The UFC returns to the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo with a stacked lineup for UFC on Fuel TV 8.

Two MMA fan favorites will collide when Brian Stann and Wanderlei Silva meet in the Octagon. The bout will be contested at 205 pounds, which is the division “The Axe Murderer” reigned supreme over during his time in Pride. Will he be able to revive some of the magic from his glory days or will “The All American” be too much for Silva?

In the evening’s co-main event, Mark Hunt will step back into the Octagon after a year-long hiatus due to injury. Welcoming the former K-1 star back to the cage will be 7-foot-tall Stefan Struve. Both Struve and Hunt have been on a roll lately, and both will be looking to insert themselves in the mix of title contenders in the heavyweight division.

A pair of Japanese stars will also be on display on the UFC on Fuel TV 8 card as Takanori Gomi and Yushin Okami face off against Diego Sanchez and Hector Lombard respectively.

Gomi was one of the best lightweights in the world at one time and always possesses dangerous knockout ability, and Sanchez will be making a return to the lightweight division after finding mixed success at 170 pounds.

Okami’s bout against Lombard could determine who is bumped up into a No. 1 contender’s bout. Okami possesses some of the best grappling in the division, but he will meet someone of equal standing in Lombard, whose background in judo is well known.

Mizuto Hirota will drop to featherweight to make his UFC debut against the dangerous submission ace Rani Yahya. Hirota held a number of titles during his time fighting in Japan, and Yahya, a former ADCC champion, is one of the most accomplished BJJ artists in MMA.

Kicking off the night will be an explosive welterweight clash between “The Stun Gun” Dong Hyun Kim and Siyar Bahadurzada. Bahadurzada became a well-known prospect in the MMA world by displaying some brutal striking power, whereas Kim is one of the division’s strongest grapplers. It will be a battle of wills as Bahadurzada will look to land the knockout blow and Kim will look to make the fight into a grappling contest.

The preliminary card kicks off on Facebook at 7 p.m. ET, with the main card getting underway on Fuel TV at 10 p.m. ET. Here to break down the entire card is The MMA Corner’s Round Table panel of Vince Carey, Richard Wilcoxon and Kyle Symes.

WW: Dong Hyun Kim (16-2-1) vs. Siyar Bahadurzada (21-4-1)

Carey: After taking only 42 seconds to leave Paulo Thiago unconscious on the mat in his UFC debut, Siyar Bahadurzada now has to prove he has the skills to deal with one of the most frustrating grapplers in the welterweight division.

Kim (R) delivers a kick (James Law/Heavy MMA)

Dong Hyun Kim has spent the majority of his 10-fight UFC stint taking his opponents to the mat and grinding them out, and for the most part he’s been successful. Wins over tough fighters like Nate Diaz, T.J. Grant and Matt Brown got Kim’s Octagon career headed in the right direction, and despite a few setbacks over the last couple of years, “Stun Gun” is still one of the hardest fighters to beat at 170 pounds.

The key to victory for Kim is to get the fight to the ground and pressure Bahadurzada from bell to bell, but if he’s unable to get the fight to the mat, then he’s going to run into the serious problem that is “The Great’s” punching power.

Over half of Bahadurzada’s 21 career wins have come by knockout or TKO, and the Afghani fighter has been on a knockout streak as of late, finishing his last five opponents with strikes.

“Stun Gun’s” striking has improved tremendously throughout his UFC tenure, and if he’s unable to get Bahadurzada to the mat on his first couple of tries, I think he’ll decide to try to exchange a bit. This will be Kim’s downfall, though, as Bahadurzada is just a bit too explosive with his strikes. “The Great” will catch Kim with a big shot or two and put this fight away in under 10 minutes.

Wilcoxon: There is a ton of hype surrounding Bahadurzada. It is all based around his power-striking game and his propensity to throw strikes in bunches to overwhelm his opponents.

It always feels like Kim is the underdog in his fights, but he doesn’t seem to mind. “Stun Gun’s” only losses are due to an awesome flying knee from Carlos Condit and a weird rib injury suffered in the first minute against Demian Maia. Kim has a background in judo and will look to get this fight to the ground.

Bahadurzada (MMA Junkie)

Bahadurzada will hold a big power advantage in striking, but Kim is a technical fighter who will keep his hands high as he looks to get the fight to the ground, where he will hold an advantage. If this fight stays standing, Bahadurzada will eventually knock out Kim. The question is can Kim get Bahadurzada to the ground without getting knocked into next week. I think Kim can, and he will win this fight by decision, derailing the hype train while he is at it.

