ALEXANDER GUSTAFSSON VS GLOVER TEIXEIRA
If you saw Alexander Gustafsson’s fights with Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones, the fight fan in you wants him to win on Sunday and face the winner of the UFC 214 main event by the end of the year. If you’re a realistic fight fan, you know “The Mauler” will be in for hell from start to finish when he faces Glover Teixeira, a fighter who is seeking a second shot at the belt in his own right. This is one of the best matchups to be made in the 205-pound weight class outside of Cormier-Jones 2, and it’s worthy of this weekend’s headline slot.
VOLKAN OEZDEMIR VS MISHA CIRKUNOV
Any fan of the light heavyweight division loves Cormier-Jones 2 and Gustafsson-Teixeira, and rightfully so. But once you get past the vets of the weight class, this is the fight everyone should be talking about. Leading the rush of new blood into the 205-pound division, Misha Cirkunov and Volkan Oezdemir are fighting to get that spot in the title conversation, so expect to see them both empty their tank in search of victory.
PETER SOBOTTA VS BEN SAUNDERS
These matchups between seasoned vets of the sport almost always end up being compelling scraps simply because both fighters know how to win on the big stage. That doesn’t mean the clash pitting Peter Sobotta against Ben Saunders will be a boring chess match. Both welterweights aren’t in search of three-round decisions. They want to go home early, and the call here is that the victor will get his wish.
ABDUL RAZAK ALHASSAN VS OMARI AKHMEDOV
Abdul Razak Alhassan has ended each of his seven pro fights by first-round knockout, with none of those wins lasting more than 1:26. In fact, his total fight time is 6:31. That’s enough to want to watch the Texan fight, but having said that, Omari Akhmedov is the kind of guy that will likely take Alhassan past the 1:26 mark and will push him to the limit. And if Alhassan does beat the veteran, he will have earned it, because Akhmedov is no easy out for anyone.
OLIVER ENKAMP VS NORDINE TALEB
Highly touted Swedish prospect Oliver Enkamp makes his UFC debut on short notice against Nordine Taleb, and it’s a tough task for Enkamp to take on, especially without a full training camp under his belt. Then again, he is a legitimate talent with a high upside, so Sunday’s opportunity may just be the one he’s needed to kickstart his move to the big time.
JACK HERMANSSON VS ALEX NICHOLSON
Middleweight sluggers collide in the main card opener, and Jack Hermansson and Alex Nicholson should get things off to a rousing start. But as in any striker vs. striker matchup, the end result may come down to who can handle everything else better. Both fighters claim that they can hold their own in a ground war, and Sunday may prove who is telling the truth.
PEDRO MUNHOZ VS DAMIAN STASIAK
There are several cool nicknames sported by the men and women on the UFC roster, but for my money, it doesn’t get better than Damian Stasiak’s “Webster” moniker. And if you’re not old enough to get the reference to the 80s sitcom character, it must be nice to still be young. But I digress. Stasiak is turning into a fighter with more than just a cool nickname, but his two-fight UFC win streak will be put to the test by one of the most underrated contenders in the bantamweight division in Pedro Munhoz. Munhoz has impressed thus far in his UFC run, and if he wants to get that top 10 opponent the next time out, he has to get by Stasiak.
TREVOR SMITH VS CHRIS CAMOZZI
How did two Americans wind up fighting each other in Stockholm this weekend? That’s a question for matchmaker Mick Maynard, but it doesn’t really matter because this bout between Trevor Smith and Chris Camozzi is shaping up to be a very interesting matchup in which both fighters need a win and will be willing to pull out all the stops to get it. This may be the sleeper pick for Fight of the Night.
REZA MADADI VS JOAQUIM SILVA
Given Reza Madadi’s fiery demeanor in and out of the Octagon, you get the impression that he would take a fight on an hour’s notice if asked. Luckily, he got a little less than two weeks to step in for Mairbek Taisumov for a home game against Joaquim Silva. Will that be enough against the rising Brazilian star, who is coming off a 34-second knockout of Andrew Holbrook in his last bout? If anyone can upset the apple cart, it’s Madadi, whose last win in Stockholm was over 155-pound contender Michael Johnson.
NICO MUSOKE VS BOJAN VELICKOVIC
Back in action for the first time since 2015, Nico Musoke makes a welcome return in his hometown of Stockholm to face Bojan Velickovic. Not surprisingly, it’s no easy task for Musoke as he steps back into the Octagon against the well-rounded Velickovic, but Musoke is pretty well-rounded himself, and a training camp with the renowned Tristar camp in Montreal will only boost his chances on Sunday.
DARREN TILL VS JESSIN AYARI
England’s Darren Till was everything you wanted to see in a prizefighter – talented, aggressive, confident, and always looking for the finish. Then injuries took him off the map for a year and a half. But this weekend, he returns, and if he’s healthy and still showing the same form he did in 2015, then it should be a barnburner against equally promising German prospect Jessin Ayari.
MARCIN HELD VS DAMIR HADZOVIC
Marcin Held has had no luck since arriving in the Octagon last year. In his first bout, he reacted badly to the altitude in Mexico City and was outpointed by Diego Sanchez, and then he lost a decision to Joe Lauzon that even Lauzon thought Held deserved to win. But bad luck or not, Held is in a must-win situation against hard hitting Damir Hadzovic, and given the stakes, expect to see the submission wizard in top form and looking for a finish.