FOX Sports 1 Main Card
Jeremy Stephens vs. Doo Ho Choi
Prediction: What an exciting fight we have as our main event. I’m really having trouble deciding who will come out on top in this fight. I see a very back and forth fight that will end up being fight of the night. But all in all I think Jeremy Stephens has the all around better skill-set in this match up that will give him the edge on the scorecards. Doo Ho Choi is has shown that he has a very fast and powerful straight right that he loves to throw after his opponent makes any movement. But what happens when he can’t put his opponent down with that right hand? He hasn’t shown a good “Plan B” or “Plan C”. Choi comes forward flat footed so he can plant on his feet when he throws bombs. That will allow Stephens to land his power leg kicks to the calf. If Choi does not come prepared to check those kicks, then this five round fight will be a very long night for him. I see Choi putting on the pressure in the first round and having a lot of success, but Stephens has a very good chin to take whatever Choi has to offer. As the fight goes on Stephens will be able to press forward with hooks. Choi tends to back straight up when he is getting pressure, so Stephens should be able to land leg kicks, hooks, and head kicks while Choi is going straight back. I would give Stephens the edge in the grappling department as well. The deeper the fight goes, I think Stephens will have more success with getting Choi to the mat. Unless Choi shows major improvement as an all around martial artist, I think Stephens takes this fight. Jeremy Stephens has the grit to withstand Choi’s best trick, which is his straight right. Jeremy Stephens by Decision.
Vitor Belfort vs. Uriah Hall
Prediction: This is actually a very good fight to put on for both fighters. Both have some name value, and a win for either guy here really puts them back in the right direction. At this point in both of their careers, both men cannot be trusted to get the win in this fight. I would think that Uriah Hall should get the job done with a KO against the aging Vitor Belfort, but Hall just isn’t trustworthy in this position. He does not have a definitive style where he uses game plans to break his opponents down. He reacts to his opponents, and sometimes he gets highlight reel finishes, but he has lost a lot of decisions because of it. He does not have a high volume attack, and he does get hit a lot because he does not keep his hands up. Hall has also been one to get TKO’d because he gets caught with his hands down. Vitor Belfort, on the other hand, is definitely not the killer he was 4-5 years ago. He has slowed down a lot, and can’t seem to take punishment very well. But he still has power, and he still uses his technique well. He used to be a guy that just lost fights after they went to the second round, but he now looks like he adopted a style that allows him to stay competitive in 3 round fights.
With all of that being said, lets get into the actual prediction. I see both fighters being very tentative. Hall usually starts out fights moving really fast for the first couple of minutes. I see him throwing huge kicks, but Belfort will be patient. I think if Belfort can back Hall up towards the cage, Belfort can press forward with straight punches and land big. Hall is good at making his opponents miss with hooks by moving his head, but he usually has trouble dodging the straight punches. That’s where Belfort will find his success. Will he finish Hall with a flurry? I don’t think so. Hall should be able to recover and will have his moments of success in this fight. Overall, I see this being a closely contested fight, with neither man really having the edge on the scorecards. I will predict this fight for the more youthful and athletic fighter, but I’m definitely not confident in him to pull the trigger. Uriah Hall by Split Decision.
Paige VanZant vs. Jessica Rose-Clark
Prediction: This will be a good fight for both ladies in the newly branded Women’s Flyweight Division. Paige VanZant will be the more athletic of the two, but Jessica Rose-Clark will be the much bigger and stronger fighter. I see VanZant really having success in the beginning of the fight with her movement and by keeping her distance with her kicks. I just don’t see VanZant having much success in the clinch, or getting takedowns like she normally relies on. I think as the fight goes on Rose-Clark will be able to slow things down by engaging the clinch and possibly ending up on top when they go to the ground. Nothing that Rose-Clark does will be pretty, but it might be effective enough to sway the judges. I’m going to have to go with Rose-Clark, because even though she has a meat and potatoes type of style, I think it will be effective against a smaller VanZant. Jessica Rose-Clark by Decision.
