UFC Fight Night London: Preview and Predictions


Tomorrow night in London’s 02 Arena is arguably the most important in the history of Irish MMA. None of our own is going to win a title but, through the perseverance of fans and media on the emerald isle, a much-deserving Neil Seery will make his UFC debut in front of a sold out crowd, and all of us can say that we played our part in getting him there.

Yes there are other fights to look forward to, but the beginning of 2 Tap’s odyssey at MMA’s top table is one of the most compelling and unique stories in the history of the sport. Perhaps more importantly it is tangible evidence that UFC are still a fan-driven organisation.

Alexander Gustafsson v. Jimi Manuwa

It’s always welcome, particularly in countries where the UFC are not frequent visitors, for the fans to have compatriot headlining the event and, in turn, this serves to conjure a more vibrant atmosphere. However, it feels highly-unlikely that Jimi Manuwa can harness what will be a vociferous support to defeat Alexander Gustafsson.

Although undefeated and yet to go the distance, Manuwa is making an extraordinary leap in competition in facing a man many believe beat Jon Jones. It must also be noted that all of Manuwa’s victories inside the octagon have been a result of his opponents sustaining injuries, albeit with him playing a major role in them getting that way.

Though slightly technically lacking, Manuwa is a ferociously powerful kickboxer worthy of anyone’s respect. But ‘the Mauler’ has outstanding movement, sound boxing and an ever-improving grappling game. If the ‘Poster Boy’ does manage to dominate the stand-up realm, the Swede can take him to the mat, where there is a glaring disparity in ability. Gustafsson has a No.1 contender spot at stake, and his all-round superiority is likely to secure it.

My Prediction: Gustafsson by TKO in Round 3.

Michael Johnson v. Melvin Guillard

 In what was meant to be a rematch between Guillard and Ross Pearson, after their initial  lightweight bout in Manchester last October was stopped when latter took an illegal knee to the head which resulted in a nasty cut, sees Johnson step in to replace the currently side-lined Geordie.

Johnson, who had an impressive 2013, winning two of his three fights, like all of Guillard’s opponents, will be subjected to intense onslaught early on. If he survives this, his conditioning and superior wrestling should secure his path to victory. At 155lbs, the lightning-quick Guillard can knock out anyone, but his questionable gas tank and mental strength are a continuing problem.

My Prediction: Johnson by Unanimous Decision.

Brad Pickett v. Neil Seery

 The real main event.  It is, by now, common knowledge how Seery came to get this fight, and the last fortnight must have been nothing short of a whirlwind for the Team Ryano MMA exponent. He must now set those distractions aside in order to spoil Pickett’s first foray at 125lbs.

Their fighting styles are not a million miles apart in that both men love nothing more than to bite down on the gum shield and swing for the fences, but, of course, there’s more to them than just that. This is almost certainly going to play out within a boxing a range, and could be a case of whoever connects cleanly first will take it.

It would be remiss not to mention, amidst all the Celtic pride, that Pickett has the more impressive CV and is without doubt Seery’s toughest opponent to date. He is well-accustomed to this level of competition and the pressure which accompanies it, but nobody is more aware than Seery of the opportunity that is before, and that may level the playing field. Also, if it hits the mat, you’d have to favour him.

My Prediction: Seery by Submission in Round 3.

Gunnar Nelson v. Omari Akhmedov

After more than a year away from the octagon through injury, Gunnar Nelson makes his long-awaited return to the vastly changed landscape of the welterweight division. In his third UFC bout, Nelson will take on Omari Akhmedov of Dagestan.

It will be Akhmedov’s sophomore appearance in the UFC, having knocked out Thiago Perpétuo on his debut at middleweight. The two-time Russian hand-to-hand combat champion has only one career loss, and is a serious threat to Nelson’s unbeaten record.

Gunni is a decorated grappler with an unorthodox, loose karate style, which is very difficult to time. His coach, John Kavanagh, has predicted a first round submission win for his pupil, and it would be rude to argue.

My Prediction: Nelson by Submission in Round 1.

Coverage starts on BT Sports 1 at 7 30pm

By Tom Rooney – @oldmanrooney

Owner/Editor of SevereMMA.com. Writer, Podcaster, Producer of 'Notorious: Conor McGregor' film, 'Conor McGregor: Notorious' TV series, 'Ten Thousand Hours', 'The Fighting Irish' and more documentary films.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.