It’s been nearly a month since UFC 204, which was the last UFC event. In other words, it’s been an eternity, especially when as a fan you’ve been spoiled every week with UFC action. Now, there was supposed to be an event headlined by B.J. Penn and Ricardo Lamas on October 15th. The event obviously never took place, as it was cancelled after Penn pulled out of the bout via an injury.
However, UFC action returns with a banger of a headliner featuring the former UFC Lightweight Champion Rafael Dos Anjos and Lightweight contender Tony Ferguson. Dos Anjos will be looking to redeem and catapult himself right back into the title picture, erasing his last defeat to Eddie Alvarez which cost him his title. Ferguson, heads into this bout on the heels of a robust eight-fight win streak. A win over Dos Anjos should all but guarantee a title shot.
Co-Headlining the card is a UFC staple in Diego Sanchez, who welcomes promotional newcomer Marcin Held. Sanchez is coming off a TKO defeat to Joe Lauzon at UFC 200 and it would be fair to say, this is a do-or-die fight. Held, a longtime Bellator superstar, has a tough task in his UFC debut. It’s not a fight against a fellow newcomer or someone lower in the totem, it’s against someone who’s been in the biggest promotion since 2005.
Anyways, let’s just get to the predictions!
FOX Sports 1 Main Card (10 p.m. ET):
155 lbs.: Rafael dos Anjos vs. Tony Ferguson – What an awesome main event! This fight has title implications written all over it, as the winner has to be in the mix. Dos Anjos, the former UFC Lightweight Champion is looking to quickly erase his last fight, which cost him his UFC title. Meanwhile, Ferguson looks to extend his win streak to nine, which aided with a victory over Dos Anjos should have him earning a title shot.
Dos Anjos is one of the most complete fighters on the UFC roster and his striking, which really improved later in his career, has really been the addition that turned him into a Champion. His grappling abilities are superior and while on the ground, he can either ground-and-pound you to oblivion or submit you. Ferguson is a dynamic striker, with legit power in his hands. He prefers not to grapple, but he has very underrated abilities. Whether on his back or on top, he’s always active, punching you or trying to submit you with his long spider-like legs.
As for a prediction, I’m really going back-and-forth with this one. On one end, I believe that Dos Anjos just has the cardio, pace, striking and grappling to wear you down and eventually finish you. He’s a cerebral fighter too, often fighting safe, while maintaining constant pressure and heavy striking volume. On the other end, you have Ferguson, who has an arsenal of ways to finish you. He’s flashy and at times unpredictable with his strikes. However, his striking defense can be non-existent and it’s shown in his last few fights, as he nearly was finished on various occasions. It’s the same reasons too, while I’m siding with Dos Anjos here. It’s the safer pick and I’m going to say Dos Anjos takes this via TKO in round five.
155 lbs.: Marcin Held vs. Diego Sanchez – When Joe Lauzon annihilated Diego Sanchez in 26 seconds, it really marked the first time I thought that Sanchez no longer has it anymore. Arguably you can point out that he’s been long gone, but he’s never actually been finished via strikes before. Sanchez has been known for perhaps having the greatest chin and being the most durable fighter, so for Lauzon to be the guy to put him away is scary. Now, his fellow combatant Marcin Held doesn’t pack a punch, which is a positive. However, Held is formidable on the feet and more so known for submission prowess. Sanchez has solid submission defense, so I’m not sure Held will have a route to victory there. Anyways, I’m less inclined to pick Sanchez due to his sometimes hesitant striking, but his ability to turn the tide in the third round is always something to think about. Hmm…I’m just going to side with Held.
145 lbs.: Ricardo Lamas vs. Charles Oliveira – Great fight and one that makes much more sense for Lamas, then his original fight against B.J. Penn. In terms of rankings and moving up the Featherweight rankings, this fight does much more. Anyways, Lamas looks to get back into the win column, after running into the buzz-saw that is Max Holloway. Oliveira also is looking to turn around his fortunes, as he came up short in a barnburner fight against Anthony Pettis. As for a prediction, I’m siding with Lamas. Oliveira badly missed weight and I think he’s going to pay the longer this fight goes on, as the Mexico City elevation is going to eat him alive. Lamas is going to take advantage of that and finish Oliveira in the third round.
