Kevin “The Motown Phenom” Lee (17-3) vs “Raging” Al Iaquinta (13-4-1)
Michigan’s Kevin Lee is looking to get his quest for UFC gold back on track by avenging his debut loss to “Raging” Al. Lee is coming into the bout with Al, off the back of an impressive win over Edson Barboza (19-5), a bout in which Lee overcame some adversity to pick up a finish via doctors’ stoppage deep into the fifth round.
Long Island’s own, Al Iaquinta will be looking to prove his worth at the top of the division after his loss to Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov (27-0) back in April at UFC 223, where he took the fight at short notice for the Lightweight strap. Since then Al has been linked with a bout against Justin Gaethje (19-2), although Al never signed the bout agreement due to some disputes with the UFC.
The lightweight division is still at an uncertain crossroads in regard to how it will move forward. Nurmagomedov’s immediate future is unknown until he is given his suspension for his actions after the fight at UFC 229 vs Conor McGregor (21-4). In addition to this current featherweight champ Max Holloway (20-3) could be headed to the lightweight division following his jaw-dropping performance against the previously unbeaten Brian Ortega (14-1) this past weekend at UFC 231 in Toronto not to mention Tony Ferguson (24-3) who is on an eleven fight win-streak and Dustin Poirier (24-5), who can also be added to the growing list of contenders.
Kevin is likely to try and wrestle with Al, who showed his wrestling game was an Achilles heel of sorts in the Khabib fight. Although Kevin has found himself on the end of big strikes in many of his previous bouts so should look to avoid the hands of Al and to not underestimate him. Kevin likes to push the pace and likes a finish, but Al has only been finished once, via submission, since 2012.
My Pick: Kevin Lee via Unanimous Decision.
Edson “Junior” Barboza (19-5) vs Dan “The Hangman” Hooker (18-7)
Brazillian legend Barboza meets the red-hot Kiwi Hooker in this outstanding co-main event. The Hangman has been tearing through his opponents since his move to lightweight with 4 consecutive ruthless finishes against top-class opposition. A win over Barboza would propel him through the rankings and put him in the right end of a stacked division.
Although Barboza is riding a two-fight losing streak after defeats to Nurmagomedov and Kevin Lee, he is not a fighter to look past. His superb Muay Thai skills have seen him score some unbelievable knockouts and put many fighters in danger. Hooker might want to make a statement with a finish over Barboza but he should be very wary of Barboza’s offence.
I expect Hooker to push the pace and try to keep Barboza on his bike, neutralising most of his kicks and try to score an early finish. Barboza needs to keep his distance and make his shots count when he gets chance to open up.
My Pick: Dan Hooker via Unanimous Decision.
Other notable fights on the card:
Charles “do Bronx” Oliveira (24-8) vs Jim “A-10” Miller (29-12)
The always exciting Oliveira meets veteran Miller in what should be an intriguing Jiu Jitsu battle. It is a genuine pick em and I’m going for Oliveria via 2nd Round Submission.
Juan “The Kraken” Adams (4-0) vs Chris De La Rocha (5-2)
DWTNCS product Juan Adams finally gets his wish of a debut UFC bout where he faces De La Rocha. Juan wants to make a statement of intent to start his UFC tenure but De La Rocha is coming into the bout from an impressive TKO win over Rashad Coulter. My pick Juan Adams 1st Round KO.