A week after Tyron Woodley dethroned Robbie Lawler, the UFC returns to action in Utah for the first time ever. Headlining the card is The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America winner Yair Rodriguez against the one they call “Bruce Leroy” Alex Caceres. Rodriguez is on the heels a five fight win streak, four of which have come in the UFC. Most recently, he defeated fellow prospect Andre Fili by knockout via a highlight reel flying head kick. As for Alex Caceres, he’s won two straight fights including a signature victory over Cole Miller. It’s been a roller coaster of a career for Caceres, as he’s endured several losing streaks and winning streaks, but a win over Rodriguez would elevate him to stardom he’s never reached.
Co-Headlining, is another contest in the Featherweight division between Dennis Bermudez and Rony Jason. If there’s anything to this fight, it’s that it almost guarantee’s to be your “Fight of the Night”. Also on the card is a pivotal Middleweight bout, as Thales Leites and Chris Camozzi lock horns. I say pivotal because in a stacked Middleweight division, a loss keeps you out of contender status for at least another year. Other names on the card include Cub Swanson, Santiago Ponzinibbio, Zak Cummings, Tatsuya Kawajiri, etc… Anyways, let’s just get to the Predictions!
FOX Sports 1 Main Card (10 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Yair Rodriguez vs. Alex Caceres – This main event is all about Yair Rodriguez, as the UFC’s looks to spotlight this rising talent and absolute diamond in the rough. This top billing is going to give Rodriguez more notoriety and elevate him to bigger and better things. However, with all the recent upsets going on, Caceres is not to be overlooked. Caceres is mainly a striker, but has shown decent grappling abilities. His last win over Cole Miller he used his reach and picked apart Cole Miller on the feet. However, against Rodriguez, he won’t have the luxury of holding a striking advantage over his opponent. Rodriguez is a dynamic striker, who will just about do anything you’ve never seen a typical striker do. From cartwheel kicks to flying roundhouse kicks – he’s a bundle of excitement. He’s also worked on his grappling abilities, which has shown in his last few fights, as he’s either tried for crazy submissions or immediately has gotten up when taken down. Now, I think Caceres is going to have his moments, but in the end, he’s going to be on the wrong the result of a highlight reel KO. So with that, I have Rodriguez via KO within the first two rounds.
145 lbs.: Dennis Bermudez vs. Rony Bezerra – If the non-careless Bermudez shows up here, he should have no issues with Rony “Jason” Bezerra. Bermudez is a superior wrestler, with excellent top control and he’s a formidable striker. The issue though is that he intends to get into brawls, one’s in which have cost him fights or at least put him dangerous situations. Bezerra strives in brawls and he has no issues going toe to toe with you. Even if Bermudez is a bit careless, he’s a better mixed martial artist then Bezerra and I believe that his strength and his wrestling abilities are going to put him over the top here. Bermudez via TKO!
185 lbs.: Chris Camozzi vs. Thales Leites – Now I think Camozzi is an absolute warrior and he’s a fan friendly fighter for sure. He’s always down to brawl, but he has the whits to take a fight to the ground to get a win too. Unfortunately, he has historically never fared well against the upper-echelon of the middleweight division. And that’s not to say he can’t beat them, hell the guy has invaluable time with Jacare Souza, who he fought twice. He might of lost both, but he learned what it’s going to take to be championship material. So with three straight victories, he has to now face Thales Leites. A former title challenger, Leites has recently stumbled in two straight fights. He lost to current UFC Middleweight Champion Michael Bisping in a close decision and to Gegard Mousasi via decision. Those two losses are nothing to be ashamed about and he’s really shown in this second UFC stint, that he is certainly a contender. No offense Camozzi, but I think Leites is going dominate this one. His grappling abilities alone have the ability to stifle Camozzi, which is exactly what I think is going to happen. So with that, Leites via submission.
170 lbs.: Zak Cummings vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio – Man o Man, this is an underrated fight! Two solid up-and-coming middleweights. Ponzinibbio is a striker who packs a punch and takes one to give one. He also is a great athlete and his speed has given recent opponents loads of trouble. As for Cummings, he’s so underrated. He’s a sneaky serviceable striker, powerful grappler and is excellent on the ground – in other words, a well rounded mixed martial artist. I like Ponzinibbio, but his style leaves him open to being hit ala against Lorenz Larkin. It also plays right into Cummings game, which is why I believe that Cummings will take this one via late TKO!
185 lbs.: Joseph Gigliotti vs. Trevor Smith -I’ve never seen Gigliotti fight, but I’ve heard that’s he’s a legit prospect. However, I’m not going to side with anyone I haven’t seen, so take this prediction with a grain of salt, as I’m going to pick “Hot Sauce” Trevor Smith. The way I see this fight going is either Smith gets finished in the first or he survives and rallies for a decision victory. I’m going with the latter, Smith via decision!
115 lbs.: Maryna Moroz vs. Danielle Taylor – Danielle Taylor who? Moroz via complete an utter domination, with the end result coming via submission!
FOX Sports 1 “Prelims” (8 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Dominique Steele vs. Court McGee – Speaking of a reckless fighter, Steele perfectly fits that category too. He’s definitely a fan friendly fighter and maybe it’s affected his record, but the hardcore fans appreciate his fights. As for McGee, it’s been along time since the TUF 11 winner has really looked like himself. However, Steele’s recklessness plays right into McGee’s game. Expect lots of takedowns en route to a decision victory!
265 lbs.: Marcin Tybura vs. Viktor Pesta – I’m siding with Tybura here, just because he’s a technical striking (albeit nothing special) and he’s not a bad grappler to boot. Pesta in my opinion is just too small for this weight class and it’s going to show. Tybura via decision.
155 lbs.: Jason Novelli vs. David Teymur – No clue who they are, although I feel like I’ve heard the name Teymur before – so that’s good enough for me to pick him via decision.
145 lbs.: Horacio Gutierrez vs. Teruto Ishihara – Ishihara all day! He’s one of the more unknown exciting talents in the UFC and he’s the right kind of reckless to ensure the fans of pure entertainment. So with that, Ishihara via first round KO!
UFC Fight Pass “Prelims” (6:30 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Cub Swanson – Fun Fight! Kawajiri is one of the more underrated Featherweights and despite having 46 professional fights and being 38 years old, I think he’s got a real shot in this fight. His combatant Swanson, recently made a successful return to the UFC, defeating Hacran Dias after nearly a year off. He looked pretty good and ala Frank Mir, it has shown that time off has been beneficial. As for the fight, I’m going to side with Kawajiri. He might have be at a disadvantage in the striking department, but he’s a relentless grappler who embraces the grind. I’m not saying Kawajiri is going to dominate, but I envision him making this an ugly fight while mixing in takedowns and using his suffocating top control to keep Swanson at bay. So with that, Kawajiri via decision.
265 lbs.: Justin Ledet vs. Chase Sherman – I’m going with the Sherminator (American Pie) here and if that’s not his nickname already – it better be by next fight. Anyways with a huge size advantage, I got Sherman winning via first round KO!