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This Saturday we’ll have a total of 7 prelim fights that seem to be fit to entertain! We’ll get to see Michael Johnson return after his recent loss, an exciting TUF 17 match up, and a few Swede’s battle for respect in the Octagon. Stay tuned, this card may not be the most stacked but these fights have the promise of being exciting!

Papy Abedi vs. Besam Yousef – We get things started between Abedi and Yousef. Both of these guys came into the UFC with a decent amount of exposure and experience; however, they weren’t able to perform up to expectation as both of them have suffered consecutive losses in the UFC.

Abedi comes with a Judo background, and a fair share of KO’; he’s heavy handed, and he is very explosive. Across the cage will be the Swede, Besam Yousef. Yousef has won the majority of his bouts by submissions and is feared on the mat. However, his opponents have been able to outstrike him and exploit his weakness on the feet. Expect Abedi to be calm and collected like he usually is, and ready to explode on Yousef on the feet. Besam has shown that he is very passive when fighting, he’s not very aggressive as he takes his time to find an opportunity. I think Abedi and Yousef will both be patient, but eventually Abedi will strike first, and hard, and finish Yousef in the first round.

Papy Abedia via 1st Rd TKO

Michael Kuiper vs. Tom Lawlor

Next up is an exciting middleweight bout against two dangerous fighters. Kuiper is coming off of an impressive second round finish over Jared Hamman, while Lawlor is looking to rebound after his split decision loss to Francis Carmont at UFC 154. The big thing that sticks out in this fight is the fact that Kuiper is a finisher as he has finished his opponent 11 out of his 12 victories while Lawlor has gone the distance twice so far in his UFC career. Kuiper possesses great grappling skills as he has an impressive Judo background, including a purple belt in BJJ. Although Kuiper may have a highly credentialed grappling game, he has won the majority of his bouts by (T)KO, so look for Kuiper to be dangerous in both areas.

On the other end, Lawlor brings experience and grit, along with a solid skill-set centered around wrestling and submissions. I think this bout will come down to who can set the pace first. I believe Lawlor to be the more aggressive fighter and better-conditioned, but Kuiper’s skillset is versatile and dangerous. Expect Lawlor to be the one pressing the action, but it’ll be Kuipers dangerous hands combined with his clinch techniques to rough Lawlor up for the better of three rounds as he edges Lawlor in the scorecards. This would only be Kuiper’s second career decision, but Lawlor is tough as nails and dangerous in his own right.

Michael Kuiper via Unanimous Decision

Ben Alloway vs. Ryan LaFlare

Australian Ultimate Fighter competitor Ben Alloway will be taking on Ring of Combat standout and undefeated MMA fighter Ryan LaFlare in a welterweight showdown. Alloway was impressive on the show, upsetting Valentino Petrescu and knocking him out despite losing later to Brad Scott by split decision. Then, Alloway showcased himself impressively by winning Knockout of the Night Awards when he front kick KO’d Manny Rodriguez in the TUF finale card. On the other side, UFC newcomer Ryan LaFlare brings an impressive 7-0 record; finishing all of his opponents by either submission or (T)KO.

Expect these two to put up a great fight. Not much is known about LaFlare, but he’s had good experience fighting in Ring of Combat his whole career. It wouldn’t be shocking if LaFlare came out aggressively, looking for something to prove. However, he’ll have to be cautious of Alloway’s power. He may not seem like the power punching type, but he’s definitely got KO power. Alloway has been known to struggle a bit on the ground, so if LaFlare wants to take Alloway out of his element he’ll have to take him down to the mat.

I predict that Alloway will be looking to counter strike LaFlare, and will get the better of him on the feet; but expect LaFlare to be smart and take the fight to the ground. From there, LaFlare should have the advantage as all of Alloway’s losses are by submission. However, Alloway is very experienced and could very well have a much tighter ground game since we last saw him. I’m taking Alloway by split decision as he edges LaFlare on the feet, and then fends for himself enough in the grappling department to notch LaFlare on scorecards in what should be a very exciting bout.

Ben Alloway via Split Decision

Marcus Brimage vs. Conor McGregor

One of the more highly expected bouts in the prelims; the “Bama Beast” returns to the Octagon since upsetting Jimy Hettes last November to battle top ranked UK fighter Conor McGregor who has racked up 11 knockouts in a total of 12 victories. Conor is well known in Europe and his UFC debut is anticipated highly, but so is Marcus Brimage’s return to the Octagon.

