RYAN FREDERICK PREVIEWS UFC ON FUEL TV 2: "GUSTAFSSON VS SILVA"

By Ryan Frederick

Action inside the octagon returns this weekend as the UFC makes their first-ever trip to Sweden for their next big event on FUEL TV as UFC On FUEL TV: Gustafsson vs. Silva takes place this Saturday from the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden with the entire main card airing on FUEL TV at 3 PM eastern time, and the entire preliminary card will be aired on the UFC's Facebook page beginning at approximately 12:30 PM eastern time.

The show is headlined by a light heavyweight clash between local Swedish star Alexander Gustafsson taking on Thiago Silva, who replaces the injured Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. The night's co-main event is a middleweight slugfest between Brian Stann and Alessio Sakara. Also on the night's six-fight main card is a welterweight battle between Paulo Thiago and Siyar Bahadurzada, a featherweight clash between Dennis Siver and Diego Nunes, a welterweight fight between DaMarques Johnson and John Maguire, and a bantamweight contest featuring Brad Pickett and Damacio Page.

The night's preliminary card is chalked full of European stars, with some fighters from Sweden making their UFC debuts as Francis Carmont, Jason Young, James Head, Cyrille Diabate, Simeon Thoresen, Eric Wisely, Tom DeBlass, Reza Madadi, Besam Yousef, Magnus Cedenblad, Yoislandy Izquierdo and Papy Abedi all compete to score a win inside the octagon during the Facebook portion of the event.

Let's take a closer look at the night's action with our analysis and predictions.

Light Heavyweights
Alexander Gustafsson (13-1, 5-1 UFC) vs. Thiago Silva (14-2-0-1, 5-2-0-1 UFC)

Gustafsson Last 5: 4-1 (Win-TKO-over Vladimir Matyushenko, Win-TKO-over Matt Hamill, Win-SUB-over James Te Huna, Win-SUB-over Cyrille Diabate, Loss-SUB-to Phil Davis)

Silva Last 5: 2-2-0-1 (NC with Brandon Vera, Loss-DEC-to Rashad Evans, Win-KO-over Keith Jardine, Loss-KO-to Lyoto Machida, Win-SUB-over Antonio Mendes)

Key to victory for Gustafsson: Good movement on the feet

Key to victory for Silva: Shake off any cage rust

Breakdown: Gustafsson gets the chance to headline a card for the first time in his native country of Sweden looking to notch his fifth win in a row and vault himself directly into the title picture. Gustafsson was originally scheduled to take on Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in this main event bout, but an injury forced Nogueira out of the fight, and in steps Silva, who makes his return after a year-long layoff due to a drug suspension. Gustafsson has finished his last four fights, with submission wins over James Te Huna and Cyrille Diabate and knockout wins over Matt Hamill and Vladimir Matyushenko, and Silva will present a daunting task. Silva is looking to shake off injury issues that have plagued him as he has only one win in his last four fights, though he did score a win over Brandon Vera in his last fight before the failed drug test changed the result of that fight.

Gustafsson has long been an intriguing prospect in the light heavyweight division, but with his dominant wins over Hamill and Matyushenko, he's no longer in prospect territory- he's in contender status now. He has a lanky frame standing at six-foot-five, but he has found ways to exploit the size advantage he has, and he has become a solid mixture of striking attacks and solid grappling. He uses solid movement on his feet and picks his combinations well, and if he gets you in trouble, he is a finisher as he has had only one fight go to the judges. Much like Gustafsson, Silva is a finisher, as 13 of his 14 wins have come by finish, with 11 of those coming by knockout, and he is a vicious knockout artist. Silva also has a solid jiu-jitsu background, holding a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but he has not had to show much use of it due to his penchant for knocking people into next week. In the fight with Vera, he showed a much improved takedown game and that he was able to work on the ground, and he will need to use his ground game in this fight.

Gustafsson will be quick on his feet and use his aggressive style to come after Silva. Silva is coming off of a long layoff, and with him taking this fight a month before he was originally scheduled to make his return, conditioning will be a huge factor. Gustafsson has not been deep into fights in his UFC career, having an average fight time of under five minutes inside the octagon, so his cardio has not come into play, whereas Silva has shown he has the tendency to gas out as he is a huge light heavyweight and he tends to cut a lot of weight. Gustafsson will use his movement to get away from the punching power of Silva, and Gustafsson may look to get the fight to the ground. Gustafsson has improved in his wrestling since his loss to Phil Davis, coincidentially by training with Davis, and he has slick submissions. Silva is tough to finish, much like Gustafsson, and this could turn into a war on the feet. If it goes to the ground, Silva will need to be careful, as Gustafsson has shown the willingness to go for chances on the ground looking for positional improvements and submissions, and he is good in scrambles.

