UFC on Fuel 9: Early Main Card Preview and Predictions
The UFC makes its return to one of the fastest growing markets in MMA with UFC on Fuel 9 in Stockholm, Sweden. Headlining the card will be Swedish light heavyweight contender Alexander Gustafsson and Strikeforce import Gegard Mousasi.
Also on the card are a number of European prospects and contenders. Some of these European fighters featured on the card are Ross Pearson, Brad Pickett and Tor Troeng.
Here is an early look at the main card.
Akira Corassani vs. Robbie Peralta
The main card kicks off in the featherweight division, when Mexican-American striker Robbie Peralta meets Sweden's own Akira Corassani.
Peralta is a knockout artist who has yet to taste defeat in the UFC Octagon. Peralta, who owns 12 of his 16 wins by knockout, has defeated Mike Lullo and Jason Young in his UFC career, while going to a no contest against Mackens Semerzier in a fight he was arguably winning.
Corassani is also a striker who will look to engage Peralta in a fight of the night contender. An alum of The Ultimate Fighter, Corassani has fought just once under the UFC banner, edging out Andy Ogle via split decision.
There is a high possibility that this is a slugfest on the feet, so it may come down to who has the better chin. All it takes is one huge strike to end someone's night.
I think Peralta is the better, more powerful striker of the two. He should wear out Corassani and use his cardio to outlast the Swede en route to a late-round stoppage.
Prediction: Peralta def. Corassani via knockout
Diego Brandao vs. Pablo Garza
We stay in the featherweight division for the next bout, as TUF 14 winner Diego Brandao of Brazil takes on American Pablo Garza.
Brandao gained fandom after winning the reality show over Dennis Bermudez. He then faced a decision setback when he lost to Darren Elkins, but came back in his latest outing to defeat Joey Gambino.
Garza has had his ups and downs in the UFC so far, boasting a 3-2 record in the Octagon. He lost fights to Dustin Poirier and Dennis Bermudez, but won exciting fights over Mark Hominick, Fredson Paixao and Yves Jabouin.
Garza is going to have a significant size advantage, as he is 6'1" and Brandao is 5'7". He will need to use his size and length to stay out of the wheelhouse of Brandao's powerful striking.
I think Garza can do that and outlast Brandao, who has suspect cardio. It will be a close fight, but Garza will grab the slight nod.
Prediction: Garza def. Brandao via decision
Brad Pickett vs. Mike Easton
We move to the bantamweight division, as top 135ers Brad Pickett of the United Kingdom and Mike Easton of the United States scrap for a high position in the division.
Pickett is a striker with an underrated ground game and a solid resume of work. Before falling to Eddie Wineland in his latest bout, Pickett fired off wins over Yves Jabouin, Damacio Page and Ivan Menjivar.
Easton is a physical specimen also recently lost a tough bout to Raphael Assuncao. Previous to that, Easton was undefeated in the UFC with wins over Menjivar, Jared Papazian and Byron Bloodworth.
This is going to be a very interesting bout to say the least. Easton packs a major punch, but Pickett has a very solid jaw as witnessed in the Wineland fight.
Easton has good wrestling, which he should look to use early and often. Though Pickett is good on the ground, Easton could use his ground and pound to score points and soften the Brit up.
That's what "The Hulk" will do, earning a convincing decision in the process.
Prediction: Easton def. Pickett via decision
Matt Mitrione vs. Phil De Fries
We move to the heavyweight division, where the UK's Phil De Fries meets former NFL player and American prospect Matt Mitrione.
De Fries is on the hot seat here, as he has flip flopped wins and losses in the UFC. The submission fighter owns victories over Rob Broughton and Oli Thompson, while falling to Todd Duffee and Stipe Miocic.
Mitrione is a striker with great quickness and athleticism for a big man. All seven of his fights (5-2) have come in the UFC, including knockouts of Marcus Jones, Kimbo Slice, Tim Hague and Christian Morecraft.
De Fries is a good grappler, but has shown weakness in striking and striking defense. We saw him get his clock cleaned in first-round losses to Miocic and Duffee, so it's tough to take him in this fight against a noted power striker like Mitrione.
"Meathead" will snap his two-fight skid with a first-round knockout.
Prediction: Mitrione def. De Fries via knockout
Ross Pearson vs. Ryan Couture
In the co-main event of the evening, lightweights collide when Ross Pearson of the United Kingdom meets up with American Ryan Couture.
Pearson is back at 155 after a failed run at featherweight. He is 6-3 in the UFC, as the striker has taken out the likes of Dennis Siver, Spencer Fisher and most recently, George Sotiropoulos.
Couture is a wrestler who has been playing the part of striker lately. The Strikeforce import is making his UFC debut on the heels of a four-fight win streak over the likes of Maka Watson, Conor Heun, Joe Duarte and KJ Noons.
These two will engage on the feet, but Pearson will prove to be the elite striker. Couture will resort to looking for takedowns, but Pearson will defend them.
Couture is durable, so he will likely fall behind on the scorecards as opposed to getting finished.
Prediction: Pearson def. Couture via decision
Alexander Gustafsson vs. Gegard Mousasi
The main attraction may provide us a top contender at light heavyweight, as Sweden's own Alexander Gustafsson meets Strikeforce import Gegard Mousasi.
Currently on a six-fight winning streak, Gustafsson has rattled off wins over some of the top names at light heavyweight. The Swede and his superior boxing skills have defeated the likes of Mauricio Rua, Thiago Silva and James Te Huna.
Mousasi recently returned to the cage after a year of inactivity when he destroyed Mike Kyle in under a round. The well-rounded fighter has 29 of his 33 wins via stoppage (18 knockouts, 11 submissions).
This is a great matchup stylistically, as both men are great strikers. Mousasi and Gustafsson both have very high-level boxing, which could earn fight of the night honors.
Both are underrated on the ground, so that could be fun to watch as well. I think that Mousasi will use a combination of crisp striking and sprinkled in clinch and takedowns to outpoint the Swede on his home soil.
Prediction: Mousasi def. Gustafsson via decision