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UFC Fight Night 108 predictions

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Long-time UFC title contender, and currently fourth-ranked featherweight, Cub Swanson will be taking on unranked Artem Lobov in the main event of UFC Fight Night 108. This is a great card on paper apart from the odd main event. This card features the return of top lightweight Al Iaquinta, an important divisional bout between bantamweights John Dodson and Eddie Wineland, and an appealing fight in Jake Ellenberger vs. Mike Perry.

What: UFC Fight Night 108

Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn.

When: Saturday, April 22. The three-fight UFC Fight Pass preliminary card begins at 6:30 p.m. ET, the four-fight FOX Sports 2 preliminary card begins at 8 p.m. ET, and the six-fight main card begins at 10 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.

Cub Swanson vs. Artem Lobov

Yes, this is happening. Cub Swanson will be fighting Artem Lobov in the headlining slot of a UFC card. This is not to take a shot at Lobov, but it’s just way too early for the Russian to be in a UFC main event. Either way, let’s break down this featherweight match-up.

Bouncing back from losses to Frankie Edgar and Max Holloway, Swanson has recently put together three straight decision victories, defeating good opposition such as Hacran Dias, Tatsuya Kawajiri and most recently Doo Ho Choi. While his opponent, Lobov, snapped a two-fight skid that marked the start of his UFC career by winning back-to-back decisions over Chris Avila and Teruto Ishihara. On paper, it’s safe to say that Lobov is the easiest opponent Swanson has faced in his UFC career, while Swanson is the toughest test Lobov has ever faced.

You guys probably already get a sense on who I think will win this bout, but let’s look at the main factors that will determine the outcome, shall we?

Effortless movement: One of Swanson’s biggest and most appreciated skills is his overall movement. Swanson has excellent foot work, does a great job at avoiding damage solely using head movement, and changes levels often in an extremely fluid manner. When the JacksonWink fighter strikes against someone that doesn’t pose a big takedown threat, like we saw against Choi, we see a Swanson that opens up a lot more with his movement, which then allows him to land varied strikes at varied angles.

Lobov doesn’t really pose any threat on the ground against almost anyone in the division, and his movement on his feet is often stiff. This will allow Swanson to be generous with his motion, clearing the path for his diverse striking.

The hardesthitting featherweight: You always have to give a puncher’s chance to anyone stepping in the Octagon, even to the guy is not known to carry power. Well, it seems here “The Russian Hammer” is getting just that and more, as many believe he packs a heavy punch. I’d say most people don’t buy Lobov’s claims of being the hardest-hitting featherweight in the division, but I do get the feel people do categorize him as a powerful striker. Although I don’t think Lobov is a weak puncher, I’d say his power is overrated, and his chances to knockout Swanson are actually lower than most people think. I find Lobov to have moderately good power, but nothing Swanson hasn’t felt before.

In his four UFC bouts, Lobov has failed to stop any of his opponents. And in his 27 professional MMA fights, Lobov has only managed to stop four of his opponents via strikes. Of course, one can argue that the lack of knockouts in Lobov’s record speak to his striking technique rather his power, but regardless, the two have to go hand in hand to produce a finish.

Prediction: I see this only going one way, and that’s for “Killer” Cub. I think Swanson will have a perfect opportunity to showcase his timing, speed, range and fluid movement in striking. Swanson will likely stay on the outside, but will pressure when needed with a mix of punches and kicks.

Pick: Swanson

Al Iaquinta vs. Diego Sanchez

After refusing to fight due to contract disputes, the toughest real estate agent will finally make his return to the Octagon a little over two years after his last fight. And if you ask me, this a a very tough match-up for someone that’s had significant time off.

Diego Sanchez always brings ferocity, pressure, and a wild pace to his fights. “Lionheart” stopped evolving as a fighter a long time ago, but his unbreakable spirit plus his existing skills have managed to keep him relatively competitive in one of the toughest divisions in the UFC. Sanchez striking is predictable, and leaves him open to counters, which is a big disadvantage to winning decisions. However, Sanchez’s wrestling, cardio, and submission defense still overwhelm talented fighters. Something worth noting, is that Sanchez was recently stopped for the first time in 15 years of professional fighting. This could be just bad luck, or it could be the a signal of a deteriorating chin for someone who’s been involved in plenty of head punching.

Iaquinta is a very technical boxer that can put together clean combinations. The New Yorker also has nice footwork and a solid takedown defense to go with his great striking. Iaquinta’s only three professional losses have come via submission to very talented grapplers such as Michael Chiesa and Mitch Clarke. I don’t necessarily think Iaquinta has a hole in his ground game, it’s just that he shines brighter on the feet. “Raging” Al actually has very good takedowns and a solid understanding and awareness on the ground.

Technically speaking, I don’t see much room for Iaquinta to lose this bout with Sanchez. However, considering Sanchez’s insane pace and Iaquinta’s long lay-off, I think there is there is a chance for Sanchez to grind out a hard-fought decision. Still, I think Iaquinta takes this one.

Pick: Iaquinta

Ovince Saint Preux vs. Marcos Rogério de Lima

Will Ovince Saint Preux lose four in a row? Or will he beat the Brazilian Marcos Rogério de Lima? This light heavyweight match-up is a tricky fight to pick.

