Almeida vs. Garbrandt on FS1: (5/29/16): This fight is going to be huge because Almeida and Garbrandt are both undefeated and both are looking like they are unbeatable. They will square off in a fight that could be as big as they come and could lead to a title shot soon for the winner. The online prelims even have Aljamain Sterling and Bryan Caraway going head to head in another amazing battle. The main card also features Renan Barao and Jeremy Stephens going head to head in a battle in the featherweight division. There is also a battle with Rick “Horror” Story going at it with Tarec Saffiedine this will be fun so here is how I see this night panning out.
UFC Fight Pass (6 PM/ET):
Chris De La Rocha (4-1) vs. Adam Milstead (7-1): This fight to kick off the night is a decent fight and will be taking place in the heavyweight division. I think this fight will go one way and that is in favor of the new comer once he shakes off the first night nerves he could really do something dominant. I have Milstead picking up the win in the 3rd round through a TKO after getting his footing under him.
#4 (4) Aljamain “Funkmaster” Sterling (12-0) vs. #8 (9) Bryan Caraway (20-8): This fight has become a bitter rivalry and will be a big fight especially for the fight pass prelims because this fight is good enough to be on a main card on a pay-per view. This fight will take place in the bantamweight division and my advice to UFC fans is simply “don’t miss this fight.” Bryan hasn’t fought since last July where we picked up a very close unanimous decision victory over Eddie WIneland. Caraway will be looking to most likely take this fight to the mat where he has picked up 16 wins through submission, his other two stoppages were through 2 KO victories. Caraway is a very well-rounded fighter with great intelligence inside the octagon. He transitions well on the mat and is an incredibly gifted fighter on the mat with pretty decent skills while standing. Caraway is one tough dude to get to the ground as he has posted an 81% takedown defense in his UFC career and will definitely need to take this fight to the mat and keep it at his pace if he wants to win this fight. Now his opponent and him have been going at it online for months and will finally want to settle this rivalry in the octagon that man is the undefeated Aljamain Sterling. I think Sterling could get a well-deserved title shot if he picks up this win in a dominant fashion. This guy is a complete savage and one of the toughest dudes in the UFC. “Funkmaster” is a great wrestler and might actually be able to out wrestle Caraway and if he can do that he will pick up the win in this fight. Sterling has stopped 7 of his 12 fights, 5 of which are through submission and the other 2 through KO. Sterling has the cardio to go the full 3 rounds at full speed and still keep coming. I think this fight will honestly come down to the simple question of who is better on the mat. Sterling is more dominant on his feet I believe and that will leave this to who is truly the best wrestler. This fight is really close but I think “funkmaster” Sterling stays undefeated and picks up a 2nd round submission and shuts up Caraway.
Fox Sports 1 Prelims (7 PM/ET):
Erik Koch (14-4) vs. Shane Campbell (12-4): The fight to open the televised prelims will take place in the lightweight division. This fight will be a good way to start the televised prelims. I think that this fight could go the distance between some decent fighters with great skills on both their feet and on the mat. Both fighters in this fight have struggled as of late and will be looking to turn it around in this fight. I think Koch will win this one though through a unanimous decision victory.
Jake Collier (9-2) vs. Alberto Uda (9-0): The second fight is between two less well-known fighters and will be taking place in the middleweight division. These guys have both stopped over 75% of their fights professionally and will be looking to do so again here. Uda is entering his first fight in the UFC and Collier has gone 1-2 in the UFC since joining and will look to turn it around against the new comer. I think they will try to keep this fight standing and should be a real brawl in which we might see a KO stoppage. I think Uda will pick up his first win in the UFC and do so through a unanimous decision.
Abel Trujillo (14-6, 1NC) vs. Jordan Rinaldi (12-4): This fight in the lightweight division is going to be exciting between two guys who can stop the fight in their area of expertise. If Abel can keep this fight standing he will be looking to end this fight with his savage power. If Trujillo can keep this fight close and in his range while standing he could stop this fight with one punch. He has one of the strongest sets of hands in the UFC and without a doubt the strongest in his weight class. The fight standing is in Trujillo’s favor but if this fight goes to the mat Jordan Rinaldi will be a big time favorite. I really would like to see where this fight goes and see if it stays where it goes. I really am excited for this one even though it is underrated and viewed by a lot as a wash. I think this fight will shock a lot of people and I believe we will see Jordan Rinaldi pick up a unanimous decision.
#6 (6) Sara McMann (8-3) vs. #7 (7) Jessica Eye (11-4, 1NC): This fight in the women’s bantamweight division is going to be a fight between two girls who are going to be attempting a bounce back from two recent losses. Both of these ladies had the potential to be special but have seemed to hit some rough patches lately. Jessica has had it rough since joining the UFC she has gone 1-3 with 1 no contest. While Sarah has only picked up one win since her loss to Rousey and will look to avenge her back to back losses in this one. These girls have the cardio to last the full fight and have won most their fights by decision but both have the possibility end the fight via KO or submission. I think this fight will be fun in the women’s bantamweight division and we could see Sara McMann pick up a unanimous decision.