Symes: This is one of those stereotypical striker vs. grappler match-ups. Bahadurzada is an explosive striker, whereas Kim is one of the strongest grapplers in the welterweight division.

Like Vince and Richard said before, this fight centers around the idea of Kim taking Bahadurzada to the mat. The Afghani fighter has dynamite in his hands, evident from his massive KO of Paulo Thiago, and Kim doesn’t want to be on the receiving end of too many punches from “The Great.”

Kim’s background in judo means that he’ll look to utilize the clinch to take his opponent down. That means Kim had better move his head to avoid taking a punishing blow as he looks to go inside. It’s something I believe Kim will be able to do, despite the thunderous power possessed by Bahadurzada.

The longer this fight goes, the more it favors the grinding style of Kim. I see this fight going the distance with “The Stun Gun” getting his hand raised at the end.

FW: Rani Yahya (17-7) vs. Mizuto Hirota (14-5-1)

Wilcoxon: This fight will showcase one of the most feared grapplers in MMA that nobody knows about. Rani Yahya’s grappling credentials are some of the best in the sport. He won the ADCC for his weight class. In MMA, his grappling prowess has been showcased by his 15 submission victories.

Hirota (top) (Phil Lambert/The MMA Corner)

Mizuto Hirota will want to keep this fight standing, not just because of his preference, but to avoid Yahya’s strength. Hirota has won eight of his fights by TKO. He has thrown flying knees in the past, but his best weapons are his fists. Hirota is the former Deep, Cage Force and Sengoku lightweight champion, but he’s headed to featherweight for this showdown.

Although Yahya’s submission game is some of the best in the sport, he has not rounded out his skills. His striking is average, but lacks power. However, the most important comparison in this fight is Hirota’s takedown defense, which is much better than Yahya’s takedowns. As long as Hirota doesn’t get overly excited and rush in wildly when he hurts Yahya, he should be able to control the action and secure a late TKO.

Symes: Richard is right—Yahya is one of the best grapplers in MMA yet is a relative unknown to many fans. I predict he’ll be able to finally gain some recognition by defeating Hirota.

Hirota’s success overseas is impressive, but very few fighters have crossed the Pacific and extended their success. That was true of Hirota’s last performance, where he lost to Pat Healy in Strikeforce. Add in the fact that it will be Hirota’s featherweight debut, and there are far too many variables for me to pick the Japanese fighter in this one.

Yahya (Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog)

Yahya doesn’t have great takedowns, but he should be able to use his jiu-jitsu skills to secure a victory via submission.

Carey: As both of my fellow panelists mentioned, this fight may come down to Hirota’s ability to defend submissions.

Yahya’s BJJ game is remarkable, and any time the fight hits the mat he has a chance at locking in a quick submission. However, the rest of his MMA game has some holes, and it will be up to Hirota to try and exploit those holes, especially when it comes down to the striking department.

Yahya isn’t exactly easy to finish on the feet, but he has had his lights turned out a few times before and, as Richard suggested, Hirota will likely feel much safer on the feet.

I have a bit more faith in Yahya’s takedowns than Richard and Kyle do, though, and I think the WEC vet will be able to eventually get this fight into his realm and secure a submission win.

MW: Yushin Okami (28-7) vs. Hector Lombard (32-3-1)

Symes: This fight effectively eliminates the loser from middleweight title contention. Yushin Okami has already lost to UFC champion Anderson Silva, but he has looked great against nearly everyone else in the division. Hector Lombard was a dominant force in Bellator, but the aura of invincibility began to fade after his strange debut performance at UFC 149.

Lombard (James Law/Heavy MMA)

It’s pretty clear that Lombard’s chest injury was the reason for his loss to Tim Boetsch, as the judoka bounced back to drop Rousimar Palhares in his next bout. The explosive finish was a reminder of how talented and dangerous Lombard truly is.

With that being said, Okami somehow manages to sap all excitement out of any bout he’s in. Lombard will load up on the right hand, and if he should miss, I fully expect Okami to rush in for the takedown. Lombard’s takedown defense is pretty good, and I believe he can fend Okami off. But, nonetheless, I see the Japanese star getting a takedown or two.

Still, if Boetsch can knock Okami out after getting beaten up for two rounds, I have to believe Lombard can as well. Lombard picks up the TKO victory.

