Ultimate Fight Night 16 Preview – Where do I belong?

By Nicholas Bailey (

The story of Ultimate Fight Night 16 is “where do I belong?” Every event has fighters asking themselves some variant of this question—am I a top contender?  Should I even be here?  Should I even be fighting anymore? However, from top to bottom this card is full of social climbers in the UFC hierarchy, as well as those who have fallen and are simply trying to hold on by their fingernails.

Josh Koscheck vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida

The word for Yoshida is ‘versatility’.  In case you’ve been living under a rock, Yoshida was a 170-lb standout in Japanese promotion Greatest Common Multiple (GCM)’s CAGE FORCE series of shows.  Cage force stands out in Japan because it promotes its fights in an octagon and generally uses the unified rules you’re used to seeing in the UFC.  Yoshida is very long (6’2″) for 170lbs, has a style well-developed for the cage, and wears a gangstered-out octagon medallion.  While it was certainly nice of him to dispatch War Machine so handily, the ALPHA MALE formerly known as Jon Koppenhaver isn’t the stiffest test in the world.  Luckily, Yoshida has talents even beyond the Judo and submission prowess that disarmed the Jim Rhodes wannabe.  Yoshida has excellent dirty boxing inside, and has servicable striking at range.

Koscheck is following one surprisingly irresponsible move (taking a fight against a top contender, while being a hair’s breadth from contention himself, on extremely short notice) with another—continuing to take this fight as planned, despite being pretty badly roughed up by Thiago Alves. If Kos comes in and just tries to body lock with Yoshida, he could double his misery by enduring another beating. Yoshida, despite his length, can really rough a fighter up when in a phonebooth with him, and his top game would be very bad news for Kos if Yoshida managed to toss him flat out. Kos’s kickboxing looked improved against Alves, and I don’t think Yoshida has enough of a grappling advantage to submit Josh from his guard, so Josh needs to either stay on the outside, where he’ll only have to worry about Yoshiyuki’s long jab, or get in deep on a leg and finish the takedown quickly. I think that Koscheck’s ground game hasn’t progressed much beyond the ‘wrestler’ phase, since he’s focused so much on simply improving his standup.

So then, we have the best kind of fight—one where both the competitors are extremely talented, in their athletic primes, posses an interesting variety of skills, and pose interesting style matchups for each other. This fight is properly the main event of the card. I think that Koscheck can limit the dangers Yoshida presents by controlling where the fight takes place, and that he won’t get caught in futile body locks like he did against Alves. I think Yoshida is just a little bit behind Kos in the development of his game, and it will show in this fight. Josh Koscheck by decision.

Jonathan Goulet vs. Mike Swick

Goulet is really the object lesson for the importance of having a good chin in MMA. All the skills are there, he trains hard, and he has a variety of offensive tools, as he reminded Kuniyoshi Hironaka recently. However, if you can put your hand on his chin in a vaguely solid manner, Goulet has all sorts of problems. It’s a bad sign when you hold the unofficial record for fastest knockout loss in UFC history (he face-planted from a jab 4 seconds into the Bang Ludwig fight, although it took the ref an additional 7 seconds to realize what had happened and stop the fight).

Swick came into the UFC guns a blazing, earning a cute nickname, his own video section on the UFC website, and general acclaim as the next big thing. When he realized that blowing up to fight at 185 was a problem when all his opponents were cutting down to the same weight, he made the cut down to a much more natural 170lbs, where he was expected to hit the ground running and immediately contend for a shot at the title. While Swick has been victorious at the weight, his performances have been more blue-collar than gold-belt, and this is the fight where Swick has to decide once and for all whether he really was the next big thing, or whether it was all hype. Lucky for Swick, his fast hands and Goulet’s trick chin go together like chocolate and peanut butter, with the over/under on number of Swick punches before Goulet is unconscious currently hovering in the high single digits. Goulet also has the power to knock Swick out, but Swick has so many advantages coming into this fight that he’s a virtual lock. Mike Swick via TKO round 1.

Razak Al-Hussan vs. Steve Cantwell

I’ve never seen Hussan fight, but his record really isn’t impressive. I never had a lot of faith in Brian Stann, so I don’t give Cantwell a lot of credit for putting him down. Cantwell is a run-of-the-mill 205lber in the shark tank Zuffa has assembled, but his skills are far more proven than Al-Hussan’s, so I expect Steve to earn another “W” here. Steve Cantwell by TKO round 1.

Tim Credeur vs. Nate Loughran

Tim Credeur is a likable guy. He seemed genial enough on his reality show appearances, and he certainly is well-rounded. However, he’s an old man for an MMA fighter, and if he hasn’t gotten anywhere by now, I don’t think he’s headed anywhere. In the most important fights so far of his career (his two chances at making it to the TUF finals) he came up short, unable to work enough offense off his back or flex enough of the rest of his game to find victory.