UFC Fox Sports 1 Main Card (9 PM/ET):
Joshua Burkman (29-12, 1NC) vs. Paul Felder (11-2): This fight in the lightweight division will kick off the main card on Fox Sports 1. This fight Paul Felder is a good fighter who can back down his opponents often and put pressure on his opponents. Felder is a strong fighter with the ability to stop his fights by way of KO and can do so with his brutal kicks. Felder has stopped 7 of his 11 wins by way of KO and his most recent victory was his long submission victory. Felder will win this fight if he can keep it standing and keep the distance long enough to land some brutal kicks to Burkmans legs and chest to slow him down and effect his stamina. His opponent Josh Burkman is one tough dude though. Burkman is one tough dude and is looking to turn around his luck of late regardless that he won his last fight. He has posted an abysmal 1 win 5 losses and 1 no contest in his last 7 fights. Burkman is a very well-rounded fighter and has picked up 9 KO stoppages and 8 more by way of submission stopping 17 of his 29 professional wins. The most impressive stat that Burkman has in his stoppages is that 15 of his 17 stoppages are in the very first round. If Burkman gets a hold of Felder he would be picking him up to land a powerful slam and capitalize on the mat either through submissions or some vicious ground and pound. This fight truly could be interesting and I think Felder will pick up the win in the 3rd round via a KO victory.
Jorge Masvidal (29-10) vs. Lorenz Larkin (16-5, 1NC): This fight in the welterweight division is going to be a real brawl between two guys who can turn off their opponents lights off with one punch. Lorenz Larkin is a monster who I think has yet to reach his full potential who hasn’t ever picked up a win on the mat but he has picked up 10 wins through knockout and the rest via decision. Seven of those wins have been stopped in the first round. Lorenz is a freakishly athletic kid and is so powerful. I truly believe one punch could end the find if it comes from Larkin’s fast yet very powerful hands. I think Larkin once he smells blood knows how to finish a fight among the best of them. Larkin will look to land some devastating strikes using his creative strikes and skills to possibly dazzle us all with a brutal flashy knockout potential. Now his opponent Masvidal has let a majority of his fights go to decision, only stopping 13 of his fights through 11 knockouts and 2 submissions. Masvidal is so hard to stop and just keeps coming and his heart is really what impresses me when I watch him fight. Masvidal is a tough guy to get to the mat as he has posted an 82% takedown defense but I think we will see him go to the mat as he is a better fighter on the ground then Larkin has shown to be. Masvidal in his last fight really took Benson Henderson to the end in a true test and showed that he can really fight with the best of them. I think this fight goes to the mat in the first round but Larkin will find a way to survive and catch Masvidal in the second as he shoots for a takedown. I think Larkin picks up a 2nd round TKO victory.
Chris Camozzi (23-10) vs. Vitor Miranda (13-4): This fight in the middleweight division is between two guys who both could find themselves ranked or one win away from being ranked with a win. I really love what both of these guys have done in their past couple fights. Vitor Miranda hasn’t loss since his first fight which was the finale of TUF. He has picked up three consecutive wins all through KO/TKO victories. Vitor has stopped 12 of his 13 professional wins, 10 of which are by KO and the other 2 are through submission victories. Vitor is an extremely exciting fighter and still has a lot of potential regardless that he is 37 years of age. Vitor was a pro kickboxer and posted a 23-8-1 record professionally as a kickboxer. Vitor is 3-0 at middleweight and honestly could be on the rise. His opponent Chris Camozzi has fought top middleweight fighter, Ronaldo Souza, and lost two times. Camozzi really struggled for a while in the UFC picking up 5 losses in a row at one point in his career. Since his loss to Souza he has picked up back to back wins and his last win was against Joe Riggs in a performance of the night victory. I think this fight could be a vicious brawl and they will stay standing and put on a show for the fans. I don’t think this fight will make it out of the first round though and I believe Miranda will pick up another win via a flying knee KO in the first round.
#10 (10) Tarec Saffiedine (16-4) vs. #11 (8) Rick Story (18-8): This fight will have some real fireworks as two guys who are looking for a top 5 ranking soon in the welterweight division meet. Rick Story is a bit of an interesting fighter to watch as he has the potential to be a fight finisher entirely but has let 10 of his wins go the distance. Story doesn’t get much credit for how well rounded of a fighter he is though and I think if his skills on the mat get overlooked in this fight it could be a devastating mistake. I’m not saying Rick is a better fighter on the ground than Saffiedine but he isn’t just purely a puncher. I do believe though if this fight stays standing and fails to really go to the ground it will be playing into Rick’s hands because this guy’s fists can put his opponents to sleep in an instant. Now one thing you don’t see a lot of in MMA is a guy who while standing that can utilize his elbows but Rick does and he does it better than almost anyone else in the UFC and as a former MMA fighter I will say elbows along with knees hurt worse than anything else. Rick will most likely as I said be looking to keep this fight standing and if he wants to win this one he will have to be the fighter applying the pressure for the majority of the fight. Now his opponent Tarec Saffiedine is a very skilled fighter and a technical striker. Tarec has sneaky power as he might not have the devastating power that Story does but a couple good open shots he can put his opponent on their rear end. He was a former Strikeforce champion in the middleweight division. He is coming off a pretty dominant win over Jake Ellenberger in his return to the octagon after a 15 month absence due to injury and rehab. Tarec has stopped 6 of his 16 professional wins, 5 of which are through submission and a lone KO victory. He did stop 5 of those fights though in the first round but it should be noted that he hasn’t picked up a professional stoppage victory of a fight since May 21st, 2010 against Nate Moore where he landed his lone professional KO victory. Another part of that I want to point out is that since joining Strikeforce and the UFC going back to July 20th 2009 that fight was his lone stoppage so almost 7 years and 9 wins later he has only stopped one fight. Tarec is a skilled fighter though as I said and he picks his shots well and lands well. I believe if Rick needed to take Tarec to the mat for some reason it would be a difficult task as he has been successful at defending the takedown 87% of the time in his career. I am excited to see how this fight goes I just hope these guys let the sparks fly and stop this fight thought the stats show that might not happen. I believe that if this fight stays standing though we will see a stoppage and it will be in the 3rd round after two slow paced first rounds. I see Rick picking up a 3rd round TKO victory.
