UFC Fight Night 110 will take place on Sunday morning in Aucklund, New Zealand, which will allow the main card to air live on FoxSports1 at 10pm ET on Saturday night in the United States. The card is headlined by a pair of the hardest hitters the sport has ever known, with some very interesting bouts leading up to the main event.
Alexander Volkanovski vs. Mizuto Hirota
The curtain jerker for the main card features one of the young prospects in the featherweight division against a more experienced fighter on his second trek through the UFC roster. Mizuto Hirota went 0-3 in his previous stint in Strikeforce/UFC and was released in 2013. However, he received a second chance with the Road to UFC: Japan tournament and earned a UFC contract with a draw in the finals against Teruto Ishihara. In his last fight, Hirota faced off against Cole Miller, utilizing six takedowns to gain a unanimous decision victory. Alexander Volkanovski enters this contest on an 11-fight winning streak, with finishes in ten of those fights. His UFC debut against Yusuke Kasuya saw him land three takedowns and outstrike his opponent 50-4 en route to a second round TKO. Volkanovski comes in with a youth advantage, a power advantage, and riding a big streak. I think he wins this with a TKO in the second round.
Tim Elliot vs Ben Nguyen
Tim Elliot is another fighter who flamed out in a previous run with the UFC only to earn his way back in, this time through the Ultimate Fighter. After winning the flyweight season of the show, Elliot was granted a title shot against Demetrious Johnson. Elliot put on an unexpectedly admirable performance against the champ, but had to watch as Mighty Mouse had his hand raised in a unanimous decision victory. Elliot went on to defeat Louis Smolka in his last outing via unanimous decision. Ben Nguyen is a volume striker who has scored exactly zero takedowns in his four UFC fights but does possess the ability to quickly regain his feet when taken down. Nguyen has won ten of his last eleven with his lone loss in that stretch coming via TKO to the aforementioned Smolka. I think Elliot’s wrestling is too strong for Nguyen, and I expect him to grind out a decision, or perhaps a late TKO, to vanquish his foe.
Luis Henrique da Silva vs. Ion Cutelaba
This fight offers an interesting clash of styles as we see da Silva, an amateur Brazilian kickboxing champion square off against Cutelaba, a European combat sambo champ and Greco-Roman wrestler. da Silva has lost his last two fights, while Cutelaba has lost two of his last three, so this may be a fight to see who gets cut and who gets to stick around in the UFC. Cutelaba landed six takedowns against Jarrod Cannonier in his last fight while da Silva has very poor takedown defense. The math doesn’t take long to add up here. I expect Cutelaba to take da Silva down and keep him there, earning a decision victory in the process.
Daniel Hooker vs. Ross Pearson
Ross Pearson has become a mainstay of the UFC’s lightweight division. This will be his 22nd fight under the promotion, and he is 11-10 in the previous 21, and his primary skill seems to be the ability to absorb massive amounts of punishment without breaking. Dan Hooker is 3-3 in the UFC, having won and lost in rotation since his debut. Both of these fighters are strikers without much of a ground game. I expect to see no takedown attempts unless one or the other feels utterly desperate with the situation on the feet. This is about as even a fight as you can get, and I expect it to go to a decision. As for who wins, that’s pretty much a coin flip. However, if forced to choose a winner, the fact that Daniel is fighting in his hometown and Pearson is on a three-fight skid makes me lean ever so slightly toward Hooker.
Derek Brunson vs. Daniel Kelly
In the co-main event, two-time All-American wrestler Derek Brunson will face four-time Olympic judoka Daniel Kelly. Brunson is 10-4 in the UFC, but all four of those losses have come to fighters in the top echelon of the middleweight division. Kelly is 13-1 as a pro with hs only loss being a KO to the very hard-hitting Sam Alvey. Both fighters are good strikers who prefer to land takedowns and do their damage from the top, when possible. Brunson has never been taken down in the Octagon, but judo takedowns are entirely different than anything that Brunson has yet encountered, so an interesting subplot to this fight will be whether Kelly can break that streak. Brunson has explosive power on the feet, a quality that cost Kelly his only defeat. This is a very interesting fight and will decide whether Kelly is ready to ascend to the top ten of one of the most stacked divisions in the UFC. Brunson serves as the gatekeeper to that position. Brunson winning will not really advance his career much, though it will prevent him from continuing to slide. A Kelly win would lead to a top ten ranking and a chance to try his hand against one of the guys in the title mix. I’m a little unsure on the prediction here, but I will take Brunson in a first-round KO.
Derrick Lewis vs. Mark Hunt
Aucklund native Mark Hunt will perform for the first time in the Octagon in front of his hometown against Derrick Lewis, the fast-rising knockout artist that is 18-4 as a pro with 15 KO/TKOs. Lewis is riding a six-fight winning streak, one of the longest in the heavyweight division at the moment. Mark Hunt lost his last fight against Alistair Overeem, and has made a lot of noise about so many of his recent opponents having been fighters that were drug cheats in the past. Mark said on The MMA Hour that he is happy to finally be fighting someone that he believes is clean, but I doubt he will be too happy with the outcome on Sunday. Lewis has a seven-inch reach advantage and can deliver some of the most devastating shots in the UFC. Hunt also has one-punch KO power, but Lewis has shown more ability than Hunt of late to take the big shots without succumbing. I think Lewis wins this via KO in the second round.