Well, here we go with another UFC event. It’s not a great one, but it’s not a bad one either. UFC Fight Night 110 hosts a few interesting match-ups, including the headlining bout between heavyweight strikers Derrick Lewis and Mark Hunt. This card also features a fun middleweight contest between ranked competitors Derek Brunson and Daniel Kelly, a promising flyweight scrap involving Tim Elliott and Ben Nguyen, and the return of UFC veteran Ross Pearson, who finds himself in a career-defining situation.
What: UFC Fight Night 110
Where: Spark Arena, Auckland, New Zealand.
When: Saturday, June 10. The two-fight UFC Fight Pass preliminary card begins at 7 p.m. ET, the four-fight FOX Sports preliminary card begin at 8 p.m. ET, and the six-fight main card begins at 10 p.m. ET also on FOX Sports.
Derrick Lewis vs. Mark Hunt
Powerful heavyweights collide in the main event of UFC Fight Night 110. Mark Hunt vs. Derrick Lewis seems like the perfect fight to book for both fighters.
Lewis, one of the very few prospects in the heavyweight division, has carefully been built up by the UFC over the last two years, progressively giving him right kind of fights to build both his technical and star levels. Fighting Hunt just seems like the next logical step for Lewis, who’s trying to enter the top echelon of the heavyweight division. So far, Lewis’ most high-profile victories have been over Roy Nelson and Travis Browne, which to be honest, they’re haven’t been considered to be top fighters for a while. However, with a win over Hunt, Lewis would solidify his name at heavyweight, and enter the discussion of possibly being one of the elite.
And for Hunt, this isn’t exactly a break in competition, as Lewis is no scrub, but he is getting a step down in competition level, having fought recent title challenger Alistair Overeem and former champion Brock Lesnar in his past two outings.
So here it is, the classic story of a rising prospect that’s on his way up the ladder, and a battle-tested veteran that’s trying to prove he still belongs among the best heavyweights in the world. Below we take a look at skills that Lewis will need to get past Hunt.
Grade A striking: Let’s be honest here. Lewis is not going to take down Hunt, and Hunt will not be looking to takedown Lewis. Meaning “The Black Beast” will be striking with Hunt in hopes of getting another win under his belt. Being a former K-1 champion, there is no question Mark Hunt is a superb, experienced striker with great knockout power. Everyone that has defeated the current version Hunt (not the one from the Sean McCorkle era) has possessed great striking technique. The only exception remains Brock Lesnar who has unique talents and physical abilities that no one else shares at heavyweight. But outside of Lesnar, only Junior dos Santos, Fabricio Werdum, Stipe Miocic and Alistair Overeem have been able to defeat Hunt. All these guys are elite fighters with grade A striking, and fluid movement, which we will touch on next. So does Lewis have the same level of striking that dos Santos and the others have? I’d say no, but he’s not super far away from them, but yet, he’s far enough to put him at a slight disadvantage when trading technique for technique with Hunt.
Movement and footwork: If you plan on striking with Hunt, quick movement and good footwork are essential to doing damage while avoiding getting knocked out. Despite being an excellent striker, Hunt is limited by his body, as he’s very short for a heavyweight – standing at 5-foot-11 – and he’s not the lightest on his feet given his heavy frame. That being said, his opponents have been able to use their reach accompanied by their quick movement to outstrike the former K-1 champion. Well, that’s bad news for Lewis since Lewis doesn’t have the best footwork nor does he share the same agility dos Santos and company carry.
Prediction: It may seem that I’m saying Lewis has no chance here, but he actually does. After all, anything can happen at heavyweight. Plus, add the fact that Lewis has good striking with big knockout power to Hunt’s deteriorating chin, which is still good but not what it once was, and you got a knockout win for the American. So yeah, Lewis can very well walk away with a win here, but Hunt is the more technical striker, and unfortunately for Lewis, he doesn’t posses all the tools needed to make him the favorite to fight.
Derek Brunson vs. Daniel Kelly
I always have a hard time calling Dan Kelly’s fights because his style of fighting is so unique that it’s tough to know how his opponents will deal with it.
Kelly is a 39-year-old Olympic judoka that might not look like a UFC fighter, but he’s certainly talented enough to have fought his way into the UFC rankings. Kelly is a master at forcing his opponents to fight his type of fight, which is a gritty close-quarters war that’s constantly switching from striking to clinching. His fights may appear sloppy or chaotic to the untrained eye, but Kelly is actually a very technical fighter with crisp boxing and solid Judo. Meanwhile, Derek Brunson is probably the best fighter Kelly has fought in the UFC, but I wouldn’t say by a whole lot, which makes this fight interesting. Brunson hits hard and moves well, and can take the fight to the ground if needed.
