DONALD CERRONE VS YANCY MEDEIROS
If one thing is consistent when it comes to Donald Cerrone, it’s that it’s impossible to get a read on where his head is at before a fight. He’s always the “I’ll fight anyone, anywhere, anytime” guy, even as he brings a three-fight losing streak into Sunday’s main event. That could be a good thing, because he won’t be thinking about making it four straight, but if he’s sticking to the same game plan and mindset, that makes him an easy mark strategically for any opponent, and Yancy Medeiros is hitting his stride at the worst time for “Cowboy.” Yet regardless of the final result, expect this to be a fight with a lot of offense and heated exchanges, and at this point, the edge in those exchanges has to go to Medeiros.
DERRICK LEWIS VS MARCIN TYBURA
The long-awaited return of “The Black Beast” is upon us, and when Derrick Lewis is on, he’s not just one of the most entertaining heavyweights in the world, but one of the best. But he is coming off a long layoff and a back injury, and while Marcin Tybura is fresh from a loss to Fabricio Werdum, he performed well over five rounds with the former champion, and he has the style and stamina to give Lewis some trouble if he can take the Texan’s bombs.
JAMES VICK VS FRANCISCO TRINALDO
On paper, one of the toughest fights to call on this card pits underrated lightweight contenders James Vick and Francisco Trinaldo against each other. But in reality, this very well could be Vick’s fight to lose and it all comes down to how he uses his 6-3 frame against the 5-9 Trinaldo. If he uses his length and keeps Trinaldo at the end of his jab, it could be an easier than expected fight for “The Texecutioner.”
THIAGO ALVES VS CURTIS MILLENDER
Winner of six straight and with a couple consecutive head kick knockouts to his name, Curtis Millender is the latest highly-touted rookie to make the walk to the Octagon, and if he defeats veteran contender Thiago Alves, the hype machine may go into overdrive. But Alves is no easy mark for anyone, and with his edge in UFC experience and the possibility that Millender will stand and trade with the Muay Thai specialist, Alves has to be seen as the favorite here.
SAGE NORTHCUTT VS THIBAULT GOUTI
Texas’ own Sage Northcutt is still a work in progress, but as evidenced by his last win over Michel Quinones, the nicest young man in all of sports is moving in the right direction. France’s Gouti, who has been working with the Jackson-Wink squad in Albuquerque, finally crashed into the UFC win column in September and he has that confidence on his side heading into Austin. But it’s tough to pick against “Super Sage” in this one.
GEOFF NEAL VS BRIAN CAMOZZI
I’ve got the feeling we haven’t seen the best of Brian Camozzi in the UFC yet, and there’s no better time to bring that best out against Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series alum Geoff Neal. Neal can crack, Camozzi likes to scrap, and there should be fireworks here.
ROBERTO SANCHEZ VS JOBY SANCHEZ
Joby Sanchez makes his first UFC start since 2015 in Austin, and this talented New Mexico native has learned and improved a lot in the last couple years, and that was evident in his two wins on DWTNCS. The other Sanchez in this matchup, Roberto, has home field advantage and a tricky ground game, so it’s no gimme for Joby.
JARED GORDON VS DIEGO FERREIRA
Sat down today with @DiegoUFCTX to talk about lessons learned from his two-year layoff and battling through hard time ahead of his #UFCAustin return. pic.twitter.com/YZ6hSSmGhw
— John Morgan (@MMAjunkieJohn) February 16, 2018
It’s hard to look at any other bout but Cerrone-Medeiros as the leading candidate for Fight of the Night, but if that’s the first choice, Jared Gordon-Diego Ferreira is right on its heels. Gordon is a surging New Yorker who is unbeaten in his first two trips to the Octagon, and Ferreira, making his first start in two years, has three UFC wins and two post-fight bonuses. So the talent is there on both sides, but that two years away for Ferreira could be the deciding factor in Gordon’s favor.
SARAH MORAS VS LUCIE PUDILOVA
Canadian bantamweight Sarah Moras has the talent to compete at a high level in the UFC, but inactivity has been her enemy thus far. Hopefully, her victorious return against Ashlee Evans-Smith last September was an omen of things to come, because if she can get three or four fights in, she can make some noise. But first, it’s Lucie Pudilova, the kind of fighter that can test an opponent’s conditioning and will for all three rounds.
OSKAR PIECHOTA VS TIM WILLIAMS
A two-time TUF competitor, Tim Williams finally gets his shot in the big show, but with four wins over UFC vets, he’s already been fighting UFC-level competition, so he’s no wet behind the ears kid. He does have a tough test in front of him in the unbeaten Piechota, a cool customer who looks like he can walk any opponent into a fight-ending mistake.
ALEX MORONO VS JOSHUA BURKMAN
Alex Morono had to deal with plenty of upheaval in his training and personal life when Hurricane Harvey hit Houston before his September bout against Keita Nakamura, and he still fought the Japanese veteran to a split decision. This time around, things are a lot more settled, he’s fighting in Texas, and he’ll be battling a hungry Joshua Burkman who needs to pull out all the stops if he wants to snap a four-fight losing streak.
STEVEN PETERSON VS BRANDON DAVIS
It’s a clash of DWTNCS alumni when Steven Peterson faces Brandon Davis, and expect to see the same no holds barred, aggressive attacks both delivered on the show. The only difference is that the crowd will be a lot bigger this time around.