Norman Parke (18-2) vs. Jon Tuck (7-0)
When we last left our heroes...Parke has quietly become one of the those British fighters that isn't just some random dude picked up at a phone booth in the middle of calling an escort service used only for catering to the hometown crowd.
He's actually a quality fighter, and this fight...despite having the least in terms of name appeal, is also one of the better fights on paper on the main card. Parke is currently 2-0 in the UFC, with wins over Kazuki Tokudome and Colin Fletcher (who actually is the Brit found in said phone booth*).
He was on The Ultimate Fighter, where you can go to Wikipedia for more detail. Silliness aside, he's on an 8-fight winning streak stretching all the way back to 2010. He'll look to continue that streak against a very interesting fighter in his own right...
Jon Tuck; a name you wouldn't know until you clicked the following link. "Oh I remember - that guy who had that disgusting toe injury"
The one and not quite only thanks to Jon Jones. However, despite losing via freak injury to Al Iaquinta on the show, Tuck has made a name for himself. In 2010 he took the World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Cup gold in the Open Light division. And he's undefeated thus far in his professional career.
What both men can do: One of the things Tuck has shown, and what was revealed in the Iaquinta fight, is that he's more than just a very fluid grappler. While he keeps himself tucked (hyuck!) in a very huddled stance when striking, he has clean hooks that he throws from a traditional stance in tight. However, he switches stances often, so he's not at all predictable. He doesn't have face melting power, but he's extremely effective in close quarters.
Grappling wise, he has tremendous poise and agility from his back. The sequence following his toe break is actually quite incredible; after being in obvious pain, he and Iaquinta fall to the ground with Al on top. With Al raining down heavy punches, Tuck works from half-guard and as they scramble up immediately finds back control for a moment with his disgusting bent toe.
This is where Parke will have to be careful. The large majority of Parke's wins are by submission (12 and counting), but he likes keeping bouts on the feet. With his southpaw stance, he sticks to the jab, and is constantly on point with a nice chopping straight left. His guillotine is pretty brutal, and something even the superior grappler in Tuck should watch out. After all, the guillotine choke is the kind of submission where technique can lose out to sheer strength. Just ask Rani Yahya (who still has nightmares of Gesias Cavalcante).
What both men can't do: Parke's problem is that for a guy that likes to strike, he has very little power. This stems from his tendency to avoid extending into his punchers. Sometimes there's just not enough shoulder, and too much arm.
I like Tuck in this one. It'll be interesting to see how his close quarter boxing matches up with Parke's at range southpaw stance, but I feel like his technique is superior, and I also think any scrambles favor Tuck in a big way.
X-Factor: Lightning of the inadvertent-footstomp-turned-injury type never strikes twice right?
Prediction: Jon Tuck by Decision.
*I kid Mr. Fletcher.