UFC Fight Night 37: Preliminary Card Predictions

Riley Kontek@@BigRIlesMMAFeatured ColumnistMarch 6, 2014

UFC Fight Night 37: Preliminary Card Predictions

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    Eric Jamison/Associated Press

    The UFC returns to London Saturday with UFC Fight Night 37. Headlined by Alexander Gustafsson and Jimi Manuwa, the event airs live on Fight Pass in the late morning, early afternoon.

    Before the main card, six preliminary fights host a slew of prospects and local fighters who are set to excite fans. With names like David Grant, Luke Barnatt and Cyrille Diabate, these fights will deliver great action that butters up the fans for the underrated main card.

    The Ultimate Fighter China Finale proved to be .500 experience, as unexpected things happened and other fights were called off before fight night. It continued a rough start to 2014 for me, so hopefully London's fight card will be kinder.

    Without further ado, here are the preliminary card predictions for this fight card.

    2014 Riley's Record: 22-21

    Last Event: TUF China Finale (2-2)

Phil Harris vs. Louis Gaudinot

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    Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

    We kick off the prelims with a bout in the flyweight division, as Britain's Phil Harris defends his home turf opposite TUF 14 vet Louis Gaudinot.

    Gaudinot will be the striker in this fight, as the Team Tiger Schulmann product has knockout power as well as a tight guillotine choke. After losing his debut at bantamweight, the now flyweight has choked out an overweight John Lineker before falling to Tim Elliott.

    He takes on Harris, who is vastly experienced with 25 more pro fights than Gaudinot. Harris is known for his grinding attack, using his striking to set up the clinch and eventually the takedown.

    He was finished in bouts with Lineker and Darren Uyenoyama, but he was able to upset Ulysses Gomez in his last win.

    On the feet, Gaudinot's speed and agility will be key here. However, Harris is a tough guy to break, and he will be relentless in his pursuit of the takedown. It will be close, but the Brit should pull this one out.

    Prediction: Harris def. Gaudinot via decision

Igor Araujo vs. Danny Mitchell

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    Jason da Silva-USA TODAY Sports

    Next up are the welterweights, as TUF 16 vet and Brazilian grappler Igor Araujo welcomes Brit Danny Mitchell to the UFC Octagon.

    Araujo was part of the TUF cast that was largely let go after the season because of poor performances. However, the UFC brass realized his talent and brought him back after he beat cast mate Nic Herron-Webb in a regional promotion.

    The Jackson's MMA product is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighter who relies on getting fights to the ground to be successful. He showed his improved wrestling in his official UFC debut against Ildemar Alcantara, where he grounded and held down his opponent.

    Mitchell is similarly known for his submission game. In fact, two fights ago, he needed just 50 seconds to submit Victor Peixoto with a rare twister.

    He would be smart to keep this fight on the feet, though, as Araujo is a much more accomplished grappler. Mitchell has shown he can knock guys out, as both of his fights in 2012 ended in KOs.

    When it comes down to it, Mitchell's wrestling is going to be a factor. Araujo is relentless and hard to deal with on the ground. The Brazilian should be able to find the mat at points in the fight and earn the judges' scorecards.

    Prediction: Araujo def. Mitchell via decision

David Grant vs. Roland Delorme

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    We move onto the bantamweight division, where TUF 18 runner-up and British beast David Grant takes on Canadian judoka Roland Delorme.

    Delorme was on a roll with the UFC in his first four fights, not losing a single bout (one loss was overturned to a no-contest). His judo and ground game have been the recipe to success. He choked out Josh Ferguson and Nick Denis before winning a decision over Edwin Figueroa. 

    He was competitive in his last fight, a loss to Alex Caceres. However, with a brute like Grant who is going to be bigger than him, he has to close the distance and achieve top position.

    Grant showed on TUF that he is a solid, well-rounded fighter. He made it all the way to the finals but was simply beaten by a better man in Chris Holdsworth.