This fight will be decided on the feet. Gustafsson has good recovering abilities, and we have yet to see him in much trouble outside of his loss to Davis. Silva has struggled in recent bouts, and he has pointed at a lingering back injury as the root of a lot of his struggles. At this stage, Silva may be a tougher fight for Gustafsson than Nogueira would have been, but Gustafsson has passed all challenges on his rise up the ladder in the division. Gustafsson has plenty of power, and while he may not match Silva blow-for-blow, he is better at stringing together solid combinations, and Silva has the tendency to collapse when fights are not going his way. Silva will need to press the action early, and he likes to bully his opponents around, but if Gustafsson comes out quick, it will throw Silva out of sync and he will be scrambling to find a way to win. This is an important fight for both men, as a win for Gustafsson puts him possibly one fight away from a title fight, and a win for Silva shows that he is able to bounce back from all the turmoil he has endured in the last two years. This fight goes to Gustafsson as he will not disappoint the sold out crowd in his native Sweden.

Prediction: Alexander Gustafsson by knockout in round 2

Follow on Twitter: Gustafsson- @AlexTheMauler

Middleweights
Brian Stann (11-4, 5-3 UFC) vs. Alessio Sakara (15-8-0-1, 6-5-0-1 UFC)

Stann Last 5: 3-2 (Loss-SUB-to Chael Sonnen, Win-TKO-over Jorge Santiago, Win-TKO-over Chris Leben, Win-SUB-over Mike Massenzio, Loss-DEC-to Phil Davis)

Sakara Last 5: 3-2 (Loss-DEC-to Chris Weidman, Win-TKO-over James Irvin, Win-DEC-over Thales Leites, Win-KO-over Joe Vedepo, Loss-TKO-to Chris Leben)

Key to victory for Stann: Apply pressure

Key to victory for Sakara: Shake off cage rust

Breakdown: Stann and Sakara meet in the night's co-main event as both look to reclaim contender status in the middleweight division. Stann saw his perfect run as a middleweight come to an end in October when he was submitted by Chael Sonnen in a number one contenders' bout after having amassed a 3-0 record at 185 pounds, which included wins over Jorge Santiago, Chris Leben and Mike Massenzio. Stann is a former WEC Light Heavyweight Champion and he welcomes Sakara, who is also looking to get back in the win column after suffering a loss in his last bout. Sakara has been battling a multitude of injuries over the last several years, and has found himself having fought only three times since September 2008. Sakara had his own three-fight win streak stopped by Chris Weidman in his last fight over a year ago at UFC Live: Sanchez vs. Kampmann in March 2011.

Stann has become a very solid fighter since making the transition to the middleweight division, and has seen major improvement into his well-rounded game under the guidance of the Greg Jackson Camp out of Albuquerque. Stann has knockout power in his hands, something that Leben and Santiago can attest to, and continues to display an underrated submission game. The biggest hole in his approach has been being dominated by wrestlers, as his last two losses have come to Sonnen and Phil Davis, two of the best wrestlers in MMA. Sakara has a solid boxing background, but his ground game is not to be overlooked, as he holds a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and he trains with a top camp, coming from the American Top Team. His dangerous striking has allowed him to almost completely abandon any sort of grappling game he has, and he may need to make this a grappling battle, as Stann possesses more power.

Stann and Sakara are likely to stand-and-bang in this contest as both like to exchange on the feet, and the winner could be the first man that lands solidly. Stann has an outstanding chin and Sakara's can be suspect at times, and Stann is likely the harder puncher in this bout. Stann probably also has the better ground game at this stage of each man's career, as Stann has shown the ability to submit jiu-jitsu black belts, and Sakara has not shown much in the way of a ground game over the last few years. The fight will likely stay on the feet, though, and Sakara is going to need to be relaxed in the pocket as Stann fires off punches. Stann knows when to lay back and when to explode and Sakara should look to fire back with solid counters, especially a left hook. A slugfest could put on some added need for good conditioning, and cardio has been a factor for Sakara, as he tends to get tired late in fights, and he usually cuts a lot of weight. Stann has finished fights quickly, so long, drawn-out battles are not his foray, but his cardio has yet to be an issue. This fight will be about who lands more solidly quicker, and Stann is a top talent in the division. He takes the win here.

