The UFC returns this Wednesday hot on the heels of their Fox Sports 1 debut with a second showing on America’s latest sports network with UFC Fight Night 27. Top billing on the card goes to welterweights Carlos Condit and Martin Kampmann who will face each other in a rematch from 2009 where the Dane edged out Condit via a split decision. Serving as the co-main event for the evening is a lightweight showdown between two top-10 ranked opponents, Donald Cerrone and Rafael dos Anjos. UFC Fight Night 27 also sees the welterweight debut of the most recent Ultimate Fighter winner, Kelvin Gastelum as he takes on Brian Melancon in his first fight since capturing the season 17 crown. Rounding out the six fight main card is welterweights Court McGee and Robert Whittaker, bantamweights Takeya Mizugaki and Erik Perez and middleweights Brad Tavares and Bubba McDaniels.
But before all that excitement, I am, as ever, here to tell you why you should be looking to tune in a little early in order to sneak a peek of the undercard and preview the very best that the prelims has to offer. Here we go…
Dylan ‘The Villain’ Andrews (16-4-0-1 NC) vs. Papy ‘Makambo’ Abedi (9-2-0) -
Headling the undercard is a middleweight bout between Dylan Andrews and Papy Abedi.
We first got to know Andrews as a part of the most recent Ultimate Fighter season, where the New Zealander would go on to reach the semi-final stage. Andrews’ progress in the competition was halted by Uriah Hall but the Kiwi had done enough to warrant a second look and was handed a fight with fellow TUF 17 contestant Jimmy Quinlan at the season finale back in April. Andrews would go on to blitz Quinlan, ending the bout via a TKO finish at 3:22 of the very first round. That win, in his UFC debut, took Andrews to five straight victories and ‘The Villain’ will be looking to extend that streak when he sets foot in the Octagon for the second time in his career.
Abedi will be making a return to the middleweight division when he takes on Andrews at UFC Fight Night 27, having endured a largely unsuccessful stint as a welterweight during his time with the UFC. Abedi entered the UFC as a sizeable European middleweight prospect, however for his promotional debut the Swede decided to make the drop to 170lbs for the first time in his career. This little experiment did not go well. Abedi would lose out in his debut to Thiago Alves and then follow that up with another defeat to James Head. In his most recent bout, and last as a welterweight, Abedi likely saved his job by taking home a split decision victory over Besam Yousef back in April and now ‘Makambo’ will look to earn back-to-back victories for the first time in his UFC career.
This should be a fun fight. Both Abedi and Andrews are big, powerful fighters who look for the finish, Andrews’ with his striking and Abedi through his ground and pound. As both will look to have this fight over and done with quite quickly this will bout will likely be decided by cardio, or lack thereof, particularly in Abedi’s case. Abedi has been known to gas and I think this is where Andrews’ will triumph, catching the Swede and finishing him in the later rounds.
Predicition – Andrews via KO/TKO in the 3rd round.
Darren Elkins (16-3-0) vs. Hatsu Hioki (26-6-2) -
Next up on the undercard is a featherweight bout probably worthy of a main card slot on this event, as Darren Elkins takes on Hatsu Hioki.
Elkins did himself no favours in stepping in as a late replacement for Clay Guida against Chad Mendes in his most recent outing at UFC on Fox 7 back in April. Elkins entered the fight with Mendes high on the kind of confidence that a five-fight win streak can bring you. After dispatching with Antonio Carvalho in quick fashion whilst sustaining no damage whatsoever in his previous fight, Elkins jumped at the chance to take on Mendes but unfortunately for him, things did not go his way. The Mendes fight proved an obstacle too big and too soon for Elkins; as he would go on to succumb to strikes just 1:08 in to the fight. Elkins will look to regain that lost momentum at UFC Fight Night 27 when he does battle with Japan’s Hioki.
One of Japan’s remaining fighters capable of performing at a high level, Hatsu Hioki has had an indifferent time of it so far in his UFC career. Hioki entered the UFC as the reigning Sengoku and Shooto featherweight champion and had the hopes of those clamouring for another truly great Japanese fighter to emerge on his shoulders. Hioki skated through his first two tests against George Roop and Bart Palaszewski but then hit a road block in the form of Ricardo Lamas. Hioki was matched up with Clay Guida in his next and most recent bout, where Hioki would go on to lose via split decision in a fight where many thought Hioki had done enough. Hioki will go in to the Elkins fight looking to avoid a run of three-straight losses, something he has yet to experience in his career.
