In the headliner, lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez will defend the strap against Jorge Masvidal. The main card is complemented by female powerhouse Cris "Cyborg" Santos vs. Hiroko Yamanaka for the women's featherweight championship and rounded out by bouts pitting Gegard Mousasi vs. Ovince St. Preux and Billy Evangelista vs. K.J. Noons.
The three-piece undercard is captained by an intriguing lightweight tilt that matches Caros Fodor vs. Justin Wilcox, which will be analyzed herein. The remaining match ups are heavyweights Devin Cole vs. Gabriel Salinas-Jones and welterweights Roger Bowling vs. Jerron Peoples. This is a solid undercard lineup populated by savvy newcomers in pivotal battles and should definitely be worth watching.
Caros Fodor (6-1) vs. Justin Wilcox (11-3)
Caros "The Future" Fodor has been on a tear, having won all four of his outings under the Challengers banner. Fodor is one of Matt Hume's brightest students at AMC Pankration. He fights with an unremitting level of fierce pressure, generally preferring to grind away with strikes from the clinch or enforcing the positionally dominant submission game that catch wrestlers are known for.
Justin Wilcox also trains with a notorious team and is surging with momentum, but on a higher scale. "The Silverback" punctuated his record with reputable names in a five-fight win streak that included Shamar Bailey, Vitor Ribeiro and Rodrigo Damm. The American Kickboxing Academy rep seemed to be on his way to stretching his roll to six in a row against Gesias Cavalcante on the Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum prelims until it was ruled a No Contest when he couldn't continue after an inadvertent eye-poke.
Gifs and analysis in the full entry.
Fodor is a wrecking machine in tie-ups from either the single or double-collar tie position.
Mashing foes deep into the fence, he applies strong leverage to control the head while punishing the body with knees and dirty boxing. As shown to the right, Fodor's favorite tactic is to get strong wrist control from the single collar-tie and peel the defending arm away from the body to land undefended knees to the midsection. He always commits to maintaining a dominant position, especially when pursuing submissions. Following his clinch barrage in this animation, he drops back for an arm-in guillotine but then quickly reverses to the mount while still tweaking the choke.
That same theme of always assuming an ideal position is evident to the left, where he snatches a mean armlock after cramming his opponent into the cage and transitioning to side-control. His best trait is the frenetic pace he pushes. He's the type of swarming aggressor that never gives his opponent any breathing room and forces them to defend constantly. In his last win over fluid kickboxer James Terry, Fodor was methodical in shrinking the gap to prevent the creative striker from finding his range.
Wilcox was a D1 wrestler and a bodybuilder who's whipped his raw potential into shape at AKA.
This will be a battle of wills as Wilcox, like Fodor, tends to bully his opponent around. Initially, he accomplished this with his takedowns and physical strength but has now developed a solid striking game with a lot of power. To the right, Wilcox rolled out a pair of high kicks to discombobulate Rodrigo Damm and set up a ground-and-pound finish. Before the eye-poke, his boxing was sharper than ever against Cavalcante, who is an accomplished striker.
The sequence to the left is a good example of how Wilcox meshes his strength, agility and power to impose his will. Cavalcante closes out his one-two with a low kick that Wilcox catches. Holding the foot, he drives forward and plants his right hand into Cavalcante's chest and face to keep him upright and from gathering his balance to sprawl. Once he's tipped Cavalcante over, Wilcox gets a low, wide base with good posture and starts cleaving short elbows. This last gif also demonstrates a key aspect of his match up with Fodor.
Fodor never moves backwards and is constantly stalking toward his foe, looking to close range and maul in the clinch. The best way to thwart a perpetually incoming and aggressive opponent is to stop him in his tracks with a takedown. For that reason, I think Wilcox's wrestling pedigree will be a nightmare ingredient for Fodor.
With Matt Hume in his corner, Fodor could adjust his typical strategy to account for this, but it would require a fairly drastic departure from the norm. Additionally, Wilcox represents a level of competition that he's yet to encounter. I still wouldn't rule out Fodor threatening with chokes during takedowns or simply turning out to be talented enough to hang with Wilcox. Win or lose, I expect Fodor to authenticate his status as a legit, up and coming prospect.
Prediction-wise, the odds should definitely favor Wilcox here. His three losses all came in the first two years of his career against solid fighters: Chad Reiner and Dan Hornbuckle in his second and third fights and Mitsuhiro Ishida in his eighth. His level of competition has slowly and steadily risen and Wilcox seems to be evolving as a fighter at that same heightening clip.
My Prediction: Justin Wilcox by TKO
Caros Fodor vs. David Douglas gif via Caposa
All others via Zombie Prophet of IronForgesIron.com