Prediction: Brian Stann by knockout in round 2

Follow on Twitter: Stann- @BrianStann, Sakara- @SakaraLegio

Welterweights
Paulo Thiago (14-3, 4-3 UFC) vs. Siyar Bahadurzada (20-4-1, 0-0 UFC)

Thiago Last 5: 3-2 (Win-DEC-over David Mitchell, Loss-DEC-to Diego Sanchez, Loss-DEC-to Martin Kampmann, Win-SUB-over Mike Swick, Win-DEC-over Jacob Volkmann)

Bahadurzada Last 5: 5-0 (Win-TKO-over Tommy Depret, Win-TKO-over John Alessio, Win-TKO-over Derrick Noble, Win-KO-over Carlos Alexandre Pereira, Win-DEC-over Robert Jocz)

Key to victory for Thiago: Get fight to the ground

Key to victory for Bahadurzada: Test Thiago's chin

Breakdown: Thiago makes his first appearance in the octagon since August as he welcomes Bahadurzada into the octagon for the first time. Both men were scheduled to fight at UFC 142 before injuries forced them out of their respective bouts, and now they meet in the UFC's first trip to Sweden. Thiago comes in looking for his second straight win after defeating David Mitchell at UFC 134 last August. That ended a two-fight skid for Thiago, who holds wins in the UFC over Josh Koscheck and Mike Swick, and has been competitive in tough losses to Diego Sanchez, Martin Kampmann and Jon Fitch. Bahadurzada makes his UFC debut on the heels of a six-fight win streak, and he is a former Shooto Light Heavyweight Champion. Bahadurzada has only lost twice in the last seven years, and has not suffered defeat since 2008, having defeated the likes of Evangelista Santos and John Alessio.

Thiago is one of the toughest fighters in the UFC's welterweight division, and he remains a true test of where fighters stand in the division. He can surprise many, as proven by his knockout of Koscheck and his submission of Swick, and he is tough to defeat, as he went to decisions in his losses to Sanchez, Kampmann and Fitch. His resiliency and savvyness shows he should be able to maintain a long UFC career, and with a few wins, could find himself in title contention. Bahadurzada comes into the UFC with a bit of hype, and UFC fans were exposed to him as he was a guest coach for Jason Miller on season 14 of The Ultimate Fighter. He is an excellent kickboxer, having previously trained with the Golden Glory team in Holland, and he has devastating power with ten knockout wins, but also a solid submission game, having picked up six wins by submission. Bahadurzada also has more overall experience, though Thiago has the experience of having seven fights inside the UFC octagon.

Bahadurzada will have the advantage standing and Thiago will have the advantage on the ground, so this fight will come down to which fighter is able to impose their will more. Bahadurzada will look to chop down Thiago with leg kicks, which will take away Thaigo's ability to effectively shoot for takedowns. Thiago showed much improvement in his takedowns against Mitchell, landing 100% of his takedown attempts, though he was outstruck by Mitchell, but he held his position on the ground, working for submissions. Bahadurzada will need to show good technique on the ground to get the fight back to the feet. Bahadurzada likes to land flying knees, so Thiago will need to be aware of that, and Bahadurzada is very good in the clinch. If Thiago can stay relaxed on the feet and get it to the mat, he should be able to ride out the decision victory. Many fans may not know Bahadurzada, but his skill level is UFC ready, and he holds the keys in the fight. Thiago is a tough first opponent, but Bahadurzada will do enough to keep the fight standing and edge out the decision win in a highly competitive fight.

Prediction: Siyar Bahadurzada by decision

Follow on Twitter: Thiago- @PauloThiagoMMA, Bahadurzada- @SiyarTheKiller

Featherweights
Dennis Siver (19-8, 8-5 UFC) vs. Diego Nunes (17-2, 2-1 UFC)

Siver Last 5: 4-1 (Loss-SUB-to Donald Cerrone, Win-DEC-over Matt Wiman, Win-DEC-over George Sotiropoulos, Win-SUB-over Andre Winner, Win-DEC-over Spencer Fisher)

Nunes Last 5: 4-1 (Win-DEC-over Manny Gamburyan, Loss-DEC-to Kenny Florian, Win-DEC-over Mike Brown, Win-DEC-over Tyler Toner, Win-DEC-over Raphael Assuncao)

Key to victory for Siver: Mix strikes effectively

Key to victory for Nunes: Mix in takedowns with striking

Breakdown: Siver and Nunes meet in what could potentially be the fight of the night as Siver makes the drop down to featherweight for the first time. Siver had recent success in the lightweight division, putting together a string of four straight wins that put him in title contention, but a submission loss to Donald Cerrone at UFC 137 in October put the brakes on his run to a title shot. Siver has put together good consistency in his second run in the UFC, and he is 8-2 in his last ten fights, and a few wins at 145 pounds puts him right in the title mix. Nunes remains one of the long-time standouts of the featherweight division, sporting 17 wins in 19 career fights, and he remains one of the guys who you need to beat if you want to get into the title picture. Nunes was known to be a finisher before he made the transition to fighting in North America, where he has become a decision machine, as all eight of his fights in the WEC and UFC have gone the distance.