Carey: Prior to UFC 104, Okami had already made a name for himself by dragging his opponents to the mat and suffocating them until he earned a decision victory. After having Chael Sonnen do the very same thing to him at UFC 104 in Los Angeles, Okami has only gotten better at it.

The loss to Sonnen ended up being a blessing in disguise for “Thunder,” who ended up sparking a friendship with the outspoken Sonnen and training with him off and on since that bout in 2009. And although Okami was already one of the best wrestlers at 185 pounds, his time spent with Sonnen has made him even more problematic when the fight hits the floor.

If Lombard wants to become the contender at middleweight that everyone said he would be when he was snagged from Bellator last year, he needs to find a way to keep this fight on the feet and land one of his vicious strikes. “Lightning” has some of the most explosive striking in all of MMA, but if he’s consistently neutralized by Okami’s takedowns, he’s going to have a hard time utilizing his offense.

Okami (Tracy Lee/Combat Lifestyle)

Everyone loves to see a big knockout or submission, and I can understand why Kyle wants Lombard to steal this one, but I don’t see it happening. Okami wins by unanimous decision, exactly as he always does.

Wilcoxon: This is an example of great matchmaking. This will either elevate Lombard to being a title contender or move Okami one fight away from another title shot.

My colleagues have outlined what Okami does well, so I won’t repeat what they have said. However, I feel they are missing some key components of Lombard’s game. Although Lombard has won 18 fights by knockout, he does have other skills. He is a fourth-degree black belt in judo and is a former Olympic judoka. He is also a black belt in BJJ.

In other words, Okami will not have a free reign at takedown attempts. Lombard could reverse him with a throw and is a threat even if he is taken down. Okami will have a five-inch height advantage, but only a one-inch reach advantage. Both fighters are physically strong for the division. Lombard has more ways to win, so I have to go with him. Lombard by second-round TKO.

LW: Diego Sanchez (23-5) vs. Takanori Gomi (34-8)

Wilcoxon: My, how the times have changed. A few years ago, this would have been a highly anticipated bout featuring two of the best fighters on the planet. It would have been the main event of a card like this. Now, the fight is set in the middle of the card, with little to no fanfare.

Gomi (Heavy MMA)

Takanori Gomi ruled as the No. 1 lightweight fighter for several years. Of course, that was in the height of Pride FC’s popularity. Since the demise of that organization, Gomi has struggled to find his stride. When he is at his best, “The Fireball Kid” is using excellent foot movement and his hand speed, and is throwing power punches. He has a strong wrestling game that he typically uses to keep the fight standing.

Diego Sanchez rose to popularity by winning the first season of The Ultimate FIghter in the middleweight division. Since then, he has dropped weight and found real success in the welterweight division. When Sanchez is at his best, he is a flurry of activity that works for a takedown where he dominates by top control and ground-and-pound. Sanchez dropped to lightweight before, where he won two fights and earned a title shot. After losing to B.J. Penn in that title bid, he returned to the welterweight division, where he has had mixed success.

This is a tough fight to call. Gomi may be finding his stride by winning his last two fights. On the other hand, Sanchez is dropping down to lightweight after going 2-2 at welterweight in his brief return to that weight class. Sanchez will have to eat some punches to get this fight to the ground, but that is his only chance to win. Sanchez will be the bigger fighter in this one, but he has not finished a fight since 2008. With that in mind, I will take Sanchez to use his size to hold Gomi down to win a decision.

Carey: This entire fight card is filled with bouts that have “Fight of the Night” potential, but none of them compare to the epic display of violence that Sanchez and Gomi should bring to the Octagon on Saturday.

Richard is right when he says this fight is getting little fanfare, but Gomi versus Sanchez is one of those under-the-radar bouts that could end up being a “Fight of the Year” candidate if both men fight to their potential.

Sanchez is one of the most exciting fighters in the history of the UFC, and even though he tends to use his wrestling and top control to win fights, he does it in a way that entertains fans. He may not get the finish very often, but his non-stop motor and relentless aggression make him a tough out for anyone in the 155-pound division.

While equally as exciting as Sanchez, “The Fireball Kid” is at his best when he’s using his wrestling skills in reverse to stand and bang with his opponents—a skill Gomi has used to become one of the greatest lightweights of all time. Gomi’s punching power is what gets mentioned most often, but his boxing skills as a whole are very good and he can pick his opponents apart when he isn’t trying to knock their heads off.

