Fresh off the successful debut of Women scrapping inside the UFC octagon, the UFC is bringing another weekend of free fights. The octagon returns to the land of the rising sun for UFC on Fuel TV: Silva vs. Stann live from the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. The main event of the evening features a Light Heavyweight bout between two Middleweight brawlers who decided they didn’t want to cut weight for this fight as Wanderlei Silva battles Brian Stann.
The rest of the main card features a number of Japanese and Korean fighters for the local flavor, as is the norm for overseas events. The card also promises a lot of potential excitement and there are a couple of bouts which could move fighters ever closer to title shots in their respective divisions. In the co-main event Heavyweights do battle as Stefan “The Skyscraper” Struve battles former PRIDE FC fan favorite Mark Hunt. Former PRIDE Lightweight Champion Takanori Gomi battles Diego Sanchez in Lightweight action. In Middleweight action former Bellator Middleweight Champion Hector Lombard battles perennial Middleweight contender Yushin Okami. Let’s not waste any more time, let’s jump right into the fights.
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Welterweight Bout: Marcelo Guimaraes vs. Hyun Gyu Lim
Marcelo “Magrao” Guimaraes is a 29-year-old fighter from Itapemirim, Brazil. Guimaraes is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who is a member of the Fight Society Team in Vila Velha, Brazil. He holds a professional record of 8-0-1. Hyun “The Ace” Gyu Lim is a 28-year-old fighter from South Korea. Lim is a member of Korean Top Team in Seoul, South Korea. He holds a professional record of 10-3-1.
Quick Pick: Hyun Gyu Lim via TKO in Round Two
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: Alex Caceres vs. Kyung Ho Kang
Quick Pick: Alex Caceres via Split Decision
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Lightweight Bout: Cristiano Marcello vs. Kazuki Tokudome
Cristiano Marcello is a 35-year-old fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He was a cast member on the live season of The Ultimate Fighter. Marcello is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt who trains with the Chute Boxe Academy in Brazil and is a part time BJJ coach for the Team Alpha Male Gym. Marcello holds a career record of 13-4. Kazuki Tokudome is a 25-year-old fighter from Tokyo, Japan. Tokudome is a member of the Paraestra Hachioji Dojo in Tokyo. He holds a career record of 11-3.
Quick Pick: Kazuki Tokudome via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: Takeya Mizugaki vs. Bryan Caraway
Takeya Mizugaki is a 29-year-old Japanese fighter from Ibaragi, Japan. Mizugaki is a member of the Shooting Gym Hakkei Dojo in Kanagawa, Japan. Mizugaki is a former WEC Bantamweight title challenger, who holds a professional record of 16-7-2. Bryan “Kid Lightning” Caraway is a 28-year-old fighter from Yakima, Washington. Caraway was a cast member on the fourteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter who trains with the Team Alpha Male Gym in California. Caraway holds a professional record of 17-5.
Quick Pick: Takeya Mizugaki via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Middleweight Bout: Riki Fukuda vs. Brad Tavares
Riki “Killer Bee” Fukuda is a 32-year-old fighter from Gifu, Japan. He is a member of the Kiguchi Dojo in Tokyo, Japan but is currently training with the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California. Fukuda holds a career record of 19-6. Brad Tavares is a 25-year-old fighter from Kailua, Hawaii. He was a cast member on the 11th season of The Ultimate Fighter who now trains with the Team Tomkins Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada as well as the Xtreme Couture Gym in Nevada. He holds a career record of 9-1.
Quick Pick: Brad Tavares via Split Decision
Main Card (Fuel TV): Welterweight Bout: Dong Hyun Kim vs. Siyar Bahadurzada
“The Stun Gun” Dong Hyun Kim is a 31-year-old fighter from Suwon, South Korea. Kim has fought for a number of major Asian MMA promotions including DEEP and Spirit MC. Kim is a black belt in Judo at the 4th dan level. He trains in Busan, South Korea as a member of the Busan Team M.A.D. Gym. Kim uses his Judo skills to take his opponents down often and is smothering from top control. At 6’1” Kim is a fairly large Welterweight who cuts a lot of weight to make 170 pounds and uses his size and strength well in his fights. He holds a career record of 16-2-1 with 1 No Contest.
Siyar “The Great” Bahadurzada is a 28-year-old fighter from Kabul, Afghanistan. A former Light Heavyweight fighter, he has shed a lot of weight to transform himself into a Welterweight. Bahadurzada is a talented striker who has a strong background in kickboxing. He has trained with a number of top flight gyms across the globe including Golden Glory in the Netherlands, the Blackzillians in Florida as well as the Reign Training Center in California. Bahadurzada also packs a ton of power in his punches with 11 TKO victories, but is better rounded than he is often credited for and holds an additional 6 victories via submission. Overall his professional record stands at 21-4-1.
