UFC Fight Night 113: Nelson vs. Ponzinibbio Primer – Matthew Ecochard
The UFC weekly fight train keeps on rolling with a card live this Sunday from Scotland that will be headlined by rising start Gunnar Nelson taking on 4 fight win streak rider Santiago Ponzinibbio. Scotland’s own Joanne Calderwood will be one half of the co-main event when she takes on Team Alpha Male fighter Cynthia Calvillo. The rest of the card lacks some start power, but some of the match ups are fine and should provide quality fights. The following are previews and predictions for the entirety of the card.
UFC Fight Pass Prelims (12 p.m. ET / 9 a.m. PT)
Leslie Smith (9-7-1) vs. Amanda Lemos (6-0-1) – Women’s Bantamweight Bout
Bantamweight veteran Leslie Smith is the journey-woman of the division. She has gone 3-3 and alternated wins and losses each time out if she keeps up that pattern this would be a loss. Smith has good striking and ground and pound, but her strength lays in her heart and durability. Amanda Lemos is making her UFC debut and she has an almost perfect record with all of her wins via finishes. The level of competition she has faced is questionable though with very low amounts of fighters per opponent. Five of Lemos’ six wins are via knockout, but I wouldn’t expect that against someone like Smith. Smith outlasts Lemos for the duration of the bout.
Prediction: Leslie Smith via Unanimous Decision
Brett Johns (13-0) vs. Albert Morales (7-1-1) – Bantamweight Bout
Undefeated Brett Johns is looking to continue his streak against a stiff test in Albert Morales. Johns has held belts in the CWFC and Titan FC promotions, but had been stripped in both for missing weight. If Johns can keep his weight in check he could be a force at bantamweight. The majority of his wins are via decision so he doesn’t have the best killer instinct, but he does have a really well rounded skill set. Tough tests for Albert Morales have gave him an uneasy start to his UFC career. Sitting at 1-1-1 Morales needs to keep a win-streak alive here with an impressive showing. If Morales, on short notice can defeat Johns he could prove that he really does belong with the elite. Morales needs to use his height and reach to keep distance and out-strike Johns, but he won’t be able too for long.
Prediction: Brett Johns via Unanimous Decision
Fox Sports 1 Prelims (1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT)
Danny Henry (10-2) vs. Daniel Teymur (6-0) – Lightweight Bout
Two UFC newcomers will open the televised prelims with fireworks. Between Danny Henry and Daniel Teymur there are 14 finishes in 15 fights. Teymur is the brother of David Teymur who had an amazing fight with Lando Vannata. The brothers are known for their exciting style with great striking techniques. Teymur has split three submission wins and three by knockout. Henry has lost two fights via decision, but recently redeemed one of those when he defeated Igeu Kabesa in a rematch. It looks like Henry is moving up a weight class for this one so that might benefit him as he is still 5’11 which is fairly large for lightweight still. This one is a pick ’em but it will be exciting while it lasts.
Prediction:Daniel Teymur via Submission Round 3
Charlie Ward (3-2) vs. Galore Bofando (4-2) – Welterweight Bout
A disappointing debut for Charlie Ward has led him to taking on a UFC newcomer in Galore Bofando. Even though he has two losses, they are both via DQ because he can’t control his knees when he throws them. By all means, Bofando could be 6-0 with five knockout wins. Charlie Ward had been knocked out twice now and only has one finish himself via knockout. Ward trains with SBG so his camp is really great, but he just hasn’t put it all together quite yet. His wrestling and technical skills might be better, but Bofando likely hits way harder. Another rough night for Ward awaits.
Prediction: Galore Bofando via TKO Round 2
(#14) Alexandre Pantoja (17-2) vs. Neil Seery (16-12) – Flyweight Bout
Losses to Louis Smolka and and Kyoji Horiguchi set Neil Seery back a bit, both those are both really tough opponents and Seery showed heart in both. Seery has always shown a strong wrestling game and the ability to sneak a submission in when he can. Alexandre Pantoja is very well rounded and his finish over Damacio Page is what got him into the TUF Tournament of Champions season. He won his first two bouts in the house, but lost in the semi-finals, he then went on to win a split decision against Eric Shelton in January. Pantoja is the much younger fighter here and that should be more than enough to help give him the edge against a waning Neil Seery.
Prediction: Alexandre Pantoja via Unanimous Decision
Danny Roberts (13-2) vs. Bobby Nash (8-2) – Welterweight Bout
Both Danny Roberts and Bobby Nash were knocked out in their last bouts. Roberts has proven himself in the UFC with wins over Nathan Coy and Dominique Steele before losing by KO to Mike Perry in a bout he was winning. Nash lost in his debut in less than impressive fashion to Li Jingliang. Nash only has wins via knockout or decision while Roberts has equal wins via KO and submission. Roberts just seems to be the more well rounded fighter and likely the better technical striker coming into this one, but he will dig into his deeper toolbox to get the win.
Prediction: Danny Roberts via Submission Round 2
Fox Sports 1 Main Card (3 p.m. ET / 12 p.m. ET)
James Mulheron (11-1) vs. Justin Willis (4-1) – Heavyweight Bout
New division in the heavyweight will clash in the opener for the Fox Sports main card. James Mulheron has never fought out of England, but he will likely get a warm welcome in Scotland. With six knockouts and five decisions Mulheron seems comfortable to go the distance if he needs to. Justin Willis on the other hand has only had five professional fights going the distance once. The weight of Willis is a concern as in his originally planned UFC debut he had to be taken out as he was deemed medically unfit. If this fight goes past the second half of round 2, I don’t see it going well for Willis. Training with AKA Willis will be dangerous in the early stages though and I see him potentially getting a shocking knockout.
