After John Lineker’s stunning knockout victory over Michael McDonald at UFC Fight Night 91, the UFC is back in action, in the Windy City, Chicago. Headlining the card on big Fox is former Women’s Bantamweight Champion Holly Holm and rising talent Valentina Shevchenko. Holm returns for the first time since losing the Women’s Bantanweight Championship to Miesha Tate (Who has since lost the title) and will look to get right back into the title contention with a victory. Her opponent Shevchenko suffered her first defeat in the UFC to now Women’s Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes, a fight in which if was a five round fight, Shevchecko probably would of won. However it wasn’t and now both these title contenders will do battle in what should be a great fight.
Co-Headlining is an all important lightweight contest between the dynamic Edson Barboza against the former Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez. Barboza looks to build off an impressive victory over former UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis, a fight in which he absolutely dominated. His combatant Melendez returns from a year long suspension, which was a shocker, given Melendez’s physique doesn’t indicate PED usage.
Originally, this card was supposed to pit Glover Teixeira against Anthony Johnson , so forgive me for not breaking down who else is on this less than appetizing card. So with that, let’s just get to the Predictions!
UFC on FOX 20 Main Card (8 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Holly Holm vs. Valentina Shevchenko – With all due respect to Valentina Shevchenko, but this is too soon for her. Holm is among the elite in the division and this will mark the third fight Shevchenko has had in the UFC. Now, she is an elite kickboxer and I think the more time inside the octagon will eventually mold her into a title challenger. However, Holm is already that and I’m not going to break this down any further. Holm will use her graceful technical striking, throwing in some surprising takedowns in a masterful decision victory.
155 lbs.: Edson Barboza vs. Gilbert Melendez – Normally it’s easy to just pick the active fighter, one in which decisively defeated the former UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis. However, I’m going to throw a curveball and side with the fighter that’s been suspended for PED’s and out for over a year. And my reasons are that Gilbert Melendez is still one of the very best lightweights on the planet and his well rounded skill set, mostly his grappling prowess is going to stifle the dynamic striking Barboza brings. If Barboza can keep his distance, this one might get ugly. But, I’m confident that Melendez can get inside and turn this into a grappling affair. One in which I favor him in, so I got Melendez in an upset via decision.
265 lbs.: Francis Ngannou vs. Bojan Mihajlovic – I have no idea who this Mihajlovic is, minus the fact that he is a sacrificial lamb to French Zeus Francis Ngannou. So with that, Ngannou via KO!
115 lbs.: Felice Herrig vs. Kailin Curran – This is a toss up. On one end you have Herrig, who is a solid wrestler and grappler. On the other end, you have a feisty striker in Curran, who is a much better fighter then her record indicates. The problem is, Curran seems to fold in the third round due to silly mistakes. It’s cost her in her fight against PVZ and more importantly against Alex Chambers (A fight she dominated). Anyways, Herrig has never really impressed me and Curran even with the mistakes, I favor to win this fight via decision.
UFC on FOX 20 “Prelims” (6 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Eddie Wineland vs. Frankie Saenz – I wish I knew what Wineland was going to show up for this fight because if it’s the guy who beat Brad Pickett back in 2012, then I’d pick him. However, I don’t think it’s going to be that guy and Saenz despite not being a world beater, is a good enough grappler to give Wineland troubles in this fight. So, Saenz via decision.
145 lbs.: Darren Elkins vs Godofredo Pepey – Elkins Elkins Elkins…. He’s going to do what he does best and grind – and win via deicision.
170 lbs.: Kamaru Usman vs. Alexander Yakovlev – This is going to be a great fight! I really like Kamaru Usman here and probably in about every fight after this. And I’ll say it now, Usman has all the tools to be a title challenger in the next year and a future champion at 170 lbs. Now I think Yakovlev is going to make this fairly competitive, but I have Usman via decision here.
155 lbs.: Mitchell Prazeres vs. J.C. Cottrell – I only know of Prazeres, as well as the fact that he’s a strong grappler. And that’s good enough here to make me pick him via decision.
UFC on FOX 20 “Prelims” on UFC Fight Pass (4:30 p.m. ET):
155 lbs.: Alex Oliveira vs. James Moontasri – Underrated fight, as I expect these two bangers to go toe to toe until someone’s lights shut off. Oliveira looks to get back into the win column, as Donald Cerrone ended what was a three fight win streak. On the other end, Moontasri will look to build off his thrilling spinning fist KO on Anton Zafir. As for a prediction, I’m going to side with Moontasri here, although both men are absolute wildcards. At one moment they look like world beaters and another they flake out. Anyways, I like Moontasri’s takedown defense and ability to get up if taken down, plus his striking abilities are getting more dynamic by the moment. So, Moontasri via TKO in a slugfest!
155 lbs.: Jim Alers vs. Jason Knight – I had higher hopes for Alers when he arrived in the UFC, but maybe here he reignites the flame. Expect a grappling match and Alers winning most of those exchanges. So, Alers via decision
155 lbs.: Luis Henrique vs. Dmitry Smolyakov – So we got two relatively fresh Heavyweights and the deciding factor here for me is that one of them is undefeated and he’s Russian. Smolyakov via KO!