The Complete Guide to UFC Fight Night 107: Manuwa vs. Anderson
The UFC returns to London with a decent card on its Fight Pass platform this Saturday, March 18. In the main event, talented light heavyweights Jimi Manuwa and Corey Anderson meet to decide who will get a shot at an elite fighter in a division that badly needs new blood.
To be clear, this isn't an especially compelling main event. Neither Anderson nor Manuwa has much of a profile, and the stakes here aren't obvious or high. With that said, it should be a fun fight between two intriguing competitors.
The rest of the card fits that profile as well. There's nothing here that screams relevance, but everything is well-matched and has the potential for entertainment.
The co-main event features Iceland's Gunnar Nelson against Alan Jouban in an excellent welterweight scrap, while Brad Pickett draws Marlon Vera in his retirement fight. The featherweight bout between Arnold Allen and Makwan Amirkhani might be the best fight on the card.
The preliminary card features a mixture of talented prospects and action bouts. Ireland's Joe Duffy headlines the preliminary portion with an intriguing matchup against Reza Madadi, and the welterweight bout between Leon Edwards and Vicente Luque is a slobberknocker in the making. Keep a close eye on prospects Tom Breese and Marc Diakiese, both of whom have enormous potential.
Let's take a look at each fight.
The Fight Pass Prelims
Lina Lansberg (6-2; 0-1 UFC) vs. Lucie Pudilova (6-1; 0-0 UFC)
Sweden's Lansberg meets the Czech Republic's Pudilova, who replaces Veronica Macedo, in the event's opening bout. The two women have fought before, with Lansberg taking a decision back in 2015. Since then, Pudilova has won three in a row, while Lansberg debuted in the UFC with a crushing loss to Cris Cyborg.
Lansberg is a skilled striker who puts together her punches and kicks in crisp combinations. The clinch is her wheelhouse, though, and she throws vicious elbows in tight. Pudilova is a good striker in her own right and can wrestle and grapple a bit as well.
Prediction: Lansberg steers the fight into the clinch and works Pudilova over with elbows and knees. The Swede wins a decision.
Bradley Scott (10-4; 2-3 UFC) vs. Scott Askham (14-3; 2-3 UFC)
Middleweight journeymen, both of them from the UK, clash in a fun fight. Scott fell to Krzysztof Jotko in his last fight, while Askham dropped a decision to Jack Hermansson. The winner will stick around for a while longer as a solid test for up-and-coming fighters.
Scott can do a bit of everything. He's a competent boxer on the feet and has some pop in his hands, which he puts to good use with aggression. Wrestling isn't his strong suit, though. Askham too likes to strike, flicking sharp kicks and a decent straight left from the southpaw stance. He isn't much of a wrestler, though, and on the mat, he's a passable but not outstanding grappler.
Prediction: Scott's aggression should be the difference here. He gets after Askham and wins a clean decision.
Ian Entwistle (9-3; 1-2 UFC) vs. Brett Johns (13-0; 1-0 UFC)
Touted prospect Johns, a native of Wales, draws England's Entwistle. Johns debuted with a back-and-forth win over South Korea's Kwan Ho Kwak last November, while Entwistle has lost two of three in the UFC and dropped a one-sided fight to Alejandro Perez last April.
Johns isn't a great athlete, but he's well-rounded and relentless. He works at a good pace on the feet and is willing to set his feet to throw bombs, though that mostly serves to get him to close range, where he can work takedown after takedown. On top, he controls well and throws good ground strikes. Entwistle is a pure leg lock specialist, and that's literally it.
Prediction: Unless Johns walks into a leg lock, he's going to walk through Entwistle. After a scary moment or two, Johns blasts Entwistle with ground strikes and finishes him in the second round.
Leon Edwards (12-3; 4-2 UFC) vs. Vicente Luque (11-5; 4-1 UFC)
While the bout is flying under the radar, the welterweight fight between the UK's Edwards and Brazil's Luque is one of the best on the card. Edwards has won two in a row since a loss to rising star Kamaru Usman, while Luque has won four in a row, all of them inside the distance. This should be a barnburner of a fight, and the winner will be well-positioned to make a run at the top 15.
Striking is Edwards' wheelhouse, and the southpaw flicks a sharp left kick and a heavy left hand with real power. He could stand to work a bit faster, but he's devastating when he lands. Wrestling has turned into a strong secondary skill set, and he can grapple a bit as well.
