The UFC is set to make its debut on Long Island this upcoming weekend, as UFC on FOX 25 is slated to take place on Saturday night (July 22, 2017) live from the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
The UFC has stacked the deck with Long Island fighters, and the event will be headlined by former middleweight champion Chris Weidman taking on rising contender Kelvin Gastelum in a five round bout.
In the co-main event, featherweight stand out Dennis Bermudez will meet streaking veteran Darren Elkins. In addition, Gian Villante will clash with Patrick Cummins in a battle of light heavyweight contenders on the main card.
With that being said, let’s go ahead and take a deeper look at the card’s top three fights:
Chris Weidman vs. Kelvin Gastelum
This is a pivotal bout for both men.
In Weidman’s case, the ex-champion’s back is against the wall. The 33-year-old Long Island native has lost three consecutive fights, with all three losses coming by way of TKO at the hands of Luke Rockhold, Yoel Romero and Gegard Mousasi.
For Gastelum, this fight is about establishing himself as a legitimate contender in the middleweight division. The 25-year-old has scored back-to-back victories since moving back up to 185 pounds, although his latest victory over Vitor Belfort was changed to a no-contest after Gastelum tested positive for Marijuana.
Despite his recent losing skid, Weidman remains one of the best middleweights in the world. He tends to use a pressure-heavy, wrestling-based style backed by an underrated submission game, and a serviceable striking game. He certainly has knockout power, but the grappling department is where Weidman’s greatest strengths lie.
Gastelum, on the other hand, is a very well-rounded fighter, and possesses the pure striking advantage in this bout. He throws crisp combinations, and has showcased legitimate knockout power in recent memory.
If Gastelum can land big shots on the feet, it may end up being another rough night for Weidman. However, I feel as if Weidman will be fueled by the home field advantage. I expect the ex-champion to put the pressure on Gastelum and use his grappling to get back into the win column.
Prediction: Chris Weidman def. Kelvin Gastelum via unanimous decision
Dennis Bermudez vs. Darren Elkins
At one point, Bermudez, a former NCAA Division I wrestler, was riding a seven-fight win streak that included a victory over current divisional champion Max Holloway. Now, however, he’s lost three of his last five bouts, and he’s coming off of a stoppage loss to Chan Sung Jung.
Elkins, on the other hand, is riding a four-fight win streak that was recently capped off by a tremendous KO victory over Mirsad Bektic this past March. The Team Alpha Male product has incredible cardio in addition to being a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, although only three of his 22 victories have come by way of submission.
Despite the momentum being in Elkins’ favor, I’m going to side with Bermudez here. I feel as if “The Menace” will look to use his explosiveness and his wrestling to land the takedown before doing damage from the top position.
Prediction: Dennis Bermudez def. Darren Elkins via unanimous decision
Gian Villante vs. Patrick Cummins
In my opinion, this is quite an interesting bout.
Villante, another Long Island native, has a background in wrestling, but he’s transformed himself into a legitimate knockout artist, scoring 10 of his 15 career victories by knockout. He has hit some rough times as of late, however, as he’s lost three of his last five bouts, most recently dropping a TKO loss to the legendary Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
Cummins, on the other hand, is a former NCAA Division I wrestler, and he’s used this wrestling to help him score five UFC victories.
In my opinion, Cummins should look to drag this fight to the mat. If he’s unsuccessful, however, I feel as if he’ll be in trouble, as he’s lost four UFC bouts by T/KO. For that reason, I’m favoring Villante in this fight.
Prediction: Gian Villante def. Patrick Cummins via second round TKO