UFC on Fuel 7 is set to kick off in just a few short hours. The camps are closed, the weigh-ins are over, and all that is left is to step inside the cage and fight.
Renan Barao will defend the UFC's Interim Bantamweight Championship against Michael McDonald in the main event of the evening. The two top ranked bantamweights will try to be the one to welcome back champion Dominick Cruz later this year.
The main card features six action-packed bouts in total.
Here are the final odds and predictions leading into Saturday's action.
The outcome of this fight is dependent on which Matthew Riddle.shows up.
Getting into a firefight with Che Mills is not going to end well for Riddle. Mills to too skilled a striker to battle with, and unfortunately, Riddle has shown that he will try to be entertaining for the fans and throw caution to the wind.
If a smarter Riddle enters the cage, then he has a great chance to win the fight. I think he does.
Riddle will grapple with Mills and take away his area of expertise. He will win this fight in the clinch and on the ground.
Prediction: Riddle defeats Mills by unanimous decision.
Betting Odds: Mills (-190) against Riddle (+155) at www.bovada.lv.
New fans may think Ryan Jimmo is a striking juggernaut because of his UFC debut, a quick seven-second knockout over Anthony Perosh. But those fans are not accustomed to a typical Jimmo fight.
James Te-Huna will want this fight on the feet. If he gets it there, it will be likely the heavy-handed puncher can do some damage against Jimmo.
This fight will not be as entertaining as each of their last outings. Jimmo will see to that with a vintage performance of grappling. It will not be pretty, but it will be effective.
Prediction: Jimmo defeats Te-Huna by unanimous decision.
Betting Odds: Te-Huna (-230) against Jimmo (+180) at www.bovada.lv.
The third fight on the main card is where things really begin to get interesting. It could be a sleeper for fight of the night.
Gunnar Nelson enters as one of the premier prospects at welterweight. He will welcome Jorge Santiago back to the UFC and the 170-pound division.
Santiago is a significant test for Nelson. He is an exciting fighter who is well-rounded, but he does have issues with taking clean shots. Lucky for him, Nelson is known for his ground work.
Nelson will come through again, but this time it will be via TKO. He will have the opportunity to clip Santiago and will pounce for the finish. The referee will pull him off and Nelson will have a big name to put under his belt.
Prediction: Nelson defeats Santiago by TKO in the first round.
Betting Odds: Nelson (-275) against Santiago (+215) at www.bovada.lv.
This is my upset special for the evening.
Jimi Manuwa enters as the undefeated, heavy-handed phenom at light heavyweight. The buzz surrounds him, and he will be taking on a skilled technical striker in Cyrille Diabate.
If Manuwa shows off some grappling, or connects with a big punch, then this fight will most likely go to Manuwa. However, I see it playing out a bit differently.
Diabate will keep Manuwa on the outside with his reach, and he may even lose the first round to the more aggressive striker. That will pay off in the next two rounds against a slower Manuwa. Diabate will begin to outpoint him on the feet in route to a decision.
Prediction: Diabate defeats Manuwa by unanimous decision.
Betting Odds: Manuwa (-240) against Diabate (+190) at www.bovada.lv.
One of the hot picks for fight of the night is Cub Swanson vs. Dustin Poirier. The winner of this fight will be right in the hunt for the next title shot at 145 pounds.
Swanson has looked fantastic in his recent fights. Three straight wins in impressive fashion has given him a lot of momentum as he seeks a rematch against Jose Aldo.
Poirier slipped against Chan Sung Jung, but it was still Fight of the Night. Other than that one performance, he has looked every bit the part of a future contender.
If Poirier can avoid the big shot from Swanson, then I believe he has more avenues to win this fight. Look for Poirier to get this fight to the canvas, and he will submit Swanson. Poirier will make a statement with this fight.
Prediction: Poirier defeats Swanson via submission (rear-naked choke) in the second round.
Betting Odds: Swanson (-125) against Poirier (-105) at www.bovada.lv.
The main event of the evening may be electric. The stylistic match-up can produce fireworks with Renan Barao's complete game and Michael McDonald's explosive power.
McDonald's chances will come early.
One punch or kick can alter the fight, and his counter-striking is one of his strengths. Against Barao that is an advantage. Yet, as the fight plays out and ventures in to the championship rounds, that will take a toll on the young fighter.
Barao will try to utilize leg kicks much like he did against Urijah Faber. That will take some power away from McDonald and allow him to work more efficiently later in the fight. Deep in the fight, Barao will get the opportunity to finish with a choke, and McDonald will be sent back to the end of the bread line.
Prediction: Barao defeats McDonald via submission (rear-naked choke) in the fourth round.
Betting Odds: Barao (-300) against McDonald (+230) at www.bovada.lv.