Cub Swanson (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)The MMA Corner Round Table: UFC Fight Night 44 Dan Kuhl June 25, 2014 Events, Previews, Spotlight Saturday night, the UFC will make its debut in San Antonio, as one of the most underrated cards in the promotion’s history follows its debut in New Zealand earlier that same day. Between three winners from The Ultimate Fighter reality show, a handful of WEC veterans, several Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belts, the “other” Ellenberger and a Russian newcomer with almost 40 submissions under his belt, the fireworks are sure to fly in the seventh largest city in the United States as UFC Fight Night 44 kicks off live from the AT&T Center. Headlining the main event are two featherweight veterans looking to make runs at Jose Aldo’s coveted title. Longtime WEC vet Cub Swanson has been on the hunt for a rematch with Aldo since their first meeting in a WEC title eliminator bout in 2009. In that meeting, Aldo took out Swanson by TKO only eight seconds into the fight, but the Jackson’s MMA fighter has gone 7-2 since then and is looking for that long overdue rematch. Facing off against Swanson will be Jeremy “Little Heathen” Stephens, making his 18th Octagon appearance. This will be Stephens’ fourth fight as a featherweight, and, he, too, is looking to make a run at the champ. Another featured bout on the card pits undefeated TUF winner Kelvin Gastelum, in his fourth UFC fight, against a very tough Nicholas Musoke. Both men are on a run in the welterweight division, and they are on a mission to prove they are not flukes. Some of the other match-ups include Joe Ellenberger, twin brother of Jake, making his overdue debut against short-notice fill-in James Moontasri, BJJ ace Antonio Braga Neto taking on TUF alum Clint Hester, and a clash of two of the baddest featherweights in the game, Ricardo Lamas and Hacran Dias. UFC Fight Night 44 starts on UFC Fight Pass at 7:30 p.m. ET with the first fight, then moves to Fox Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET for the remainder of the evening. The main card gets underway at 10 p.m. ET. The MMA Corner’s RJ Gardner, Eric Reinert and Dan Kuhl look at each match-up and give their predictions in this edition of the Round Table. LW: James Moontasri (6-1) vs. Joe Ellenberger (14-1) Gardner: Joe Ellenberger just may have the worst luck of any fighter in the history of the UFC. Everyone he is scheduled to fight seems to get injured. Finally, though, it looks like he will get to make his UFC debut against fellow promotional newcomer James Moontasri. Moontasri comes in riding a three-fight winning streak, with all three wins coming by way of stoppage. Ellenberger, on the other hand, comes in having won back-to-back fights. However, the last time Ellenberger competed was 18 months ago. Ring rust could be a major factor in this match-up. Even though Ellenberger hasn’t fought in well over a year, he has been competing long enough that it shouldn’t make or break him. Once he gets his timing, he will be just fine. Joe, like his older brother Jake, is a solid wrestler with power in his hands. He doesn’t have the same knockout power that Jake possesses, but he has some solid ground-and-pound. Ellenberger wins this one via unanimous decision. Reinert: Definitely not a bad fight to kick off the main card of UFN 44, with two exciting prospects battling it out for a piece of the UFC’s lightweight contender picture. Both guys have looked very impressive leading up to their promotional debuts, displaying a well-rounded set of offensive skills while also demonstrating the sort of durability that has prevented both from ever being finished inside the distance. Moontasri’s three-fight RFA winning streak, all by stoppage, certainly makes him a lightweight worth watching. What’s more, his Black House training camp has no doubt placed him nose-to-nose with some of the best fighters in the world at the gym, so despite having fewer than 10 pro fights, he should be more than ready for a UFC debut. Ellenberger, of course, has the name recognition that comes with having a brother who has run roughshod through much of the UFC’s welterweight division, and his own 14-1 record is nothing to scoff at. The biggest factor, though, will be one RJ mentioned: Ellenberger’s significant layoff. While Moontasri just competed earlier this month and is therefore no doubt in full-on fighting shape, Ellenberger hasn’t fought since the end of 2012, and this will almost certainly have a negative impact on his debut. As attractive as it would be to pick Ellenberger, I have to disagree with my colleague. Moontasri has the skills, he’s got the training pedigree, and he’s got the more recent competitive