UFC Fight Night 30 emanates from the Phones 4u Arena Saturday afternoon in Manchester, England and features a main event pitting together two former training partners . Once again Jordan Cieciwa (@FitCityJordan) and I (@LynchOnSports) go head to head in our picks for this weekend's event. Last weekend at UFC 166 my #TeamLynch went a perfect 13-0 and while #TeamJC went a respectable 7-6 in his picks. Let us know which side you're on! Tweet either #TeamLynch or #TeamJC. Also feel free to leave your opinions in the comment section below.
Lyoto Machida vs. Mark Munoz
James Lynch TSN.ca (@LynchOnSports)
It's a rarity in MMA when a replacement fighter in the main event presents a more intriguing matchup than the initial opponent. This is the case with Saturday as "The Dragon" drops to middleweight for the first time in his career, replacing the injured Michael Bisping.
The Japanese-Brazilian is coming off a very controversial loss to Phil Davis at UFC 163 and despite landing more strikes during the fight, it was Davis' ability to get the takedowns throughout the contest which evidently earned him the judge's decision. Facing a former NCAA Division I wrestler in Munoz, the 35-year old could face the same problems.
The "Filipino Wrecking Machine" meanwhile, is coming off a dominant performance over Tim Boetsch at UFC 162, which saw a much improved clinch and wrestling game. The question for Machida is will his speed and power still resonate at his new home of 185lbs?
I think it will.
What we do know is the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt has found ways to defeat dominant wrestlers in the past, as displayed in his victories over Dan Henderson, Rashad Evans and Ryan Bader. Expect Machida to shine in his middleweight debut, as he'll outpoint Munoz over the five-round affair on route to the unanimous decision victory.
Machida via unanimous decision
Jordan Cieciwa TSN Radio 1290 (@FitCityJordan)
Well this one has me stumped. There is a lot of pressure on Machida as he makes a new home at 185lbs. Never mind the fact that these two have done half of their camp leading up to this one together. This is going to be a very strange night for sure.
Mark Munoz has a lot to prove. He is now over a year past his elbow injury and bout with depression. He's been putting in work at his camp, and by the accounts of his friends and teammates looks great. The question is, does he have enough of a rounded game to catch Machida.
I think he does.
Ever since the most elusive fighter started getting tagged, he has looked more and more human. 185lbs is Munoz's home, the weight cut for this will make it tough for Machida to maintain that speed he needs to get his angles and be effective in his counter striking game.
Machida no doubt has the ability to defend the take down. My concern is the championship rounds, and the grinding. Will he be able to take those rounds from Munoz. I expect Munoz to be in control of rounds 4 and 5, meaning he just needs to win one more.
Munoz via split decision
Melvin Guillard vs. Ross Pearson
A pair of scrappy Ultimate Fighter alumni go to war in the lightweight division as 46-fight veteran Guillard battles English fan favorite Pearson.
Heading into his last fight with Mac Danzig, "The Young Assassin" was facing potential unemployment in the UFC with a string of losses and responded with a "Knockout of the Night" performance instead. The 30-year old credited the win to his new home at Grudge Training Center in Colorado, under the tutelage of striking guru Trevor Whittman. For this camp, Guillard opted to move back to his home in Florida and train at American Top Team, a stable that includes fellow UFC lightweights Gleison Tibau and Jorge Masvidal.
Pearson meanwhile moved back up to lightweight at the end of 2012 and boasts a two-fight win streak that saw him dispatch George Sotiropoulos and Ryan Couture. Fans can expect fireworks as both fighters aren't afraid to stand and bang.
Guillard has the edge in power and wrestling, while the TUF Smashes coach has the edge in submissions and technical striking. With that said, Pearson hasn't won a fight by submission since defeating Ian Jones in 2008. If Guillard can keep this fight on the feet and avoid becoming over confident, he should win this fight. Expect the TUF 2 competitor to land more power shots during the three-round affair and earn the unanimous decision victory.
Guillard via unanimous decision
Trevor Whittman can be credited with this fight being booked. It's his work with Melvin Guillard that landed him a big KO victory and saved his job. The question now becomes, how good did Guillard get and can he strike with the ever improving boxing of Ross Pearson.
I don't think Guillard has mastered the striking enough yet to win this fight standing up. Pearson looked fantastic against George Sotiropoulos and Ryan Couture. I see this fight ending early, two fighters with something to prove, and the love of an aggressive striking match.
Guillard's speed will take some getting used to, but once Pearson times him, look out, KOTN.
Pearson via 2nd round TKO
Ryan Jimmo vs. Jimi Manuwa
London's Manuwa looks to keep his perfect record intact when he squares off with former MFC champion Jimmo.
Since his UFC debut in 2012, the BAMMA veteran has finished both Kyle Kingsbury and Cyrille Diabate to improve to a perfect 2-0 inside the octagon. Jimmo is 2-1 in the UFC, and most recently won a lackluster three round decision Igor Pokrajac at UFC 161, which didn't impress fans nor UFC president Dana White.