Kamaru Usman vs. Emil Weber Meek
Prediction: This fight is pretty simple to predict. This is Kamaru Usman’s fight to lose. He is the one that dictates where this fight takes place, and as long as he isn’t too cocky at this point in his career then he should win this with ease. The path with least resistance is for Usman to take this fight to the ground immediately. From there he could choose to use a smothering top game until a submission opens up, or he could unload with massive ground and pound. Emil Weber Meek is not to be taken lightly if Usman tries to exchange strikes with him. But Meek showed a glaring hole in his game when he made his UFC debut. He was taken down very easily by a guy that is not a very good wrestler. I’m going to assume that Usman will immediately shoot for a takedown, and from there he will show a very dominant top game until he gets the finish. Kamaru Usman by Submission, Round 1.
FOX Sports 1 Prelims
Darren Elkins vs. Michael Johnson
Prediction: This fight all depends on whether or not Darren Elkins can survive the early storm that Michael Johnson will bring. Johnson is a very fast starter with his footwork and his strikes. He has a lot of power in his hands, and Elkins leaves himself open to incoming punches. I am concerned about Johnson’s cardio in this fight because he will be making his 145lb debut here. He never had the best gas tank at 155lbs, and I can’t see it being any better after he dehydrates himself for this weight cut. Another thing to consider is that Elkins has the style that gives Johnson problems. He can get out grappled, and smothered. It has happened time and time again in his UFC career. I can see Johnson having some major success early with big strikes, but if Elkins survives the onslaught I don’t see Johnson having the heart or mental strength to deal with Elkins grinding style. If Johnson starts to slow down in the second round, Elkins will be able to out grapple Johnson in the clinch and on the ground. This fight is hard to predict because it has layers. And it might not get past the first layer of the fight. If I were to bet this fight I will have to see Michael Johnson on the scale before I come up with a final decision that I will be confident in. I will go with Michael Johnson getting the finish, for now, because he will land early. Michael Johnson by KO, Round 1.
James Krause vs. Alex White
Prediction: This fight is going to be a close one. James Krause has been in the game a very long time, and been in many big promotions. Alex White is an improving fighter every time he gets into the octagon, and I think his style can give Krause very big problems. I feel like I know exactly how James Krause is going to perform by watching his stint on The Ultimate Fighter: Redemption. He is a guy that likes to mix up his game from striking to takedowns, and then he will try to work his way to your back. He is not great in any area, but he does have the ability to change his game plan mid-fight. Alex White is a strong guy that is very technical on the feet, and has a lot of power in his strikes. To me, it looks like he is improving on his takedown defense, and if he can stop takedowns then he will be a tough out for many 155er’s.
I see this fight being close because James Krause will try to go for takedowns. I don’t think Krause has the best takedowns, but they might be enough to get Alex White down. If he can’t get White down to the floor, Krause might be able to keep this fight up against the cage for long periods of time. If they stay on the feet I see White hurting Krause with big shots, and then Krause will go into grapple mode. If White can keep his composure and defend the takedowns, I truly believe that he could definitively win this fight. I’m going to assume that Alex White has good enough takedown defense to keep this fight on the feet, and will punch his way to a big upset. Alex White by KO, Round 3.
Marco Polo Reyes vs. Matt Frevola
Prediction: Its crazy how Marco Polo Reyes can go from fighting a top guy like James Vick, and then get matched up with a very green/inexperienced fighter like Matt Frevola. Reyes will have a huge advantage on the feet with his technique, power, and using all of his tools. Reyes doesn’t mind getting involved in brawls, and that’s exactly what he needs to avoid in this fight. Frevola needs to close the distance and trade haymakers. He has power, so he can hurt Reyes by doing so. If he rocks Reyes, then that will set up the takedowns for Frevola. I just don’t think Frevola is good enough to do that against an improving/experienced guy like Polo Reyes. I think Reyes mixes it up on the feet and lands big strikes repeatedly, sucking the energy out of Frevola. Reyes must be careful with not eating big shots. If he can do that I think he wins this fight. Marco Polo Reyes by KO, Round 3.
Thiago Alves vs. Zak Cummings
Prediction: Thiago Alves vs. Zak Cummings should be a very entertaining scrap. Alves is coming off a very impressive win over veteran Patrick Cote. Meanwhile Cummings is coming off of back to back submission wins over mediocre competition. The thing that makes this fight very compelling is that Cummings has the skill set to beat a guy like Alves. He has good forward pressure with power in his hands, and has a good top control game on the ground. Cummings only problem is that he doesn’t go for takedowns. He is content with staying in his opponents face and trading blow for blow. If he does that, then Alves will out class him. I’m going to assume that Cummings will be willing to trade strikes with Alves because he hasn’t shown a takedown clinic in any of his recent fights, and because of that I see Alves getting the better of the exchanges and winning a very close decision. Thiago Alves by Decision.
