This weekend’s BAMMA 20 will see these two former UFC competitors fight in what is a deeply interesting co-main event matchup.

Since their respective involuntary departures from the UFC, both fighters have had real success outside of the world’s premier organisation with Winner (19-8-2) going 7-2-1 and Fletcher (11-4) going 3-1. With both guys on the wrong side of 30, now would be a great time for them to continue their winning ways and catch the eyes of the UFC once again.

Styles make fights. It’s a tired analogy but that doesn’t stop it being true, and in this case it’s as applicable than ever. Both men excel in the stand up but their styles differ slightly, which creates the potential for the possibility of some really interesting moments. Over his long career Winner has made a name for himself as a calm, measured striker who isn’t keen to rush into anything but will happily attack once he sees his opening, before disengaging in order prevent his opponent from landing his own shots. His elusive and conservative style is the main reason that his win column is very decision-heavy, with 12 of his 19 wins coming by that method.

Although Winner’s strengths most certainly lie in the stand up, he has a big task ahead of him against Colin Fletcher. Interestingly enough, we have a rather unique insight into how these guys might match up on the feet due to the fact that they in fact fought each other in a kickboxing bout last summer. Fletcher won the bout via unanimous decision, and controlled the action throughout using his superior kicking technique. Freakshow has always possessed an excellent Thai style kicking game, constantly throwing kicks with impressive volume and dexterity while still maintaining proper rotation and power. While this undoubtedly gave him the edge in their kickboxing bout, you can’t cut and paste that same eventuality into their upcoming MMA fight with 100% certainty. With a much larger space to move around in Winner’s elusiveness and movement may play a larger factor, and also the addition of 4oz MMA gloves as opposed to 8/10oz boxing gloves may benefit Winner who probably already possesses the advantage in hand speed.

As is so often the case with two great strikers, grappling can sometimes end up making the difference. Colin is known as the better grappler, with 7 of his 11 wins coming by way of submission. Winner does have 3 submission wins on his record, but one was due to strikes, one to an eye injury and the other coming by way of triangle choke all the way back in 2006 so those must be taken with a pretty hefty grain of salt. Fletcher is very tall for the weight class standing at 6’2″ vs. Winner’s 5’11” and has a reputation for being strong, wiry and very tricky off of his back. Even if Winner was able to take the fight to the ground, this won’t bother Colin as he has a fantastic assortment of sweeps and is great at reversing position and establishing dominance over his opponent after being taken down himself.

Yet being so comfortable in the striking Colin often chooses to stand with his opponents. In my opinion the first round will be a tentative affair with both guys probing and feeling each other out, but the action will quickly heat up once they start to find their rhythm. This is only a three round fight and the stakes are high, so I’m sure that the second and third rounds will have a lot to offer.
If forced to make a prediction, I’d say that after a slow paced first round consisting of Fletcher landing snappy leg kicks consistently, Winner will start to get frustrated and come on stronger in the second but most likely Fletcher will catch him. Fletcher doesn’t possess much one punch KO power but he excels at tagging his opponents on the way in. I think that he’ll either manage to do this to achieve a knockdown, or otherwise use his strength and clinch skills to trip Winner. Either way I can see Freakshow following him to the ground, establishing control of his back and eventually getting the submission.

Prediction: Fletcher via Submission (Round 2)