Well Camel Clutch readers it’s been a long and painful couple of weeks where we’ve been without the UFC, but it’s all about to come to a halt. This weekend, for the first time in nearly two months people will throw down inside of the UFC’s famed octagon. The UFC travels to Sweden for the first time ever for UFC on FUEL TV this weekend, from the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm.
Headlined by an exciting Light Heavyweight tilt between top prospect and local fighter Alexander Gustafsson and the returning from suspension Thiago Silva this card offers a number of intriguing bouts. Middleweight crusher and former war hero Brian Stann takes on the always entertaining Italian slugger Alessio Sakara in what is sure to be a Fight of the Night contender. Brazilian Special Forces cop and part-time UFC superstar Paulo Thiago will welcome the debuting violence machine known as Siyar Bahadurzada. In Featherweight action German kick boxer Dennis Siver will make the drop to 145 pounds for the first time to battle Brazilian Diego Nunes. Rounding out the main televised card are bouts between former TUF-alumni DaMarques Johnson taking on England’s John Maguire and a Bantamweight scrap sure to deliver fireworks between Brad Pickett and Damacio Page.
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Jason Young vs. Eric Wisely
Jason “Shotgun” Young is an English fighter from South East, London. Young is a member of the Team Titan Gym based out of London. Young is basically a slugger who loves to stand and trade with his opponents. He fought Dustin Poirier in his UFC debut and was basically supposed to be walked through, but surprised many people when he fought effectively against the larger fighter and nearly stole a close decision. Young is a strong striker, but like many of his British counterparts, struggles when the fight hits the mat, and is very uncomfortable fighting from his back, as proven in his bout against Michihiro Omigawa. Young has a pro record of 8-5, but is 0-2 in the UFC and likely needs a win to stay employed.
Analysis and Prediction: Young’s stand up is very good, that much is true and he will definitely hold an edge in the striking department. However, the fact remains that his ground game is almost non-existent. Unless he has made significant improvements in that area, he’ll struggle in this bout. Wisely knows where his strengths lie and that’s on the mat. He’ll be able to wade through the early exchanges until he hits a double leg takedown and puts Young on his back. From there it’s academic as Wisely submits the Brit in the first. Eric Wisely via Submission in Round One
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Welterweight Bout: Simeon Thoresen vs. Besam Yousef
Simeon “The Grin” Thoresen is a Norwegian fighter from Sandejford, Norway. He currently trains out of the Hellboy MMA Gym in Oslo, Norway under the world renowned Joachim “Hellboy” Hansen. Thoresen initially started his training in Karate and Thai Boxing, but when he first arrived in an MMA gym, was absolutely handled by a BJJ expert. He has since devoted most of his training to his grappling skills and has adapted well. He is able to use his lanky frame well on the ground has earned an impressive 88% of his bouts by Submission. While standing he uses his height well to fight at a distance, but when the fight hits the mat is when he really kicks it into high gear and pressures his opponents into making mistakes on the mat. He owns a professional fighting record of 16-2-1.
Besam Yousef is a Syrian born fighter, who now lives and trains in Stockholm, Sweden. He will likely have the hometown crowd on his side, as he will be the first Swedish fighter to hit the octagon in the night. Yousef is a grappling based fighter who admittedly has rather limited stand up. He is undefeated as a professional fighter with a record of 6-0 and has stopped all but one of his opponents, but he will be facing a significant step up in competition against Thoresen.
