The UFC returns to the United Kingdom with a tier-two card with a couple of meaningful match-ups, but mostly developmental fights for emerging prospects or limited European talent.
As for the more important bouts, can Lyoto Machida become a force at middleweight? Will Mark Munoz be able to get past his friend en route to a title shot? I answer these questions and more with my predictions for Saturday's fights.
What: UFC Fight Night 30: Machida vs. Munoz
Where: Phones 4u Arena, Manchester, England
When: Saturday, the six-fight Facebook card starts at 12 p.m. ET and the six-fight main card begins on Fox Sports 2 at 3 p.m. ET.
Perhaps I'm wrong in making the assumption we can basically cancel out the advantages each fighter has in training with the other, but I'm going to, anyway. If we make that leap, we're left with the fairly obvious truth that Machida is going to be able to stuff Munoz's shots from the outside while peppering him in the same range. Perhaps he won't do enough like what happened in the Phil Davis fight and it'll cost him the bout. Short of that, this is his fight to lose.
Guillard has his issues and the constant changing of camps is worrisome, but I still like him here. Pearson is a good combination striker, but not the quickest of the bunch and in a quick draw contest, he'll lose to someone who can pack a shot in the way Guillard can at the velocity Guillard can bring it. Add in the American's excellent takedown defense and good movement (at least early) and this has Guillard victory written all over it.
I'm very reluctant to pick Jimmo here. Manuwa can and will light the Canadian up on the feet for as long as the fight takes place there, but I just can't get over how minimal Manuwa's defensive skills are in the grappling and takedown department. Jimmo is hardly an ADCC medalist or Division I wrestler, but you don't need to be. Manuwa is a hell of a talent, but I have real hesitations picking a guy with such a lopsided skill set.
Tuck is an interesting prospect and has obviously proved he has tremendous positional skills on the floor, but still looks very green on the feet. Parke is going to have to be careful about mixing up his game too much with his wrestling for fear of being countered on the mat, but he should be able to push Tuck back standing while driving forward with aggressive punch combinations.
I cannot believe Sakara is still in the UFC or this card. He's lost three straight and has somehow managed to avoid being axed. Still, Sakara should win this, but I'm picking Musoke as a matter of principle.
Harris is a respectable fighter in terms of being well-rounded, but can fall back and counter fight a bit too much at times. Against a raging storm like Lineker, that's about the least optimal way to compete. Lineker is wild and can be made to suffer for his inadequacies, but Harris isn't going to be the one to do that.
From the preliminary card:
Note: "<" and ">" are greater than/less than symbols and NOT directional arrows.