The latest instalment of UFC Fight Night goes down tonight at Saitama Super Arena in Japan. A renowned venue having showcased many world-class MMA and puroresu events (Japanese pro wrestling), tonight’s UFC card seems destined for disappointment, although does provide mild intrigue on some fronts.
With “Shogun” Rua injured, unable to attempt avenging his 2014 TKO loss to Ovince Saint Preux, seasoned MMA veteran Yushin Okami steps in on short notice, helping to revive a card already suffering from a major lack of star power.
Admittedly, sometimes what shows up as garbage on paper produces highly memorable results in practice — Anybody else catch that Rams-49ers shoot-out last night?
With that, here are some thoughts and predictions for tonight’s Super Spectacle at the Saitama…
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT: #6 Ovince Saint Preux (-470) vs. Yushin Okami (+370)
Shame we won’t get to see the rematch between “Shogun” and OSP, but Okami does provide some level of intrigue against the well-round Saint Preux.
Ovince Saint Preux, carrying one victory in his last 4 fights, a submission finish back in April against Marcos Rogério de Lima. A heavy favourite in this fight, OSP profiles as a well-rounded fighter with solid striking and an under-utilized ground game. He’s generally failed to live up to his perceived potential (8-5 in his UFC career), but it’s almost certain he dominates Okami in all aspects of this fight.
Okami is a veteran who won’t be surprised by anything he sees from Saint Preux — problem is he’s recently been fighting at welterweight. There’s a real possibility Okami won’t be strong enough to contend with the takedowns and sheer strength of OSP. I doubt this one sees the final bell…
Prediction: Saint Preux by TKO
WOMEN STRAWWEIGHT: #2 Claudia Gadelha (-270) vs. #4 Jessica Andrade (+230)
This is hands down the best fight of the night. Gadelha-Andrade is a massive fight in the women’s strawweight division.
With a title shot likely awaiting the winner, look for this fight to produce some fireworks.
Gadelha is a freak at 115. She possesses dangerous striking and a ground game among the best in the UFC. With her only two losses coming against Joanna Jędrzejczyk, she’s the most polished and accomplished fighter amongst the 115 contenders.
Jessica Andrade is no slouch herself. Never shy to come forward, Andrade packs a very heavy punch. She’s wild but calculated in her striking and more than capable on the ground — remember her dominant toss takedowns in the Joanna fight?
Having absorbed 225 significant strikes in her last fight against JJ, no one doubts Andrade’s resolve or will.
This fight is the highlight of the card. A second title shot on the line — Andrade is a beast but I think Gadelha’s polished game wins her a compelling decision.
Prediction: Gadelha by split decision
LIGHTWEIGHT: Takanori Gomi (+290) vs. Dong Hyun Kim (-355)
Winless in his last four fights — all first round losses — Takanori Gomi is desperate for a victory in what could be his final UFC fight depending on the outcome.
Gomi is awkward in most of what he does but more than capable of turning his opponents lights out with his knockout power. Still fighting two years shy of 40, Gomi has a wealth of experience to draw from compared to his 29-year old opponent.
Dong Hyun Kim does everything good, but nothing spectacular. He’s capable of fighting from any position but won’t blow you away with any of his doings in the octagon.
Gomi has the potential to tag Kim, a fighter known for suspect head movement and a chin on the softer side of things. With that said, Kim is the fresher, younger, and quicker fighter and barring an intervention of unknown origin, he should handle the Japanese legend.
Prediction: Kim by TKO
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT: Gokhan Saki (-180) vs. Henrique da Silva (+155)
Admittedly, I have little idea how this fight will go.
With a career highlighted by 96 kickboxing fights (83W, 12L, 1NC), Saki will make his UFC debut, stepping into the octagon for his second MMA bout — his first ending in a TKO loss wayyyyy back in 2004.
Given his background, one can assume Saki is a dangerous and calculated striker capable of bashing and bruising you with hands and/or feet. However, his grappling ability is limited and it’s hard to imagine him being more than frantic and lost on the ground.
Henrique da Silva brings a more traditional well-rounded with him. Taking Saki down has to be da Silva’s focus, at least initially to test the kickboxer’s ability from a foreign position.
Da Silva has shown a tendency to wear down in fights so if Saki is able to whether the initial storm, he could exploit the da Silva’s poor cardio in later rounds.
I’m all for positive debuts but I think da Silva guts out a mind-numbing decision against a fish out of water Saki. But honestly, I have no frigging idea!
Prediction: da Silva by unanimous decision
FEATHERWEIGHT: Teruto Ishihara (-165) vs. Rolando Dy (+145)
Three consecutive losses signals a losing streak — Teruto Ishihara looks to avoid such a streak and score a victory after dropping his last two UFC contests.
An intriguing prospect, Ishihara brings a well-rounded arsenal with him. Possessing nothing more than a mediocre and capable ground game, he prefers to stand and utilize his movement and unconventional striking tactics.
The Team Alpha-Male project should be able to impose his will on Dy, who is not likely to threaten Ishihara standing up or on the ground, providing a showcase sort of atmosphere for the ambiguous Japanese prospect.
Prediction: Ishihara by unanimous decision
FLYWEIGHT: #5 Jussier Formiga (-400) vs. Ulka Sasaki (+330)
A main card replacement bout after Mizuto Hirota was deemed unfit to compete after a scary weigh-in yesterday…his scheduled fight against Charles Rosa was subsequently cancelled.
Formiga should have little issue winning here — Sasaki does possess a significant reach and height advantage but Formiga is superior in all areas. Standing up, or on the ground, Formiga’s technical ability takes over and overcomes the range and unorthodox ground game of Sasaki.
While the art of fighting has taught us to never take an outcome for granted, I only see this fight going one way.
Prediction: Formiga by unanimous decision
photo credit Getty Images
Fighter odds from ufc.com