UFC 217 is a tough act to follow, but the UFC is doing its best to keep the momentum going. UFC Norfolk is one of the best non-pay-per-view events of the year, at least on paper. In the headlining slot, ranked lightweights Dustin Poirier and Anthony Pettis collide in a fairly important bout for the division that promises a good deal of action. Aside from the fun main event bout, this card also features Matt Brown’s possible retirement fight against fellow veteran Diego Sanchez, a likely do-or-die fight for former UFC heavyweight champ Andrei Arlovski, an important bantamweight fight in John Dodson vs. Marlon Moraes, and plenty of other interesting match ups — Joe Lauzon vs. Clay Guida, Angela Hill vs. Nina Ansaroff just to name a few.
What: UFC Norfolk (UFC Fight Night 120)
Where: Ted Constant Convocation Center, Norfolk, Virginia.
When: Saturday, Nov. 11. The three-fight UFC Fight Pass preliminary card begins at 6:30 p.m. ET, the four-fight FOX Sports 1 preliminary card begins at 8:00 p.m. ET, and the six-fight main card begins at 10:00 p.m. ET also on FOX Sports 1.
Dustin Poirier vs. Anthony Pettis
Man, Dustin Poirier vs. Anthony Pettis is a fantastic fight that could easily be part of a pay-per-view main card.
Poirier is one of the grittiest and toughest fighters at 155 pounds. The American Top Team product has good striking technique and strikes with a high output. Poirier also has a very solid ground game. He can attack with submissions, especially the D’arce choke, and can also threaten with takedowns. Overall, Poirier can basically do well in most areas of the fight game.
Meanwhile, Pettis might not be as well rounded but he’s more proficient than Poirier in in certain areas. Pettis’ striking is very different in style than Poirier’s. Pettis has a taekwondo style, making him really accurate with his strikes, especially at range. Pettis also has submissions in his arsenal and a very good guard.
I think this should be a win for Poirier. Many fighters have had success pressuring Pettis, cutting off the distance he needs to implement his striking and taking him down or pinning him against the cage. Poirier might not be known as a wrestler, but the man has solid takedowns. Pettis is dangerous and can crack anyone at any given time, but Poirier is pretty durable and can close that distance. I see Poirier walking away with the win.
Matt Brown vs. Diego Sanchez
Let me start off by saying that I do not like this fight, at all.
Diego Sanchez has no business fighting at welterweight, at least not anymore. Sanchez is not a big lightweight and not too long ago he fought Ricardo Lamas at 145 pounds. I’m not sure why he’s moving up a weight class, but oh well.
Sanchez made a name for himself in MMA with his intensity, durability and unbreakable will. For years, Sanchez took hard shots from some of the best fighters out there and never went down. Today, that story seems to be changing. Sanchez was recently stopped by Joe Lauzon and Al Iaquinta — his chin doesn’t seem to hold up like it used to.
Like Sanchez, Brown is also towards the end of his career and has even expressed that this fight might be his last one. Brown is a big dude and that will take away some efficiency to Sanchez’s wrestling. On the feet, Brown hits pretty hard and still carries a good chin.
I don’t see Sanchez outwrestling Brown and I don’t see him beating him on the feet either. I see Brown getting a finish here.
Andrei Arlovski vs. Junior Albini
This might be the last time we see Andrei Arlovski in the UFC and maybe MMA.
Arlovski is a heavyweight legend. There is no doubt that the former UFC champ will go down as one of the best heavyweights of his era (an era that past a while ago). Arlovski has lost his last five fights and has shown that he can no longer take a punch like he used to. At 38 years of age, I doubt we see another career comeback from Arlovski.
Junior Albini is just 26 years old and hungry to get a win. In his UFC debut, Albini became the first man to stop the very durable Timothy Johnson with strikes. Anything can happen with heavyweights, but I see Albini landing a big shot and putting Arlovski away.
Nate Marquardt vs. Cezar Ferreira
I like the matchmaking here, I think this is a fight that makes sense for both fighters.
Nate Marquardt, a true veteran of the sport, is coming off a decision loss to Vitor Belfort. I thought he looked sharp in that fight and should’ve won that decision. Marquardt doesn’t really stand out anywhere in particular, but he’s fairly well-rounded. He can strike and he can grapple. Marquardt has tons of experience, and remains in good shape despite getting close to 40 years of age.
Cezar Ferreira was recently on a bit of a role until he lost a decision to Elias Theodorou. Ferreira is a smart fighter with a very solid ground game. Ferreira is a competent striker as well, but carries a questionable chin.
This one can go either way. I want to pick Ferreira here, but I have a feeling Marquardt pulls this one off.
Raphael Assuncao vs. Matthew Lopez
This is an important fight for the UFC’s bantamweight division and I feel like it’s flying under the radar.
Raphael Assuncao, who is ranked fourth in the division, is 9-1 in his past 10 trips to the Octagon. Yet, despite having the record and the ranking, I feel like he’s not perceived as a top contender in the weight class. Assuncao fights smart and likes to mix things up. The Brazilian has a very well rounded game with great striking and grappling. Assuncao is also very experienced, as he’s been competing against the best for quite a while.
Matthew Lopez is another fighter that I think people sleep on. Lopez might not be as experienced as Assuncao, but he’s gaining momentum. In his last two bouts, Lopez defeated veterans Mitch Gagnon and Johnny Eduardo. Lopez has good striking and movement, but his biggest attribute would have to be his wrestling and top control.
I think this should be a competitive fight regardless of who wins. Assuncao is 35 years old and has been fighting for almost 15 years. Part of me wonders when he’ll get that one fight that will make him look old. Could the Lopez fight be the one? Maybe, but my gut says Assuncao gets a decision win here.
Joe Lauzon vs. Clay Guida
This is very interesting matchup involving two of the most seasoned veterans in the UFC.
Joe Lauzon is a fantastic grappler with great positioning, transitions, sweeps and submissions. Skill-wise, Lauzon is one of the best grapplers in the division. Although super tough and durable, Lauzon is not the strongest or most athletic guy at 155 pounds and that can put him at a disadvantage when fighting younger and more athletic opposition. Lauzon also has good boxing and surprising power behind his shots.
Clay Guida is equally as tough as Lauzon but perhaps not as durable, at least over recent times. Guida is very quick and explosive, and has one of the best gas tanks in MMA. The veteran fighter likes to fight with pressure, utilizing his solid boxing and wrestling base.
I think either fighter can get a win here. I can see Lauzon getting the better of the grappling and capitalizing on an opening to sink a submission. I can also see Guida out-striking Lauzon and occasionally landing a takedown here and there to score points. Close fight, but I think Guida will use his speed to beat Lauzon on the feet, and I think his wrestling-based grappling will keep him out of trouble on the ground.
Marlon Moraes def. John Dodson
Tatiana Suarez def. Viviane Pereira
Sage Northcutt def. Michel Quinones
Angela Hill def. Nina Ansaroff
Sean Strickland def. Court McGee
Jake Collier def. Marcel Fortuna
Karl Roberson def. Darren Stewart