Luque is dangerous in every phase. He's a smooth, technical kickboxer on the feet with an arsenal of sharp punch-kick combinations and pop in his hands. Trips and shot takedowns make him a competent wrestler, though his takedown defense hasn't been great. On the mat, Luque has a nasty arsenal of chokes from the front headlock.
Prediction: This is a close fight. Edwards is a little more athletic and powerful, while Luque is a bit sharper on the feet, works at a quicker pace and is more dangerous on the mat. Without much confidence, the pick is Edwards by decision.
Tom Breese (10-1; 3-1 UFC) vs. Oluwale Bamgbose (6-2; 1-2 UFC)
The UK's Breese moves up to 185 pounds for his first fight against the American Bamgbose in a strong middleweight fight. Breese won his first three in the UFC but fell short in a close fight against Sean Strickland last June. Bamgbose has had mixed results, sandwiching losses to Uriah Hall and Cezar Ferreira around a knockout win over Daniel Sarafian.
Bamgbose is a ridiculous athlete with incredible speed and power. He's a wild fighter, though, and doesn't seem to have much of a plan in the cage. He puts together heavy punching combinations and slick kicks, but he's a godawful defensive wrestler and has no idea what he's doing on the mat.
Breese was a gigantic welterweight and will still be a big middleweight at 6'3". The southpaw is a crisp boxer with a steady jab and a vicious, lightning-fast straight left hand, and while he could stand to throw a bit more volume, he's smooth and technically sound. A strong clinch game complements his slick grappling arsenal, which features a devastating combination of strikes and submissions from the top.
Prediction: Unless Breese walks into a punch, he's going to overwhelm Bamgbose, especially on the mat. Breese submits Bamgbose in the second round.
Marc Diakiese (11-0; 2-0 UFC) vs. Teemu Packalen (8-1; 1-1 UFC)
Blue-chip UK prospect Diakiese takes on Finland's Packalen in a well-matched fight at 155 pounds. Diakiese has impressed in his two UFC outings, finishing Lukasz Sajewski in October and then winning a close decision over Frankie Perez in December. Packalen hasn't fought since last February, when he submitted Thibault Gouti.
This is essentially a soft step up in competition for Diakiese, who has the potential to be a breakout talent.
Diakiese is a fantastic athlete with great speed and strength. Although he has a tendency to get wild on the feet, his ability is obvious, and he can finish with a big right hand or spinning kick at any time. He does his best work wrestling, however, with high-amplitude throws and slams. On the mat, he mostly looks to control, and has serious power in his ground strikes.
Packalen is huge for the division at 6'1" and has well-rounded skills. He throws nice combinations on the feet, but he's really trying to get inside to work takedowns and then a slick ground game. Transitions are a strong suit and he's excellent in scrambles.
Prediction: This is a sneaky-tough matchup for Diakiese. Packalen is enormous, aggressive and dangerous everywhere, and if Diakiese isn't on point, Packalen will make him pay in any phase. Still, Diakiese is the more dynamic fighter. He lands a knockout shot in the first round.
Daniel Omielanczuk (19-6-1, 1 NC; 4-3 UFC) vs. Tim Johnson (10-3; 2-2 UFC)
Poland's Omielanczuk draws the American Johnson in a mid-tier heavyweight bout. Johnson has split his four fights in the UFC, most recently dropping a tight decision to Alexander Volkov. Stefan Struve submitted Omielanczuk in his last outing, which snapped a three-fight winning streak.
Omielanczuk is a skilled striker with some power in his hands who likes to stick and move and fights much longer than his 6' frame would suggest. Johnson, by contrast, is a grinder. The former wrestler likes to get into the clinch and work against the fence or hit takedowns.
Prediction: Johnson shoves Omielanczuk against the fence, works takedowns and finishes him with strikes on the ground in the second round.
Darren Stewart (7-0, 1 NC; 1 NC UFC) vs. Francimar Barroso (18-5, 1 NC; 3-2, 1 NC UFC)
Stewart and Barroso meet for a second time after an accidental head-butt led to a no-contest in their first fight. That fight was Stewart's UFC debut after a career on the regional scene in the UK, while Barroso had dropped his last fight to Nikita Krylov.
Barroso is mostly a grinder who excels when he can shove his opponent against the fence and work with the clinch and takedowns. That's mostly Stewart's game as well, though Stewart is a fantastic athlete with serious power.
