With controversy being a big talking point within the UFC world this week it is nice to move away from all the negativity of drugs and arrest and looking forward to what should be a breathtaking fight night.
A break away from the “big” UFC events this weekend means that we have fight night 150, Fort Lauderdale. With this fight card not being one of the so-called big bills, the fights however are still lining up to be extremely tasty and feisty, with hopefully some big knockouts throughout the night. I am going to be talking about my predictions for each of the fights and why I think that specific person will win and my opinion on the fighters themselves.
To start off the night we have the early prelims, being shown exclusively live on the UFC fight pass, these fights are usually the ones with the lesser known fighters in them, however, they do sometimes end up being the most entertaining as seen before on other fight cards. The first fight of the night on the early prelims is:
Court “the crusher” McGee vs Dhiego Lima, both fighters come into this fight with 7 losses with McGee having had 5 more fights than Lima. Being a welterweight fight, this will be a tasty affair and by looking at their stats McGee will be looking for a stand-up fight, but Lima will be looking to take the fight to the ground. With both fighters liking submissions this will be a tough fight. Prediction: This fight is a hard one to predict I believe it will go down to split decision by the judges or a submission win for McGee.
Angela “Overkill” Hill vs Jodie Esquibel, this is the first women’s fight of the night and this is being fought at strawweight. Both women are looking for redemption as they both come into this fight on 2 fight losing streaks. Esquibel is the clear underdog in this fight with this only being her 3rd fight in the UFC, unlike Hill who made her debut back in 2014, this will be her 10th fight so she brings the experience to the table. Hill is a 50/50 fighter as she can be an amazing stand up fighter and then take it to the ground with ease. Prediction: After watching both of their last fights I don’t really see any knockout power there, so I am saying that it is going to go all the way and the judges having to go for a split decision in favour of Hill.
Jim “A-10” Miller vs Jason “Nicoya” Gonzalez, this is the first men’s lightweight fight of the night and this is looking to be an all-out submission fight with most of both fighters wins coming with submissions. With the fighters being lightweight they will not be packing to much power in their punches and that is why I think that this fight will involve a lot of grappling and takedowns from Miller, and a very strong submission defence by Gonzalez. The way it is looking though is that this fight will end up with one being submitted by the other. Prediction: In my personal opinion I think that Gonzalez is going to take this win with a submission early in the fight.
Now we are moving onto the official prelims, again being shown on the UFC fight pass. This part of the fight card includes some really interesting fights and fighters, with the number 15 rated men’s heavyweight and number 9 rated women’s strawweight both staking a claim to move further up the rankings.
The fight we start with is a lightweight bout between Gilbert “Durinho” Burns and Mike Davis. This fight pits the experience of Burns against the inexperience of Davis, this will be the first time that UFC fans get to see Davis enter the octagon as this is his debut fight, and a tough one it will be. Burns has been knocking about for quite a while now his debut dating back to July 26th, 2014, so he knows the full ins and outs of the UFC world which will pay dividends to him when it comes to fighting the relatively younger Davis. Burns is seen as quite a versatile fighter with the way he ends fights shared out between knockouts (5), submissions (7) and split/unanimous decision (2), so Davis has got to hope that he has done his research. For Davis this is all new ground and he is going to want to show the rest of the guys in his weight category that he means business. Prediction: For this fight it is not just a prediction but also a preference, from what I know it should be Burns that comes away with the win, however, my heart is saying that Davis is going to cause an upset by knocking Burns out.
The next fight pits Carla “Cookie Monster” Esparza against the undefeated Virna Jandiroba in a vastly talked about women’s strawweight fight. Esparza comes into this fight losing her last 2 bouts, with her last win coming way back in December 2017. The majority of her 4 wins in the UFC have gone down to a unanimous decision with her only other win being a submission win over Women’s strawweight champion Rose Namajunas back in 2014, that being her debut. I believe that Jandiroba will go out there and dominate right from the off and will be looking to take Esparza to the ground as soon as she can. Prediction: I am predicting that Jandiroba will win with a submission in the first round.
