The UFC is in London with a card headlined by top 10 Light Heavyweights and features a clash between two world class Welterweights. The card also contains some of the most exciting prospects in Europe at the moment such as Marc Diakiese.
Main Event: Jimi Manuwa vs. Corey Anderson
Jimi Manuwa is looking to get another crack at the top of the division by beating Corey Anderson at home in London. Manuwa has only lost to Alexander Gustafsson and Rumble Johnson and is coming off a knockout victory over Ovince St. Preux in October.
Manuwa is a power puncher, he likes to stalk his opponent and wait for the perfect opportunity to explode with a punch. He will use leg kicks to corral his opponent and limit their lateral movement but he is patient with his punches, not throwing a lot of combinations or volume and instead opting for power.
Manuwa isn’t much of a grappler but he is very strong in the clinch and is capable of landing vicious shots from that position.
Ultimate Fighter winner Corey Anderson beat Sean O’ Connell in his last fight to bounce back from a close defeat to Shogun Rua. A win over a top 10 fighter such as Manuwa would establish Anderson as a potential contender at Light Heavyweight.
Anderson is a great wrestler, he has the ability to time his shots well and is relentless with takedowns against the fence. Once he gets the fight to the ground he has good top control and continuously peppers away with shots from top position.
His striking is good but it is still very clunky, he hasn’t really been able to put it together yet, even if the basics are there.
Anderson will need to get the fight to the ground to win this, as Manuwa hits too hard not to find a big shot in 25 minutes. Once Anderson gets on top his grappling may be too much for Manuwa, who has never shown anything to suggest he can offer much threat from his back.
Once Anderson can secure takedowns and tire Manuwa out he is the favourite, but he will be in big trouble if he strays from his gameplan.
Prediction: Corey Anderson via Decision
Co-Main Event: Alan Jouban vs. Gunnar Nelson
Both of these fighters have records of 6-2 in the UFC but are ever improving and eager for another shot at the top of the division. Nelson is one of the more unique fighters in the UFC, blending a deadly jiu-jitsu game with an in-and-out karate style of striking.
Nelson very rarely throws his lead hand, preferring to wait for the perfect moment to explode forward with it.
His real talent though is in grappling. He is good at hiding his takedown attempts behind his strikes and transitioning between the two seamlessly, once he gets control on the ground that is usually the end.
His speciality is getting to the back and locking in a body triangle before working for the rear naked choke, and with four UFC victories via rear naked choke, he is very good at it.
Jouban has the instincts and the tendencies of a brawler but with a much more refined game. He has good movement and is comfortable fighting either at range or in the pocket. He also has very powerful kicks and if he commits to attacking the body he could slow Nelson down, as Rick Story did when he fought him.
Jouban is a solid wrestler and is decent off his back due to his training in 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu. If this fight stays standing Jouban should easily outscore Nelson, but Nelson just needs to get this to the ground once and he can find the submission.
Prediction: Gunnar Nelson via Submission
Brad Pickett vs. Marlon Vera
Pickett is fighting at home in the last fight of his long career of fighting at the top level. Pickett has great skills as a boxer, particularly in the pocket. He has good head movement and fast hooks to punish his opponent with counters. His takedown game is also a real asset, once he has established his striking on the inside he can counter with reactive takedowns.
Ecuador’s Vera is in on short notice here and is fairly inexperienced at only 24 years of age. As a striker, he likes to stay on the outside and throw pot shots. He doesn’t throw enough volume to win rounds and hasn’t got the accuracy or power yet to finish fights consistently.
His real strength is his grappling but he hasn’t got the takedown game to implement it enough. Pickett should be the better striker and wrestler in this match-up, Vera will try attack off his back but I don’t think he can trouble Pickett.
Prediction: Brad Pickett via Decision
Arnold Allen vs. Makwan Amirkhani
Amirkhani is a great wrestler, he explodes with speed and power into his takedowns. He has good variety with his takedowns and is relentless once he gets a hold of his opponent. As a striker, his game is not very refined, but the athleticism which makes his wrestling great still applies to some degree, so he is dangerous due to his ability to close the distance quickly and throw with power.
Allen is a good fighter in all aspects of the game. As a striker, he is light on his feet and has great counters. He is also a good grappler, with his first UFC win coming via submission. Amirkhani may just have an edge in the wrestling which will decide this fight. This will be a really close one but Amirkhani can score enough takedowns to win it.
Prediction: Makwan Amirkhani via Decision