Preliminary Card Winners
Louis Gaudinot vs. Cariaso/Smolka winner – Gaudinot looked awesome, submitting Phil Harris in brutal and swift fashion and he now deserves a top 10 fighter. He suffered a setback against Timothy Elliott, but that is nothing to be ashamed of as Elliott is a tough fighter himself. Now I’d like to see Gaudinot step up in competition and fight the winner of the upcoming Cariaso vs. Smolka fight. Both fighters looked impressive in their last Octagon appearances, defeating Danny Martinez and Alpetkin Ozkillic respectively, and the winner of that fight will likely be ranked in the top 10 of the flyweight division. It’ll be interesting to see how Cariaso can do against the rangier Smolka, and equally as interesting how Gaudinot would do against either of them. One thing is for sure, Gaudinot showed he deserves a step-up in competition and bounced back from the Elliott loss emphatically.
Igor Araujo vs. Wang Anying – Araujo got the job done, but Mitchell made it tough work for the Brazilian. He’s now 2-0 in the UFC after his spell on TUF 16, and I would like to see him fight fellow TUF competitor Wang Anying, who recently won the TUF China season in controversial fashion. The decision was questionable to say the least, but Anying is an easy fighter to put on a card in Asia against a non-ranked fighter and he’ll attract some viewers. I wouldn’t expect Anying to win this fight as Araujo seems a step above the TUF winner, but I can’t see the UFC giving him a fighter who is coming off a loss, either. It’ll be interesting to see if Anying develops into a challenger at welterweight, but based off his performance at the finale I can’t see that happening.
Claudio Silva vs. Antonio Braga Neto – I really did not see Silva going on to win that third round after how gassed he was at the end of the first round and throughout the second, but somehow he gutted it out and won a decision. He looked very sloppy and if he lost that decision, there is no doubt in my mind that he would have been cut. But alas, he is still in the UFC and he’s 1-0 and I would like to see him put up against fellow Brazilian Antonio Braga Neto, who had the opposite debut to Silva. Neto looked brutal and looked like a real force to be reckoned with at middleweight, despatching a tough fighter in Anthony Smith early in the fight. Silva looked solid on the ground, but Neto is world class. Perhaps Octagon jitters and adrenaline dump were reasons for Silva’s lacklustre performance, only time will tell.
Luke Barnatt vs. Yoel Romero – Both fighters are 3-0 and are on a tear at middleweight. The powerful Romero vs. the rangy Barnatt seems like an intriguing battle, and I think this is the route the UFC should go down. Romero is now a ranked fighter at 185lbs, while Barnatt is both undefeated and very popular, making this a fighter that is pretty easy to market, especially in the UK. Barnatt certainly deserves a step-up in competition and he looks to have made some noticeable improvements and implements his range very well, but the power and tenacity of Romero could be more than a match for him. Romero has some serious knockout power and some of the best wrestling in the division, so it’ll be interesting to see how Barnatt can deal with the threats of the Cuban.
Ilir Latifi vs. Rafael Feijao – I was really impressed by Latifi and he was in significantly better shape than the Mousasi fight. There were noticeable differences between the Mousasi and Diabate performances, with the latter fighting after a full training camp. He submitted Diabate in brutal fashion and his strength is quite incredible to watch. The crazy thing is, now Latifi looks like he could actually do big things in the UFC, after being the butt of many jokes post-Mousasi. A good fight for the Swede is Rafael Feijao, who is coming off a win over Igor Pokrajac after his torrid debut against Thiago Silva. With both fighters coming back after losing their debuts, and both looking impressive in their last performances, matching the pair up makes all the sense in the world. Whether on a card in Sweden or Brazil, I think this fight has a lot of intriguing questions.