One week removed from a blockbuster UFC 259, UFC Fight Night 187 is here with an understated and intriguing fight card.
Headlined by a welterweight clash between Birmingham’s Leon Edwards and a quick turnaround for Belal Muhammad, the rest of Saturday nights card is supported by under-the-radar talent that are hoping to break out from the middle of the pack.
Leon Edwards (18-3) vs. Belal Muhammad (18-3)
Neither man comes into this fight in ideal circumstances but Leon Edwards’ lengthy spell on the sidelines in addition to what was reportedly a tough battle with COVID-19 is a big red flag.
Technically, I think Edwards is the more well-rounded of the two but he is someone who particularly shines in the clinch. Whether it be simple positional control or elbows on the break, Edwards is often able to dominate his fights there especially when up against the cage.
Muhammad meanwhile is aggressive in his output and looks to push the pace on all of his opponents. With his last fight coming a month ago, however, whether he can replicate that approach and then some over five rounds will be a tough ask.
It’s a really tough fight to pick but I do think that Edward’s ability to fall into the clinch and either control from there or find trips and takedowns will allow him to pick up enough rounds to get the nod by the judges.
Pick: Leon Edwards
Misha Cirkunov (15-5) vs. Ryan Spann (18-6)
Cirkunov vs. Spann looks to be a classic grappler vs. striker match-up and their paths to victory are pretty apparent.
While Spann does have plenty of submissions to his name, they tend to come about thanks to his heavy striking wobbling his opponents and then snatching an opportunity on the mat.
Cirkunov meanwhile has a much more traditional pathway to his submissions with takedowns and establishing top control.
While Spann’s power can no doubt trouble Cirkunov, I do think the Latvian-Canadian is the better fighter at this moment and should be able to dictate this fight.
Pick: Misha Cirkunov
Dan Ige (14-3) vs. Gavin Tucker (13-1)
This should be a fun one.
Both fighters are technical in all aspects of the game but slightly differ in how they operate.
While Ige holds power and speed in his strikes, Tucker is seemingly more fluid in creating combinations and mixing in takedown attempts to his offensive bursts.
Tucker admittedly isn’t someone who tends to keep his opponents grounded when he gets them there but Ige is competent enough to bounce back to his feet.
While I do think Tucker has the better gas tank and will keep this fight competitive to the end, I think Ige’s counter punching and power will make the bigger impact on how the fight plays out.
Pick: Dan Ige
Jonathan Martinez (13-3) vs. Davey Grant (10-4)
‘Dangerous’ Davey Grant’s nickname is very apt as his wildman approach can force fight-ending opportunities for himself.
Martinez meanwhile is much more composed and willing to use his range to dictate the tempo of the fight.
This fight should make for an interesting clash of styles but with Grant’s inactivity coupled with Martinez going from strength to strength, I’ll side with the younger man to continue his momentum.
Pick: Jonathan Martinez
Manel Kape (15-5) vs. Matheus Nicolau (15-2-1)
It’s good to see Kape make a quick turnaround after his frustrating gun-shy debut.
Nicolau is no slouch to try and make amends against though as his powerful strikes are a threat throughout a fight.
Kape is similar in that his power is a game-changer at the flyweight limit but his ability on the counter is where I think he will win this fight, potentially with his first UFC stoppage.
Pick: Manel Kape
Eryk Anders (13-5) vs. Darren Stewart (12-6, 1 NC)
Darren Stewart was perhaps unlucky to suffer defeat to Kevin Holland in his last outing which gives an insight into the ability he possesses.
Anders meanwhile has never really lived up to his early UFC hype and has struggled in recent history against the more talented opponents he has come up against.
Due to Anders’ poor defence and Stewart landing at a higher clip than his American counterpart, I fancy the Englishman to get his hand raised when it’s all said and done.
Pick: Darren Stewart
(Last Predictions: 3/5, Total: 21/42, 50% Success Rate)
(Success Rate: 2016: 61%, ’17: 60%, ’18: 58%, 19′: 57%, 20′: 67%)