UFC's Fight Night series continues as light heavyweight talents Ryan Bader and Ovince Saint Preux battle to remain in the top ten and potentially move into the top five of the light heavyweight division rankings. Their headlining bout will serve as the anchor to a card that's being held in Maine for the first time in UFC history.
The event also features elite flyweights Zach Makovsky and Jussier Formiga looking to get one step closer to a title shot and the return of Sara McMann.
Will Bader continue his winning streak with his patented wrestling and top control or is St. Preux's unpredictable offense too much for the wrestler to handle? I answer these questions and more with my predictions for Saturday's fights.
What: UFC Fight Night 47 (UFC Fight Night: Bader vs. St. Preux)
Where: Cross Insurance Center, Bangor, Maine
When: Saturday, the four-fight preliminary Fox Sports 2 card starts at 8 p.m. ET and the six-fight Fox Sports 1 main card starts at 8 p.m
Ryan Bader vs. Ovince St. Preux
This is a really tough pick. You can easily envision a scenario where OSP is taken down and controlled for five rounds. He has good defensive wrestling, but it's inconsistent. Once on the floor, it's not like OSP is a huge guard player or submission threat. On the other hand, Bader has turned into something of a light heavyweight Jon Fitch. While he's able to control the takedown and top position, he does just enough to control through a round. The ground and pound is routinely not heavy enough to do more than win on judges scorecards. Against an unpredictable striker like OSP, that could spell trouble. It doesn't take much to put Bader away once he's injured as he doesn't respond favorably to punishment.
I'm going to side with the wrestler for the reasons I've already cited. I also think there's an issue about OSP's resume in that, while it's good, there isn't much there to tell us how he'll do against relentless takedown pressure.
I'm going to take the upset here. Pearson can crack, yes, and Maynard's ability to take damage is comprised. There's no getting around it. But I do think Maynard will be able to strike a bit from the outside while consistently going for takedowns. Pearson's ability to stop them is good, but not perfect. Ultimately, Maynard will get enough of them to win rounds and potentially even earn a late stoppage. As long as Maynard can crowd Pearson, which he is more than capable of doing, this is a winnable fight.
Boetsch has one way to win and that's with wrestling pressure against the fence for top control. Simply stated, Tavares isn't going to give it to him. Sure, Yoel Romero had his way with him, but with all respect to Boetsch's very real Octagon accomplishments, he ain't the wrestler Romero is. Not by a long shot. Tavares thwarts the much slower Boetsch's wrestling attacks and takes over from there.
Another tough call on this card. Jouban is a well-rounded talent, southpaw and arguably more athletic than Baczynski. My problem is he doesn't really excel greatly in one particular area. He also often lets opposition dictate what a round or bout will look like. Baczynski has his issues, but has done well against much better than Jouban. As long as he moves forward and gets off first on striking exchanges, he should be able to cruise to a decision.
And yet another close fight. May is huge, has heavy kicks on the outside and a patient, but consistent offense. His takedown defense isn't great, but he's a savvy mat grappler. Jordan has fallen on hard times and can be lit up from the outside if he stays there against May. However, if he can get right to work, close the distance and makes this a close quarters battle along the fence and on top, it's his fight to lose. For May to win, he has to maintain distance or get off the bottom should he find himself there. I wouldn't be surprised if he pulls it out, but this is a perfect opportunity for Jordan to right the ship.
Peralta can bang and Tavares is on the downswing of his career, but I still think the Brazilian has enough wrestling and top control/guard passing to keep Peralta in trouble or reacting to Tavares' offense. That's not saying a whole lot. Tavares is far from contender status at this point, but given space to work, is capable of stifling control.
From the preliminary card: