Barao vs. McDonald: Preview, Odds and Predictions for UFC on Fuel 7

Nathan McCarter@McCarterNFeatured ColumnistFebruary 13, 2013

Barao vs. McDonald: Preview, Odds and Predictions for UFC on Fuel 7

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    UFC on Fuel: Barao vs. McDonald is coming up this Saturday from London. The Interim UFC Bantamweight Championship will be on the line as Renan Barao defends against the young Michael McDonald.

    In the co-main event of the evening, Cub Swanson and Dustin Poirier hope to make a case that they are the next contender at 145 pounds.

    The 12-fight card is littered with exciting match-up after exciting match-up, and it all comes to you live and free on Fuel TV.

    These are the current betting odds and predictions for the card.

Phil Harris vs. Ulysses Gomez

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    The first fight of the night will take place in the flyweight division.

    Ulysses Gomez (9-3) and Phil Harris (21-10) will try to pick up their first UFC victories and get back on the winning track at the same time. Both fantastic flyweights stumbled in their last outing but remain two of the better 125-pounders in the world.

    It may be the first fight of the afternoon, but it shouldn't be one you want to miss.

    Gomez will have his hands full with Harris, but he should be able to pick up at least two of the rounds for a judge's decision.

    Betting Odds: Gomez (-250) against Harris (+195) at

    Prediction: Gomez defeats Harris by unanimous decision.

Vaughan Lee vs. Motonobu Tezuka

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    Vaughan Lee (12-8-1) takes on Motonobu Tezuka (19-5-4) on the Facebook prelims on Saturday. Each man dropped his last bout inside the Octagon.

    The former DEEP and Pancrase fighter has taken a big step up in competition by coming to the UFC, and Lee should exploit that once again.

    Lee may only be 1-2 inside the Octagon, but he has faced much better competition and fared well enough against them. He will submit Tezuka and even up his UFC record.

    Betting Odds: Lee (-210) against Tezuka (+170) at

    Prediction: Lee defeats Tezuka via submission (rear-naked choke) in the second round.

Tom Watson vs. Stanislav Nedkov

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    Middleweight action gets underway when Tom Watson (15-5) meets Stanislav Nedkov (12-0, 1 NC).

    Nedkov makes the drop to middleweight after running into Thiago Silva in his previous outing. That loss was turned to a no contest after a post-fight drug-test failure from Silva.

    The weight cut issue is always a factor, and Watson is a tough middleweight to debut against. I believe he will be able to do enough to earn a close decision nod over the undefeated Nedkov.

    Betting Odds: Watson (-120) against Nedkov (-110) at

    Prediction: Watson defeats Nedkov by unanimous decision.

Andy Ogle vs. Josh Grispi

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    Josh Grispi's (14-4) back is against the wall in this fight. He is 0-3 under the bright lights of the UFC and fighters do not typically stay around in the UFC with a fourth straight loss.

    Andy Ogle (8-2) will try to send him packing.

    Grispi will answer the call and take the fight. He has not only fought better competition, but he has finished them. He will regain some of that confidence and be able to keep his UFC career alive in London.

    Betting Odds: Grispi (-140) against Ogle (+110) at

    Prediction: Grispi defeats Ogle by unanimous decision.

Paul Sass vs. Danny Castillo

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    Paul Sass (13-1) and Danny Castillo (14-5) will put on a fun lightweight tilt for grappling fans on Saturday.

    Castillo likes to strike, but his wrestling will come into play and that puts it in Sass' world. In 13 wins, Sass has 12 submission finishes. Castillo will be playing with fire on the mat.

    Sass will be able to eventually work his grappling in this fight. At some point in the 15 minutes, the fight will go to the mat, and that will give him the opportunity he needs to submit Castillo.

    Betting Odds: Sass (-115) against Castillo (-115) at

    Prediction: Sass defeats Castillo via submission (triangle choke) in the first round.

Terry Etim vs. Renee Forte

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    Terry Etim (15-4) returns to the Octagon for the first time in over a year. The last time we saw him, he was on the receiving end of one of the greatest knockouts in company history at the foot of Edson Barboza.

    Awaiting him will be The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil cast member Renee Forte (7-2).

    This is a crucial fight for both men. Smart money is on Etim.

    Etim's UFC career has quietly been going on since UFC 70. He has compiled a 6-4 record in the organization. Etim simply is the better fighter at this point, and he has more ways to win the fight. It will be a good win for Etim in front of his home nation.

    Betting Odds: Etim (-325) against Forte (+250) at

    Prediction: Etim defeats Forte by unanimous decision.

Che Mills vs. Matthew Riddle

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    The main card kicks off with a welterweight clash between Che Mills (15-5, 1 NC) and Matthew Riddle (7-3, 1 NC).

    The stylistic match-up makes it a great fight to get the London crowd going. Mills is a gifted striker, and Riddle is an unpredictable fighter who will go toe-to-toe with just about anyone.

