WATCH: TOMMY TOE HOLD – UFC ON FOX 22
Fresh off an amazing UFC 206 event, the world’s top MMA promotion is back with another offering this weekend as UFC on FOX 22 goes down Saturday night at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. The UFC has put together a really fun night of fights, one that will feature the final fight of Sacramento’s own Urijah Faber.
Here are the top five things to watch for at UFC on FOX 22.
VanZant Fights Waterson
One of the UFC’s most popular fighters returns as Paige VanZant ($8,300) takes on Michelle Waterson ($7,900) in a women’s strawweight bout that serves as the main event. VanZant, who is 22, is one of the UFC’s brightest young stars. VanZant is 4-1 in the UFC and in her last fight she knocked out Bec Rawlings with a flying front kick. VanZant is talented everywhere, with solid striking, a dynamic ground game and an endless gas tank, and considering how young she is, has all the time in the world to make another run up the women’s strawweight ladder after a submission loss to Rose Namajunas last year.
Waterson, a former Invicta FC champion, is 30 and is 1-0 in the UFC. She has not competed since July 2015 due to injuries, which means she may experience some ring rust in her return. Waterson has a lot of high-level experience and is a well-rounded fighter. That being said, despite only being 30, she has dealt with a lot of injuries in her career and that’s a huge concern going forward as she looks to make her mark in the UFC.
Analysis: I like VanZant quite a bit here. Her youth and cardio are two huge advantages in this fight, and the longer it goes, the more it favors her. I think VanZant can finish this fight, so $8,300 seems like a good price.
Battle Of Welterweight Prospects
The co-main event is a battle of welterweight prospects with huge potential in the sport as Mickey Gall ($8,200) faces Sage Northcutt ($8,000). Gall, who is 24, is 3-0 in his young MMA career including a 2-0 mark in the UFC with two first-round submissions, including a notable victory over CM Punk in his last fight. Gall is known for his dangerous ground game, with all three of his wins coming by tap out, but he hasn’t really fought anyone of note, and it remains to be seen how he will fare once he steps up in competition.
At just 20 years of age, Northcutt has risen quickly to stardom in the MMA world, as he’s gone 3-1 in the UFC with a pair of finishes. However, a submission loss to Bryan Barberena earlier this year was quite shocking and has made many reconsider if Northcutt is truly a future contender. But still, he’s only 20, which can’t be stated enough, and with his athleticism and skillset, the sky is still the limit for him.
Analysis: This is a tough fight to call as both fighters don’t have much of a track record. I lean towards Gall here but wouldn’t be surprised if Northcutt won, so it really could go either way.
Faber Fights In Retirement Bout
One of MMA’s legends fights for one final time in his hometown of Sacramento as Urijah Faber ($9,600) faces Brad Pickett ($6,000) in a bantamweight bout. Faber, who is 37 and the loser of three of his last four fights, is 9-6 in the UFC. The former WEC featherweight champion is a pioneer of the lighter weight classes, and the sport will miss him when he’s gone. He’s making the right choice to step away as he has clearly lost a step and doesn’t need to take much more damage. But before he goes, he will fight one more time in front of his fans in Sacramento, and you know “The California Kid” will be looking to end his storied career on a high note.
Pickett, meanwhile, is 38 and has openly talked about retirement as well, though he hopes to fight Faber and then get one more bout in his native London, England next March before hanging up his gloves for good. Pickett, one of only two men to defeat Demetrious Johnson, is 5-7 in the UFC and has lost four of his last five fights. He’s still an incredibly-exciting fighter to watch compete, but his chin isn’t holding up anymore. A fighter who was once known for his iron chin is now getting rocked and badly hurt nearly every time we see him fight, which explains his own retirement talk.
Analysis: Faber should win this fight, but I think he’ll win it by decision and I don’t like the price tag. On the other side, I think Pickett might be a shrewd underdog pick here at such a cheap price to fill out your team.
Perry Takes on Jouban
An exciting welterweight matchup kicks off the main card as Mike Perry ($8,500) takes on Alan Jouban ($7,700). Perry has really taken the MMA world by storm as the 25-year-old is 9-0 as a professional with all nine wins coming via knockout. Armed with huge punching power and an iron chin, Perry is 2-0 in the UFC with two incredible knockout wins and looks to be on the path of a serious contender at 170lbs.
Jouban, meanwhile, is 5-2 in the UFC with three knockout wins. He is a late starter in MMA as he’s already 35-years-old but only started competing as a pro five years ago. He has clearly made up for lost time as he’s quickly become one of the welterweight division’s most exciting fighters, one who is known for his powerful striking and non-stop motor.
Analysis: Perry has finished all of his fights and is 10-years younger than Jouban, who has shown signs of decline in recent fights. I’ll look for Perry to take it to Jouban and get a knockout win. I think he’s a good pick at $8,500.
Aldana Makes UFC Debut
On the prelims, a top women’s bantamweight prospect makes her long-awaited UFC debut when Irene Aldana ($9,100) fights Leslie Smith ($7,100). Aldana, who is from Mexico, was a standout in Invicta FC where she went 4-1 with four stoppage victories. All told, she’s 7-2 in her MMA career with all seven wins coming by stoppage, though she herself has been finished twice. The 28-year-old is one of the most powerful punchers at 135lbs and the UFC made a nice move scooping her up and giving her a chance in the big leagues.
Smith, on the other hand, is a veteran of the Octagon, having gone 2-3 in five UFC bouts. Smith, who is 34, holds an 8-7-1 MMA record which isn’t great, but she has experience fighting some of the best female fighters in the world in the UFC, Bellator and Invicta FC. Smith is known for her toughness and durability, as well as her volume striking attack that lends itself to exciting fights.
Analysis: Aldana is arguably the top female bantamweight prospect at the moment, while Smith is on her way out. I’m looking for Aldana to batter Smith and get a TKO stoppage in this one. I think she is worth spending $9,100 on.
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