This Saturday the UFC is hosting their first show in Maine. They managed to put together solid main and co-main events amidst a rather mediocre main card overall, with a couple of big fights on the prelim card. The UFC will always struggle with the prospect of oversaturation, and I would argue that this card is a product of that exact issue.
The main event will feature Ryan Bader and Ovince St. Preux battling to see who will leap forward in the top 10 of the light heavyweight division. Bader and OSP are both coming off of wins from the main card of UFC 174, where Bader defeated Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante in a dominant unanimous decision, and OSP defeated Ryan Jimmo when Jimmo suffered a broken arm in the second round. Bader, a former wrestling standout, has been in the UFC since winning the Ultimate Fighter Season 8 in 2008, and has consistently hovered around the bottom of the top 10 in the past few years. OSP made his way to the UFC when Strikeforce was purchased. He had a strong run in Strikfeforce winning 6 of his 7 fights in, his only loss at the hands of former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi. St. Preux is 4-0 in the UFC with 3 finishes, 2 of those coming in the first round. OSP has an athletic background with fewer wrestling credentials than Bader, but with both fighters preferring to look for the knockout that might not factor in. Bader only looks to use his wrestling when he is threatened on the feet, and while he has great power his technical flaws have been exploited many times. Bader has a tendency to make small mistakes in big fights, and pay dearly for those mistakes, losing to Jon Jones, Tito Ortiz, Lyoto Machida and Glover Teixeira when he has been on the brink of making a big jump forward in the division, showing a questionable chin on top of his small technical striking errors in the process. OSP has shown a ton of potential in his 4 fight UFC stint so far, he has the athleticism, patience and power to exploit Bader's weaknesses once again, and I see it coming by way of knockout within the first round.
The co-main event will feature Ross Pearson facing Gray Maynard to determine which fighter will overcome their losses and move forward in the lightweight division. Maynard is currently only 3 fights out of a lightweight title shot against Frankie Edgar back in 2011, but that title shot and 2 of his 3 fights since have been losses, all by knockout, and it is only logical to question what kind of shot Maynard will be able to take against Pearson. Pearson is at a clear disadvantage in the wrestling department, but he likes to strike and has shown that he can find the (T)KO against his opponents. He stopped Ryan Couture and George Sotiropoulos before earning a no-contest, due to a cut, against Melvin Guillard, and battering Diego Sanchez badly en route to a clearly wrong split decision. Pearson knows he has to avoid the takedown and look to tag Maynard, and Maynard knows he needs to avoid taking punches and grind out a decision against Pearson. With 15 minutes to tag Maynard, I think stylistically this favors Pearson, who will find his opening with time, and I think it will happen in the first round.
Tim Boetsch is facing Brad Tavares in a main card bout to see who can keep their spot in the UFC middleweight rankings list. Boetsch was on a tear in 2012 after beating Yushin Okami by way of a comeback TKO, and earning a decision against former Bellator middleweight champion, Hector Lombard. Boetsch had his 4 fight winning streak snapped by Costas Philippou, and has been 1-3 since. Boetsch has a top heavy, wrestling based grinding style that may not always please fans, but it is hard to deal with and he is not afraid to take chances. Tavares was on a 5 fight winning streak of his own before losing a lopsided decision to Yoel Romero, when he was dominated by Romero’s wrestling. Tavares owns only 1 finish in the UFC, has never been finished, and has his hands full with Boetsch’s grinding style. I don’t see a stoppage in this fight, I see a long 15 minutes of Boetsch on top landing some shots while Tavares tries to scramble out, the exchanges on the feet can go either way, but I see Boetsch getting his hand raised.
Seth Baczynski will battle Alan Jouban in a questionable welterweight fight on the main card, where Baczynski will look to come back from his most recent loss to beat the newcomer Jouban. Baczynski is 1-3 in his last 4, losing 1 of those fights by knockout, and will need a win to keep his spot on the roster. Newcomer Jouban, a former runway model, will likely get another fight in the UFC regardless of the outcome, but will need to win this fight to give himself some job security. Not knowing much about Jouban, and in my hesitation to bet against a newcomer facing a veteran, I saw that Jouban has a TKO from body shots on his record. Baczynski is definately the toughest test that Jouban has ever faced, and if I saw that TKO on his record there is no doubt that Baczynski has done his research as well. I think that Baczynski will be crafty and use body shots across the course of the fight to hurt Jouban, force him to drop his hands, opening up his head, and he will get a TKO in the third round. Octagon jitters will only make it easier for Baczynski to beat Jouban.
Shawn Jordan will face Jack May in the thin heavyweight division in a "loser leaves town" bout that almost guarantees a finish. Jordan is on a two fight losing streak, dropping his last 2 fights in first round TKO losses to Gabriel Gonzaga and Matt Mitrione. May was undefeated before coming to the UFC and dropped his first fight to Derrick Lewis due to a first round TKO. Jordan has faced a far higher level of opposition consistently in his fighting career thus far, having 7 wins in the UFC, Strikeforce or Bellator, which is ironically the same number of wins that May has in smaller promotions. With both fighters owning the majority of their wins by TKO or KO, and a major experience advantage for Jordan, I can’t justify picking against him, despite evidence of a weak chin from his past two fights. I think Jordan will get the TKO over May in the first round, and will secure his job in the effort.
The opening bout on the main card is a featherweight tilt featuring Thiago Tavares dropping down from featherweight for the first time to face Robbie Peralta. Tavares was 3-1 in his last 4 at lightweight, with his lone loss coming from top 5 lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov, and he won his last outing against Justin Salas via first round rear naked choke. Peralta is on a two fight winning streak since dropping a decision to Akira Corassani and failing a post-fight drug test for marijuana. Tavares owns 12 submissions to his record, Peralta owns 13 knockouts to his record, and while the drop in weight for Tavares could be a major factor in the outcome of this fight, it is clear that neither fighter likes to go to decision. It is unlikely that Tavares will feel at home at featherweight right away, since dropping extra weight is certainly a big change to encounter before a fight, but I do think the size advantage he will likely carry will give him the advantage in the fight overall, and he will win a decision over Peralta with superior control.
The "main event" of the prelims, is a fight that should be on the main card. The winner between top 10 ranked opponents, Jussier Formiga and Zach Makovski, will likely leap into the discussion as a top contender or a flyweight title fight. Flyweights don’t finish fights very often, and with two fighters in the top 10 this fight is unlikely to end before the final bell, but it is guaranteed to be a fast paced, technical, and most likely exciting battle. The UFC made a big error in putting an exciting fight with top 10 ranked fighters on the prelims, especially in a weight division that needs notoriety. I see this fight in favor of Makovski, who will use his wrestling to punish Formiga on top while avoiding Formiga's Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and I see Makovski winning the exchanges on the feet as well.
The most questionable placement of any fight on this card has to be the fight between Sara McMann, coming off a loss to women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, facing off against undefeated debuting prospect Lauren Murphy. Murphy has a strong resume with 6 TKO’s to her 8 wins. McMann was also undefeated before losing to Ronda Rousey, in a somewhat controversial stoppage, was an olympic silver medalist in wrestling, and without a similar level of expertise in a grappling art, Murphy will likely struggle in this fight. I think McMann will have a big fire lit under her after suffering the first loss of her career against Ronda Rousey, and I think after an early takedown she will land some vicious ground and pound to finish the fight early in the first round.
What are your thoughts about UFC Fight Night 47, set to air on Fox Sports 1 and 2 August 16, 2014? Please comment below with any ideas and feedback.