By Raphael Garcia
The Ultimate Fighting Championship took a trip over to the country of Sweden to place its flag there as it continues to expand across the globe. Featuring a number of fighters from close locales, the card gave the Swedish fans a lot to cheer about. Going forward, UFC matchmakers can take these fighters in a number of different ways that will help develop their careers.
Alexander Gustafsson vs. Ryan Bader
Gustafsson now has to deal with the comparisons to Jon Jones that were flying his way even before this bout. While he may not be quite the same type of prodigy that Jones has become over the years, he is an exciting prospect to watch and root for. Placing him against another individual who was considered an eventual contender in Ryan Bader would be a great test to see how much of a leap Alexander is ready to make. Bader is a powerful wrestler who is always poised to take his opponents to the mat. Gustafsson has had trouble with wrestlers in the past, such as when he faced off against Phil Davis, so you would have to wonder if he would be able to stop the constant takedowns coming from “Darth.” Gustafsson would have the advantage on the feet in both skill and reach, so he would have to use that effectively to maintain range. While his ground game has been improving, Bader has shown the ability to stuff submission attempts once he takes his opponent to the mat. Bader versus Gustafsson would be an interesting style matchup to see which fighter is ready to make the next step as a top light heavyweight contender.
Brian Stann vs. winner of Rousimar Palhares – Alan Belcher
Stann is a fan favorite who puts on exciting bouts each and every time he steps into the Octagon. Whether he wins or loses, he is becoming known for putting on a show while in the cage. He should be placed against the winner of the Palhares–Belcher match that is set for UFC on Fox 3 next month. Belcher and Palhares are both exciting fighters that have the ability to finish fights in a moment’s notice. Palhares can lock in a heel hook that rips an opponent’s leg apart, while Belcher uses volume striking to win bouts. When you look at them both against Stann, you would have to look at Palhares as being more of a dangerous opponent due to his ability to submit foes quickly, which has been an Achilles’ heel of Stann’s career in the past. Belcher would also be an interesting bout, but standing in front of the former Marine would not give him a distinct advantage in the fight. Choose either opponent and you would still have a highly anticipated bout for Stann coming off of his victory.
Denis Siver vs. Robert Peralta
With a tough weight cut behind him, Denis Siver was able to win his debut at featherweight by earning a unanimous decision against Diego Nunes. While he is far off from being considered at contender at 145, especially if he continues to have weight problems, Siver should be slowly developed before being placed against the bigger names in the division.Robert Peralta would be a good match for the German fighter. At 15-3, Peralta has had a solid career, and is 1-0-1 in the Octagon. His last bout against Mackens Semerzier was considered a no contest by accidental head-butt. He hasn’t stepped back into the cage since then, and a fight against Siver would be a true test to see who should hold a better position in the featherweight division. With 11 KO wins to his name, Peralta would be looking to do the same thing against Siver, who is an effective striker in his own right. I pick Peralta to defeat Siver, and make him reconsider his move to the featherweight division.
John Maguire vs. Siyar Bahadurzada
Siyar Bahadurzada burst onto the UFC scene by being the first man to stop Paulo Thiago in any fashion, and doing so by spectacular knockout. The Afghanistan-born fighter caught many people off guard and has to be considered a fighter to watch in the division. John Maguire was also victorious at UFC on Fuel TV, as he locked in an armbar on DaMarques Johnson to earn his tenth victory by submission. Placing these two individuals against each other on another free television show would give them the opportunity to showcase their abilities for fight fans on a mainstream stage, while creating a fight to give the winner a slight push up the ladder. While neither fighter is ready to be considered a fringe contender in what could be considered the toughest weight class in mixed martial arts, Maguire and Bahadurzada proved that they have the potential to finish fights when given the opportunity.
Brad Pickett vs. Brian Bowles
At 21-6, Pickett is a very experienced fighter who is often used as a “measuring stick” for new title contenders, but he remains a tough draw for any fighter in the bantamweight division. He submitted Damacio Page in the second round of their bout, but outclassed him completely throughout the contest. Pickett should be placed against Brian Bowles, to see if Bowles is still a top contender in the division, or if Pickett is ready to make a true run towards the title. Bowles is well known for his striking abilities, but at the same time, his propensity to throw hard punches has caused repeated damage to his hands. Althought Pickett would not shy away from a standup battle against Bowles, the former champion should be prepared to deal with the grappling chops that Pickett brings into the Octagon. 10 of his wins have come by submission, and he has the ability to take down many of his opponents at will, so I would expect him to be ready to do so against Bowles if he is unable to win the scrap on the feet. Bowles is a former titlist who has been in a serious slump, and I believe that wave of losses would continue if he were placed against Brad Pickett.
UFC on Fuel 2 was another show in which the UFC flexed their muscles on shores outside of the United States. Fight fans across the globe were introduced to new faces in various weight classes that will give us some interesting bouts throughout the rest of 2012 and beyond.
April 16, 2012
By Raphael Garcia