experience to lean on. I’ve got Moontasri by decision, but it should be a very exciting fight. Kuhl: What many folks don’t know is that Ellenberger was actually set to enter the Octagon before his brother, until his rare blood disease was discovered. He is also considered by some as the better wrestler of the two. Also, his sole loss was a springboard into the UFC for Justin Salas, and that was while he was still getting used to his newly found disorder, so he still wasn’t sure how his energy levels would react to the weight cut. Ellenberger is the real deal, fighting since 2005 and finishing 12 of his 15 opponents. He has eight knockouts and four submissions on record. Moontasri, on the the other hand, is getting a shot primarily due to the fact that Ellenberger’s debut kept getting pushed due to opponent injuries. The Californian is a very one-dimensional fighter who spends most of his time on his feet throwing movie-quality kicks and some very fast counter punches. Moontasri is one of those fighters that continuously switches his stance throughout the course of a fight. Against a guy who can shoot in as well as Ellenberger, this could pose a big problem for him. I have Ellenberger taking Moontasri to the ground and submitting him, probably in the second round. MW: Clint Hester (10-3) vs. Antonio Braga Neto (9-1) Reinert: There are a couple of impressive winning streaks on the line here, with the winner certainly having an opportunity to establish himself as a possible title contender. After losing in the preliminary round of The Ultimate Fighter 17, Clint Hester rebounded with a huge knockout victory in his official UFC debut at the season’s finale event, extending his professional winning streak to four fights. Since that time, he’s notched two more victories, most recently over Andy Enz in February. Also riding an unbeaten streak is Antonio Braga Neto, who will look to win his fifth straight against Hester on Saturday. A veteran of the Brazilian MMA scene, Neto made his UFC debut in June 2013, when he submitted Anthony Smith in less than two minutes. One possible hurdle in Neto’s way is a recent injury that forced him from a Fight Night card in November, so we’ll see how he’s recovered. This fight presents a true clash of styles for fans. Hester has achieved seven of his 10 professional victories by knockout or TKO, whereas seven of Neto’s nine pro wins have come via submission. One thing both of these fighters have in common, though, is that they rarely go the distance, and I don’t expect them to do so on Saturday. Neto will be the larger fighter of these two middleweights, having also fought at heavyweight and light heavyweight in his career, so if he’s able to get his arms around Hester, this one’s going to the mat. This won’t be good for Hester, who has suffered two of his three pro defeats by submission. Once on the ground, Neto should be able to take advantage of his size and significant grappling attack to hand Hester his first loss since 2010. Kuhl: This fight pits a BJJ world champion versus a tough-as-nails striker from Atlanta who began his fighting career in boxing, but has since earned his purple belt in BJJ. Sometimes, TUF alumni are just a little out of their league, and that’s exactly how I feel about this match-up. Hester has the ability to knock out Neto, but so did Maiquel Falcao and the aforementioned Smith. At the times of their respective fights with Neto, those two guys combined for 58 total professional fights, including 30 knockouts, and both got tapped out by the submission machine. This one has a fairly plain and simple outcome. Hester is going to come in well rounded and as ready as he’s ever been. He’s going to try to push the Brazilian on his feet, and Neto is going to get him to the mat to tap him out. As Eric said, Neto is bigger and, despite his injury, he is just so technical with submissions that Hester is going to be way out of his league. Neto by early submission. Gardner: It’s always fun to watch a classic grappler vs. striker match-up, and this fight will not disappoint. Hester and Neto both have impressive winning streaks on the line, and both fighters are looking to make waves in the UFC middleweight division. A win here will move someone further up the ladder. Neto, as Dan said, is a submission machine. All of the victories in his current streak have come by way of submission. Hester has real knockout power, but he is no Falcao, a fighter Neto submitted in the second round. If Hester is going to have any chance in this bout, he is going to have to keep Neto on the outside. It’s unlikely that Hester is going to be able to do so for long, though. Once Neto gets this fight to the ground, he will be going home with a souvenir. Neto