#2BW (#6 FW) Renan Barao (35-3, 1NC) vs. #9 (9) Jeremy Stephens (24-12): The Co-Main event of the evening is going to be a fight we should have to pay to see and it will take place in the featherweight division. Jeremy Stephens is a great fighter and I think if he can pick up a win over Renan he should see himself back near the top 5. He has run into a rough patch though since January 2014, posting a 2-3 record since then. Jeremy is well known for his ability to stop a fight especially standing up where he will need this fight to stay if he wants to have a shot at getting his hand raised at the end of this one. Stephens has stopped 19 of his 24 professional wins and 17 of those 19 are through KO victories as he delivers devastating blows with one clean shot. He will only have a one inch reach advantage over Barao which is basically nothing I do believe Jeremy though is the stronger fighter and on his feet can be the more lethal fighter. One thing you can’t take away from Jeremy is his ability to take a beating and keep coming back at you this kid’s heart is unbelievable and I think could make the difference if it stays standing. In his last fight where he lost to Max Holloway I thought he could have taken a nap a couple of times but he kept coming through Max’s shots and made the fight go the distance. This could be a big advantage in the end because I have seen Renan tire in his last couple fights and if he exhausts himself trying to put Jeremy out we could see Jeremy capitalize. Now his opponent is the legendary Renan Barao who will be making his UFC featherweight debut in this fight. In Barao’s 2 loses to Dillashaw he looked like a different guy I was utterly disappointed in his performances and I still believe he is the better fighter than TJ but that is then and this is now. Renan is one of the toughest fighters if not the toughest fighter to take to the mat, not that Jeremy will be looking to take it there, as he has posted a 97% takedown defense in his career. Renan has stopped 23 of his 35 professional wins only 8 of those 23 are by KO. His 15 wins by submission show how lethal he is on the mat, honestly it doesn’t matter if he is on his back or in top position I believe there are only a handful of fighters in the UFC that can equal his skills on the mat. Don’t let his 35-3 record fool you either as far as age goes because he is only 29 years of age and still has a lot left in the tank I believe. I think he just needs to pick up a couple nice wins and get his confidence back. I think that this fight will be very exciting and we will see two opposites collide here. I think Stephens will look to do whatever he can to keep this thing standing while Barao will be patient and read his opponent while looking for his opportunity to take this fight to the mat. I’m not saying he’s there yet but imagine if Renan gets to the top 4 of this division Connor would have Renan, Frankie, Jose Aldo, Lamas, and Max Holloway waiting for him to return to the division he belongs in. Now I think we will see a more fit and better conditioned Barao then we are used to as of late enter this fight and he will get a 2nd round submission victory over Jeremy Stephens.
#7 (3) Thomas Almeida (21-0) vs. NR (8) Cody Garbrandt (8-0): Oh man this main event in the bantamweight division is more exciting than the looming title fight in the bantamweight division at UFC 199. These two undefeated superstars do not like each other, granted most the talking has come from Garbrandt but the kid can back it up so let the talking fly between these two. I think both of these guys are better fighters than the current champion no disrespect to Dominick as I think he is great I just believe that these guys are better at this point, and clearly better than Uriah Faber the challenger for the belt. I am a huge fan of both men’s fight styles and think that this fight has fight of the year candidacy written all over it. Cody is a beast with one punch good night power as he has stopped 7 of his 8 professional wins and all 7 have been by devastating KO victories, 5 of which including his last fight have come in the very first round. Garbrandt at this point is the best fighter fighting out of team alpha male at this point and I believe that he would be better off leaving but he seems loyal to his gym buddy Uriah Faber. So far in his three fight career in the UFC he has not been taken to the mat but I wouldn’t be shocked to see that change in this fight depending where Almeida wants this fight to go. Cody is 24 years old just like his undefeated counter-part and posted at 32 – 1 boxing record in his young career. Garbrandt is a good wrestler which gets overlooked due to how dominating he can be on his feet but training with Faber has that one huge advantage of becoming better on the mat and becoming a powerful wrestler. I think Garbrandt will look to push the pressure using his great boxing skills and footwork to keep Almeida from getting comfortable to try and keep this fight in his favor. Now his opponent is one of the fighters in my eyes with one more win I would consider a top fighter in the world and should be considered for a title shot, Thomas Almeida. Thomas is one incredibly gifted and tough fighter. He has had one issue only one really thus far in his UFC career and that would be in my eyes that he takes a bit of a beating before really getting going, who as of late is now reminding me of Bryan Barbarena just with more skills. Almeida has stopped his last 3 fights with KO stoppages with 16 professionally and 4 more victories by submission. Meaning in total this 24 year old kid with a 21-0 record has stopped 20 of his 21 professional wins. That lone win without a stoppage was his UFC debut and could be argued to be due to first night nerves. I honestly don’t know what I love most between these two crazy stats, he has stopped 14 of his last 15 by way of KO or that he has stopped 16 of his 21 fights in the very first round. Almeida doesn’t do it either by way of just straight up punching people in the face he lands some good body kicks and actually a fair amount of body shots with his hands too to wear down his opponent. Almeida has been working on his BJJ and looking to improve his ground game but I think if he goes to the ground he could make this fight really interesting fast because I actually think these guys are pretty even on the ground and it will come down to one simple question for Thomas. Can he avoid taking damage early? If he can then its goodnight for Garbrandt because I think once he gets his bearings under him he really steps up and could be the best fighter in the world one day with his skills. One other possibly worry is that Almeida has shown signs of slowing down before and he could do so again if the fight goes into the late part of the 2nd round and further. We shall see how this fight goes but I am willing to bet that this one goes down as one of the best fights of 2016. I am way more excited for this fight than I am most title fights. I am torn here but I think when it comes down to it Thomas Almeida is the better fighter but I wouldn’t be shocked at all if Garbrandt pulls of the “upset”. I am going to go with Almeida in the 4th minute of the first round via a KO victory.