Sanchez (L) (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

This is a fun match-up, but in the end I’m going to side with Richard and take Sanchez. He is relentless when going after a takedown attempt, and even if he gets shut down the first few times, he isn’t going to give up on his bread and butter. Gomi has the punching power, but Sanchez is all but impossible to finish and will eat as many shots as necessary to make sure his game plan is executed. This fight will likely get bloody and ugly, but Sanchez should take home an obvious decision win.

Symes: I’m not sure why my colleagues are so excited for this. At one point in time, yes, this could’ve been a very exciting fight between two of the best in the world. But that won’t be the case on Saturday.

Gomi has rarely looked like “The Fireball Kid” since coming to the UFC. He’s looked slow and downright terrible in his losses. He had trouble with Danzig, but, no knock to Danzig, a guy with the talent that Gomi has/had should’ve been able to put a struggling fighter away.

I’m agreeing with Richard and Vince by sipping the Sanchez kool-aid in this one. If Sanchez was able to make the cut without an issue, then he should run away with this one. He’s the better striker, better grappler and definitely the more conditioned athlete. Sanchez is better than Gomi in every facet of the game except for punching power, but without a means of transportation, Gomi’s wild looping hooks will never find a home. Sanchez via TKO from ground-and-pound.

HW: Mark Hunt (8-7) vs. Stefan Struve (25-5)

Carey: Mark Hunt has the kind of power that leaves fight fans salivating.

Hunt celebrates victory (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

Currently on a three-fight winning streak that features two brutal knockouts, Hunt is enjoying a bit of a career resurgence after falling to a pedestrian 5-7 following his UFC debut and now has a winning record for the first time since 2008.

Hunt has the skills to put anyone in the heavyweight division to sleep if he can connect with one of his powerful strikes, but his weakness on the mat has kept him from becoming a truly feared fighter throughout his MMA career.

The vast majority of Stefan Struve’s MMA wins have come by submission, and after proving he has the presence of mind to take top strikers to the mat and tap them out in his bouts against Pat Barry and Lavar Johnson, it’s obvious Struve has a big advantage if the fight hits the floor.

Hunt usually starts off pretty strong, and he’ll likely be stalking Struve and attempting to exploit “The Skyscraper’s” chin, which has failed him a few times during his UFC run. However, as long as Struve remains calm, stays on the outside and uses his reach advantage, this should be the Dutchman’s fight to lose.

Both guys are proven finishers, but Struve just has too many weapons for Hunt to handle at this point. Once he finds a way to get the “Super Samoan” to the mat, this fight is all but over. Struve wins by submission in the first.

Symes: Struve is one of those fighters that you look at and say, “Wow, he looks like a heavyweight champ!” If Struve were able to properly use his reach, he definitely could contend for the title. As is the case in all of Struve’s bouts, utilizing his massive reach advantage will be key against the heavy-handed Hunt.

Hunt is one of the most dangerous strikers in the division because he can deliver a knockout blow while taking a few. I’m always concerned about Struve’s chin because of how many times I’ve seen his 7-foot frame crumple to the mat, but, as Vince pointed out, Struve has apparently learned from his mistakes. The idea that he would pull guard right away against Lavar Johnson shows that Struve knows where his bread and butter is located.

Struve (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

Working with a top gym like American Top Team has no doubt improved Hunt’s grappling skills, but nobody will get him confused for a submission artist anytime soon. If Sean McCorkle can get a tapout, I’d like to believe Struve can as well. Add in the fact that Hunt hasn’t fought in over a year and I’ll happily take Struve in this one.

Wilcoxon: This fight will get one of these men closer to title contention, but it is an extremely tough fight to pick.

Hunt has rebounded from a six-fight skid with a three-fight winning streak. The former K-1 champion is known for his iron jaw and powerful fists.

On the other side of the cage is a giant. The 7-foot-tall Struve has skill, both striking and on the mat. However, his real advantage should be his size.

But, although Struve has all the tools, he has struggled with his fight IQ. He tends to fight much smaller than he really is. He does not seem to understand how to use his reach standing or his freakish size on the mat. In the past, Struve has also chosen to exchange wild strikes instead of using his technique. There is no doubt that Struve is more well-rounded, but there is a doubt as to whether he will use his advantages. On the mat, he wins this fight. If he stands and trades, he will be knocked out. I just don’t trust Struve to fight smart. Hunt by brutal knockout.

LHW: Brian Stann (12-5) vs. Wanderlei Silva (34-12-1)

Symes: This fight should be reminiscent of Wanderlei Silva’s bout with Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. It’s guaranteed violence, as Brian Stann and Silva are two of the hardest punchers in the division and have no qualms about looking for a fight in the cage.