This fight will likely turn out to be a battle of grappling styles. Hioki will look to employ a submission based attack, whereas Elkins will seek to drag Hioki to the mat as fast as he can and keep him there while utilising his favoured wrestling style. It is worth noting that Hioki’s two UFC losses have come against American wrestlers, Lamas and Guida, and unfortunately for Hioki I see this trend continuing. While Hioki could very well eke out a submission, it is far more likely that Elkins will use his superior wrestling and suffocating top game to negate any kind of possible offense from Hioki en route to a decision victory.
Prediction – Elkins via unanimous decision.
James Head (9-3-0) vs. Jason ‘The Kansas City Bandit) High (16-4-0) -
Here we have a welterweight showdown to add to the prelims as James Head locks horns with Jason High.
After losing out to Nick Ring in his UFC debut back in 2011, James Head took the decision to drop down to 170lbs from middleweight and it immediately paid dividends. Head would go on to defeat Papy Abedi and Brian Ebersole as a welterweight and earned a shot at a more high profile name in the shape of Mike Pyle. Head was however unable to capitalise on the opportunity and the Pyle fight was over nearly as soon as it had started, with Pyle finishing Head via strikes at 1:55 of the opening round. Head will look to avoid the unwanted stigma of back-to-back losses for the first time in his career.
Jason High is one of MMA’s most travelled. ‘The Kansas City Bandit’ has competed under a multitude of promotional banners including Affliction, Strikeforce, DREAM and of course the UFC. This is High’s second term with the UFC and had his second debut with the promotion last time out back in June against Erik Silva. The Silva fight seemed to be purely arranged to get the Brazilian back on track and was set in his home country to further stack the odds in Silva’s favour, and it worked. High would end up tapping out to a triangle-armbar just after the first minute of the first round. High will now look to get back to winning ways having been on a seven fight win streak prior to signing with the UFC.
This fight could be pretty much described as a striker versus grappler matchup with Head possessing a Muay-Thai based attack with particular emphasis on clinch work and High likely to utilise an attack grounded in wrestling. Put me down for High to close the distance and repeatedly take this one to the mat to render Head’s clinch game useless and grind out a decision.
Prediction – High via unanimous decision.
Roger ‘Relentless’ Bowling (11-4-0) vs. Abel ‘Killa’ Trujillo (10-5-0) -
Kicking off the night’s fighting festivities is a lightweight contest fought between Roger Bowling and Abel Trujillo.
Roger Bowling is perhaps best known for fighting Bobby Voelker what felt about ten times in Strikeforce, not just the three encounters both men actually had. Bowling was a part of the Strikeforce migration to the UFC and has already competed in the Octagon back in April at UFC on Fox 7 where he was KO’d in the first round of his fight with Anthony Njokuani.
Trujillo showed in his UFC debut that he is a man with serious power for a lightweight in disposing with Marcus LeVesseur via heavy knees to the body of his opponent. Unfortunately for Trujillo his next and most recent bout, a matchup with Khabib Nurmagomedov, did not work out in his favour. Trujillo was comprehensively out-grappled by his opposite number and Nurmagomedov actually posted a UFC record of 21 takedowns in a single fight.
I have very little doubt in my mind that this one will end up with a finish, who ends up victorious is a different thing altogether. Bowling will likely swarm forward with reckless abandon and hunt for that one big KO punch, whereas Trujillo will seek to keep a slight distance in order to better exploit his superior hand speed in order to pick off Bowling coming in. For me, this fight will come down to who can keep up the pace and in the past Bowling has shown some issues with his gas tank. I’ll go for Trujillo to put Bowling away with strikes late in the second.
Prediction – Trujillo via KO/TKO in the 2nd round.
Tags: Abel Trujillo, Carlos Condit, Darren Elkins, Donald Cerrone, Dylan Andrews, Hatsu Hioki, James Head, Jason High, Kelvin Gastelum, Martin Kampmann, Papy Abedi, Rafael dos Anjos, Roger Bowling, UFC, UFC Fight Night 27