Here we are at one of the last pay-per-views before UFC 200, which is supposed to be the best UFC card ever. I'm not bashing 200, but this one has a chance at beating it. This is the first time the UFC has been in Brazil since November and they make up for it by putting at least one Brazilian fighter in every match tonight so the crowd will be electric tonight. In the main event we see Fabricio Werdum battle Stipe Miocic and the co-main event has two of the best Brazilians in the Middleweight division with Jacare Souza vs. Vitor Belfort. We were supposed to see Hall vs. Silva but that won't be happening because of an injury to Silva. The UFC should have let Tim Kennedy step in and fight Hall that would have been a ton of fun, but oh well i guess. We will also see Shogun Rua vs Corey Anderson and Demian Maia vs Matt Brown as the main event for the prelims. Other notable fighters are Antonio Nogueira, Nate Marquardt, Warlley Alves and the debut of Chris Cyborg. This is gunna get nuts.
Fight Pass Prelims
Renato Moicano (9-0-1) vs. Zubaira Tukhugov (18-3): This is the very first fight of the night and we kick things off with a featherweight bout. The first on the long list of Brazilian fighters tonight is Renato Moicano who has just over half of his wins by stoppages. All five of his stoppages are by submission with one in the first round. He is also on a four fight winning streak. Moicano seems like an all-around fighter in his past matches, displaying standup striking, ground and pound and of course his submissions. His opponent is Zubaira Tukhugov who is a year younger, but has more than double the MMA experience. Tukhugov is on a nine fight win streak and has seven career stoppages. He has six wins by knockout and one win by submission and all but one of them were finished in the first round. Tukhugov is an amazing wrestler in the ring because he can hit quick trip takedowns during scrambles and he even hit a fireman’s carry off of ducking an overhead hook. He also seemingly loves when his opponent tries to start combinations because he is good at overpowering them with his own flurry of strikes and can land hard hits off his back leg. I am going to take Tukhugov in the first because I think that Moicano will be very focused on taking this to the mat, but Tukhugov will be able to stuff him and get a nasty TKO.
Sergio Moraes (10-3) vs. Luan Chagas (14-1): The next fight features two Brazilians and will take place in the welterweight division. Sergio Moraes has seven wins by submission and one win by knockout. He also is on a four fight win streak and his last loss was in The Ultimate Fighter Brazil Finale. Moraes attempts a lot of takedowns in his matches and uses strikes to help with passing to where he wants to work the submission. His opponent is new to the UFC, but has an impressive record in his previous fights. Luan Chagas is on a nine fight winning streak and has finished all of his career wins. Eight of his wins were by submission and the other six came from knockouts with only four wins not in the first round. Chagas can rip kicks when standing, but it seems like he prefers to take it to the ground and work his finish from down there. I couldn’t find much aggressiveness in his standup, but he is brutal when he strikes from the ground. I think this fight will be quick to go to the mat since both fighters seem to enjoy it. Then I predict that this will go into the second round with both guys working good transitions and sending shots at each other. I think that Luan Chagas will get the TKO victory because from the fights I’ve seen Chagas can hit harder.
(#10) Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (21-7) vs. (#11) Patrick Cummins (8-3): This is the main event for the Fight Pass Prelims and it’s a light heavyweight fight between two ranked fighters. Patrick Cummins is a two-time All-American in wrestling and two-time US National team member. In MMA, he has four wins by knockout and two by submission. Cummins hunts for takedowns aggressively and lands heavy elbows once he gets to the ground. If the fight is standing he will surely be looking for an opening because he has a lot of attempted takedowns per match and on the ground is where he excels. Unfortunately for him, his opponent is one of the best grapplers in the UFC. Antonio Nogueira is a third degree black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and is highly decorated in competition. In the MMA world, he has won nine of his last 13 fights and in his career he has an even six wins by knockout and six wins by submission. He and his twin brother were known for being near impossible to knockout, but as he is getting older I’m not sure how much more he can handle. In most cases I would quickly say Nogueira would tough out anything and beat his opponent at his own game, but I think Patrick Cummins will power through this future legend. I predict that Nogueira will tough it out for a couple rounds and even land some good shots on Cummins. In the second round Nogueira will wear down and Cummins will land a shot that will rock him and land heavy elbows until he gets the TKO victory.
Fox Sports 1 Prelims
(#12) Jon Lineker (26-7) vs. Rob Font (12-1): We move on to the televised prelims and we start with a bantamweight matchup. Rob Font is on an 11 fight win streak and two of them are in the UFC. He has five wins by knockout and three wins by submission with six of them in the first round. Font is aggressive and he can land big strikes and swings for the fences. Once he can get close he likes to throw on a clinch and send knees. His opponent is the number 12 ranked Jon Lineker. Lineker has won seven of his last eight fights and has 16 wins by stoppage. 12 of his stoppages were by knockout and the other four were by submission. This is only his second fight at bantamweight and his first was a first round submission. Now keep in mind we are in Brazil and since Lineker is Brazilian the crowd will be exploding for him. I think this will be a brutal fight between two strikers. This fight will be a good opening fight and the fight will go to the third round or maybe decision. I’m confident Lineker will take this one and I am going to call it by TKO in the third.
