The UFC makes its long-awaited debut in the Philippines with a top-tier featherweight headlining bout between two of the division's best, both past and present. The card also features a middleweight contest between ranked contenders and the final mixed martial arts contest of Filipino middleweight Mark Munoz.
Will Frankie Edgar get one step closer to a title shot or is Urijah Faber about to spoil those plans? I answer these questions and more with predictions for Saturday's fights.
What: UFC Fight Night 66 (UFC Fight Night: Edgar vs. Faber)
Where: Mall of Asia Arena, Manila, Philippines
When: Saturday, the two-fight Fight Pass preliminary card starts at 7:00 a.m. ET and the four-fight preliminary card kicks off on Fox Sports 1 at 8 a.m. and the six-fight main card begins at 10 a.m. ET.
This is going to be all Faber early, all Edgar late. Well, maybe not 'all', but you get the idea. Faber is a strong starter while Edgar takes time to figure out attacks and defenses. I'm not saying Faber is going to overwhelm him, but if he's going to do any scoring, it's going to be during the first or second rounds. From there, though, I expect Edgar to take over. He'll work behind his jab, prevent Faber's blitzes and slowly chew him up with hand and foot combinations. Does he get a stoppage? I don't know, but I like his chances once the judges' scorecards are read.
I'm not really sure what Mousasi's win over Dan Henderson tells us, but at least he's been active. Philippou on the other hand, has been out of commission for the last year. Training, yes, but not competing. Beyond that, though, there's the style match-up. I like Mousasi's ability to kick at range and to the body, something the Cyprus native has consistent issues dealing with. I also think highly of Mousasi's defense in the pocket and less pressure, more accurate punching attacks. Philippou isn't badly outmatched by any stretch, but his particular preferences for offense feeds into Mousasi's wheelhouse.
I'm not picking The Filipino Wrecking Machine because it's his last fight and it'd be nice to see him win in the place where his family is from. I do think there's an extra level of motivation given those circumstances, but that's not it either. I worry about Munoz being able to get in on the legs of the taller Barnatt as Munoz has a tendency to shoot from too far out and without a ton of authority moving his feet to keep things going, but I don't think highly of Barnatt's takedown defense either. I like Munoz's chances to get inside and once there, plant Barnatt on the mat where he'll work his savage ground and pound, avoiding any submissions or bottom control.
Magny's improvement is real and important to note, but I wonder if the marauding style of Lim is too much to handle. He was eaten up by Tarec Saffiedine's leg kicks, but Magny doesn't have the same weapons as such. He's more of an all-around competitor who is good at many things, expert at none. Lim isn't much of a technician, but fights with such ferocity that he overcomes fighters better than he. Moreover, he's huge for the weight class. If Magny really wants to graduate to top tier opposition, he has to get through Lim. I'm betting on the Korean this time.
There's not much to say about this contest. Nover is a BJJ black belt, but has fallen on hard times in MMA. He can best Bellator's lesser fighter and regional up-and-comers, but that's about it. Nam isn't exactly a lot to write home about, but he's the fresher fighter of the two and more aggressive. In the end, that's probably enough to get the job done here.
Makashvili should absolutely cruise here. They both don't have a ton of experience, but Makashvili's two fights against the well-rounded Alexandre Bezerra tells you a lot, especially since he won the second time the two fought. Eddiva, by contrast, got blown up in his last fight as he failed to move evasively or threaten Kevin Souza in any real way. Makashvili still lacks a lot of positional control finesse, but is way better at controlling in the clinch, with takedowns and mixing in strikes in transition.
From the preliminary card:
Jon Tuck def. Tae Hyun Bang
Kajan Johnson def. Zhang Lipeng
Dhiego Lima def. Li Jingliang
Ning Guangyou def. Royston Wee
Jon Delos Reyes def. Roldan Sangcha-An
Nolan Ticman def. Yao Zhikui