Visit UFC.com/Fantasy to play...
For the first time in history the Octagon will land in Scotland for UFC Fight Night in Glasgow, with middleweight contenders Michael Bisping and Thales Leites in the main event.
Following an up and down run in the division, Bisping will look to solidify himself as a contender once again while fighting close to home for the first time in years. Meanwhile, Leites is riding an eight-fight win streak, with five victories in a row in the UFC.
The former title contender has been on a tear since returning to the UFC, and picking up a win over Bisping in front of his home country crowd would certainly put a huge feather in his cap.
Also on the card, heavy-hitting Brit Ross Pearson will take on Evan Dunham in a lightweight co-main event, while hometown favorite Joanne Calderwood will defend her Scottish soil against newcomer Cortney Casey.
In today's fantasy preview we are going to examine some of the key fights on the card including the main and co-main events, as we gear up for UFC Fight Night: Bisping vs. Leites.
These are the fights that are just too close to call, but a few minor differences between favorite and underdog could lead one fighter to victory and the other to defeat.
Michael Bisping (-125 favorite) vs. Thales Leites (+105 underdog)
Michael Bisping has been in the top 10 of the middleweight division for what seems like eons, but he's stumbled any time he's gotten close to a title shot, so as the years start to add up with each passing birthday, the first breakout Brit in the UFC is coming dangerously close to being knocked out of ever fighting for a championship. Bisping is the last person to give up, however, and after his last win over CB Dollaway, he's right back on the horse as he returns home for a main event fight.
Leites has been nothing short of awe-inspiring with the way he came back to the UFC after being exiled from the promotion for a few years. Leites was once a title contender, but this new upgraded version is far more dangerous than the one that previously fought in the UFC. This Leites is aggressive on the feet, possesses knockout power and is more than willing to mix it up on the ground if the fight lands there.
Despite Leites’ recent win streak, he still has something to prove against an elite 185-pound fighter like Bisping.
Bisping is a tornado when he's in the Octagon, landing 4.39 strikes per minute, and his volume only seems to increase with each minute that ticks away. Bisping is well-versed with his kickboxing, throwing three and four punch combinations regularly. He may not have traditional one-punch knockout power, but Bisping has the ability to overwhelm an opponent with his overall striking game round after round.
Leites won't be afraid to throw hands with Bisping, but he's just not as good overall, so he might be better served to shoot in for a takedown and try to keep the Brit on the mat. That's easier said than done, because Bisping showcases nearly 70-percent takedown defense and that's while facing a slew of elite fighters in his day.
The key to this fight for Bisping might be time.
He's a conditioning machine and doesn't fight any differently in minute one from minute 25, and with this being a five-round bout, it plays masterfully into Bisping's hand. He might get a finish late, but given Leites’ toughness, it's more likely that this one ends in a decision.
Prediction: Michael Bisping by unanimous decision
Ross Pearson vs. Evan Dunham
Ross Pearson will also fight close to home for this card, as he takes on American Evan Dunham in a matchup between two lightweights trying to find their footing in what might be the deepest division in the sport.
On his best days, Pearson is a fierce striker with a lot of pop in his punches and deadly knockout power. On other days, Pearson is sloppy and a defensive liability, which accounts for most of the losses on his record.
The same could be said for Dunham, who just recently stopped a three-fight skid with a win over Rodrigo Damm. The victory kept Dunham employed, but he has to find some of the magic that nearly made him a title contender a few years ago or he's going to be scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to relevancy.
As far as the matchup goes, Pearson will maintain a slight edge as long as this one stays standing. Dunham is no slouch on the feet, but he can't contend with Pearson's superior boxing for three rounds. Pearson will slam together combination after combination while charging forward looking for the knockout. Dunham has to survive those flurries or risk a knockout loss in the process.
If Dunham can employ his wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he could walk out of Scotland as the upset winner. Chances are, however, that Pearson controls the pace and cracks Dunham over and over again until all 15 minutes have expired.
Prediction: Ross Pearson by unanimous decision
These are the fights that appear to be a little more one-sided, but remember that this is MMA, where anything can - and usually does - happen.
Joseph Duffy vs. Ivan Jorge
Following his impressive UFC debut, Joseph Duffy will hopefully earn a better reputation than just being “the last guy to beat Conor McGregor” and this will be another showcase for the Irish prospect.
Ivan Jorge is a tough customer who loves to take his opponents to the ground, but his inability to do that against Duffy will likely spell disaster. Duffy is a blitzing striker with massive power in his hands and he can absolutely overwhelm an opponent with the kind of shots he'll look to land in this fight. Duffy will have a slight reach advantage as well, so as long as he can keep Jorge at the end of his punches until he finally hurts the Brazilian and looks to put him away, he should be able to avoid the ground game.
Duffy is no stranger to submissions, but the ground is the place where Jorge has the best chance to come away victorious. On the feet it might not be a mismatch but Duffy will have the advantage in all the exchanges, and unless Jorge can land one big haymaker, he's going to eat a lot of offense from the Irishman.
Prediction: Joseph Duffy by TKO, Round 2
Patrick Holohan vs. Vaughn Lee
Get ready for some fun scrambles and exchanges in this flyweight matchup between Paddy Holohan and Vaughn Lee.
Holohan has proven to be a great addition to the division coming out of Ireland and training alongside fighters such as Conor McGregor and former Ultimate Fighter competitor Aisling Daly. Holohan is an aggressive grappler with some very slick submissions on the mat, and he's currently averaging nearly three takedowns per fight, so he will definitely look to put Lee on the ground.
While Lee has faced some stiff competition throughout his UFC career, his kryptonite has been the ground game. Lee has been submitted twice since joining the promotion and this might make it three if he ends up on the mat with Holohan trying to protect his neck.
Holohan is like a snake on the ground with his long frame and wiry arms that wrap up an opponent and put them away within a matter of moments. Lee is a veteran so he won't just get caught and give up, but over three rounds he's going to have to fend off a ton of submissions and one of them will eventually slip through.
Prediction: Paddy Holohan by submission, Round 2
Jimmie Rivera over Marcus Brimage
The upset for this card is a very hard pick to make, but it's one that could absolutely take place.
UFC newcomer Jimmie Rivera faces off with Ultimate Fighter veteran Marcus Brimage in a fight that should be a crowd pleaser from start to finish. Rivera is an experienced fighter with more than 15 bouts on his record while facing some very stiff competition before making his UFC debut. While his resume won't win him any fights in the UFC, Rivera is more than capable of going with a ton of fighters at 135 pounds, including Brimage.
Brimage has had a few ups and downs throughout his UFC career, but he's always explosive and he's always exciting. He has no problem throwing down with anybody in the division and it's both hurt and helped him over the years. But "The Bama Beast" will need to do better than his 57-percent defense on the feet if he's going to stop Rivera from landing the shots necessary to get the win.
Rivera has all the tools to be a great addition to the bantamweight division, but now he's got to prove it. Brimage won't make it easy, but Rivera can get the job done.
Prediction: Jimmie Rivera by unanimous decision