Cole Miller is 1-3 since moving back to 145 pounds. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
The Ultimate Fighting Championship on Saturday returns to the United Kingdom for the second time this year, as UFC Fight Night 30 takes place at the Phones 4U Arena in Manchester, England.
Lyoto Machida will make his middleweight debut against Mark Munoz to top the Fox Sports 2-broadcast main draw, which also features a lightweight showdown between heavy hitters Melvin Guillard and Ross Pearson. Meanwhile, the undercard streams live to Facebook and YouTube.
Here are five reasons to plug into the World Wide Web and scope the prelims:
Sherdog Fantasy MMA: UFC Fight Night 30 Free Fan Pick’Em
Cole Miller’s defeat to Manny Gamburyan at UFC Fight Night 26 may have been controversial, but it nevertheless resulted in the featherweight’s third loss in his last four fights.
Regardless of the snafu at the end of the first round, I felt “Magrinho” beat Gamburyan, but that does not change the fact that the lanky American Top Team rep could now be looking at his UFC walking papers if he suffers another stretch of back-to-back defeats.
Enter Andy Ogle, the man hoping to hand Miller another setback. Because of injury, “The Little Axe” has only been able to compete twice since his run on “The Ultimate Fighter 15,” but the Englishman has shown some nice growth since we were first introduced to him more than 18 months ago. Particularly impressive was his ground work against submission specialist Josh Grispi, who was powerless to stop Ogle’s offense in the last two rounds of their UFC on Fuel TV 7 confrontation in February.
Can Miller use his length and experience to shut down Ogle or will the Brit score the biggest win of his career at the American’s expense?
You Can Call Me Al
Let us keep it simple with Al Iaquinta. He put a hurting on Ryan Couture, and I thought it was impressive.
The New Yorker looked like the sharpest, meanest version of himself to date, and I am interested to see if he can bring the same level of intensity to the cage when he meets Polish upstart Piotr Hallmann, who turned heads last month at UFC Fight Night 28. The prospect was brought in on four weeks’ notice to replace an injured Anthony Njokuani against Francisco Trinaldo, and Hallmann did not disappoint, surviving a strong first round from the muscular Brazilian before submitting him with a second-round kimura.
Hallmann appears to be a well-rounded talent, and he showed some real courage and toughness in outlasting the explosive Trinaldo. However, Couture also exhibited both of those qualities in spades against Iaquinta, and that did not stop “The Ultimate Fighter 15” finalist from tearing into him something awful.
Which lightweight up-and-comer will make a statement?
Jessica Andrade and Rosi Sexton could use a victory right about now.
Though posting consecutive defeats in the still-nascent UFC women’s bantamweight division does not guarantee a fighter will receive her walking papers, losing two straight is still never a good thing. With the promotion continually adding new talent to the expanding 135-pound pool, I think the loser of Andrade-Sexton will be standing on thin ice.
Sexton likely needs a victory more than Andrade if she wants to stick around. The 36-year-old is being forced to punch above her natural weight, and while she has certainly earned her spot in the UFC after spending more than a decade in the sport, Sexton will no doubt have her hands full with the explosive Andrade.
Will the 22-year-old Brazilian make Sexton her 10th victim or can the veteran get back in the win column?
Jimy ‘The Kid’
There is a lot to like about Jim Hettes, though the talented featherweight will enter the cage after more than a year on the sidelines.
“The Kid” has thus far shown plenty of aggressiveness and skill on the mat, though his standup has appeared unready to tangle with the featherweight division’s better strikers. After scoring victories over Alex Caceres and Nam Phan to begin his Octagon career, Hettes was bested by Marcus Brimage, who used his superior athleticism to stop many of Hettes’ takedowns and outbox him en route to a unanimous decision victory at UFC 152.
In Robert Whiteford, Hettes meets a once-beaten Scotsman who will make his Octagon debut on just one week’s notice after filling in for the injured Mike Wilkinson. The 30-year-old rides a 10-fight winning streak into his inaugural UFC appearance, with his lone career defeat coming in his 2009 pro debut.
Can Hettes shake off the ring rust and send Whiteford packing or will the surging Scot pull off an upset?
‘TUF’ vs. Tough
Is Luke Barnatt ready for a wild man like Andrew Craig?
Undefeated through six pro outings, Barnatt acquitted himself well during his time on Season 17 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” though I thought the lanky Brit could have made even better use of his 6-foot-6 frame. This, of course, is easier said than done when you have a gamer like Dylan Andrews charging at you and trying to take your head off.
In Craig, Barnatt will face a somewhat similar challenge. While I think Andrews is a better athlete than the Texan, Craig and the Aussie are both never-say-die guys whom you cannot count out of any fight. I also think that Craig’s unorthodox style could present problems for the Englishman. The former Legacy Fighting Championship middleweight titleholder might not be the prettiest or most technical fighter in the world, but he plays to his strengths, and I like that.
If Barnatt is not careful, he could find himself tied up with his back against the cage for the majority of 15 minutes. Likewise, if Barnatt can keep Craig at distance or hurt him with elbows and knees from the clinch before the “Highlight” starts to lean on him, it could be a long night for the American. Which man will implement his style most effectively?