For the primary time in two years, the UFC returns to Scotland this weekend with a welterweight headliner that includes two of the perfect on the earth in the primary occasion, in addition to an area favourite returning house to face top-of-the-line up and coming prospects within the ladies’s strawweight division.

Submission specialist Gunnar Nelson will look to construct on his present two-struggle win streak as he faces harmful striker Santiago Ponzinibbio in the primary occasion. Nelson has seemed excellent in his final two fights, however Ponzinibbio packs a critical punch and can undoubtedly look to interrupt into the highest 10 with a win on Sunday.

Within the co-important occasion, Scotland’s personal Joanne Calderwood returns residence to face rising star Cynthia Calvillo, who has appeared spectacular in her first two fights contained in the Octagon. Calvillo made fairly a splash together with her arrival this yr, however she’s taking a determined step up in competitors by dealing with Calderwood.

In right now’s fantasy preview, we’ll look at these fights and a number of other extra to see who has the sting going into these tight matchups, in addition to any upsets that could be brewing at UFC Battle Night time: Nelson vs. Ponzinibbio.

SPLIT DECISION

These are the fights which might be simply too near name, however a number of minor variations between favourite and underdog could lead on one fighter to victory and the opposite to defeat.

Gunnar Nelson vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio

In a basic matchup pitting grappler towards striker, Gunnar Nelson will look to proceed his stand up the welterweight rankings whereas dealing with one of the crucial harmful strikers within the division in Santiago Ponzinibbio.

Throughout his current 4-battle win streak, Ponzinibbio has seemed higher than ever whereas incomes two knockout finishes after which additionally choosing up choice victories towards two very robust opponents in Zak Cummings and Nordine Taleb. Ponzinibbio shouldn’t be solely a strong knockout artist, however he is additionally very technically proficient as nicely. The Argentina native lands over 4 vital strikes per minute whereas additionally showcasing very robust protection on the ft. Ponzinibbio has additionally displayed strong takedown protection all through his UFC profession, which will certainly come in useful whereas dealing with a floor specialist like Nelson.

In fact, Nelson is greatest recognized for his suffocating submission recreation, the place he is one of the deadly grapplers within the sport. A black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu underneath famed teacher Renzo Gracie, Nelson is a supreme grappler with a lot better takedowns than you may anticipate. Nelson has taken down opponents with almost sixty three % accuracy, which suggests he not often takes unwell-suggested photographs and as an alternative solely swoops in to take the struggle to the bottom when he is aware of he has an ideal opening. Recently, Nelson has additionally labored tirelessly on enhancing his hanging recreation, as evidenced in his current struggle with Alan Jouban. Nelson will all the time have a prime notch grappling recreation, however the means to face and commerce with an opponent is a large asset as he seems to be to face the highest welterweights on the earth, who all have large takedown protection.

Contemplating that Nelson has seemed extra snug on his ft recently, he might attempt to check himself putting with Ponzinibbio early however that is a harmful recreation to play. Ponzinibbio is quick, correct and really highly effective, and he will not waste a single punch whereas trying to earn his fifth straight victory. Ponzinibbio may have the higher putting general, but when Nelson can use his punches to arrange the takedown, that is when he has the perfect probability to wrap up a victory on this battle. Nelson’s capacity to place strain on Ponzinibbio on the ft earlier than dragging the battle to the bottom can be a key in wrapping up one other submission win as he seems to be to make a robust assertion in the primary occasion.

Do not low cost Ponzinibbio making this a struggle, particularly if he can drag this into the deep a part of the third spherical and past because it will get harder and harder to use a robust submission recreation on the bottom. Nonetheless, Nelson stays the decide as a result of he has extra methods to win, particularly if he can get Ponzinibbio to the mat early within the battle.

Prediction: Gunnar Nelson by submission, Spherical 2

Joanne Calderwood vs. Cynthia Calvillo

Joanne Calderwood will look to thrill her hometown crowd when she fights in Scotland for the second time since becoming a member of the UFC roster as she faces off with an actual rising star in Group Alpha Male fighter Cynthia Calvillo.

Calvillo burst on the scene earlier this yr with a final minute struggle the place she put away former Final Fighter finalist Amanda Cooper earlier than returning a month later to do the identical factor to newcomer Pearl Gonzalez. Calvillo appears to have all of the instruments to be a drive of nature within the ladies’s strawweight division, however she will certainly face her stiffest check up to now when taking over Calderwood this weekend.

Calderwood is a basic striker with knockout energy in her arms, a technical kickboxing assault and a ton of harmful kicks in her arsenal as properly. Calderwood is likely one of the most explosive fighters at one hundred fifteen kilos, as she will simply as simply outpoint an opponent as she will uncork a spotlight reel end. Calderwood additionally lands with unimaginable quantity at slightly below seven vital strikes per minute with insane fifty four % accuracy. Meaning Calderwood shouldn’t be solely extraordinarily lively on the ft, however she not often misses her goal. Now if there’s been one knock on Calderwood throughout her run within the UFC, it has been her submission protection, and that is precisely what Calvillo will look to take advantage of.

