UFC on Fuel 9: Info and Predictions for Mousasi vs. Latifi

Craig Amos@@CAABRMMAFeatured ColumnistApril 2, 2013

UFC on Fuel 9: Info and Predictions for Mousasi vs. Latifi

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    The Octagon returns to Sweden this Saturday, April 6, for the ninth installment of the UFC on Fuel TV series.

    The event was supposed to be headlined by Alexander Gustafsson, but an injury has taken him out of his bout with promotional newcomer Gegard Mousasi. 

    Mousasi's UFC debut is long overdue, and may yet have to wait, though the promotion is exploring options to keep him on the card.

    Beyond the night's jeopardized main event, UFC on Fuel 9 will play host to an additional 12 fights that will air via Facebook and Fuel TV.

    Here you will find information about when and where to catch the action, previews for each of the night's bouts and predictions, made by yours truly, for every outcome.

Papy Abedi vs. Besam Yousef

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    How to watch: Facebook at 10:50 a.m. ET



    Perhaps the third time will be a charm for Abedi, who has yet to taste victory inside the Octagon in two tries. In fact, both times he's entered the UFC cage, he's left a first-round-submission loser.

    Yousef knows a thing or two about being submitted inside the Octagon, as well. In his sole UFC performance he was tapped out by Simeon Thoresen in Round 2.

    Neither Swede has shown a whole lot for people to get excited about, but each will have the chance to take a step in the right direction this weekend. 

    Abedi has competed against a caliber of opponent that Yousef hasn't, which gives him an experience edge to complement his superior athleticism and explosiveness. I see that being enough for him to get the W, if he can only pace himself.



    Abedi def. Yousef via (T)KO, Round 2

Michael Kuiper vs. Tom Lawlor

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    How to watch: Facebook at 10:50 a.m. ET



    Kuiper enters the bout holding a 1-1 UFC record, most recently scoring a TKO victory over Jared Hamman at UFC 150, back in August 2012.

    For his part, Lawlor is coming off of a controversial split-decision loss to Francis Carmont. Though it was the Frenchman who earned the W, it was Lawlor who pushed the pace of the fight and controlled most of the action.

    It's something he'll probably try to do against Kuiper as well, since the Dutchman put quite a nasty beating on his last opponent.

    Kuiper will likely try to keep the action upright, and his success in doing so will be the greatest determining factor in deciding the bout's outcome.

    When it comes down to it, I like Lawlor to earn a sloppy, hard-fought victory. I see him eating some shots, but I also see him powering through them to keep Kuiper pinned against the cage or on the mat.

    It should be a competitive fight, but in the end, Lawlor will convince the judges this time and get the win. 



    Lawlor def. Kuiper via unanimous decision

Ben Alloway vs. Ryan LaFlare

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    How to watch: Facebook at 10:50 a.m. ET



    LaFlare comes to us as a relative unknown. He is a veteran of the Ring of Combat promotion, and boasts a 7-0 career record with seven finishes.

    Alloway jumped into the mainstream by competing on The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes. He came up short on his bid to take home the TUF title, but won in his UFC debut at the show's finale.

    Still, neither fighter has had much time against top competition, which makes the outcome of their bout anything but certain. I would expect Alloway to try to keep things on the feet and LaFlare to seek the takedown. How that area of the fight pans out will probably determine who wins.



    Ben Alloway def. Ryan LaFlare (T)KO, Round 1

Marcus Brimage vs. Conor McGregor

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    How to watch: Facebook at 10:50 a.m. ET



    Ireland's McGregor will try to put the Emerald Isle on the MMA map by building on his current eight-fight win streak.

    He's a knockout machine, having scored 11 of 12 career wins via (T)KO, and will more than likely find an opponent willing to exchange when he faces "The Bama Beast."

    Brimage holds a perfect 3-0 UFC record, and has played spoiler to highly-regarded opponents before. So in a sense, McGregor is nothing new for him.

