some takedowns of his own.
Breese is just too rangy and too good at doing damage from long distance for Heinisch’s face-first onslaught to work. The Brit clips him coming in and secures another submission once he’s hurt.
Prediction: Breese via second-round submission
145 lbs.: Dan Ige vs. Danny Henry
Dan Ige (10-2) gritted his way past Luis Gomez on “Contender Series” to earn a contract, but came up short against fellow alumnus Julio Arce in his Octagon debut. “Dynamite” went on to defeat two more “Contenders Series” participants in 2018, pounding out Mike Santiago in 50 seconds before out-grinding Jordan Griffin in Dec. 2018.
He is five inches shorter than Henry, though their reaches are the same.
Danny Henry (12-2) avenged his lone defeat to win the EFC Featherweight belt before his Octagon debut, which saw him survive early artillery to beat down the favored Daniel Teymur in a “Fight of the Night.” He was even more impressive in his next bout, dropping and choking out top prospect Hakeen Dawodu in just 39 seconds.
This will be the first fight for “The Hatchet” in 364 days.
Honestly, not sure where to go with this one. Ige’s tough as nails and has the wrestling to ruin Henry’s night, but “The Hatchet” is way taller and has a habit of making me look stupid. Though I’ll admit I use the phrase “nothing would surprise me” way too much, it genuinely applies here.
Henry had to fight through a lot of adversity against a shorter man in Teymur, and while Ige is nowhere near that caliber of striker, he’s not going to get tired and has the submission defense to avoid Henry’s front chokes. Ige grinds him out against the fence and from top position for another gritty decision win.
Prediction: Ige via unanimous decision
125 lbs.: Priscila Cachoeira vs. Molly McCann
Priscilla Cachoeira (8-1) was supposed to debut in Dec. 2017 against Lauren Murphy, but visa issues led to a bout with Valentina Shevchenko in the latter’s Flyweight debut. Shevchenko wound up dishing out one of the most one-sided beatings in women’s MMA history before Mario Yamasaki finally intervened.
This will be her first fight since that loss 13 months ago.
Molly McCann (7-2) smashed Bryony Tyrell last year to earn the Cage Warriors Flyweight title and extend her win streak to six. Her Octagon debut was a double dose of misfortune, however, as “Meatball” missed weight and was subsequently choked out by Gillian Robertson.
Four of her seven professional wins have come via (technical) knockout.
I genuinely believe that McCann is better than she looked against Robertson. She’s a very solid boxer with decent power and takedown defense that, while not great, generally holds up pretty well. Cachoeira, on the other hand, has little to offer besides remarkable durability.
McCann is the crisper striker by a huge margin, won’t have to worry about the ground game, and isn’t coming off the beating of a lifetime. She pieces up Cachoeira all night.
Prediction: McCann via unanimous decision
145 lbs.: Nad Narimani vs. Mike Grundy
Nad Narimani (12-2) unsuccessfully challenged Alex Enlund for the Cage Warriors Featherweight title in 2014, but came back three fights later to run roughshod over Paddy Pimblett and take home the belt. He’s gone perfect (2-0) in the Octagon, defeating top prospect Khalid Taha and veteran Anderson Dos Santos in subsequent bouts.
“Smiler” has submitted five opponents and knocked out another two.
Mike Grundy (11-1) took part in the 2014 Commonwealth Games, ultimately taking bronze in freestyle wrestling at 74 kg. Though he lost to future UFC competitor Damian Stasiak six months into his professional career, he enters the Octagon on an eight-fight win streak.
This will be his first fight since Nov. 2017.
Grundy’s wrestling pedigree and wins over the likes of Shooto standout Yutaka Saito, judo expert Michael Tobin, and The Ultimate Fighter: “Brazil” 4 runner-up Fernando Bruno make him an intriguing prospect. Narimani looks like too stiff a test, unfortunately; “Smiler” is a stout wrestler in his own right and neither Grundy’s striking nor his passing game have caught up with his takedown ability.
Narimani is sharper on the mat and the feet, and so long as he doesn’t leave his neck open to Grundy’s arm triangle or front chokes, should be able to edge Grundy with his physicality and versatility. Either Grundy grinds him out from full/half guard or Narimani boxes and scrambles his way to a competitive decision. I’d say expect the latter.
Prediction: Narimani via unanimous decision
We’ve got three more UFC Fight Night 147 “Prelims” undercard bouts to preview and predict, featuring an unbeaten Light Heavyweight newcomer and the return of Joe Duffy. Same time as always, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 147 fight card on fight night, starting with the ESPN+“Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 4 p.m. ET (also on ESPN+).