Bringing us one of the stranger main events in recent memory, UFC Fight Night 108 features 13 fights at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.
Can Mike Perry bounce back from his first career loss? Will John Dodson restart his run to the top of the bantamweight division? Can Ovince Saint Preux avoid a four-fight losing streak? Is Al Iaquinta going to be plagued by ring rust? Does Artem Lobov stand a chance against Cub Swanson?
We try and answer these questions in our latest set of predictions.
- Schnell def. Sandoval via submission
- Barberena def. Proctor via decision
- Dandois def. Davis via decision
- Penne def. Taylor via decision
- Holtzman def. McBride via TKO
- Moreno def. Ortiz via submission
- Leites def. Alvey via decision
Jake Ellenberger vs. Mike Perry
We can’t deny that Jake Ellenberger has seen better days. Despite a phenomenal comeback against Matt Brown last July, “The Juggernaut” is still just 2-6 in his last eight fights. He’s no longer the consistently explosive fighter he once was, and that may pay dividends for Mike Perry Saturday.
Suffering his first career loss to Alan Jouban last time out, Perry proved he can be stifled by longer, rangier strikers who can wrestle a bit. Ellenberger is only one of those things — the latter. But despite being able to out-grapple the 25-year-old Florida fighter, Ellenberger has shown he can get lost in a firefight from time to time.
Prediction: Perry def. Ellenberger via TKO
Joe Lauzon vs. Stevie Ray
The latest passing of the guard-type fight for Joe Lauzon, he may actually make way for his younger counterpart this time around.
Though Lauzon is a capable striker and Stevie Ray can likely hold his own on the ground, we can reduce this bout to striker versus grappler. Ray knows he’s the better striker and expects Lauzon to take the fight to the ground sooner rather than later. He’s expectedly confident in all areas of his game but should be wary of welcoming a ground exchange with somebody who thrives in the chaos of the scramble.
Prediction: Ray def. Lauzon via decision
John Dodson vs. Eddie Wineland
Through just two fights into his return to the bantamweight division, John Dodson has proven two things: He’s still capable of knocking bigger men out and he’s very capable of following a strict game plan. The second of those earned him a decision loss to John Lineker, who went on to face T.J. Dillashaw in a title eliminator at UFC 207 last December. He’ll need to impose a combination of both approaches if he’s to defeat Eddie Wineland this weekend.
Wineland has seen a stellar resurgence over the past two fights, stopping Frankie Saenz and Takeya Mizugaki in what were his only fights of 2016. A dangerous striker in his own right, he’s likely not the more effective stand-up artist in this fight. That goes to Dodson, who relies on his speed and explosiveness to carry him to victory.
The 32-year-old Wineland likely knows he needs to fight tall in order to win this bout, but Dodson’s had a knack for getting opponents to fall into his trap plenty of times before.
Prediction: Dodson def. Wineland via TKO
Ovince Saint Preux vs. Rogerio de Lima
Ovince Saint Preux is not an elite fighter. Four of his previous five opponents have gone to great lengths to prove as much. Luckily for him, he’s not fighting an elite contender at UFC Fight Night 108. He’s getting Rogerio de Lima.
Saint Preux has proven to be a capable knockout artist but has consistently reminded us how far he still has to go before he can be considered a high-level striker. In essence: He gets hit too much. He’s also not crafty enough in any other area of MMA to balance that out. He’s athletic, sure, but he’s not a competent-enough grappler or wrestler to close any of his other gaps.
De Lima, an unranked contender in the light heavyweight division, faces the No. 8 man in the class. We’d often cast the unranked fighter’s chances aside given those circumstances, but not here. Not with what knockout power de Lima possesses.
Prediction: De Lima def. Saint Preux via TKO
Al Iaquinta vs. Diego Sanchez
Here’s a bit of a conundrum. On the one hand, we can be certain that Al Iaquinta is a much better fighter than Diego Sanchez in 2017. He’s younger, less worn and has a more equipped set of skills than the former Ultimate Fighter 1 winner.
Then again, Iaquinta hasn’t competed in two years due because of injuries and a contract dispute with the UFC. Ring rust may be a myth to a lot of fighters, but we can’t ever really discount the sort of effect a long layoff has had on some of the best combat artists on the planet.
Sanchez has competed four times since the last time Iaquinta fought, going 2-2 along the way. The issue for Sanchez is he hasn’t shown any sort of progression over the years. He’s still the type of fighter to bite down and charge forward, all while hoping for the best, most entertaining outcome.
Iaquinta has always proven to be more than that.
Prediction: Iaquinta def. Sanchez via decision
Cub Swanson vs. Artem Lobov
Don’t let the “puncher’s chance” talk fool you. This is a contest between the UFC’s No. 4-ranked featherweight contender and a guy with a 2-2 record against unranked opponents in the promotion. Artem Lobov talked his way into a matchup with an elite fighter like Cub Swanson, and odds are, he’ll wind up paying for it.
Swanson is one of the more well-rounded fighters you’ll find in the division, boasting a wealth of skills in his boxing and submission grappling. He’s only lost three times in 12 tries while a member of the UFC. Those defeats came against former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, current interim featherweight champion Max Holloway and former featherweight title contender Ricardo Lamas. He’s been on the outside looking in of the UFC title scene for a majority of his career inside the Octagon, but even that’s much further along than where Lobov stands at the moment.
Lobov is undoubtedly a strong puncher, but a 5-inch reach disadvantage will likely cost him dearly against an elite fighter like Swanson.
Prediction: Swanson def. Lobov via TKO