This Saturday (Feb. 22, 2020), Final Combating Championship (UFC) travels to Spark Heart in Auckland, New Zealand, for UFC Battle Evening 168. Within the ESPN+-streamed primary occasion, a assured motion struggle between Dan Hooker and Paul Felder is nearly sure to gentle up the world. The 10 fights prior are all deceptively stable matches, prone to each showcase among the native expertise and supply actually entertaining bouts. They’re tough to select and must be enjoyable to observe, so let’s break down some primary card fights!
Keep in mind: Later within the week, Jesse Holland can be again to preview and predict the most important fights of the evening.
Heavyweight: Marcos Rogerio de Lima vs. Ben Sosoli
Greatest Win for Allen? Igor Pokrajac For Sosoli? Kelvin Fitial
Present Streak: De Lima misplaced his final bout, whereas Sosoli enters on the heels of consecutive “No Contests”
X-Issue: Can Sosoli outlast the Brazilian?
How these two match up: We’re getting bizarre proper off the bat, and I’m right here for it.
De Lima is a reasonably hilarious fighter. The opposite Brazilian “Bigfoot” wastes nearly no time in charging at his opponent and heaving energy punches of their normal course. Contained in the Octagon, it’s labored at roughly a 50 % success fee, however “Pezao” appears bored with altering in any respect.
For higher or worse, we all know what to anticipate from Marcos Rogerio de Lima.
Diligent readers might bear in mind Sosoli as, “that man Greg Hardy fought when he took a puff on his inhaler,” and that’s a reasonably correct abstract. In that bout, Sosoli confirmed a good fuel tank for a Heavyweight and a few okay offensive abilities, however the “Fight Wombat” didn’t typically look the a part of an elite athlete.
In brief, de Lima is serving a stable function as gatekeeper to UFC competitors. Can Lima’s opponent hack it contained in the Octagon for quite a lot of fights? In that case, likelihood is he’s additionally one of many fighters in that 50 % who can keep away from the haymaker and beat up de Lima. The massive males who wash out of UFC shortly? De Lima obliterates them.
Sosoli probably has the model to seek out success late, but it surely appears way more seemingly that “Pezao” lands early and sends him packing.
Prediction: De Lima by way of knockout
Ladies’s Strawweight: Yan Xiaonon vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
Greatest Win for Xiaonon? Angel Hill For Kowalkiewicz? Rose Namajuanas
Present Streak: Xiaonon has received 9 straight (4 within the Octagon), whereas Kowalkiewicz has misplaced her final three
X-Issue: Kowalkiewicz’s clinch recreation
How these two match up: There’s equal potential for enjoyable and unhappiness.
Had been it not for Weili Zhang storming up the ladder to all of the sudden declare the title, Xiaonon would seemingly have a bit extra hype behind her as a wonderful Chinese language prospect for future champion. “Fury” throws punches in bunches at a exceptional fee and does for 3 rounds, which is a recipe for fulfillment in lighter weight lessons.
Kowalkiewicz as soon as defeated Namajunas and contended for the title, however she’s fallen on laborious occasions. A well-rounded expertise with a fierce clinch recreation, Kowalkiewicz has simply typically seemed flat in her latest losses, unable to get herself out of second-gear.
With out making an attempt to be outright imply, Kowalkiewicz has been preventing like her foot is midway out the door. I don’t know if it’s a query of accidents or motivation, however “Polish Princess” merely has not been performing to her potential, and it’s left her in a tough place.
Sadly, Xiaonon isn’t any softball opponent. Even when Kowalkiewicz was preventing at her finest, this could be a tricky match up that might require a well-executed recreation plan for her to seek out victory. Both manner, Xiaonon’s quantity and straight punches down the center look like sufficient to take the choice.
Prediction: Xiaonon by way of resolution
Light-weight: Magomed Mustafaev vs. Brad Riddell
Greatest Win for Mustafaev? Rafael Fiziev For Riddell? Jamie Mularkey
Present Streak: Mustafaev returned to the win column final day out with a large spin kick, whereas Riddell picked up a wonderful debut victory
X-Issue: Riddell’s tempo
How these two match up: WAR!
Mustafaev is a wild man. The Dagestani athlete is a severely scary athlete with main energy in his kicks and knees, and — shocker — he can wrestle as nicely. The one black mark in opposition to him has been conditioning, as Mustafaev gassed terribly in opposition to Kevin Lee when unable to safe the early end.
Riddell’s absolute pummeling of Mularkey was one in all 2019’s finest debuts. Representing Metropolis Kickboxing, Riddell confirmed wonderful mixture putting and counters, alongside some large energy and physicality. It was just about the whole lot one might ask for in a debut, which is why he’s acquired such an enormous step up in competitors.
Insane spin kicks apart, Riddell is a way more technical kickboxer than Mustafaev. I’d in all probability say the identical about Fiziev too although, and Mustafaev destroyed him in lower than 90 seconds. Whereas there’s particular potential that Riddell is ready to stand as much as the wild offense of Mustafaev and discover his personal success, he’s not confirmed sufficient in opposition to high-level competitors for me to select it simply but.
It’s asking for bother to select in opposition to both Dagestani athletes or Metropolis Kickboxing fighters proper now, so better of luck betting on this one.
Prediction: Mustafaev by way of knockout
Featherweight: Zubaira Tukhugov vs. Kevin Aguilar
Greatest Win for Tukhugov? Douglas Silva de Andrade For Aguilar? Rick Glenn
Present Streak: Tukhugov went to a draw final day out, whereas Aguilar tasted defeat for the primary time six years
X-Issue: Can Aguilar survive early?
How these two match up: As soon as once more, we’re in for a blood-and-guts brawl.
Tukhugov is a wierd fighter. He’s an unbelievable bodily expertise with wonderful wrestling, however he fights spastically, and his fuel tank suffers for it. On his toes, Tukhugov is simply a mixture of highly effective spin kicks and haymakers thrown collectively — undoubtedly harmful, however not often a technique for successful rounds.
Aguilar has confirmed himself a rattling stable Featherweight in three UFC fights, a real bruiser with actual energy in his palms. Aguilar is a straight up scrapper: comfy main and countering with combos, normally whereas coated in shared blood between him and his opponent.
Tukhugov’s wrestling would possibly simply carry him to a victory, however I don’t belief it. Not like his staff mate Khabib Nurmagomedov, Tukhugov doesn’t excel at controlling opponents after the takedown. He scores an enormous slam, then his foes are likely to pop again up, and he does it once more … the primary few occasions.
Getting uninterested in Aguilar shouldn’t be the way in which. “The Angel of Demise” can be pressured to beat a substantial athleticism gulf, however he has exactly the model to exhaust and punish Tukhugov.
Count on Aguilar to be held down early, however the momentum will shift.
Prediction: Aguilar by way of resolution
Keep in mind that MMAmania.com will ship LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow protection of the whole UFC Battle Evening 168 struggle card this weekend, beginning with the ESPN+“Prelims” which can be scheduled to start at four p.m. ET, then the primary card portion that may also stream on ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET.
To take a look at the most recent and biggest UFC Battle Evening 168: “Felder vs. Hooker” information and notes make sure to hit up our complete occasion archive proper right here.