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The Downes Side: Fight Night Manila

UFC/WEC veteran Dan Downes talks strategy and predictions for UFC Fight Night: Edgar vs. Faber, taking place Saturday, May 16
That’s right boys and girls, it’s time for another breakfast edition of the Downes Side! Some people in the MMA community already took the “Breakfast of Champions” moniker (which they stole from another company). So I guess we can call this the “early morning meal of the educated?”

I’ll go back to the drawing board, but this weekend the UFC will catch your attention far better than my slogans. Live from Manila, Frankie Edgar and Urijah Faber throw down in the main event. In the co-main event, middleweights Costas Philippou and Gegard Mousasi collide. Grab your Eggs Benedict, it’s fight time!

MARK EDDIVA VS. LEVAN MAKASHVILI

We begin the main card in the featherweight division with Mark Eddiva and Levan Makashvili. Fighting in front of his countrymen, Eddiva looks to get back in the win column after dropping his last fight to Kevin Souza in May. Stepping in on short notice, Makashvili finally makes his UFC debut after a Nik Lentz illness thwarted it.

Much like the movie Short Circuit, this fight is a classic. The John Badham film is a classic because it made us question what it truly means to be human and they had cool looking robots. This one is a classic because it’s a throwback to the striker vs. grappler battles of yore. Eddiva has a high takedown defense rating (88.89%), but Makashvili is better than previous opponents. As long as Makashvili doesn’t tire out, he takes the unanimous decision.

PHILLIPE NOVER VS. YUI CHUL NAM

We remain at featherweight for Phillipe Nover and Yui Chul Nam. Nover begins his second stint in the UFC after three straight wins on the regional circuit. Nam isn’t what you’d call a “Happy to Have You Back!” fight. Known as “The Korean Bulldozer,” he’s a power puncher that lands significant strikes at a blistering 5.13 / minute rate.

We all like comeback stories. Unfortunately, though, they don’t always come true. Nover’s relative inactivity (his last two fights were in June 2013 and January 2015) and Nam’s aggression make this a bad matchup. Nover has a strong submission game, but he won’t be able to bring the fight to the ground. Nam controls this fight from the outset and picks up the first round TKO.

HYUN GYU LIM VS. NEIL MAGNY

We move to welterweight for Hyun Gyu Lim and Neil Magny. Massive for the weight class, Lim currently holds a 3-1 record inside the Octagon. All three of those wins have come via TKO and he also has nine career first-round finishes. After a moderately successful run on The Ultimate Fighter, Magny has come on strong. Winner of six in a row, he’s finally cracked the 170-pound rankings and wants to stay there.

Magny may be rangy and have great cardio, but that doesn’t mean he can’t finish fights. Half of his wins on his current streak have been finishes (2 TKO, 1 submission), and he constantly pushes opponents. He’ll have to watch out for the initial onslaught, but his striking defense, mixed with Lim’s relative inaccuracy, should put this in Magny’s favor. Magny by unanimous decision.

MARK MUNOZ VS. LUKE BARNATT

Next we shift to middleweight for Mark Munoz and Luke Barnatt. It’s been a rough go of it as of late for the “Filipino Wrecking Machine”. He’s lost four of his last five fights and has been finished in each one of those losses. He’s already announced that he’s retiring after this fight, so he desperately wants to go out on a positive note. Standing in his way will be the “Big Slow.” Barnatt may not be retiring, but he’s just as eager to win after losing two straight fights.

If Phillipe Nover couldn’t get his much-desired UFC win, then surely Mark Munoz can get his swan song? Nope. The MMA gods are crueler and more unforgiving than your cable company. Munoz has an incredible wrestling pedigree, but he’s never really been able to transfer that to the MMA game. Furthermore, he hasn’t shown any rhythm on his feet lately. That plays right into the 6’6” Barnatt’s strengths. Barnatt works his straight punches and then catches Munoz with a counter knee. Barnatt by second-round TKO.

GEGARD MOUSASI VS. COSTAS PHILIPPOU

We stay at middleweight for Gegard Mousasi and Costas Philippou. A skilled kickboxer and submission artist, Mousasi has alternated wins and losses his last four fights. His last time out he only needed 70 seconds to dispatch Dan Henderson. A boxer with seven KO wins to his credit, Philippou had a first-round knockout of his own last May against Lorenz Larkin.

There’s no question that Mousasi is the more diverse fighter, but sometimes you don’t need a lot of different tools. I can fix anything with a screwdriver and duct tape. Who needs all those fancy gadgets? Despite that, I’m sticking with Mousasi. Philippou only lands 36.21% of his strikes. Mousasi may be a bit more deliberate with his striking, but he doesn’t waste attacks. His patience will be rewarded as he drops Philippou in the second and locks up the rear naked choke.

FRANKIE EDGAR VS. URIJAH FABER

Time for the main event! Undefeated since his last title shot, Frankie Edgar has racked up wins against Charles Oliveira, BJ Penn and Cub Swanson. Urijah Faber is also unbeaten since his last title challenge with wins over Alex Caceres and Francisco Rivera. Tied for the most finishes in WEC/UFC history, he can easily finish the fight with a punch or a chokehold.

In what our children will one day call “The Battle of the Bridesmaids” either one of these fighters could be on the cusp of another title shot. When it comes to grappling, they’ll cancel each other out. On the feet, each has their own distinct style. Edgar favors a volume-based approach while Faber prefers to strike in 3-4 strike blitzes. Edgar’s speed may give Faber trouble, but the California Kid has improved his counter striking. This will be an intense back and forth battle, but Faber’s power leads him to the unanimous decision win.

That wraps up another Downes Side that my editor calls “the most important meal of the day.” Follow me on Twitter @dannyboydownes. Don’t forget to leave your own predictions, thoughts, affirmations and postulations on the page here. Also, let’s debate which was better, the Breakfast Club or Breakfast at Tiffany’s?

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