The night of free fights in as many Saturday's is finally upon us, as UFC 105 hits the air on Spike TV this evening from the Manchester Evening New Arena in Manchester, England.
While not necessarily the strongest international event in UFC history, this card has a similar feel to UFC 103. The recent Dallas event was devoid of a title fight (as is this one), but presented a number of interesting match-ups (as does this one), and turned into a pleasant surprise of a show.
Before breaking out the predictions themselves, a quick tour through the under-card so you know what to look for if we get more than the originally scheduled five fights.
Andre Winner (12-3-1) vs. Rolando Delgado (11-4-1)
Winner fell to fellow Brit Ross Pearson in the finals of TUF 9, while Delgado was bounced from TUF 8 in the quarterfinals by the infamous Junie Browning. Winner has fast hands and something to prove, fighting on his home turf and looking to prove if he belongs in the UFC, six-figure TUF contract or not.
Alexander Gustafsson (8-0-0) vs. Jared Hamman (10-1-0)
Hamman trains with UFC veteran Vladimir Matyushenko, and holds wins over solid competitors Travis Wiuff, Rogent Llorent, and Aaron Rosa, as well as splitting a pair of fights with B.J. Penn disciple Poai Suganuma. Gustafsson has made short work of a number of fighters few outside of Scandinavia have heard of. Remove coin from pocket, flip in the air...
Paul Kelly (10-1-0) vs. Dennis Siver (14-6-0)
Both are staples on overseas cards, with Kelly having the more impressive performances to date. This will be his second fight at 155 after starting his career at welterweight and he looked solid the first time out. Siver has won three straight since getting knocked out in memorable fashion by Melvin Guillard.
Nick Osipczak (4-0-0) vs. Matt Riddle (3-0-0)
When all is said and done, don't be surprised if Nick Osipczak is the top fighter to emerge from Season 9 of The Ultimate Fighter. Despite losing in the semifinals, the Brit has shown solid all-around skills and has a world of potential. Riddle has earned three decisions in three fights, something Osipczak pointed out in the build-up to this bout. This one is a little bit personal.
Terry Etim (13-2-0) vs. Shannon Gugerty (12-3-0)
Etim is fast becoming the lightweight poster boy for overseas shows, as this marks his seventh UFC fight, five of which ended in his favor. Gugerty has a pair of wins sandwiching a loss to Spencer Fisher, and has the talents to upset the local favorite. Whoever sinks in a tight submission first, wins.
Paul Taylor (10-4-1, 1 NC) vs. John Hathaway (11-0-0)
Taylor is staple of the UFC's cross-Atlantic adventures and has a penchant for hearing the final bell. Hathaway is an up-and-coming Brit who has shown good all-around skills in his two UFC fights. Taylor is hard to stop standing, so look for Hathaway to take this to the ground and work for a submission.
Punch Drunk Predictions
Record: 97-73 (.570)
Andre Winner over Rolando Delgado, TKO Round 1
Alexander Gustafsson over Jared Hamman, TKO Round 1
Paul Kelly over Dennis Siver, Unanimous Decision
Nick Osipczak over Matt Riddle, Submission Round 2
Terry Etim over Shannon Gugerty, TKO Round 2
John Hathaway over Paul Taylor, Submission Round 2
Aaron Riley over Ross Pearson, Unanimous Decision
James Wilks over Matt Brown, Submission Round 2
Denis Kang over Michael Bisping, Submission Round 2
Dan Hardy over Mike Swick, TKO Round 1
And in the Main Event of the Evening...
Randy "The Natural" Couture over Brandon "The Truth" Vera via Second Round TKO
Now touch gloves and come out swinging!