The UFC heads to Manila for a Fight Night card that features a “Superfight” between Frankie Edgar and Urijah Faber. Edgar is the former UFC lightweight champ, while Faber has never lost a fight that was not for a title. So who’s it going to be: The Answer or The California Kid? Let’s break it down.
Two Tournaments with $20,000 Guaranteed in Each!
Frankie Edgar ($11200) vs Urijah Faber ($8300)
Edgar vs. Faber is quite a gift to the fans. Two of the best fighters to ever step foot in The Octagon go to war in the main event. But Edgar is a different breed. He’s never been finished. His chin is legendary. His cardio is exceptional. And his wrestling is amazing. Faber is a great fighter, but I see Edgar imposing his will with his wrestling and beating up Urijah with some vicious ground and pound. I don’t see how Faber beats Frankie in any facet. Edgar will finish him in the later rounds.
Pick: Edgar by KO/TKO
Gegard Mousasi ($11700) vs Costas Philippou ($7700)
This is my lock of the night. Mousasi can win anywhere the fight goes, and he’s hard to hit. He puts out a solid volume of strikes, averaging 3.41 SLpM (Strikes Landed per Minute) and an underrated ground game. Philippou will have a puncher’s chance, but I see this being similar to when Mousasi fought Ilir Latifi two years ago — it will be all Mousasi. Mousasi’s salary is high, but I will try to fit him in every tourney I join. Mousasi will finish this, it’s just a matter of where. Look for Mousasi to score around 120 points.
Pick: Mousasi by KO/TKO
Luke Barnatt ($10300) vs Mark Munoz ($9100)
Mark Munoz is in a really bad stretch having lost four of his last five fights, all of them finishes. Even some of his peers have called for him to retire. But “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” looks to end his skid against Luke Barnatt, who will be looking for one thing in this fight: a finish. Barnatt has been on the losing end of back-to-back split decisions, the first two losses of his career. He will attack early and often. Munoz is surprisingly ineffective at takedowns for a wrestler, and Barnatt excels at takedown defense, turning away 82% of those attempts. So it will remain standing, where the 6’6″ Barnatt holds significant height and reach advantage. Unless he walks into a right hand, Barnatt will finish this within two rounds.
Pick: Barnatt by KO/TKO
Hyun Gyu Lim ($9600) vs Neil Magny ($9800)
Neil Magny cracked the UFC welterweight rankings recently, moving up to #15. A win here over Lim and he’ll start to get top-10 opponents. Magny can win anywhere the fight goes. He’s won six in a row and has three finishes in his last four fights. While Lim is a game opponent with fierce power, Magny can match his output and also holds an advantage on the ground. That’s where I think the fight will be won — Magny pounding away on Lim from top position. Lim throws a high volume of strikes though, so if it goes the distance he could still score a decent amount of points. But I see Magny with the TKO come round 3.
Pick: Magny by KO/TKO
Yui Chul Nam ($10500) vs Philippe Nover ($8900)
Philppe Nover was once a much-heralded prospect in the UFC, but flamed out rather quickly. He makes his return against Nam, his first UFC fight in over five years. Nam, aka “The Korean Bulldozer,” is going to push the pace early and often. He threw 100 strikes in the first round of his UFC debut against Kazuki Tokudome, winning that fight via split decision. He was taken down three times in that bout, so he’ll need to clean that up against Nover. Nover does have five submission wins in his career, but did not complete a takedown in any of his previous UFC fights. This should be more of a brawl than a fight and I think that favors Nam.
Pick: Nam by decision
Mark Eddiva ($10600) vs Levan Makashvili ($8800)
Eddiva has the home crowd edge as well as a bit more experience than Makashvili with two fights in the UFC, while Makashvili will be making his UFC debut. The disparity in salaries in interesting here, as there really is nothing to state that Eddiva is that much better than Makashvili. Eddiva certainly impressed in his debut against Jumabieke Tuerxun, but then got KO’d against Kevin Souza last May. Souza held a massive reach advantage in that bout, something that Eddiva won’t have to deal with against Makashvili. Eddiva is deceptively quick with his striking and he is very diverse in what he throws. This one will be close, but I think Eddiva will win by decision. Whether he scores enough points to justify his $10,600 salary is another question, and this is a fight I will be staying away from because of that.
