UFC Fight Night 153 Main Card
Alexander Gustafsson vs. Anthony Smith
Gustafsson has been fighting less frequently over the past few years and hasn’t always looked at his best when he has stepped into the Octagon, while at times he’s even questioned his future in the sport.
That makes this a tricky test a Smith is still hungry and has a voracious appetite for finishing fights, particularly on the feet these days, though he is a threat from submissions too.
Gustafsson will have a few inch reach advantage though and can use that to outbox Smith from range and prevent him from settling into firing off his potent combinations, or advance into the clinch where he can be effective too.
It is possible Smith’s aggression could trouble Gustafsson though, and if so it may be that the Swede has to switch things up and work for takedowns as he did against Jan Blackowicz.
If Gustafsson’s not fully switched on then this could be a tough night for him, but I do think that he is the better fighter overall and I’ll go for his striking from range and superior wrestling to earn him a decision victory here.
Prediction: Alexander Gustafsson to win by decision – Bet Now
Ilir Latifi vs. Volkan Oezdemir
Latifi is appropriately nicknamed ‘The Sledgehammer’ as his power punches certainly land with devastating effect in the Octagon – if they find their target.
Latifi can be a little too reliant on loading up on those single strikes though, while Oezdemir is a quicker, busier striker, who will put together a more varied and consistent offensive output on the feet, while still carrying a knockout threat.
The stocky Latifi will also look for takedowns and he’s very heavy on top if he succeeds, so going to ground will be something Oezdemir will be keen to avoid.
Overall I think Latifi’s power is a significant threat here, but he is quite predictable and I feel that Oezdemir’s higher volume and variety of strikes will be more telling over the course of three rounds.
Prediction: Volkan Oezdemir to win by decision – Bet Now
Jimi Manuwa vs. Aleksandar Rakic
A few years ago I would have had more confidence in picking Manuwa to win this fight, but at 39-years-old and riding a three-fight losing streak there’s clear evidence that is chin has deteriorated badly.
That’s a major problem for the Brit as he has a do-or-die approach on the feet and relies on his power and athleticism to win out rather than being strategic, changing things up depending on the opponent, or having a well-rounded game to fall back on.
Meanwhile, the 27-year-old Rakic does have a solid all-round skill-set and is on an 11-fight winning streak, so the momentum is certainly on his side.
Rakic hasn’t faced anyone as deadly on the feet as Manuwa though, and while he’s got a good kicking game, I’m not convinced that will deter ‘Poster Boy’.
Nevertheless, Manuwa’s punch resistance is now significantly comprised, and while I do still think he’s a lethal finisher, it makes me hesitate that I’ll take the younger, less battle-worn Rakic to find his chin and end the fight in the second round.
Prediction: Aleksander Rakic to win by TKO in Rd2 – Bet Now
Makwan Amirkhani vs. Chris Fishgold
This should be a good, competitive fight between two very capable featherweights.
On the feet Fishgold is the more aggressive and stays active with punches, while looking for opportunities to initiate takedowns or clinch opportunities.
Amirkhani has power, but he’s not a particularly comfortable striker and it’s something he’s been known to be trying to improve, so it’ll be interesting to see if he’s added any more tools to his arsenal in that regard.
Amirkhai is a strong wrestler with good submissions, but Fishgold is also very capable in that regard, with the vast majority of his career victories coming via chokes.
This is such a close match-up, with both fighters having similar styles, but I’m ever so slightly leaning towards Amirkhani due to his strength in the wrestling department and potential striking improvements, but Fishgold’s pressure on the feet is going to make it a tough call for the judges.
Prediction: Makwan Amirkhani to win by decision – Bet Now
Christos Giagos vs. Damir Hadzovic
Two fairly athletic lightweights with indifferent UFC records so far are on show here.
Giagos will apply pressure on the feet, but Hadzovic has the heavier hands, so I don’t think being overly aggressive in the stand-up will pay dividends for him here.
Giagos does have the better wrestling of the two and with Hadzovic’s takedown defense having been suspect in the past that will be an avenue he’ll surely want to explore, though to his credit Hadzovic’s offensive wrestling has appeared to have improved in recent times.
I could see this being a bit of a back-and-forth battle, but I think Hadzovic’s power advantage will be a key consideration here, and together with Giagos having a tendency to fade as the fight goes on I’ll take Hadzovic to emerge with a decision victory.
Prediction: Damir Hadzovic to win by decision – Bet Now
Daniel Teymur vs. Sung Bin Jo
Teymur desperately needs a win here after losing his first three UFC fights, but he’ll have to go through an undefeated fighter making his debut in Jo to do it.
Teymur is a fun fighter to watch on the feet, but he’s vulnerable on the mat and isn’t good at pacing himself, which means he has a tendency to just run out of steam.
Jo might well do him a favour by opting to engage on the feet, but he’ll enjoy a big 6” height and 3” reach advantage and is a tough customer, so I think he’ll manage to survive the early onslaught despite eating some big shots and will then make the tiring Teymur pay in the later rounds to claim a late stoppage victory.
Prediction: Sung Bin Jo to win by submission in Rd3 – Bet Now
UFC Fight Night 153 Prelims
(Predicted winners in bold)
Tonya Evinger vs. Lina Lansberg
Stevie Ray vs. Leonardo Santos
Nick Hein vs. Frank Camacho
Bea Malecki vs. Eduarda Santana
Darko Stosic vs. Devin Clark
Joel Alvarez vs. Danilo Belluardo