Nunes is tough to beat, let alone finish, and he has a high-level skillset, training with the Nova Uniao camp in Brazil alongside the likes of Jose Aldo and Marlon Sandro. He has a well-rounded game with great standup, good takedowns, and solid takedown defense to go along with an excellent gas tank. Siver is a high-level kickboxer, dazzling many with spinning back kicks that finish fights, and he has shown much improvement in his takedown defense, as evidenced in his decision victory over George Sotiropoulos in February 2011 at UFC 127. Siver has excellent timing on his strikes, landing 86% of his strikes standing, and if he gets in the groove, he can dictate the pace of the fight. He will need to show good conditioning as he makes the drop to 145 pounds for the first time, and the cut could be difficult for him, as he always looked very muscular at 155 pounds, and is a fighter you have to think twice about when it comes whether or not he can make the weight without fully draining himself, and it becomes something that Nunes could take clear advantage of.

Nunes will need to get inside the pocket of Siver to avoid those devastating kicks that will come from Siver. Nunes mixes his striking well, and he has good muay Thai technique, which may allow him to stay on the outside. Doing that may tilt the fight towards Siver, where he will look to pick apart Nunes. A battle in the clinch may slightly favor Nunes, but both are good at connecting with knees in tie-ups. Nunes may look to take the fight to the ground and hold Siver down and ride out a decision, but Siver's solid takedown defense is hard to overlook. That is where the potential of a bad first cut down in weight could hurt Siver, as if he gets tired, it becomes easier to get him down. Siver will need to have good submission defense, as he has five losses by submission, and Nunes is well-versed in jiu-jitsu. This could turn into a war of attrition, and both are durable on the feet with excellent chins. Siver's outstanding kickboxing may prove to be the difference here, and with Nunes wanting to stay on the outside to land strikes of his own, it will give Siver just enough openings to score better in the judges' eyes. Siver takes the decision.

Prediction: Dennis Siver by decision

Follow on Twitter: Siver- @dennissiver, Nunes- @thegunnunes

Welterweights
DaMarques Johnson (16-9, 4-3) vs. John Maguire (17-3, 1-0 UFC)

Johnson Last 5: 3-2 (Win-KO-over Clay Harvison, Loss-SUB-to Amir Sadollah, Win-SUB-over Mike Guymon, Loss-TKO-to Matt Riddle, Win-TKO-over Brad Blackburn)

Maguire Last 5: 5-0 (Win-DEC-over Justin Edwards, Win-DEC-over Peter Irving, Win-SUB-over Jamaine Facey, Win-SUB-over Dean Amasinger, Win-TKO-over Henrique Santana)

Key to victory for Johnson: Have solid takedown defense

Key to victory for Maguire: Control the fight on the ground

Breakdown: Johnson and Maguire meet in a battle of welterweights who find themselves trying to break out of the middle of the pack in the division and climb the rankings towards tougher competition. Johnson is looking to make it two in a row as he has rotated wins and losses in his last five bouts, and he scored a quick knockout win over Clay Harvison at UFC On FOX: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos in November. Johnson has four wins in the UFC, all by stoppage, but he gets a tough task when he meets Maguire, who has only been stopped once in his career. Maguire comes into the fight riding a six-fight win streak, which included a successful UFC debut in November when he defeated Justin Edwards by decision at UFC 138. Maguire, a former champion in the local organizations of England, has scored 12 of his 17 wins by knockout or submission.

Johnson is a solid striker with good footwork, and he has a lot of natural talent, though his performances do not always show that. His win over Harvison was a really good look at what he brings to the table if he is firing on all cylinders, as he put Harvison away quickly with some hard punches. He tends to fade late in fights, particularly when they are not going his way, but he is still dangerous even late in fights. Maguire is well-rounded, coming at opponents from a southpaw stance with solid hands and an aggressive submission game. He has good takedowns, and he was really impressive in his win over Edwards, as he was able to bounce back from some trouble early to control Edwards on the ground, using aggressive movement to score the unanimous decision victory. Fighting on the ground with Johnson, though, may be a tough proposition for Maguire, as Johnson is good at creating scrambles.

Johnson will look to keep the fight on the feet and using his length and reach advantage. Johnson has a five-inch reach edge over Maguire, and he will look to use that to keep Maguire at a distance to where he can connect with hard shots. Maguire will have his defensive skills tested in this fight, and he should look to tie-up and control the fight against the cage, using the cage to help him get the fight to the ground. Johnson is a type of fighter that can pull a victory out from anywhere, but he can be finished, as he has been knocked out three times and submitted five times. Johnson will need to keep this fight away from turning into a wrestling match, as Maguire is solid in that department, and is very good at locking in a submission. Johnson will need improved submission defense and solid conditioning in order to score the win. Maguire is comfortable fighting in Europe, and it will give him the edge he needs to get his second win in the octagon, again going the distance and winning on points.

