The UFC will make it's second trip to the UAE and it has been 4 years since the UFC's first trip there. Roy Nelson and Antonio Rodrigo "Mintotauro" Nogueira will headline the event, an injury and an illness has cut this fight card down to eight total bouts. Alptekin Ozkilic was supposed to take on Dustin Ortiz but a late injury had the fight pulled off the card. Most recently Andrew Craig who was supposed to take on Chris Camozzi, had to pull out of the bout the day of the weigh-ins due to a illness. The last time the UFC went to the UAE, it wasn't the greatest show as Anderson Silva toyed around with Demain Maia in the main event and the UFC will be looking to pay the fans there back. I'm not sure this fight card will be enough to make up for the last event but atleast they're putting on a show there regardless. With the UFC planning to do over 50 events this year i'm sure we'll be seeing many cards like this one. This will be the first of three events in the next eight days for the UFC, it might not be the greatest on paper but i'm sure we'll still be entertained.
Roy "Big Country" Nelson (19-9 MMA 6-5 UFC) Vs. Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira (34-8-1 MMA 5-4 UFC)
The main event of the evening has two heavyweights coming off losses and look to get back into the win column. With both guys in the latter parts of their careers, i'm not sure if there is much for them the accomplish except put on entertaining bouts. We don't get to see Big Nog often and when we do it's usually a great fight, I wouldn't be surprised that if Nogueira loses he'll retire and if Roy Nelson loses the UFC will cut him. Roy Nelson opened at -165 and is currently at -125 and Nogueira the underdog at +105. Betting on heavyweight is always the scariest as anything can happen at the drop of a dime, Roy Nelson packs a powerful right hand and Nogueira is a wizard on the mat. I think Nelson has more ways of winning and if he can't land a powerful shot on Nogueira's chin he'll surely take him to the mat and use his belly to control the fight on the ground.
Roy Nelson -125
Clay "The Carpenter" Guida (30-14 MMA 10-8 UFC) Vs. Tatsuya "Crusher" Kawajiri (33-7-2 MMA 1-0 UFC)
Featherweight (145) bout between UFC vet and making his 19th appearance Clay Guida and Tatsuya Kawajiri who will be making his second UFC appearance. This should be a very entertaining match as Clay Guida always puts on a great show and Kawajiri who has been fighting for a long time is finally in the UFC. I don't see either guy in the title picture and they both are late in their careers, although this is a co-main event fight i'm not sure there's much at stake in this fight. It's probably because of their names they got to be the co-main but either way it should be entertaining nonetheless. Guida comes in the favourite at -130 and Kawajiri the slight underdog at +110, In my eyes this fight is a pick'em and I expect Guida to be moving around alot as he always does and Kawajiri to be timing him and looking for his spots. I think the longer the fight goes the better the chances are for Guida but ultimately I see Kawajiri outpointing Guida throughout three rounds. I just think Kawajiri might have more ways to win than Guida does.
Tatsuya Kawajiri +110
Ryan LaFlare (10-0 MMA 3-0 UFC) Vs. John "Doomsday" Howard (22-8 MMA 6-3 UFC)
Welterweight (170) bout between the undefeated Ryan LaFlare and UFC vet John Howard. LaFlare is looking to go 4-0 in the UFC and try to remain undefeated. Howard looks like he's back to his old self in his second stint with the UFC going 2-0 in his last two since signing back with the UFC. Both guys are excellent on the ground but LaFlare might have an advantage in the department. LaFlare opened at -280 and has since ballooned up to -380 while Howard is at +315, I agree that LaFlare should be favoured here but this is turning into a huge number. While LaFlare will have a height and reach advantage I think this fight is going to be dictated on the mat and I see LaFlare winning that battle. Howard has more UFC experience and getting him at +315 seems a little tempting but I just feel LaFlare's ground game will be enough to atleast get him a win via decision.
Ryan LaFlare -380
Beneil Dariush (7-0 MMA 1-0 UFC) Vs. Ramsey Nijem (8-4 MMA 4-3 UFC)
Lightweight (155) bout between TUF 13 standout Ramsey Nijem and Iranian fighter Beneil Dariush, who will be making his second UFC appearance. Nijem looked pretty good on TUF 13 and after losing to the eventual winner Tony Ferguson, he went on to win 3 in a row but since than he is 1-2. Dariush looked good in his UFC debut against Charlie Brenneman and he made quick work of him with a first round submission. This is a great matchup and a fight that is perfect for an event in Abu Dhabi. Dariush opened as a -180 favourite and has since jumped up to -245 and Nijem the underdog at +205. I believe Dariush will win this fight but you can't Nijem out, he has more UFC experience and has gone through the TUF house. I question Nijem's chin and if he doens't fight smart I could see Dariush putting him to sleep.
Beneil Dariush -245
Jared "The Big Show" Rosholt (9-1 MMA 1-0 UFC) Vs. Daniel Omielanczuk (16-3-1 MMA 1-0 UFC)
Heavyweight (206+) bout between two fighters who are coming off victories in their UFC debuts and look to stay undefeated in the UFC. The UFC heavyweight division isn't the easiest to stay in and for these two guys they will be doing everything they can to stay with the organization. Rosholt comes in the favourite at -250 and Omielanczuk the underdog at +210. I agree with this line as Rosholt should be able to get takedowns early and when it hits the ground he should be able to control the fight with his wrestling and grappling. Omielanczuk's best chances will be to go for the knockout early and if he can't get that he'll probably lose via decision.
Jared Rosholt - 250
Rani Yahya (19-8 MMA 4-2 UFC) Vs. Johnny "Brutal" Bedford (19-10-1 MMA 2-1 UFC)
Bantamweight (135) bout two fighters coming off a loss and look to prevent from going 0-2 in their last two fights. Yahya is coming off a loss to Tom Niinimaki via decision, prior to that Yahya had won 3 straight coming off a loss to Chad Mendes. Bedford, a TUF 14 standout has gone 2-1 since the show and is coming off a loss against fellow TUF 14 cast member Bryan Caraway. Yahya opened at -170 and is currently at -200, while Bedford is the underdog at +170. I like Yahya in this matchup and I believe he will be the faster fighter out there, Beford will have a height and reach advantage and I could see him making this a very competitive match.
Rani Yahya -200
Thales Leites (22-4 MMA 7-3 UFC) Vs. Trevor "Hot Sauce" Smith (11-4 MMA 1-1 UFC)
Middleweight (185) bout between former title contender Thales Leites and Strikeforce vet Trevor Smith. Both fighters are coming off victories and look to go on a streak in the UFC. Leites, comes in the favourite and the biggest one of the card at -485, while Smith is the underdog at +385. Both fighters have fought Ed Herman, Leites won via decision, while Smith lost via decision. Leites has looked better in his second stint with the UFC and I see him winning this match atleast via decision.
Thales Leites -485
Jim "The Beast" Alers (12-1 MMA 0-0 UFC) Vs. Alan Omer (18-3 MMA 0-0 UFC)
Featherweight (145) bout between two fighters who are making their UFC debuts, Iraqi fighter and former BAMMA title contender Alan Omer will serve as the local talent up against the American, Jim Alers. Coming from Cage Warriors and has won his last 8 fights, Alers is a featherweight prospect who is looking to make some noise in the UFC. Alers comes in as the favourite at -260 and Omer the underdog at +220. I'm expecting a very closely contested match between the two and I would lean towards Alers via decision.
Jim Alers -260
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