UFC Sweden 2 (UFC on Fuel TV 9) Preview
Sat, 06 Apr 2013
Well, after injuries, April Fools taken too far and half the fighters in Europe throwing their hat into the ring, I’ve had to rewrite the first chunk of this preview a half dozen times. Lets go… just don’t anyone else get injured, yeah?
It’s always nice to have live MMA at a reasonable time, and the UFC’s trips to Sweden give those of us in Europe just that. With the main card showing on ESPN at 9pm in the UK, that’s pretty civilised, even if we are enduring a THREE HOUR tape delay to accommodate ESPN’s usual dose of German and Italian football.
Bangs head against wall.
Of course, we’ve got the prelims from 2.30 in the afternoon on Facebook, so that’s nice…
Still, it’s better than usual.
We were expecting a main event featuring Swedish superstar and in my eyes at least, should-be-no.1-contender Alexander Gustafsson but a training injury has ruled ‘The Mauler’ out of his scheduled match with Gegard Mousasi (33-3-2).
Stepping up to the plate at the eleventh hour, is fellow Swedish Light Heavyweight Ilir Latifi (7-2) who rides high in the Nordic rankings and as one of Sweden’s most popular domestic fighters should go some way to making up for the loss of Gustafsson in the eyes of the Swedish fans.
Latifi has a 7-1 record in Sweden and is on a three fight winning streak since dropping a decision to new Bellator tournament champion Emanuele Newton in 2011 and comes in with some momentum, home advantage, surely knowing more about his opponent than Mousasi knows about him and absolutely nothing to lose. That said, he is giving up a lot in terms of experience, preparation and height…
Of course, Gegard Mousasi (who was nice enough to give us an interview in the run up to this fight) isn’t the sort to get unduly ruffled by much, except of course folks who make him believe he’s got a living legend as his next opponent for a full day and then admit to a joke.
No, Mousasi is a former champion in Cage Warriors, DREAM and Strikeforce and aside from his decision loss to Muhammed Lawal in 2010 he’s not tasted defeat since 2006 for a run of 20-1-1.
I’ve been a little disheartened by so called fans who’ve said Mousasi was easy meat for Gustafsson and not UFC calibre, because he’s a well rounded fighter with a total of 29 finishes split between strikes and subs including victories over the likes of Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, Renato Sobral, Mark Hunt, Ronaldo Souza and Hector Lombard.
Underestimate him at your peril – not that he cares what you think, anyway.
Of course, suddenly Mousasi is a heavy favourite against an opponent casual fans outside Sweden have truly never heard of and the mental balance of the match shifts again.
What to expect? Well, Mousasi is a dangerous and aggressive fighter both on the feet and on his back, who’s mentality has been questioned in the past while Latifi’s stocky frame and well rounded base means he may find success from takedowns and ground and pound, following Lawal’s path to victory.
Then again, Latifi has scored head kick knockouts on opponent’s Mousasi’s size before…
All in all, this match is an example of all that is weird and wonderful about MMA, with a hometown favourite replaced by a hometown underdog and the enigmatic newcomer caught in the middle. Time to repeat a time worn maxim.
ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN IN MMA.
In the co-main event we have Ross ‘the Real Deal’ Pearson (14-6) fresh off his impressive victory over George Sotiropoulos, welcoming Ryan Couture (6-1) to the UFC in almost surprisingly high profile fashion.
Pearson is a clinical striker with a 6-3 record in the UFC and wins over some varied talent, with only his loss to Cole Miller really denting his momentum. With increasing confidence and maturity, Pearson is looking to re-establish some momentum following some inconsistent form and bad luck with judges. He’s gone on record as saying that Couture isn’t on his level, which is probably fair but never a smart thing to say before a fight.
Couture debuts following a largely impressive run in Strikeforce, although the common wisdom is that he didn’t deserve to win the split decision in his last bout against KJ Noons. A collected fighter who’s greatest strength lies in a well rounded base and good game plans, Couture may have been thrown to the sharks a little bit here as Pearson is likely to pick him apart on the feet and not allow him to settle into whatever his plan may be.
