The UFC is hosting its 2nd event in Sweden in as many years, although this time they had to get creative with the main event. Hometown favorite and 205 lbs contender Alexander Gustafsson was unable to headline against Gegard Mousasi, so Gustafsson's training partner Ilir Latifi is stepping in on extremely short notice. The evening's preliminary card features predominantly Swedish and other European fighters. There are a few familiar American faces on the prelims, including Michael Johnson and Marcus Brimage of TUF fame.
You can catch all of the Facebook/Youtube streamed fights live at 10:50 AM ET/7:50 AM PT. The main card then broadcasts on Fuel TV at 2 PM ET/11 AM PT.
Michael Johnson (12-7 MMA, 4-3 UFC) vs. Reza Madadi (12-3 MMA, 1-1 UFC) - Lightweights
Johnson is looking to rebound from a surprise defeat against Myles Jury at UFC 155. The TUF 12 runner-up had previously built up a three fight winning streak in 2012, including a thunderous KO of Danny Castillo last October. Johnson holds an athleticism and striking edge over his opponent, but if there is a glaring weakness in his game, it's submission defense. Of his 7 losses, Johnson has tapped out 5 times.
Madadi lost a controversial split decision against Cristiano Marcello at UFC 153 in Brazil, denying him for a 2-0 start in the promotion. The Iranian-born Swede is a submission specialist who holds wins over Rich Clementi, Carlo Prater, and Junie Browning. Reza's UFC debut came in Sweden last year against Yoislandy Izquierdo, with Madadi coming out victorious via rear-naked choke.
Alloway is an Australian with a fairly active schedule. In just 3 years he's amassed 16 pro fights, in addition to the two he fought while on TUF: The Smashes. While he lost in the quarterfinals to the UK's Brad Scott, he debuted spectacularly at UFC on FX 6 by winning KOTN honors against Manuel Rodriguez.
LaFlare's professional fights have all taken place in New Jersey's Ring of Combat promotion. A selection of RoC's past champions include LaFlare, Chris Weidman, and Uriah Hall, so this organization is more than reputable. Ryan's most notable win was a KO over former WEC fighter Justin Haskins. Originally he was slated to fight Josh Burkman at World Series of Fighting 2 in New Jersey, but the UFC picked up his Strikeforce contract (although he never fought for the promotion) and booked him against Alloway.
Troeng was absolutely pasted by Josh Samman in the TUF 17 round of 16, so his time on the show was short. The Swede has beaten predominantly regional level European talent, and his losses have come against notable faces such as Thales Leites, Daniel Acacio, and Mamed Khalidov. Putting it nicely, Troeng was not impressive against Samman, and as is the case for Cella, the loser is 99% certain to be cut.
Cella might forever be known in MMA circles as the man Uriah Hall knocked out with a spinning heel kick. It was possibly the single greatest KO in TUF history, and fears for Cella's well being were very much legitimate. Fortunately he's recovered, has been given a UFC contract, and still holds an unbeaten mark in his professional career, with all of his wins coming by stoppage.
Sweden's Chris Spang has won 4 of his 6 fights in just one round, including a TKO over Nah-Shon Burrell in Strikeforce last May. Bellator fans may know Chris' brother Andreas Spang, who recently competed in the last two middleweight tournaments. Chris Spang, like his opponent Amagov, gained entry into the UFC once Strikeforce ceased operations, so it's extra important for him to make an excellent first impression in Stockholm.
Amagov is a Russian striker fighting out of Greg Jackson's camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He fought four times in Strikeforce, compiling a 3-1 record. The 26-year-old has already fought against familiar names such as Ansar Chalangov (W), Attila Vegh (D), and Robbie Lawler (L). He has big KO power and loves implementing heavy kicks in his attack. It'll be interesting to see how Amagov looks in his welterweight debut, having spent the majority of his career at 205 lbs.
Conor McGregor (12-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) vs. Marcus Brimage (6-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) - Featherweights
McGregor is the first Ireland-born fighter to fight in the UFC since the short-lived run of Tom Egan at UFC 93 in Dublin. While Egan was bounced after a TKO loss, McGregor looks to be one of the more promising European prospects out there. He won both the Cage Warriors lightweight and featherweight belts in 2012, and has finished 11 of his 12 wins by KO/TKO. McGregor has KO power, good ground-and-pound, and an improving ground game. Brimage is far from a gimme fight for a debut, and easily the best opponent Conor has faced, so it'll be interesting to see how McGregor performs in the big show.
Brimage previously competed at 155 lbs (which is rare for someone 5'4") before dropping to 145 lbs for TUF 14. While he lost to Bryan Caraway on the show, he defeated Stephen Bass on the TUF Finale card in December 2011. Brmage has quietly built up a habit of playing the spoiler role. He's already scored upset wins over Maximo Blanco and Jimy Hettes, and a win over McGregor would make it 3 straight victories over the betting favorite.
Kuiper is a young prospect with good striking abilities and a judo black belt. He racked up an 11-0 record against nondescript competition in Europe, and was given the UFC call-up last year to face Rafael Natal. Kuiper lost by unanimous decision, but not before nearly pulling off a comeback KO in the final round. His UFC 150 fight against Jared Hamman showcased his finishing skills, as he battered Hamman's legs before finishing him with punches. Kuiper tried to fight in January but 4 different opponents withdrew, prompting this matchup against Lawlor.
Lawlor is perhaps better known for his weigh-in and pre-fight walkouts more than his fighting success. He stands just 2-4 in his last 6 fights, although his split decision loss to Francis Carmont probably should've swung his way. Lawlor possesses good power in his hands, but his bread and butter is his wrestling, which he'll probably use as a mean of defeating the Dutchman.
Abedi came into the UFC with an unbeaten record, but he was thrown to the wolves right away when he faced Thiago Alves at welterweight. Alves hurt Papy before submitting him in the opening round. Abedi's fared no better in his next fight in Sweden, as James Head effectively did the same thing. He was in line to face Rick Story last June, but an injury ended his year. There's zero chance that he stays in the UFC with another loss.
Yousef fought on that same UFC on Fuel 2 show as Abedi did last April, and experienced a similar result - a loss by RNC. Simeon Thoresen defeated Besam in the 2nd round and ended his undefeated run. Yousef was scheduled to face Stephen Thompson at UFC 154 until he pulled out with an injury. Like Papy Abedi, his UFC job is as good as gone if he fails to win tonight.