Nate Loughran is the next in a long list of undefeated but unproven young fighters the UFC has brought in, with an excellent and lethal submission game. It’s going to be very hard to submit Credeur, but if Loughran can sweep him and hold him, I think he has what it takes to win a closely-contested decision. On the other hand, Credeur has a workable standup game, so he could be comfortable if he could work a sprawl-and-brawl type strategy. However, Credeur let two other talented neophytes get the best of him, in C.B. Dolloway and Jesse Taylor, so I think that Loughran can find a way to overcome him, most likely by simply putting Tim on the defensive and making him give up rounds. Although it will be difficult to tap him Credeur out, Loughran has the kind of sudden submission game that could exploit an opening should Credeur gas out, or if his ADD acts up and he loses concentration. Nate Loughran by decision.

Jim Miller vs. Matt Wiman

Wiman is coming off the most impressive performance, by far, of his career—his inspired, some might say possesed, destruction of highly-touted Brazilian fighter Thiago Tavares. In that fight Wiman’s guard was excellent, threatening sweeps and submissions, and his standup, while a bit wild, was obviously more than Tavares could handle. Now, that might be a ‘mouse that roared’ situation, where we’ll never again see the brillian Wiman flashed in that fight, but those abilities are still somewhere within him. He came into that fight with an insane level of confidence. Even when he was on his back and Tavares was bringing down some hard shots, Wiman still looked dead certain he was going to obliterate Thiago. Since he did, in fact send him into the nega-zone, perhaps Wiman will enter this fight with the same level of confidence.

Miller is a phenomenal grappler with a good background in wrestling. His standup, however, is pretty putrid. Wiman is a much improved grappler, and Miller is going to have a hard time putting him away, and if Wiman can work the same kind of guard game he did against Thiago, Miller will have to work very very hard to eke out a decision. Unless Miller has drastically improved his standup, Wiman will be a danger for every second the fight’s on the feet, and I think Matt’s takedown defense will be stronger than David Baron’s was. Miller does have a clearly defined path to victory—take Wiman down, control him, and threaten, for two out of three rounds, and he has the skills to execute that. I just think that what he gains from a possible submission wrestling advantage he more than loses considering the massive shortcomings in his striking game. Either way, I think this fight is likely to go to a 29-28 decision, and I’m leaning towards Wiman. Matt Wiman via decision.

Brodie Farber vs. Luigi Fioravanti

Farber needs to make a quantum leap in his training to be ready for this fight. Luigi has been bouncing in and out of the UFC, mostly fighting high-quality opponents, for most of his career. He may be a slugger and have been outstruck by Diego Sanchez, but underneath that, he has real talent and skills. Enough to knock off Farber, in any case, after beating him up for a while. Luigi Fioravanti by Knockout, round 2.

Steve Bruno vs. Johnny Rees

Steve Bruno was absolutely hammered against Chris Wilson, where his takedowns looked impotent and his general game horrible, as Wilson mercilessly crushed him to the canvas over and over again. Wilson may not be on the general public radar screen, but after his strong performance against Jon Fitch, he’s becoming regarded as a real top contender, so perhaps Bruno can be forgiven for being humiliated. Bruno traditionally works a wrestler’s top game of grinding and ground and pound, but, as the Chris Wilson fight showed, you have you put your opponent on his back for that to work.

Rees is a very big, very raw, roughneck. He just gets in there and gets after it and tries to hammer his opponents until he can find a submission. He doesn’t have the seasoning or guile to reverse if Bruno can put him on his back, but given how desperate Bruno became when Wilson started hurting him, I think Rees has a good chance of finding success in the simple beatdown. Johnny Rees via submission, round 2.

Ben Saunders vs. Brandon Wolff

This is just another chance for Saunders to show us his neat JKD moves while flashing that giant wolfy grin of his. What a charmer. Wolf really just doesn’t have much to offer the rangy, versatile Saunders aside from a convenient place to land his strikes. Ben Saunders by decision.

Eddie Sanchez vs. Justin McCully

A lot of people are going against Sanchez here just because he’s not a great fighter and bears an uncanny resemblance to Homer Simpson (especially now that he’s decided to come in kinda fat for all his fights). This is a common occurrence on the forums where the MMA hardcores thrive: bash on the crappy fighter you know, even if he’s facing off against an even crappier fighter. Sanchez isn’t going to make it look pretty, but he’s going to come wading in with big rights, and if McCully is still standing by the time Sanchez gets to him, Eddie’s just going to push him into the fence until he can find a chance to throw more rights. McCully is theoretically a black belt in jiu-jitsu, but unless he sneaks up on Sanchez before the fight and garrotes him with said belt, I don’t think we’re going to see much use from that belt. Both compared to the fighters in other organizations and compared to their other weight classes, the UFC’s heavyweight class is an embarrassment, and this fight will likely be ugly and stupid. Garbage in, garbage out. Eddie Sanchez by KO round 1.

Dale Hartt vs. Corey Hill intentionally not broken down, because it’s utterly meaningless and not likely to be worth watching.

You may also notice that I have not made any betting predictions for this card. No, I haven’t given up my degenerate ways. it is simply because, at the current odds, I do not find any compelling values, given the uncertainties in the fights. If you must have action, I would take a look at Matt Wiman, Dale Hartt, and Nate Loughran

What Do You Think of This Fight/Event?