By Lance LeVan
UFC Fight Night 39 is being held in Abu Dhabi on Friday, April 11th. In my opinion, three of the fighters in the top 2 matches are on the proverbial “chopping block”. These three fighters are getting a little older, they are not winning fights like they should anymore and I think Dana White is whispering to these guys that UFN 39 is “do-or-die” for them. I am willing to bet that within minutes of Dana cancelling their contract with the UFC, other certain organizations will be offering them a contract.
(#11) Antonio “Minotauro” Nogueira (34-8-1, 1 NC) vs. (#9) Roy “Big Country” Nelson (20-9-0)
This is going to be a five round heavyweight fight between two (2) fairly old guys. Both of these guys are pushing 40 (37)…and it is going to be a messy fight. I think both of these fighters are in jeopardy of having their contracts voided by Dana White. Neither of them have had a winning streak in quite some time. It’s now or never for these warriors. Both of these fighters like to stand and trade punches and both of them can take a tremendous amount of punishment. What I find strange is that they are both very technical Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighters but yet, they both like to stand and trade punches. Both of these guys also like to get their opponent on the ground and inflict loads of damage via “ground-and-pound”. I think this fight is going to come down to who has more “heart”. Both of them are going to inflict lots of damage on the other one…but the one who can keep getting up and coming forward through all of the abuse, is the one who is going to win. When it’s all said and done, there are VERY few people in the world who have more heart than the Nogueira brothers. My prediction: Nogueira wins by TKO in the fourth round.
(#9) Clay “The Carpenter” Guida (30-11-0) vs. (#12) Tatsuya “The Crusher” Kawajiri (33-7-2)
When you look at these two fighters on paper, this is another fight that is a very very close match up. Guida is a wrestler/brawler, Kawajiri is a kickboxer. Both of these guys are strikers and they like to throw punches-in-bunches. Guida is known for his relentless pressure and never-ending stamina. Guida is the third fighter of the night that, in my opinion, needs to win this fight in spectacular fashion to keep his job. Rumor has it that recently, Guida has changed his entire fight-style from a buzz-saw predator…to a much more cautious style of fighting. This will NOT sit well with his fans…nor with UFC brass. He needs to come out swinging and trying to destroy Kawajiri. Kawajiri needs to hurt Guida early and not try to out-last him in the later rounds. Kawajiri is dangerous, but I’m not sure he has the same “gas tank” as Clay. I am a “Clay Guida Fan”…so I am expecting a win. My prediction: Guida wins via TKO in the third.
John “Doomsday” Howard (22-8-0) vs. Ryan LaFlare (10-0-0)
This is a welterweight fight of two fighters that are largely unknown. Howard has nine fights in the UFC and LaFlare has three. Both guys have very heavy hands and both of these guys have beaten some very impressive opponents. Howard beat Uriah Hall back in August 2013 and LaFlare beat Cort McGee in December 2013. Both of these fighters are on a winning streak….Howard has four in a row and LaFlare has an impressive 10-0 record. Almost half of their fights are KO/TKO fights…so they are going to be throwing a LOT of hard punches. You are not likely to see either of these fighters sitting back and stalling. Both of them are going to want to show the UFC that they belong on the roster. When you look at both of them on paper…LaFlare has the advantage. He is taller with a longer reach, he lands more punches per minute, and his overall defense seems to be more defined. My prediction: LaFlare wins via TKO in the second round.