Before your weekend gets rather crazy on Saturday night as the UFC starts off the month of May with a bang with UFC 113, you might want to sit back and enjoy some regional mixed martial arts action to feed your appetite before Saturday's feast. Both KSW XIII and MFC 25 will feature a little bit of something for everyone. If you're interested in what many of the UFC veterans are up to nowadays, MFC 25 will feature former UFC middleweight contender Thales Leites, TUF alums Jesse Taylor and Richie Hightower, and UFC veterans Wilson Gouveia, Luigi Fioravanti, and Pete Spratt.
If you happen to be into the more obscure events, there's something for you as well. Earlier in the day Friday, Polish promotion KSW will hold Kumite, an event featuring Polish striker and Sengoku veteran Mamed Khalidov, at the Spodek in Katowice, Poland. Mariusz Pudzianowski will also be in action on the card in a superfight.
Here's a brief rundown of the action taking place on Friday. Tune in to HDNet on Friday at 10:00 PM EST for MFC 25, and at 4:30 PM EST for KSW XIII: Kumite at IPLA.pl for these great events live.
MFC 25: Vindication
Edmonton Expo Centre - Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Friday, May 7th - LIVE on HDNet at 10:00 PM EST
Middleweight: Thales Leites (16-3, -300) vs. Jesse Taylor (14-5, +250): I'd actually consider this a somewhat interesting match-up for those fans that are interested in seeing some technical jiu-jitsu and clashing styles. While Taylor is considered a one-dimensional wrestler, he has the strength, size, and pace to be very dangerous in the early minutes of the first round. He isn't technically sound in his positioning on the ground as we saw when he battled the lengthy Luke Rockhold, but Leites has had problems against bulkier opponents.
Taylor has faced some solid grapplers, but not a Nova Uniao black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Rockhold's length was one of the major reasons he beat Taylor, but Leites is roughly the same size as Taylor in terms of height. It won't be as easy for Leites to wrap up Taylor, but Leites is the much more accomplished grappler, even in comparison to the surging Rockhold. With that said, I think Taylor's best opportunity is to inflict as much damage as he can against Leites' deficient striking arsenal, or overpower him from top control without being submitted.
Leites won't be an easy task however. He's never been finished in his career, and Taylor doesn't have the juice to bomb Leites for three rounds without getting tired. I'd put a lot of stock in Leites' jiu-jitsu in this fight, and I think he'll wear down Taylor on his way to a submission victory.
Light Heavyweight: Wilson Gouveia (12-7, -225) vs. Ryan Jimmo (12-1, +200): A somewhat interesting battle pits former UFC fighter Wilson Gouveia against one of Canada's top prospects in Ryan Jimmo. Jimmo is currently riding a twelve-fight winning streak after his first professional fight ended in a loss. Personally, Jimmo got a couple of gifts along the way, but it wasn't like the competition he edged out was relying on the win to put themselves in a UFC title fight.
As with any Gouveia fight, conditioning is a factor. The Belcher loss was just a bad fight from the start. He looked gassed, completely drained from cutting and failing to make weight, and didn't seem very interested in being in the Octagon. He gave Marquardt some problems in their battle at UFC 95, but he was never really in that fight. Fortunately for Gouveia, he won't be cutting down to 185 for this fight.
Jimmo likes to topple his opponents with wrestling and punch from top control. As long as Gouveia doesn't gas out completely, he should be able to use his Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills to either put Jimmo in danger or regain his feet. He's proven to be a knockout threat, so I think he can win in either area of this fight. Jimmo has an opportunity to win here, but I've just never been impressed with him against stiffer competition. I felt he lost some of those battles, and I feel Gouveia has the skills to defeat him here.
Welterweight: Luigi Fioravanti (17-6, -260) vs. Pete Spratt (20-17, +220): While I love some old school Pete Spratt knockout power, I gotta go with Fioravanti in this match-up. He has some limited knockout power, good movement, and the ability to go the distance. Spratt hasn't been a proven cardio machine, and he doesn't have that technically sound punching that makes me think he'll just land on Fioravanti at will.
The pick is Fioravanti, but I'd be willing to throw money down on Spratt at +220. Sure, Spratt doesn't have Anderson Silva-esque boxing or a great submission defense, but he has proven knockout power. I think he'll get frustrated by Fioravanti's movement, but I wouldn't put it past Spratt to find a home for his power.
Light Heavyweight: Emanuel Newton (12-6-1, -250) vs. Dwayne Lewis (11-4, +200): Lewis has been on a tear as of late, and you can see some of his handy work on some of the HDNet Knockout specials. He's primarily a puncher, but he does have some abilities on the ground as a wrestler. Newton is mostly a wrestler, and he's been on a streak of "bad" in his most recent performances. He's dropped three straight with losses to Trevor Prangley, Raphael Davis, and Ryan Jimmo.
