The UFC on Fox era comes to an end this Saturday night as lightweight hopefuls Kevin Lee and Al Iaquinta battle it out for the second time in the main event.
With the UFC moving to ESPN in the new year, the last Fox show looks to go out with a bang as the main card and preliminary card are filled with fights that should guarantee fireworks.
Kevin Lee (17-3) vs. Al Iaquinta (13-4-1)
Al Iaquinta has all the tools to defeat Kevin Lee but he’s at a moment in his career where he is bizarrely an unknown quantity.
Since April 2015, ‘Ragin’ Al’ has only fought twice, one a 98-second demolition of a shot Diego Sanchez and a 24-hour notice five-rounder against the best in the business in Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Iaquinta has always carried power however and his takedown defence has held up against most which is needed if you are to beat Kevin Lee.
Lee meanwhile has developed ten-fold since his first meeting with Iaquinta in 2014. His grappling is amongst the very best in a remarkably talented division and he is capable of going the full 25 minutes against elite opposition. The one major worry surrounding Lee though is his durability as he has been rocked a fair few times.
As long as he doesn’t get cracked on the feet though, Lee has fought much more consistently against better opposition than Iaquinta has and his wrestling ability is at such a level that I struggle with the idea that he can’t dominate the proceedings.
Pick: Kevin Lee
Edson Barboza (19-6) vs. Dan Hooker (17-7)
This is a big step up in competition for Hooker.
While Hooker has demolished his way to a four-fight win streak since moving to the lightweight division, he has yet to fight someone at the level of Barboza.
What Hooker does have going for him, however, is a better durability, a power in his strikes and a sneaky submission game.
Barboza meanwhile is as notorious in his weakness to pressure as Anthony Pettis as he has routinely lost fights where he is continually backed up. The Brazilian though is one of the fastest at 155 lbs, one of the best leg kickers in the sport and can fire off a host of explosive strikes to end a fight.
I think the signs do point towards Barboza being too much of a jump for Hooker at the moment but Hooker is meeting Barboza at a period where they are crossing paths in form.
With Hooker’s knees and fight IQ, I think the Aussie pulls out the win here.
Pick: Dan Hooker
Rob Font (15-4) vs. Sergio Pettis (17-4)
This should be a fun technical battle on the feet which both fighters will relish.
Both Pettis and Font struggled with grapplers in their last outings but I think the size and power discrepancy will be the biggest factor in this fight.
While Pettis should have the speed advantage, Font’s power and work off of the jab I feel will be the decider.
Pick: Rob Font
Jim Miller (29-12, 1 NC) vs. Charles Oliveira (24-8, 1 NC)
Miller will look to hit Oliveira hard and early on the feet here as there are questions to be held over Oliveira’s durability.
While Miller recently snapped a four-fight losing streak against impressive opposition with a win over Alex White, Oliveira does seem to be a closer in quality to the fighters he has lost against than White.
Oliveira meanwhile has always been a brilliant grappler – now holding the UFC record for most submission wins – he has toned down his recklessness in recent bouts.
Much like the main event, unless there’s an early strike that changes the course of the fight, the grappler should emerge victorious.
Pick: Charles Oliveira
(Last Predictions: 3/5, Total: 109/185, 59% Success Rate)
(2017: 60% Success Rate)