Top 15 ranked strawweights Paige VanZant and Michelle Waterson are scheduled for a five-round war this Saturday at UFC Fight Night from Sacramento.
Eighth-ranked VanZant is coming off a head-kick knockout of Bec Rawlins back in August while Waterson returns to the Octagon after more than a year on the sidelines due to injuries.
In the co-main event, budding stars Sage Northcutt and Mickey Gall throw down, while future Hall of Famer Urijah Faber takes on his farewell fight against Brad Pickett.
Let’s take a look at how some of these action-packed fights might play out on fight night.
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Paige VanZant vs. Michelle Waterson
Paige VanZant has been impressive in her five-fight UFC career, but she’ll be facing arguably her toughest test to date in 12th-ranked Michelle Waterson.
Waterson, a former Invicta FC atomweight champion, is very well-rounded, and while we’ve only seen her once in the Octagon, she has a wealth of experience under her belt
Waterson likely holds the striking and grappling edge in this matchup. VanZant, however, will have a significant reach advantage and showed exceptional footwork in her last bout, which should help her avoid some of Waterson distance-closing blitzes.
Prediction: Michelle Waterson by third-round submission
Zuffa LLC via Getty ImagesBrandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC
Sage Northcutt vs. Mickey Gall
Like VanZant, Mickey Gall will be facing his toughest UFC competition yet in opponent Sage Northcutt.
Gall fought fellow UFC newcomer Mike Jackson in his debut and MMA rookie CM Punk in his second fight. He dispatched them both in the first round, but he’s going to have to work much harder against Northcutt.
Northcutt is a freak athlete with way more martial arts experience than the average 20-year-old fighter. He’s very meticulous with his striking while avoiding significant damage as well. And though he tapped out quickly in his fight against Bryan Barberena, be put the “soft” rumors to rest when he fought through a ridiculous deep choke in his last fight, only to go on and score a decision.
We haven’t seen much of Gall, thanks to his blistering fast finishes, but by all accounts, he is an incredibly talented prospect with exceptional grappling and heavy hands.
Saturday should give fans an opportunity to see exactly what both those young fighters are made of.
Prediction: Sage Northcutt by decision
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY SportsTroy Taormina
Urijah Faber vs. Brad Pickett
Urijah Faber makes his final walk to the Octagon on Saturday when he faces bantamweight Brad Pickett.
Faber will fight in front of a hometown crowd for his 44th professional fight and he hopes to walk away with the win over the always game Pickett. “The California Kid” has declined a bit from the form that helped him challenge for the UFC and WEC titles multiple times but it still talented enough to get a much-needed win.
The threat for a submission is still there and while the hands might not be as heavy, he can still tag unsusceptible opponents.
Pickett, however, has won just once in his last five fights and has slowed down considerable over the years. If he can get a win over Faber, it’ll certainly boost his career, but we aren’t betting on it.
Prediction: Urijah Faber by second-round TKO
Alan Jouban vs. Mike Perry
Aggressive welterweights Alan Jouban and Mike Perry are slated to throw down in a bout that has Fight of the Night written all over it.
Jouban and Perry are relentless, blitzing strikers who look for the kill-shot from the opening bell. Both fighters land over double the UFC average for strikes landed per minute (2.5) while allowing opponents to land less than 40 percent of the strikes thrown their way.
This fight will likely be a war of attrition and whoever lands the biggest, best punch (or kick) first will likely walk away with the win. This one probably isn’t going to the judges though.