wins this one via first-round submission. FW: Hacran Dias (21-2-1) vs. Ricardo Lamas (13-3) Kuhl: Hacran Dias and Ricardo Lamas enter the Octagon in an exciting match-up. They stand as two of the most highly touted featherweights in the world. Lamas, a former NCAA Division III All-American wrestler and a veteran of WEC action who was immediately brought over with the merger, is coming off a failed attempt to capture the title from Jose Aldo, a teammate of Dias. After running through Matt Grice, Cub Swanson, Hatsu Hioki and Erik Koch in just a year and a half, Lamas, through a series of retooled events, got a shot at Aldo in February. However, he only had the ability to pick up one round out of five. He is a well-rounded fighter with a ton of big-stage experience, and a win over Dias will be his first step toward a title rematch. Dias, a BJJ submission specialist and Nova Uniao prospect who also trains with Renan Barao, was 20-1-1 before entering the UFC. A longtime mainstay in the Shooto Brazil circuit, he was set to enter the UFC through The Ultimate Fighter, but he ended up getting contracted right into the promotion. Now, at 1-1 in the UFC, with both fights going to decision, Dias is badly in need of a spectacular win in the final fight of his current contract. He is tough, well rounded and poses a big challenge for the former title contender. Both of these guys are great grapplers who are in their early 30s and identical in height, weight and reach. Although Dias may have more overall fights, Lamas has faced much tougher competition in the past. The American takes this one by unanimous decision. Gardner: Lamas and Dias match up really well, as Dan pointed out, and this fight is coming at a pivotal time for the pair, both of whom are coming off disappointing losses. A win for Lamas would put him right back into the featherweight title mix, and a win for Dias would launch him to a top-10 ranking. True, Lamas has faced and defeated the better competition over the course of his career, but Dias is no pushover. He trains with two of the best fighters walking the planet at Nova Uniao. Lamas is the more natural striker of the two, whereas Dias is the better pure BJJ player. The difference maker in this fight has to be the wrestling game. As long as Lamas can utilize his wrestling to control the pace of the fight and keep Dias off balance, he should be able to get back to his winning ways. Lamas wins this one via unanimous decision. Reinert: This one has “Fight of the Night” written all over it. Third-ranked Lamas looks to re-establish himself as a featherweight contender after losing his title fight against Aldo, and Dias looks to prove that Aldo isn’t the only 145er at Nova Uniao worth talking about. Both of these fighters should be properly motivated and could put on one hell of a good performance. Dias entered the UFC with that extremely impressive 22-fight, one-loss pro record and seemed to live up to his billing as he defeated Iuri Alcantara, who was at the time also considered a shining featherweight prospect. Dias has never been stopped, which is very significant. The big issue that concerns me with Dias is the fact that this will be just his third fight since 2012, and his lack of time in the cage could spell disaster. This potential is only magnified when one considers the Nova Uniao product’s opponent. Lamas is no featherweight pushover, having won four straight (with three stoppages) en route to his ill-fated bout against Aldo. Still, one can hardly fault Lamas for losing by decision to one of the world’s best fighters, and I’d expect the former challenger to rebound with gusto against Dias. If Dias is able to get past Lamas, it could present an interesting future for the featherweight title, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Lamas has shown himself to be a complete MMA fighter, and I think he gets his pseudo-revenge on the Nova Uniao camp Saturday night when he defeats Dias by decision. MW: Andrew Craig (9-2) vs. Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira (7-3) Reinert: The second main-card middleweight contest on Saturday features Andrew Craig and Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira, two fighters eager to bounce back after recent defeats. Both had previously established themselves as middleweights to watch, and they will certainly be looking to regain their victorious form. Craig arrived in the UFC in 2012 sporting a 6-0 professional record. He looked every bit that bright prospect in his next two fights, notching victories over Kyle Noke and Rafael Natal, but then suffered his first pro loss against Ronny Markes in Jan. 2013. Since then, Craig has gone 1-1, first defeating veteran Chris Leben before dropping his most