Calvillo is a slick submission specialist with a really harmful floor recreation from the highest or backside. Calvillo could be very aggressive as nicely, which suggests she will not cease fishing for a submission as soon as she will get the struggle on the bottom. Calvillo has averaged slightly below two takedowns per battle with one hundred pc accuracy by means of her first pair of bouts within the UFC. She’ll look to maintain that streak alive when she faces Calderwood as a result of Calvillo has to know her greatest course to victory is by taking this struggle to the bottom.

Meaning the important thing for Calderwood is making use of her putting recreation with out exposing herself to the takedown. Calderwood could be very robust and she or he’ll have a measurement benefit on this struggle as properly, so she wants to make use of that to maintain Calvillo away from her legs. Calvillo may even attempt one thing unorthodox like pulling guard to get Calderwood into her world on the mat. If Calderwood can resist these takedowns or battle her means again to the ft if the battle hits the bottom, she has a terrific alternative to land a better quantity of strikes to earn the win in her residence nation. Calderwood all the time appears to get drawn into an thrilling battle, so do not blink when this one begins, however the Scottish strawweight ought to have sufficient in her arsenal to tug off the choice win.

Prediction: Joanne Calderwood by unanimous determination

Stevie Ray vs. Paul Felder

Anticipate fireworks on this light-weight matchup between Stevie Ray and Paul Felder that would simply steal the present because the Battle of the Night time.

Ray is a Scotland native, so he’ll undoubtedly have the gang on his aspect when he returns residence on Sunday. Ray is a really nicely rounded fighter who tends to lean on his hanging extraLAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 03: Paul Felder celebrates his win over <a href='../fighter/Danny-Castillo'>Danny Castillo</a> in their lightweight bout during the UFC 182 event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 3, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC) than his grappling, though he has loads of submission wins on his document. Ray has earned a pair knockouts within the UFC as nicely, however he is additionally properly versed at outpointing his opponents as he did in fights towards Ross Pearson and Joe Lauzon. Ray has additionally showcased very robust protection whereas standing and he truly absorbs one much less strike per minute than his opponent on this struggle.

In fact, Felder has proven unimaginable toughness and sturdiness throughout his UFC profession whereas additionally displaying jaw-dropping shows of method and explosive finishes as nicely. Felder is a really robust fighter for one hundred fifty five kilos, with an extended attain and nice energy. Felder can also be sometimes very aggressive together with his offensive assaults, which ought to be an asset for him towards Ray, as he’ll look to set the tempo and push the Scottish light-weight across the Octagon. Felder is at his greatest when he is capable of arrange his punches after which unleash the type of hellish energy that is earned him knockout wins over names similar to Danny Castillo and Alessandro Ricci.

On this battle, Felder should use his signature aggression to place Ray on the defensive whereas he unloads on mixtures with punches and kicks. Felder is a nasty striker with loads of pop in his punches, however he cannot danger getting sloppy or Ray will completely make him pay for it. Ray is aware of easy methods to eke out an in depth determination, so Felder cannot afford to make many errors or he’ll depart Scotland with one other loss on his report. Nonetheless, if Felder can get snug together with his hanging assaults and maybe even combine in a takedown or two, he ought to stroll out of enemy territory with a win.

Prediction: Paul Felder by unanimous choice

KNOCKOUT PICKS

These are the fights that look like a bit extra one-sided, however keep in mind that that is MMA, the place something can – and often does – occur.

Danny Roberts vs. Bobby Nash

One other enjoyable matchup happening within the welterweight division pits England’s personal Danny Roberts towards American slugger Bobby Nash.

Nash fell brief in his UFC debut, however he is all the time trying to swing for the fences and that will not probably change this weekend. Nash has earned 4 knockout victories in his previous 5 wins so there’s little doubt that he will be head searching when he steps into the Octagon towards Roberts.

Roberts simply went by means of an identical firefight in his final outing towards harmful striker Mike Perry. He got here up on the brief finish that night time, however Roberts stays a troublesome out for anybody at one hundred seventy kilos and he ought to have the ability to get again on monitor with this struggle. Roberts has excellent hanging, the place he lands at a barely greater fee than Nash with higher accuracy as nicely. Roberts additionally has a properly-versed floor recreation that would develop into an element if he will get locked up in a scramble with Nash once they lock horns.

Whereas Nash has the sort of energy that would shift the momentum in his favor, Roberts has extra expertise and a number of other alternative ways he might end this struggle together with a knockout of his personal, which makes him the chances on favourite to tug it off in the long run.

Prediction: Danny Roberts by TKO, Spherical three

Associated: Learn – On The Rise: Glasgow Version

Paul Craig vs. Khalil Rountree Jr.