Analysis and Prediction: Thoresen is a significant step up in competition for Yousef and he’s basically better in every area that the fight can take place. While Thoresen has looked a bit chinny in the past, Yousef doesn’t have the skills to exploit that and on the mat, Thoresen is mentored by one of the best in Joachim Hansen so it’s not a good look no matter where this fight goes. Expect Thoresen to dominate all areas of this bout before finally rocking Yousef and pounding out a stoppage in the first. Simeon Thoresen via TKO in Round One
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Lightweight Bout: Reza Madadi vs. Yoislandy Izquierdo
Reza “Mad Dog” Madadi is an Iranian born fighter who now resides and trains in Stockholm, Sweden. He began training wrestling at the age of ten and continued that training until he took up MMA at the age of 26. Now 31 he has turned himself into a very well rounded fighter as most wrestlers who take up the sport do. His stand up is constantly improving and he throws with decent power in both of his hands. He also has a quality submission game when the fight hits the mat as well as a natural aggressiveness where he constantly pressures his opponents, which should earn him some new fans inside the octagon. Madadi owns a professional record of 11-2 and has earned his last three victories against three UFC veterans (Rich Clementi, Carlo Prater and Junie Browning.)
Yoislandy “Cuba” Izquierdo is a Cuban fighter, making one wonder who really helped him pick out that nickname. Since beginning his MMA career he has transitioned himself to the Young Tigers MMA Gym in Hialeah, Florida. Izquierdo is a strong striker with a flashy style and tons of power in both his punches and kicks, however, he is a fairly one-dimensional fighter who has looked very uncomfortable on the mat at any time his fights have gone there. Nonetheless he owns a professional record of 6-0, with 4 stoppage victories.
Analysis and Prediction: Izquierdo is an excellent striker with a flashy style, unfortunately that’s about the whole of his skillset. His ground game is very subpar and Madadi’s biggest strength is his grappling. If Izquierdo can’t hit something big off the start, he’s going to be in trouble. Expect Madadi to earn a double leg takedown work some ground and pound before forcing Izquierdo to give up his back and sinking in a rear naked choke. Reza Madadi via Submission in Round One
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Middleweight Bout: Francis Carmont vs. Magnus Cedenblad
Francis “Limitless” Carmont is a French fighter from Paris, France. Carmont has recently began splitting his time training both at home in France as well as at the famed Tristar Gym in Montreal, Quebec, Canada where he trains regularly with Georges St. Pierre. He stands 6’3” and has proven to be very good at using his height and range well in his fights. He is a strong striker who can be absolutely ruthless from the outside, using leg kicks and body kicks as well as a strong jab to keep his opponents off balance. Training at the Tristar Gym has helped him in two ways, firstly he is well-rounded and doesn’t seem to fear going to the ground, despite not seeing him go there very often and he also has the game planning of coach Firas Zahabi which has worked well for him so far. Carmont owns a professional record of 17-7, but is riding a six fight-winning streak.
Magnus “Jycken” Cedenblad is a thirty-year-old fighter from Stockholm, Sweden. He is a member of the Pancrase Gym in Stockholm. After losing the first two bouts of his career he has since gone 10-1, with only one bout going to a decision. Admittedly I’ve (as well as a few other reporters and analysts) have found it difficult to find any real footage of Cedenblad, so I’m not really too sure what he’s good or bad at. With 6 (T)KO’s on his record and three submissions, I would assume he’s an aggressive finisher, but his resume lacks any real big names or notable victories. Still he holds a record of 10-3 with an impressive 9 stoppages, so that has to count for something.
Analysis and Prediction: Like mentioned earlier, I haven’t seen a whole lot of footage on Cedenblad so it’s hard for me to give an accurate prediction here. Carmont did look impressive as hell in his last fight against Chris Camozzi though. He was basically able to completely neutralize Camozzi and beat him up for three rounds, and Camozzi is certainly no pushover. That alone makes me think Carmont has the ability to punish Cedenblad for three rounds. Francis Carmont via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Light Heavyweight Bout: Cyrille Diabate vs. Tom DeBlass
Cyrille “The Snake” Diabate is a French fighter born in La Celle-Saint Cloud, France. Diabate is a former shoot boxing and Muay Thai champion Kick boxer. Diabate has fought for a number of notable MMA organizations including PRIDE FC, ShoXC, DEEP, Cage Rage and Palace Fighting Championships. At 6’6” Diabate is one of the tallest fighters in the Light Heavyweight division and with his 81.5-inch reach, he holds a notable reach advantage over anyone in the division not named Jon Jones. Diabate is an excellent striker who uses his height and range very well but is somewhat mediocre when the fight hits the mat. Still he is a very experienced fighter with a dangerous skillset and a career record of 17-8-1.