155 lbs.: Martin Bravo vs. Claudio Puelles (TUF Latin America 3 Lightweight tournament final) – I haven’t watched a single episode of TUF Latin America 3, so shame on me here. We need a prediction though, so I’m going with Johnny Bravo…I mean Martin Bravo.
155 lbs.: Beneil Dariush vs. Rashid Magomedov – This might be my favorite fight on the card. Both fighters share many common aspects in their fighting abilities, especially their technical approach. They are also very accomplished grapplers, so it’s anyone’s guess who exactly has the edge in this fight. However, I expect this fight to be contested on the feet and I favor Magomedov slightly. He’s a counter puncher, who’s striking output is very reliant on his opponents aggression. Dariush is technical and more pressure based, which plays into Magomedov’s style. It’s really a coin flip here, but I’m siding with Magomedov via decision.
135 lbs.: Heather Jo Clark vs. Alexa Grasso – An Invicta standout, Grasso will be an excellent addition to a seemingly growing Strawweight division. Grasso has future champion potential, as her striking abilities are sharp and will only be sharpened as she gains more experienced. Clark, a TUF 20 alum, has been dealing with injuries for most of her UFC career. I mean, she’s only fought twice in the UFC since debuting in 2014. And while she’s better than her record indicates, she just doesn’t have the striking abilities to keep up with Grasso. Clark’s only route to winning is grappling, but I can she Grasso shrugging off her attempts. So with that, I have Grasso via decision.
FOX Sports 1 “Prelims” (8 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Felipe Arantes vs. Erik Perez – This is a tough fight to call, as on one end you have a fighter capable of being better in Felipe Arantes. He too often has put himself in poor positions, costing himself fights. Perez on the other hand seemingly is improving every fight and is very well rounded. I would say his only fault is his willingness to getting into a brawl, in which his striking defense is thrown out the window. As for a prediction, I’m siding with Erik Perez. I expect this one to go to a decision and I’m going to take the hometown boy to get that favor!
135 lbs.: Marco Beltran vs. Joe Soto – I’m going to side with the former Bantamweight contender Joe Soto. And although those circumstances came about oddly, he fought Dillashaw valiantly. It’s been a bumpy road since, but his bounce back victory over Chris Beal was sight of good things to come. Beltran is on the heels of a three-fight win streak, but they all came against bottom-tier talent. This is a step up and I’m not sure Beltran is ready to grab this opportunity by the horns. Soto via decision.
170 lbs.: Max Griffin vs. Eric Montano – I’m siding with Griffin here via KO! I know he faltered against Colby Covington and was thoroughly outwrestled, but that’s just a testament of how good Covington is. If Montano can’t get this one to the ground, he’s going to get picked apart until the eventual knockout shot lands.
135 lbs.: Henry Briones vs. Douglas Silva de Andrade – I’ve seen Briones fight before, but never Silva de Andrade. I hate it when that happens, but I wasn’t overly impressed Briones. so my hand is forced to pick Silva de Andrade via decision.
Fight Pass “Prelims” (6:30 p.m. ET):
155 lbs.: Marco Polo Reyes (6-3, 2-0 UFC) vs. Jason Novelli (11-2, 0-1 UFC) – If you haven’t seen Marco Polo Reyes against Dong Hyun Kim, do yourself a favor and check it out. Reyes is as tough as they come and is relentless on the feet, having the ability to end it with his legit power. Novelli is well rounded, but is no threat anywhere. I mean, I wasn’t overly impressed in his abilities against David Teymur, but that was his debut. Anyways, I got Reyes via TKO!
145 lbs.: Chris Avila (5-3, 0-1 UFC) vs. Enrique Barzola (11-3-1, 1-1 UFC) – After losing to Artem Lobov at UFC 202, Avila has been given another opportunity. Avila was clearly out experienced and out matched against Lobov, which is again clear in this bout. Until Avila shows that he’s more than just tough, I’m going to side with Barzola to win her by decision.