Prediction: John Maguire by decision

Follow on Twitter: Johnson- @DaMarques_UFC, Maguire- @MaguireTheOne

Bantamweights
Brad Pickett (20-6, 0-1 UFC) vs. Damacio Page (12-6, 0-1 UFC)

Pickett Last 5: 3-2 (Loss-SUB-to Renan Barao, Win-DEC-over Ivan Menjivar, Loss-DEC-to Scott Jorgensen, Win-DEC-over Demetrious Johnson, Win-SUB-over Kyle Dietz)

Page Last 5: 2-3 (Loss-SUB-to Brian Bowles, Loss-SUB-to Demetrious Johnson, Win-SUB-over Will Campuzano, Win-KO-over Marcos Galvao, Loss-SUB-to Brian Bowles)

Key to victory for Pickett: Force Page to exchange

Key to victory for Page: Use a varitey of strikes

Breakdown: Bantamweight action opens the night's action on FUEL as Pickett and Page square off looking to erase disappointing results in their last bouts. After enduring some injury issues, Pickett made his UFC debut in November at UFC 138, losing by submission in the first round to Renan Barao in an exciting contest. Pickett made a name for himself in the WEC's final year of operation, compiling a 3-1 record, with wins over Demetrious Johnson and Ivan Menjivar, and he has scored 15 of his 20 wins via stoppage. Page makes his second appearance in the UFC, returning after being out of action for over a year since suffering a submission loss to Brian Bowles in March 2011. Page has lost two in a row and three of five, and another loss could be damaging to him as three losses in a row could find him fighting back in the smaller promotions. He has earned 11 of his 12 wins by either knockout or submission, so he has a very high rate of finishing his opponents.

Pickett is an extremely tough fighter who is very durable, and he uses his ability to stand and slug with opponents as well as being good at takedowns to turn fights into all-out brawls. He likes to force opponents to exchange and he is very comfortable standing in the pocket and trading hard blows with his adversaries. He is very good at being able to transition from striking to takedowns quickly, and he works at a fast rate which makes it very tough for opponents to match. Fighters have their hands full when fighting Pickett, and Page will be no exception. Page strikes with the mentality of a heavyweight, as he tends to let his punches go with no rhyme-or-reason, hoping to land a fight-ending blow. He mixes his strikes well, utilizing solid leg kicks, but his takedown defense and submission defense leave a lot to be desired. Page tends to have trouble with wrestlers, and Pickett's quick takedowns will be something he needs to watch for.

Pickett will use his ability to take the fight to the ground to control the standing. Page may hit harder, and Pickett does tend to absorb a lot of shots, but Pickett is extremely tough to finish, and he can take quite the beating. Page may look to wear down Pickett with punches in a way to find a submission, much like Barao did to Pickett, but Pickett's ability to quickly transition between striking and takedowns will throw Page off of his game. Pickett never stops working, always pressing the action, and he is good at punishing foes when he finds openings. Pickett is intense and attacks with both hands, and Page can fold when he is being beaten. Page will no doubt come into the fight with a solid gameplan, but executing it against a relentless fighter like Pickett is no easy task. Pickett will push the pace, continuing to come forward, and will use his ability to change levels and control the fight on the ground to score the win. Page has trouble with submissions, but Pickett will be more methodical in scoring the decision.

Prediction: Brad Pickett by decision

Follow on Twitter: Pickett- @One_Punch, Page- @damaciopage

Welterweights
Papy Abedi (8-1, 0-1 UFC) vs. James Head (7-2, 0-1 UFC)

Abedi Last 5: 4-1 (Loss-DEC-to Thiago Alves, Win-SUB-over Nathan Schouteren, Win-TKO-over Bohumil Lungrik, Win-TKO-over Nelton Pontes, Win-TKO-over Alan Carlos)

Head Last 5: 3-2 (Loss-SUB-to Nick Ring, Win-DEC-over Gerald Harris, Win-TKO-over Bill Albrecht, Loss-DEC-to Jesse Forbes, Win-TKO-over Chris Henning)

Key to victory for Abedi: Score the takedowns

Key to victory for Head: Look for the submission

Breakdown: Abedi and Head meet in welterweight action to cap off the night's preliminary portion of the event, and it is a must-win situation for both men. Abedi made his UFC debut at UFC 138 in November, and had quite the opportunity in taking on former UFC title challenger Thiago Alves, but he ultimately came up short, losing by submission in the first round. That was the first career loss for Abedi, who had won his previous eight career fights, and now he looks to bounce back in his current hometown of Stockholm. Head makes his welterweight debut in the octagon after being a short notice replacement in his UFC debut, a submission loss to Nick Ring at UFC 131 in June. Head was scheduled to fight at the same UFC 138 event in November, but an injury forced him out, and now he returns at a new weight after a ten-month layoff looking to start a new winning streak.

