UFC on Fox 31 Preview

UFC on Fox’s final show of their TV deal takes place this Saturday 15th December at Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The main event sees the UFC’s most stacked division take centre stage with Kevin Lee (17-3) and Al Iaquinta (13-4-1) squaring off for a second time, 4 years on from the first bout which Al Iaquinta took by unanimous decision. The main card also includes two other lightweight contests, with the co-main event featuring two explosive competitors in Edson Barboza (19-6) and Dan Hooker (17-7) come together and Jim Miller (29-12-1NC) vs. Charles Oliveira (24-8-1NC) opening the main card. The second fight of the night sees Bantamweights Rob Font and Sergio Pettis vie for a place in the Bantamweight title conversation. U.K viewers can watch the main card on BT Sport at 3AM Sunday morning and the preliminary card from 1AM.

Lee vs Iaquinta – Lightweight
Kevin Lee’s emphatic disposal of Edson Barboza in his last outing put him back in the top 5 of the division, having tasted disappointment against current number 1 contender Tony Ferguson in October last year. Lee did however miss weight against Barboza and must overturn his loss against Iaquinta 4 years ago in order to stake his claim as a possible contender to the Lightweight throne in 2019. Iaquinta narrowly took the first contest and comes of the back of a short notice non title loss against king of the mountain Khabib Nurmaggemedov at UFC 223. Iaquinta stood defiant against an opponent who smothered him, lasting 5 rounds and gaining much respect in the process. However he did not look likely to upset Khabib really at any point during the contest and Kevin Lee has the better resume since their previous meeting, which also happened to be Lee’s UFC debut. Iaquinta has the better gas tank and is perhaps better equipped for a 5 round fight if this goes later, but Lee edges the skillsets in my book. He has arguably progressed further than Iaquinta and is the more explosive athlete. Losing to Ferguson hurt the Motown Phenom. He looked a man on a mission in his return bout against Edson Barbosa, displaying great durability against Barboza’s potent strikin. I see this going Lee’s way in the first 3 rounds by submission.

Dan Hooker vs Edson Barboza – Lightweight
New Zealand’s Dan Hooker has cruised to a cool 4-0 since making the step up to lightweight. His previous 6 bouts in the UFC at featherweight had given him a split 3-3 record before this and he appeared a mainstay of UFC prelims. Hooker has benefitted greatly from the added 10 pounds with 3 Knock outs and 1 submission in his last 4. The lofty 6 foot lightweight sees himself tested against the powerful Brazilian Barboza, who looks to bounce back from a two fight skid against Khabib and more recently Kevin Lee. Barboza and Hooker both possess knockout power but at 32 Barboza’s can’t be getting any better and with the kind of form Hooker has found himself of late I see him taking this contest by a unanimous decision. Barboza’s quality is undoubtable but as previously mentioned the UFC’s Lightweight division is incredible, Hooker is 4 years his junior and will surely break into the UFC Lightweight top 10 with a win on Saturday. Barboza will be a great test of Hooker’s level and may be the gatekeeper to a run at the belt. Whatever the outcome, this promises to be a frenetic battle with great potential for fireworks.

Rob Font vs Sergio Pettis
Both Font and Pettis come in to this matchup off the back of defeats. Sergio Pettis moves up from Flyweight, while his opponent Rob Font is up there with the biggest guys in the bantamweight division. Both have contrasting styles in the standup department; Font is much more comfortable on the front foot, while Pettis typically is counter striker. Both Font’s size and aggression could be key here unless Pettis can upset his rhythm and keep him at distance. Font looks the logical winner of this contest for me by decision.

Jim Miller vs. Charles Oliveira
Another rematch on the card and another Lightweight bout sees the UFC’s most experienced fighter Jim Miller take on Brazilian Charles Oliveira. Miller won the first contest by a knee bar submission all the way back in 2010, before I even took an interest in MMA! A lot has changed since then, Miller is now past his peak at 35 and while still a very dangerous prospect for Oliveira, he not the potent force that Oliveira faced at the young age of 21. Oliveira now at 29 however still can at times seem flustered and run out of ideas, so this is still a fight Miller can win. I see Oliveira taking this by submission in the second half of the fight, if he keeps cool and works to his strengths.

Fight Card

MAIN CARD
Kevin Lee vs. Al Iaquinta
Edson Barboza vs. Dan Hooker
Rob Font vs. Sergio Pettis
Jim Miller vs. Charles Oliveira

PRELIMINARY CARD
Dwight Grant vs. Zak Ottow
Jessica-Rose Clark vs. Andrea Lee
Bobby Green vs. Drakkar Klose
Jared Gordon vs. Joaquim Silva
Jack Hermansson vs. Gerald Meerschaert
Jordan Griffin vs. Dan Ige

Early Prelims
Adam Milstead vs. Mike Rodriguez
Zak Cummings vs. Trevor Smith
Juan Adams vs. Chris De La Rocha

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