Nobody should be ashamed to lose to those types of fighters, but Newton had a lot of hype around him following his domination of David Heath and Roger Hollett at MFC 18 and MFC 19 respectively. He's a student of Antonio McKee, so expect an endless gas tank and a steady diet of takedowns. McKee has stated that Newton is back to form, so I'll believe him in this instance. I'll take Newton via decision, a frustratingly slow, almost comical to watch decision.
Welterweight: Richie Hightower (8-3, EV)vs. Gavin Neil (7-1, -125): "Forrest Gump" vs. "The Dirty Samurai", eh? Neil went 5-1 with the MFC in his first six professional fights, so he's making his return to his roots after battling outside of the organization for two straight fights. Richie, as you may remember, was on The Ultimate Fighter season six, losing to Troy Mandoloniz at the finale.
Both guys aren't very talented. Neil likes to come forward, move at a quick pace, and aggressive punch his opponents. He's not terribly defensive as his chin is fairly susceptible to being countered, but neither is Hightower. It should be an interesting battle, and I'm not exactly sure who will win... but how can you pick against Gump? He saved Captain Dan, for Christ Sakes!
Heavyweight: Chase Gormley (6-2) vs. Ryan Fortin (3-2): After losing twice in the UFC in quick fashion, I think Gormley is going to have a good ol' fun Canadian time taking on Ryan Fortin. All of that training with Black House that went to waste should come in handy.
Spodek, Katowice, Silesian Voivodeship, Poland
Friday, May 7th - Can be viewed on IPLA.PL @ 20:30 GMT (4:30 PM EST)
Light Heavyweight Title: Mamed Khalidov (20-4-1, -650) vs. Ryuta Sakurai (20-15-5, +475): Sakurai is probably overmatched in this fight, although I think he's a bit better than the betting line indicates. He has good submission ability, some evidence of power in his hands, and can be overwhelming on the ground if he can gain a good position. The major difference here is that Khalidov's hands are going to be much quicker than anything Sakurai can offer, and while his ground game is his lesser skill -- he's good enough to avoid Sakurai's submission attempts.
I'd almost say betting on Sakurai at +475 would be worth it due to his submission ability, but I don't see Khalidov losing this fight in the striking department. He can be menacing with his speed and accuracy at times, and Sakurai probably eats a lot of leather here.
Superfight: Mariusz Pudzianowski (1-0, -500) vs. Yusuke Kawaguchi (11-1, +365): I'm actually laying down money on Kawaguchi in this fight while simultaneously betting on Pudzianowski to break Kawaguchi's right leg. Yeah, there are prop bets as to which bones Pudzianowski will break. Pretty awesome, I know.
The line is just ridiculous. Sure, Kawaguchi hasn't beaten anyone, and his only significant fight was against the newly-signed UFC fighter Rob Broughton, who is equally atrocious to watch, but Kawaguchi has some power in his hands. This fight will, however, get you fairly excited because Pudzianowski is basically a freak show of a fighter. While he's making a legitimate attempt at mixed martial arts, the guy is a multiple Strongman champion who looks like he belongs in a comic book. To top it all off, he's got a degree in International Relations, has his own band that recorded an album, played amateur rugby and even filled in for a pro team, was a contestant on Dancing with the Stars Poland, and was imprisoned for 19 months. Interesting guy, huh?
Pudz and Kawaguchi are basically brawlers, but Pudz's size can't be ignored. I think he'll more than likely take Kawaguchi down in this fight and maul him with his power.
Middleweight Title Bout: Vitor Nobrega (9-2) vs. Krzysztof Kulak (22-12-2): Nobrega should win via submission as he's the better grappler in this match-up, but Kulak's length should be something to think about. He's 6'2", I believe, to Nobrega's 5'11" frame, so that could give Nobrega some problems in a ground battle.
Heavyweight Tournament Final: David Olivia (4-0) vs. Konstantin Gluhov (6-4): Chicago, Illinois, represent! Olivia is the "Mayan Assassin". How can you not pick him to win? Alright, it's pretty easy if you think that's a lame nickname. I actually haven't seen Gluhov fight, but I've seen the footage on Olivia. I'm not exactly high on the guy, but I'll pick Olivia due to his Illinois roots battling it out in Poland.
Light Heavyweight Tournament Battles
Jan Blachowicz vs. Julio Brutus
Wojciech Orlowski vs. Tomasz Molski
Attila Vegh vs Lukasz Skibski
Daniel Tabera vs Grigor Aschugbabjan