Photo Credit: MixedMartialArts.com/UFC.com
Jared Cannonier (15-6) vs Sean Strickland (25-4)
The UFC is back at the APEX in Las Vegas for a ranked Middleweight fight Between #3 Jared Cannonier and #7 Sean Strickland. Both fighters are coming off losses in their last matchups. Cannonier came up short in a title fight against former Middleweight champion Isreal Adesanya in July. In that contest, he struggled to take down Adesanya and was outpointed on the feet. Strickland was viciously knocked out by current Middleweight champion Alex Perriera at UFC 276 and is looking to get back on track this weekend. Before his fight with Perriera, Strickland was on a five-fight winning streak at 185 pounds and was improving with every performance.
Online Sportsbooks currently have this as a pick’em with the current odds at (-110) for each fighter. Cannonier is a powerful athlete that at one point competed in the UFC’s Heavyweight division. Strickland will look to keep the fight standing and utilize his boxing skills against Cannonier. Strickland may have a speed advantage, but Cannonier possesses one-punch knockout power. The game plan of Strickland and his coaches will probably include avoiding the ground with the physically stronger Cannonier.
This is an interesting Middleweight contest that should put the winner back into contention. With many rising contenders at 185 pounds, like #10 Dricus Du Plessis and #8 Roman Dolidze eventful matchups are on the horizon for Strickland and Cannonier.
Arman Tsarukyan (18-3) vs Damir Ismagulov (24-1)
UFC Fight Night’s Co-main event features two ranked lightweights #10 Arman Tsarukyan and #12 Damir Ismagulov. Tsarukyan is coming off a Fight of the Night performance in June of this year against #7 Mateusz Gamrot. The 26-year-old Tsarukyan lost a close decision in that contest but showed massive potential competing well against one of the division’s elite fighters. Ismagulov is undefeated in the UFC and has won five straight by decision. In Ismagulov’s last fight against accomplished striker Guram Kutateladze, he controlled the fight on the ground while also landing effectively in the striking exchanges. Ismagulov is extremely durable and one of the most well-rounded fighters in the world at 155 pounds.
Ismagulov is a slight underdog at (+160) and will have a 3-inch height advantage over Tsarukyan. I believe there is real betting value in Ismagulov, who has never been finished in his career. Ismagulov will come into this fight with a distinct size advantage, however, the speed of Tsarukyan may be a problem. Tsarukyan will look to keep the fight standing and land dynamic strikes on his opponent. This is a highly anticipated contest for many MMA fans and could very easily be Fight of the Night. Although some casual fans don’t know these fighters they are two of the most talented lightweights in the division.
Drew Dober (25-11) vs Bobby Green (29-13)
A lightweight contest between UFC veterans Drew Dober and Bobby Green is also on the card this Saturday. Dober has fought in the UFC 19 times and is coming off back-to-back knockout victories. Green has also had 19 fights in the UFC and is coming off a TKO loss to current champion Islam Makhachev. This is a close fight but Online Sportsbooks have Dober as a slight favorite at (-155). Green was not pleased with his last performance and needs a victory for his career. This fight could very easily go the distance because both fighters are extremely tough and evenly matched. I do not think this fight will matter in terms of the UFC Lightweight rankings but could lead to potentially exciting matchups in the future. I think that the winner of this contest would be a good next opponent for rising Lightweight star Paddy Pimblett.
UFC Fight Night Prelims
The UFC Fight Night prelims have a few fights that fans should be interested in. Ultimate fighter winner Bryan Battle (9-1) will look to extend his 8-fight winning streak against Russian powerhouse Rinat Fakhretdinov (19-1). Fakhretdinov is an impressive prospect at 170 pounds and has a tremendous ground game. Many think Fakhretdinov is destined for the Welterweight top ten rankings although he will have to go through a dangerous fighter in Battle to get there. Also on the prelims, former Rizin champion Manel Kape (17-6) takes on David Dvorak (20-4). Kape is 2-2 in the UFC but has finished his last two opponents by knockout. The winner of Kape and Dvorak should find themselves inside the Flyweight top 15 rankings.
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