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 03:  Paul Craig of Scotland waits backstage during the UFC 209 weigh-in at T-Mobile arena on March 3, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC)Paul Craig will look to get again on monitor when he returns to motion this weekend towards former Final Fighter competitor Khalil Rountree Jr. Craig made fairly the debut contained in the Octagon however then bumped into an Australian wrecking machine named Tyson Pedro his final day trip. Craig should watch out to not endure the identical destiny on this struggle as a result of Rountree packs a critical punch and shall be in search of the knockout.

Rountree has unimaginable stopping energy together with his punches and if he can land a mixture early on Craig, he might simply depart Scotland with one other knockout on his document. Rountree has labored quite a bit on his floor recreation after falling to Andrew Sanchez in The Final Fighter Finale in addition to being submitted by Pedro late final yr. Rountree should exhibit his takedown protection towards Craig, who will virtually assuredly look to take this struggle to the mat.

Craig is a really tall mild heavyweight with an extended attain than Rountree, but when he is sensible he’ll use his strikes to arrange the takedown towards a shorter opponent. Craig is not one of the best wrestler within the UFC however he is excellent within the clinch and that is the place he’ll not solely look to negate Rountree’s energy however then work from that place to tug this battle to the bottom. From there, Craig will begin looking for submissions, the place he is presently averaging over 4 makes an attempt per battle within the UFC. Craig needs to be cautious to not get with an enormous highly effective shot from Rountree, but when he can swoop inside and get this struggle to the bottom, he ought to be capable of ultimately wrap up one other submission win.

Prediction: Paul Craig by submission, Spherical 2

Leslie Smith vs. Amanda Lemos

Leslie Smith returns this weekend as she seems to construct upon her current win over Irene Aldana when she takes on Octagon newcomer Amanda Lemos.

Lemos is a strong prospect with an ideal 6-zero-1 report with 5 finishes coming by means of knockout. She’s been spectacular in the course of the early a part of her profession, however Lemos is certainly taking a determined step up in competitors by dealing with Smith. Lemos is harmful and she or he might shock the world with one other knockout added to her document, however she’s definitely preventing an uphill battle.

Smith is as robust and sturdy as they arrive within the ladies’s bantamweight division and she or he additionally showcases very excessive-degree kickboxing on the ft. Smith lands with nice energy however could be very technical on the similar time. Not solely will Smith have the expertise edge, however she is going to take pleasure in an enormous 5-inch peak benefit on this battle so she can be towering over Lemos once they step into the Octagon collectively. That bodes properly for Smith, who likes to unleash highly effective photographs from the surface and that is precisely what she’ll look to do whereas punishing Lemos throughout each change.

Smith has no drawback getting right into a slugfest, so she needs to be cautious to not get caught in a wild change with Lemos, however as every minute passes it ought to grow to be extra evident that she’s only a bit an excessive amount of for the UFC rookie.

Prediction: Leslie Smith by TKO, Spherical three

UPSET SPECIAL

Neil Seery vs. Alexandre Pantoja

On paper, prime 15-ranked flyweight Alexandre Pantoja ought to be favored to safe a victory this weekend as he takes on grizzled veteran Neil Seery.

Pantoja is a prime-notch prospect who might be knocking on the door on the prime 10 within the division sooner somewhat than later. Regardless of a slight setback throughout his time on The Final Fighter season 24, Pantoja returned to type with a win over his former housemate Eric Shelton whereas sending discover that a new flyweight contender has arrived. Pantoja is a excessive-degree submission specialist, however he is additionally developed a really robust putting arsenal that he is not afraid to make use of. Pantoja will present no worry throwing palms with Seery, however he’ll definitely take benefit if the battle occurs to hit the bottom.

That being stated, Seery stays a strong upset decide as a result of this robust-as-nails Irishman by no means exhibits worry within the face of adversity. Seery could be very nicely rounded, however his greatest attribute is his capacity to take a nasty state of affairs and switch it round in his personal favor. Seery is harmful within the scrambles and that is the place he’ll look to benefit from any errors Pantoja may make on this battle. In fact, Seery can unwell afford to permit Pantoja to determine his hanging or floor recreation early or he might not have the ability to scramble again for a victory.

But when Seery can frustrate Pantoja together with his robust boxing recreation whereas resisting the takedowns, he might drag the younger Brazilian fighter into deep waters. That is the place Seery lives and breathes as a result of he is not going to sometimes win with a spotlight reel end. As an alternative, Seery likes to out work and out grind his opponents and that is what he might do once more this weekend to tug off the upset over a prime 15 fighter like Pantoja. Seery not often makes something look fairly however that is why he is an absolute grasp at profitable an unsightly battle. If he can do this towards Pantoja, Seery could be leaving Scotland with one other win on his report.

Prediction: Neil Seery by cut up choice.