I see this being a back-and-fourth affair, but I find Brunson to be a bit too game to fall in Kelly’s trap of turning the fight into a dirty boxing contest full of clinching. I think Brunson will land and will force Kelly to respect his power, making him ease down on the pressure and taking him out of his game. If Brunson happens to fall behind in the round, I think he has the skill to score a takedown and regain the round that way. Again, never count out “dad bod,” but I’m feeling Brunson in this one.
Dan Hooker vs. Ross Pearson
This could possibly Ross Pearson’s last fight in the UFC.
Pearson, once a promising prospect in the UFC, is currently on the worst stretch of his fighting career. The Englishman is on a three-fight skid and is 2-5 in his past seven trips to the Octagon. Despite the rough patch, Pearson hasn’t looked terrible in his performances, and hasn’t been starched either, losing his fights via decision. The 32-year-old still possesses crisp boxing, experience, grit, and a decent takedown defense. To his favor, Pearson is not fighting a strong wrestler that can outgrapple him for three rounds, giving him a good chance to pick up a win here. Dan Hooker is a tall, lanky fighter that can fight anywhere the fight goes. Hooker has good striking and can utilize his reach very well, sticking behind straight punches. Hooker also has slick submissions and ground work but lacks takedowns.
Like most of Pearson’s fights, this should be a close contest that will likely go to a decision. I think this bout can go either way, but I think Hooker’s range and clinch work will present some issues for Pearson.
Ion Cutelaba vs. Henrique da Silva
“The Hulk” vs. “Frankenstein.” This should be fun.
Cutelaba is a beast, the man only knows how to fight one direction and that’s forward. Cutelaba posses effective, wild striking and ridiculous amounts of power that can pose a threat to anyone in the light heavyweight division. Despite being 1-2 in the UFC, the 23-year-old fighter is a game opponent with potential to grow as a fighter. Cutelaba also fights at a high pace and is able to keep that up for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, Henrique da Silva is a bit more well-rounded than Cutelaba. The Brazilian is a decent striker with respectable power and some submissions in his arsenal.
I don’t see how Cutelaba loses this fight. da Silva might have some ground work but not enough to takedown the stronger Cutelaba. Also, we’ve seen da Silva been battered before by his previous opponents, while Cutelaba has shown a ridiculous ability to absorb a hit. And lastly, Cutelaba’s cardio is second to none, and you can’t really say that for da Silva. I think this fight will go in Cutelaba’s highlight reel.
Tim Elliott vs. Ben Nguyen
Joseph Benavidez was originally scheduled to face Ben Nguyen, but was forced to withdraw, giving Tim Elliott an opportunity to fight New Zealand. I like this match up more than the Benavidez one. I find this fight to be a more competitive.
Elliott has always been UFC-caliber, and never understood why the UFC let him go. Well, here we are in his second fight after putting up a tough bout against the champ Demetrious Johnson. Elliott is a very well-rounded fighter with an odd style of fighting that can sometimes play against him on the score cards, as he’s willing to risk being in dangerous positions to possibly put himself in a good situation in the future. Elliott is a good striker, and a funky grappler with an incredible gas tank and chin. His opponent, Nguyen, is a very clean and technical fighter with great grappling skills and a solid striking arsenal. Much like Elliot and any other flyweight, Nguyen doesn’t really have any major holes.
This should be a good fight with great exchanges on the ground and on the feet. Technically, Nguyen should have a slight advantage on the feet. Yet, I find Elliott to be the grittier fighter, and I think his pressure and constant attacking from the ground will overwhelm Nguyen.
Alexander Volkanovski vs. Mizuto Hirota
Fun fight here between two very strong grapplers.
Alexander Volkanovski is a former Australian FC featherweight champion who’s currently 14-1 in his MMA career. Volkanovski made his UFC debut in November where he stoped lightweight Yusuke Kasuya. The Australian fighter is a strong athlete that does his best work when pressuring forward. Volkanovski has decent stand up but he shines best with his pressure, takedowns and heavy ground-and-pound.
Mizuto Hirota is veteran that has fought over 25 times. The Japanese fighter last fought in December where he picked up a win over fellow veteran Cole Miller. Hirota has great takedowns in his game and a very solid and technical top game. On the feet, Hirota doesn’t have great striking, but he has a solid chin that keeps him game in his fights.
Volkanovski is a huge favorite here, and I understand why. But given the style of fighting from both fighters, this fight is bound to hit the ground where I think Hirota should have a technical edge.
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