UFC Fight Night 130: Main Card Staff Predictions

Matthew Ryder@@matthewjryderFeatured ColumnistMay 25, 2018

UFC Fight Night 130: Main Card Staff Predictions

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    The UFC is back on your TV on Sunday, heading across The Pond for a date in Liverpool, England. The fight card marks the first time the promotion has touched down in the home of The Beatles, thought it's perhaps more relevant that it's also the home of headliner Darren Till.

    Till will get what he's been asking for at Fight Night 130: a top contender in the UFC's welterweight division. The brash brawler has been oozing confidence since he arrived in the world's top MMA promotion in 2015, and without a loss on his record in 17 pro fights, it's hard to argue why he wouldn't be.

    He will see Stephen Thompson across the cage this time out, a man who gives him a chance to rocket from prospect to contender with one properly placed left hand.

    Can he do it?

    Your Bleacher Report MMA team takes a stab at predicting the outcome of that contest, as well as the other five fights on the card.

Eric Spicely vs. Darren Stewart

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    Nathan McCarter: Ah, a classic loser leaves town match. I'll side with the one who has UFC wins under his belt, and that's Eric Spicely. Darren Stewart is 0-3 under the bright lights, and this will make 0-4.

    Spicely, TKO, Rd. 1

    Scott Harris: Nathan is right in that this is a loser-leaves-town affair. But that doesn't fully capture it. It's like two cats on the roof of a moving car. The sunroof is closing, and only one of them is going to claw his way in. It won't be pretty, but give me the fighter in his home country. He has trouble with submission artists like Spicely, but here's guessing Stewart finds the knockout.

    Stewart, KO, Rd. 1

    Steven Rondina: These two have a combined 2-6 (1) UFC record, and that's...not great. Worth noting, however, is that Spicely is the owner of both of those wins. That kind of says it all about which of these two is likely to stick around in the UFC come Monday morning.

    Spicely, submission, Rd. 2

    Matthew Ryder: Building on Steven's point, these two are a combined 0-5(1) in their past six UFC bouts. In fact, in their careers combined, only Spicely has won a UFC bout at all. Both tend to finish or get finished, though, so you have to figure that was the objective in making this the opener.

    Spicely, submission, Rd. 1

Jason Knight vs. Makwan Amirkhani

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    McCarter: Jason Knight is a fun fighter to watch, but he is too wild and inconsistent to have much trust against solid talent. Makwan Amirkhani is that. Solid. If he can avoid wild exchanges on the feet and ground, then he should take a three-round decision.

    Amirkhani, unanimous decision

    Harris: People were all-in, like rabidly all-in, on Amirkhani after his eight-second Performance of the Night knockout of Andy Ogle, which he encored with a first-round choke out of Masio Fullen. Then, seven months later, the UFC put him on the undercard of a show that aired entirely on Fight Pass. He won by decision. Then a year went by. Then he lost to Arnold Allen. That was more than a year ago.

    The handsome and ebullient Amirkhani needs a win even more than his equally charismatic opponent in Knight, who has lost two in a row. Sound the upset alarms because Amirkhani has the wrestling base, submission acumen and turbo-boosted striking to outduel Knight.

    Amirkhani, unanimous decision

    Rondina: I'm kind of suspecting that Jason "The Big Bite" Knight may have been legitimately shook by his loss to Ricardo Lamas. Even if I'm mistaken, though, he faces a tricky matchup in Mr. Finland.

    Amirkhani, unanimous decision

    Ryder: Goin' against the grain here. Knight is a bona fide wild man, losing his most recent bout in part because he was deducted a point for biting his opponent's finger. He's dropped consecutive bouts, but I can see a path here where he gets ahead on aggression and catches Amirkhani with a submission later in the fight.

    Knight, submission, Rd. 3

Arnold Allen vs. Mads Burnell

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    McCarter: Mads Burnell has had two fights in the UFC, and I honestly do not remember either of them. I don't know what to make of that other than he has failed to make an impression. Meanwhile, Arnold Allen has shone as of late, including picking up a solid decision win over Makwan Amirkhani. I'll take the proven prospect by submission.

