I mean it was a 50/50 night in terms of predictions, but it hurt me inside.
One of my favorite prospects and LHW bruiser Michal Oleksiejczuk ended up being choked out by the infamous OSP choke, while headliner Jack Hermansson was knocked out by ferocious G&P from the Killa Gorilla.
The latter actually shakes things up nicely in the Middleweight division. Jack Hermansson still has a brutal arsenal and great skills, but Cannonier showed up in a major way. He showed he has more than just brute power, going after the lead leg of Hermansson along with demonstrating great fight IQ and avoiding the threat of the mat against the superior grappler. He is quickly becoming one of the top prospects at Middleweight.
This week, we have a long-awaited match to unify the Middleweight title between streaking sensation and interim belt holder Israel Adesanya and one of my personal favorite fighters, the Reaper himself, Robert Whittaker.
Khalid Taha vs. Bruno Silva (BW)
German bruiser Khalid Taha (13-2, 1-1 UFC) had a disappointing debut, but quickly made it up by knocking out Contender Series prospect Boston Salmon inside the first round. Taha is a power striker with 9 knockouts on his record, mainly due to his stout 5’5 frame. Taha does have poor defense in almost every key area, however, able to be out volumed as well as nearly no skill on the ground.
Debuting Bruno “Bulldog” Silva (10-3), not to be confused with powerful Middleweight Bruno “Blindado” Silva, has been fighting at Flyweight for a good while before his UFC debut. He is well-rounded with some good submission skills as well as numerous high-octane striking. His weaknesses are really in his fight IQ, not exploiting his opponents’ one dimensional games.
I should have more confidence in Silva. His ground game and striking style could cause serious problems for Taha if the fight should go the distance. The issue is that Silva often takes the path his opponent leans into. Along with that, he is one of the few Bantamweights smaller than Taha and will open himself up to many opportunities for the latter’s power shot to come in handy.
Take the Shot: Khalid Taha via Round 1 Knockout
Callan Potter vs. Maki Pitolo (WW)
Callan Potter (17-8, 0-1 UFC) is basically on his UFC debut. His first and only Octagon fight lasted a whole 53 seconds when he was finished by Jalin Turner. Potter is a kill or be killed tyope of fighter with a dangerous offensive game, especially on the ground, but is extremely susceptible to any type of specialist. The biggest problem is really his striking. He doesn’t have enough volume or power, in addition to having a horrible chin.
That makes this almost a setup fight for Maki Pitolo (11-4), who recently earned a contract off this season of the Contender Series. “Coconut Bombz” has incredible power and durability, and uses his range amazingly, floating in and out of his striking points. He isn’t lost if he can’t get the knockout and also has three wins by sub, but it is a rough one if you’re trying to eat Maki’s power shots.
This is Pitolo all day. Potter has been getting KO’d by Lightweights for the longest time, so now he’s hopping up to Welterweight because he learned nothing from The Tragedy of Luke Rockhold. Even if Potter can somehow get this fight to the ground, Pitolo has some skill there and Potter isn’t enough of a BJJ expert to close the show there.
Take the Shot: Maki Pitolo via Round 2 Knockout
Brad Riddell vs. Jamie Mullarkey (LW)
We’re opening up our night with a fearsome double debut.
New Zealand kickboxing icon Brad Riddell (6-1) trains out of City Kickboxing with UFC Flyweight Kai Kara-France. In addition, he took part in Tiger Muay Thai’s program and holds a knockout win over Bantamweight Kenan Song, who recently claimed victory in China. Riddell has incredible striking and is dangerous on the feet with solid power, but some of his ground game is still unexplored.
Jamie Mullarkey (12-2) is definitely the more well-rounded fighter. He has some good wrestling and nice submissions to pad his resume, but he still is mainly a striker. He doesn’t have the most power in his striking, instead leaning on more of a Muay Thai base and using elbows or G&P to get the finish.
In striking, both the technical and power advantage goes to Riddell. He has the more developed game and much more dangerous striking. The ground skills of Mullarkey make it a bit more complex, but he is still a striker at heart so I imagine he will try to stand and bang.
Take the Shot: Brad Riddell via Round 3 Knockout
This may look undersized at first, but there are some fire matchups here we can certainly make some money off of!
Stay tuned for the prelims picks and main card soon to follow!