Prediction: Stewart was in the process of beating up Barroso against the fence in their first fight, and that's how the second one seems likely to play out as well. Stewart wins a decision.
Joe Duffy (16-2; 3-1 UFC) vs. Reza Madadi (14-4; 3-2 UFC)
Ireland's Duffy draws Sweden's Madadi in a fine lightweight scrap. Duffy fell short against Dustin Poirier in his first crack at a big-time opponent in the UFC but rebounded with a 25-second submission over Mitch Clarke in his return engagement last July.
Madadi spent more than two years on the sidelines following a robbery conviction and has split two fights since coming back to the UFC, finishing Yan Cabral in his last outing.
Duffy can do everything pretty well. He's a sharp striker with a deep boxing background, which shows up in a lightning-fast jab and right hand that he throws consistently and cleverly. Fast kicks add another dimension. He has shown solid wrestling skills but struggled against the fence to shut down Dustin Poirier. He's a lethal grappler and can finish from his back, on top or in transition.
Madadi is a wrestler, but he's competent everywhere. While not especially quick or athletic, he's fundamentally sound, working behind a crisp jab and a heavy right hand. He does his best work grinding away in the clinch or wrestling against the fence, though, and does a good job of controlling from top position and hunting for submissions.
Prediction: This will tell us a lot about how good Duffy can be. Madadi is going to get into his face and try to grind this out, and the question is whether Duffy can keep him at arm's reach and beat him up or find a submission on the mat. A combination of those two seems likely, and the pick is Duffy by submission in the second round.
Arnold Allen vs. Makwan Amirkhani
Arnold Allen (11-1; 2-0 UFC) vs. Makwan Amirkhani (13-2; 3-0 UFC)
Talented prospects kick off the main card on Fight Pass as the United Kingdom's Allen draws Finland's Amirkhani in an excellent featherweight bout. Amirkhani has won all three of his UFC fights, most recently defeating Mike Wilkinson in February 2016, while Allen beat Yaotzin Meza that same night. The winner will move up the ranks in an increasingly exciting featherweight division.
The 23-year-old Allen is already an experienced competitor who fights like a well-rounded veteran. On the feet, the southpaw presses forward behind a steady jab-cross and the occasional kick, constantly looking to move his opponent toward the fence. He's a sharp counterpuncher when his opponent tries to throw back to stop his pressure.
The real meat of Allen's game lies in the clinch. When he gets his opponent against the fence, Allen grinds his opponent relentlessly, driving his head into the opponent's chin and chipping away with knees and short punches. Slick trips and throws come constantly, and he has shown good defensive wrestling skills as well.
On top, Allen is a handful. He throws heavy ground strikes in combination, passes smoothly and maintains strong control. He isn't a lethal submission threat, but he can pass to the back or grab a neck in transition when the opportunity presents itself.
Amirkhani is a fantastic athlete with great speed, explosiveness and strength. He's dangerous on the feet but isn't much of a striker in any sustained way, mostly throwing single power shots as he circles and cuts angles. His offense comes in bursts and he has trouble throwing enough to win rounds.
The real strength of Amirkhani's game is wrestling. His first step is quick and explosive, which allows him to get in on the hips from shockingly great distances, and if that fails, he excels at immediately re-shooting a second takedown. His arsenal of takedowns is deep and creative, and he has a yen for things like the low single that rarely appear in MMA.
If he can get the fight to the mat, Amirkhani is a monster. He immediately looks to pass to a dominant position and has a knack for maintaining a loose control, letting his opponent move under him as he lands shots and looks for an opportunity to get to a dominant position or grab something in transition. The front headlock is a specialty.
Amirkhani -145 (bet $145 to win $100), Allen +105 (bet $100 to win $105)
This is a compelling fight. Amirkhani is a serious talent, but he's never shown much as a striker, while Allen is a skilled jack-of-all-trades but lacks a dominant skill set or overpowering physicality. If Allen's takedown defense is good enough to keep him standing, he'll have a marked edge in volume and depth on the feet, and he might hit some takedowns of his own. Allen wins a close decision.
Brad Pickett vs. Marlon Vera
Brad Pickett (25-13; 5-8 UFC) vs. Marlon Vera (8-3-1; 2-2 UFC)
The UK's Pickett steps into the Octagon one last time against Ecuador's Vera in the veteran fighter's retirement bout. Pickett has fought exceptional competition in his time in the UFC, and his record reflects that level of opposition: He has lost five of his last six, including two in a row to Urijah Faber and Iuri Alcantara. Vera has split his four fights in the UFC and defeated Ning Guangyou in November.