The biggest fight of the night so far is next, pitting #15 heavyweight Andrei “the pit bull” Arlovski against Augusto Sakai in what should be a tantalising bout. With Arlovski’s extreme fighting power coming up against the utter street fighter brutality of Sakai, this fight should be an all-out slugfest. Arlovski comes into this fight on a 2-fight losing streak with a no contest in there as well, it does not look all that good for the powerhouse from Belarus, but we cannot take away how much of a presence he has within the octagon, with 17 of his professional 27 wins being by knockout there is no underestimating the 40-year-old. Sakai comes into this fight having only had 14 professional fights, however 12 of those fights have been wins with 10 being by TKO/KO, this man is a force to be reckoned with. He has come up the ranks through Bellator and Bamma with his only loss coming against ex world heavy weight champion Cheick Kongo which is nothing to be ashamed of, so he knows what he will have to bring to this fight. Predictions: The only way I see this fight ending is with someone being knocked out, if Arlovski keeps his distance and wears the much heavier Sakai down then Arlovski should be able to finish him with a flurry near the end of the fight. However, if Sakai goes all out from the start I see an early knockout coming with him knocking Arlovski out with a knee to the head.
The final fight before the main card starts, is a welterweight bout between Ben “killa b” Saunders and Takashi Sato. At the age of 36 Saunders has been in and out of the UFC scene for quite a while now with his debut coming all the way back in 2007, in the ultimate fighter season 6 and his first official fight night being UFC 87. However, he does come into this fight on the back of 2 losses, so he will be looking to redeem himself against a much younger fighter than him who has only had 2 professional losses. To put more pressure on Saunders this happens to be Sato’s UFC debut, so both fighters will be looking to prove themselves. Saunders will be trying to show that he still has what it takes to compete at the highest level, whereas Sato will be looking to make a statement of intent to the rest of the welterweights. Predictions: Both fighters have proved that they aim to go for the knockout in the majority of their fights, so I see this one being a slugfest, with Saunders edging this one for me, with the 5-inch height advantage I see him stealing this one.
Now onto the main card and we have the first of two light heavyweights’ bouts on show, this one pitting the unbeaten Roosevelt “the predator” Roberts against Thomas “the young lion” Gifford. This will be the first time that we see either fighters fighting in the official UFC octagon, so this will be the first time that a lot of people will be seeing the 2 fighters. Lets start with Roberts, he comes into this fight 7-0 with his most recent fight ending with him submitting someone with the guillotine choke inside the first round, and all other fights not going past the second round, it is hard to know which Roberts will turn up on the night, the all-powerful TKO/KO Roberts or the Roberts who will be looking to take the fight to the ground as soon as possible and submit his opponent. On the topic of his opponent, Gifford comes into this fight as the clear underdog with a 14-7 professional record, however, he is unbeaten in his last 4 fights with 3 of them coming by way of submission. If we are to look at Gifford’s fight record 12 of his 14 wins have come by the way of submission, with only 2 of them lasting past the first round. So, all in all this fight is looking to be won on the floor. Predictions: I see this fight go only one way and that is a win for Roberts.
Up next we have John “hands of stone” Lineker vs Cory Sandhagen. The first thing that I have to mention is the massive height difference between the 2 with Sandhagen standing a massive 8 inches above Lineker. This may not mean anything when they fight, but if this is to be a stand-up fight then Lineker will struggle with the reach advantage that Sandhagen will have over him. The experience of Lineker will be something that Sandhagen will have to look out for as he has had 39 fights with 31 wins, there is no way of knowing which Lineker will make an appearance as he has shared out his wins across every possible ending. The most common win way for Lineker is TKO/KO which was seen in his last fight where he finished Brian Kelleher inside 3 rounds by KO. We have to move to the complete opposite end of the spectrum with Sandhagen who has only had 11 fights, however he has only lost the 1 fight, again like Lineker he has evenly shared out the way he wins fights; 4 by TKO/KO, 3 submissions and 3 decisions. Predictions: Out of all the bouts on this fight card I am finding this the hardest one to predict, I will say though that I do see Lineker taking this one, if not by knockout then maybe it will go all the way and if it does his experience will pay dividends.
The second and final light heavyweight bout of the night is Glover Teixeira vs Ion “the hulk” Cutelaba, this pits the old vs the young. Teixeira comes into this fight on the back of a strong win in January against Karl Roberson, finishing him in the first round with an arm triangle choke (submission), with 28 wins in his long career, Cutelaba would have to be on his A game to come away with a win. With most of Teixeira’s wins coming by KO/TKO it will be very much expected that he goes all out all guns blazing and to be completely honest I would love to see a vintage Teixeira punch out with him finishing the fight early. However, “the hulk” is going to put up a massive fight with the Moldovan coming off of 2 wins in his last 2 outings with both fights finishing in the first round. There is a reason that Cutelaba is called “the hulk” and that is due to the sheer power that he holds within his fists, one big swing from one of them will send any man to the ground. This fight is setting up to be a lively affair, with it not having much of a chance of going the full way I am expecting there to be a massive KO. Predictions: My thinking is that this fight will be an all-out war with both men going hammer and tongs, and I think that in the end Cutelaba will take this one as much as I want Teixeira to win. A win here could also propel Cutelaba up the rankings because at this moment in time Teixeira is ranked #11 in the world, so it would be nice to see a new name enter the rankings.
