THERE WILL BE no late night alarm calls for Irish UFC fans this weekend as they have the opportunity to watch a live event at an unusually reasonable hour.
Dan Hardy heads a healthy British contingent which boasts the likes of John Maguire, Brad Pickett and Paul Sass on a card that is more or less showcasing the best the UK has to offer.
Stefan Struve and Stipe Miocic are the heavyweight co-headliners and there is a little bit of Irish interest on the undercard as Gunnar Nelson, who is trained by one of Ireland’s premier MMA coaches John Kavanagh, makes his UFC debut against DaMarques Johnson.
A card of great matchups.
As per usual when the UFC takes its road-show international, the card is made up with local fighters and with that comes a danger that matchups are made just for the sake of it and the event has the tendency to be a let-down.
Looking through this card however, there are no easy fights to call, a sure sign that has all the potential to be an exciting event.
Dan Hardy will be the main draw as he is fighting in his hometown as he faces Amir Sadollah. Hardy seemed to surprise everybody, including himself, with a KO win over Duane Ludwig last time out which ended an ugly four fight losing streak.
Amir Sadollah has never lived up to the potential he showed when winning season seven of “The Ultimate Fighter” and his lacklustre split decision victory over Jorge Lopez in May has done little to show that Sadollah is ready to step things up another level. While the majority of the arena will be cheering on Hardy, Sadollah will be up against it to prove he isn’t merely cannon fodder for “The Outlaw” and his army.
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The matchup between John Hathaway and John Maguire has all the makings for a “Fight of the Night” affair. Maguire’s star has quickly risen in the UFC with two impressive performances and his unique brand of “Gypsy Ju-Jitsu” makes him popular with the fans also.
John Hathaway looked to be heading for championship gold before suffering his only career loss to Mike Pyle at UFC 120. Back to back wins have enhanced his reputation and this fight against Maguire will crown one of them a potential contender in the welterweight division.
Unbeaten lightweight Paul Sass will be another crowd favourite, as he will look to bring his record up to 14-0 with a win over Matt Wiman. Sass has won twelve of his thirteen fights via triangle choke. Brad Pickett faces WEC veteran Yves Jabouin while Che Mills faces Duane Ludwig.
It is worth watching the undercard to see the highly touted Gunnar Nelson take on DaMarques Johnson. The Icelandic fighter has fought in Belfast under the banner of Cage Contender previously and impressed many with his elite grappling skills and is currently unbeaten and destined for great things.