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UFC Rotterdam: Fight by Fight Preview


ALEXANDER VOLKOV VS STEFAN STRUVE
Two (literal) giants of the heavyweight division square off in Saturday’s main event, with 6-11 ½ Stefan Struve getting a home game in the Netherlands against 6-7 Alexander Volkov. This one may come down to how Volkov adjusts to being the smaller man in the Octagon for the first time. If he can cope with Struve’s height and reach advantages, he’s got the power and inside game to give the “Skyscraper” trouble, but Struve has been fighting on another level confidence-wise these days, and he may just say to himself, “No one’s beating me in my backyard.”

SIYAR BAHADURZADA VS ROB WILKINSON
Injuries and inactivity have plagued Siyar Bahadurzada during his UFC run, and even when it was announced that he was going to return, he went through two opponents before Australia’s Rob Wilkinson was slotted in for this weekend’s show. But Bahadurzada does have the talent and experience to make some noise in the Octagon, and if he gets through the unbeaten Wilkinson, the key for him is to stay busy. If he does that, it should be an interesting 2018 for “Siyar the Great.”

MARION RENEAU VS TALITA BERNARDO
Originally scheduled to face former featherweight champ Germaine de Randamie, Marion Reneau now faces off with Brazilian newcomer Talita Bernardo. Bernardo is a BJJ black belt with nothing to lose in this short notice assignment against the top 15 contender, which means Reneau has to do everything in her power to take command of the fight early and maintain that control for 15 minutes. The moment she gives Bernardo some light, especially if the fight hits the mat, it could be trouble.


LEON EDWARDS VS BRYAN BARBERENA
Strap yourselves in, folks, because the next three bouts are the ones likely to take Fight of the Night honors. First up, Leon Edwards and Bryan Barberena look to make a case for a spot in the welterweight top 15 with a big win on Saturday. Edwards has shown off an ever-evolving fight game over the last couple years, while Barberena may have shaken off his tendency to start slow with a blistering finish of Joe Proctor his last time out. There’s a lot on the line for these two up and comers, so expect them to fight like it.

DARREN TILL VS BOJAN VELICKOVIC
Keeping the “Let’s break into the top 15 theme,” Darren Till and Bojan Velickovic may have a longer road at the moment than Edwards and Barberena due to Octagon experience, but both 170-pounders have the talent and the momentum to start banging the drum for – at the very least – a top 15 opponent the next time out. But to get there, someone has to have a breakthrough performance, and both fighters have that potential to do just that in Rotterdam.
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MAIRBEK TAISUMOV VS FELIPE SILVA
I wouldn’t bet the house on this fight between Mairbek Taisumov and Felipe Silva getting Fight of the Night honors, but I would feel safe saying that a Performance of the Night bonus could be coming for the winner of this clash between lightweight power hitters. And hey, if Taisumov and Silva can survive each other’s thunder, we could be in for a 15 minute war to remember. Either way, expect to be entertained.

MICHEL PRAZERES VS MADS BURNELL
The UFC’s quietest winning streak got loud in March when Brazilian grinder Michel Prazeres finished Joshua Burkman in less than two minutes. It was Prazeres’ first finish in the UFC and first since 2012, and it may have been a page-turning victory for the veteran, who has to be considered a big favorite against Danish newcomer Mads Burnell. But don’t count the 23-year-old out, as he’s got a slick submission game and the confidence that he’s leaving the Octagon with a victory this weekend.
 

RUSTAM KHABILOV VS DESMOND GREEN
One of the most evenly matched bouts on the Rotterdam card pits lightweight veterans Rustam Khabilov and Desmond Green against each other. Stylistically, this one is a stalemate and the fight could play out that way, with mere inches being the difference between victory and defeat. So what could constitute those inches? Khabilov’s four-fight winning streak and Octagon experience.

FRANCIMAR BARROSO VS ALEKSANDAR RAKIC
One of seven newcomers making the walk to the Octagon on Saturday, Austrian striker Aleksandar Rakic comes to the UFC with plenty of positive notices, and while he’s in tough with Brazil’s Francimar Barroso, if he can catch the veteran earlier, he may wind up being the breakout star of the event.

MIKE SANTIAGO VS ZABIT MAGOMEDSHARIPOV
If you caught The Ultimate Fighter last night, you may have recognized Zabit Magomedsharipov as one of Team Alvarez’ coaches, and if you talk to anyone around that squad, they can’t stop singing the praises of the Dagestan native, who will face off with a late-notice newcomer who made quite an impact in his appearance on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, knocking out Mark Cherico in less than three minutes…on August 22.

BOJAN MIHAJLOVIC VS ABDUL-KERIM EDILOV
It’s been a long wait for UFC fans to see the debut of Abdul-Kerim Edilov, but on Saturday they will get to see the highly-touted light heavyweight, who will make his first start since 2015 when he puts his 10-fight winning streak on the line against former heavyweight Bojan Mihajlovic.

THIBAULT GOUTI VS ANDREW HOLBROOK
Opening the show is what should be an interesting lightweight scrap between Thibault Gouti and Andrew Holbrook, two fighters who could turn things around for themselves in the UFC with an impressive showing this weekend.
Saturday, December 16
8PM/5PM
ETPT
Winnipeg, Canada

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