Analysis and Prediction: Bahadurzada made his UFC debut in April of 2012, nearly a year ago. Since then a number of injuries have kept him out of action. He does his best work when he can strike from a distance. Kim’s specialty is crowding and suffocating his opponents. He will need to close the distance early and often, keeping his chin covered until he can get his hands on Bahadurzada. Bahadurzada’s game relies a lot on timing and I think he’ll take some time to get into his rhythm, unfortunately that also gives Kim time to get into his rhythm. I expect Kim survives the odd scare but otherwise smothers him en-route to a decision victory. Dong Hyun Kim via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (Fuel TV): Featherweight Bout: Mizuto Hirota vs. Rani Yahya
Mizuto “Pugnus” Hirota is a 31-year-old fighter from Nagasaki, Japan. Hirota is a former World Victory Road Lightweight Champion and a former DEEP Lightweight Champion. Hirota is a member of the Cave Dojo in Tokyo, Japan. Hirota is a tough and well-rounded fighter who does his best work by using takedowns and ground and pound to control his opponents. However, in one of his most notable bouts against Shinya Aoki he looked nearly helpless off of his back and was eventually gruesomely injured due to a Hammerlock. Hirota holds a professional record of 14-5-1.
Rani Yahya is a 28-year-old Brazilian fighter from Brasilia, Brazil. Yahya is a former winner of the Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling Championships. Yahya is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt who does his best work on the mat. He is a member of the Constrictor Team training in his hometown of Brasilia. Yahya has been improving his striking skills, but he’s still a bit wild and uses his skills mostly as a means to close the distance and drag his opponents to the ground. He holds a career record of 17-7, including 15 victories via Submission.
Analysis and Prediction: Yahya is absolutely dangerous on the ground and while Hirota is no slouch on the mat, he’s not great off of his back. Hirota was embarrassed by Shinya Aoki and was most recently outwrestled by Pat Healy. He’ll need to stay off his back if he wants to have any chance in this fight. If Yahya can keep his striking fairly basic and keep himself out of trouble on the feet while he closes the distance he stands a decent chance of earning a submission. I just don’t think Hirota has the ability to keep Yahya off of him. Rani Yahya via Submission in Round Two
Main Card (Fuel TV): Middleweight Bout: Yushin Okami vs. Hector Lombard
Yushin “Thunder” Okami is a 31-year-old fighter from Kanagawa, Japan. Okami like many of his fellow countrymen in MMA holds a black belt in Judo. Okami trains with the Wajyutsu Keisyukai Dojo in his hometown in Japan, but also trains in the US with Chael Sonnen at Team Quest in Oregon. Okami is a massive Middleweight fighter with a smothering top control game who was a former Middleweight title challenger. Okami’s striking has been improving steadily and he puts basic boxing combinations together well, but his game plans still revolve mostly around taking his opponents down and controlling them on the mat. His size, physical strength and Judo background make him a dangerous fighter from the clinch. He holds a career record of 28-7.
Hector “Lightning” Lombard is a 35-year-old fighter from Matanzas, Cuba. Lombard like his opponent holds a black belt in Judo and competed in the Olympics in Judo representing his home country of Cuba. Lombard also holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but is best known for his powerful striking and knockout power. Lombard is a member of the American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. Lombard is also a former Bellator Middleweight Champion. He holds a career record of 32-3-1 with 1 No Contest.
Analysis and Prediction: Make all the jokes you want about Thunder battling Lightning in this bout, but this bout is very intriguing. Both men are excellent practitioners of Judo and the clinch and ground battle between these two men could be top level. Okami has been knocked out in the past, so many people are leaning towards a Lombard knockout victory. However, Okami is a massive Middleweight, while Lombard has a short and stocky frame that could be better suited to 170-pounds. Okami uses his size and reach advantages en-route to an Okami-like decision victory. Yushin Okami via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (Fuel TV): Lightweight Bout: Takanori Gomi vs. Diego Sanchez
Takanori “The Fireball Kid” Gomi is a 34-year-old fighter from Kanagawa, Japan. Gomi is a former Shooto Welterweight Champion and was the only ever Pride Lightweight Champion. During his time in Pride, he was regarded as the best Lightweight on the fighter, but his stock has dropped significantly since joining the UFC. However, in his last bout against Mac Danzig he showed an improved game and an increased well roundedness. Gomi trains with the Kugayama Rascal Gym in Tokyo. He holds a career record of 34-8 with 1 No Contest.
Diego “The Nightmare/The Dream” Sanchez is a 31-year-old fighter from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Sanchez was a cast member and the eventual Middleweight winner of The Ultimate Fighter Season One. Sanchez is a member of Greg Jackson’s camp in New Mexico. He holds a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and a black belt in Gaidojutsu. Sanchez is a tough, well-rounded fighter who is unfortunately better known as an oddball than his considerable fighting talent. Sanchez is a tough fighter who has never been stopped by strikes, with the exception of a TKO via cut against BJ Penn. Sanchez is also well known for getting involved in brawls and being extremely aggressive, having won the Fight of the Night bonus award six times in his UFC career. He holds a professional record of 23-5.