The Canadian's resume stands at 18-2 and hasn't been knocked out since his MMA started in 2007. Manuwa hasn't had a fight go past the second round in his 13-fight career, but as previous opponents have learned, Jimmo has a tendency to turn a fight into a three-round stalemate. We should see that change in this matchup as Manuwa is more dynamic and should outpoint the New Brunswick born fighter over the three-round contest.
Manuwa via unanimous decision
If Ryan Jimmo treats this fight the way he did his last go with Igor Pokrajac it's going to be a short night and Jimi Manuwa is taking home a win to move to 3-0 with the UFC.
Dana White was pretty outspoken at UFC 161 about the disappointment in the Pokrajac vs Jimmo fight. That may prove fatal for Jimmo. Manuwa has a habit of sending people to the canvas quickly. If Jimmo tries to push the pace to please the boss, it's going to go bad, and go bad quickly. Jimmo's been knocked out before, and Manuwa is the guy to do it again.
Manuwa via first round knockout.
Norman Parke vs. Jon Tuck
Two high-level grapplers go to war in the lightweight division as Robert Drysdale trained Parke battles 29-year old Tuck. Much like the welterweight tilt a few weeks ago between Damian Maia and Jake Shields, when two ground specialists like this clash, it has the potential to either be an entertaining tactical ground matchup or a complete snooze fest. Because both fighters are looking to make a name for themselves in a wide open lightweight division, hopefully fans will enjoy a potential "Fight Of The Night" encounter.
While the "Super Saiyan" is undefeated boasting a perfect 7-0 record, he hasn't faced the level of competition his 20-fight foe has encountered. Interestingly enough, Parke's two losses have come by way of submission. So who wins? Despite Tuck being better on the feet, Parke's experience should aid in him landing a submission victory sometime in the third round.
Parke via third round submission
I think this is one of those fights where the matchup is a little off, and it's going to favor Norman Parke. Jon Tuck has an impressive record at 7-0, but he's matched up with Norman Parke at 18-2. That's a huge experience gap that can't be over looked.
Both guys have submissions at their disposal, and I think this fight was set up to display some grappling talent and make the card a little more exciting with the experience gap. For this to go any other way than a Parke submission would be an upset. I'm going to go with the upset. Tuck has the ability to win this with a knock out. I think the fighter out of Guam will do just that. Score some solid strikes and win this in electric fashion.
Tuck via second round TKO
Nicholas Musoke vs. Alessio Sakara
Italian fighter Sakara returns to the octagon after his controversial DQ loss to Patrick Cote back in November, to face promotional newcomer Musoke. A loser of four-straight fights, it's no secret the 32-year old needs to win this fight and convincingly if he wants to move back up the middleweight ladder.
His opponent, the 10-2 Musoke is mainly a wrestler, but does have a decent ground game with four submission victories on his resume. This bout should come down to experience and not only does Sarkara have 30 bouts under his belt compared to 12 for the Swede, he's also fought tougher competition.
Add in the octagon jitters for "Nico" and this should be Sakara's fight to lose. While Musoke doesn't have a knockout loss on his resume, expect Sakara to find his range in the second round and finish the UFC newbie.
Sakara via second round knockout.
This fight is a bit of a head scratcher. It's a large experience gap, and feels like the UFC may be feeding a win to the struggling Alessio Sakara. Nicholas Musoke comes into this fight with just 13 fights to his credit that is half the total of Alessio at 25 fights.
To make matters worse, this is his debut in the UFC octagon. I imagine this will be Sakara's chance to make a statement in the UFC again.
Look for him to end this quick and with something spectacular. He has a head kick win or two under his belt. Look for one of those here.
Sakara via 3rd round knockout
Phil Harris vs. John Lineker
Similar to last week at UFC 166, the flyweights once again take center stage as the opening bout on the main card, as England's Harris takes on 23-year old Brazilian Lineker.
This is a classic striker versus grappler match with Lineker having ten knockouts on his 28-fight resume, compared to Harris who has 13 submission victories over his 33-fight career.
While the 30-year old Harris has the experience and hometown advantage, Lineker's striking is far too superior for his foe and expect a spectacular finish in the first round.
Lineker via first round knockout
The main event is getting kicked off with a little speed and a lot of skill in the flyweight division. This fight puts John Lineker up against Phil Harris. Both are accomplished grappling specialists.
The edge in this goes to Harris for wins in that department. Lineker has been known to knock out opponents with some fairly heavy hands. If Harris doesn't respect Lineker's power, this will end quick.
If he does the smart thing and uses his height advantage to stay away from the power, this may get to decision. I'm hoping Harris is smart, and fights the grappling fight.
Harris via unanimous decision
Lynch: Iaquinta, Craig, Sexton, Miller, Hettes, Kuiper
JC: Hallman, Craig, Andrade, Miller, Hettes, Kuiper
Also be sure to tune into the "Weigh-In" on TSN Radio 1290 Winnipeg every Saturday as myself, Jordan and "Big Marv" Timog go toe to toe discussing the hottest topics in MMA.