Saint Preux is currently on a three-fight losing streak and hasn’t looked too sharp in his last two trips to the Octagon, yet he’s still in the top 10 of the light heavyweight division. Size wise, Saint Preux presents problems to almost any light heavyweight. The 34-year-old fighter has dangerous, unorthodox striking and has proven to have great takedowns despite not using them frequently.

Marcos Rogério de Lima has had a few impressive victories in the UFC, but also a few disappointing ones. The Brazilian has put together a record of 4-2 since joining the promotion, but has yet to make his mark in the company. Everything “Pezão” does is at his fullest strength, whether he’s trying to knock the head off of his opponents with punches or trying to strangle them. This style of fighting gets him a lot of first-round finishes, but also sets him up to for failure past the first few minutes of the fight. De Lima has decent striking technique, plenty of knockout power, and some basic submissions that tend to work on lower opposition.

I think “OSP” is more than capable of winning this bout, as he should easily be able to take down de Lima and exhaust him on the ground to eventually get a finish. However, for some reason Saint Preux doesn’t take advantage of his size and takedowns very often and will likely take a chance on the feet with the dangerous de Lima. I see Saint Preux either surviving an early blitz, and eventually defeating an exhausted de Lima, or I see de Lima getting finished early in the fight. I’ll go with the latter scenario.

Pick: OSP

John Dodson vs. Eddie Wineland

This is a really good fight between two battle-tested veterans that at one point reached the top of their respective divisions.

Eddie Wineland, who’s career seemed to be coming to an end about two years ago, has had a nice and in someway an inspiring resurgence in the last year. In 2016, Wineland was able to snap a two-fight skid and put together two impressive stoppage victories over Frankie Saenz and Takeya Mizugaki. The former WEC champ has looked great in his last outings, showing he still has his dangerous, rangy counter striking accompanied by his slick footwork.

On the other hand, we have John Dodson, a short striker with ridiculous amount of power, and very quick and explosive movement. Dodson is extremely athletic and fights in bursts that can overwhelm many talented fighters. The JacksonWink product seems to be a huge favorite entering the bout with Wineland, but I’m actually a bit hesitant to pick him to win.

I don’t think it’s crazy idea to think that Wineland can use his solid takedown defense, range, and counter striking to win a decision. I wouldn’t be totally surprised if Wineland gets a victory here, but I have to go with Dodson. I think Wineland will look great in this fight until Dodson catches him with a bomb.

Pick: Dodson

Joe Lauzon vs. Stevie Ray

This is a really good test for Stevie Ray.

I’ve been very high on Ray since his UFC debut back in 2015. The Scottish fighter is tough as nails, has a very clean striking technique, carries respectable power behind his strikes, and has a good takedown defense. Ray also has great movement on his feet, and fights a nice pace. It wouldn’t surprise me if Ray breaks into the crowded top 15 of the lightweight division by the end of this year.

With that being said, I think he’ll likely get a win in this fight. However, when Lauzon is on, he can beat almost anyone in the division. But contrary to that, the 32-year-old sometime shows up and has very flat performances. It’s hard to tell which Lauzon will show up come Saturday night, but generally we can expect a fairly well-rounded fighter that possesses a very advanced ground game. Lauzon is also extremely durable, which allows hims to always be game in the fights.

I think we’ll see a very exciting contest, and maybe even a dramatic one, with several ups and downs for both fighters. I think Ray will likely stay composed and utilize his striking and fluid movement to earn a decision win over the veteran.

Pick: Ray

Jake Ellenberger vs. Mike Perry

The UFC always does a great job at recognizing the most fan-friendly fight of the event to place in the opening of the main card. Jake Ellenberger vs. Mike Perry is a fight that promises wild action and violence. These two fighters are known to live and die by the sword.

Ellenberger, the more experienced fighter here, once mixed up things well in his fights, putting to good use his great wrestling and solid boxing. “The Juggernaut” was once one of the most promising prospects in the welterweight division, but today seems to be nothing more than a promotional stepping stone. In recent years, Ellenberger has mainly relied on his boxing and dangerous power, leaving his wrestling in the past.

Meanwhile, the athletic Perry has made a name for himself in the division in a short amount of time, and has quickly become a fan favorite fighter. Perry fights with intensity and youth, blasting his opponents with wild, powerful shots. Perry is also extremely durable and seems to have a fairly high ceiling in his career as a professional fighter.

The likely outcome here would be a finish, whether it’s from Perry’s side or Ellenberger’s. Obviously, momentum seems to be on Perry’s side by a lot, as Ellengberger is 2-6 in his past eight bouts and hasn’t really looked that great in a long time. However, let’s not forget that Ellengberger stopped Matt Brown, a very durable fighter, not so long ago. Still, I see “Platinum” taking this one in a violent fashion.

Pick: Perry

Undercard:

Thales Leites def. Sam Alvey

Dustin Ortiz def. Brandon Moreno

Scott Holtzman def. Michael McBride

Jessica Penne def. Danielle Taylor

Cindy Dandois def. Alexis Davis

Bryan Barberena def. Joe Proctor

Hector Sandoval def. Matt Schnell

Source:: mma fighting