Abedi fights from a southpaw stance and has a lot of power in his hands, and is very muscular, which makes him hard to throw around and he will usually overpower his opponents. He showed good striking in his loss to Alves, but his willingness to stand-and-trade with a striker the caliber of Alves cost him, as Abedi took a lot of shots which led to a knockdown that ended with him being submitted. Abedi has a lot of talent, but he tends to go straight back when avoiding strikes, and Head will look to take advantage of that. Head has boxing experience and is good at throwing combinations, and he has a solid jiu-jitsu game on the ground. Head's takedown defense still needs some work, as does his submission defense, but much like Abedi, both are solid prospects in the division who got tough fights in their first UFC experience.

Abedi has a lot of judo experience, and he will use that along with his size to throw Head around, looking for takedowns. Abedi faced modest competition in the past, and while Alves is just too good for him at this stage, Head represents the type of competition Abedi needs to be facing, and the same could be said likewise for Head. Head will look to throw Abedi off of his gameplan by landing solid combinations, and Head is comfortable at any range. Abedi will likely look to close the distance and engage in a clinch battle, so Head will need to be ready to land short strikes in the clinch. Head will need to be ready to swarm if he gets Abedi in trouble, much like Alves did, because Abedi can recover well. Abedi has trained with Alexander Gustafsson in preparation for this fight, so he will come in with a lot of high-level training. Head will try to get the better of the solid exchanges, but the power of Abedi to go along with his good grappling game will give Abedi the edge as he scores his first triumph in the octagon.

Prediction: Papy Abedi by knockout in round 2

Follow on Twitter: Abedi- @TeamMakambo, Head- @thejameshead

Light Heavyweights
Cyrille Diabate (17-8-1, 2-2 UFC) vs. Tom DeBlass (7-0, 0-0 UFC)

Diabate Last 5: 3-2 (Loss-SUB-to Anthony Perosh, Win-DEC-over Steve Cantwell, Loss-SUB-to Alexander Gustafsson, Win-TKO-over Luiz Cane, Win-SUB-over Rob Smith)

DeBlass Last 5: 5-0 (Win-SUB-over Randy Smith, Win-DEC-over David Tkeshelashvili, Win-TKO-over Mike Stewart, Win-SUB-over Sean Salmon, Win-DEC-over Mitch Whitesel)

Key to victory for Diabate: Use world-class kickboxing skills

Key to victory for DeBlass: Get the fight to the ground

Breakdown: Diabate was originally scheduled to take on the debuting Jorgen Kruth in this fight, but an injury forced Kruth out, and DeBlass steps up to take the fight, accepting the fight on a little more than a week's notice. Diabate looks to rebound from a tough outing in his last fight, which was a submission loss to Anthony Perosh at UFC 138 in November. Diabate has a .500 record in his four UFC fights, and is looking to get back on the winning track after going 1-2 in his last three after having a seven-fight win streak. DeBlass makes his octagon debut on the heels of a seven-fight win streak to start his career, with all seven of those fights happening in the Ring Of Combat promotion in New Jersey. DeBlass last competed in February, so he will come into the fight fresh, and four of his seven wins have come by either knockout or submission.

Diabate has world-class kickboxing skills, having amassed 32 wins with 28 knockouts in 42 career kickboxing bouts, and he has made a successful crossover to MMA, though his recent results have been mixed. His ground game remains a work in progress, as both of his losses in the UFC have come from a submission. He generally enjoys a nice height advantage in his fights, and this will be no exception, as he will be seven inches taller than DeBlass, and will have a good reach advantage. DeBlass has a very strong ground game, as he is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Ricardo Almeida, who is one of the best jiu-jitsu artists in the world. DeBlass has many accolades in jiu-jitsu competitions, but he has developed solid MMA skills, possessing some hard punching power in his hands to go with solid conditioning. He is simply a fighter who trains in all aspects of the sport to improve, and he has solid training partners, among them former UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar.

Diabate will use his reach advantage to keep the fight at a distance and he will mix his strikes effectively, landing solid punch and kick combinations from a southpaw stance. Diabate's frame will give him plenty of target space, and he will look to effectively land counters to any punches that DeBlass throws. DeBlass needs to get the fight to the ground in order to have his best path to the win. DeBlass is excellent on the mat, and it remains the biggest hole in Diabate's game, and Diabate's ground game is not much likely to get much better, though he is slick and can catch a submission himself, though it would be a huge upset for him to submit a jiu-jitsu black belt. DeBlass will have no match for Diabate standing unless he can sneak a shot in that surprises Diabate. Diabate does not have the best takedown ability, so DeBlass will look to score takedowns of his own. DeBlass has nothing to lose in taking this fight on very short notice, and he will come out aggressive, but the experience of Diabate will help him here as he goes on to score the win.