    He also wouldn't mind having top position on the ground, as he's like a lead blanket. Most of his wins come via submission; he has a squeeze like a boa constrictor when he grabs someone's neck.

    Grant has good potential and has faced some tough grapplers in his quest on TUF. His size and power will be too much for Delorme, and he will take a convincing decision in the process.

    Prediction: Grant def. Delorme via decision

Brad Scott vs. Claudio Henrique Da Silva

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    Next up are the middleweights, as TUF Smashes runner-up Brad Scott welcomes highly touted Brazilian Claudio Henrique da Silva to the UFC.

    Scott, who lost his debut to Robert Whittaker in an absolute throwdown, moved up to middleweight after the reality show, where he felt more comfortable when it comes to the weight cut. He promptly choked out Michael Kuiper in his UFC middleweight debut, proving to be the dominant fighter wherever the bout went.

    He has finished all nine of his opponents but would be wise to keep off the ground with Henrique da Silva. Scott is probably the sounder striker and will prove it when on the feet.

    Henrique da Silva enters the UFC with a 9-1 record and trains with the London Shootfighters camp in England. Most of his wins have come via submission, and his latest fight saw him win a dominant decision over UFC veteran Xavier Foupa-Pokam in India.

    Henrique da Silva has enough wrestling chops to grab Scott and put him on his back. From there, he is the superior grappler and could force a tapout at some point in the fight.

    Prediction: Henrique da Silva def. Scott via submission

Luke Barnatt vs. Mats Nilsson

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    Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    We stay in the middleweight division for the next bout, as 6'6" TUF 18 vet Luke Barnatt defends his home turf against invading UFC debutant Mats Nilsson of Sweden.

    Barnatt is a huge 185er, and his long, lanky frame gives him a reach advantage in most fights. He is known for his striking—something he will need to employ when taking on Nilsson.

    After beating Collin Hart at the TUF 18 Finale, he came back at the UFC's most recent trip to the U.K. with a dominating performance against Andrew Craig. He could have knocked out Craig, but a celebration cost him; still, he earned a rear-naked choke finish on the dazed American.

    As for Nilsson, he is one of Sweden's most promising prospects at this point. He has only lost once in the past three years (to Tor Troeng), beating guys like UFC vet Tom Speer, Chris Scott and Denniston Sutherland.

    His best bet in this bout is to get the fight to the mat. Almost half of his wins have come by way of submission, and he has utilized a number of techniques to earn victories.

    Nilsson may not have the takedown chops, and he won't be able to close the distance well on the lanky Brit. He will get picked apart from the outside, failing to invade Barnatt's home country successfully.

    Prediction: Barnatt def. Nilsson via TKO

Cyrille Diabate vs. Ilir Latifi

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    Eric Jamison/Associated Press

    The main feature of the undercard takes place in the light heavyweight division, as French striker Cyrille Diabate takes on Swedish wrestler and former last-minute headliner Ilir Latifi.

    Diabate fights for the first time in more than a year, as he was injured in his last bout against Jimi Manuwa. The Frenchman suffered a leg injury at the hands of the powerful Brit, which ended his night.

    Previous to that loss, the muay thai specialist was 4-2 with the UFC, beating the likes of Luiz Cane, Tom DeBlass and Chad Griggs. He will need to use his lanky 6'6" frame and extensive reach to stay on the outside and pick Latifi apart. Perhaps he can even score a knockout.

    Latifi gets his first fight since his late replacement bout with Gegard Mousasi back in April of last year. At 5'8", he will be at a 10-inch height disadvantage against the Frenchman.

    Latifi is a wrestler who likes to secure takedowns and punish his opponents with nasty ground-and-pound. If given the opportunity, he will look for a submission, but he has no problem sledgehammering his opponent's face.

    He will struggle to get close enough to snag a takedown on Diabate, who will strike from a distance and bang up the Swede. Latifi has a beard on him, though, so he should be able to absorb the punishment.

    Prediction: Diabate def. Latifi via decision