    In quite another sense, Brimage's reckless striking aggression could spell trouble, given his opponent's ability to put people to sleep.

    Can Brimage derail McGregor's hype-train like he did Maximo Blanco's and Jimi Hettes'? Or will he finally meet an up-and-comer who has his number? 

    I foresee a McGregor scoring big in his promotional debut. But I might be an idiot to bet against Brimage yet again.



    McGregor def. Brimage via (T)KO, Round 1

Chris Spang vs. Adlan Amagov

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    How to watch: Facebook at 10:50 a.m. ET



    Both Spang and Amagov are making the transition from Strikeforce. Spang held a 2-1 record with the promotion, Amagov a 3-1 mark.

    Amagov has looked to be the more impressive of the two dating back to 2011, and should hold a striking advantage over his opponent when they mix it up in Sweden. He also has the experience advantage, having 14 pro fights to Spang's six, and having tussled with the likes of Robbie Lawler.

    When you get two guys debuting in the Octagon you can never be sure what it going to happen, but here, I expect Amagov to separate himself as the superior newcomer.



    Amagov def. Spang via unanimous decision

Tor Troeng vs. Adam Cella

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    How to watch: Facebook at 10:50 a.m. ET



    Cella's claim to fame is suffering one of the more brutal knockouts in recent memory, during the taping of this season's Ultimate Fighter.  

    Competing on the same season, Troeng didn't make it any farther than Cella did, but at least he wasn't added to the wrong end of a highlight that will burn the reel for eons.

    Luckily for Cella, he  will have a chance to convince fans to remember him as something other than "that guy Uriah Hall annihilated" this weekend. The problem is, losing to Troeng probably won't be good enough to do that.

    It won't match up with Hall's knockout of Cella, but I believe Troeng can at least post the same official result. 



    Troeng def. Cella via (T)KO, Round 2

Reza Madadi vs. Michael Johnson

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    How to watch: Facebook at 10:50 a.m. ET



    Madadi is 1-1 in the UFC, but his loss was of the controversial-decision variety, coming last October against Cristiano Marcello.

    Johnson saw a three-fight win streak get snapped last time he competed, and will be looking to get back some of the momentum he had compiled with a convincing win over Madadi.

    This pairing is a mismatch to me. Yes, Madadi's strength is his submission game, which also happens to be Johnson's largest weakness. But in terms of overall skill, Johnson should get through this match without much trouble.

    The American is the better wrestler, the far better striker, the better athlete and the more experienced competitor.

    He has to be careful if he winds up on the mat with Madadi, but I expect him to more or less have his way, and hand Madadi the first stoppage loss of his career.



    Johnson def. Madadi via (T)KO, Round 2

Akira Corassani vs. Robbie Peralta

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    How to watch: Fuel TV at 2 p.m. ET



    Few Ultimate Fighter cast-members talked as big a game as Corassani did when he graced the show, but to his credit, he did rebound with a win last September over Andy Ogle after being bounced from the tournament.

    His UFC on Fuel 9 opponent, Robbie Peralta, however, is no Andy Ogle.

    Peralta holds a 2-0 UFC record, most recently smashing Jason Young in just 23 seconds. And honestly, I'd take Jason Young to beat Corassani any day of the week.

    All told, this may be the most one-sided fight on the card. Peralta is on a whole other level than Corassani, and should not struggle too much in proving that fact this Saturday. 

    The American is not only the more well-rounded fighter and superior striker, he also holds a massive power advantage, and I see him using that to end things fairly fast.



    Peralta def. Corassani via (T)KO, Round 1

Diego Brandao vs. Pablo Garza

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    How to watch: Fuel TV at 2 p.m. ET



    In a bout that has more than a little potential to earn Fight of the Night honors, both Garza and Brandao will look to build off impressive wins.

    Both guys looked outstanding last time out, though for vastly different reasons. Garza because he so expertly outmaneuvered Mark Hominick on the feet, Brandao because he fought so methodically for a full three-round period.