recent bout to Luke Barnatt by submission in October. Ferreira was riding a similar wave of success, first winning the UFC’s inaugural The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil title and then getting two more victories and a step up in competition. Unfortunately, that step up in competition was represented by the recently surging C.B. Dollaway, who took the opportunity to show the UFC fans that his career was far from over by knocking Ferreira out in less than a minute. Needless to say, Mutante wants to prove his loss was a fluke and that he’s still a force to be reckoned with at 185 pounds. Despite Craig’s impressive early career, I have to go with Ferreira. Two of his three pro losses have come by knockout and the other was a decision after a 10-minute tournament fight. With the way Dollaway has been performing recently, it’s hard to fault Ferreira for falling victim, where Craig’s two losses have come against lesser-regarded fighters. With that said, I like Ferreira to outpoint Craig en route to a decision victory. Gardner: Ferreira and Craig are two talented middleweights who are looking to rebound from tough losses in their last Octagon appearances. There is a lot to like about Craig. He has beat some tough fighters over the course of his short career, with wins over Eric Schambari, and the aforementioned Natal and Leben. Ferreira is a very talented grappler with serious knockout power in his hands, but he has yet to face the level of competition Craig has faced. If Ferreira can get Craig to the mat, he would be able to put him in some tough situations, but Craig will be tough to take down. This fight will mark Ferreira’s second step up in competition, and we all know his first venture into the deeper waters of the middleweight division didn’t end well for him. Craig is no Dollaway, but he is very tough. If Ferreira can’t get this fight to the mat, he will be in a ton of trouble. Craig will be able to avoid the mat and pick Ferreira apart. Craig wins this via unanimous decision. Kuhl: Ferreira and Craig come from such different backgrounds that it’s crazy to think these guys are meeting on the biggest stage in the sport. The Brazilian grew up nearly his entire life as a martial artist. With a black belt in BJJ and Master level in capoeira, it’s crazy to think that he has only fought 10 times in the last seven years, although his TUF title is nothing to scoff at. Craig, on the other hand, didn’t even start training until after he graduated from college, but he has earned a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a Legacy title and a shot in the UFC after only four years. Even though Craig has competed more frequently, when you throw in Ferreira’s three stoppages on the show, he has been on a tear lately. Ferreira’s loss to Dollaway was just a bump in the road. Craig won’t be able to overcome the experienced attack that Ferreira brings to the table. I have Ferreira by submission in this one. WW: Kelvin Gastelum (8-0) vs. Nicholas Musoke (12-2) Gardner: The Ultimate Fighter 17 winner Kelvin Gastelum returns to the Octagon after winning a razor-thin split decision over Rick Story. He looks to continue his winning ways when he takes on Nicholas Musoke. Musoke will be fighting in the Octagon for the third time, having won both of his previous bouts. Musoke is very well-rounded fighter who lets the fight come to him. He takes advantage of whatever openings his opponents give him. Gastelum, on the other hand, brings the fight to his opponents and looks to take them out of their comfort zone. Gastelum is on the verge of the UFC welterweight top 10, and this is his fight to lose. Musoke is a game opponent who deserves to compete in the UFC, but Gastelum is one of the best talents The Ultimate Fighter has produced in several years. Gastelum wins this one via second-round submission. Kuhl: Gastelum is another one of these new-breed, homegrown, American mixed martial artists, like Chris Weidman and Ronda Rousey. They all have the same qualities: grappling background, tough, undefeated and with an ever-improving striking game. Like his counterparts, he also has that tremendous will to win. On the flip side, Musoke is coming from one of the top MMA gyms not on American soil. The Allstars Training Center in Sweden has produced guys like Reza Madadi, Magnus Cedenblad, Papy Abedi, Niklas Backstrom and, of course, Alexander Gustafsson. Musoke has not lost in three years, has finished nine of 15 opponents, and has only been stopped once, by submission, way back in his fifth pro fight. Even though Gastelum has been able to stop Brian Melancon and a couple guys on TUF, he barely got by Uriah Hall and the aforementioned Story. Musoke submitted Alessio Sakara in