If there is one thing to get excited about for the televised prelims of UFC Liverpool, it’s the return of “Dad Bod” Dan Kelly. While Dad Bod may not be his official nickname, it’s been bestowed upon him lovingly by many in the MMA community. Sure, his unlikely winning streak is over, but it’s difficult not to root for the perennial underdog even if he isn’t going to make a run for the title. Perhaps I’m over selling Kelly as he was one half of one of the worst fights in UFC history, but as a member of the Kelly bandwagon, I feel like I have to promote him while I can. It’s not like his career is going to last forever.
The FS1 prelims begin at 11:00 AM ET/8:00 AM PT on Sunday.
I have often said that I forgot certain people are still on the UFC roster after they’ve had an extended absence, but Silva’s drought is ridiculous. The simplest way to put it: Nick Diaz has fought more recently than Silva, who last appeared in November 2014.
Even when Silva entered the UFC, nobody believed he was going to become a contender and even fewer believe that now that the man known as Hannibal is now 35. What he was – and hopefully still is – is a slick BJJ expert with mounds of toughness and know-how to make up for his limited athleticism. There isn’t anything pretty about his game as it’s hard to find a welterweight who is slower than he is – maybe Cathal Pendred, but he’s retired – though Silva’s relentlessness to chain together his takedowns has led to an effective wrestling game. It isn’t the most technical takedown game, but he knows how to get things done.
Taleb will pose the biggest challenge of Silva’s career. A massive welterweight, Taleb’s 74” reach isn’t anything special given his frame. However, Taleb’s kickboxing fundamentals are amongst the best in the sport, making closing the distance on him a difficult proposition. Silva will have to do that to beat Taleb as his striking only serves as cover for the Brazilian to close the aforementioned distance. Taleb hasn’t been noted for his power, but he can turn out the lights with a well-placed punch or kick, something that has been happening with greater frequency as of late.
Should the fight go to the ground, Silva stands an excellent chance of pulling off the upset. Taleb’s ground game is nothing more than serviceable and he has yet to face a grappler as fundamentally sound as Silva. Silva’s only chance will be to make the fight as ugly as possible, but that won’t be easy. Plus, shaking off the rust of nearly 1300 days away from the cage won’t be an easy task in the slightest. Taleb via decision
It’s impossible not to admire what Kelly has accomplished. Despite possessing the frame of the guy from down the street who mows his lawn without a shirt as opposed to a ripped and tattooed frame we’ve come to expect out of MMA fighters, Kelly has put together one of the most unlikely runs in UFC history, sporting a 6-1 UFC record at one point. He has dropped two in a row at this point, not to mention he turned 40 last fall. Nonetheless, Kelly is used to overcoming the odds.
Though athlete would be the last word most would use to describe Kelly upon first laying eyes on him, Kelly possessed one of the better pedigrees for a newcomer to the sport when he began taking his career serious. A four-time Olympian in judo, Kelly has proven to be very difficult to take to the ground with his sense of balance, forcing his opponents into an ugly kickboxing match. It isn’t pretty, but Kelly’s unorthodox approach from a southpaw stance has caused opponents more problems than anyone believed possible thanks to his innate sense of timing on the counter. Where he’s at his best is when he can get the fight to the ground himself – usually accomplished with a trip or throw from the clinch – where he exercises great positional dominance.
Given Breese is used to being the bigger and stronger man in his contests, this could prove to be a difficult stylistic matchup for him despite his athletic gifts. Known as the Octopus for his grappling prowess, this is Breese’s first contest at middleweight in his career. That could be a scary proposition as he struggled with the size and strength of Sean Strickland at 170. Granted, Breese won’t be drawn out trying to make weight at his new home. Even with that working in his favor, Breese’s striking is more mechanical than Kelly’s and he’s been out of action for two years. How much will the rust affect him?
Breese should win this in terms of pure physicality. He’s a nice athlete and should fight with more vigor at middleweight, but young upstarts are Kelly’s specialty. Kelly’s years of combat experience have made him one of the most cool, calm, and collected competitors currently in the UFC. He doesn’t get rattled. For Breese to win this, he’s going to have to step into Kelly’s world. That doesn’t bode well for the young Englishman. Kelly via decision
Brad Scott (11-5) vs. Carlo Pedersoli (10-1) Welterweight
After Salim Touahri pulled out with a little under two weeks to go before the event, Scott lucked out when Cage Warriors representative Pedersoli stepped in on very short notice. This would have been the second late cancelation in a row for the Englishman.
After having his return to welterweight scrapped when Jack Marshman was unable to safely make weight, Scott is attempting to get back into the cage just two months after the cancelation of that contest. Nicknamed the Bear, Scott lives up to that moniker by attempting to maul his opponents against the fence in contests that often entice viewers to consider changing the channel. Scott isn’t lost as a striker either, becoming a technically sound boxer. However, he’s also glacially slow and it’s rare when he doesn’t absorb more damage when the fight remains on the outside. Fortunately for Scott, he’s traditionally proven to be durable.
Pedersoli will have his hands full. Still a youngster at 24, Pedersoli emerged as a legit prospect when he defeated UFC alum Nicolas Dalby last month in an upset. Though he’s a solid athlete with a creative array of kicks, the Italian representative can be bullied and doesn’t respond very well to pressure. He does have some creative offense in the clinch. Pedersoli does stuff most takedowns, though he usually ends up unable to disengage and ends up pushed up against the fence.
Pedersoli is a better prospect than many people realize. He’s a lot of fun to watch, willing to throw high-risk maneuvers, and does a solid job of disguising his true intentions. I just don’t think he has enough strength to prevent his much larger opponent from doing what he wants to do, nor does he possess the consistent power to regularly count on putting down the opposition. If this fight becomes enjoyable, it means Pedersoli won. I don’t think many people will enjoy this one. Scott via decision
Robertson caught many off guard when she snagged an armbar from the guard in her UFC debut against Emily Whitmire. Her aggression on the ground wasn’t surprising in the least as Robertson has finished most of her fights – professional and amateur – with a submission, the armbar proving to be her specialty. She does favor submission over position, which tends to losing the advantage at times. Robertson’s striking is still a work in progress too, but she’s at a great camp to develop that aspect in ATT. At 22, Robertson has a long way to go in her development.
McCann has just as much killer instinct as Robertson, only McCann’s serves her in the striking realm. More than half of her wins have come by a punching stoppage as McCann has some serious dynamite in her hands. She isn’t a technician by any means, but she hasn’t had to be and probably won’t need to be for a while considering how thin in is at the top of the flyweight division. Her wrestling has been a bit of an issue too, but McCann has been making some progress to stop her opponent’s attempts to get her to the mat.
McCann is a comfortable favorite, though I don’t believe that’s fair to Robertson. McCann may have fewer fights under her belt when amateur and exhibition contests are added up, but I’ve seen McCann touted as having a big edge in experience. Both ladies possess physical tools that could allow them to develop into contenders in a few years. Given the aggression and lack of fear both tend to show, I struggle to see this contest going the distance. In recent years, strikers have had more success than grapplers in these type of contests. So…. McCann via TKO of RD2
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