Two of the Welterweight division’s most effective strikers lock horns inside O2 Arena in London, England, this Saturday (March 16, 2019) when Darren Till looks to rebound from his loss to Tyron Woodley against veteran Jorge Masvidal. Also on tap are Leon Edwards vs. Gunnar Nelson, Volkan Oezdemir vs. Dominick Reyes, and top Bantamweight prospect Nathaniel Wood against Jose Alberto Quinones.
We’ve got three more UFC Fight Night 147 “Prelims” undercard bouts to look at (check out the first batch here). Shall we?
145 lbs.: Arnold Allen vs. Jordan Rinaldi
Arnold Allen (13-1) — whose only pre-Octagon loss came against future The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) competitor Marcin Wrzosek — made his Octagon debut in 2015 with a comeback submission of Alan Omer, earning “Performance of the Night” in the process. He’s won all three of his subsequent bouts, including another bonus-winning tapout against submission specialist Mads Burnell.
“Almighty” will give up two inches of height and reach to Jordan Rinaldi (14-6).
Rinaldi fell short in his audition for TUF 15, but got a shot in the Octagon via late notice debut against Abel Trujillo. Though he lost a competitive decision, he has since won two of three, a loss to top prospect Gregor Gillespie sandwiched between wins over Álvaro Herrera and Jason Knight.
He has submitted eight opponents, including a Von Flue finish of Herrera.
Neither man is particularly eye-catching in any specific area, but Allen looks to be the stronger of the two. Rinaldi doesn’t have the wrestling to exploit “Almighty’s” biggest flaw, his takedown defense, and Allen is the busier striker by a fair margin. With neither being likely to finish with strikes, Allen’s volume may be all he needs.
Both men are generalists, which could make for an entertainingly varied fight. Expect Allen’s youth, output, and sneaky submissions to overcome Rinaldi’s occasional takedown and secure the decision
Prediction: Allen via unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Marc Diakiese vs. Joe Duffy
Marc Diakiese (12-3) cemented his top prospect status with wins in each of his first three Octagon bouts, capped off by a one-punch finish of Teemu Packalen that earned “Performance of the Night.” He enters the cage on Saturday winless in his last three, though, most recently suffering a one-sided loss to Nasrat Haqparast in the latter’s hometown of Hamburg.
Six of his eight stoppage wins have come by form of knockout.
“Irish” Joe Duffy (16-3) — who made his name with professional boxing experience and a win over Conor McGregor — won four of his first five Octagon bouts, the sole loss a bloody war with Dustin Poirier. This earned him a crack at the surging James Vick, who defied the odds to catch Duffy with an uppercut and pound him out late in the second round.
This will be his first fight in 16 months.
The ship appears to have sailed on Diakiese, and his recent move from American Top Team to a smaller camp doesn’t inspire confidence that he can turn things around. His technical striking hasn’t caught up to his explosiveness and his wrestling, which generally serves as a fallback, has proven insufficient at the highest levels.
And on top of that, it’s a horrible style match up.
Duffy’s slick boxing should keep him clear of Diakiese’s bombs and he’s lethal enough on the mat to punish any desperate shots. There’s also the possibility of Duffy bringing his own takedowns to bear should Diakiese get overeager to close the distance. Barring a stunning one-punch finish from “Bonecrusher,” Duffy outclasses him everywhere.
Prediction: Duffy via unanimous decision
205 lbs.: Sabarbeg Safarov vs. Nick Negumereanu
Sabarbeg Safarov (8-2) debuted on short notice in 2016, falling to Gian Villante in a wild battle that earned “Fight of the Night.” Thirteen months later, he returned to the cage against Tyson Pedro and tapped to a kimura late in the first round.
All but one of his eight stoppage wins have come in the first round.
Romania’s Nick Negumereanu (9-0) has yet to see the judges either, dispatching all nine of his pro opponents in 10 minutes or fewer. He’s finished three opponents by submission and six via (technical) knockout, including one via slam.
He replaces the injured Gokhan Saki on short notice.
Negumereanu has fought a total of three men with winning records. Other opponents include Yuri Gorbenko (12-4-1), Kovacs Kalman (2-15), and most recently Dan Konecke (10-13), who was on a four-fight losing streak. He’s strong, aggressive and can dish out some solid ground-and-pound, but it’s hard to get a bead on him when he’s only fought low-level opposition and looked mediocre doing so.
Even if Safarov is winless (0-2) in the Octagon, he at least got the experience and showed some decent power. Negumereanu just too raw, too untested, and too easy to hit. Safarov finally enters UFC win column with an early knockout.
Prediction: Safarov via first-round knockout
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+).