Francisco Trinaldo (19-4) vs. Yancy Medeiros (12-3): The next fight is a lightweight fight. Francisco Trinaldo, a Brazilian, has won 13 of his last 16 fights and has to be close to breaking into the top 15 with his current five fight win streak. Trinaldo has six wins by knockout and five wins by submission with seven of them in the first round. This guy seems to be very successful at defending takedowns and even if he does he manages to not end up in horrible position. He also packs a lot of power behind his strikes and can capitalize very fast. His opponent is Yancy Medeiros who has a 75% stoppage rate with nine of his 12 wins being finished. He accumulated six wins by knockout and three by submission with six of them in the first round. Medeiros is a long fighter who uses his reach to get his shots in and get out before his opponent can counter. He trains with the Diaz brothers so he has to be getting very good at grappling. In the fights I looked at, it seems that when he wins he came in kind of cocky and fought like a Diaz. He would get in and out work the ground game and did it with flair. The fights he lost, it was against guys that were notably better and it looked like he should’ve never been in there with them. This fight looks like it may go the way of the latter. Trinaldo has been grinding on the lower to mid-card for a while now and I think there is a big fire under his ass to finally get ranked and he is going to come in ready to crush this guy. I predict that Trinaldo will know to close the distance and get quick to work on the punches. I predict that Trinaldo’s massive power will knock his opponent clean out in the first round.
Thiago Santos (12-3) vs. Nate Marquardt (37-15-2): The next fight is in the middleweight division of two strong strikers. Thiago Santos is a Brazilian fighter who has seven wins by knockout and one by submission. He finished six of those eight wins in the first round and is currently on a three fight win streak. Santos was a big guy and tended to throw a ton of bombs, constantly backing his opponent into a wall. When he moved to the UFC he lost a lot of weight and seems a lot more tactical. He works the inside kick and can dodge well, but he is still very strong and aggressive. Unfortunately for him, his opponent is one of the kings of the middleweight division. Nate “The Great” has 26 career stoppages with 14 by submission and the other 12 by knockout. Also since he is such a veteran, the noisy crowd will not bother his performance. Now Marquardt has been 2-2 in his last four fights so he may have a rough time with Santos. This fight will probably take a while with both fighters trying to pick their shots carefully. I predict it will start to turn up in the second round after the fighters had a round to study their opponent and I think it will be very tough, but Thiago Santos will be able to pull out a knockout late in the second round.
(#6) Demian Maia (22-6) vs. (#8) Matt Brown (22-13): Here we are at the main event of the televised prelims and a wonderful way to transition to greatness expected to come from the main card. Both of these fighters are top 10 welterweights and this fight has what many people consider the best grappler in the UFC. Matt Brown has won eight of his last ten fights with unfortunately both losses coming recently. Those two losses were to two of the very few people ranked higher than him, one of them being the champion. Moving on, Matt Brown has only gone the distance five times in his career and only two of those he won. He won 13 fights by knockout and seven fights by submission which is evidence of his intensity. Matt Brown goes crazy when he gets in the ring and always backs his opponents down with heavy strikes then when he can get in close he works the clinch with an array of uppercuts, elbows and knees. Even though he lost he proved that he wasn’t afraid of power and aggression when he fought Robbie Lawler because he kept stepping up and trying to swing right back with Lawler. His opponent is the number 6 ranked Demian Maia. Demian Maia has a fourth degree black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and has 10 UFC wins by submission. He is also on a four fight win streak. Trying to grapple with Demian Maia is probably the single fastest way to lose in the UFC so it will be crucial for Matt Brown to keep this standing or at least in his preferred clinch. Don’t get me wrong, Brown is good on the ground, but there isn’t really anybody that can compare to Demian Maia’s grappling skills. It took me a lot of videos to decide this, but this is how I see this playing out. Recently, Demian Maia has made this transition to the kind of fighter that spends a lot of time trying to get his opponent on the ground then once they get there he just rides them out and piles shots on shots. Maia is one of the most lethal submission artists and he is just grappling to secure a decision. Of course he submitted Neil Magny and it was the first submission attempt of the fight, but in his recent fights he is trying his submissions only once or twice in matches that go to decision. If this attitude goes into this fight then I see Matt Brown landing more shots than Maia even if this fight spends a lot of time on the mat. I am going to say that this will be the first fight to go to decision and Matt Brown will be declared the victor.
Warlley Alves (11-0) vs. Bryan Barberena (11-3): This fight is kicking off our main card in the welterweight division. It was supposed to be a prelim fight, but it was moved up to fill the spot from the Silva vs. Hall match. Warlley Alves is an undefeated kickboxer who has seven finishes by submission. He also has four finishes in the first two minutes of his fights. Alves isn’t a fast fighter, but all of his strikes land with power. His opponent is Bryan Barberena who has only three more fights of experience. Barberena has won eight of his last nine fights. He also has eight wins by knockout and two more by submission and three of them were in the first round. This will be a standup battle where Barberena will try to land more shots, but Alves will land harder hits. I think later in the first round Barberena will try and take it to the ground because of his recent submissions, but Alves will out work him and pick up the submission.