his UFC debut in October and followed that victory with a decisive win in February over Viscardi Andrade, who had stopped his previous five opponents. Musoke is tough, comes from a hell of a camp, has a great background, and has the ability to stop Gastelum dead in his tracks. With two split decisions in his last three fights, the American isn’t in a great position to keep his winning record intact. I have Musoke using his longer frame to stuff Gastelum’s takedown attempts. Musoke takes this one by unanimous decision. Reinert: That’s some interesting analysis from my fellow panelists, but I think I’ll have to play the homer. Sure, Gastelum hasn’t blitzed his way through a few of his recent fights the way he did during his season of TUF, but it’s hard to forget his thrashing of Melancon in his first non-TUF-related contest. Gastelum’s aggressive style can be troublesome for his opponents, and if he’s able to strike first and strike hard, it could be a quick and easy payday for the rising welterweight star. This is to take nothing away from Musoke, who carries with him an eight-fight winning streak (including his first two UFC bouts) into his fight with Gastelum. Dan’s mention of Musoke’s vaunted camp is absolutely relevant, as it speaks to the quality of his everyday training, and it will definitely contribute to his future success. On Saturday night, though, Gastelum is going to want to show the MMA world that his TUF victory and subsequent success has been no fluke. I don’t know that Musoke, despite his high-caliber training, will be ready for the onslaught, and I see Gastelum rushing in and catching his opponent with a big shot quickly. Look for Gastelum to continue his winning UFC ways on Saturday night with a TKO victory. FW: Cub Swanson (20-5) vs. Jeremy Stephens (23-9) Kuhl: The UFC matchmakers are bringing a real gem to cap off a busy Saturday, stacked with two full UFC Fight Night cards. Cub Swanson, currently at No. 4 in the featherweight rankings, faces off against 10th-ranked Jeremy “Lil’ Heathen” Stephens. This is going to be one hell of an exciting fight. Swanson and Stephens are in the middle of major career resurgences. Swanson is on a 5-0 run, which includes four knockouts, and Stephens is on a 3-0 run that includes a nasty 40-second head-kick knockout of Rony Jason on the Brazilian’s home turf. Swanson and Stephens are Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belts, and they combine for 23 knockouts and 10 submissions in 57 total outings. After suffering most of their career losses between 2007 and 2012, Swanson, who fights out of Jackson-Winkeljohn, and Stephens, who fights out of Alliance MMA, are on a tear. Both men are now looking to get in the hunt for a title shot. However, Swanson seems to be a lot closer. In Swanson’s current streak, he has beaten an arguably much tougher group of fighters than Stephens has defeated. However, Stephens’ last three losses were to Donald Cerrone, Yves Edwards and current lightweight champ Anthony Pettis, all on the lightweight roster. Stephens is undefeated since making his featherweight debut against Estevan Payan. That all being said, facts are facts, and one of the biggest facts in this match-up is that Swanson is statistically better than Stephens in all aspects of the game, except for takedown defense. However, with two BJJ black belts who like to bang, this one will most likely stay on the feet, with Swanson taking the points to come out on top. Swanson by unanimous decision. Reinert: I can’t argue with anything Dan says here, starting with the fact that this is a fantastic main-event featherweight fight, if also a bit under the radar. With most of the MMA world’s featherweight attention focused on Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes, it’s easy to see how this very important contenders’ bout could go unnoticed, but rest assured it will be a high-quality contest. One has to think that Swanson gets a title shot with a victory here. He’s rattled off five straight wins in the UFC, taking four by knockout or TKO, and his only career losses are to Aldo, Mendes and Ricardo Lamas, all of whom are currently ranked ahead of him, and one to Jens Pulver back in 2007. In short, Swanson is one of the world’s best at 145 pounds, and it’s going to take a talented fighter to knock him off of his rapidly growing pedestal. If there was any man who could do that, though, it’d be Stephens. The longtime UFC veteran has, as Dan mentioned, looked like a completely new fighter since dropping to featherweight. Of course, his head-kick knockout of Jason stands out most, but he’s looked like a 145-pounder to be reckoned with in each of his three featherweight bouts. The only knock on Stephens is his previous