Tom DeBlass is a short notice replacement for this bout, but brings an impressive resume with him. He will be making his UFC debut in this bout, but is a well-respected fighter who enters the bout undefeated as a professional fighter. DeBlass is a 29-year-old fighter from New Brunswick, New Jersey. He is a BJJ and grappling expert trained under former UFC fighter Ricardo Almeida at the Almeida Jiu Jitsu Gym in Hamilton NJ. DeBlass is an excellent grappler with decent striking, but which is used sparingly in order to close the distance and work for clinches and opportunities to drag his opponents to the mat. His career record is 7-0.
Analysis and Prediction: Diabate holds a number of edges in this bout. He stands 8 inches taller and has a significant reach advantage. He is also the better striker and is very effective at fighting to his height and using his natural advantages to keep his opponents at bay. Unfortunately for him, DeBlass has him outclassed completely on the ground. DeBlass’ stand up is serviceable enough to get inside against Diabate. From there DeBlass should be able to shoot a double leg and control the bout from there. I expect he’ll eventually catch Diabate in some kind of submission in the second round, but any time spent striking needlessly will serve only to give Diabate the chance to knock him out. Nonetheless, I like DeBlass by submission. Tom DeBlass via Submission in Round Two
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Welterweight Bout: Papy Abedi vs. James Head
Papy “Makambo” Abedi is a 33-year-old fighter from Zaire, Africa who has transplanted himself to Stockholm, Sweden. He is a lifelong Judo practitioner, having started training in Judo at the age of 7, he currently holds a brown belt in Judo. Abedi is down right nasty inside the clinch, at 5’11” he has a very compact frame, and he is able to generate a ton of power in his punches. Also, once in close he is able to use his Judo skills to pull off a number of impressive Judo throws and takedowns. From there he uses aggressive ground and pound to hammer away and punish his opponents, constantly searching for a stoppage victory. He holds a career record of 8-1, and his only career loss came in his UFC debut to Thiago Alves.
James Head is an American fighter from Highland, Illinois. He is a Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai fighter who trains out of the Lovato Jiu Jitsu Gym in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Head is also a former amateur boxing, having worked in the sweet science for six years. Head holds an impressive victory over former UFC fighter Gerald Harris that earned him an invitation to the UFC. Unfortunately in his debut, he failed to impressive and was thoroughly dominated for two and a half rounds by Nick Ring before submitting to a rear naked choke. After that loss Head has decided to make the drop to the Welterweight division and this will be his debut at 170-pounds. Head holds a career record of 7-2.
Analysis and Prediction: I’m always weary of banking on fighters who are making their first weight cut, especially when they are coming off of a loss, as Head is. Abedi also recently dropped to Welterweight and showed signs of fatigue in his UFC debut, so he’s a bit of a concern as well. Either way, Head looked awful in his bout against Nick Ring and managed almost no offense in the bout. Ring is definitely not a world-beater at 185-pounds and Abedi has a similar skillset, so it looks bleak for Head. Expect Abedi to land a textbook Judo throw and begin to reign down hammer fists that eventually seal up a TKO victory. Papy Abedi via TKO in Round One
Main Card (FUEL TV): Bantamweight Bout: Brad Pickett vs. Damacio Page
Brad “One Punch” Pickett is a British fighter from London, England. Despite his English heritage Pickett actually trains stateside with the American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. Pickett is mostly an aggressive, high-pressure striker who prefers to throw a plethora of punches at his opponents. Pickett is mostly a boxer, focusing on using his hands in tight combinations, as opposed to using a more varied attack with both kicks and punches. Pickett is also an excellent counter-puncher whose background in boxing has afforded him the ability to quickly figure out what his opponents are doing and prepare a counter-attack for what they bring to the table. Pickett owns a career record of 20-6.
