Before Middleweight champions Robert Whittaker and Israel Adesanya (interim) duke it out at UFC 243 on Oct. 5, 2019, the 185-pound division will show its depth in Copenhagen, Denmark, this Saturday (Sept. 28, 2019) when Jack Hermansson puts his four-fight win streak on the line against knockout artist Jared Cannonier. Earlier, Olympic Greco-Roman silver medalist Mark Madsen debuts in the co-feature opposite Danilo Belluardo and Ion Cutelaba faces Khalil Rountree in a clash of Light Heavyweight power-punchers.
We’ve got the final three UFC Fight Night 160 “Prelims” undercard bouts remaining to preview and predict (check out the first batch here), so let’s hop to it:
185 lbs.: Alen Amedovski vs. John Phillips
The two-fight stint for Alen Amedovski (8-1) in Bellator MMA was both extremely successful and extremely brief, knocking out his two opponents in a combined 2:01. He couldn’t do the same to UFC debut opponent Krzysztof Jotko, who used prolonged top control to neutralize his foe’s power and take home a unanimous decision win.
He’ll give up two inches of height to “The Welsh Wrecking Machine.”
Formerly known as “The White Mike Tyson,” John Phillips (21-9) put together a 6-1 run on the British circuit to earn himself a spot in the Octagon. He’s yet to taste victory there, however, tapping to Charles Byrd and Kevin Holland before dropping a split decision to countryman Jack Marshman in March.
He has stopped 19 foes with punches, almost all in the first round.
Give Phillips’ power to practically anyone else on UFC’s roster and they’ll make better use of it than he has. It’s remarkable how little effort he’s put into developing his technical boxing, takedown defense, or really any aspect of mixed martial arts (MMA) beyond winging the occasional crazy-hard hook. Sure, Amedovski didn’t set the world on fire in his debut, but getting outwrestled by Krzysztof Jotko is less damning than a purported power puncher getting boxed up by Jack Marshman.
Amedovski has the faster hands and at least some modicum of grappling knowledge, which is enough on its own to give Phillips fits. Phillips could very well land the one-hitter quitter, but it’s likelier that Amedovski drags him down and pounds him out.
Prediction: Amedovski via first-round technical knockout
185 lbs.: Alessio Di Chirico vs. Makhmud Muradov
Italy’s Alessio Di Chirico (12-3) bounced back from a 1-2 Octagon start to win two straight, knocking out Oluwale Bamgbose with a bonus-winning knee and edging Contender Series product Julian Marquez by split decision. Injury kept him out of action for nearly a year, after which he dropped a decision to Kevin Holland in Greenville.
“Manzo” stands two inches shorter than Makhmud Muradov (22-6) at 6’0.”
“Mach” — the only MMA fighter promoted by Floyd Mayweather — has won 11 straight and 15 of his last 16 bouts, already competing four times in 2019. His most recent efforts have seen him knockout UFC veterans Alberto Uda and Wendell Oliveira within the span of two months.
He replaces the injured Peter Sobotta on less than two weeks’ notice.
Muradov isn’t just a random fill-in the UFC found — he absolutely deserves to be here. He’s a highly mobile, well-rounded Middleweight who’s shown stopping power on both the feet and the ground. He also looks to still be improving at the age of 29, which is a scary prospect.
Between “Mach’s” footwork and wrestling, Di Chirico will struggle mightily to get his takedowns going ... and he can’t keep up with Muradov standing. Between his pot-shotting and ground-and-pound, expect Muradov to put Uzbekistan on the UFC board.
Prediction: Muradov via unanimous decision
170 lbs.: Siyar Bahadurzada vs. Ismail Naurdiev
Siyar Bahadurzada (24-7-1) had one of the more memorable Octagon debuts you’re likely to see, felling Paulo Thiago in 42 seconds with a single punch, but went on to lose decisions to Dong Hyun Kim and John Howard afterward. “The Great” proceeded to score three straight finishes, one of which earned “Performance of the Night,” before losing a back-and-forth battle with Curtis Millender in Dec. 2018.
He has not gone the distance in victory since Oct. 2009.
Ismail Naurdiev (18-3) looked every bit “The Austrian Wonderboy” during the 13-1 run that brought him to the Octagon, then exceeded expectations by defeating Michel Prazeres on a three-week turnaround. Try as he might, he couldn’t power through Chance Rencountre, whose suffocating wrestling attack proved more than Naurdiev could handle.
Eleven of his 16 stoppage wins have come via (technical) knockout.
On paper, Naurdiev has every edge. On top of being more than a decade younger than Bahadurzada, he’s faster, has a much more varied striking attack, and has the wrestling to avoid the takedowns that “The Great” will lean on in a pinch. That said, he had a similar suite of advantages against Ismael de Jesus and the aforementioned Rencountre, who found considerable success through sheer durability and bloody-mindedness.
Bahadurzada’s pressure is less suffocating than Rencountre’s, however, and he got pieced up pretty badly by Curtis Millender last time out. Though Naurdiev lacks the height and reach advantages that Millender used to great effect, his superior wrestling will prevent Bahadurzada from grappling his way out of danger. Naurdiev’s power and Bahadurzada’s age/wear combine to force the latter’s first (technical) knockout defeat.
Prediction: Naurdiev via first-round technical knockout
UFC Fight Night 160 boasts lots of finishing potential, some interesting newcomers, and a convenient start time, all of which make for a fine little event. See you Saturday, Maniacs!
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 160 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN+“Prelims” that are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. ET, then the main card portion that will stream on ESPN+ at 2 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Fight Night 160: “Hermansson vs. Cannonier” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.