inconsistency, but a win on Saturday night would do a lot to erase those bad memories. Unfortunately for Stephens, Swanson is going to have his number in San Antonio, but I don’t think he’ll be able to get the job done before the final bell. This one will probably be quite a slugfest, and I expect both fighters to exit the cage looking much different than they do when they enter it. After all is said and done, though, Swanson walks away with the decision victory and likely shot at the UFC featherweight belt. Gardner: It is not out of the question to think that, with an impressive performance, the winner of this bout could find himself next in line for a shot at the UFC featherweight title. Swanson has been on an absolute tear and Stephens looks like a new man. Although both fighters can hold their own in a grappling battle, neither is going to look to take this fight to the ground. Swanson and Stephens are bangers to the core, and they are both willing to throw caution to the wind to entertain the fans. This could potentially be one of the best fights of 2014 when it is all said and done. Stephens has serious knockout power, as seen by his 15 career knockout victories, but Swanson is the more technical striker of the two. If Stephens can bait Swanson into a sloppy slugfest, then he will have the advantage. However, if Swanson can maintain his discipline, he should be able to edge Stephens. Swanson wins this one via unanimous decision. Preliminary Card HW: Anthony Hamilton (12-2) vs. Oleksiy Oliynyk (48-9-1) Gardner: The night’s action kicks off with a heavyweight bout between Anthony Hamilton and Oleksiy Oliynyk, two fighters making their UFC debuts. Hamilton and Oliynyk have 51 career victories between them, so these guys aren’t two young bucks looking to make a name in the sport. The winner of this bout will immediately look to make a run in the very thin UFC heavyweight division. Oliynyk has faced the tougher competition, but Hamilton, having won his last six fights including five by stoppage, is on a hot streak right now. Hamilton wins this one via second-round TKO. Reinert: When I think of the name Anthony Hamilton, I think of one of the best modern soul singers in the business, but that’s another story. The MMA version of Anthony Hamilton arrives in the Octagon having knocked out or technically knocked out four of his last six opponents. In San Antonio, he’ll face a man in Oliynyk who is probably one of the most experienced UFC newcomers in promotional history. Hamilton obviously has some scary power, but Oliynyk’s 39 submission wins have me wondering how well Hamilton could hang if this fight ends up on the mat. I think it will, and when it does Oliynyk will end his night with yet another submission victory. Kuhl: Oliynyk is a bad, bad dude. With a fourth-degree black belt in BJJ and an International Master of Sports in Combat Sambo, he seems more like a prospect than Hamilton. With previous training partners like Alexander Shlemenko and Tiger Sarnavskiy, the Russian fighter has been around plenty of brawlers in his long career, and his UFC debut is long overdue. With a five-inch height advantage, Hamilton is a much larger fighter, but Oliynik is a slickster who should take this one by submission. FlyW: Shane Howell (13-7) vs. Ray Borg (6-1) Reinert: This contest between Shane Howell and Ray Borg should be an exciting flyweight fight, and with the dominance champion Demetrious Johnson has demonstrated over his opposition, all any 125-pound fighter really needs is a couple wins in a row to be considered a title challenger. Howell, despite being the more experienced of the two fighters, is the one making his UFC debut, and he’ll look to continue his current six-fight winning streak. Borg, on the other hand, will try to bounce back after dropping his UFC debut to Dustin Ortiz in April. Both of these fighters have shown a preference for grappling, so the difference probably lies in the stand-up. Howell’s last two wins came via TKO, and I predict he’ll use his striking to get the better of Borg on Saturday night, staying on his feet en route to a decision win. Kuhl: Howell, if he is ready, may have just struck gold after a late-notice injury to Ryan Benoit put him in line for his promotional debut. Borg’s go-to techniques lie in his ground game, but Howell is a much more well-rounded fighter with a 9-1 record over the last four and a half years. The biggest problem for Howell is that he hasn’t seen any cage time in over two years. I see Howell coming back to action with a flurry of pent-up hostility and putting on a shocking show for the fans, taking a TKO over Borg in the first couple rounds. Gardner: Two years is a long time away from competition, and although Howell’s Octagon