Tony Kelley and Ali Al Qaisi each recently made their UFC debuts and although each man performed okay, they did come up short.
Ali lost a split decision to Irwin Rivera and Tony Kelley dropped a unanimous decision to the highly impressive Kai Kamaka.
Ali is a Middle East local so he will have the minimal travel advantage over Tony Kelley who is coming on a chartered flight from Vegas like most all of the American UFC stars.
Tony will have the size advantage, though, as he makes the move down to Bantamweight for the first time in his career.
I’m not a fan of question marks like that but it didn’t stop us with Frankie Edgar in his first foray at 135 pounds! That one felt good because the vast majority of my colleagues weren’t even giving him a chance.
Tony Kelley is tall and long for Featherweight so he will be freaking huge at ‘35.
The Team Alpha Male-trained fighter works very well from range with long punches and kicks but it is just as dangerous if not more in the clinch with his knees and elbows.
I like his Muay Thai but he was taken down by Kamaka several times in that fight and it was the difference in the end as each fighter landed exactly 114 significant strikes according to ufcstats.com
Excellent fight, by the way, if you couldn’t guess. I highly recommend you go back and watch that one.
Ali Al Qaisi is Jordan’s first and only UFC fighter. That is a lot of pressure, right there. I won’t take that into account with our fight capping process, though, but it’s worth a note.
Let’s go over the measurables of each fighter and note any large differences and how they might affect the outcome of Saturday’s fight.
|Tony Kelley||Ali Al Qaisi|
|Fight Record: 6-2||Fight Record: 8-4|
|Age: 33||Age: 30|
|Height: 5’9”||Height: 5’6’|
|Reach: 70”||Reach: 68”|
|From: Shreveport, Louisiana||From: Amman, Jordan|
|Fight Camp: Team Alpha Male||Fight Camp: Phuket Top Team|
The height differential is pretty significant. 8-2 and 6-4 might not sound like a massive gap but it is 20 percentage points.
I love both fight camps although I do favor Team Alpha Male over Phuket Top Team.
I stopped by Top Team once in Thailand. Before I went, I used to watch their Phuket Dreaming vlogs on Youtube. They are a hard bunch over there and I wasn’t in any kind of shape so I just did a class and it was great.
Team Alpha Male has produced UFC World Champions already, though, and Top Team just isn’t on that level. It doesn’t help when you have to share a road with Tiger Muay Thai and a city with AKA Thailand among others.
Phuket is a wild place and built on the side of a mountain so my knees always hurt walking the roads. Crossing the street at night in Patong is something you should probably never do. Just stay on your side. It’s not that much different over there.
The city is becoming if they aren’t already, the mixed martial arts capital of Southeast Asia.
I know Evolve MMA in Singapore may have more talent inside their walls than any martial arts gym in history but Phuket is loaded with gyms.
Tiger has something like 4 locations now.
All the Dagestanis and the other Russians training down there just make Phuket MMA an even scarier idea. So, I have quite a bit of faith in any Thai MMA gym especially when it is a grappling based fighter who decides to train there.
The Russians are already out grappling everyone. Soon, they will have generations in Thailand and they will be out striking everyone as well.
Ali has good takedowns and Tony’s butt hit the mat 4 times in his last fight.
So, where are these betting odds sitting right now? BetOnline, what do you guys think?
This betting line opened pretty close to a pick’em with Ali as the slight (-130) favorite, actually. The money has since poured in on Kelley, of course, but Ali isn’t without a path to victory.
Path To Victory
Ali Al Qaisi
Ali will likely need to get this fight to the mat for at least half the fight in order to get his hand raised.
I don’t think he is going to submit Kelley.
Heck, I don’t think he will even take him down.
Ali was able to get Irwin Rivera to the mat but he is a much smaller man than Kelley who is coming down from Featherweight.
He couldn’t hold down Rivera either and Kelley was pretty quick back to his feet with a powerhouse 45er like Kamaka holding on to him.
It will be tough but you know Ali will be pumped to perform so close to his native home of Imman, Jordan.
Sprawl and brawl, baby!
No, not exactly. Tony Kelley will likely have to sprawl a few times in this fight and I think he will do so successfully but I don’t believe he needs to or will brawl with his opponent.
Tony is technical from the outside and with the in-fighting as well.
He just needs to keep this on the feet or get up the second his butt hits the mat.
If Tony can do that, I think he thoroughly outclasses the Jordanian on the feet.
Long range or no range for Tony attacking with all 8 limbs.
I’ve got Kelley here.
He is the bigger guy and he just made weight.
Ali couldn’t hold down Rivera so it’s not likely going to happen with Kelley if he does manage to get the larger man to the mat.
Could this be fight of the night? It’s possible!
One guy trains in Thailand and the other has great Muay Thai!
They both go after it too! Gamers!
Just like each man got in their previous fights which they both lost but were bangers.
Let’s go with Tony Kelley here. I think he could have beaten a lot of other 145ers the night he fought Kai, but the Hawaiian was on one!
Get your bets in now as these odds have been seesawing over the past couple of days.