Alexander Gustafsson vs. Jimi Manuwa:
Mike Drahota: I like this fight’s potential quite a bit, mainly due to both fighters being proven knockout strikers. Many still think Gustafsson should be the UFC light heavyweight champ after his close bout with Jon Jones; I think it’s a bit strange his next fight was on an internet-only card. In any case, he can’t look past the heavy-handed and undefeated Manuwa. “Poster Boy” has ended each of his 14 fights via stoppage, but looks can be deceiving. Two of his UFC wins were due to his opponents getting hurt, and while he’s undoubtedly talented, he’s never faced an opponent even close to Gustafsson’s ability. I like “The Mauler’s” footwork to get him the win here. Gustafsson by TKO in round three.
Rory Kernaghan: This main event has every opportunity to be “Fight of the Night” at UFC: London. Explosive knockout artist Manuwa has the power to give anyone trouble, and Gustafsson has proven to be a top-level, durable star in the light heavyweight division. In this case, I feel like Gustafsson’s experience versus high-level fighters will shine through. ‘Poster Boy’ has what it takes to hit the button, but ‘The Mauler’ has physical advantages, as well as having fought for the belt last year. Look for Gus to wear down Manuwa with body shots and jabs, before putting the screws in later on. Gustafsson earns another title shot with a fourth round TKO by punches.
Brian Cox: This fight has both ugly and technical written all over it. The path to victory for “The Mauler” is to use his exceptional footwork to keep the heavy-handed Manuwa at range. I see no other path to victory for the Swede. However, Gustafsson might surprise and demonstrate new wresting skills. Manuwa might prove too big and strong to succumb to a counterintuitive strategy. For his part, if Manuwa can keep the fight on the feet, then the fight could be a payday for him. I believe that Manuwa will prove a rock-solid challenge that Gustafsson will not be able to escape. I’m picking an upset by number 11-ranked Manuwa via KO in round one.
Buster Evans: Jimi Manuwa definitely has enough power to finish Alexander Gustafsson on Saturday, but whether he can do it or not is another question. There is no denying the Brit is a fierce competitor who has smashed through everyone put in front of him. But, he has never fought anyone on the level of the Swede, and I think it’s going to show tomorrow night. I’ll be routing for Manuwa, but I think Gustafsson will take a decision.
Michael Johnson vs. Melvin Guillard:
Mike Drahota: This fight is a very interesting clash of former teammates. Former TUF finalist Johnson has looked impressive in his two most recent outings, defeating solid opponents in Joe Lauzon and Gleison Tibau. His boxing has progressed to a new level, but that isn’t necessarily where he should look to win this fight. The “Not So Young Assassin” still has some of the most blinding hand speed and knockout power in the UFC lightweight division; enough to end any 155-pounder’s night early. For that reason, I expect Johnson to fight smart and use his wrestling to win. With one knockout loss between them, this one could go the distance. I say “The Menace” takes a decision.
Rory Kernaghan: Here is yet another fight with bonus written all over it. It figures to be a typical power puncher vs. technical fighter affair. Admittedly, Johnson has some pretty solid hands, but I don’t think he will stand and trade with a knockout artist like Guillard. I expect “The Menace” to put on his dancing shoes and give ‘The Young Assassin’ too many angles to deal with. As long as he can keep away from that one huge shot, I expect Johnson to claim the decision victory. *Ed note: don’t bet the mortgage on that one
Brian Cox: This is a heck of a fight and a true proving ground for both fighters. Each has had their moments of Octagon brilliance offset by their moments where they weren’t so brilliant. Johnson has looked outstanding in his last two bouts, like a fighter reborn. Difficult, if not impossible to take down, he has proven himself an elusive target on the feet. However, Guillard continues to demonstrate himself a fighter to be reckoned with. Sadly, his Octagon ego has cost him that dividend. If Johnson can avoid Guillard’s aggressive style and turn this bout into a technical affair, the advantage will be his. However, if Guillard can come out and turn the fight into a brawl, then his power and athleticism may overwhelm Johnson. Swirling the eight ball on this one, I’m going to pick Johnson. Winner by way of third round TKO, Michael Johnson.
Buster Evans: Melvin Guillard and Michael Johnson have both been incredibly inconsistent in their last few fights, so it’s really hard to predict what’s going to happen tomorrow in London. If they both show up on form, I think Johnson will have the edge because he has the wrestling advantage and should be able to cope with “The Young Assassin” on the feet. Look for “The Menace” to keep Guillard at distance with his striking and put his opponent on the mat whenever he can. Johnson by decision.