Stann (DaveMandel/Sherdog)

I see this fight playing out much like Stann’s affair with Chris Leben. Stann knows Silva will stand in the pocket and trade punch for punch all day, but he also knows (well, should know) that Silva’s chin isn’t what it used to be. Look for Stann to utilize angles in the early going to avoid Silva’s crushing blows.

It’ll be interesting to see how Silva looks fighting at 205 pounds. He once was a force in the division, but that was years ago. Stann didn’t find much success at 205 pounds either, but he also won’t be fighting a huge NCAA Division I wrestling champ like Phil Davis.

As a fan of MMA, I’m inclined to always wish for a victory for “The Axe Murderer,” but I think Stann will fight the smart fight and avoid the looping punches of Silva en route to a split decision victory.

Wilcoxon: Silva is a legend in this sport. He was a monster who ruled over Pride FC for nearly six years. He was known for his feared Muay Thai striking that secured him 24 knockout victories in the sport, many of them memorable (who can forget the way he left Rampage hanging over the rope in their second meeting?). I used to be afraid when Silva entered the ring or cage because of what he was about to do. But those days are a distant memory. Now, I fear for his safety each time he enters the cage. Silva was the last fighter Rampage knocked out. He was also the last fighter Leben knocked out.

Across the cage is Stann. He is a power puncher who has nine knockouts in his career. The former WEC champion had fought his way up to being in a No. 1 contender fight only to be sent back to the drawing board.

Silva (Daniel Herbertson/Sherdog)

I have total respect for what Silva has done in his career, but he was never a defensive fighter. He would often eat a strike to land one, but his chin is now gone. He is also getting slower with age. Stann will win this by knockout.

Carey: A few years ago, this fight would be a guaranteed five-round slugfest. However, Silva has taken a ton of punishment over the last few years of his career, and it’s slowly nearing the point where another brutal knockout or two could incline UFC President Dana White to step in to ask Wanderlei to retire.

But, while “The Axe Murderer’s” chin has started to fade, his power hasn’t. He has a chance at putting his hands on Stann and scoring a minor upset here. Standing and trading punches may not end well for Silva, but if he’s able to get inside and pull Stann into the clinch, he could find the knockout.

On the other hand, even in the clinch, Wanderlei isn’t in the clear. Stann has crazy knockout power, and just one uppercut that lands on the inside may be enough to put Silva to sleep. Stann’s power can’t be questioned when you see a first-round TKO win over the iron-chinned Leben on his record. That clear-cut knockout ability is the reason I think “The All American” is going to pick up the win here. Silva is just too reckless when he gets into punching exchanges. Once he starts throwing bombs, the door opens for Stann to land a big counter punch.

I love Silva, but he’s no longer the guy that destroyed his competition in Pride, and he’s not getting the win in this one. I’m making it three for three and taking Stann by first-round KO.

Preliminary Card
WW: Marcelo Guimaraes (8-0-1) vs. Hyun Gyu Lim (10-3-1)

Carey: Marcelo Guimaraes did enough to eke out a close decision win in his UFC debut over Dan Stittgen last year, but it wasn’t exactly a performance that got fans talking about his potential. He could be on the chopping block with a loss this weekend. The same could be said for his opponent, Hyun Gyu Lim, who is making his UFC debut after being deemed medically unable to compete just prior to his scheduled UFC debut last November. Guimaraes has the wrestling and size advantage, so look for the Korean to end up on his back early in the fight. But once he has time to adjust, Lim will have the patience to time and deliver a crushing knockout blow.

Wilcoxon: This fight will be determined by where it happens. Lim will hold a reach, power and striking advantage. Guimaraes is a BJJ black belt and will hold an advantage on the mat. In a striker vs. grappler match, I tend to lean towards the grappler. Guimaraes will take the fight with a second-round armbar.

Symes: Like Richard, I’m inclined to ride with the grappler more often than not in a striker vs. grappler situation. I’ll take Guimaraes to pick up the victory despite his rocky performance in his UFC debut.

BW: Alex Caceres (8-5) vs. Kyung Ho Kang (11-6)

Wilcoxon: This is a tough call. Kyung Ho Kang is one of the top prospects coming out of Korea. He has a strong submission game. Alex Caceres is best known for his stint on TUF. His size, reach and athletic ability give him a huge advantage while standing, but surprisingly most of his wins come by submission. Caceres has more ways to win, but he also lost four fights by submission. I think he will lose his fifth fight by that means on Saturday night.