Next up we have a bout between two heavyweights looking to get back in a winning way, with Matt Mitrione (5-2) and Phil DeFries (9-2) squaring off in as typical a striker vs. grappler bout as you are like to find.
Mitrione wins by knockout while DeFries wins by submission, and loses by knockout. Given the way Stipe Miocic and Todd Duffee folded DeFries up, it looks like being a short night for the Sunderland boy unless he can pull ‘Meathead’ in the grappling world where DeFries excels and Mitrione remains untested.
A probably fight of the night contender between Brad Pickett (22-7) and Mike Easton (13-2) comes next, with both men coming off a decision loss, but bizarrely not that far out of the title picture, seeing as how piled up Bantamweight is at the moment.
MMA Math tells us both guys have posted a UD win over Ivan Menjivar in recent years which is absolutely no use, aside from to tell us that they evidently don’t suck.
Hell, it’s top level Bantamweights – don’t blink and prepare to be entertained!
A similar pace is to be expected from the next match as Ultimate Fighter Diego Brandao (16-8) looks to build on his mature performance against Joey Gambino against submission wizard Pablo Garza (12-3) who boasts a marked six inch height advantage.
Brandao is always a fast starter, but tends to gas in later rounds, while Garza uses his length to great effect in both striking and especially submissions. If Brandao gets inside Garza’s reach, this could be over quickly but if Garza can maintain distance (at least until Brandao tires out a bit) and pulls guard, it could be a very different fight.
Rounding off the main card is a bout between two more exciting Featherweights, both coming off memorable wins at last year’s UFC Nottingham.
Robbie Peralta (16-3) scored his second UFC win with a quick knockout of Kumite favourite Jason Young while Akira Corassani (10-3) scored a contentious (we thought he lost) split decision win over fellow TUF alum, Andy Ogle.
Peralta has the definite edge in finishing power, with fourteen stoppages to Corassani’s four and Akira has also shown a slight susceptibility to getting KTFO which is not good facing a striker like Peralta.
The preliminary card for this event is enthralling but I’m only going to focus on one match, however I would be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to watch all of the prelims as the bouts between Papy Abedi (8-2) and Besam Yousef (6-1), Tom Lawlor (8-5) and Michael Kuiper (12-1) and Michael Johnson (12-7) versus Reza Madadi (12-3) are all plenty interesting.
The prelim that has me really stoked however is the UFC debut of Cage Warriors double champion Conor McGregor (12-2) facing Marcus Brimage (6-1).
We’ve waxed lyrical about McGregor elsewhere but suffice to say that he’s an insanely talented fighter, with a taste for aggressive yet cultured displays of striking.
Brimage has less experience and is remembered as a stand & bang guy from TUF yet has made a run to 3-0 in the UFC, including mature wins against the very talented Maximo Blanco and Jim Hettes.
This one should be a barnburner, don’t miss it.
So clear your itinerary for Saturday, be it morning, afternoon or evening, wherever you are in the world (check listings at http://www.ufc.com if you are unsure) because this card rocks.
Oh, and don’t let any naysaying casual fan who’s only interested in title matches and guys who talk immense amounts of trash tell you otherwise. The Fuel cards consistently deliver and with a red got Swedish crowd thrown in, this card looks set to do the same.
MAIN (FUEL TV, 2 p.m. ET)
• Ilir Latifi vs. Gegard Mousasi
• Ryan Couture vs. Ross Pearson
• Philip De Fries vs. Matt Mitrione
• Mike Easton vs. Brad Pickett
• Diego Brandao vs. Pablo Garza
• Akira Corassani vs. Robert Peralta
PRELIMINARY (Facebook, 10:30 a.m. ET)
• Michael Johnson vs. Reza Madadi
• Adam Cella vs. Tor Troeng
• Adlan Amagov vs. Chris Spang
• Marcus Brimage vs. Conor McGregor
• Ben Alloway vs. Ryan LaFlare
• Michael Kuiper vs. Tom Lawlor
• Papy Abedi vs. Besam Yousef