By: Christopher Carpenter
Following the last event of Fight Island (for now) is the first card of August which is headlined by the UFC veteran Derek Brunson and the up-and-coming star, Edmen Shahbazyan. The main card had some fights dropped, but it’s filled out now and has some entertaining bouts from top to bottom.
Chris Gutierrez vs Cody Durden
Starting off the card is a bantamweight bout between Chris Gutierrez (3-1 in the UFC) and Cody Durden, who is making his UFC debut. Gutierrez is coming off of an impressive performance in May, where he won via leg kick stoppage. His opponent, Cody Durden, has been dominating the South East regional scene for quite some time and he has finally made it to the UFC. In Gutierrez’s past few fights, his leg kicks have become a vital tool in his fighting style and are dangerous enough to stop a fight. Cody is also a striker who has competed in boxing and kickboxing matches, so he is a seasoned, well-rounded striker. I think this fight is unlikely to go to the ground but if it does, both fighters have submissions in their career and are solid grapplers. The 3 victories that Gutierrez has strung together recently, and the evolution of his striking give him the edge in this fight.
My pick: Chris Gutierrez by decision
Jamall Emmers vs Timur Valiev
Next up we have a fight in the featherweight division between Jamall Emmers (0-1 in the UFC) and the debuting Timur Valiev. Both of these fighters have interesting records, as Emmers fought and beat Alexander Hernandez and Cory Sandhagen, and Valiev’s has a win over Chris Gutierrez, who is opening the card. In Emmers’ last fight he showcased solid striking mixed in with ground and pound. In Valiev’s performances, he has also demonstrated good striking with strong anti-wrestling to keep the fights off the ground. Valiev is a Russian fighter and there is even footage of him training with the Nurmagomedov’s, so my expectations are high for him. I believe this fight will mainly be a striking match and if Emmers’ attempts to take it to the ground that Valiev will be able to prevent that.
My pick: Valiev by TKO
Markus Perez vs Eric Spicely
The third fight of the prelims will be in the Middleweight division between two journeymen of the division. Eric Spicely has been in the UFC since 2016 and is 4-5 in the promotion and Markus Perez who has 2 wins in the UFC and 3 losses. These fighters have similar striking outputs, with Perez having a slight advantage at one more significant strike landed per minute. Both men have low takedown attempt success, but high takedown defense so their skills are relatively even. With these stats in mind, I predict that this fight will mainly be a kickboxing match and that it will play out to Markus Perez’s advantage, possibly even a knockout.
My pick: Markus Perez by TKO
Ray Borg vs Nate Maness
For the fourth fight of the night, we have a bantamweight bout between the former flyweight title challenger in Ray Borg vs Nathan Maness, who is making his octagon debut. Ray Borg is coming off of an incredibly close fight to Ricky Simon, which many fighters and fans believed he won. His opponent Nate Maness is receiving no easy debut, and he should be respected for taking this fight. Maness has had success in the regional scene and he certainly has the potential to do the same in the UFC. Ray Borg is a strong striker but relies mainly on grappling so in my opinion this fight depends on how skilled of a grappler Maness is because Borg is nobody’s fool. Borg definitely has the advantage in experience as he has fought some of the best of all time, but it will be interesting to see how Maness handles this challenge.
My pick: Ray Borg by submission
Gerald Meerschaert vs Ed Herman
The fifth prelim of the night is a light heavyweight showdown between two fighters who are no strangers to the UFC. Both of Meerschaert and Herman have fought some of the best in the promotion but have never really been able to piece together a solid win streak to move up in the rankings. Meerschaert, the former training partner of Ben Askren, is normally a middleweight but is moving up for this fight so it will be exciting to see how he can fight. Herman and Meerschaert are both skilled strikers and wrestlers and have almost identical outputs in striking and takedowns. In my opinion, however, Meerschaert’s wrestling is very underrated and I believe that is one of his best tools that – if he uses – can win him this fight.
My pick: Meerschaert by decision
Frankie Saenz vs Jonathan Martinez
The feature prelim bout of the evening is a bantamweight bout between Frankie Saenz and Jonathan Martinez, and both of these fighters are just a few wins away from landing in the rankings. Both men are mainly strikers, but Frankie Saenz will occasionally mix some grappling into his game. Martinez has been the more active fighter as he fought in February, while Saenz has only fought three times in the past three years. Martinez is the younger fighter at 26 years old while Saenz is 39 years old. Martinez looked good in his last fight, but he overextended on some of his shots which led to him losing a split decision. If he has fixed that flaw in his game, I see him taking this fight handily.
My Pick: Martinez by Knockout.
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