    Allen, submission, Rd. 2

    Harris: I get that Allen is a top prospect and a favorite among his fellow Brits. He's a well-rounded 24-year-old who made his bones in the UK's well-respected Cage Warriors promotion and then streaked to a 3-0 record in the UFC. I also get that Burnell is also 24 and a not-discreditable 1-1 in the UFC. He's based in Copenhagen so could also be attractive to fight fans in the region. But doesn't anyone realize that people can see this fight on TV? Isn't this what undercards are for?

    Allen, unanimous decision

    Rondina: This isn't a squash match by any stretch, but this one was made to favor the Englishman in his home country. Burnell will keep things competitive, but Allen should be able to take a clean decision. And even if he doesn't, the crowd will likely be loud enough to sway things in his favor.

    Allen, unanimous decision

    Ryder: Allen is the local flavor. Burchell is roughly on his level as an unproven lower-tier prospect—though perhaps one that is more unproven based on strength of schedule. This is probably a bit better than pick'em in Allen’s favor, so let’s say the British crowd pushes him over the hump.

    Allen, unanimous decision

Neil Magny vs. Craig White

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    McCarter: Craig White is filler for Gunnar Nelson, who got injured. He's making his UFC debut against one of the division's top-end talents. It's not going to go well for him. Neil Magny will have all the pressure to finish the fight. He will, but it may not be as swift as he would like.

    Magny, TKO, Rd. 3

    Harris: Magny fans may be bummed to see him take this tumble down in competition instead of the originally scheduled bout with Nelson. But take heart: Magny's past six opponents are Carlos Condit, Rafael dos Anjos, Johny Hendricks, Lorenz Larkin, Hector Lombard and Kelvin Gastelum. Some of those names aren't as distinguished as they once were, but Magny's 4-2 run through that gauntlet is equal parts impressive and exhausting. The perennially underrated Magny picks up a W against a late-stage replacement in White.

    Magny, unanimous decision

    Rondina: Top 10 UFC welterweight facing off against a short-notice replacement making his UFC debut. You can do the math on this one.

    Magny, TKO, Rd. 3

    Ryder: CRAIG WHITE SHOCKS THE WOR—just kidding. White is a late replacement. Magny has been floating at or near the back of the Top 10 for almost as long as I can remember. He's too good to lose this.

    Magny, TKO, Rd. 1

Stephen Thompson vs. Darren Till

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    McCarter: I love this fight because it could go any number of ways, and that gets me excited. I hope that whoever loses doesn't lose much in the eyes of fans because this is a battle of elites. With that said, I'm going to stick with the American. He rebounded from those tough title bids against a tough Jorge Masvidal and then took a fair amount of time off to revamp his game. The championship experience pays off with a victory, and it will make Till a better fighter too.

    Thompson, TKO, Rd. 4

    Harris: I want to take Till here. I sincerely do. This is a striker's dream, with two fighters who bring so much more to the table than iron fists and iron chins. Till is more physical and will try to get inside. The clinch is his friend. But there's a delicate balancing act at play. If he tries to bull-rush Wonderboy, he's a done dada. Although who knows? With Thompson's rangy kicks and superior distance control, Till is in for a tough battle anyway.

    Thompson, unanimous decision

    Rondina: In recent years, the UFC's favorite fighters have all been pet projects like Sage Northcutt and Paige VanZant—fighters they can groom from the ground up to be inoffensive, obedient and friendly for the camera. In that way, the promotion's handling of Till, who is already a polished product, feels big. We don't often see the UFC put much thought or care into legitimate talent. And when we do, it typically pans out pretty well.

    But I just can't shake the feeling that Thompson is too much, too soon for Till. He's already a legitimate top-10 guy but doesn't have the body of work that would lead me to pick him over somebody who came a hair shy of winning the UFC title. Granted, Thompson has a style that doesn't lend itself well to any level of wear, and Till is at an age (25) that he could make huge strides in his game almost overnight. But the data we have available says to me...

    Thompson, unanimous decision

    Ryder: I like Darren Till. I really do. He's a breath of fresh air in a sport that has increasingly worked to tamp down any rising individuality within it. He's not beating Wonderboy, though. Thompson could easily be the welterweight champion right now, and Till's only win of consequence is over Donald Cerrone. Till's bullish style plays right into being picked apart by the karate ace, and I think that happens here. I almost wish I were going to be wrong here, but I don't think I will be.

    Thompson, unanimous decision