The UFC returns to action for a rare Friday show this week, featuring a card ravaged by injury. We’ve got our picks in regardless — check them out below.
UFC Saitama was set to feature a rematch between Pride legend and former UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua taking on Ovince Saint Preux. Instead, thanks to an injury to Shogun, Yushin Okami, most recently fighting for the PFL, has returned to the UFC fold to step up on short notice against OSP.
The injury bug didn’t stop there. After a disastrous weigh-in, Mizuto Hirota has been pulled from the UFC Fight Night 117 card. Hirota, who missed weight badly for the event and looked wobbly while stepping off the scale, was deemed unfit to compete sometime after Thursday’s weigh-in.
In a statement, the UFC said that “due to health and safety concerns, the UFC featherweight bout Hirota vs. Rosa at UFC Fight Night Japan: Saint Preux vs. Okami has been cancelled, as Hirota was deemed unfit to compete by the UFC medical team.”
As a result, a flyweight battle between Jussier Formiga and Ulka Sasaki moves to the main card. With the last minute nature of the change, our writers will pick just five fights for Friday’s main card. Coming off a week where every single staff member went 5-1 for UFC Pittsburgh, can we keep the ball rolling here? Lets find out!
|Teruto Ishihara vs. Rolando Dy||Gökhan Saki vs. Henrique da Silva||Takanori Gomi vs. Dong Hyun Kim||Cláudia Gadelha vs. Jéssica Andrade||Ovince Saint Preux vs. Yushin Okami|
|Heath Harshman (56-31)|
|Paarth Pande (49-32)|
|Dan Doherty (51-36)|
|Harry Davies (50-37)|
|Gabriel Gonzalez (9-7)|
|Mike McClory (41-32)|
|Jay Anderson (47-40)|
|Eddie Law (44-43)|
Among the five fights predicted were two unanimous selections by our staff. Shockingly, neither was the main event, despite Yushin Okami stepping up on very short notice to face the always dangerous Ovince Saint Preux. OSP is the only fighter to hold two Von Flue choke submissions in the UFC, and earned some praise for his showing against former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones last year. That fight, however, set off a three-fight skid that was only corrected in his last fight, which saw Saint Preux secure his second Von Flue choke submission against Marcos Rogério de Lima.
With only one staff member siding with Okami, however, OSP remains the safest bet. As does Claudia Gadelha in the co-main event, at least according to our staff. Every single writer responding expects her to get the nod over opponent Jessica Andrade. With both having contended for the UFC strawweight championship, this could be a close bout.
The other unanimous selection on the card went to Teruto Ishihara. Every single writer expects him to get the win over Rolando Dy.
In a highly anticipated UFC debut, all but two of our staff members expect Gokhan Saki to be victorious Friday night against Henrique da Silva. Saki, a decorated kickboxer, has not fought in a few years, however, so ring rust could very well be a factor here.
Check back with Cageside Press throughout the night for full coverage of the event!