This bout feels like a modern day thriller using old synthesizers that John Carpenter used to use to ratchet up the tension. It's a solid bout that opens the main card the way the UFC used to; good old fashioned matchmaking guaranteed to involve violence on an intimate scale.
The Match Up
Featherweight Akira Corassani 12-5-1 vs. Sam Sicilia 13-5
Featherweight Akira Corassani -125 vs. Sam Sicilia +105
3 Things You Should Know
1. Akira Corassani is not the sum of his brutal knockout losses to Dustin Poirier and Max Holloway.
Akira was never the kind of fighter many fans or pundits expected to get as far as he has. Part of it was the TUF personality; he talked himself like some sort of less volatile Junie Browning clone on the show, but his actions in the cage had more in common with the TUF fighters the show could always boast as successful - fighters who were not world beaters, but who were UFC material and mainstays in their respective divisions.
On paper, his last two losses would dispel the notion. To be sure, a loss here could net him the proverbial pinkslip, but I'm a believer in Akira despite his annoying tough guy posturing. He showed real resolve in both of his last two bouts despite the violent finishes, so expect that same resolve to show up here against a less talented version of both Dustin and Max.
2. Sam Sicilia is basically Akira's less Swedish soulmate from Spokane, Washington - another TUF overachiever with a deceiving 3-4 UFC record.
Sicilia, like Akira, has taken some bad losses in part because he's been faced with some very tough competition. His losses are to Rony Jason (underrated Brazilian TUF project), Maximo Blanco (still dangerous), Cole Miller, and Katsunori Kikuno. A pretty tough dance card.
3. These odds are correct, but comparing and contrasting them can be interchangeable.
Akira has never been the brawler he likes to paint himself as. While he can get caught brawling, especially recently, he usually brawls to set up something more calculated, either in the clinch, or in top control where he's able to work a competent grappling game. Despite only one KO to his name, his power is fairly stout, as Dustin found out in their wild bout.
Sicilia is a lot like Akira except he's a little more dedicated to head hunting. He possesses a massive right hand, but mixes his punches up well in general to be a threat no matter where the fight goes. Both guys are fairly well rounded, especially in top control. Don't be surprised if there are extended moments of clinch fighting and aggressive ref'ing to stop the clinch fighting.
However, they also share a distinct lack of head movement. Both guys shuffle well, but it's pretty easy for opponents to find the target if they're just looking between the eyes. Sicilia is a very good pick despite being the slight underdog. But I feel like Akira has the better potential to grind out a decision win. With his commitment to the clinch, I think he's also more likely to avoid getting slam dunked with Sam's right fist. In the end the fight is gonna remind me of Goldberg's exchange with Rogan during UFC 182. Rogan commented about who landed better high kicks in the Marquardt vs. Tavares fight I believe, to which Goldberg, almost feeling the lament of the competitors, replied - "either way both men got kicked in the face Joe".
Akira Corassani by RNC, round 2.