Jimi Manuwa is one of my favorite UFC veterans and one of the greatest UK fighters of all time but as of lately he has been sort of gatekeeper of the division. This time he goes against another young gun in Aleksander Rakic who looks to use Manuwa as his ticket into the top 10. Rakic has never faced anyone as good as Jimi but I think he’s ready.
Rakic has looked very well rounded in his three UFC fights, he has good wrestling thanks to his gym American Top Team and he is no slouch on the feet either. I think Jimi Manuwa is in for a long night, unless he can really his experience to put away the young gun early. Rakic winning this fight would make him a threat to any top 10 guy in that division.
My pick: Aleksander Rakic
Illir Latifi vs Volka Oezdemir is in my eyes the classic striker vs wrestler battle but with a catch because Latifi has some power in those hands which Volkan has to be aware of. I see this fight MOST LIKELY going one of two ways, either Volkan sleeps Latifi early or it could be a long long night for Volkan getting rag dolled.
Both of these guys have a lot on the line, they are both fighting to get into contention at 205 pounds, a win here could set them up for a big fight in the division even if it isn’t a title fight. I am expecting the winner of this fight to call out the winner of Smith vs Gus because both Gus and Smith are in no mans land after recently failing at their title shots
My pick: Illir Latifi
Time for the main event that should be getting much more attention than it has, we haveAnthony Smith on a quick turn around traveling to Gustafsson’s home of Sweden after losing his first ever title fight. These two guys could both be champion right now if they weren’t in the same era as the greatest ever int he division A.K.A Jon Jones. That won’t stop either one of these fighters from trying to be the best, they both have killer mentalities which will be on full display Saturday.
This fight will tell us everything we need to know about Anthony Smith as he looks to bounce back from a the biggest loss of his career. Gustafsson on the other hand knows how to bounce back after a loss but he hasn’t been preparing for anyone besides Jon Jones in the last year or so which could make him a little rusty. If he wants to win this fight Gustafsson has to use his length and superior wrestling. Smith is going to look to make this fight a grind for Alexander, trying to close the distance, and do damage in the clinch with the elbows.
This is an extremely tough fight to pick because of how tough both guys are but I think the odds makers got this one right with Gus as a -250 favorite. The main event will not disappoint with action, it just sucks to say both guys will need to do much more after this fight if they ever want another crack at the 205 pound championship .
My pick: Anthony Smith