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UFC on Fuel TV 7 Fight Card: Info and Predictions for Barao vs. McDonald

Sean SmithAnalyst IJanuary 10, 2017

UFC on Fuel TV 7 Fight Card: Info and Predictions for Barao vs. McDonald

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    Renan Barao will defend the interim bantamweight title against Michael McDonald at UFC on Fuel TV 7, and 135-pound titleholder Dominick Cruz will be highly interested in the outcome of that bout. 

    Cruz has been out of action for more than one year due to a knee injury, but there's a good chance he will be ready soon enough to be next for the winner of this fight between Barao and McDonald.

    In addition to the 135-pound championship bout, UFC on Fuel TV 7 will feature a number of intriguing matchups between up-and-coming fighters in multiple divisions.

    Here is a look at each of the fights on the card and the fighters who are most likely to walk away with a win on Saturday.

Phil Harris vs. Ulysses Gomez

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    How to Watch

    12 p.m. ET on Facebook

     

    Records

    Phil Harris — 21-10, 1 NC

    Ulysses Gomez — 9-3

     

    Preview

    Harris and Gomez both came up short in their UFC debuts, but their really two of the better flyweights in the world. They simply haven't been able to stand out in a flyweight division that is currently comprised of only the best of the best.

    Gomez was knocked out by John Moraga in his first Octagon appearance, but that was probably more of a sign of Moraga's ability than Gomez's lack thereof, as the fighter known as "Useless" had never previously been knocked out.

    Conversely, Harris' submission loss in his initial UFC bout was a continuation of a pattern. The Englishman has been forced to tap on a handful of occasions and could have to again if he's forced to the ground by Gomez. 

     

    Predictions

    Gomez defeats Harris by submission (rear-naked choke) at 3:07 of the second round.

Vaughan Lee vs. Motonobu Tezuka

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    How to Watch

    12 p.m. ET on Facebook

     

    Records

    Vaughan Lee — 12-8-1

    Motonobu Tezuka — 19-5-4

     

    Preview

    After beating Norifumi Yamamoto, Lee had his momentum deflated by a first-round submission loss to T.J. Dillashaw. Now, he'll have a chance to get back on track in his home country of England against Tezuka.

    Tezuka is coming off a loss in his UFC debut, but the Japanese bantamweight showed some promise in a split decision defeat against Alex Caceres.

    Throughout his career, Tezuka has made a habit of fighting to close decisions, having battled to four draws and two split-decision losses. There's a good chance that trend will continue against Lee, who suffered a split decision defeat to Chris Cariaso in his first fight inside the Octagon.

     

    Predictions

    Lee defeats Tezuka by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29).

Tom Watson vs. Stanislav Nedkov

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    How to Watch

    12 p.m. ET on Facebook

     

    Records

    Tom Watson — 15-5

    Stanislav Nedkov — 12-0, 1 NC

     

    Preview

    Watson and Nedkov are both heavy hitting middleweights with solid chins, so this matchup has the makings of a three-round war.

    While Nedkov is cutting to 185 pounds for the first time in his UFC career, it's a division he should have been competing in for some time, as he had difficulty dealing with the size of recent opponent Thiago Silva.

    Nedkov shouldn't have to drain himself too much for the weight cut, and his knockout power will be an even greater weapon in a lower weight class.

     

    Predictions

    Nedkov defeats Watson by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).

Andy Ogle vs. Josh Grispi

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    How to Watch

    12 p.m. ET on Facebook

     

    Records

    Andy Ogle — 8-2

    Josh Grispi — 14-4

     

    Preview

    So this is how far Grispi, once considered the top contender in the WEC's featherweight division, has fallen. He now finds himself in a fight for his job against a TUF contestant still looking for his first UFC win.

    Ogle came up short in his Octagon debut, losing to Akira Corassani by split decision. Competing in his home country of England didn't help on that occassion, but perhaps it will give him a boost against Grispi.

    Despite his recent struggles, Grispi is far more experienced against top competition than Ogle, and that should help him finally get back into the win column on Saturday. 

     

    Predictions

    Grispi defeats Ogle by submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:03 of the first round.

Paul Sass vs. Danny Castillo

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    How to Watch

    12 p.m. ET on Facebook

     

    Records

    Paul Sass — 13-1

    Danny Castillo — 14-5

     

    Preview

    In their most recent outings, Sass and Castillo both had three-fight winning streaks brought to an end. Although, their losses served as setbacks, Sass and Castillo built up enough momentum during their previous runs of success to gain some notoriety in the deep lightweight division.

    Since they are both now well-known 155-pound fighters, this matchup should give the winner a nice rebound and put him back into the position he were in before his most recent defeat.

    Sass and Castillo are excellent grapplers, but Castillo has been submitted on occasion in the past, and you can't afford to have holes in your submission defense when facing the tricky guard of Sass.

     

    Predictions

    Sass defeats Castillo by submission (triangle-arm bar) at 1:54 of the first round.

Terry Etim vs. Renee Forte

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    How to Watch

    12 p.m. ET on Facebook

     

    Records

    Terry Etim — 13-1

    Renee Forte — 14-5

     

    Preview

    Etim has taken more than 13 months to return from the nasty knockout loss he suffered against Edson Barboza. When he comes back on Saturday, Etim will be facing an opponent who is still looking for his first UFC victory.

