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UFC on Fox 18 offers exciting, important fight

UFC on FOX 18 Johnson vs Bader

While the UFC and the New York senate do battle, the octagon will rise across the water for the seventh time in Newark, NJ on Saturday.

The main event of UFC on Fox 18, while somewhat lost in the dust of the collapsed UFC 196 card, features the most important non-title bout in the light-heavyweight division.

Arizona’s Ryan Bader (20-4), riding a five fight-winning streak, will take on Blackzilians product, Anthony Johnson (20-5). The fight is, unofficially, a title-eliminator, with the winner taking on either Daniel Cormier or Jon Jones, should they choose to wait.

When Bader last graced the octagon, he spoiled the return of Rashad Evans, the division’s former champion, grinding out a unanimous decision win, putting him on the cusp of a long awaited title shot.

Johnson won his last fight too, starching the dangerous Jimi Manuwa 28 seconds into the second round. Before his loss to Cormier in May, Johnson had won his last nine fights, with wins over Alexander Gustafsson, Andrei Arlovski and World Series of Fighting dual-weight class champion David Branch, among others.

Also on tap, a heavyweight clash between former UFC heavyweight champion, “The Warmaster,” Josh Barnett (34-7) and veteran Ben Rothwell (35-9), whose colorful post fight victory speech in June garnered plenty of attention. Between the combatants, 28 KO/TKOs, 32 submissions and 69 professional MMA victories. In short: a must watch donnybrook.

Iuri Alcantara (32-6) will look to add to his seven UFC triumphs when he takes on Jersey’s own Jimmie “El Terror” Rivera (18-1), who has won his first two UFC fights, and has not lost since 2008.

Kicking off the main card will be 19-year-old Sage Northcutt (7-0) and Bryan Barberena (10-3), who was riding a seven fight win streak before his loss to Chad Laprise in April.

Predictions:

Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (2) Vs. Ryan “Darth” Bader (4)

Anthony "Rumble" Johnson dons a 20-5 record with 14 knockouts. Photo Courtesy: Bleacher Report.

Anthony “Rumble” Johnson dons a 20-5 record with 14 knockouts. Photo Courtesy: Bleacher Report.

Both men possess strong wrestling, with the edge going to Bader, an Arizona State wrestling alumni. Don’t be fooled, however, in Johnson’s fight against Phil Davis—a Penn State wrestling alumni—“Rumble’s” wrestling defense (uppercuts) proved more than affective. As for the striking, Johnson has the edge in speed and power, which will ultimately decide who wins.

Score this fight a knockout for Johnson.

Josh “The Warmaster” Barnett (8) Vs. Ben Rothwell (7)

Ben Rothwell is a true mixed-martial artist in the sense that he is sound in every aspect of the sport. So is Josh Barnett. The catch wrestling of Barnett, coupled with his vast arsenal of submissions should give him a slight edge. But don’t be surprised if the unorthodox movement of Rothwell catches “The Warmaster” off guard.

Still, the safe bet is Barnett… most likely by submission.

Irui “Marajo” Alcantara (14) Vs. Jimmie Rivera

For the duration of his career, Alcantara has been in and out of the bantamweight division’s rankings, a step above a gatekeeper. Jimmie Rivera, one of the division’s best prospects, will be up for the task. It’s hard to pick against the upstart hometown boy.

Rivera, unanimous decision.

“Super” Sage Northcutt Vs. Bryan “Bam Bam” Barberena

Northcutt is in one of the strangest situations in the history of the UFC. He’s 19, he’s a model on the side, he’s bizarrely friendly and he’s loved and (mostly) hated by those around the sport. Regardless, he’s 7-0, featuring strong striking and submissions. His wrestling defense may be an issue, considering he was successfully taken down two out of two times by Cody Pfister in their December bout. Barberena may be able to take advantage of this, considering the fight willtake place in the welterweight division (170 pounds) as opposed to Northcutt’s usual lightweight (155 pounds).

So here it is, the early fall of “Super” Sage, Barberena by unanimous decision.

Early prelims begin at 3:30 on UFC Fight Pass, with the prelims beginning at 5:00 on Fox Sports 1, and the main card at 8 p.m. on Fox. UFC on Fox 18 will take place at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

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