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Dublin: 2°C Tuesday 13 April 2021
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Uncaged: UFC mad for it in Manchester

Brian Kirk previews tonight’s card in Manchester including the main event between Lyoto Machida and Mark Munoz.

Machida: looking to pick up win number 20 tonight.
Machida: looking to pick up win number 20 tonight.
Image: Jae C. Hong/AP/Press Association Images

THE UFC RETURNS to Manchester this weekend but it is missing its hometown star attraction as Michael Bisping was forced to pull out of the main event a few weeks back through injury.

Lyoto Machida is the man picked to replace “The Count” as he drops to middleweight to fight Mark Munoz while Ross Pearson will look to show that Bisping won’t be missed that much by putting on a good performance over Melvin Guillard.

Antrim’s “Stormin’” Norman Parke gets his chance on the main card against Jon Tuck and will no doubt carry a big support with him while Phil Harris and John Lineker face off in an exciting flyweight bout.

Alessio Sakara versus Nicholas Musoke and Ryan Jimmo versus Jimi Manuwa make up the main card while Rosi Sexton and Jessica Andrade feature in the first women’s UFC bout to be held in Europe on a very solid undercard.

Can Machida be a middleweight marvel?

He was once the jewel of the light heavyweight division, unbeaten and almost untouchable until “Shogun” Rua finally solved the puzzle of Lyoto Machida back at UFC 113. Since that air of invincibility was smashed, “The Dragon” has stuttered to a 3-3 record including being thoroughly frustrated by Phil Davis last time out which prompted his decision to drop down a division.

Mark Munoz is the man that Machida is stepping in to face and both men are stylistically very different; Munoz comes from a wrestling pedigree while Machida hails from a karate background. The contrast in styles would seem to suit Machida, the elusive counter puncher, more as he should be quicker than Munoz.

Machida has struggled with these types of fighters in the past however. Phil Davis outpointed and perhaps outsmarted him last time out and if Munoz can execute the same game-plan as Davis while unleashing his vicious ground and pound, then he can make it a middleweight debut to forget for the Brazilian.

But the big question is whether Munoz will be able to get Machida to the ground or not. If he can’t he is in for a long night of getting picked apart from the outside. Even if does bring the fight to the ground he will have his work cut out finishing the BJJ black-belt.

In all honesty, Munoz’s chances of winning dwindled as soon as Bisping was pulled from the fight.

YouTube credit: Jonatas Freitas

Tuck no walk in the Parke for Norman

Norman Parke hasn’t courted the same kind of media attention as his counterpart Conor McGregor so far in his UFC career but he has quietly gone about his business in a relatively comfortable manner.

Decision victories over Colin Fletcher and Kazuki Tokudome have been unspectacular but impressive as he has displayed an understated determination to win which has so far proved to be successful.  Jon Tuck is arguably his toughest fight to date and Parke may have to rely more on his stand-up game in order to win this one.

Tuck has very prestigious grappling credentials which may force Parke to re-evaluate his previous game-plans of tying up his opponent quickly and grinding out results.

While he is not generally known as a KO artist, Parke has an underrated stand-up game and with the crowd behind him, he should notch up another UFC victory here.

YouTube credit: Ryan Johnson

Best of the rest

The lightweight matchup between Melvin Guillard and Ross Pearson has all the hallmarks of a fight of the night bout. Pearson has knocked out his last two opponents while Guillard has an impressive 20 KOs on his record.

The outcome of this fight depends of which Melvin Guillard turns up. He would seem to have the edge in the stand-up battle but his form has been so erratic recently that it is hard to rely on him at all.

If Pearson, with the help of the crowd, can rattle “The Young Assassin” then he has a chance.

But if Guillard comes in focussed and sharp then he should have enough in his locker to see off the Englishman.

Phil Harris will be hoping John Lineker can make weight so he can put on a show for the home fans. Lineker has twice missed weight before and with this in mind Harris will be hoping his opponent endures another tough cut so he can wear him down in the fight while looking for any opportunity to force him into a submission.

Jimi Manuwa has his work cut out to get his record to 14-0 against Ryan Jimmo but if the big hitting Manuwa can improve his conditioning then he has a chance, while Alessio Sakara is looking to win his first fight in four years against Nicholas Musoke.

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Brian Kirk

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