The UFC is back in our lives this weekend, as top-ranked welterweights Matt Brown and Erick Silva look to collect another win en route to contendership in the 170lbs division.
UFC Fight Night 40, from the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio, also plays host to a whole raft of other fights worth talking about, and I’m here to help guide you through the myriad of matchups with this handy little preview.
Off we go…
(#7) Matt Brown vs. (#14) Erick Silva – 170lbs.
Matt Brown has undergone one hell of a career resurgence. Between 2010 and 2011, Brown went 1-3 in the UFC, but has gone and rattled off six straight wins to thrust himself in to title contention with a real Cinderella story. Silva on the other hand, last seen KO’ing Takenori Sato in February, has continued to look fantastic in the fights where he is supposed to win, but still struggles when given the boost in competition. A defeat here to Brown, and Silva is in danger of being seen as the welterweight division’s gatekeeper to the elite.
Silva has all the talent in the world but is severely hampered by a poor fight IQ, and I feel that this will be his downfall again. Silva should look to take this one to the ground and work his superior BJJ, but I can see Silva trying to take Brown out on the feet, and when an opponent has the power that Brown has in his hands, that is a recipe for disaster.
Prediction – Brown via KO/TKO
(#12) Costas Philippou vs. Lorenz Larkins – 185lbs.
Neither man can really afford another loss here. Philippou is staring down the barrel of a three-fight losing streak, and Larkins has just the one win in his three UFC bouts since transitioning over from Strikeforce. Philippou was last seen losing out to Luke Rockhold via a body kick TKO, and Larkins’ last performance was a unanimous decision defeat to Brad Tavares.
While both men can change the direction of a fight with one single punch, Larkins does have the offensive wrestling advantage over Philippou, and will look to use this to score points in the eyes of the judges. That being said, Philippou has show solid takedown defence in the past and should have enough about him to keep this one standing long enough to do damage on the feet.
Prediction – Philippou via decision
Erik Koch vs. Daron Cruickshank – 155lbs.
This one should be fun. Neither Koch nor Cruickshank are strangers to the spectacular, and both men have the ability to end a fight in an instance. Koch was successful in his move up to the lightweight division in his most recent bout, TKO’ing Rafaello Oliveira at UFC 170, while Cruickshank KO’d Mike Rio in memorable fashion earlier this January.
Both men can cause all but the best fits on the feet with their equally diverse and powerful striking technique. This could really go either way, but I’m going to plump for a Koch finish, with Koch proving the more powerful man and more refined striker.
Prediction – Koch via KO/TKO
Neil Magny vs. Tim Means – 170lbs.
This is an odd fight to have so far up the card. Magny’s 2-2 in the UFC without a noteworthy win to his name, and Means is making his return to the Octagon on Saturday, having been released by the promotion in July of last year.
Magny, the longer fighter, will hold an advantage in the striking department, and will likely look to fight this one at range, whereas Means will want to drag this one to the mat where he will feel he is superior. I’m going for Means here, as Magny hasn’t really shown the required takedown defence that will see Means struggle.
Prediction – Means via decision
Soa Palelei vs. Ruan Potts – 265lbs.
Palelei looked ordinary in his UFC debut victory over Nikita Krylov, but returned to the Octagon in brutal fashion last December, when he KO’d Pat Barry. Potts, a former champion in EFC Africa, will be making his maiden UFC bow on Saturday, having compiled an 8-1 record whilst with EFC Africa.
Potts’ most likely route to victory is through his ground work, as he will hold a grappling advantage, however I can’t see him getting it there before the more experienced Palelei displays his superior striking power.
Prediction – Palelei via KO/TKO
(#10) Chris Cariaso vs. Louis Smolka – 125lbs.
Chris Cariaso appears to have found his level in the UFC, and it doesn’t seem to be in and amongst the elite of the flyweight division, as defeats to John Moraga and Jussier Formiga prove, but he is on a two-fight win streak.
Smolka will prove a handful for Cariaso on the ground, but I think this one stays standing for the majority, and Cariaso picks off the rounds on the feet.
Prediction – Cariaso via decision