A high octane five knuckle roller coaster opens the main card for UFN 84 this February 27, 2016 at the O2 Arena in London, United Kingdom.
The Match Up
Bantamweight Francisco Rivera 11-5 vs. Brad Pickett 24-11
Bantamweight Francisco Rivera -180 vs. Brad Pickett +158
3 Things You Should Know
1. Rivera is still smarting from his loss to John Lineker, but not for lack of trying.
If I may, I was a little disappointed in Rivera at UFC 191. I think he is functionally a stiffer test for Lineker than he showed. The problem for Rivera is that he fought exactly the way he needed to in order to lose the fight. While Rivera has always been a reckless, he's never been that reckless. That could have been a closer fight if Rivera had made him work for it. He's only lost to really good fighters in the UFC thus far. Pickett isn't one of them, but he'll bring the heat like Lineker did.
2. This is basically Pickett's swan song. For whatever it's worth, he's earned it.
Pickett has lost his last three bouts. Ian McCall, Chico Camus, and Thomas Almeida all bested him. It's been awhile since Pickett won with real conviction. Given his last outing, I'm kind of surprised Pickett is still here. This is likely the UFC giving him one last bout for his Dredd-esque long walk. He's one of only two guys to beat Demetrious Johnson, so he's got plenty to be proud of. Needless to say, I've enjoyed Pickett's career.
3. It's Rivera's fight to lose. To be unfair, he's kind of capable of that.
Rivera is, as everyone last saw in brutal fashion, quite the home run hitter. He's not the brawler the Lineker fight made him look like, though he's good at it (Lineker just has a stupid good chin). The versatility and raw power in his right hand are what get him by in this sport. He's good at chambering it both in pressure form, and in countering. And he supports it with the ability to chain combinations together. Pickett is the more technical striker.
He's good at landing in close, and even midrange where his lack of size isn't able to diminish his ability to pressure (on his good days, at least). You kind of saw this in the Almeida fight even, as Pickett was doing a good job in the first round of boxing his way through Almeida's guard. Wrestling could be a factor here, as Pickett might be thinking 'needs to pay car bill' rather than retirement. Wrestling was how he won the Demetrious Johnson fight. Yea it was early on DJ's career, but Johnson was good even then, and Pickett comfortably won the bout with top control.
I don't see Pickett able to wrestle Rivera to the ground with any consistency. That's Pickett's problem here; if he has to struggle too hard to get it to the ground, he's gonna fall back on what he knows best. And his best involves lots and lots of boxing. Trying to fight a big man's game with the little man's body will be his undoing here. Francisco Rivera by TKO, round 2.