The first UFC event of 2017 is upon us and a legend returns to action tonight in the main event of UFC Fight Night 103. The event will be headlined by multi-division champion BJ Penn returning to action to face top ten featherweight Yair Rodriguez. Also, Marcin Held takes on Joe Lauzon and a battle of top fifteen flyweights will be taking place as well.
UFC Featherweight Division Fight
Yair Rodriguez (9-1-0) vs. BJ Penn (16-10-2)
Rodriguez is currently undefeated under the UFC banner, with notable victories coming over Dan Hooker, Andre Fili and Alex Caceres. Penn will be competing for the first time in nearly three years, but he has held the UFC Welterweight Title and the UFC Lightweight Title. Rodriguez was the winner of the UFC Ultimate Fighter Latin America I and this will be his second straight main event fight in the UFC. Penn hasn’t earned a victory in well over six years, his last win was a knockout victory over Matt Hughes at UFC 123.
Prediction: Penn will come back like a house of fire for the first round, but Rodriguez takes him apart with his unorthodox striking on route to a third round TKO win.
UFC Lightweight Division Fight
Marcin Held (22-5-0) vs. Joe Lauzon (26-12-0)
Held is currently winless under the UFC banner, dropping a decision to Diego Sanchez at UFC Fight Night: Dos Anjos vs. Ferguson. Lauzon has rotated wins and losses in his last six fights, with his last fight being a decision loss to Jim Miller at UFC On Fox 21. Held is a longtime veteran of Bellator MMA and he once challenged for the lightweight title, but lost to then champion Will Brooks at Bellator 145. Lauzon will be competing in his first “Fight Night” event in over two years, that last appearance came at UFC Fight Night 50 in September 2014.
Prediction: Held is becoming a one trick pony with his leg lock submission offense, Lauzon follows Sanchez’s path to victory over Held by avoiding the leg locks while using his striking to get a decision.
UFC Welterweight Division Fight
Court McGee (16-5-0) vs. Ben Saunders (20-7-1)
McGee has rotated wins and losses in his last five UFC appearances, with his last fight being a win over Dominique Steele at UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs. Caceres. Saunders will be starting his third run with the UFC, he defeated fellow UFC veteran Jacob Volkmann in between appearances with the promotion. McGee won the UFC Ultimate Fighter: Team Liddell vs. Team Ortiz, defeating Kris McCray in the finals of the reality show. Saunders won three of four fights in his second UFC run, with notable wins coming over Joe Riggs and Kenny Robertson.
Prediction: McGee bring a pretty good striking game to the octagon, but Saunders has the reach and he picks apart McGee before getting the fight to the ground and then earning a decision win.
UFC Flyweight Division Fight
John Moraga (11-5-0) vs. Sergio Pettis (14-2-0)
Moraga will enter this fight riding a two fight losing streak, suffering defeats to Joseph Benavidez and Matheus Nicolau. Pettis will be entering the fight on the strength of a two fight winning streak, defeating Chris Cariaso and Chris Kaledes. Moraga previously challenged for the UFC Flyweight Title, losing to current champion Demetrious Johnson at UFC On Fox 8. Pettis is a former Resurrection Fighting Alliance Flyweight Champion, defeating Joe Pegg to win the belt in 2013.
Prediction: Moraga has the better wrestling game and he will take Pettis down, but Pettis catches him in a submission for a third round finish.
Preliminary Card Quick Picks
Augusto Mendes over Frankie Saenz
Viktor Pesta over Aleksei Oleinik
Tony Martin over Alex White
Drakkar Klose over Devin Powell
Nina Ansaroff over Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger
Walt Harris over Chase Sherman
Bojan Mihajlovic over Joachim Christensen
Cyril Asker over Dmitrii Smoliakov