Pickett can fight everywhere with real skill. On the feet, he mostly looks to box, flicking a consistent jab and then picking his spots to sit down on combinations. He does his best work in the pocket, where he can slip or roll under his opponent's shots and then reply with heavy body-head combinations. His pace is excellent, and he packs some power in his shots, though he's hittable and not as durable as he used to be.
Wrestling is a strong suit for Pickett. He shoots a lovely double and puts together nice chains, and defensively he stands up to all but the most imposing takedown artists.
Grappling is the best aspect of Pickett's game. He controls well from top position and passes smoothly. Getting to the back is a specialty, and he has an excellent rear-naked choke.
Vera is just 24 but has a lot of experience. On the feet, he likes to throw sharp kicks and sets a long distance, but he doesn't throw enough volume and rarely commits to convincing combinations. Wrestling isn't Vera's strong suit, though he's competent enough defensively, at least against low-level competition. When he grapples, Vera aggressively looks for a submission.
Pickett -120, Vera +100
Unless Pickett is completely shot, this is his fight to lose. He might struggle a bit with Vera's range, but on the inside, he's the far better boxer, a stronger wrestler and a much more technically sound grappler. Pickett wins a decision.
Gunnar Nelson vs. Alan Jouban
Co-Main Event: Welterweights
Gunnar Nelson (15-2-1; 6-2 UFC) vs. Alan Jouban (15-4; 6-2 UFC)
Iceland's Nelson has split his last four fights after opening his UFC career with a four-fight winning streak, falling victim to Rick Story and Demian Maia and carving out impressive submission wins over Albert Tumenov and Brandon Thatch. The former blue-chip prospect now draws heavy-handed banger Alan Jouban, who has won three in a row over middling competition.
The winner will be on the fast track to a matchup with one of the elite in a stagnant, aging division.
Nelson is quick, athletic and tricky. A former karate practitioner, he shows that background in his tendency to bounce on his toes at long range, setting an awkward rhythm and timing as he cuts angles and picks his spots to blitz into range with a sharp punching combination or a hard kick. His speed is off the charts, both of hand and foot, and he carries some real pop in his strikes.
The down side of Nelson's striking game is a lack of activity. He tends to wait on his opponent and to look for the perfect shot rather than a succession of good ones, which means he sometimes gives away rounds. Experienced strikers haven't had much trouble figuring out his odd timing and rhythm, either, which makes him vulnerable to counters.
Nelson has done an increasingly good job in recent fights of using his strikes to cover his takedowns. His blitzes demand attention, which opens up opportunities for him to change levels and hit a quick double or trip. He also excels at timing a reactive shot as his opponent comes forward. Defensively, he's sound but not impenetrable.
The ground is where Nelson really shines. The former ADCC competitor has a wicked top game with exceptional passes, stifling control and a knack for using ground strikes to open up his passes and submissions. Grinding his opponent down and passing to the back for the rear-naked choke is his specialty, but he can do it all with real skill.
Jouban is a lethal southpaw striker who combines the heart and preferences of a brawler with the slick skills of an experienced kickboxer. He's diverse and disciplined in his approach, and while he prefers to get after his opponent, he can also stick and move at long range as necessary.
A heavy left round kick is the foundation of Jouban's game. He fires it constantly, often in combination, moving between the legs, body and head at will. His straight left plays off the threat of that left kick, and he uses the two together to move his opponent's hands and head out of position. In the pocket, Jouban is happy to bang it out, and while he's hittable, he's also powerful, durable and dangerous.
Pace is a strong suit for Jouban, and despite his fight-ending power and preference for brawling, he can dial it back and simply score enough to win rounds if necessary.
Jouban has been a competent but not outstanding defensive wrestler during his time in the UFC, but he hasn't faced many top-shelf wrestlers, and how his game will hold up against the elite is up for debate. The same is true for his grappling game: He has an active guard and knows what he's doing from top position but hasn't faced a truly elite grappler at any point in his career.
Nelson -350, Jouban +285
Nelson is the more promising fighter, but there are several ways for him to lose this fight. If he spends too much time bouncing around at range, Jouban will carve him up with his steady dose of strikes. If he falls into a slow pace and lets Jouban work, the American will pound him with volume. If Nelson doesn't put his strikes and takedowns together, he'll struggle to get inside, where Jouban has a strong edge.
