Andrei Arlovski vs. Josh Barnett
An interesting tussle of UFC heavyweight veterans at the tail end of their careers here.
There’s a clear contrast of styles in this one, with Barnett being the superior grappler, while Arlovski is the more lethal striker and has the takedown defense to make life difficult for his opponent.
After an impressive late-career surge, Arlovski’s fragile chin has come back to haunt him of late, though Barnett isn’t the kind of power hitter to fully take advantage of that fact.
Barnett’s best bet is to just stifle Arlovski’s own offense, getting into clinch range, rouging him up against the cage and hoping to secure the takedowns that could lead to long periods of control on top and potential submission opportunities.
Arlovski is a very good counter striker and could well catch Barnett with fight-changing punches as he comes into range, but overall I slightly favor ‘The Warmaster’ to wear ‘Pitbull’ down and potentially secure a late submission stoppage.
Josh Barnett to win by submission in Rd4.
Jan Blachowicz vs. Alexander Gustafsson
This feels very much like a confidence-boosting fight to get Alexander Gustafsson back on track after some disappointing results of late that have left him questioning his future in the sport.
Jan Blachowicz is a solid enough 205lb’er, but the reality is he’s just not operating at the same level as Gustafsson.
Gustafsson is the more technical striker, works at a much higher tempo and also has the wrestling edge too, so he should really pick Blachowicz apart, and I’m taking him to pick up a stoppage win via strikes in the third round.
Alexander Gustafsson to win by TKO in Rd3.
Ryan Bader vs. Ilir Latifi
I’m curious to see how this one plays out as on paper Bader should emerge victorious since he’s the better all-round fighter, but the threat that Latifi poses shouldn’t be discounted.
Latifi is not a technical striker, but he has thunderous power in his hands, which Bader will have to be very wary of as he doesn’t present the most elusive of targets.
The Swede is also a good wrestler, but Bader is very good in that regard too, and the later the fight goes the more ‘Darth’s’ better conditioning should play a factor in the fight.
Overall I think if Bader can avoid the big single power strikes from Latifi then he should be able to dictate the pace of the fight with striking fundamentals and will control the action more as the fight goes on to earn a decision victory.
Ryan Bader to win by decision.
Tae Hyun Bang vs. Nick Hein
Hein is the more efficient fighter in this match-up and has a broader skill-set, with judo completenting his striking, while Bang is heavier hitter who throws everything into his strikes in the hope of finding a finish.
Bang certainly has a chance to find a stoppage, but if he doesn’t I think Hein should be able to outpoint him with more consistent offense on the feet and some ground work thrown in for good measure.
Nick Hein to win by decision.
Prelims: (Predicted winners in bold)
Jessin Ayari vs. Jim Wallhead
Nicolas Dalby vs. Peter Sobotta
Leandro Issa vs. Taylor Lapilus
Christian Colombo vs. Jarjis Danho
Scott Askham vs. Jack Hermansson
Rustam Khabilov vs. Leandro Silva
Ashlee Evans-Smith vs. Veronica Macedo