(#8) Shogun Rua (23-10) vs. (#12) Corey Anderson (9-1): The second fight of the main card is the second fight with two ranked light heavyweights. First up is Corey Anderson who is an experienced grappler with an impressive college wrestling career. However Corey Anderson will be looking to stand and strike. Anderson has only three finishes, but they are all knockouts and in the first round. Anderson gets almost six significant strikes per minute and he will be putting them to good use in this fight. He keeps a very strong pace and can incorporate both his striking and grappling well into his game plan. Corey knows this is going to be a war because his opponent is a legend named Shogun Rua. Shogun has won 11 of his last 19 fights and has 20 career finishes. He has 19 wins by either knockout or TKO and another win by submission. Shogun is a Muay Thai fighter and uses a lot of kicks to keep the distance and deliver lots of damage. I think in the beginning Shogun will control the fight with his length and powerful kicks while each fighter tries to figure out what the other is planning. I think Anderson will be quick to close the distance and land shots while taking a few of his own. Shogun will not be afraid of the clinch and usually tends to get even more brutal with his use of elbows and knees. Both fighters are vicious and this will be a bloody match if it doesn’t end quickly. However I don’t see this being super-fast and will go to the second or third round. I think it will be a tough fight and Anderson will work very hard to be able to get the TKO.
Chris Cyborg (15-1) vs. Leslie Smith (8-6-1): This is a very interesting fight because Cyborg has for a very long time been known for calling out Ronda Rousey when she was champion. Not only was Cyborg not in the UFC, but she was also a champion of the women’s featherweight division; a division that UFC doesn’t have. Among many reasons and rumors, that fight never happened, but Cyborg still gained a ton of extra popularity from it. After Rousey lost her title, Cyborg shifted her focus away and made it on joining the UFC in any way possible. She saw her chance and begged to be part of UFC 198 because it would allow her to join the UFC and fight in her home crowd of Brazilian natives for her first time in over a decade. Well Leslie Smith stepped up and the UFC booked the fight for a catch weight bout of 140 pounds. Cyborg is on a 15 fight win streak and won all but two of them by knockout. She pushes a hard pace with about seven and a half significant strikes per minute. On top of that, she is built like a monster so I’m sure that all of her hits hurt like hell. Her opponent, Leslie Smith, has won five of her last nine fights. Half of Smith’s wins are by knockout and she doesn’t spend much time on the ground. I predict this fight will be all stand up and if that happens then I see Cyborg winning this fight by knockout in the first.
(#2) Jacare Souza (22-4) vs. (#3) Vitor Belfort (25-11): For the co-main event of the night we see two of the best fighters in the middleweight division go to war. Both of these fighters are true veterans and both Brazilian so I’m sure the fans are going to blow the roof off of this place during the fight. Vitor Belfort has won 11 of his last 14 fights and nine of them by knockout. In his career, Belfort has 18 wins by knockout and three more by submission. Belfort is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and was once a pro boxer so he is well-rounded. His opponent is also a very well-rounded fighter. Jacare Souza is a black belt in both judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Jacare has won 12 of his last 14 fights and has 18 career finishes. 13 of his finishes were by submission and the other five finishes were by knockout and 15 of them were in the first round. Jacare is a strong striker and is very good at taking people down with a variety of trips and big throws. He is also good at catching flying knees for a takedown. When it gets to the ground he likes to ground and pound aggressively so when he attempts a submission it is a complete surprise. Jacare is also an unbelievable scrambler. Just in case you don’t know what scrambling is, it is when a moment in grappling happens where it looks like neither person knows what they are doing and usually who reacts best comes out in better position and Jacare almost always wins the scramble. Vitor Belfort tends to push the pace and as soon as he sees a weakness he jumps on it. Belfort uses his legs sparingly, but when he does it seems like all of his kicks are just brutal. As I said, this fight is between two of the best and the fight could honestly go in almost any direction. I personally would like to see this fight take a while because it is an excellent matchup and I like both fighters. I think in the first round there is going to be a lot of standup with both fighters having time controlling the ring. I see Jacare catching a couple kicks and probably starting a scramble/ takedown attempt, however I think Vitor is going to give a good fight during the scramble. As the fight progresses I think this will become more of a ground battle. I’m not sure who will have more time in control on the mat, but I know both fighters will take a lot of damage. I predict this fight will go to the third round and Jacare will win with a submission.
(C) Fabricio Werdum (20-5-1) vs. (#3) Stipe Miocic (14-2): We are finally at the main event and we see a heavyweight collision for the Heavyweight Championship. Both fighters weigh well under the 265 pound weight cap so they will both be more mobile than most heavyweights. First up, Stipe Miocic has been an athlete his entire life. He earned eight varsity letters in high school and was a Division I wrestler and baseball player. In the UFC, Miocic has finished 11 of his 14 wins and they were all by knockout with six of them in the first round. He usually has a lot more mobility than his opponents meaning he can dodge shots very well and counter strike. Miocic has heavy hands and swings very often, but the problem I see is I don’t see him using barely any grappling. I looked at many fights to try and find grappling since he is such a good wrestler, but the only examples I saw where after he already rocked his opponent and he would fly in for the TKO. Now he is going to need it against the Champ, Fabricio Werdum. Werdum is a black belt in Muay Thai and Brazilian jiu-jitsu and a brown belt in judo. In the UFC, he has 10 wins by seven different types of submissions and six more by knockout. This fight could very easily be a standing fight the whole time, but I think it would be in Werdum’s best interest to clinch quick get a big takedown and work his jiu-jitsu. Werdum uses his kicks a lot so I think what will happen is he will keep it standing and use his kicks to land on Stipe while Stipe tries to stick and move. I think Werdum will wear Miocic down and in the second or third round Werdum will take it to the ground and there will be a very good ground matchup. However I see Werdum pulling out a submission for the victory.
UFC Fight Pass Prelims (6:30 PM/ET):
Renato Moicano (9-0-1) vs. Zubaria Tukhugov (18-3): This fight is going to be a good one to open the night and will take place in the featherweight division. This fight is between a striker in Tukhugov and a Jiu-jitsu fighter in Moicano. I think this fight will come down to who controls this fight and keeps it where they want this thing. I am going to take Zubaria to win this thing through a unanimous decision.
