The UFC is back in their Las Vegas Performance Centre after a two-week hiatus and with it brings a somewhat underwhelming fight card.
Headlined by a high-ranking light-heavyweight clash between veteran and rising star, Anthony Smith and Ryan Spann will do a lot of heavy lifting on a main card that leaves a lot to be desired.
While there are bright spots in the co-main event and Arman Tsarukyan vs. Christos Giagos, the rest of the billing lacks star power or any real consequence in their respective weight classes.
Anthony Smith (35-16) vs. Ryan Spann (19-6)
Both Smith and Spann are big stoppage threats so this could easily go either way.
While Spann is perhaps the bigger threat on the feet and Smith a quality operator on the mat, I think their approaches in between their big moments will be where the fight is won.
For all of Spann’s aggression at times, Smith is calm, knows when to use his quality jab and knows his best route to victory.
With Smith’s experience, there is always the potential for his wear and tear to catch up with him but he still looks durable and I’d expect him to remain a thorn in the sides of the light heavyweight division’s newer wave.
Pick: Anthony Smith
Ion Cutelaba (15-6-1, 1 NC) vs. Devin Clark (12-5)
Cutelaba is aggression personified and obviously, that comes with its faults as he gassed himself out after an electric start last time out.
Clark meanwhile is a solid athlete but his loses have come in very decisive fashion while his wins have come against fighters lacking major power.
Unfortunately for Clark, Cutelaba packs a mighty wallop and I’d expect him to add to his KO collection here.
Pick: Ion Cutelaba
Ariane Lipski (13-7) vs. Mandy Bohm (7-0, 1 NC)
Lipski came into the UFC with some solid hype but has rarely translated that fanfare into her performances apart from those against low-quality fighters.
Bohm will similarly come into this bout riding some upside so it’ll be interesting to see how these strikers match up in the big time.
It’s a tough one to call as Lipski will be the best fighter Bohm has squared off against but form and momentum counts for a lot and that is firmly in Bohm’s corner.
Pick: Mandy Bohm
Arman Tsarukyan (16-2) vs. Christos Giagos (19-8)
Giagos is a wrestling heavy fighter but I simply don’t see him on the level of Tsarukyan.
While ‘The Spartan’ does operate at a decent output, Tsarukyan’s is at a higher clip and he has kept pace and quality in his grappling with the best the UFC has to offer.
On the feet, Tsarukyan is also a smooth operator so outside of a big mistake on his part, this should be a solid win for the Georgian born Russian to keep ticking over.
Pick: Arman Tsarukyan
Nate Maness (13-1) vs. Tony Gravely (21-6)
Maness is the much bigger physically so it’ll be interesting to see how Gravely can contend with his size.
Gravely is all about work rate so it could be a tough ask to get his offence off consistently against the bigger man.
Despite Maness’ advantages on the tale of the tape, I think Gravely’s busy style will get him the nod on the judges’ scorecards.
Pick: Tony Gravely
Joaquin Buckley (12-4) vs. Antonio Arroyo (9-4)
Buckley could well be something of a glass cannon but I’m not sold on Arroyo’s finishing ability, especially on the feet.
Arroyo could well control this bout through grappling but I think Buckley has enough about him to keep Arroyo at kickboxing range and win the fight there.
Pick: Joaquin Buckley
(Last Predictions: 4/5, Total: 85/154, 55% Success Rate)
(Success Rate: 2016: 61%, ’17: 60%, ’18: 58%, 19′: 57%, 20′: 67%)