debut is long overdue, he is going to have to shake off some serious cage rust if he wants to get a win. Borg’s UFC debut didn’t go as planned in April, but make no mistake, this 20-year-old has a ton of potential. Borg is going to take advantage of Howell’s ring rust en route to an impressive victory. Borg wins this one via second-round submission. MW: Andy Enz (7-1) vs. Marcelo Guimaraes (8-1-1) Kuhl: In what is almost never the case, a Brazilian who has trouble finishing fights is facing off against an American submission specialist in this middleweight showdown between 30-year-old Marcelo Guimaraes and Andy Enz, who is only 22 years old and a BJJ and wrestling specialist. Guimaraes will have his hands full with the youngster, who, despite his sole loss coming in his UFC debut, appears to have a bright future ahead of him. I have Guimaraes tapping out to Enz in the first round. Gardner: It is hard to disagree with Dan here. Not only is Enz the younger, better fighter, but he is also coming in with extra motivation to make a statement and get a win. Enz is a finisher, and I expect him to make a statement on Saturday. Enz wins this one via first-round submission. Reinert: Probably not too much leather flying in this one, with Enz and Guimaraes possessing a grand total of one win by KO/TKO between them. While I suppose there’s always the possibility for an exciting haymaker finish, I foresee Enz angling Guimaraes against the fence, holding him there until he can get a takedown, and then putting him on his back. Unlike Dan, I don’t have the confidence that Enz will secure a submission this time around. Instead, I see him outpointing Guimaraes en route to a decision victory. BW: Johnny Bedford (19-10-1) vs. Cody Gibson (11-4) Reinert: At 5-foot-10, these are two of the taller bantamweight fighters you’ll find in the UFC, and both are looking to break into their division’s elite rankings. This is a very evenly matched fight, with both competitors having won about the same number of bouts by KO/TKO as by submission. The one major differentiator is that Bedford has looked particularly susceptible to being tapped out, having suffered nine of 10 pro losses by submission. You have to think Cody Gibson’s camp is well aware of this and will look for their fighter to take Bedford to the mat ASAP. If he’s successful in taking Bedford down, I like Gibson by submission here. Gardner: These two are lengthy bantamweights with well-rounded skill sets, which should make for an interesting bout. Gibson and Bedford have similar skill sets, but, as my cohort pointed out, Bedford’s defensive grappling is very questionable. That will prove to be the deciding factor in this bout. Gibson wins this one via first-round submission. Kuhl: Bedford, 31, has been grinding and grinding for 31 fights over the last eight years. The dude is super tough, has a brown belt in BJJ, and is 2-1-1 in the Octagon with two knockouts. He was clearly one of the most durable guys on season 14 of TUF, up until Dodson coldcocked him in the semifinals. Gibson is still relatively new to the promotion, dropping his debut to Aljamain Sterling by decision. He is not necessarily a submission artist or anything, and I don’t really see him taking down Bedford so handily. I’ll go against the grain and pick Bedford by TKO. LW: Carlos Diego Ferreira (9-0) vs. Colton Smith (3-3) Gardner: Since winning The Ultimate Fighter 16, Colton Smith has yet to win another bout in the UFC. Smith heads into this contest in dire need of a victory, but he is getting an extremely tough draw in UFC newcomer Carlos Diego Ferreira. Ferreira is a world-class grappler. Once this fight hits the mat, it is all over. Ferreira wins this one via second-round submission. Kuhl: I have to agree with my colleague. Smith is a likeable guy and an American hero, but, at 3-3 as a pro, he is stepping into the cage with an undefeated buzzsaw in Ferreira, who also happens to be the Legacy lightweight champ. Ferreira takes this one by submission. Reinert: I don’t think this one is quite as easy to call as my two fellow round-table contributors are indicating. Sure, Smith has lost two straight, but both have been against UFC opposition of decent quality. He’s got to know it’s put-up-or-shut-up time, which should provide him with sufficient motivation to succeed. Meanwhile, Ferreira is making his UFC debut, and despite his undefeated record, he could have the ol’ Octagon Jitters to contend with. All that being said, I think I’ll have to agree with RJ and Dan. Neither fighter has shown a propensity to stand and bang, so it’s really a matter of who can get the advantage on the mat. That fighter is Ferreira, who will tap Smith out inside the distance to win his first UFC fight.