Symes: I haven’t punched my ticket on the Caceres hype train, and although I tend to avoid picking fighters from overseas, I’ll take Kang in this one. Caceres, based on his athletic ability, will make it interesting early on, but I expect that to matter little in the grand scheme of things as Kang looks to avoid Caceres on the ground.

Carey: I climbed aboard the Caceres hype train the moment he broke out his “Bruce Leeroy” persona on TUF, so I’m going to be in the minority here and pick Caceres. His length should help him keep Kang at bay in the striking department, and if the fight hits the mat, he’s developed a pretty craft guard game off his back. Caceres takes this one by submission, but he’s going to have to be careful not to get caught in a submission by Kang when the fight hits the floor.

LW: Cristiano Marcello (13-4) vs. Kazuki Tokudome (11-3-1)

Symes: Cristiano Marcello will be a name MMA fans love to think fondly of for his time in Pride and his association with the legendary Chute Boxe team. Marcello looked anything but spectacular in UFC debut, and I have to question his ability to take a punch at this point in his career. Still, I’ll take him against the relatively unknown Kazuki Tokudome.

Carey: Like Kyle, I have huge doubts in Marcello’s ability to take a solid shot. He got starched by Sam Sicilia back at the TUF 15 Finale last year, and he wasn’t exactly impressive in his split decision win over Reza Madadi soon after. Still, possibly for nostalgia purposes only, I’m taking Marcello by submission here.

Wilcoxon: Marcello is a wizard on the mat, but he has never rounded out his game. He has poor striking technique and a weak chin. Tokudome has not been submitted since his debut fight back in 2007. He is younger, more athletic, bigger and a better striker. Tokudome wins by knockout.

BW: Takeya Mizugaki (16-7-2) vs. Bryan Caraway (17-5)

Wilcoxon: Takeya Mizugaki is one of the toughest fighters in the bantamweight division. He has an iron chin and no fear of exchanging blows with the toughest fighters around. He will definitely have the edge in the stand-up exchanges against Bryan Caraway. Mizugaki is tough on the ground as well. The problem is that he is facing a wrestler and submission ace. Caraway will waste no time in getting this fight to the ground. I don’t believe Caraway can submit Mizugaki, but he will ride out a decision victory.

Carey: Richard’s right—this fight is going to come down to Mizugaki’s takedown defense. The majority of the Japanese fighter’s losses have come against strong wrestlers, but I’m not sure that Caraway is on the same level as guys like Scott Jorgensen and Brian Bowles when it comes to the wrestling department. The smart move may be to pick the wrestler here, but I think Mizugaki has the skills to stay upright just long enough to lean the judges his way and take home a very close split decision.

Symes: Mizugaki is one of those guys that you can put on a card and know you’re going to get a good showing. He’s as tough as a two-dollar steak and doesn’t go away quietly. He’ll need that mental toughness as he fends off the grappling game of Caraway, but I see Mizugaki pulling off a win for the hometown crowd.

MW: Riki Fukuda (19-6) vs. Brad Tavares (9-1)

Carey: Brad Tavares looked like one of the top prospects in the UFC’s middleweight division during his close decision win over UK fan favorite Tom Watson back in September, and he can make a case for a shot at a top-10 opponent if he looks impressive this weekend. Standing in his way is tough Japanese veteran Riki Fukuda, who’s looking to move his UFC record above .500 with a win on Saturday night. Fukuda has decent striking and the wrestling skills to take Tavares to the mat a few times, but overall I like the Hawaiian’s complete MMA game a bit better. I think Tavares earns a tough decision nod here.

Symes: Although Fukuda is only a .500 fighter in his UFC career, one of his losses should’ve been a win. The other loss came against Costa Philippou, who looks to be a rising middleweight contender. Tavares is a promising prospect, but I expect Fukuda’s toughness to win him a decision.

Wilcoxon: Fukuda is a veteran of the sport getting to fight in his home country on this card. His strengths are his wrestling and his striking. Tavares’ strengths are also in the stand-up game. I see Tavares’ athletic ability stopping the takedown attempts by Fukuda, eventually leading Tavares to a win via a hard-fought decision.

Top Photo: Wanderlei Silva (Daniel Herbertson/Sherdog)

About The Author

Kyle Symes
Staff Writer

Kyle is a recent graduate of Aurora University, where he obtained a Bachelor's in Communications. Kyle resides in Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He played baseball and football in both high school and college, but is now focusing on an amateur MMA career.