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Preview: UFC Fight Night 204 Prelims

Grundy vs. Amirkhani


The undercard for the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s return to London will have a distinctly British flavor on Saturday at the O2 Arena, but it speaks well of the local scene that it has supplied the promotion with a strong slate of prelims from top to bottom. The featured spot sees Mike Grundy square off with Makwan Amirkhani in a well-matched featherweight affair, but the clear jewel of the undercard comes a bit earlier when Wales’ Jack Shore takes on fellow elite bantamweight prospect Timur Valiev. There is also plenty of intrigue with the debut of high-upside flyweight Muhammad Mokaev, who takes on Cody Durden at 125 pounds. Even the heavier weight classes provide some interesting action. Scotland’s Paul Craig looks to continue his unlikely light heavyweight run against Nikita Krylov, while Russian heavyweights Shamil Abdurakhimov and Sergei Pavlovich face off in an important veteran-versus-prospect clash. Add in reliably exciting fighters like Nathaniel Wood and Cory McKenna, along with what figures to be a hot crowd, and this should serve as a fun appetizer for the main card.

Now to the preview for the UFC Fight Night 204 prelims:

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Featherweights

NR | Mike Grundy (12-3, 1-2 UFC) vs. NR | Makwan Amirkhani (16-7, 6-5 UFC)

ODDS: Grundy (-155), Amirkhani (+135)

Flawed featherweights look to get out of the loss column here in a well-matched fight. Amirkhani’s UFC debut back in 2015 was absolutely electric, as “Mr. Finland” knocked out Andy Ogle with a flying knee in just eight seconds. It did correctly mark Amirkhani as a prospect to watch going forward, but was also a bit of false advertising. While he was a top talent, Amirkhani’s greatest success came via his wrestling and his grappling. That has held true through the entirety of his UFC career in the years since, and while he showed some promising gains for a few years, Amirkhani has certainly seemed to plateau. While his striking has improved, it is still not particularly effective, and his most recent fights have been marked by some terrible drop-offs in his cardio. Amirkhani has still typically remained a tough out, even while exhausted, which made his last loss to Lerone Murphy particularly frustrating. Amirkhani put in a strong start against a top prospect, only to get suddenly knocked out by a knee at the start of the second round. Amirkhani looks to break a three-fight skid here against Liverpool’s Grundy, who is in much the same boat. A former standout wrestler for England, Grundy purely relied on those wrestling and grappling skills on the regional scene, which made his 2019 UFC debut a nice surprise, as he mostly took Nad Narimani apart on the feet. Those gains did not lead much of anywhere in his next bouts. Grundy leaned on his wrestling in a losing battle against elite prospect Movsar Evloev, then did much the same in a more disappointing loss against Lando Vannata. It is good to see that Grundy has put in the striking work as a fallback, but when it comes to a winning performance, it seems like he has to take much the same path as Amirkhani, focusing on taking his opponents to the mat and overcoming some gas tank issues in the process. The beginning parts of this fight should be legitimately interesting, assuming one of these two looks to take this to the ground, but it is hard to favor Amirkhani over the long haul if he does not find an early submission. While Grundy does obviously fade over the course of his fights, Amirkhani flags much worse, even in a winning performance up to the point that his gas tank betrays him. Even if Grundy has to stage a comeback, he should be able to take this over easily by the final frame. The pick is Grundy via third-round submission.

Continue Reading » Pavlovich vs. Abdurakhimov
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