Michael Bisping vs. Thales Leites:
This is an under-the-radar bout that will almost assuredly propel the winner into a top-level fight in the meat grinder that the UFC middleweight division has become, and for Bisping it’s even more paramount considering his title shot chances will be almost nil should he lose to the surging Leites tomorrow. Bisping appeared resurgent in his hard-fought win over CB Dollaway at April’s UFC 186, and I think that while the Brazilian’s striking has improved by leaps and bounds, ‘The Count’ should be able to pick him apart on the feet using his point-based kickboxing style. Bisping will want to keep the fight clean, as Leites could make it his by forcing a lot of clinches and securing a few takedowns to look for a potential fight-ending submission. But Bisping is tough to take down, and although he’ll probably hit the mat a few times, he’s even tougher to submit. I believe ‘The Count’ should largely keep it standing; my pick is Bisping with a unanimous decision.
The main event at UFC Fight Night 72 really isn’t a tough pick for me; Michael Bisping has fought for years in the UFC, mostly at the upper-mid level, but has often faltered against top competition. Thales Leites has seen a UFC title fight at middleweight, and is looking twice as good now as he did back then. The Brazilian grappler has advanced his striking capabilities greatly, and is still a monster on the mat to boot. I don’t see the Brit dictating the pace here, as I think Leites will look to ground this fight early and capitalize on his advantage in the submissions game. Leites by submission in round one.
This is a very intriguing main event, and from an outside perspective, it may be seen as a striker vs. grappler bout. Bisping has remained relevant in the middleweight division for years now, and there’s a reason for that. He is a very tough and durable fighter with excellent cardio and crisp, fluent boxing. “The Count” also uses strong movement to avoid takedowns, and he will need to do that here, as Leites is one of the best submission artists in the division. If the fight ends up on the mat, Bisping could be in trouble, but I don’t see it going that way. I see Bisping tiring Leites out while picking the Brazilian apart. Bisping by unanimous decision.
Ross Pearson vs. Evan Dunham:
Even with a win in this co-main event, Pearson and Dunham will still be light years away from title contention in the crowded (and stagnant) UFC lightweight division. Pearson has been extremely mercurial throughout his last several bouts, but Dunham has just been plain bad losing four out of his last six. I think ‘The Real Deal’ will come out guns blazing with the support of his nearby English faithful behind him to blast the fading Dunham early on. Pearson via first round TKO.
Ross Pearson vs. Evan Dunham is a bit of a lowbrow co-main event, but we are used to such cards when the UFC comes to my neck of the woods. Pearson, a talented boxer, has the advantage here in my opinion. Dunham has had a rough run as of late, so I don’t think he overcomes ‘The Real Deal’ on home soil. I can see this being quite a quick fight, with Pearson putting the screws to Dunham early in the first. Ross Pearson by TKO round one.
Both men will be looking to establish themselves in this fight, and it should be a pretty close scrap. In my opinion, Dunham may be more well rounded and possess a better ground game, but Pearson is the much better striker. I also feel as if Pearson has looked better than Dunham as of late, and that might play a factor here. If he can avoid the takedown, I see the Brit battering Dunham on the feet. Pearson by second round TKO.