After an extended break in UFC events, it returns this Saturday on Fuel TV with a 12-bout card that will be shown live from the Ericsson Glove Arena in Stockholm, Sweden, and be headlined by light heavyweight contenders Alexander Gustafsson and Thiago Silva.
Silva is coming in as a late replacement for Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and is currently coming back from over a year-long layoff due to a failed drug test from his fight with Brandon Vera.
Gustafsson is currently riding a four-fight win streak with wins over Vladimir Matyushenko, Matt Hamill, James Te-Huna and Cyrille Diabate.
Other main-card bouts include Brian Stann vs. Alessio Sakara, Paulo Thiago vs. Siyar Bahadurzada, Dennis Siver vs. Diego Nunes, DaMarques Johnson vs. John Maguire and Brad Pickett vs. Damacio Page.
These are predictions for Knockout, Submission and Fight of the Night.
Knockout of the Night: Brian Stann
In a fight between two fighters who like to stand and trade and have power, Stann vs. Sakara guarantees to have someone getting stopped before the final bell.
Between their 26 combined victories, 17 have come by KO, including 15 first-round knockouts. These include wins over fighters like Chris Leben, Jorge Santiago, Steve Cantwell and James Irvin.
Both have been stopped before as well. Sakara was knocked out three times in the first round by Leben, Houston Alexander and Drew McFederies. Stann was stopped by Cantwell in their second bout from WEC 35.
Stann, a former WEC light heavyweight champion, will have to work around the former world junior boxing contender and seven-year UFC vet to land his power shots, but this one might come down to who has the chin to withstand the punches coming back at them.
Stann has showed he can stand and trade with the best and come out on top. Sakara has done the same, but he fell short against almost all of the bigger punchers he has faced. Expect him to do the same here in a fan-friendly fight for however long it lasts.
Submission of the Night: Brad Pickett
In the lone bantamweight bout on the card, Brad Pickett returns after his Fight of the Night performance against Renan Barao and will look to rebound against former top-10 fighter Damacio Page.
Pickett was expected to be the next bantamweight title challenger before falling short against Barao in the first round of their fight from UFC 138. It was his UFC debut after a WEC stint that saw him go 3-1 with wins over Demetrious Johnson and Ivan Menjivar.
Page is coming into the fight having lost three of his last five fights. This is a must-win fight for him having lost his last two to Brian Bowles and Johnson.
Given that Pickett is coming into this bout off a loss, he will be wary of Page's early attack. If he can make it to the second and third rounds, he can begin to work his takedown game on an impatient Page and look to get the submission.
Five of Page's six losses have come by submission, and most have come by him getting too wild early and getting caught. If Pickett can capitalize, expect to see him jump on the opportunity.
Fight of the Night: Alexander Gustafsson vs. Thiago Silva
Despite Gustafsson and Silva each having an almost perfect finishing rate, this is a fight that should go long enough for both to have their moments in a back-and-forth battle that warrants a Fight of the Night bonus.
With both guys not having the intentions of taking their fights the distance, it will just make it all that more exciting when they get their opponent in a position where they will be close to stopping them, but can't.
Gustafsson's bout versus the heavy-handed Te-Huna proved he can take a punch and come back to get the victory so it shouldn't surprise anyone if does the same here.
Silva will come out fast and look to get the knockout early, as is the case in many of his fights. He may get his shots in on the taller and lankier Gustafsson, but if he can't stop him, it's going to turn into a long and grueling fight for both competitors.
Whoever wins this one, it won't come easy.
*Photo by Cage Potato.
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