Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) isn’t slowing down one bit, staging its third event in as many weeks as UFC Fight Night 147 is set to go down inside O2 Arena TODAY (Sat., March 16, 2019) in London, England. The event is set to be headlined by a Welterweight scrap between former title contender Darren Till and Jorge Masvidal.
In the co-headlining act, Leon Edwards and Gunnar Nelson will collide in another pivotal matchup in the 170-pound division, while Volkan Oezdemir and Dominick Reyes battle in Light Heavyweight action.
Till is still trying to erase the ugly memory of getting choked out by former Welterweight champion Tyron Woodley in his first-ever title fight at UFC 228 in Nov. 2018 (see it again here). It marked the first loss in the professional mixed martial arts (MMA) career of “The Gorilla,” so you can’t blame him for taking it hard. Still, getting back in the win column will be pretty tough, as his opponent, Masvidal, is as gritty and tough as they come.
That said, “Gamebred” has dropped his last two fights to Demian Maia and Stephen Thompson. But, that isn’t indicative at just how dangerous Masvidal can be, as his skill set is pretty-well rounded (though it’s no secret he prefers to stand-and-bang). And that’s just fine for Till, who has made a living knocking people out, including Donald Cerrone.
Till is obviously the bigger man and the crisper striker, so he will use his reach to his advantage if he’s smart, as getting in close and dirty is Masvidal’s forte. The victor won’t necessarily get into the title conversation with a win, but bouts aren’t always about that. They are trying to stay in the mix, and that is what this fight is for. Three losses in a row for Masvidal will be devastating, while Till’s hopes of another championship chance will decrease drastically if he comes up short.
Leon Edwards has been the forgotten man in a very-crowded 170-pound division, though his record indicates he needs to be getting more love. He’s not necessarily a brash talker, though he’s had his moments. But, this man can fight, and he’s a winner, racking up six straight wins, including victories over the likes of the aforementioned “Cowboy” and the red-hot Vicente Luque.
Gunnar Nelson, meanwhile, is looking for back-to-back wins for the first time in a long time after submitting Alex Oliveira in his previous fight. If this fight goes to the ground, you can put your money on “Gunni,” as his submission game is next-level, which will cause fits for Edwards all night. Edwards’ best bet is to keep the fight standing for as long as possible and hope for a knockout.
I have to say, though this card isn’t the most stacked, there isn’t much to complain about here. It’s filled with great match ups all around, which should make for an entertaining night (or day) of fights.
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
Gokhan Saki was supposed to face Saparbek Safarov, but after he was forced out with an injury, Nicolae Negumereanu got the call up to replace him against Safarov.
Aside from Gokhan Saki coming down with an unfortunate injury, Alessio Di Chirico was forced out of his match up with Tom Breese with an injury, as well. After Breeese’s replacement fight against Cezar Ferreria was scratched because of an injury from Cezar, Breese was booked to face Ian Heinisch.
Nicolae Negumereanu got the call up to the big leagues to face Saparbek Safarov after Saki suffered an injury. “Nicu” brings with him a perfect mark (9-0) to his first UFC fight, all of them finishes with six knockouts and three submissions. Interestingly enough, his opponent has dropped his last two fights, one via knockout and one via submission. That said, the opportunities will be there for Nicolae to impress in his Octagon debut, assuming UFC jitters do not get the best of him.
Mike Grundy is the next newcomer, as he is set to face Nad Narimani in Featherweight action. Grundy, riding an eight-fight win streak, has a stiff test in front of him in his first-ever UFC fight, as Narimani is perfect (5-0) in his last five bouts and made good on his first two bouts inside the Octagon. Both men have well-rounded attacks, so this is a hard-to-pick fight. Either way, I expect fireworks here, as Narimani isn’t about to let a UFC newbie end his streak.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
The underbelly of the event will be headlined by a Featherweight bout between Arnold Allen and Jordan Rinaldi. Allen is another combatant looking to get a bit more love from the brass, as he reeled off six straight wins, including his first four inside the Octagon. Rinaldi, meanwhile, has been sub-par so far inside the Octagon, going 2-2. He is coming off an impressive win over Jason Knight, and picking another up against the streaking Allen would be a good notch on his resume.
