It’s been a long four weeks but the UFC is back after a quick detour into the world of boxing.
Emanating from Rotterdam, Netherlands, the main event of UFC Fight Night 115 features the tallest fight in UFC history as the 7ft ‘Skyscraper’ Struve takes on 6ft 7′ Alexander Volkov in the heavyweight division.
The rest of the card is a very Eurasian centric card as is to be expected but there are certainly some fights or fighters which will get the pulses racing; Edwards – Barberena, Till – Velickovic and Khabilov – Green the standouts.
Alexander Volkov (28-6) vs Stefan Struve (28-8)
This fight has the highest stakes and is probably the most intriguing tactically.
Struve has long been maligned for his failure of utilising his reach but in recent fights, he has slowly begun to improve his strikes from range. Up against Alexander Volkov however, his reach advantage is significantly reduced and his best path to victory is to take the fight to the mat (Stuve holds 17 victories via submission).
Volkov on the feet is much crisper in his combinations so he’ll look to pick his shots carefully as his impressive strikes in the clinch come with the unwanted risk of trips.
It’s a fight which will come down to who can impose their game plan but with Volkov’s improving takedown defence, I can see Volkov slowly piling up the damage on the feet and Stuve tiring as his attempts to grapple become unsuccessful.
Pick: Alexander Volkov
Siyar Bahadurzada (22-6-1) vs Rob Wilkinson (11-0)
Wilkinson is pretty fast for a middleweight but has struggled when backed up against the cage.
Bahadurzada has slowly added pressurised takedowns to his game, complimenting his strikes, so expect Siyar ‘The Great’ to weather an early storm and take the fight from there.
Pick: Siyar Bahadurzada
Marion Reneau (7-3-1) vs Talita Bernardo (5-1)
Another UFC tenured fighter takes on a promotional debutant here and the result should be academical.
Bernardo is a bit of a brawler and hasn’t had a full camp for this fight while Reneau is effective in all areas.
Pick: Marion Reneau
Leon Edwards (13-3) vs Bryan Barberena (13-4)
Barberena has played the spoiler throughout his UFC career and he’ll no doubt fancy himself to get the job done again here.
Barberena isn’t particularly flashy in anything that he does but he knows when to pressure and he knows how to remain efficient with his choices.
Edwards meanwhile has developed a strong wrestling game since moving to American Top Team and that may be Barberena’s downfall.
It’s a tough fight to call but I’ll slightly edge towards Edwards to counter Barberena’s pressure with takedowns and strikes to keep him guessing.
Pick: Leon Edwards
(Last Predictions: 2/6, Total: 63/104, 61% Success Rate)
(2016: 61% Success Rate)