    Mills holds the advantage on the feet, but before he is able to rock Riddle and get the win, the American will sense he has a better shot taking this fight down. Riddle will close the distance and begin to grapple. That will be the difference. If he can get past Maguire, then he can defeat Mills.

    Betting Odds: Mills (-230) against Riddle (+180) at

    Prediction: Riddle defeats Mills by unanimous decision.

James Te-Huna vs. Ryan Jimmo

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    James Te-Huna (15-5) has enjoyed three straight victories in the UFC, but Ryan Jimmo (17-1) will try to put a stop to that and make another impressive showing at UFC on Fuel.

    Jimmo debuted in the UFC with a seven-second knockout, a good way to shut up his doubters after several decisions on the regional circuit.

    This fight will be interesting in how it plays out. Te-Huna has enjoyed several stand-up fights, but Jimmo will likely look to grapple with the hulking light heavyweight. That could pose problems for the New Zealander.

    Jimmo may make this a less exciting fight in the clinch and on the ground, but it will earn him a second UFC victory.

    Betting Odds: Te-Huna (-225) against Jimmo (+175) at

    Prediction: Jimmo defeats Te-Huna by unanimous decision.

Gunnar Nelson vs. Jorge Santiago

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    Gunnar Nelson (10-0-1) will get to prove if his hype is real when he takes on tough veteran Jorge Santiago (25-10).

    Nelson made quick work of DaMarques Johnson in his UFC debut, but Santiago is a more skilled and dynamic fighter. Santiago will be making his welterweight debut in this bout.

    Even if the weight cut goes seamlessly for Santiago, I do not see him winning this fight. Nelson is the real deal, and a great welterweight prospect. Santiago will test him on the feet and on the mat, but Nelson will eventually run his win total up to 11.

    This will be a statement fight for Nelson.

    Betting Odds: Nelson (-250) against Santiago (+195) at

    Prediction: Nelson defeats Santiago by TKO in the first round.

Jimi Manuwa vs. Cyrille Diabate

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    Gunnar Nelson isn't the only undefeated prospect on the card. Jimi Manuwa (12-0) will try to upend crafty veteran Cyrille Diabate (19-8-1) in London.

    Manuwa is a powerful man. In his 12 victories, 11 have come by way of KO or TKO. He bludgeoned Kyle Kingsbury in his UFC debut.

    Diabate is known as "The Snake" and he has sneakily put together a 4-2 record in the UFC, and taking on prospects is nothing new.

    Manuwa is the favorite in this bout, but my gut feeling is that Diabate will get the upset win. His striking is better technically than Manuwa's, and that will allow him to take this deep into the fight. Manuwa will begin to slow and Diabate can begin to outpoint him until the finish.

    Betting Odds: Manuwa (-230) against Diabate (+180) at

    Prediction: Diabate defeats Manuwa by unanimous decision.

Cub Swanson vs. Dustin Poirier

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    Since losing to top contender Ricardo Lamas back in 2011, Cub Swanson (18-5) has looked phenomenal inside the Octagon with three straight TKO or KO performances over credible featherweights. Now he earns himself a shot at one of the top prospects in the division.

    Dustin Poirier (13-2) was near a title shot, but Chan Sung Jung stopped that in its tracks. Poirier returned to the cage and decimated Jonathan Brookins. Poirier is now looking to put himself back into title contention with a win over Swanson.

    Both of these fighters put on exciting fights, and against one another, you have the recipe for the Fight of the Night.

    As good as Swanson has looked recently, Poirier is the better fighter. I expect Poirier to look every bit the part of a future title challenger with a commanding performance.

    Betting Odds: Swanson (-140) against Poirier (+110) at

    Prediction: Poirier defeats Swanson via submission (rear-naked choke) in the second round.

UFC Interim Bantamweight Championship: Renan Barao vs. Michael McDonald

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    Renan Barao (29-1, 1 NC) is set to defend the UFC Interim Bantamweight Championship against Michael McDonald (15-1) in the evening's main event, and the winner will likely get to unify the title against Dominick Cruz later this year.

    This is an incredible title fight.

    McDonald brings in some of the heaviest hands in the division, and Barao is a fantastic striker in his own respects. Over the course of 25 minutes, this should be one of the best fights of the night, both in terms of excitement and technique.

    McDonald's chances to win will come early. As the fight draws out in to the championship rounds, it plays more into the hands of the champ, who has been there before, and who does not rely on big power punches. Barao's grappling will also play a factor in this fight.

    Barao may lose a round early, but he will prevent McDonald from becoming the youngest champion in UFC history by dragging this into the championship rounds.

    Betting Odds: Barao (-325) against McDonald (+250) at

    Prediction: Barao defeats McDonald via submission (rear-naked choke) in the fifth round.