Picks of the Prelims
Ian Garry vs Jordan Williams
Debuting fighter against the winless prospect. A tale as old as the UFC itself. There are those who are at the level required to fight in the UFC and those who can truly compete in the UFC. Williams will have potentially his last shot to prove he can compete. Dana and his matchmakers must see something special in Jordan Williams considering he was given 3 fights on the Dana White Contender Series before he was pushed through.But here we are, losses to a potential star in Nassourdine Imavov, and a true UFC talent in Mickey Gall with another potential star ready to hit him with a supernova.
There really isn’t any one point that Williams is extremely weak at, he has lost his fights in the UFC because he just has not been up to the caliber of his opponents. This lack of high caliber shots should realistically extend into the Ian Garry fight. Garry is coming into the UFC at 23, Undefeated at 7-0, having competed in western Europe’s leading promotion (Cage Warriors) for each and every one of his professional bouts. Garry won the Cage Warriors Welterweight title by way of a unanimous decision following a 25-minute fight with Euro veteran Jack Grant; this should give him confidence in his gas tank if he can drag the fight past the 1st round.
Prediction: Garry by Unanimous Decision
Edmen Shahbazyan vs Nassourdine Imavov
While on the topic of potential stars. Shahbazyan who is 23and started his UFC career 4-0 following his one off DWCS win, is now on a 2-fight skid. He is matched up 25-year-oldDagestan, Russia born Frenchman Imavov. Both are elite strikers who are still relatively fresh in their UFC careers. This could mean we are in for one of 3 scenarios. Firstly, we may see a striking clinic with each trading back and forth for all 3 rounds. The reasoning behind this possibility is that they both hover around the 50% mark in strike accuracy and defense, this paired with the fact that they both absorb over 2 significant strikes a minute means there should be hope for a war.
The second and third possibilities are where I could see them each gaining an advantage. Imavov is averaging 4.3 significant strikes to the 2.23 absorbed while Shahbazyan is taking more than he is dealing. If Imavov pulls ahead early it would seem unlikely his opponent would be able to get back to even by the end of the fight. Lastly is what I personally think is most likely, that is Edmen taking Imavov down and controlling him for large segments of the fight.
Al Iaquinta vs Bobby Green
Plenty of people have been writing Al off in the last few years because of his rough streak and inactivity but what should be considered is the quality of his last few opponents. After giving Khabib his toughest fight since reaching championship level competition he beat what was still a prime Kevin Lee. He then lost Donald Cerrone and Dan Hooker, with one of those losses aging a lost better than the other has. Al will be returning after 2 years of inactivity to compete against an unranked striker in Bobby Green. I expect him to strike with Green early but fall behind and resort to his wrestling to drag the fight to a decision. He may surprise us with some sharp boxing to try and compete with Bobby but I find that highly unlikely considering the performance Green had against Fiziev in their UFC 265 fight of the night.
Prediction: Iaquinta Unanimous Decision
Andreas Michailidis vs Alex Pereira
Unfortunately for Michailidis he has been matched up with the Monster who has come to eat up the UFC Middleweight division. It is one thing to see a boxer jump into the UFC because we know how limited they are, but an elite kickboxer being matched up with another striker could be the combo the fans want. We will be able to see how well Pereira’s striking translates to MMA at the highest level if the fight goes the way the matchmakers must be assuming it will. Not that Michailidis can’t strike with the elites, but the fact that he absorbs over 4 significant strikes a minute is not good. Pereira has 33 kickboxing wins with 21 coming by knockout. This high-levelpower is going to do real damage if he built solid enough takedown defense.
Prediction: Pereira TKO 2nd