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Diggin’ Deep on UFC Stockholm: Gustafsson vs. Teixeira - Fight Pass preview

Get the bare essentials on the early morning fights from Stockholm on Fight Pass, featuring a contest between young welterweights Darren Till and Jessin Ayari.

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Oliveira vs Till Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

For those of you who want to sleep in a bit while still catching the UFC fights live, consider yourself lucky that the heavyweight contest between Christian Colombo and Damian Grabowski fell through. The odds were pretty high that is would have been a plodding and uneventful contest that would have put viewers to sleep anyway. What we have left is mostly bereft of name value, though they should produce some good action. However, considering how much I enjoy my sleep on Sunday mornings, I’m not gonna tell anyone to get up and watch these contests.

The Fight Pass prelims begin at 10:00 AM ET/7:00 AM PT.

Darren Till (13-0-1) vs. Jessin Ayari (16-3), Welterweight

This contest represents the best job of matchmaking by Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard on the card. Till and Ayari are both young, athletic, and raw welterweights. Till is the more hyped product, thanks to his larger frame and propensity for the KO. Till has a tendency to fall into bouts of inactivity and stop moving. Fortunately, Till is also a sound counter puncher with some of the best ground and pound in the division.

Ayari has similar defensive deficiencies, though his is more attributed to poor footwork and cage awareness than standing still. Ayari is usually backpedaling or shuffling to his side before leaping at his opponent with a single punch before mixing in combinations as his opponent tires. Low kicks are another staple. Ayari’s biggest advantage will likely come on the ground as Till’s grappling is unproven whereas Ayari has shown the makings of a strong submission game.

Ayari stands a good chance of outpointing Till thanks to Till’s tendency to stop moving. However, Till is also far more likely to score a finish. Ayari’s chin has been cracked before and Till is fully capable of cracking it too. Whether it comes on the feet or via ground strikes, it really doesn’t matter to me. Till via TKO of RD2

Marcin Held (22-6) vs. Damir Hadzovic (10-3), Lightweight

We got a classic striker vs. grappler contest here. Held is a name that most fans recognize, mostly thanks to his run in Bellator which included a title shot. Known as a leglock specialist with subpar wrestling, that’s a bit unfair to Held’s ability to get the fight to the ground which is vastly underrated. He’s made strides on the feet too, but he’s not much of a KO threat.

Hadzovic is still a bit of a mystery considering his lack of exposure against high level competition. He’s got a background as a boxer and cuts angles well enough, but that didn’t stop Mairbek Taisumov from lighting him up. More than anything, it exposed Hadzovic’s athletic limitations. I’m not saying he’s a bad athlete. I’m saying he’s merely average… at best.

Held is a sizeable favorite and rightfully so given his experience and track record. Hadzovic does have the power to put Held away, but I wouldn’t expect that given Held’s understated durability. Look for Held to get the fight to the ground early and secure a submission. Otherwise, Hadzovic will stand a great chance to steal the fight over the last have of the 15-minute limit. Held via submission of RD1

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