This Saturday (May 4, 2019), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) travels to Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, for UFC Fight Night 151. I don’t want to raise expectations unjustly, as this is a pretty mediocre event that’s largely saved by the main event. Even still, there are at least a couple fighters worth keeping an eye on, and hopefully some bouts on the undercard will at least bring the violence. Either way, let’s analyze some fights!
Remember: Later in the week, MMAmania.com’s Jesse Holland will preview and predict the main- and co-main events. For now, let’s take a look at these other main card bouts.
Featherweight: Cub Swanson vs. Shane Burgos
Best Win for Swanson? Dustin Poirier For Burgos? Godofredo Pepey
Current Streak: A trio of defeats for “Killer Cub” against a win for Burgos
X-Factor: How much does Swanson have left in the tank?
How these two match up: This is very much a crossroads bout for either man. Swanson — the endlessly creative kickboxer and sneaky grappler — does not appear to have his past spark for combat. After nearly breaking into title contention in 2017, Swanson has suffered three straight losses, generally looking a bit uninspired inside the Octagon.
If Swanson is not feeling motivated, he should avoid stepping into the cage with Burgos, because the man is a killer. One of Featherweight’s top prospects, Burgos is a ruthlessly aggressive boxer with serious power in his hands. A seriously large Featherweight, Burgos excels at forcing his opponent to throw something at him, only for Burgos to react with a slick counter combination.
I really hope Swanson is in top form on Saturday night, because this has the potential to be “Fight of the Night” and help save a possibly dull card. If Swanson is on his game, his movement and calf kicks would go a long way in disrupting Burgos’ offensive rhythm, allowing Swanson to work in his own combinations.
Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee Swanson will rally back in this fight. Even worse, Burgos is prepared for even the best Swanson has to offer. The 28-year-old “Hurricane” is too powerful, too aggressive, and too slick not to land something devastating, and at this point, I don’t know that Swanson will be able to recover.
Prediction: Burgos via knockout
Bantamweight: Brad Katona vs. Merab Dvalishvili
Best Win for Katona? Matthew Lopez For Dvalishvili? Terrion Ware
Current Streak: Two UFC wins for Katona, one for Dvalishvili
X-Factor: Dvalishvili’s insane toughness
How these two match up: This is going to be spectacular.
Katona is an excellent prospect, one of the better Ultimate Fighter (TUF) champions in recent years. At 27 years of age, Katona already has a very well put together game and is skilled in all areas. Overall, Katona excels at range management, always seeming to choose the correct strikes to throw given the situation or able to set up a takedown as needed.
Despite still being fairly short on professional experience, Katona is quite composed.
Dvalishvili is not at all composed nor is the Georgian particularly worried about it. No, Dvalishvili has little interesting in strategic thinking or any such nonsense, as his focus is entirely on creating chaos. Dvalishvili pushes an absolutely absurd paces, flinging endless takedown attempts and punches at his opponent with the aim of overwhelming his foe.
In truth, Dvalishvili could very easily be 3-0 inside the Octagon if not for some odd circumstances.
So what happens when a clean technician meets an absolute wild man? Generally, someone takes control pretty quickly, as the technician either ruthlessly punishes his opponent’s aggression or succumbs to the wildness and is out-worked from there.
Katona is tough and precocious, but Dvalishvili has been facing a higher level of competition and — strange losses aside — never failed to force an opponent into his world. While no result would surprise me, I’ll side with Dvalishvili landing enough takedowns amidst the chaos to sway the judges.
Prediction: Dvalishvili via decision
Featherweight: Walt Harris vs. Sergey Spivak
Best Win for Harris? Andrei Arlovski For Spivak? Tony Lopez
Current Streak: Two UFC wins for Harris, nine regional victories for Spivak
X-Factor: Harris’ inconsistency
How these two match up: It’s Heavyweight, so pray for an early finish.
Walt Harris has all the physical gifts in the world yet sometimes struggles to do anything with them. Still, the last couple years have seen notable improvement from Harris, who seems to have settled into a strategy that works for him: being massive, shooting a powerful Southpaw cross down the middle, and calmly stalking opponents around the cage.
Our newcomer to the Octagon is Ukraine’s Spivak, a 24-year-old wrestler who’s finished each of his opponents. “The Polar Bear” is a big, strong wrestler who likes to force his way into the clinch, trip his foe to the mat, and dominate from top position.
In truth, that’s a strategy that gets much more difficult in the UFC.
Spivak has talent, and he could develop into a top-notch Heavyweight somewhere down the line, but as it is his kickboxing is lacking. Lumbering into the clinch and overpowering foes is a viable strategy on the regional scene, but it’s unlikely to work as well as the level of athleticism rises.
If nothing else, Harris is athletic. The former basketball player denies the clinch and takedown attempts, eventually finding a home for that big left hand.
Prediction: Harris via knockout
Middleweight: Andrew Sanchez vs. Marc-Andre Barriault
Best Win for Sanchez? Khalil Rountree For Barriault? Adam Hunter
Current Streak: One UFC win for “El Dirte,” eight regional wins for Barriault
X-Factor: Sanchez’s iffy gas tank
How these two match up: There’s some potential here to be sure.
Sanchez impressed on TUF, winning his season with a combination of dominating wrestling and quality, Karate-based kickboxing. He struggled in 2017, however, dropping a pair of fights via third-round knockout because the wrestler fatigued terribly late in the fight — a problem that seemed somewhat fixed in his most recent win.
It’s an issue against Barriault though, as the newcomer has major power. Canada’s No. 1-ranked regional Light Heavyweight is a bruiser, an aggressive athlete who throws knockout punches in combination and relies on toughness to overcome whatever his opponent throws back his way.
Realistically, Sanchez is the much better wrestler and manages range well enough to avoid getting cracked while setting up his shots. However, Sanchez’s late-fight fatigue is still seriously worrying. Against Anthony Smith and Ryan Janes, Sanchez won the first two rounds then became a punching bag, eating dozens of shots before being stopped badly.
Last time out, it seemed like Sanchez had learned his lesson from those fights. I’ll hesitantly throw my pick behind him as well, but Barriault’s aggression and power is going to be a real threat late in the fight.
Prediction: Sanchez via decision
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver live UFC Fight Night 151 results on fight night, which is as good a place as any to talk about all the action inside the Octagon, as well as what you’ve got riding on the sportsbook.
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