Pick: Eddiva by decision
Jon Tuck ($10200) vs Tae Hyun Bang ($9200)
Tae Hyun Bang loves to bang. And he’s pretty good at it. He has 9 KO wins, one of them in his last fight against Kajan Johnson last June. Tuck is considered to be well-rounded, but he absorbs strikes at the rate of 4.22 per minute, definitely on the high side. When your opponent is capable of throwing bombs and your defense isn’t all that sharp, it can’t be long before you hit the deck. Bang will end this one with a big punch, and one of the best bargains of the night at $9200.
Pick: Bang by KO/TKO
Zhang Lipeng ($9500) vs Kajan Johnson ($9900)
Statistically, there isn’t much to rave about with Lipeng. He’s a low-volume striker that scores some takedowns, but only at a 28% accuracy clip. His record of 9-8 would speak to that as well. Johnson was KO’d in his last fight and also suffered one of the most gruesome KOs in TUF history when Chad Laprise broke his jaw on TUF Nations. Lipeng isn’t known for his power though, and Johnson has the superior skill set. It might not be the most exciting fight on the card but it is one Johnson should win.
Pick: Johnson by decision
Jingliang Li ($8800) vs Dhiego Lima ($10600)
We’ve yet to see the best Dhiego Lima in the UFC, as his 1-2 record in The Octagon would attest, But you can throw out the loss to Eddie Gordon, as Lima dropped weight classes after that. He was KO’d in his last fight against Tim Means, but many still think Lima will be a bonafide UFC fighter. Li is just 1-1 in UFC fights, both split decisions. Both fighters produce a solid output of strikes, but Lima also averages a whopping 4.87 takedowns per 15 minutes. Lima will get Li to the ground, and I expect a performance from him similar to the one in his only UFC win against Jorge Antonio Cezario de Oliveira — a lot of takedowns, heavy pressure and sub attempts. Li will survive but Lima takes it on points.
Pick: Lima by decision
Guangyou Ning ($9300) vs Royston Wee ($10100)
Wee is undefeated at 4-0 with two wins in the UFC. He landed a total of nine takedowns in those two fights and was able to advance and pass a remarkable 13 times. Clearly his ground game is his strength. Ning will be giving up both height and reach advantage, and but he also has a solid grappling game. Neither fighter throws a lot of strikes, and the conventional wisdom is that both fighters likely to be bottom of the roster fighters. But fights like this can surprise you, even if they don’t look all that hot on paper. I like Wee based on his ability to score takedowns and the likelihood of him landing more strikes. Neither fighter will be in any of my lineups, but my pick is Wee by decision.
Pick: Wee by decision
Sangcha-an ($8900) vs Jon Delos Reyes ($10500)
Everything here points to a Delos Reyes win. He has height and reach advatages and averages more strikes and takedowns than Sangcha-an, albeit in a small sample size. Still, Delos Reyes is also the better athlete with more power. The bad news is he has been finished in his two UFC fights, so the pressure is definitely on. He’ll likely need to win to keep his job. Sangcha-an lost to Richie Vaculik last June and needs to prove he can hang with UFC-level fighters. That won’t happen in this fight. Delos Reyes will edge out Sangcha-an in what should be a very close fight.
Pick: Delos Reyes by decision
Yao Zhikui ($8700) vs Nolan Ticman ($10700)
Both fighters have just one UFC fight each, but it’s Ticman who draws praise and a lot of hype. He’s actually been compared to Wanderlei Silva for his viciousness and desire to stand in the pocket and go to war. In his fight against Frankie Saenz, Ticman was muscled around some and held against the cage. That fight was at 135 but Ticman is making the move down to flyweight where presumably he will have an edge in strength. Zhikui is just 1-2 in his pro career. This looks to be a “Stand and Bang” affair and that will favor Ticman. I’m sniffing an early KO for the Kings MMA fighter.
Pick: Ticman by KO/TKO