Fourth on the main card we have Alex “cowboy” Oliveira going up against Mike “platinum” Perry in a hefty welterweight fight which will be one for the ages. Oliveira comes into this fight with a record of 19 wins and 6 losses, with his last bout being a loss against Gunnar Nelson, so he will be looking to redeem himself against the American Perry. The majority of Oliveira’s wins come as KO/TKO, however the majority of his losses come by way of submission, the losses will not mean anything against a well fought out stand up fighter like Perry. Both men are very well experienced in the UFC world as they have been around for quite a while, with Perry also coming off of loss this makes this fight a lot more interesting. 11 out of Perry’s 12 professional wins are by KO/TKO, so we can expect street fight type of brawl, with elbows, knees and punches coming from all angles. Predictions: I see Mike Perry coming away with the win in this fight, I also see it getting to the 3rd round and Oliveira gassing out and Perry jumping in to finish him off.
The penultimate fight of the night is also the final heavy weight fight of the night with Greg “prince of war” hardy up against Dmitrii “the lifeguard” Smoliakov, America vs Russia. Both men come into this fight having never won while fighting in the UFC, Hardy was disqualified for an illegal knee in his only match so far and Smoliakov losing both of his fights one by submission and the other TKO. So, this fight is not being billed as one of the biggest fights even though it is the last fight before the main fight of the evening. Hardy for sure will be wanting to prove himself to Dana White that he did make the right choice of offering him a fight contract within the UFC, especially after making a rookie mistake of using an illegal knee last time out. In his latest interview on the ‘UFC Unfiltered’ podcast Hardy admitted that being tired forced him into the illegal manoeuvre and he also said that he was sorry. That being said, that is Hardy’s only loss within his professional career, with all of his wins coming by TKO/KO, so we know that he has the power and technique to fight up at the top level. In all of his wins he has not gone past a minute within the first round, so I am hoping that this Hardy turns up and shows the UFC world what he has to offer. On the other hand, we have the Russian machine Smoliakov, who has lost both of his fights in the UFC, so again he has not lived up to the hype that he brought with him from Russia, where he was unbeaten until he came to the UFC. Out of his 9 wins 4 have been by TKO/KO and 5 by submission, with all of his wins ending within the first round it seems to me that he is going to aim to have this bout ended quickly. Predictions: I see this going only one way and that is Greg Hardy knocking out Smoliakov in the first round. With Hardy coming from playing in the NFL, he knows that he can withstand the force of Smoliakov.
Finally, we have the main fight of the night, which is a Middleweight fight between #4 Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and #10 Jack “the joker” Hermansson. This fight was firstly supposed to be Souza vs #2 Yoel Romero, but Romero had to pull out due to illness at the start of April, so Hermansson took up the offer at short notice. Souza comes into this fight with 26-6 record, with his latest win coming against one of the best middleweights in the business Chris Weidman, with a third round KO. His only losses in UFC came against #2 Romero and middleweight champion Robert Whittaker, so as you can see he is a very tough man to beat. The majority of his 26 wins have come by way of submission, but do not take anything away from how good of a stand-up fighter this man is the power he generates in his punches is matched by hardly anyone in his weight category. Now we move onto Hermansson who comes into this fight with 19-4 record, winning his last 3 fights with his most recent coming on March 30th against David Branch via submission within the first round. Just like Souza, he has only lost 2 fights since being in the UFC, which is a record he should be proud of, he may not have fought some of the big names unlike his opponent, but we cannot underestimate the sheer power and skill this man possesses. The majority of his wins have come by the way of KO/TKO, so from this fight we can expect that both fighters are going to go all out. This fight for Souza is one of the biggest of his career, because if he wins this I believe he should then get another shot at the title. Predictions: I believe that this fight will be over within the first 2 rounds and it will be by knockout and I see Souza taking this one, as he is coming off of a massive win against Weidman and I just don’t see Hermansson being able to match up to him with power.