The UFC returns for second straight week, as Curitiba, Brazil hosts a stacked UFC 198 card. Headlining is UFC Heavyweight Champion Fabricio Werdum, who looks to defend his title against challenger Stipe Miocic. I’ll admit, I’m excited for this fight, but I’m more excited to see the Heavyweight Championship finally be defended. It’s a championship that’s only been fought for five times in over three years and that’s including an interim title fight between Fabrico Werdum and Mark Hunt. It’s long overdue and I would ideally like to see the division get rolling. But then again, I realize that the Heavyweight division features some of the oldest active fighters and the chances of getting injured are higher.
Anyways, Fabricio Werdum will look defend the UFC Heavyweight Championship for the first time. It will be around eleven months since he captured gold against Cain Velasquez, so you have to wonder if he will have a little rust on him. His challenger Stipe Miocic will look continue the trend in the Heavyweight Division, as the title has changed hands more times in the last five years (4 times) than in any other division in that same span. He is currently riding a two fight win streak, in which he finished both Mark Hunt and Andrei Arlovski in pure domination. It really should be an exciting Heavyweight Title fight, as they usually are.
Also on the card, is an all important middleweight contest between Vitor Belfort and Jacare Souza. The winner of the fight will undoubtedly be in the mix in an increasingly crowded middleweight division. At a catchweight of 140 lbs. Cris “Cyborg” Santos will make her UFC debut against Leslie Smith, in which should make for an entertaining and chaotic first round. At 205 lbs. the legend Mauricio “Shogun” Rua returns in a “changing of the guard fight” against up and comer Corey Anderson. This is a big opportunity for Anderson to not only add a name to his resume, but really catapult himself into the top ten of the division. At 170 lbs. Demian Maia takes on Matt Brown in an all important fight, as a win here would inch Maia closer to a title shot. AND, to think Anderson Silva was on this card before pulling out due to surgery needed on his gall bladder is insanity! I mean, the fight card is just ridiculous and there are too many more fights to list, so let’s just get to the Predictions!
UFC 198 PPV Main Card (10 p.m. ET):
265 lbs.: UFC Heavyweight Champion Fabricio Werdum vs. Stipe Miocic – UFC Heavyweight action is always the toughest to predict, given the amount of power they generate on their punches. If we are talking about power, Miocic holds that advantage. However, Werdum is the more diverse fighter, as he implements some of the best kicks and knees in the division. On the ground, it’s no secret that Werdum will hold a very comfortable advantage. I mean stylistically, Werdum is just about a nightmare for almost any fighter. He is capable in the striking department, showing vast improvement and diversity among his strikes in every fight. If you attempt to take him down, you either are in a guillotine ala Cain Velasquez OR you enter perhaps the most dangerous guard in mma (*Cough, ended Fedor Emelianenko 27 fight win streak). The only way you avoid Werdum is to be a boxer like Stipe Miocic and use your athleticism and patience to technically pick him apart. BUT, we’ve seen Werdum handle something similar to that in Travis Browne no? I’m not saying Browne and Miocic are exactly the same, but Werdum is such a veteran that has seen and faced it all. And, with that, I’m going to predict that Werdum will defend his UFC Heavyweight Championship via submission. I just think that Miocic will be hesistant and limited to just striking, as his wrestling is left on the backburner due to avoiding Werdum’s guard at all cost. CAN’T WAIT THOUGH!
185 lbs.: Ronaldo Souza vs. Vitor Belfort – An all important fight in the middleweight division, as Belfort looks to build off his knockout victory over Dan Henderson and get back into the title picture. As for Souza, he looks to rebound from a controversial loss to Yoel Romero, which ended an eight fight win streak and a possible title shot. Without TRT, Belfort only has a few blitzkriegs to get the job done. He’s got tremendous speed and power to always have a chance. Unfortunately those advantages are always dampened by the lack of cardio. On the other hand, Souza has cardio, is a freak athletically and has shown the ability to get cracked, survive and rally back. The chances Belfort win this comes within the first two minutes and I just won’t take those odds. I think Souza will avoid Belfort’s power and eventually grind him down. So, I predict Souza will win via second round submission and possibly align himself for a number one contenders fight against either Michael Bisping or a rematch against Yoel Romero.
140 lbs.: Cris Cyborg vs. Leslie Smith (catchweight) – Leslie Smith has balls and really big one’s for the matter. I mean, who the hell is signing up to fight a literal juggernaut? My guess is that only Leslie Smith jumped at the opportunity and it’s going to be a chaotic and whirlwind of a first round. The phrase “Don’t Blink” is often thrown around, but seriously it doesn’t fit anymore perfect than this. Smith is a gritty fighter who will take a punch to give a punch. Unfortunately that style isn’t conducive in this bout, as one punch by Cyborg could mean goodnight. And, I’m going to side with that last notion and say that Cyborg will TKO Smith within the first round.