Prediction: Cyrille Diabate by knockout in round 1

Follow on Twitter: Diabate- @CyrilleDiabate, DeBlass- @TomDeBlass

Middleweights
Francis Carmont (17-7, 1-0 UFC) vs. Magnus Cedenblad (10-3, 0-0 UFC)

Carmont Last 5: 5-0 (Win-DEC-over Chris Camozzi, Win-TKO-over Jason Day, Win-SUB-over Kelly Anundson, Win-TKO-over Simon Carlsen, Win-SUB-over Emil Zahariev)

Cedenblad Last 5: 5-0 (Win-SUB-over Dan Edwards, Win-SUB-over Benas Mikalauskas, Win-DEC-over Allan Love, Win-TKO-over Valdas Pocevicius, Win-TKO-over Tomas Kuzela)

Key to victory for Carmont: Be aggressive on the feet

Key to victory for Cedenblad: Mix strikes well

Breakdown: Carmont and Cedenblad meet in middleweight action on the night's preliminary card, and both men are putting long winning streaks on the line. Carmont enters the fight having won six in a row, a streak that included a successful UFC debut in October, when he defeated Chris Camozzi by decision. A training partner of UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre, Carmont has scored 14 of his 17 wins by stoppage. Cedenblad makes his UFC debut in his hometown of Stockholm, and he enters riding a seven-fight win streak. Overall, Cedenblad has won ten of his last eleven fights since starting his career dropping his first two fights, and nine of those ten wins have come via stoppage, and he has only been past the first round four times in his 13 career fights.

Carmont showed solid, fundamental well-rounded skills in his win over Camozzi, and his uses muay Thai and jiu-jitsu solidly along with good conditioning. Cedenblad is a highly-touted prospect out of Sweden with solid striking and solid grappling. This will be a tough test for both men as both have good takedown defense, but Carmont has the experience of having fought in the octagon once already. Carmont outstruck Camozzi in their fight by a good margin, scoring three takedowns along the way, and was very close to finishing Camozzi at one point. Cedenblad is very confident in his skills, saying that he does not have any weaknesses, and a fighter needs high confidence in their skills to be successful at this level of competition. Both men are finishers, but they both can also be finished. This fight boils down to strategy, and who comes in with the best gameplan. Carmont has more experience, which will help him as he finds the decision on the judges' scorecards.

Prediction: Francis Carmont by decision

Follow on Twitter: Carmont- @franciscarmont, Cedenblad- @MagnusCedenblad

Lightweights
Reza Madadi (11-2, 0-0 UFC) vs. Yoislandy Izquierdo (6-0, 0-0 UFC)

Madadi Last 5: 5-0 (Win-DEC-over Rich Clementi, Win-DEC-over Carlo Prater, Win-SUB-over Junie Browning, Win-TKO-over Andy Walker, Win-SUB-over Raymond Jarman)

Izquierdo Last 5: 5-0 (Win-TKO-over Patrick Cenoble, Win-TKO-over Chris Garcia, Win-DEC-over Jayson Jones, Win-DEC-over Alejandro Gomez, Win-TKO-over Michael Deems)

Key to victory for Madadi: Use experience advantage

Key to victory for Izquierdo: Keep the fight on the feet

Breakdown: Madadi and Izquierdo make their UFC debuts against each other during the night's preliminary action, and both are actually making their debuts later than originally anticipated. Madadi was scheduled to debut in January before an injury took him out of action, and contract issues with another organization prevented Izquierdo from debuting in February, but both are cleared to make their octagon debuts. Madadi enters the UFC on a six-fight win streak, and he has 11 wins in his last 12 fights since losing his professional debut. A staple of the Superior Challenge events in Stockholm, Madadi has notable wins over UFC veterans Junie Browning, Carlo Prater and Rich Clementi. Izquierdo also enters the octagon on a six-fight win streak, winning all of his career bouts since making his debut in April 2010. Izquierdo has scored four of his six wins by either knockout or submission.

Madadi will come into the fight the crowd favorite as he fights in his hometown of Stockholm, and he will look to use his good wrestling and ground skills to plant Izquierdo on the mat. Izquierdo has solid striking and will likely have the advantage standing, and Madadi will look to use his experience edge to fluster Izquierdo. Izquierdo is a solid prospect who can finish fights quickly if his opponents aren't ready for him, but Madadi will be ready. Madadi is a former Swedish freestyle wrestler, so as long as he is able to push Izquierdo against the cage to where he can grab ahold of him, odds are good that Izquierdo is going down to the ground. Madadi may look to grind it out as he tries to have a successful debut in the UFC in front of his hometown crowd, and Izquierdo must find a way to keep it standing. But, Madadi will be able to get it to the ground, eventually riding out a decision win.