Analysis and Prediction: Gomi looked much improved during his last bout against Mac Danzig but he’s still a step or two behind his days in Pride. Sanchez is extremely aggressive, very durable and constantly pressures his opponents. Gomi has shown cardio issues in the past and that’s likely going to be his downfall in this one. Even if he lands a big shot when Sanchez gets reckless, he’ll have a tough time turning his lights out completely. Sanchez grinds Gomi throughout the first two rounds, tiring him out before earning a stoppage via Submission in the third. Diego Sanchez via Submission in Round Three
Main Card (Fuel TV): Heavyweight Bout: Mark Hunt vs. Stefan Struve
Mark “The Super Samoan” Hunt is a 38-year-old fighter from South Aukland, New Zealand. Hunt is a former Super Heavyweight fighter who has gotten himself in considerably better shape than early in his career. Hunt is a former K-1 Kick boxer who was the winner of the 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix Tournament. Now living in New South Wales, Australia he trains with the American Top Team in the USA. Hunt is known for his big time punching power and his iron chin, being able to take massive amounts of punishment during his bouts. Hunt holds a career MMA record of 8-7.
Stefan “The Skyscraper” Struve is a 25-year-old fighter from Beverwijk, Netherlands. Struve is a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but his extremely long limbs make him very dangerous on the mat. Struve is extremely tall and at nearly 7’0” he is the tallest fighter in the UFC. Struve is a pupil of Bob Schreiber and trains with Team Schreiber in his hometown. At only 25-years-old he is finally beginning to grow into his massive body and has put on a significant amount of weight and muscle mass in his more recent fights. Struve is also beginning to fight more to his size, using his extreme length and reach to pepper his opponents with stiff jabs from the outside and using thudding leg kicks. He holds a career record of 25-5.
Analysis and Prediction: Struve seems to have one weakness that has been glaring throughout his career, a glass jaw (his three losses in the UFC are all via TKO or KO.) Hunt seems tailor made to exploit that weakness, unfortunately, that’s his only chance of winning. Hunt is a subpar grappler and if Struve gets this fight to the ground, it’s likely that he’ll be able to lock in a submission against a fairly helpless Hunt. The biggest struggle for Struve will be safely closing the distance to work the fight to the ground. If he keeps his hands up and uses leg kicks to slow Hunt down and chop him down to size, he should be able to find the opening he needs to work the fight to the ground. From there it’s academic. Stefan Struve via Submission in Round One
Main Card (Fuel TV): Light Heavyweight Bout: Wanderlei Silva vs. Brian Stann
Brian “The All-American” Stann is a 32-year-old American fighter from Pennsylvania, although he was actually born on an Air Base in Tokyo, Japan. Stann is a former US Marine who has been awarded the Silver Star. Stann is a former WEC Light Heavyweight Champion who now fights at Middleweight, but is taking on Silva in a “one-off” bout at 205-pounds. Stann is a black belt in MCMAP (Marine Corps Martial Arts Program) and a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He trains with Greg Jackson’s Camp in New Mexico. Stann is a powerful striker with knockout power in his hands, who has been improving his technical proficiency to match his power punching abilities. He holds a career record of 12-5 with 9 victories via Knockout.
Analysis and Prediction: This bout being contested at 205 pounds makes things slightly more interesting. Stann is a big time power puncher at Middleweight and giving him an extra 20 pounds of force should only enhance those power shots. Silva on the other hand is a more diversified striker who likely has more tools in his toolbox. Silva has struggled against power punchers in his recent career having been stopped by strikes or rocked and dazed in many of his bouts.
Stann struggled in his most recent bout against Michael Bisping who used a measured approach to striking to beat Stann to the punch with a strong jab and good use of takedowns. It’s unlikely however that Silva will try such an approach. The more likely outcome is that he tries to rush Stann, which could be a problem for the Brazilian, since Stann is a decent counter puncher who only needs one big shot to land to turn the tide of the fight. Silva has fought at 205 pounds in the past, as has Stann but of the two, Stann is probably going to be better suited to pack on the additional 20 pounds.
Silva’s best chance is to use a well-rounded strategy similar to the one that Bisping employed against Stann. Stann has struggled on the ground in the past and although Silva’s wrestling isn’t great, his BJJ is significantly underrated and he could actually submit Stann on the ground. However, the nostalgia of fighting in Japan could be detrimental to Silva. With his fans cheering him on, I think he might be more likely to engage in a wild, reckless, brawl. That kind of fight favors Stann who packs more power, has a better chin and will be more prepared to react with a counter punching style. Brian Stann via TKO in Round Three