The UFC returns to action Saturday with UFC on Fuel TV 2 at the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden. The main card, which features a light heavyweight main event of Alexander Gustafsson vs. Thiago Silva and a middleweight co-feature between Brian Stann and Alessio Sakara, airs at 3 p.m. ET/noon PT.
Here's part one of YCN's look at the main card. Part two will be posted Friday:
Featherweights: Dennis Siver (19-8) vs. Diego Nunes (17-2)
Fighters go up or down in weight classes for all sorts of reasons, but Siver's drop to featherweight seems one of the more curious such decisions. From 2009 on, the German kickboxer was 7-2 in the UFC at 155 pounds, and after four consecutive wins in 2010-11, he seemed on the verge of a breakthrough.
But after a quick loss to Donald Cerrone in October, Siver decided to make the move to featherweight. In his first fight at 145 pounds, Siver has an intriguing style matchup in Diego Nunes. Nunes is a well-rounded, well-conditioned fighter who doesn't have any one particular standout area. He's gone the distance in each of his past eight fights and has yet to be finished in his career. His past two fights have been against former lightweights, with a win over Manny Gamburyan and a loss to Kenny Florian. Will Siver have any issues making 145 for the first time, and will he be able to dictate the pace and direction of the bout against a patient fighter? Those factors will likely determine how this one goes.
Welterweights: DaMarques Johnson (15-9) vs. John Maguire (19-3)
This matchup pits one fighter, Johnson, who is known for uneven performances in the Octagon, against another, Maguire, who is an unproven UFC commodity. Maguire, who trains out of London, wore down Justin Edwards for a unanimous decision win in his UFC debut at UFC 138 in November, his sixth consecutive victory. Johnson, meanwhile, has a mixed bag of results since losing to James Wilks in the "Ultimate Fighter 9" finals: He's capable of strong finishes, such as when he finished Brad Blackburn with a body kick at UFC 112 or when he took out Michael Guymon with a body triangle in a fight last year.
But Johnson also has a questionable gas tank -- only one of his nine career losses has gone the distance -- and he has faded before being finished by the likes of Matt Riddle and Amir Sadollah.
It's hard to get a full read on Maguire since so many of his bouts have come on smaller U.K. shows -- two of his three losses came when he stepped up to BAMMA, the largest current British organization -- but given that he's reached the third round in seven of his past 10 fights, his conditioning doesn't seem to be an issue.
Bantamweights: Damacio Page (15-6) vs. Brad Pickett (20-6).
Page, a Jackson's MMA fighter nicknamed "The Angel of Death," has impressive striking power for a bantamweight. Just ask Marcus Galvao, who was out of action for a year and a half after Page served him up one of the most brutal KOs in Zuffa history back at WEC 39. But Page is also prone to wildness, which often leads to fight-changing mistakes, and he's been hampered by injuries in recent years.
"One Punch" Pickett, as his nickname suggests, isn't afraid to stand and trade, either, but he boasts a more well-rounded game and a variety of finishing methods. This is one of those "winner stays relevant in the division" sort of fights: Pickett has dropped two out of his last three matches; Page, who has been out more than a year due to a neck injury, dropped his past two. While Page has a real puncher's chance at winning, as long as Pickett isn't goaded into fighting in Page's preferred style, he looks like the favorite.
- Dennis Siver