Also, Mark Diakiese — who at one time was looked upon as a possible title contender at 155 pounds — will look to end his three-fight skid when he faces Joseph Duffy. The Irishman hasn’t competed since 2017, losing to James Vick at UFC 217. Now that he’s back, he wants to remind the combat sports world that he can hang with the best and look to make a run in a stacked division.
Also, Heinisch will look to go two-for-two in his first couple of outings inside the Octagon when he faces Breese in 205-pound action. This bout came to fruition thanks to a series of aforementioned injuries; however, the match up is intriguing nonetheless. Breese is another one of those under-the-radar fighters who just can’t seem to get the love he deserves. All he does is win, going 4-1 with UFC with his lone loss coming via questionable split-decision at UFC 199. If he can take out Heinisch, he needs to be considered for bigger match ups down the road. By the way, if you haven’t read Heinisch’s road to UFC, do yourself a favor and do it now.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
After skyrocketing to his first-ever title shot following just three wins inside the Octagon — only Brock Lesnar got there quicker after only two wins — Volkan Oezdemir has now dropped two in a row. After getting dominated by Daniel Cormier at UFC 220 in his first-ever world championship bout, “No Time” was choked out by Anthony Smith nine months later, leading many to believe Oezdemir was pushed too fast into a title shot.
Staring at three straight losses, Oezdemir needs a win in the worst way. Unfortunately, it won’t come easy as Dominick Reyes is one of the most talented fighters in the division, going 10-0 so far in his MMA career, including three straight impressive wins inside the Octagon. “The Devastator” is looking for his first shot at the division strap, and a win here can put him there, so he will come in guns blazing and highly-motivated. What that means for Volkan is that he will have to be on his toes all night, trying to dodge Dominick’s heavy hands while trying to sneak in his own. If Oezdemir earns his third straight loss, it will be a long time before he gets back to the big dance.
Interest Level: 7/10
This is actually a pretty decent card, especially on the main card front. The Till vs. Masvidal fight sells itself, as we could be in for one hell of a burnburner and possibly a breakout and career-changing performance from Masvidal. If he can manage to take out Till, his stock will skyrocket, while the opposite can be said for the hometown favorite.
Nelson and Edwards shouldn’t disappoint, and we could get a new title contender once the dust settles in the Dominick Reyes vs. Volkan Oezdemir bout. Reyes is in prime position to score a shot at the division title, while Oezdemir is simply trying to not dig himself into a deeper hole. That’s three good fights on an international card, which these days is unheard of. The rest of the card isn’t too shabby, including the “Prelims” undercard portion of the event.
Sure it’s a bit of an odd time to watch the fights, but those are things we can learn to live with.
UFC Fight Night 147 Fight Card:
UFC Fight Night 147 (ESPN+ 5) Main Event:
170 lbs.: Darren Till vs. Jorge Masvidal
UFC Fight Night 147 (ESPN+ 5) Main Card (4 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Leon Edwards vs. Gunnar Nelson
205 lbs.: Volkan Oezdemir vs. Dominick Reyes
135 lbs.: Jose Quinonez vs. Nathaniel Wood
170 lbs.: Danny Roberts vs. Claudio Silva
185 lbs.: Jack Marshman vs. John Phillips
UFC Fight Night 147 (ESPN+ 5) ‘Prelims’ Undercard (1 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Arnold Allen vs. Jordan Rinaldi
155 lbs.: Marc Diakiese vs. Joseph Duffy
205 lbs.: Nicolae Negumereanu vs. Saparbeg Safarov
185 lbs.: Tom Breese vs. Ian Heinisch — CANCELED
145 lbs.: Danny Henry vs. Dan Ige
125 lbs.: Priscila Cachoeira vs. Molly McCann
145 lbs.: Mike Grundy vs. Nad Narimani
*Fight card, bout order and the amount of matches subject to change