Prediction: Justin Willis via KO Round 2
Khalil Rountree Jr. (6-2) vs. Paul Craig (9-1) – Light Heavyweight Bout
Against Daniel Jolly, Khalil Rountree showed just how impressive he could be when he isn’t taken down and drawn into a dogfight. On the feet he may be one of the scariest light heavyweights there is he just needs to work on his wrestling and ability to spring back to his feet more. This fight will prove if he has gotten any better on the ground as Paul Craig will instantly be looking to take him there because he has eight submissions out of nine wins. Craig has some decent striking, but is really slick on the ground. He needs to stop the takedown early in order o stay alive in this fight. Rountree likes to come out swinging, but he needs to be a little conservative to start this one off until he clips Craig. Pedro showed the ability to beat a finish out of Craig and Rountree can do the same.
Prediction: Khalil Rountree via KO Round 1
Jack Marshman (21-6) vs. Ryan Janes (9-2) – Middleweight Bout
A classic striker versus grappler match-up features Jack Marshman (striker) taking on Ryan Janes (grappler). Both men haven’t lost to the other’s strengths, Marshman hasn’t been submitted and Janes hasn’t been knocked out. I could see this fight going the distance with two well rounded guys. Standing at 1-1 in the UFC, both men likely still get another shot even with a loss here, but a win definitely pushes them in the right direction. Janes has the height and reach by three inches but is the elder by eight years. Marshman has strong takedown defense and I believe it is better than Janes’ striking so he’ll get the judges nod after three rounds.
Prediction: Jack Marshman via Unanimous Decision
Stevie Ray (21-6) vs. Paul Felder (13-3) – Lightweight Bout
Stevie Ray is 5-1 in the UFC but in his last two bouts had some close calls against veterans Ross Pearson and Joe Lauzon. Ray is a strong grappler winning the Scotia Cup and Glasgow Open in BJJ. He is no slouch in striking to with a relentless pace. Paul Felder is definitely more of a striker that has the chops to hang with most on the feet. His style is exciting and violent and he loves to mix up spinning attacks when possible. Ray has the more well rounded skill-set and should be able to control Felder here. Ray has never been finished on the feet and while Felder is strong there, he isn’t capable of finishing him off. Ray outworks Felder en route to a decision.
Prediction: Stevie Ray via Unanimous Decision
(#8) Joanne Calderwood (11-2) vs. (#14) Cynthia Calvillo (5-0) – Women’s Strawweight Bout
The co-main event should be a guaranteed barn-burner with two nasty women going out there to hurt each other. Joanne Calderwood gets to have some hometown love and go to war with Cynthia Calvillo. Calderwood is a striker that has had some problems with fighters with good submission skills. Muay Thai and kickboxing are the main skills of the Scotland native and she has used them to get to a 3-2 record in the UFC. Calvillo won two fights in about a months time in the UFC and finished both of those via rear-naked choke. Calderwood is definitely her stiffest test to date, but Calvillo just seems like she will be the way stronger ground fighter. Striking she might have less success than normal against Calderwood, but once it hits the mat Calderwood could be in trouble.
Prediction: Cynthia Calvillo via Submission Round 2
(#8) Gunnar Nelson (16-2-1) vs. (#14) Santiago Ponzinibbio (24-3) – Welterweight Main Event (5 Rounds)
Iceland’s Gunnar Nelson is one of the most humble men in the sport when he is one of the most dangerous fighters there is at welterweight. Nelson’s striking is unorthodox with his karate background, but he really shines in the grappling department as he is a multiple time champion in the International Brazilian Jim-Jistu Federation Championships. Going 7-2 in the UFC, he has finished six of those via submission (rear-naked or guillotine chokes) and his loses were via decision. Training out of SBG Ireland where his training partner is Conor McGregor and an amazing coaching staff Nelson is constantly improving. Nelson’s opponent is a strong striker, but Santiago Ponzinibbio might be taking on a really big challenge.
Joining the UFC off of “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 2” season, Ponzinibbio has done well for himself, going 6-2 with losses only to Lorenz Larkin and Ryan LaFlare. Ponzinibbio has never been submitted, but has lost twice via TKO and one decision. Ponzinibbio likes to keep the fight standing and finish off his opponents on the feet, with 13 out of his 24 wins coming from knockouts. The last three wins have come against tough guys in Court McGee, Zak Cummings and Nordine Taleb.
While Nelson is strong on the feet the path for him is clear in that he needs to go to the mat for the easier victory. The difficult style of Nelson on the feet could give him success, but why risk standing and striking with a proven power puncher. Ponzinibbio needs to use strong takedown defense and pick his shots without leaping in too much. Nelson will get this to the mat and over the course of five round, Ponzinibbio will slip up and allow a finish to materialize for Nelson.
Prediction: Gunnar Nelson via Submission Round 3
NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS UFC PREVIEW: UFC 213 PRIMER: Ecochard’s full preview of tonight’s PPV headlined by Nunes vs. Shevchenko, Romero vs. Whittaker