This Saturday (Sept. 28, 2019), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) travels to Royal Arena in Copenhagen, Denmark, for UFC Fight Night 160. Luckily, we’re due for a rebound after last week’s disaster of a main event. Even if the top bout falls apart at the last second, there are some genuinely intriguing match ups going down in Denmark, so let’s take a closer look at these main card fights!
Remember: Later in the week, Jesse Holland will be back to preview and predict the biggest fights of the night.
Welterweight: Gunnar Nelson vs. Gilbert Burns
Best Win for Nelson? Alex Oliveira For Burns? Alexey Kunchenko
Current Streak: Nelson came up short last time out, whereas Burns has won three straight
X-Factor: Burns accepted the bout on very short-notice
How these two match up: If this bout hits the mat, fans are in for a treat.
Nelson has seen his fair share of ups-and-downs inside the Octagon. Because of his unique fight style (and possibly also his relationship with Conor McGregor), Nelson has been both overrated and underrated at certain points of his career. Over the last couple years, however, we’ve been able to get a true read on Nelson, who’s definitely worthy of a ranking but is unlikely to contend.
The Karate and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt faces a formidable task in Burns, who recently made his Welterweight debut on short-notice to score the biggest win of his career. “Durinho” is looking to make waves quickly, and the decorated grappler has really grown to be a formidable power puncher in recent years.
For me, the only issue that causes concern about this pick is Burns accepting the bout on short-notice. Otherwise, I really like the match up for the Brazilian: he’s the stronger man, better wrestler, better grappler, and may even be the superior striking. Historically, Nelson does not do well when unable to out-grapple his foe, and Burns’ jiu-jitsu is world-class.
The cardio issue, though: If Burns gasses halfway through the second, can he still win the decision? That’s not a question I can answer comfortably. At the same time, Nelson is not exactly a high-volume fighter himself, so I’ll give Burns the benefit of the doubt that even his short-notice gas tank is deep enough to pick up another hard-fought win.
Prediction: Burns via decision
Light Heavyweight: Ion Cutelaba vs. Khalil Rountree
Best Win for Cutelaba? Gadzhimurad Antigulov For Rountree? Eryk Anders
Current Streak: Cutelaba lost his last bout, Rountree won his
X-Factor: How will Rountree’s new Muay Thai style hold up against a wrestler?
How these two match up: BANGFEST!
Cutelaba is a Goddamn psychopath in the best way. He paints himself green at weigh-ins, mean mugs even polite opponents with genuine aggression, and lives up to his antics in the cage, doing his best to overwhelm his opponents early with massive power punches. In addition, the 25-year-old “Hulk” is a very solid wrestler.
Meanwhile, Rountree is an exceptional athlete who’s figuring himself out as a fighter. His recent trips to Thailand paid off in a big way last time out, as Rountree adopted a pure Muay Thai stance and kicked his foe to pieces. It was awesome to watch, and “Lumpinee Rountree” instantly became a new moniker.
I have full expectations for violence here. Cutelaba may wrestle, but he’s not looking to stall. Instead, Cutelaba picks foes up with the intent to slam them hard and try to maul them on the mat. Both men have real power in their hands, and the type of limited experience that means they’re definitely going to use it from the first bell.
Cutelaba has the skills necessary to throw off Rountree’s new strategy. If he pressures early and wrestles, it’s going to be difficult for Rountree to get this nasty kicks off. At the same time, Cutelaba fights in such an absurd fashion that he almost has to score a finish to win. A lot of his energy is going to be spent wrestling, which leaves less available to score the actual knockout.
At some point, I expect the tide to turn. Once Rountree stops a couple takedowns and rips into the legs/liver, this one won’t last long.
Prediction: Rountree via knockout
Light Heavyweight: Michal Oleksiejczuk vs. Ovince Saint Preux
Best Win for Oleksiejczuk? Gadzhimurad Antigulov For Saint Preux? Tyson Pedro
Current Streak: Two straight wins for Oleksiejczuk, two losses for “OSP”
X-Factor: Saint Preux’s inconsistency
How these two match up: This should prove to be an exciting contest.
I may be unable to spell his name without the repeated use of copy/paste, but Oleksiejczuk has definitely made an impression on me as a prospect. The Polish youngster has a real instinct for accuracy and great natural hand speed, which is an exceptional combination of skills to take out a bunch of slow 205-pounders.
“OSP” is a step up in competition for Oleksiejczuk ... maybe. In truth, Saint Preux has been looking flat lately, particularly on the feet, where he was always dangerous if not particularly technical. At the same time, Saint Preux’s strength and submission prowess remains a threat to much of the division.
Oleksiejczuk is not a large Light Heavyweight, so there is reason to believe that Saint Preux muscles him to the mat and chokes him early. However, even at his peak, “OSP” was never the most trustworthy strategist. Given his recent troubles, I’ll happily trust the younger man to stick to his usual gameplan and continue climbing the ranks.
Prediction: Oleksiejczuk via knockout
Welterweight: Nicolas Dalby vs. Alex Oliveira
Best Win for Dalby? Elizeu Zaleski For Oliveira? Carlos Condit
Current Streak: Three regional victories see Dalby return to the Octagon, whereas Oliveira has lost two straight
X-Factor: Dalby’s toughness
How these two match up: For the fourth time, fans can expect a fun fight.
Credit to Nicolas Dalby for fighting his way back to the big show — it’s not easy to have dreams crushed and jump right back on the horse. A slick striker with quality jiu-jitsu, Dalby is a durable and well-rounded veteran. Alternatively, Oliveira is a weird mishap of skills and insane athleticism, the result of not starting martial arts training until his early 20s. The Brazilian kicks absurdly hard, lunges into dangerous punches, and is quite fearsome if able to muscle his way into top position.
This is a weird one. Because of the athleticism gap, there’s a real chance Oliveira just destroys his opponent in the opening round or two — that’s usually how he wins. If Dalby can escape the first half of the fight, however, his style is much better suited to winning rounds, and he’s more consistent in terms of pace and conditioning.
In truth, I expect something of a mix of those two possibilities. Oliveira starts strong and eventually fades, prompting a Dalby rally in the last round. However, Oliveira is probably ahead two rounds by that point, making it more of a moral victory for the Danish athlete.
Prediction: Oliveira via decision
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 10:30 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.