Sergio Moraes (10-3) vs. Luan Chagas (14-1): I am watching this fight due to the fact that I have been waiting to see Chagas arrive in the UFC. This fight in the welterweight division will be a fun fight and so close nonetheless. Luan is 22 years of age and has stopped every single fight that he has won in his professional career. This fight will most likely start slow as Chagas will try to slow down the pace of the fight at the start due to first fight jitters in the UFC. I think once this fight gets going some it will turn into a brawl and will end with Luan Chagas knocking out Moraes out in the 2nd round.
#10 (13) Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (21-7) vs. #11 (10) Patrick Cummins (8-3): Little nog vs. Cummins is the main event of the fight pass prelims. I am hoping this fight is a good one but it has the possibility to be a sad story if Nogueira decides to follow his brother and retire at home after this fight. I really think if he is training well and staying in shape he could become an actual title contender again one day again. Cummins is a good fighter but I am not sure he could ever return to the top of the division but I love to see him in the top 10. This fight is just going to be a good stand up brawl and could possibly end due to some good striking. I think Nogueira could win this thing in front of his hometown crowd and pick up the win through a 3rd round KO.
Fox Sports 1 Prelims (8PM/ET):
# 12 (12) John Lineker (26-7) vs. Rob Font (12-1): We open the televised prelims with a serious brawl in the bantamweight division. This fight opening the prelims is definitely a good way to show how good this fight card really is to everyone in the world. I love this fight Rob Font is 2-0 in his UFC career and should be ranked if he pulls off this win on Saturday night. Font has some seriously good footwork and works his ass off in the gym on a regular basis. The guy doesn’t know how to quit and his cardio is phenomenal and I really doubt we will see him slow down much during this fight. He has stopped 67% of his fights professionally and done so well on both the ground and on his feet. Font will have a 4 inch reach advantage in this fight. I think his opponent John Lineker is his toughest test to date without a doubt and will be a great fight for Font. John is a very aggressive, powerful, and good striking fighter. He has picked up 3 impressive wins in a row as he heads into this fight a little hot. With a win in this fight he could go up the rankings a bit and get closer to a title shot. John has 16 stoppages with 12 KO’s and 4 by submission and it shows he could stop the fight in both situations. I think both fighters will be put on a show for the fans in Brazil and this fight is going to be extremely close. I am torn on who to take here but I think Font pulls off the slight upset and moves to 3-0 in the UFC and finds himself a ranking. I believe he will pick up the win via 3rd round submission.
Francisco Trinaldo (19-4) vs. Yancy Medeiros (12-3, 1NC): This fight was on Fight Pass but now it moved up to replace Alves and Barberena as they moved into the main card to replace Hall and Silva. This fight is a good one and does deserve televised prelim recognition. This fight will be fun to watch as it will have the potential to become a serious brawl in the lightweight division. These two guys will be brawling as they are both aggressive strong stand up fighters with a lot of heart and grit. Yancy has stopped 9 of his 12 professional wins. His last fight was against John Makdessi in a fight were he picked up a split decision win in a fight I honestly thought he lost. But he has the skills to rebound from a weaker than normal performance. His opponent Francisco Trinaldo is one tough strong hitting dude with a lot of heart. He has the ability to end a fight in one simple punch. Trinaldo has stopped 11 of his 19 professional wins splitting them 6 by KO and 5 more through submission show how versatile a fighter he can be. This fight will most likely go the distance as they each try to display their technical prowess over the other. I think Trinaldo will pick up the win in this one via a unanimous decision.
Thiago Santos (12-3) vs. Nate “The Great” Marquardt (37-15-2): Who is ready to see a brawl in the middleweight division? These guys have finished over 60% of their fights and will look to do so by having the better skills in this one as well. Nate Marquardt is one absolutely powerful dude with the possibility to stop the fight in the matter of moments. Nate is one of the more well-rounded fighters in the UFC not just the middleweight division. Nate has stopped 70% of his professional fights and has been fighting since was 19 years of age. He has gone 2-2 in his last 4 fights and needs to rebound from some shaky luck lately. His opponent Thiago Santos is no walk in the park as he has stopped 66% of his professional fights. Thiago is a great fighter on his feet and can land kicks from nowhere and catch his opponents off guard and put them out quickly and easily. He isn’t the easiest guy to take to the ground as he has stopped 86% of the takedowns attempted against him. I hope this fight stays standing and we get to see Nate’s power and Thiago’s ability to land some devastating kicks. If this thing stays standing I believe the fans will be as happy as they can be watching this one. I am going to take Thiago Santos to win this one via 2nd round TKO.
#6 (5) Damian Maia (22-6) vs. #8 (11) Matt Brown (22-13): The main event of the televised prelims is a good one between two guys who want to get to the top of the division again. Maia with this win would probably be one win away from another title shot and probably the same with Brown in reality. Matt is one of the most aggressive fighters in the UFC and will be a tough opponent on the feet for Maia. Matt lost a lot of fans and gained a lot of hate down in Brazil last night when he decided to step on the scale turn his back and flip off the crowd. Matt enters every fight in great shape and will be able to go the full 15 minutes this fight would require him to go. In Matt’s 35 fight career he has only gone the distance 5 times most likely due to his aggressive fight style and ability to end fights standing up and on the mat. He has stopped all but 2 of his professional fights 13 by way of KO and 7 by submission. Now his opponent is almost as legendary as they can get on the mat and if this fight goes there Matt is going to be in over his head. Damian has picked up 10 wins by submission, those being all of his professional stoppages. He is an incredible fighter nonetheless even though the fans love to see stoppages. Damian is the best grappler possibly in UFC history and easily the best currently in the UFC today. This fight will be really interesting because you have the best ground fighter with his own steady pace vs a guy with great aggression and striking ability. I believe Matt will pick up this win through a 2nd round KO though and really make a case for a top 3 fight.
