A week after Robert Whittaker solidified his status as a legit threat in the Middleweight division, the UFC returns to action for an excellent TUF 24 Finale card. However, this card won’t crown a winner, as this season had a twist to it. The UFC brought in Flyweight Champions from around the world, who would fight in a tournament, with the winner earning an immediate title shot against Demetrious Johnson. The winner, was former UFC flyweight Tim Elliott, who will be looking to make the most of this rare opportunity.
In the Co-Headliner, the TUF 24 coaches do battle, as Joseph Benavidez takes on Henry Cejudo in potentially a number one contenders fight. Benavidez has strung off five straight victories since losing to Demetrious Johnson via knockout back at UFC on Fox 9. And if he can defeat Henry Cejudo, he’s pretty much cleared out the entire Flyweight division other than Demetrious Johnson. As for Cejudo, his last fight was against the aforementioned Demetrious Johnson, which he saw defeat in the very first round. Before the lost, the Olympic gold medalist was undefeated and looked to be a huge threat to ending the reign of Johnson.
Anyways, let’s just get to the Predictions!
FOX Sports 1 Main Card (10 p.m. ET):
125 lbs.: UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson vs. Tim Elliot – Now, I love Tim Elliott. His fighting style is must watch and I believe he has a real shot at making this fight ugly and close. BUT, there’s no way I can pick against perhaps the Pound for Pound best in Demetrious Johnson. He’s literally shown no weaknesses. And other than my proposed “Making this fight ugly” which might not even win him the fight, the only thing I can think of is a lucky punch? Elliott is super durable, he throws in volume, his footwork is funky (similar to that of Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz) and I really do think he’s a worthy challenger. I expect him to make this fight a fun and high pace battle, but Johnson eventually wearing Elliott down with takedowns and heavy top control, finishing him in the Championship rounds. So with that, I have the Flyweight Kingpin winning this one via a hard fought late submission victory.
125 lbs.: Joseph Benavidez vs. Henry Cejudo – This is a fun fight, but I have Benavidez here. Cejudo is definitely a top notch Flywight, but I feel like he needs more experience before facing the upper echelon of the division. And it showed against Demetrious Johnson, but then again, Johnson does excel in making opponents look bad. Anyways, Benavidez is just a more experienced fighter, who’s basically cleared out the division. He’s very well rounded and his striking is going to be the difference in this fight. I firmly believe his grappling cancels out Cejudo’s wrestling and on the feet, like I said, I favor Benavidez. So with that, I have Benavidez taking this one via decision.
170 lbs.: Jake Ellenberger vs. Jorge Masvidal – I was super happy to see Jake Ellenberger get back to his old roots against Matt Brown, as he was borderline reaching the point of no longer being a UFC caliber talent. This fight however is a really tough one for him, as Masvidal might be one of the most underrated fighters on the roster. He’s lost four fights in the UFC, three by split decision and even the unanimous defeat could of gone his way. His ability to “Coast” in a fight has dearly cost him, as he could very well be undefeated as I alluded too. As for a prediction, it’s pretty obvious that I have Masvidal. He’s durable, has excellent head movement, great footwork, technical striking, solid grappling…basically as well rounded as you can get. So with that, I have Masvidal winning this via knockout due to Ellenberger’s slowly durability wearing away.
205 lbs.: Jared Cannonier vs. Ion Cutelaba – I’ve seen both fight, but not enough to make a fair prediction. I do however recall Cannonier as a Heavyweight and being a very agressive striker. In fact, I think Cutelaba is also aggressive, which probably means this fight ends in KO. So with that, I’m coin flipping this….Cannonier via KO!
135 lbs.: Alexis Davis vs. Sara McMann – If this fight took place a year ago, I’d a had a hard time deciding a winner. However, Davis took a year off as she became a mother. Meanwhile, McMann has been sharpening her tools, most recently showing that in her victory over Jessica Eye. And while Davis is an excellent grappler, McMann’s wrestling and smothering top game should neutralize that. So with that, I have McMann winning this one via decision.
125 lbs.: Ryan Benoit vs. Brandon Moreno – This is going to be a fun fight and a potential “Fight of the Night” candidate. Benoit is a wrestler, who also happens to be very heavy handed. He kind of reminds me of Jamie Varner. His combatant Moreno is a willing striker, who’s more wild in his approach, but ridiculously durable. His ability to take punishment and keep coming at a high pace is such an advantage. Moreno is more known for his grappling and submission prowess, but he’s really improved and made it a focal point that his striking is dangerous too. As for a prediction, I’m siding with Moreno here. While I think the power of Benoit will be a huge factor in this fight, Moreno’s cardio, pace and ability to just keep coming forward will earn him the decision victory here.
FOX Sports 1 “Prelims” (8 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Ryan Hall vs. Gray Maynard – I still can’t believe how Gray Maynard is still fighting. It’s sad too, as he’s gone from an almost Lightweight Champion to now simply just a shell of himself. And he’s now he’s trying to reinvent himself in the Featherweight division. It’s just too late and while Ryan Hall is only a threat with his Jui-Jitsu, I think that’s all he needs to get it done. The old Maynard would destroy Hall, but now he’s literally old. So with that, I have Hall via decision.
135 lbs.: Rob Font vs. Matt Schnell – I think Schnell was a competitor on TUF 24, but that’s about it. Font is a talented bantamweight and his striking is getting better and better each fight. I think that shows here, as he wins this one via KO!
115 lbs.: Kailin Curran vs. Jamie Moyle – Never heard or seen Jamie Moyle, but I know Kailin Curran. She’s really been underwhelming in her UFC career, as she’s faltered a few times late in fights she was winning. This fight however she should win, as it just seems like one those bounce back fights. So with that, I got the feisty Strawweight winning this via decision.
205 lbs.: Devin Clark vs. Josh Stansbury – I have no idea really who these guys are…so with that, a coin flip has decided that Devin Clark is your winner via decision.
UFC Fight Pass “Prelims” (7 p.m. ET):
185 lbs.: Elvis Mutapcic vs. Anthony Smith – This is a really fun fight and it’s pretty much guaranteed to take place solely on the feet. And if I were to make a prediction based off that, I’m siding with Anthony Smith. He’s aggressive and puts forth a tough pace, which I think eventually will wilt Mutapcic. So with that, I have Smith via late KO!
155 lbs.: Dong Hyun Kim vs. Brendan O’Reilly – Kim just had one of the candidates for Fight of the Year against Polo Reyes. And despite losing, he showed heart and formidable striking abilities. His striking defense was non existent, but that’s what made that fight a slobber knocker. Anyways, I’m siding with “Lil Dong” as they call him (I think), as Brendan O’Reilly has never really impressed me. His durability his questionable, which is why I got Kim via KO!