Preliminary Card (FX)
Middleweight Bout: Patrick Cote (17-8) vs. Alessio Sakara (15-9)
This fight should be an absolute slugfest. Both men have great boxing and serious knockout power. The deciding factor, though, is who can take a harder striker? The answer to that question is simple, it’s Cote. ‘The Predator’ has one of the best chins in MMA while Sakara has been finished with strikes multiple times. This one has potential to end in violent fashion.
Prediction: Patrick Cote via Knockout – R2
Light Heavyweight Bout: Cyrille Diabate (18-8-1) vs. Chad Griggs (11-2)
This is a classic striker vs. grappler match up. Cyrille Diabate is known for his technical striking and will want to keep it on the feet against a superior grappling in Griggs. The result of the fight will come down to Diabate’s ability to repeatedly stuff shots and land his striker. Is he good enough to make that happen for 15-straight minutes? Wouldn’t count on it.
Prediction: Chad Griggs via Submission – R2
Lightweight Bout: Sam Stout (18-7-1) vs John Makdessi (9-2)
It is rare the UFC will match up a fighter coming off a win (Stout) against a fighter coming off of not just one, but two losses (Makdessi). Clearly matchmakers Joe Silva and Sean Shelby saw potential in the match up and it makes sense as, when allowed to fight in their comfort zones, Stout and Makdessi have two of the most fan-pleasing styles in the lightweight division. Stout always comes to fight as seen by his five post-fight bonuses while Makdessi has proven to be an exciting fighter in his own right.
Prediction: Sam Stout via Unanimous Decision
Lightweight Bout: Mark Bocek (11-4) vs. Rafael Dos Anjos (17-6)
Two stellar grapplers collide in a lightweight affair on the FX portion of the preliminary card as Mark Bocek takes on Rafael Dos Anjos. Bocek has been quoted as saying he is the superior grappler, and I would tend to agree with that statement. With that said, Dos Anjos is the craftier fighter on the feet and he has proven knockout power. However, Bocek has pretty solid defense and should be able to get the fight where he wants it and win two of the three rounds.
Prediction: Mark Bocek via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (Facebook)
Featherweight Bout: Antonio Carvalho (14-5) vs. Rodrigo Damm (10-5)
In my opinion, Rodrigo Damm is being slightly overrated after his stint on “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” earlier this year. Damm needs to get this fight to the ground immediately if he wants to win. As seen in his knockout of Daniel Pineda at UFC 149 in July, Carvalho packs some serious power in his strikes. For Damm, who has lost three of his five fights by (T)KO, that’s a warning sign to take the fight to the ground.
Even though Damm should be trying to score takedowns as much as possible, he doesn’t striker me as the type of competitor with high fight IQ and that could ultimately result in his demise.
Prediction: Antonio Carvalho via TKO – R1
Bantamweight Bout: Ivan Menjivar (24-9) vs. Azamat Gashimov (7-1)
UFC 154 is a huge fight for both Ivan Menjivar and Azamat Gashimov. Menjivar looked terrible in his last fight against Mike Easton and needs to put on a strong performance in order to prove to the higher-ups at the UFC, as well as the fans, that his career is not coming to an end. While Menjivar will be fighting to prove something, there is no pressure on the debuting Gashimov. If the 22-year-old Russian can take Menjivar out in his UFC debut then he will be a fighter to keep an eye on moving forward.
Gashimov without a doubt has a future in the UFC for at least a few more fights, but facing Menjivar in his comeback to Montreal may just be a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time for the American.
Prediction: Ivan Menjivar via TKO – R2
Welterweight Bout: Matt Riddle (6-3, 1 NC) vs. John Maguire (18-4)
Both men took this fight on short notice, however Matt Riddle had slightly longer to prepare.
John Maguire looked out of shape when he lost to John Hathaway at UFC on FUEL TV 5 in September and just over 7 weeks after that fight he competes again. If Maguire can control the action on the ground he has a good chance of winning due to his submission skills. The problem, though, is Riddle is an outstanding wrestler and likely is smart enough to keep out of submissions.
Riddle looked outstanding in his last fight at UFC 149 and if he continues that momentum into Montreal he has a good chance of handing Maguire his second consecutive loss.
Prediction: Matt Riddle via Unanimous Decision.
Featherweight Bout: Steven Siler (21-9) vs. Darren Elkins (14-2)
Why this fight is on the Facebook portion of the preliminary card is beyond me, because it’s a very intriguing match up. At 5’11” and 5’10” respectively, Siler and Elkins are two of the tallest featherweights on the UFC roster. Siler has looked like an absolute wrecking machine in his three UFC fights and if he continues to use his length, striking and counter-grappling the way he has, his UFC record will be a perfect 4-0 after UFC 154.
Prediction: Steven Siler via Unanimous Decision