Where Saturday's UFC on FOX 24 was a show for the hardcore fan, UFC Fight Night 108 appeals to an even smaller niche; the portion of the fan base that enjoys weird, wacky carnival attractions.
That's where we're at with Swanson vs. Lobov; it's a booking which, frankly, makes no sense, but has all the makings of a brutal war, for however long it lasts.
With a six-fight main card on the horizon, here are the breakdowns and hot-fire predictions.
Jake Ellenberger vs. Mike Perry
This is a match-up of two potent offensive threats who possess glaring flaws. #JakeEllenberger is somewhat of a glass cannon; he posses brutal power punching, but folds swiftly to adversity. While "Platinum" #MikePerry, in his previous outing against Alan Jouban, displayed one of the worst sins an aggressive pocket boxer can commit; he was easily, and consistently, dissuaded from aggression by Jouban's return fire.
Where Perry differs from Ellenberger is that he is a relative newcomer to the sport, while "The Juggernaut" is experiencing one of the poorest stretches of a lengthy career. Youth, physicality, and developmental potential are all on Perry's side at this point.
Ellenberger should be the superior wrestler and grappler, but his willingness to rely on those skill-sets is always questionable, and on the feet, durability and aggression should be more than enough for Perry to pick up the win here.
Joe Lauzon vs. Stevie Ray
Stevie Ray possesses many advantages in this fight; he's quicker, sharper with his hands,and likely superior in the clinch. The catch is that #JoeLauzon is one of the division's most capable submission hunters, a style which has led to several of Ray's career losses.
Ray will be looking to avoid grappling exchanges, striking from the outside and fighting with quick bursts of aggression in the clinch when Lauzon closes the distance, before disengaging and circling out again.
Lauzon is a skilled stand-up fighter in his own right, but fights best as an impact striker, landing big shots opportunistically in order to set up fight-altering offense. In terms of consistent, second-to-second approach, Lauzon has neither the pace nor the defensive savvy to outpoint Ray.
There's an uncomfortable element of variance surrounding this fight, but, more often than not, the more consistent man takes it.
John Dodson vs. Eddie Wineland
Height and length could be everything in this fight, especially if #EddieWineland, a technical, aggressive, and dangerous kickboxer with big power for the bantamweight division, is inclined to fight #JohnDodson from the outside.
The problem is that, despite Wineland's resurgence, images persist of Bryan Caraway cleanly outboxing him, and Eddie has always been hittable.
Dodson is one of the quickest men on the UFC roster, and hits with enormous power. He jabs well and should find opportunities to land his extremely dangerous left cross quite often, and that spells doom for Wineland.
Early, length and pace may hinder Dodson, but once he finds his range and timing, his power punching alone should be enough to get it done.
Ovince St. Preux vs. Marcos Rogério de Lima
The story is pretty much the same for both of these guys; overwhelming physical athletes with explosive speed and power, who have struggled consistently as a result of stunted skill development and poor in-fight decision making.
St. Preux is a natural counter puncher, but struggles to find ways to implement this ability into a reliable approach. De Lima is aggressive, strikes the legs and body with great force, and has good killer instinct.
Both men have questionable stamina, but a fight between superb athletes with limited skills is unlikely to last into the deeper rounds, unless they circle each other endlessly while refusing to engage, which, frankly, is a very real possibility.
More likely, the fight ends within the first seven minutes, and St. Preux is left standing.
Pick: St. Preux
Al Iaquinta vs. Diego Sanchez
Iaquinta is a fantastic puncher who pressures well, has a sublime sense for combinations, and is, generally, defensively responsible. Sanchez is a blood-and-guts action fighter who, in recent years, has taken to relying more and more on his wrestling and top position grappling.
"Ragin' Al" is easily flustered, and can be baited into making poor decisions by an aggressive opponent during the grappling phase of a fight. Sanchez may even have the chops to score a takedown or two.
What Sanchez lacks to exploit this flaw is a truly punishing top game. He is positionally strong and pressures well, but rarely threatens with submissions or scrambles with any real sense of opportunism.
Most likely, Iaquinta is able to return to his feet if taken down, and bludgeons Sanchez in exchanges. This one will probably get very ugly.
Cub Swanson vs. Artem Lobov
In the main event, longtime featherweight elite, #CubSwanson, will take on longtime friend-of-#ConorMcGregor, #ArtemLobov in an existentially meaningless bout which, at the very least, is likely to provide the sort of high-octane violence which we crave.
From an analyst's viewpoint, there isn't much to say about this one. Lobov throws good combinations of hooks, works at an inconsistent pace, and doesn't do very much beyond that. Swanson's striking game is layered, intricate, and deeply crafty; he is a fluid fighter, willing to throw pretty much any strike from any position, though he works best in open space, where he can control the center of the cage and engage at his whim.
Swanson loves to kick from the outside before bursting quickly into the pocket with strings of punches; once on the inside, he has many options, possessing a wicked trip game from the clinch, along with good knees and punches on the inside.
Swanson should be better at everything, and will hold substantial physical, and technical, advantages in every single phase of the fight. This one ends in beautiful violence.
UFC Nashville Fight Card (4/22/17):
- Cub Swanson vs. Artem Lobov
- Al Iaquinta vs. Diego Sanchez
- Ovince Saint Preux vs. Marcos Rogerio De Lima
- John Dodson vs. Eddie Wineland
- Joe Lauzon vs. Stevie Ray
- Jake Ellenberger vs. Mike Perry
- Thales Leites vs. Sam Alvey
- Dustin Ortiz vs. Brandon Moreno
- Scott Holtzman vs. Michael McBride
- Jessica Penne vs. Danielle Taylor
- Alexis Davis vs. Cindy Dandois
- Bryan Barbernea vs. Joe Proctor
- Hector Sandoval vs. Matt Schnell