Prediction: Reza Madadi by decision

Follow on Twitter: Madadi- @RezaMaddog, Izquierdo- @YoislandyMMA

Welterweights
Simeon Thoresen (16-2-1, 0-0 UFC) vs. Besam Yousef (6-0, 0-0 UFC)

Thoresen Last 5: 4-1 (Win-SUB-over Manuel Garcia, Win-SUB-over Fabricio Nascimento, Loss-KO-to Seydina Seck, Win-SUB-over Vaidas Valancius, Win-SUB-over Marco Santi)

Yousef Last 5: 5-0 (Win-SUB-over Jason Ponet, Win-SUB-over Joao Neves, Win-DEC-over Mickael Delvalle, Win-TKO-over Pawel Nakonieczny, Win-SUB-over Thomas Formo)

Key to victory for Thoresen: Look for the submission

Key to victory for Yousef: Land crisp combinations

Breakdown: Two more European welterweight prospects make their UFC debuts during the night's preliminary card, and Thoresen and Yousef are looking to make lasting first impressions. Thoresen comes into the fight having won two in a row, and he is 5-1 over six fights over the last two years. 14 of his 16 wins have come from a submission, and he holds a win over fellow UFC welterweight John Maguire. Yousef makes his octagon debut on the heels of six straight wins to start his professional career, with five of those wins coming from either a knockout or submission. Yousef has only gone past the first round twice in his career while 12 of Thoresen's 16 wins have come in the first round.

Both men have well-rounded games and are bright prospects in the welterweight division, and both are reigning champions in the smaller promotions they last fought in prior to signing with the UFC. Thoresen has a gymnastics background and trains alongside Joachim Hansen while Yousef is comfortable with fighting in his home country of Sweden. Yousef is an aggressive striker who will look to land shots standing, so Thoresen will need to get the fight to the ground. Thoresen has an outstanding submission game, and he can choke you out or grab an arm and sink an armbar out if left an opening. Yousef will need to be tight on the ground, not allowing Thoresen a chance to end the fight, and creating scrambles to get back to the feet is where Yousef might find himself winning the fight. Both men are looking to make a statement, but Thoresen has the experience edge, which will give him the needed boost to score the win.

Prediction: Simeon Thoresen by submission in round 2

Follow on Twitter: Thoresen- @simeonthegrin, Yousef- @BesamYousef

Featherweights
Jason Young (8-5, 0-2 UFC) vs. Eric Wisely (19-7, 0-1 UFC)

Young Last 5:
 2-3 (Loss-DEC-to Michihiro Omigawa, Loss-DEC-to Dustin Poirier, Win-DEC-over Jorge Britto, Win-DEC-over Sergej Grecicho, Loss-SUB-to Paul Sass)

Wisely Last 5: 3-2 (Loss-SUB-to Charles Oliveira, Win-TKO-over Brandon Girtz, Loss-DEC-to Pat Healy, Win-DEC-over Lance Wipf, Win-SUB-over Matt Veach)

Key to victory for Young: Keep the fight standing

Key to victory for Wisely: Take it to the ground

Breakdown: An important featherweight tilt opens the night's action in Stockholm as Young and Wisely are in much need of a win in a fight where the loser could find themselves out of the UFC for their next fight. Young enters the fight looking to turn around his fortune after coming up short in his first two UFC bouts, decision losses to Michihiro Omigawa and Dustin Poirier. Young had won eight of his prior eleven bouts before signing with the UFC and he is looking to score his first win since April of last year. Wisely makes his second octagon appearance, replacing an injured Akira Corassani in this bout, and he is looking to bounce back from a submission loss to Charles Oliveira at UFC On FOX: Evans vs. Davis in January. Wisely holds wins over UFC veterans Matt Veach and Hermes Franca in his career and has won eight of his last twelve fights overall.

Young and Wisely are both good on their feet, but Wisely is the better grappler of the two, and Young has shown trouble with guys who are good on the ground. Young was taken down numerous times by Omigawa and Poirier, but he also did take Omigawa down, and Omigawa is world-class at judo. Wisely is aggressive on the feet and a solid counterpuncher, but Young has good kickboxing skills that he will look to use to give Wisely fits standing. Wisely needs to avoid being outworked on the feet, and Young will look to land a lot of shots standing. Wisely will need to time his counters perfectly, and he is good at landing straight, sharp punches. Wisely should look to take the fight to the ground and keep Young planted on the mat as a standup battle looks to favor Young. The winner of the fight will be the guy who lands the most on his feet, and I favor Young in that area. Young will take the hard-fought decision win over the tough veteran.

Prediction: Jason Young by decision

Follow on Twitter:
 Young- @shotgun_young, Wisely- @EricWisely

Follow or contact Ryan Frederick on Twitter at twitter.com/ryanjfrederick
 
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