Damacio “The Angel of Death” Page owns one of the best nicknames in all of MMA and is also a very talented and sometimes underrated fighter. He is a member of the Greg Jackson camp training out of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Page is a very well rounded fighter, with underrated grappling skills. Despite those skills though, he prefers to stand and trade with most of his opponents, as he’s never one to back down from a brawl. Page throws a dangerous mix of punches including a massive overhand right that can end nearly any fighter’s night. Page also has an excellent chin, as he’s never been stopped by strikes in his entire career. He holds a professional record of 12-6.
Analysis and Prediction: This is a closer fight than some are accounting for, mainly because of the styles clash of these two, as well as the fact that both have insane power for Bantamweights. Pickett I think is a bit more composed inside the Octagon while Page is always a haymaker or two away from entering into brawler mode. Given his better ability to counter-punch and his higher fight IQ I like Pickett to win this one. He’s also got a couple of more options in the toolbox I think, which could also swing the bout in his favor, either way, this one will be very entertaining. Brad Pickett via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (FUEL TV): Welterweight Bout: DaMarques Johnson vs. John Maguire
DaMarques “The Darkness” Johnson is an American fighter from West Jordan, Utah. He is a former cast member of the Ultimate Fighter: USA vs. UK season. Johnson now trains out of the Elite Performance Gym in Sandy, Utah. Johnson is a decent boxer who has good defense and can throw solid combinations as well as mixing in leg kicks as well as high kicks to keep his opponents guessing. He’s also got a very long reach for a Welterweight (75 inches) and is able to use his lengthy frame and limbs very well on the mat, where he is very good at creating scrambles and submission opportunities. Johnson owns a career record of 16-9.
John “The One” Maguire is an English fighter from Peterborough, England. He is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and is an excellent grappler with fairly decent takedowns. Maguire trains out of the Tsunami Gym in Cambridge, England. Though his striking skills are not top shelf, he is able to use his striking to close the distance effectively and work for either takedowns, or force his opponents into a clinch, where he can be very dangerous. Maguire is a very creative grappler who can seamlessly transition from submission to submission without blinking an eye. Against a number of opponents he has simply overwhelmed them with submission attempts on the mat, forcing them to think about nothing but defending the submissions and not giving them time or room to try and reverse positions or get back to their feet. Maguire owns a professional MMA record of 17-3.
Analysis and Prediction: Maguire was starched in the first round of his last fight with Justin Edwards, being absolutely rocked and nearly finished. He managed to come back well and dominate the latter half of the fight, but he’ll need to be careful against a striker with as much power as Johnson. Despite training Jiu Jitsu for a number of years, Johnson’s ground game isn’t anything impressive and Maguire will certainly hold a significant edge there. If he is able to drag this bout to the ground, he’ll likely be able to simply overwhelm and control Johnson until he finds an opening for a submission. Still this is a very close bout and Johnson represents a significant step up in competition for Maguire, but I still think if he can get by the opening striking salvo from Johnson, he can earn a submission in the first. John Maguire via Submission in Round One
Main Card (FUEL TV): Featherweight Bout: Dennis Siver vs. Diego Nunes
Dennis “The Menace” Siver is a Russian born fighter, who now trains out of Mannheim, Germany. Siver is an excellent striker who has a background in kickboxing and Tae Kwan Do. This will be his first bout at the Featherweight limit of 145 pounds. Siver is somewhat short and compact, which allows him to generate a lot of power in his strikes. He also has a lot of flash and flare, owning multiple TKO victories via Spinning Back Fist as well as having dangerous body and head kicks. Siver has a career record of 19-8.
