The UFC is back in their Las Vegas Performance Center after a two-week break and brings a slightly overwhelming match card.
With the headline of a senior light heavyweight thrust between veteran and rising star, Anthony Smith and Ryan Spann will make a lot of heavy lifts on a motherboard that leaves a lot to be desired.
Although there are bright spots in the co-main event and Arman Tsarukyan vs. Christos Giagos, lack the rest of the billing star power or any real consequence in their respective weight classes.
Anthony Smith (35-16) vs. Ryan Spann (19-6)
Both Smith and Spann are major stop threats, so this can easily go both ways.
While Spann may be the bigger threat on his feet and Smith a quality operator on the mat, I think their approaches between their big moments will be where the battle is won.
For all of Spann’s aggression at times, Smith is calm, knowing when to use his quality job and knowing his best path to victory.
With Smith’s experience, there is always potential for his wear to catch up with him, but he still looks durable and I expect him to remain a thorn in the side of the lighter heavyweight division’s newer wave.
Select: Anthony Smith
Ion Cutelaba (15-6-1, 1 NC) vs. Devin Clark (12-5)
Cutelaba is aggression personified and obviously accompanying his mistakes when he gassed himself out after an electric start last time.
Clark, meanwhile, is a solid athlete, but his losses have come very decisively, while his victories have come against fighters who lack great power.
Unfortunately for Clark, Cutelaba packs a mighty wallop and I would expect him to add to his KO collection here.
Select: Ion Cutelaba
Ariane Lipski (13-7) vs. Mandy Bohm (7-0, 1 NC)
Lipski entered the UFC with a solid hype, but has rarely translated that fanfare into her performances other than those against low-quality fighters.
Bohm will similarly get into this fight by driving a little upside down, so it will be interesting to see how these strikers match in style.
It’s hard to call, as Lipski wants to be the best fighter Bohm has squared against, but form and torque count a lot, and that’s stuck in Bohm’s corner.
Select: Mandy Bohm
Arman Tsarukyan (16-2) vs. Christos Giagos (19-8)
Giagos is a fighter who fights, but I simply can not see him on par with Tsarukyan.
While ‘The Spartan’ works with a decent output, Tsarukyan’s is on a higher clip and he has kept pace and quality in his fight with the best the UFC has to offer.
On his feet, Tsarukyan is also a smooth operator, so outside of a big mistake on his part, this should be a solid victory for the Georgian-born Russian to keep ticking over.
Select: Arman Tsarukyan
Nate Maness (13-1) vs. Tony Gravely (21-6)
Maness is much larger physically, so it will be interesting to see how Gravely can struggle with its size.
Seriously, it’s all about speed of work, so it can be a tough ask to have your offense consistently rejected against the bigger man.
Despite Manes ‘advantages in the band’s narrative, I think Gravely’s busy style will make him nod to the judges’ scorecards.
Select: Tony Gravely
Joaquin Buckley (12-4) vs. Antonio Arroyo (9-4)
Buckley could well be something of a glass cannon, but I’m not sold on Arroyo’s finishing ability, especially on the feet.
Arroyo could well control this fight by fighting, but I think Buckley has enough about him to keep Arroyo in the kickboxing area and win the fight there.
Pick: Joaquin Buckley
(Last predictions: 4/5, Total: 85/154, 55% success rate)
(Success rate: 2016: 61%, ’17: 60%, ’18: 58%, 19 ′: 57%, 20 ′: 67%)