UFC Fight Night 187 headlined by an intriguing welterweight clash British knockout artist Leon “Rocky” Edwards and surging crowd favorite and bad nickname possessor Belal “Remember the Name” Muhammad. Here you will find the plays you need to hit your double ups and find the green in your GPPs. I’ve broken each pick into three categories to make it easy for you. Here we go!
LEAD CINCH LOCKS
Jonathan Martinez – When Martinez dropped his UFC debut via decision to Andre Soukhamthath, he’s fell into a pattern of losing one fight, then winning two; not exactly the fight history of someone fight fans should keep an eye. However, it is who Martinez beat in his two most recent bouts (Frankie Saenz, Thomas Almeida) that has the MMA community intrigued. He’s currently booked to face British submission specialist Davey Grant. Davey Grant on the UFC Fight Night 187 undercard. In order to be effective, Grant will have to take the fight to the mat, but Martinez is not only the better wrestler, but simply stronger. This will force Grant to stand with Martinez, and that will be his undoing.
Charles Jourdain – The athletic French-Canadian former TKO champion Charles “Air” Jourdain is most likely fighting for his job. At 1-2-1 inside the promotion, Jourdain is in desperate need of a win as he locks horns with Argentinian Marcelo Rojo. Both fighters Both fighters prefer to strike, with Jourdain using his clever footwork to set up angles that will allow him to throw fight ending punches from distance, while Rojo prefers to bull his way inside in an attempt to land an overhand punch or execute a trip from the clinch. I just think Jourdain is light years ahead of Rojo in terms of development, and that Jourdain will touch his chin as Rojo rushes in and sleep him.
Rani Yahya – This guy has developed his grappling game to fit in an MMA setting better than anyone in the world not named Shinya Aoki. Since it seems like I’ve been watching Yahya since I was 10, I was surprised to learn that he is only 36 years old. To watch him compete these days, you see a fighter that is right at the perfect intersection of where his physical capabilities crosses paths with his experience and fight IQ. Yahya will face off with fellow grappler Ray Rodriguez at featherweight, and personally, I think the UFC is doing Rodriguez dirty: the guy loses on the Contenders Series, wins a fight outside the promotion, then loses a short notice UFC about versus Brian Kelleher, and his reward for helping the UFC out? A match against a guy who is 100 times better at his preferred fighting style. Gee thanks.
SOLID BUT UNSPECTACULAR WINS
Dan Ige – After garnering a roster spot in the UFC via a win on the Contenders Series, Ige took off on a six-fight win streak inside the promotion that was snapped in his last time out (a decision loss to Calvin Kattar, no shame in that). The proud Hawaiian will look to start another streak when he faces Canadian up and comer Gavin Taylor. Tucker is a solid 4-1 in the UFC, with two of those wins coming via tap out. I just think this is a case of “anything Taylor can do, Ige can do better.” Wherever the fight goes, it should go there because Ige wants it to, and that makes it his fight to lose.
Darren Stewart – It seems like a month ago, Darren Stewart was this can’t miss middleweight knockout artist who was the best thing coming out of the UK since Michael Bisping. Now, 12 fights and a 5-6-1 record later, Stewart is trying to avoid getting a pink slip in a clash with former Crimson Tide football standout turned UFC fighter Eryk “Ya Boy” Anders. There is no secret in the game plan of these two: they are going to circle each other throwing punches until someone goes to sleep or 15 minutes elapses. The trouble with Anders is he tends to want to bite on his mouthpiece and brawl when he gets touched, and that will spell doom against the sharp counter striking of Stewart.
UNDERDOGS AND CONTRARIAN UPSIDE
Ryan Spann – BIAS ALERT: Spann is another H-Town guy that I’ve had the pleasure of knowing on a casual basis and who I’ve watched fight since his amateur days. However, even an objective eye can tell the guy oozes talent. After punching his ticket to the big show with a win in the Contenders Series, “Superman” reeled off four consecutive UFC wins before getting caught by Johnny Walker last September. Spann is a tall, rangy striker who is equally comfortable keeping guys on the end of his long reach as he is in the clinch against the cage. Cirkunov will surely look to take Spann down and impose his well-developed submission game, but therein lies the problem: Spann has excellent takedown defense, and considering Cirkunov has been KO’d in three of his last five fights, I think the underdog Spann will make it four of six.
Bella Muhammad – Admittedly I might be letting my emotions get the better of me with this pick. I am partial to guys who have a well rounded skill set and can adapt wherever the fight takes them while not necessarily having a “go to” skill to fall back on. Those guys are gritty brawlers who don’t mind using their own blood to grease up a rear naked choke attempt. That’s Belal Muhammad. Now it’s true Leon Edwards is riding an eight fight win streak and is a sizable favorite, but only two of those eight wins have been finishes (1 KO, 1 submission). I see Muhammad making this an ugly dog fight, and in that kind of scrap, I’ll take Belal any day of the week and twice on Sunday, odds be damned!