It’s a Lightweight slobberknocker inside Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, this Saturday (May 4, 2019) when Al Iaquinta squares off with the resurgent Donald Cerrone in a pivotal clash of contenders. Thirty pounds north, Elias Theodorou attempts to continue his strange run at Derek Brunson’s expense, while Cub Swanson dukes it out with Shane Burgos in a Featherweight crossroads fight.
UFC Fight Night 151 features six “Prelims” undercard bouts this time, all of which will be broadcast on ESPN+. Let’s have a look at the first batch:
145 lbs.: Kyle Nelson vs. Matt Sayles
Kyle Nelson (12-2) brought a six-fight win streak into his Octagon debut, which saw him face Carlos Diego Ferreira on less than a month’s turnaround. Despite fighting above his natural weight class, Nelson gave a good account of himself before Ferreira’s ground-and-pound proved too much for him.
“The Monster” will have three inches of height and 3.5 inches of reach on Matt Sayles (7-2).
“Robo” scored impressive knockouts on both “Lookin’ for a Fight” and the Contender Series to earn himself a UFC contract. He debuted last August against Sheymon Moraes, who used his superior technical striking to turn aside a late surge from Sayles and walk away with the decision victory. All but one of his pro wins have come by form of knockout.
I’m still fairly high on Sayles, all things considered. Sheymon Moraes is a beast, and losing to him in a pure striking battle is no shame. “Robo” still has great takedown defense and ridiculous power in his right hand, and against a generalist in Nelson, he ought to shine.
Nelson’s greatest advantage here is the height and reach disparity; he’s no slouch on the feet, and even if Sayles’ defensive wrestling is too stout for Nelson to get his top game going, this isn’t a wash. Still, I don’t believe he can stay away from Sayles’ power long enough to get his game going. “Robo” gets in the UFC win column with a quick finish.
Prediction: Sayles via first-round knockout
265 lbs.: Arjan Singh Bhullar vs. Juan Adams
Arjan Singh Bhullar (8-1) cruised to victory in his UFC debut against Luis Henrique and looked poised to do the same against Adam Wieczorek, only to get caught in UFC’s second-ever omoplata after a dominant first round. Undaunted, he returned six months later to dominate Marcelo Golm in Moncton.
He is five inches shorter than Juan Adams (5-0) and will give up 5.5 inches of reach.
“The Kraken” dispatched his first three professional opponents in less than seven combined minutes to set up a shot on “Contender Series,” where he pounded out Shawn Teed late in the first round. He went on to debut against Chris De La Rocha, and despite fighting without his contact lenses, secured another stoppage win early in the third.
All of his professional and amateur wins have come via (technical) knockout.
Adams clearly has a ton of potential and I’m willing to cut him some slack for that last performance because of the aforementioned contacts. At the same time, Bhullar looked better than ever against another huge man in Golm and is the best wrestler Adams has ever faced by a huge margin. Further, despite Adams’ height and reach advantages, he doesn’t do a great job of maintaining range, which should allow the shorter man to land punches and tie up for takedowns.
Adams can definitely win this if he straightens out his punches and shows better cardio than last time. Based on their most recent appearances, though, expect Bhullar to empty Adams’ gas tank with constant wrestling and cruise to a decision victory from there.
Prediction: Bhullar via unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Mitch Gagnon vs. Cole Smith
Mitch Gagnon (12-4) got off to a roaring start in the Octagon, winning four of his first five fights and taking home two performance bonuses along the way. He currently finds himself on a two-fight losing streak, tapping to Renan Barão and suffering a decision loss to Matthew Lopez.
This will be his first fight in 2.5 years and just his second since 2014.
Cole Smith (6-0) may not be saving humanity from the Locust Horde, but he’s yet to taste defeat as a professional. He won the Battlefield Fight League Bantamweight title in 2017 and defended it twice, most recently choking out Tyler Wilson in 86 seconds this past January.
“The Cole Train” replaces the injured Brian Kelleher on a month’s notice.
If Gagnon was at his best, he’d torch Smith. He’s every bit the wrestler and slugger Smith is, with an added dose of explosiveness. Unfortunately, Gagnon is now 34 and coming off a huge layoff. Considering his gas tank was always his greatest enemy, that doesn’t bode well.
Though I don’t see Smith going super far as a generalist, he’s tough and skilled enough to survive Gagnon’s early burst. Smith uses his own wrestling to outlast a strong start and take home a clear decision.
Prediction: Smith via unanimous decision
We’ve got three more UFC Fight Night 151 “Prelims” undercard bouts to preview and predict tomorrow, featuring the latest from The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) winner Macy Chiasson. 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 151 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN “Prelims” that are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. ET, then the main card portion that will stream on ESPN+ (7-day free trial here) at 8 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Fight Night 151: “Cerrone vs. Iaquinta” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.