Diego “The Gun” Nunes is a Brazilian fighter from Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. He is a member of the famed Nova Uniao camp from Brazil. Nunes is a strong and patient kick boxer who is able to counter well using both well-timed kicks, punches and knees. Nunes also owns a strong Jiu Jitsu game, with a number of his career victories coming from submissions. Nunes is very well rounded and in his last bout against Manny Gamburyan he looked impressive at fending off the takedown and keeping the fight upright. However, against Siver he’ll be facing a completely different type of fighter. Nunes owns a career record of 17-2.
Analysis and Prediction: Nunes did look good in his last bout against Gamburyan, but Siver is a completely different kind of fighter. Like mentioned earlier I’m always nervous taking fighters who are dropping a weight class after a loss, much like Siver is. However, he has the body type to make the drop, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be easy. He relies on a punch heavy offense, so if he struggles with the weight cut he’ll be in trouble here. If he handles the cut well, he should be able to simply out strike Nunes by volume. Dennis Siver via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (FUEL TV): Welterweight Bout: Paulo Thiago vs. Siyar Bahadurzada
Paulo Thiago is a 31-year-old fighter from Brazil. What is possibly most impressive about Thiago’s run in the UFC is that he is still not a full-time fighter. Thiago is a member of the Brazilian Special Forces Police Unit and continues to do that, even as he continues his career in the UFC. Thiago is a member of the Constrictor Fight Team and is a black belt in both Judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who favors the ground game. On the feet however Thiago is a very capable striker. He is a solid counter puncher who is able to control the distance well and remains calm even under pressure. Thiago holds a professional record of 14-3.
Siyar “The Killer” Bahadurzada is a fighter from Kabul, Afghanistan. Despite his Afghan heritage, he is a Dutch national who now trains out of the Golden Glory Gym in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Bahadurzada is a veteran of the Shooto and United Glory promotions. Bahadurzada is an absolute nightmare for anyone to handle in the striking department, he fights at an absolutely frenetic pace and looks like a bezerker or crack when standing. He throws massive power punches relentlessly, and despite leaving himself susceptible to counters, he relies on his strong chin to keep him in the fight. Bahadurzada owns a professional record of 20-4.
Analysis and Prediction: A lot of people are counting out Bahadurzada in this fight. It’s true that Paulo Thiago is an extremely difficult draw for a debut fight, but I think that speaks to the talent of Bahadurzada. Thiago holds the advantage on the ground and will likely be able to exploit Bahadurzada on the mat if the bout is there for an extended period. However, looking back at Thiago’s bout against Diego Sanchez one can see the game plan for Bahadurzada. Sanchez was constantly pressuring forward and threw everything he could at Thiago and simply overwhelmed him and outworked him en-route to a decision. UPSET ALERT: I think Bahadurzada can do the same. Siyar Bahadurzada via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (FUEL TV): Middleweight Bout: Brian Stann vs. Alessio Sakara
Brian “The All American” Stann is a former US Marine turned MMA fighter and is one of the UFC’s best media assets and ambassadors. Stann started his career at Light Heavyweight and even won the WEC Light Heavyweight title. Since dropping to Middleweight however, he was rolling with three straight victories but his hype train was recently de-railed by Chael Sonnen who dominated Stann on the ground. Stann is a member of Greg Jackson’s MMA team and is a strong striker who packs massive power in both hands. He still struggles on the mat, despite his strong grappling based camp, luckily enough for him, he won’t need to worry about being taken down in this fight. Stann’s career record is 11-4.
Alessio “Legionarius” Sakara is an Italian fighter from Rome, Italy. He is a former professional boxer and was a former World Junior Boxing Contender. Sakara actually has an impressive grappling credential, owning a black belt in BJJ under Roberto Almeida, however, he is mostly a striker, preferring to stand and trade with his opponents, using tight boxing combinations and counter punching. However, on the ground Sakara is positionally aware, and is often able to avoid trouble most of the time, but rarely is able to create offense from the bottom. Instead he uses his Jiu Jitsu skills to neutralize his opponent’s offense and tries to get back to his feet as opposed to searching for submissions. Sakara now trains in the USA with the American Top Team in Miami, Florida. He owns a career record of 15-8 with 1 No Contest.