UFC Fight Pass Prelims
Jessica Eye vs. Kalindra Faria
Prediction: Jessica Eye vs. Kalindra Faria….. I honestly have no clue how this fight plays out. I have lost all of my trust in Jessica Eye at this point in her career. All of her fights are close, and she normally does not have the urgency to push the pace to win the close fights. Kalindra Faria got absolutely mauled in her UFC debut. It was short notice, but there isn’t one thing good to say about that performance on her part. Jessica Eye has the blue print to beat Faria, and I’m going to assume that she’s experienced enough to go with the path with the least resistance and use top control to win 2 out of the 3 rounds for a decision. Jessica Eye by Decision.
Talita Bernardo vs. Irene Aldana
Prediction: This is the classic striker vs. grappler match up. Irene Aldana will be the better striker here. She will look to just move around and use straight punches down the pipe, and leg kicks to chip at her opponent. Talita Bernardo will look hard for the takedowns to use her jiu-jitsu. She has some strong takedowns, and decent top control, but its not going to be easy to get takedowns on the 100% takedown defense fighter that is Aldana. I see this fight being a very slow paced fight with Aldana stalking Bernardo. She should be able to land a high volume of punches through out the fight. Bernardo doesn’t have much footwork so she might turn into a human punching bag for Aldana. I don’t see a finish in this fight from either women, but I see Aldana getting her first win in the UFC. Irene Aldana by Decision.
Danielle Taylor vs. JJ Aldrich
Prediction: JJ Aldrich vs. Danielle Taylor is one of those fights that will be painful to watch. Aldrich likes to press forward slowly and keep her range with straight punches. Meanwhile, Taylor loves to play matador with her opponents. She will circle away from here opponent and then unload with huge punches every so often. Its high volume (Aldrich) vs. few power flurries (Taylor). And the three judges sitting cage side are the ones that have to decide what style they think is more effective. I will side with Taylor in this fight. Aldrich gets tagged with punches because she doesn’t keep her hands up after throwing her combinations. Taylor will land punches, and they will be powerful. I think that frustrates Aldrich, and it will sway the judges to give it to Taylor. Very close fight, and it’s definitely not one to bet on. Danielle Taylor by Decision.
Mads Burnell vs. Mike Santiago
Prediction: This fight has the potential to be fight of the night. Both men are aggressive going forward, and both have pretty good gas tanks for the pace they like to push in fights. Mads Burnell has the clearest path to victory by getting this fight down to the ground and just staying busy in top position looking for submissions. Mike Santiago wants to just go forward and land big punches and liver kicks until Burnell folds. I think Burnell has good defense on the feet, and can even have a lot of success with his punches if he is able to press forward in this fight. If Mike Santiago just presses forward with a high volume attack and uses the “sprawl and brawl” game plan he can win this. But I do not trust his fight IQ enough to think that he will not attempt takedowns himself. Santiago will clinch with Burnell against the cage, and he will try to get a takedown at some point in this fight. That’s where Burnell will catch Santiago with a choke. Mads Burnell by Submission, Round 1.
Guido Cannetti vs. Kyong Ho Kang
Prediction: This fight has so many variables for each fighter that it’s hard to predict how each of them will perform. Guido Cannetti has been out of action for over 2 years due to a USADA violation. At 38 years old, he cannot be significantly improved since we last seen him fight. Kyong Ho Kang has not been inside the octagon in over 3 years due to his mandatory two year military service for South Korea. Other Korean fighters that have served their 2 years have came back with success because they are still able to train during that time.
I can see Cannetti having some success early on in this fight while he is fresh with his power. But I cannot see the 38 year old pushing the pace and dictating where this fight takes place for three whole rounds. I both fighters trading strikes for a couple minutes of the first round, but eventually Ho Kang will take this fight to the floor where he should be able to ride out the rounds on top. The more time that Cannetti spends on the bottom, the more energy he will lose. Ho Kang should be able to fight a full three rounds with the good gas tank that he has shown us years ago. I see Ho Kang getting the back and locking up the submission at some point in this fight. Kyong Ho Kang by Submission, Round 3.