The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will make its long-awaited debut in the Philippines this Saturday when “UFC Fight Night 66” takes place inside Pasay’s Mall of Asia Arena.
The historic event is headlined by a key featherweight fight featuring former UFC lightweight champion Frankie “The Answer” Edgar (18-4-1 MMA) taking on former WEC featherweight title holder Urijah “The California Kid” Faber (32-7 MMA).
BJPENN.com’s Chris Taylor recently sat down with UFC and PRIDE veteran Phil “NYBA” Baroni to discuss this weekend’s main card bouts.
Here are their predictions for the final three bouts of the evening:
Middleweight: Mark Munoz vs. Luke Barnatt
Taylor: Mark Munoz has already announced that this will be the final fight of his mixed martial arts career. “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” is looking to go out on a high-note, this after losing his last three bouts via first-round finishes.
Mark’s opponent, Josh Barnatt, will also be looking to rebound, having dropped his past 2 fights via judges split-decision.
Mark Munoz should have a distinct advantage in the wrestling department when he locks horns with Barnatt this Saturday.
I think that Munoz will have a solid opening round and use his strong wrestling base to frustrate Barnatt on the canvas.
But in round two or three I believe the tide will change. I think Barnatt will have more gas in the tank and be able to fight off Mark’s takedown attempts and use that momentum to get his striking going on route to a TKO victory.
Prediction: Luke Barnatt wins via third-round TKO
Baroni: In my opinion, the Mark Munoz vs. Luke Barnatt fight will be decided by how much of Munoz is already retired. If Mark is more than 25% mentally retired then Barnatt has a shot.
Your head has to be right in the sport to find success. You can’t have one foot out the door going in to a fight. That’s just a recipe for disaster.
Munoz has NCAA wrestling to his credit and was once a top-ranked middleweight fighter. He knows how to win, and that “know how” will put him over here against Barnatt.
Prediction: Mark Munoz wins via decision
Middleweight: Gegard Mousasi vs. Costas Philippou
Taylor: Gegard Mousasi has gone 3-2 since joining the UFC ranks in April of 2013. The former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion is coming off a first-round TKO victory over MMA legend Dan Henderson.
“The Dreamcatcher” now meets Costas Philippou, who has also gone 3-2 in his past five octagon appearances, his latest being a first-round KO victory over Lorenz Larkin.
Philippou hits very hard, but I believe Mousasi has the more technical striking. Gegard also has the better ground game of the two and I believe that is where he will look to take this fight.
I expect Mousasi will stand and trade with Philippou in the fights opening round before eventually taking the fight to the canvas in round two.
Once “The Dreamcatcher” has Costas on the ground, I think it will be game over.
Prediction: Gegard Mousasi wins via second-round submission
Baroni: I remember seeing a young and green Gegard Mousasi in 2005 in Tokyo, Japan. All of the best middleweights in the world were there to crown the Bushido Grand Prix’s first ever Welterweight Champion.
My point is that tournament was a long time ago, so it’s safe to say that Mousasi is not young and green anymore.
His opponent, Costas Philippou, is not a baby either and has aligned himself with Keith Trimble, who was my coach and corner for my first big MMA fight at UFC 30.
Kimble flies under the radar, but he is a super experienced trainer with a lot of knowledge. Put it this way, he is experienced enough to take a Long Island kid named Chris Algerie all the way to standing across the ring from Manny Pacquiao.
If the Mousasi vs. Philippou fight turns out to be a striking contest, it will be Bellmore’s Strong Island style boxing against Mousasi’s Dutch Golden Glory style kickboxing.
Although I rarely pick against Bellmore Kickboxing Academy fighters, I guess I’m going to have to pick a winner here ain’t I? Well, as bad as I want to pick the upset… I won’t.
Gegard is the favorite in my book, although I think Costas hits hard and has a real punchers chance. Philippou is a legit live dog and he has my old coach, so I can’t count him out.
With that said, I believe that Mousasi is more experienced and has a better ground game and that will be the deciding factor here.
Prediction: Gegard Mousasi wins via third-round submission
Featherweight: Frankie Edgar vs. Urijah Faber
Taylor: This bout could be MMA’s version of the “Thrilla in Manila”. Both Edgar and Faber are former champions who showcase an extremely well-rounded fight game.
Frankie Edgar enters the bout on a three-fight win streak, which includes stoppage wins over former UFC champion B.J. Penn and perennial featherweight contender Cub Swanson.
Meanwhile, former WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber has won two straight fights, his latest effort being a submission win over Francisco Rivera at December’s UFC 181 event.
It will be interesting to see Edgar fight an opponent with as much (if not more) speed than he himself possesses.
Both men have incredible endurance and are as tough as nails, so I expect this fight to last the better portion of five-rounds.
In the end, I believe Frankie’s striking and footwork will be the difference in a close fight that goes to the judge’s score cards.
Prediction: Frankie Edgar wins via unanimous decision
Baroni: I think Edgar is going to take this one. Although I don’t think BJ was at his best in their third fight, Edgar still handled him and made it look easy. Do you think Faber would have been able to do that to BJ Penn? I don’t.
Faber is going to be a game opponent for sure. He’s tough and the former WEC champion always shows up pumped and ready.
I just think Edgar is a little faster at this point than Faber. Frankie fought Aldo to a very close judge’s decision and we all saw what Aldo did to “The California Kid”.
Although MMA math doesn’t always add up… 1+1 does equal 2 here.
Prediction: Frankie Edgar wins via unanimous decision
Do you agree with the picks made by the “New York Bad Ass” and our staff writer Chris Taylor? Let us know by leaving your picks in the comments section.
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