Analysis and Prediction: One thing that is concerning about Sakara is that this is his first fight since March of last year after suffering a knee injury. Both of these fighters like to stand and bang and both have big power that could end this fight at any second, so this is a definite contender for Fight of the Night honors. Stann used to be more of a brawler, one that would surely have been picked apart by the tight compact boxing and counter-punching skills of Sakara. However, since his drop to Middleweight he has been able to change his game around for the better.
In his last bout against Chael Sonnen he showed that he still has some flaws with his ground game and his wrestling, but Sakara is not coming to exploit those flaws. Instead this is going to come down to a battle between two strikers. Sakara despite his pro-level boxing experience some times abandons his footwork and defense when the pace gets quick or the fight drags on, while Stann is smart and composed and has the cardio to fight for a full three rounds. Sakara has fast hands and can do damage if Stann isn’t smart, but it’s hard to see a scene where Stann allows himself to get overwhelmed by Sakara. The other problem for Sakara is that he’s been rocked by lesser strikers than Stann, he’s shown himself to be chinny in the past. The likely outcome here is that Stann connects with something that hurts Sakara and puts his defenses down, after that Stann rushes in with another big flurry to stop the Italian. Brian Stann via TKO in Round Two
Main Event (FUEL TV): Light Heavyweight Bout: Alexander Gustafsson vs. Thiago Silva
Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson is a 25-year-old fighter from Arboga, Sweden. He is one of the UFC’s top prospects at Light Heavyweight and is one of the strongest strikers in the division. Gustafsson at 6’5” has one of the longer reaches in the division and has the skills to fight well at a distance. Gustafsson has been training boxing since he was ten years old and his composure in the pocket shows how strong his knowledge of the sweet science really is. Gustafsson is a decent and fairly capable grappler with a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Gustafsson currently splits his time between the Stockholm Shoot Gym in Sweden and the Alliance MMA Gym in California. Gustafsson has been making great strides and improvements in his last few bouts, overcoming some of the stronger wrestlers in the division. Gustafsson has a career record of 13-1, with his lone loss coming to Phil Davis.
Analysis and Prediction: Silva will present a far different style match up than what Gustafsson has seen in his last few bouts. It will also be interesting to see how Silva deals with the yearlong layoff. He hasn’t been injured, so one has to assume that he’s at least been training and working out, but it’s hard to determine exactly what he’s done over the year. Despite Silva’s skills on the mat, he often chooses to ignore his strongest assets and instead gets himself into brawls, where he opens himself to be out-struck and out-worked by superior grapplers, much like what happened for the first two rounds of his bout against Rashad Evans. However, when he actually works his bouts to the mat, he is an absolutely ruthless fighter, delivering aggressive ground and pound and actively working at passing the guard of his opponents.
Gustafsson on the other hand has proven to be a refreshing talent for such a young fighter. He continues to improve at a rapid pace mainly due to his training with Phil Davis at Alliance MMA. After losing to Davis in their bout, Gustafsson switched camps to train with Davis and has continued to improve since the switch. His stand up is crisp and his footwork and takedown defense are excellent. He understands how to use feints and angles to create openings in his opponent’s defense.
I expect Thiago to come out guns blazing and put the pressure on Gustafsson early. He might rattle him up a bit, but Gustafsson has the skills and confidence to stay calm under pressure. He handles the early adversity before turning it on in the latter half of the first round and cruises from there. I think his ability to fight well at a range and his improving wrestling skills help to carry him to a closer than expected but ultimately unanimous decision. Alexander Gustafsson via Unanimous Decision