205 lbs.: Mauricio Rua vs. Corey Anderson – As I stated before, this is a “Changing of the guard fight”. We got a legend in Mauricio “Shogun” Rua facing an up and comer in Corey Anderson. As far as I’m concerned, this is also a last stand for Shogun. He’s won only two of his last six fights and has been knocked out in his last two losses. On the other hand, the TUF 19 winner Corey Anderson has been climbing the ranks quickly and is a win over Shogun from cracking the top ten. Anderson is athletic, has excellent cardio, is a top notch wrestler and his striking keeps getting better by the fight. Shogun isn’t athletic, doesn’t have the cardio he once had, isn’t a wrestler, but still can grapple and strike. He has the power to put away Anderson and this might surprise people, but I’m going to side with veteran. I like fighters in do or die situations and I think we are going to see a reinvented Shogun. One who is going to light up Anderson on the feet and avoid takedowns. I may be dreaming, but I’m going to predict that Shogun will win via first round knockout.
170 lbs.: Bryan Barberena vs. Warlley Alves – Bryan Barberena might as well be called the stepping stone, as he goes from upsetting Sage Northcutt to now fighting another rising talent in Warlley Alves. Call me crazy, but I think he pulls this one out too. Alves is a talent, there’s no doubt about it. He’s got power, a knack for submissions and has underrated fight IQ. The one thing that has plagued Alves, is his pace and cardio. It’s something that Barberena excels at and I could see Alves dominating in the first round. However, mid-way into the second round when Alves begins to tire, look for the tide to change. I believe this fight is similar to that of Matt Brown against Stephen Thomson. And, with that I’m going to predict Bryan Barberena will once again shock and defeat Warlley Alves via split decision.
UFC 198 FOX Sports 1 Prelims (8 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Demian Maia vs. Matt Brown – I’m going to be brief here, as I think this is a no brainer and I just wonder why Brown would even consider taking this fight (Besides the fact that he is a complete badass). Stylistically, this extremely favors Maia, as Brown has always had issues with grapplers. I see no different here, as Maia is one of the best jui jitsu practitioners and has one of the most smothering top games I’ve ever seen. On the other hand, Brown is a slugger and not technical, which I firmly believes he needs to be in order to win this. His aggression plays right into Maia’s grappling, which is going to make for a fast night. So, with that, I have Maia via submission in the very first round.
155 lbs.: Yancy Medeiros vs. Francisco Trinaldo – Yancy Medeiros is coming off his best win in the UFC, as he edged out John Makdessi via split decision. He’s also won three of his last four fights, which was certainly needed after he started 0-2 in the UFC. However, his opponent Francisco Trinaldo is on a quiet tear, as he’s won five straight. I find this matchmaking odd too, given Trinaldo had defeated Chad Laprise and then Ross Pearson. It appeared like there was some progression in the matchmaking, but this kind of halts that. I also believe that Trinaldo should have no issues with Medeiros. He’s a far superior grappler and has shown to be dangerous on the feet as well. Medeiros is just a striker, who is as tough as they come, but has wilted to grapplers. And, that’s exactly what Trinaldo excels at. So, my prediction is that Trinaldo will win via first round submission.
185 lbs.: Nate Marquardt vs. Thiago Santos – This is a tough fight for the veteran Nate Marquardt, as Thiago Santos is just absolutely scary on the feet (watch his knockout of Steve Bosse). I just can’t see how Marquardt wins this fight, as he’s honestly a shell of himself. I really wish he had just retired after he knocked C.B. Dollaway out. However, he didn’t and I think he’s going to pay dearly for that, as I have Santos winning via first round TKO.
135 lbs.: Rob Font vs. John Lineker – Font is a very good bantamweight, but his progression might slow down here. I mean, Lineker is just a brute force with some of the heaviest hands in the UFC. He will turn a fight into a slugfest and his chin is elite enough to take whatever Font has to offer. I’m not too sure the latter could be said about Font, but who knows. All I know though is I’m going to side with Lineker here, and despite the size disadvantage, the power advantage is just too much to pass on. So, with that, I have Lineker via TKO in the very first round.
UFC 198 Fight Pass Prelims (6:30 p.m. ET):
205 lbs.: Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Patrick Cummins – This reminds of the fight between Antonio Rogerio Nogueira against wrestlers like Phil Davis, Ryan Bader and Jason Brilz. “Lil Nog” only won one of those fights, defeating Jason Brilz via a controversial split decision. The other two, he got wrestled into oblivion and that was five years ago. So, at the age of 39 now, he will again face a superior wrestler in Patrick Cummins. I’m going to forecast a beatdown and predict that Cummins will win via second round TKO.
170 lbs.: Sergio Moraes vs. Luan Chagas – I have no idea who Luan Chagas is, besides the fact that he is a late replacement for Kamaru Usman. A fighter that would of been a terrible matchup for Moraes, so in my opinion he lucked out here. I’m going to be very brief here and say that Moraes’s grappling and submission prowess will be enough to finish Chagas in the very first round.
145 lbs.: Renato Moicano vs. Zubaira Tukhugov – Zubaira Tukhugov all day here, as I have no idea who Moicano is and the fact that he hasn’t fought in over a year. Tukhugov is already 2-0 in the UFC, make that 3-0, as I have him winning via decision!