In Brimage’s bout against Jimy Hettes, Brimage showcased heavy hands as well as brute strength to stifle the grappling game of Jimy Hettes. McGregor is a standout on the feet, so look for Brimage to try and utilize some takedowns. However, by doing that, he’s making himself vulnerable. Brimage has been known to have questionable cardio and isn’t the one to try and grapple his opponents. Look for Brimage to try his luck standing with McGregor and find out he is outmatched. However, will he be able to do anything about? I don’t think Brimage’s wrestling skills and brute strength will be enough to hold off McGregor’s stand up attack as Conor takes his time until the second or third round to put the “Bama Beast” away.

Conor McGregor via 3rd Rd TKO

Chris Spang vs. Adlan Amagov

Swedish striking stand out Chris Spang will take on Greg Jackson’s Chechen stand out Adlan Amagov. Both of these guys have showcased good striking throughout their career, however the aspect that Amagov brings is a better grappling background. Spang has a professional boxing background, and has won 3 of his 5 MMA victories by knockout or TKO. Spang is dangerous on his feet, but his inexperience and lack of grappling could cost him this debut against Adlan Amagov. Amagov is a NAGA gold medalist and despite not having any MMA victories by submission. Amagov isn’t the one to finish guys on the mat, but rather grind them and maintain position. Ontop of his grappling, Amagov has several victories by TKO or KO.

Coming from Greg Jackson’s, one can expect Amagov will come in with a gameplan against Spang; one could guess it’ll be to take him down. That’s what I predict, however Spang is extremely dangerous on the feet. If Amagov chooses to stand up with Spang, he could very well get caught and taken out; however Amagov needs to time his takedowns right. From there, he should have no problem keeping Spang on the mat. If Spang comes out ready with solid takedown defense and an urgency to pull the trigger with power strikes, he could very well land something big on Amagov; but if Amagov’s stand up is enough to make Spang think, then expect Amagov to get necessary takedowns to win the decision.

Adlan Amagov via Unanimous Decision

Tor Troeng vs. Adam Cella

Another anticipated bout for the prelims. Both of these guys have recently been seen fighting in TUF season 17 under coaches Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen. Both of these fighters lost their first fights in the house. Adam Cella was pitted against the infamous Uriah Hall and was victim to one of the “nastiest knockouts in TUF history, let alone MMA history”. Troeng on the other hand was knocked out as well, against fellow TUF standout Josh Samman. While both fighters were known for their losses, I think Cella had the tougher fight in Uriah Hall and performed the best; atleast landing a few punches on Hall and pushing him back. I think if Cella brings the same aggressiveness against Troeng as he did against Hall, he has a very good shot at winning. Troeng has been known to start slow and not have a very fast tempo in the cage, this is something Cella could easily exploit and I think he will.

I’m picking Cella for the upset here. Troeng is outstanding on the mat, but I think Cella will come in with a quick tempo, and land shots on him right away. Troeng didn’t seem to have the best striking defense, so Cella could push right through and tee off on Troeng in the first round. Bank it; Cella for the upset.

Adam Cella via 1st Rd TKO

Michael Johnson vs. Reza Madadi

Set to headline this card’s prelims is an exciting lightweight match up between TUF competitor and rising contender Michael Johnson against Iranian grappler Reza Madadi who fights out of Stockhold, Sweden. In this bout, both of these guys are coming off of losses. Michael Johnson was last upset by Myles Jury. Although before that, Johnson was on an impressive 3 fight win streak including a KO over Danny Castillo. Reza on the other is coming off of a split decision loss to grappling ace Cristiano Marcello. Before that, Reza was on a 7 fight win streak including victories over Carlo Prater, Rich Clementi, and Yoislandy Izquierdo.

For this bout, it will come down to Michael Johnson’s grappling defense. Madadi is very sneak on the ground, and I believe is well-versed enough on the feet to not get caught by Johnson’s nasty KO power. Madadi is quick, calculated, and dangerous on the mat so Johnson needs to be real careful during scrambles. Unfortunately for Johnson, he is prone to getting caught in bad positions during scrambles. He was outscrambled by Jonathan Brookins to lose his shot at being the TUF winner, and was outworked by Myles Jury in similar fashion. I think Johnson will be able to threaten Madadi on the feet, but I don’t think he’ll be to score any big shots on him; the threat will be there, but that will just force Madadi into being even more careful when attempting to get the fight to the mat. Expect Madadi to take Johnson to the mat, and when Johnson tries to use his explosiveness to escape, Madadi will exploit his lack of defense and catch him with a submission in the second stanza.

Reza Madadi via 2nd Rd Submission.

That’s all for the prelim analysis. Stay tuned for the main card! Thanks for reading friends.