    Had the Brazilian not shown himself capable of doing that, I would have been all over Garza as a nice upset option. The guy is a danger to anyone, though he might not get credit as such.

    But knowing that Brandao can keep his focus long enough to win even if his initial onslaught fails instills confidence that he is more than a one-trick pony.

    It won't be easy for him, but his strength advantage, and his newly formed approach to competing, should be enough to earn Brandao at least two of three rounds on the judges' scorecards.



    Brandao def. Garza via unanimous decision 

Brad Pickett vs. Mike Easton

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    How to watch: Fuel TV at 2 p.m. ET



    Another Fight of the Night candidate, Pickett vs. Easton features a pair of bantamweights looking to rebound from tough losses.

    It's probably a safe bet to say that Pickett owns an edge in the striking because of his technical superiority, but he'll have to be careful or Easton will end up doing some real damage.

    Easton is the better wrestler, though Pickett's own game isn't too shoddy. Still, the Brit's most worrisome problem is that he may have a hard time stopping Easton from bullying him against the fence.

    On the mat, both guys are solid. Pickett's submissions are better than Easton's, but the latter could likely control the action from the top, so avoiding the bottom will be important for both guys.

    I expect Pickett's crafty standup to fluster Easton, preventing him from settling into a rhythm, hampering his offensive output. He may hit his stride eventually, but not before Pickett has horded enough points to walk away victorious.



    Pickett def. Easton via unanimous decision 

Matt Mitrione vs. Philip De Fries

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    How to watch: Fuel TV at 2 p.m. ET



    After stringing together five straight wins to start his UFC career, Mitrione has dropped back-to-back contests. 

    De Fries has lost two of his last three, which means that the loser of this bout is in very real danger of receiving walking papers from Zuffa.

    That's particularly bad news for De Fries, since he's at a stark disadvantage on the feet and he has yet to display particularly strong takedown offense. Matters only get progressively worse when you add Mitrione's knockout power to the equation, and recall that De Fries has a bad habit of leaving his chin open for a thumping.

    It's not inconceivable the Brit pulls out a submission, but that seems unlikely when juxtaposed with the possibility of Mitrione scoring a knockout blow. 

    Either way, I don't expect this one to go the distance.



    Mitrione def. De Fries via (T)KO, Round 1

Ryan Couture vs. Ross Pearson

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    How to watch: Fuel TV at 2 p.m. ET



    Ryan, son of Randy Couture, will make his Octagon debut this weekend. He'll enter having won his previous four bouts under the Strikeforce banner, though his most recent victory over K.J. Noons was a dubious judges' decision to say the least.

    Pearson, a fighter of a similar mold to Noons, will try to do what the former Elite XC welterweight champ couldn't, and hand Couture the second loss of his career.

    Stylistically, Couture will seek to make the fight a grind, while Pearson will look for separation so that he can let his hands go. Whether the Englishman's takedown defense is up to snuff may very well determine who emerges victorious.

    Unfortunately for Couture, Pearson will likely be able to defend well enough to open up prolonged periods of exchanging, which leaves him in a very precarious position.



    Pearson def. Couture via unanimous decision

Ilir Latifi vs. Gegard Mousasi

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    How to Watch: Fuel TV at 2 p.m. ET



    Mousasi's long awaited debut won't be delayed after all, but it somehow seems less significant now that it's against Ilir Latifi instead of Alexander Gustafsson.

    He is often regarded as one of the division's greatest talents, but he also has a reputation of inconsistency. This trait has been somewhat masked by the mediocre competition he's competed against recently, but even in victories, he has sometimes seemed disinterested.

    Latifi is a training partner of Gustafsson and will enter the bout on a three-fight win streak. Five of his seven career wins have come via stoppage, and the strategy he looks to implement against Mousasi is really anyone's guess.

    It would be ridiculous to predict the upset for Latifi, but I'll say the adrenaline from such a whirlwind turn of events gets him to the first bell. So, that's something at least.



    Mousasi def. Latifi via (T)KO, Round 2