Gunnar Nelson vs. Rick Story
Story is definitely a solid step up in competition for Nelson, but I believe he still has the skills to claim a victory here.
Story’s game is based around pressuring his opponent with aggressive, but not particularly technical or powerful striking, stifling clinch work and takedowns. Constantly closing the distance could pay dividends to some extent against Nelson who prefers to move in and out with precise shots, but I still expect to see the Icelandic fighter landing the cleaner, more precise strikes through Story’s dodgy defense while using footwork and angles to stay somewhat elusive.
I think this fight may well be won or lost in the clinch and on the mat though. Story is good at grinding away against the cage, but I think he’ll struggle to take Nelson down, whereas I don’t think the same applies to his opponent. Nelson’s definitely the better grappler of the two and I think he can put Story on his back and use his excellent BJJ to force a tapout here and remain unbeaten.
Gunnar Nelson to win by submission in Rd3.
Akira Corassani vs. Max Holloway
I like Holloway here. He’s got the better striking technique and has a height and reach advantage here which will suit his style, picking Corassani apart from range with straight, accurate punches with a few kicks and knees mixed in for good measure, while steering clear of the heavier, but easy to see coming punches coming back in return from his opponent.
Corassani’s best bet might be to take Holloway to the mat, but the Hawaiian’s ground game has come on a fair ways from his early Octagon outings and I doubt he’ll be able to take him down and keep him there too often here. I expect Corassani to make it to the final bell, but Holloway should oustrike him to a comfortable decision victory.
Max Holloway to win by decision.
Ilir Latifi vs. Jan Blachowicz
Latafi’s wrestling is considerably better than Blachowicz’s here and I think he’ll be able to take him down without too much difficulty when required.
I don’t think we’ll see him grind to a decision win on top though, with a ground and pound assault more likely, and while I think he’ll struggle against higher level opposition, he could be looking at another first round win here.
Ilir Latifi to win by TKO in Rd1.
Niklas Backstrom vs. Mike Wilkinson
This looks like being a fight where Backstrom proves to just be a be a better fighter wherever the bout takes place and the fact he’s fighting on home soil won’t hurt either.
Wilkinson isn’t a bad fighter, but there’s more upside to Backstrom’s game, particularly on the mat where I believe he can get the job done either by submission or strikes in the second round.
Niklas Backstrom to win by submission in Rd2.
Magnus Cedenblad vs. Scott Askham
Nico Musoke vs. Alexander Yakovlev
Dennis Siver vs. Charles Rosa
Cathal Pendred vs. Gasan Umalatov
Tor Troeng vs. Krzysztof Jotko
Mairbek Taisumov vs. Marcin Bandel
Zubaira Tukhugov vs. Ernest Chavez