Main Event (10PM/ET):
(12) Warlley Alves (11-0) vs. Bryan Barberena (11-3): We kick off the main card with a welterweight bout. I am excited for this fight due to the fact that if Warlley wins this thing he should be top 10 in the UFC. Bryan stopped the hype train that was Sage Northcutt for now. Bryan is a pure savage and will come in fired up and look to stop another undefeated fighter in this one. He will look to get this fight on the mat and use his good wrestling skills and grind out a win and look for openings if he can find them. A win here should get him considered close to ranked if not ranked. His opponent Warlley is an absolute monster though and isn’t someone Bryan can take lightly. I believe Alves should be ranked by now he has done nothing but impress more each time he has stepped in the octagon. He was the winner of TUF Brazil 3 and since then has gone 3-0 in the UFC. He picked up a unanimous win and then landed back to back submissions in his following 2 fights. I think this fight will be fun as Bryan will come in like a savage but I believe Warlley will weather the early storm and pick up the win in the 2nd round via submission.
#8 (8) Mauricio Rua (23-10) vs. #11 (12) Corey Anderson (9-1): This fight in the light heavyweight division could be interesting as Corey is the youngest ranked LHW fighter in the UFC. With a win over the legendary Rua he could really make a name for himself. Corey is a beast but he just needs to come get the fights I personally hate the slow pace reserved fighting style he fights with. Corey’s talents are boundless and could be a serious title contender if he would learn to fight more aggressively and capitalize on his power and skills. Now his opponent “Shogun” Rua is trying to resurge his career as he used to be the best light heavyweight in the UFC and is actually who Jon Jones got his title from before making his run. Shogun hasn’t looked exactly the same since but his skills are still there and he could put himself back in a top 5 fight again if he picks up the win here. I think that “Shogun” will pick up the upset victory and show that he still has it. I believe he will pick up a 3rd round RNC victory.
Cris Cyborg (15-1, 1NC) vs. Leslie Smith (8-6 – 1): This fight is a catchweight fight in the women’s division and the long waited arrival of Cris Cyborg to the UFC and she will be doing so in her home country of Brazil. Leslie was one of the brave women to step up and take this fight after coming off a good win over Rin Nakai about 2 months ago. I think Leslie to win this fight needs to get this thing to the mat and grind out and wrestle away a win. Leslie can do this and shock the world and stop the over hyped hype train of Cris Cyborg. Now her opponent is Cris Cyborg who is a beast, she is built like a tank, and honestly might be the most terrifying woman in the UFC. But my issue with Cris is that she can’t lose the weight to fight in the UFC’s bantamweight division. Cris is a powerful fighter though but she needs to become a better fighter on the mat if she plans to be successful in the UFC. I think the world would be shocked if Cris doesn’t win this fight and I guess I agree, Cris wins this thing through a unanimous decision.
#2(1) Ronaldo Souza (22-4, 1NC) vs. #3 (3) Vitor Belfort (25-11): The Co-Main is going to be incredible and honestly the most exciting fight this year. The winner of this fight better get the winner of Weidman and Rockhold because they deserve it. Vitor is a beast still at 39 years of age and could win this thing if he controls this fight and comes after “Jacare” Souza. Vitor is an absolute savage and could look to keep this thing standing because I believe he has the advantage standing with his impressive power, speed, and striking skills. He has the ability to fight on the mat though as he is a great BJJ fighter and could take this fight to the mat if Souza catches him with a few good clean shots. Vitor at 39 years of age is in absolutely incredible shape, he looks better than some of these 20 year old kids. Now his opponent I believe should be fighting Rockhold for the title, “Jacare Souza.” Jacare is in my eyes one of the best fighters in the world. Jacare should have beat roid using Yoel Romero I feel the judges gave the edge to Yoel due to a strong first round but lost track of the fight due to Jacare was fighting out of it and kept coming the whole time. I really think this fight comes down to the question of can Jacare weather the early storm from Vitor? If he can he will win if not Vitor will exit with his hand raised and probably headed for another title shot. I believe strongly though in Jacare and I think he will pick up this win via unanimous decision after winning rounds 2 and 3.
(C) Fabricio Werdum (20-5-1) vs. #3 (1) Stipe Miocic (14-2): The Heavyweight title fight I am dying to see if here. Stipe is an absolute savage and is all kinds of fired up right now and if I was Werdum I would have pulled an Aldo and faked injury and hid one more time. Stipe terrified everyone with the way he called out Dana White when asking for this title fight. Stipe is the best striker in the Heavyweight division and if he keeps this thing standing he will end this fight before it goes to the championship rounds. Stipe is a strong hitting, smart fighter, with a good chin and could wear out Werdum and tire him. I think Miocic is underrated on the mat but I don’t think he wants it to go there against Werdum but if he does I don’t think this will be over automatically like most think. Now his opponent Werdum already was hurt in an opportunity to face MIocic in a replacement fight replacing Cain against him. Werdum is a better fighter on the mat than most heavyweight fighters if not all and will most likely want nothing to do with Miocic while they are standing. I really think Werdum with his comments has underrated Miocic and how good of a fighter he is about to come up against. I am going to take Miocic because I think he is coming in on fire and more fired up than I have ever seen any heavyweight fighter if not any fighter. I think Miocic picks up the 2nd round KO victory as the heavyweight title changes hands.
- Matt K