The Ultimate Fighting Championship will return to the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden on April 6, for UFC on Fuel TV 9. The event will be headlined by Strikeforce import Gegard Mousasi, who'll be making his Octagon debut, and Alexander Gustafsson's training partner Ilir "The Sledgehammer" Latifi -- who'll step in as a last minute replacement for "The Mauler." Gustafsson was forced out of the card due to a cut sustained during sparring.
Here are my predictions for the UFC on Fuel TV 9 fight card:
Gegard Mousasi vs. Ilir Latifi
Latifi (7-2-0, 3 submissions) deserves a lot of credit for his willingness to step up and take on a tough opponent like Mousasi (33-3-2, 18 KOs), but it's hard to see him emerging victorious. At only 5'8" Latifi isn't exactly the rangiest light-heavyweight around, and he'll probably have a hard time dealing with Gegard's world-class striking. Factor in the fact Ilir will have less than a week to prepare for "The Dreamcatcher," and it becomes even more obvious that the odds greatly favor Mousasi.
Prediction: Gegard Mousasi wins via TKO.
Ross Pearson vs. Ryan Couture
Ryan (6-1-0, 2 submissions) is the son of an MMA legend, but he certainly isn't receiving any preferential treatment heading into his UFC on Fuel TV 9 debut with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Pearson (14-6-0, 5 submissions) is a tough matchup for Couture as he hits hard, has solid takedown defense, and is a lot more experienced. Couture is good enough to make it a competitive fight, but Pearson is the better fighter at the end of the day.
Prediction: Pearson wins via decision.
Matt Mitrione vs. Phil De Fries
Both men have had tough times inside the Octagon lately, which should give them extra motivation when they collide at UFC on Fuel TV 9. Mitrione (5-2-0, 4 KOs) should have the advantage in the striking department, but he might find himself in serious trouble if De Fries (9-2-0, 8 submissions) gets the fight to the ground. It's a competitive matchup, but the odds seem to favor Mitrione if he's able to follow an intelligent gameplan.
Prediction: Mitrione wins via TKO.
Brad Pickett vs. Mike Easton
Easton (13-2-0, 4 KOs) is a promising up and comer in the bantamweight division, while Pickett (22-7-0, 10 submissions) is a battle-tested veteran. Both are well-rounded fighters, but the matchup seems to favor Brad on paper given the fact he's already fought and beaten some of the best fighters around. However, Easton has all the tools needed to emerge victorious as well, and he won't be intimidated by Pickett's past accomplishments or punching power. It should be a competitive, entertaining fight, but I expect Mike to bounce back from his loss to Raphael Assunção with a win at UFC on Fuel TV 9.
Prediction: Easton wins by decision.
Diego Brandao defeats Pablo Garza
Robbie Peralta defeats Akira Corassani
Michael Johnson defeats Reza Madadi
Tor Troéng defeats Adam Cella
Adlan Amagov defeats Chris Spång
Marcus Brimage defeats Conor McGregor
Ben Alloway defeats Ryan LaFlare
Tom Lawlor defeats Michael Kuiper
Papy Abedi defeats Besam Yousef
Previous fight card predictions (UFC 158): 9-3
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