The UFC heads to London tomorrow (Sat., March 18, 2017) when UFC Fight Night 107 goes down from the O2 Arena.
The card features some under-the-radar up-and-coming stars despite the criticism heaped upon the light heavyweight main event between hometown favorite Jimi Manuwa and Corey Anderson on Fight Pass, and should serve as another launching pad for some European future stars of MMA.
First and foremost among those competitors is Icelander Gunnar Nelson, who will meet surging knockout artist Alan Jouban in a welterweight co-main event that promises an interesting contrast of styles with “Gunni’s” elite ground game.
Fan favorite British veteran Brad “One Punch” Pickett will also throw down in his farewell fight against Marlon Vera on the main card as well.
Find out whom we picked to win in London tomorrow here:
Jimi Manuwa vs. Corey Anderson:
This fight, while not exactly heavily promoted, still has a good amount of potential to deliver a hard-hitting match-up in a division that badly needs just that based on the two fighters’ most recent performances. Manuwa knocked out former interim title challenger Ovince St. Preux with a highlight reel hook at last year’s UFC 204 in Manchester, while Anderson rebounded from a close decision loss to former champion Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua by stopping Sean O’Connell in the second round of their fight in December.
Known for his knockouts, the British Manuwa has some of the most frightening one-punch power in the barren UFC light heavyweight division. Anderson is quickly coming into his own effective striking game; however, he could look to use his wrestling advantage over the “Poster Boy” here. There’s no need for him to slug it out with a knockout artist like Manuwa. If the newly named “Overtime” fights smart, we could see a somewhat boring match. Don’t count on it, however, as both of these men are looking to make a statement and rise up a 205-pound rankings list that needs some new blood. I think Anderson is the more motivated and well-rounded fighter. Anderson via TKO.
Gunnar Nelson vs. Alan Jouban:
A potentially riveting fight in its own right, the UFC Fight Night 107 co-main event will probably come down to which fighter can most effectively impose his respective gameplan. Jouban lives up to his “Brahma” nickname by coming forward relentlessly with a bulldozing Muay Thai arsenal and a solid chin; it could be said he eats a few too many shots in the process, however. Nelson will of course be looking to get the fight to the ground to use his championship ground game, and we haven’t really seen the rising Jouban tested by a true mat wizard there as of yet, as most of his fights have played out on the feet. His takedown defense isn’t bad, but I expect Nelson to just be on another level in the wrestling and grappling departments. Nelson via second-round submission (rear-naked choke).
Brad Pickett vs. Marlon Vera:
It’s almost impossible not to root for the hard-hitting, action-centered “One Punch” in his final MMA bout of all-time, so Vera has a target on his back. As one of a select group of fighters who have defeated dominant flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson and a fighter who brought it every time out to the cage, the seasoned Pickett’s legacy is intact as a true English brawler of the highest order. He’ll have his hands full with the larger Vera, who has a two-inch reach and height advantage, but he’ll be motivated by his fervent hometown fans, who will no doubt be feverish in their support of “One Punch.” This one will be a war, and I think hometown favorite Pickett goes out in style with a hard-fought win. Pickett by unanimous decision.
Makwan Amirkhani vs. Arnold Allen:
A featherweight curtain-jerker caps off this underrated card, as rising Finnish star Amirkhani, who usually always fights in Europe as one of the UFC’s key prospects there, could find himself in the unfamiliar role of heel when he meets hometown prospect Allen. This one promises to be yet another war (or at least, we hope), with Amirkhani boasting an impressive 13-2 mark, while Allen has a just-as-shining 11-1 mark. Both fighters are tough, fast, and well rounded, and that makes this a tough one to pick. “Mr. Finland” has more time in the octagon, however, and that could play a part in this pivotal bout. He’s also ultra-confident and could be a future contender at 145 pounds. The same could obviously be said for Allen as well, but I’m going with the entertaining Finn in this fight. Amirkhani via unanimous decision.