With all that said, Nelson is getting better in every outing. He's faster, an excellent and still-improving wrestler and showing increasing signs of mastering the art of shifting from strikes to takedowns. The Icelander finds his takedown in the second round, gets to the back and sinks in a choke for the finish.
Jimi Manuwa vs. Corey Anderson
Main Event: Light Heavyweights
Jimi Manuwa (16-2; 5-2 UFC) vs. Corey Anderson (9-2; 6-2 UFC)
Does it speak well of the UFC that Manuwa and Anderson are headlining an event, even an out-of-the-way Fight Night event on Fight Pass? No, it doesn't, but this is still an excellent matchup with real consequences for a wide-open division.
Britain's Manuwa, who turned 37 last month, knocked out Ovince Saint Preux in devastating fashion last October. That came after a brutal loss to top contender Anthony Johnson. The American Anderson, for his part, got back on track following a close loss to Shogun Rua by knocking out Sean O'Connell in December. The winner will be set up for a fight with an elite light heavyweight.
Manuwa is an incredible athlete blessed with tremendous speed, strength and power. He mostly prefers to strike, stalking his opponent and firing off hard single shots and combinations as Manuwa moves into the pocket. While not a master of footwork, he does an excellent job of using kicks to cut off his opponent's lateral movement and keep him in front of Manuwa.
His closing speed is tremendous, and he often surprises opponents with how quickly he launches himself forward. His technique is fluid and fundamentally sound, which accentuates his already ridiculous power: Every shot he throws can finish the fight. The left hook is his money punch.
There isn't a ton of tricky craft to Manuwa's work on the feet. He can mix up his timing and rhythm a bit, but he's mostly a meat-and-potatoes striker who picks and chooses his shots well and makes what he lands count.
The clinch is a strong secondary area for Manuwa. He's freakishly strong in close quarters and does a good job of using leverage in the clinch to create enough space to land brutal knees and sharp elbows. Throwing on the breaks is another nice facet of his game. His takedown defense is just above average, though, and he doesn't have much of an offensive wrestling game.
On the mat, Manuwa doesn't have much to offer. He can defend from his back and throws hard shots from the top, but he makes mistakes when he scrambles and tends to give up his back and neck.
Anderson is a promising 27-year-old who has made regular and substantial improvements to his game since winning The Ultimate Fighter 19. He has become a well-rounded and competent fighter who can excel in any phase and in multiple types of fight.
On the feet, Anderson has developed a movement-based boxing game. He overdid the movement part early in his UFC career, constantly bouncing through the cage without much of a rhyme or reason, but he has sharpened his footwork and made himself much more efficient and purposeful as he cuts angles and looks for opportunities to open up with his combination game.
Power isn't Anderson's strong suit, but he moves well and works at an outstanding pace. It doesn't take him long to pile up volume and wear down his opponents. Anderson's not much of a defensive technician yet, though, and relies heavily on his length and movement to avoid shots.
Wrestling is the real meat of Anderson's game. He doesn't have an especially explosive first shot, but he excels when he can drive his opponent into the fence and chain together several attempts, moving smoothly from singles to doubles to trips and back down until the opponent hits the mat. If the fight stays in the clinch, Anderson is happy to grind away and beat up his opponent with knees and short punches against the fence.
Anderson is a mean ground striker. As on the feet, he tends to work in combination, stringing together several shots and moving between the head and body. His control isn't stifling, and he likes to let his opponent scramble under him so he can get to the top ride. The sheer volume of shots he throws on the mat is punishing even if any single shot isn't especially powerful.
Manuwa -145, Anderson +125
If Anderson stands in front of Manuwa, he's going to get chewed up with kicks and heavy punches and will probably lose by knockout. If he stays on his bicycle and keeps moving, however, mixing in combinations with takedowns, the fight is his to lose. The latter seems like a more likely outcome here, especially because Anderson is mostly vulnerable on the counter, which isn't Manuwa's specialty.
While he'll eat a few scary shots, the duration of the fight favors Anderson. The American wins a wide decision.
Odds courtesy of OddsShark and current on Tuesday, March 14.
Patrick Wyman is the Senior MMA Analyst for Bleacher Report and the co-host of the Heavy Hands Podcast, your source for the finer points of face-punching. For the history enthusiasts out there, he also hosts The Fall of Rome Podcast on the end of the Roman Empire. He can be found on Twitter and on Facebook.