    Forte is a promising 25-year-old lightweight, but his job with the UFC will likely be on the line in this bout following a loss to Sergio Moraes in his Octagon debut.

    In that fight, Forte was dragged into deep waters and submitted in the third round. With four submission wins inside the Octagon, Etim is capable of putting Forte in a similar position at UFC on Fuel TV 7.

     

    Predictions

    Etim defeats Forte by submission (guillotine choke) at 2:07 of the second round.

Che Mills vs. Matt Riddle

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    How to Watch

    3 p.m. ET on Fuel TV

     

    Records

    Che Mills — 15-5, 1 NC

    Matt Riddle — 7-3, 1 NC

     

    Preview

    Riddle has been on a roll as of late, but he's about to meet a skilled striker for the first time since his most recent loss against Lance Benoist.

    Though Mills hasn't been able to put his striking on display against highly ranked welterweights since joining the UFC, he has the skill to stand with a lot of 170-pound competitors.

    Since Riddle tends to stand with more technical strikers than himself for longer than he should, there's potential for him to get caught in this matchup.

     

    Predictions

    Mills defeats Riddle by technical knockout (knees and punches) at 1:46 of the first round.

James Te-Huna vs. Ryan Jimmo

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    How to Watch

    3 p.m. ET on Fuel TV

     

    Records

    James Te-Huna — 17-5

    Ryan Jimmo — 17-1

     

    Preview

    Since losing to current light heavyweight contender Alexander Gustafsson, Te-Huna has rattled off three straight wins and is now on the verge of becoming a 205-pound contender himself. However, he will first have to get past another rising 31-year-old in Ryan Jimmo.

    These light heavyweights are sluggers, but only one of them has ever been knocked out, and that loss came six years ago for Jimmo.

    If both Te-Huna and Jimmo opt to stand, it's highly unlikely this bout will go the distance. The edge in power and ability to take a punch has to lean toward Te-Huna.

     

    Predictions

    Te-Huna defeats Jimmo by technical knockout (punches) at 1:08 of the first round.

Gunnar Nelson vs. Jorge Santiago

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    How to Watch

    3 p.m. ET on Fuel TV

     

    Records

    Gunnar Nelson — 10-0-1

    Jorge Santiago — 23-10

     

    Preview

    Nelson showed off his deadly ground game in his UFC debut against DaMarques Johnson, but he'll be facing a more experienced grappler in Santiago at UFC on Fuel TV 7.

    Santiago has had trouble finding success inside the Octagon, but he's never been submitted, so he should be able to give Nelson a good test.

    The Iceland native has the ability to control Santiago on the ground, but it will be tough for Nelson to make a big statement with another submission in this matchup. 

     

    Predictions

    Nelson defeats Santiago by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).

Jimi Manuwa vs. Cyrille Diabate

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    How to Watch

    3 p.m. ET on Fuel TV

     

    Records

    Jimi Manuwa — 12-0

    Cyrille Diabate — 20-8-3

     

    Preview

    Manuwa overwhelmed Kyle Kingsbury apart in his UFC debut, but there's a chance the Englishman's wild stand-up style could be picked apart by a much more technical opponent in Diabate.

    Since joining the UFC, Diabate has performed well when given the chance to stand. In his long MMA career, only Mauricio Rua has been able to put Diabate away with strikes.

    While Manuwa may have a bright future with the UFC, this is a tough matchup for him. Diabate has the ability to make this fight a chess match instead of the brawl Manuwa will be looking for.

     

    Predictions

    Diabate defeats Manuwa by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).

Cub Swanson vs. Dustin Poirier

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    How to Watch

    3 p.m. ET on Fuel TV

     

    Records

    Cub Swanson — 18-5

    Dustin Poirier — 13-2

     

    Preview

    Since losing to Ricardo Lamas in his UFC debut, Swanson has been on a tear, knocking out three straight opponents.

    Poirier slipped up against Chan Sung Jung in 2012, but he bounced back before the end of the year with a victory over Jonathan Brookins.

    Both Swanson and Poirier are well-rounded featherweights, but Swanson has been forced to tap in the past and Poirier has a chin capable of withstanding Swanson's knockout power.

     

    Predictions

    Poirier defeats Swanson by submission (D'Arce choke) at 1:54 of the second round.

Renan Barao vs. Michael McDonald

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    How to Watch

    3 p.m. ET on Fuel TV

     

    Records

    Renan Barao — 31-1, 1 NC

    Michael McDonald — 15-1

     

    Preview

    Barao originally looked prepared to wait for Dominick Cruz's return after winning the interim bantamweight title with a victory over Urijah Faber, but he will now defend his belt against another young and talented 135-pound fighter in Michael McDonald.

    While both fighters have displayed solid striking ability in their time inside the Octagon, Barao has shown more on the ground against high-level competition.

    It's hard to see either of these fighters being finished, but Barao's grappling ability should make the difference and set him up for a title-merging fight with Cruz.

     

    Predictions

    Barao defeats McDonald by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46).

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