UFC action is upon us again as the Fuel TV 7 card is set to kick off on Saturday night from historic Wembley Arena in London. The main event is a battle for the interim bantamweight title.
Interim champion Renan Barao (31-1) will face Michael McDonald (15-1) for the gold. The winner will likely get an opportunity to face champion Dominick Cruz to settle the dispute as to who is the best bantamweight in the world.
The rest of the card is modest in terms of star power, but there are still some very interesting fights.
Here is how you can catch the action, and my predictions for each bout.
When: Saturday, Feb.16, 3 p.m. ET
Where: Wembley Arena in London
TV: Fuel TV
Live Stream: Facebook Preliminaries
Card and Predictions
Ulysses Gomez (9-3) vs. Phil Harris (21-10)
Harris is the far more experienced fighter in this matchup of 125-pounders. Both men are coming off losses, but Gomez was a victim of a nasty KO at the hands of John Moraga at UFC on Fox 4.
Harris' experience and power will be too much for him.
Prediction: Harris by KO
Josh Grispi (14-4) vs. Andy Ogle (8-2)
Grispi's career in the UFC is hanging by a thread. He has lost his last three fights and he figures to be in for a tough match with Ogle.
Ogle will be fighting in front of his hometown fans, and to make matters worse for Grispi, Ogle's quickness and grappling will give him another advantage.
The string Grispi is hanging from will likely be cut.
Prediction: Ogle by Submission
Vaughan Lee (12-8) vs. Motonobu Tezuka (19-5-4)
Tezuka has a chance to make some noise at 135 pounds. I thought he won his last fight, though he came up on the short end of a split decision against John Caceres at UFC Macao.
In this fight, he will out-strike and out-grapple Lee for the victory.
Prediction: Tezuka by unanimous decision
Terry Etim (15-4) vs. Renee Forte (7-2)
I still really like Etim at 155 pounds. He was stopped by the dynamic Edson Barboza in his last fight at UFC Rio, but he has a decent future.
He is too skilled as an all-around fighter for Forte.
Prediction: Etim by submission
Danny Castillo (14-5) vs. Paul Sass (15-1)
Style makes fight, but things are stacked against Castillo in this one. Sass is three inches taller, and he fared better against the two men's common opponent.
He defeated Michael Johnson by submission, while Castillo was KO'd by Johnson at UFC on FX 5 in his last fight.
Sass' submission skills are noteworthy, and they will lead him to victory in this one.
Prediction: Sass by submission
Stanislav Nedkov (12-0) vs. Tom Watson (15-5)
Nedkov got to keep his undefeated record when his submission loss to Thiago Silva was overturned when Silva failed another post-fight drug test, per UFC.com.
This time marijuana metabolites were found, and it marked the second time he has been dinged for drug use.
Generally, one wouldn't attribute that drug as an aid for a fighter, but with Silva's history, the outcomes of his fights will be forever doubted. Thus it leaves Nedkov's reputation a little cloudy.
Against Watson, he'll have a chance to prove the loss was a fluke. If he can get the fight to the ground he'll have a huge advantage, but Watson is very strong.
I predict Nedkov picks up another loss, but this one will stick.
Prediction: Watson by KO
Che Mills (15-5) vs. Matthew Riddle (7-3)
This has the potential to be a spectacular fight. Both men are dynamic fighters, and Riddle's passion makes all of his fights entertaining.
Mills is far more experienced, but he needs to avoid be taken down by Riddle. He has a clear edge in the stand up game, and that is where he'll win this fight.
Prediction: Mills by TKO
Jorge Santiago (23-10) vs. Gunnar Nelson (10-0)
Santiago is a former Strikeforce champion, but he has been steamrolled by two quality 170-pounders (Brian Stann and Demian Maia) since joining the UFC.
Unfortunately for him, he's running into another quality fighter in Nelson.
The man from Iceland has heavy hands and a proficient ground game. He'll hand Santiago yet another loss in the UFC.
Prediction: Nelson by TKO
Ryan Jimmo (17-1) vs. James Te Huna (17-5)
If you're looking for a fight that has potential to produce the KO of the Night, this is a prime candidate. Both men are lethal strikers, but Jimmo scored one of the most memorable KOs in MMA last year when he flattened Anthony Perosh at UFC 149.
Te Huna has won three fights in a row, and two of them have come by first-round KO.
This should be good and short, but there is something explosive about Jimmo. He could be the sports next big star and his rise will continue on Saturday.
Prediction: Jimmo by KO
Cyrille Diabate (20-8-3) vs. Jimi Manuwa (12-0)
Diabate is 6'6" and he uses his length very well. His challenge in this fight will be to keep Manuwa at a distance with jabs and leg kicks.
Manuwa has good power, but Diabate has proven he can punch effectively as well. The length will be too much for Manuwa to overcome.
Prediction: Diabate by KO
Dustin Poirier (13-2) vs. Cub Swanson (18-5)
Swanson has won three fights in row since losing to Ricardo Lamas at UFC on Fox 1 and he's looking to earn a title shot, but Poirer is one of the best young fighters in the world.
He will again show Swanson to be a really good fighter, but not quite elite.
Prediction: Poirier by decision
Renan Barao (31-1) vs. Michael McDonald (15-1)
Barao is exceptionally talented as a grappler and submissions artist. He defeated Urijah Faber to earn the interim title, which is no small accomplishment.
But McDonald is a different animal.
He's a solid wrestler and grappler, but he's a truly special striker. Barao absolutely cannot win this fight if the men stand for a prolonged period, but I don't think he'll be able to have his way with McDonald on the ground.
McDonald will win this fight, setting up an exciting clash with Cruz.
Prediction: McDonald by TKO