It’s been a while, but the Downes Side is back! Luckily, many of you have gotten your Danny Boy fix reading my Ultimate Fighter recaps. To those of you that haven’t, you’re missing out on my crack analysis. There have been references to Sonic the Hedgehog, Finnish neuroscientists, cross-stitching and chain wallets. I bet you feel like a fool right now, huh?
This week the UFC heads to Sweden for another UFC on FUEL TV event. Yet again, I was left home. The only thing more disappointing than not seeing the fights is the fact that I won’t get to visit the IKEA headquarters. It’s way cheaper than Disney World because you have to assemble the rides yourself. Realistically, I probably couldn’t have gone anyway since Momma Downes is throwing a wedding shower for my fiancé this weekend and I have to be there to carry things. Let’s just hope the fights are as entertaining as my aunts after they knock down a couple mimosas.
Brad Pickett vs Damacio Page
We start with a bantamweight bout between Brad “One Punch” Pickett and Damacio “The Angel of Death” Page. Everyone’s favorite Brit was on a nine fight win streak, but has had some trouble as of late, dropping two of his last three with a big break due to injury. Page is looking to end a unlucky streak of his own since losing his last two fights by submission.
Prediction: While everyone may know Pickett for his entertaining brawls, he does have nine career submission wins, including one ridiculous Peruvian necktie. Having said that, I don’t see “One Punch” submitting him, and that’s where the good news ends. Pickett has the advantage in reach, power and standup that will give him unanimous decision victory. On the upside, Angels of Death are rarely fired -- they've got a pretty strong union.
DaMarques Johnson vs John Maguire
Next up is DaMarques Johnson against John Maguire. Johnson is 4-3 in his UFC career with his most recent victory a first-round KO of Clay Harvison last November. Submission specialist John Maguire steps inside the Octagon for a second time after a decision victory at UFC 138. A grappling specialist, he has won 9 of his 17 fights by submission.
Prediction: We all know that English fighters aren’t know for their wrestling, but Johnson has shown holes in his takedown defense. DaMarques has shown strong submission defense -- up to a point -- but Maguire’s “Gypsy Jiu-jitsu” will be too much for him to handle. Maguire finishes this in the second and then one of his cousins gets hired as my personal wedding consultant.
Dennis Siver vs Diego Nunes
The next fight features WEC/UFC veteran Diego “The Gun” Nunes as he takes on German striking powerhouse Dennis Siver. Nunes has won four out of his last five, the most recent being a decision victory over Manny Gamburyan in December. Making his debut at featherweight, Siver’s last fight was a submission loss to Cowboy Cerrone that inspired him to “reduce the amount of candy I eat" and drop to featherweight.
Prediction: Siver was one of the strongest lightweights in the UFC. Now that he dropped down a division, his strength advantage should be even greater...in theory. I think the weight cut will affect him severely and weaken his stamina. As long as Nunes can defend the initial onslaught he’ll be able to wear down Siver en route to a third-round TKO. Siver may not get the sweet taste of victory, but at least he’s in the right country to buy these.
Paulo Thiago vs Siyar Bahadurzada
Next is the highly anticipated debut of Siyar “The Great” Bahadurzada aka Siyar “The Killer” Bahadurzada as he matches up against BJJ black belt Paulo Thiago. Thiago got back on the right track last August with a unanimous decision victory over David Mitchell after dropping two in a row to Diego Sanchez and Martin Kampmann. Bahadurzada -- who we'll just call STK because it's easier to spell -- is 20-4-1 and the first Afghan-born fighter to compete in the UFC. He hits his opponents as hard as his name is to pronounce, with four straight KO victories.
Prediction: Even though Thiago is primarily a grappler, he feels comfortable enough standing that he doesn’t constantly go for takedowns. For his sake, I hope he reconsiders that strategy. STK isn’t the type of striker you play around with at the beginning of the round to “test yourself.” Even if Thiago takes my advice, though, I see him surviving the first and then getting KO’d in the second. Joe Rogan better start practicing saying “Bahadurzada.”
Brian Stann vs Alessio Sakara
In the co-main event, we see the “All-American” Brian Stann taking on Alessio “Legionarius” Sakara. Stann is looking to rebound from a submission loss to fellow American icon Chael Sonnen at UFC 136. Sakara hasn’t fought since March of 2011 when he lost via decision to Chris "All-American" Weidman. (I was actually live at the fight, sitting next to a woman who couldn’t understand why people were calling him Italian because, “His tattoo clearly says he’s Romanian!”)
Prediction: The real question here is how Stann will react to a crowd that doesn’t chant U-S-A! Sakara is dangerous on his feet, but has shaky defense when pressured. Seeing that nine of Stann’s eleven victories have been finishes, that doesn’t bode well for our Romanian friend. Stann takes this one in the first round and then eats apple pie while playing baseball and remembering the Alamo. Because....AMERICA!
Thiago Silva vs Alexander Gustafsson
That brings us to the main event of the evening. Silva may have replaced an injured Noguiera, but this fight will be the Gremlins 2 of main events -- even better than the original. Silva is looking for some redemption after his last fight (that caused this beauty of a broken nose) was overturned by the NSAC. Gustafsson wants to get his fifth straight win and do so in front of his countrymen at the UFC's Sweden debut event.
Prediction: When it comes to grappling ability, Silva is far ahead of Gustafsson. He was able to put a high level wrestler like Brandon Vera on his back and he can definitely do the same to “The Mauler.” On the feet, the Swede does have better footwork and speed, but he moves unnecessarily and often crowds himself. This is how I see Silva taking advantage. Gustafsson will be overeager, get caught moving in and lose by TKO in the second. The Swedish fans won’t be happy, but I imagine even their boos and jeers sound magical.
That wraps up another edition of the Downes Side. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @dannyboydownes, check out my blog and leave some comments. If they’re good, I might even post pictures of the gifts. You know you want to look at the pots and pans set I registered. Stainless steel or anodized? The anticipation is killing you already!