A week after the UFC held two events, they’re right back at it again in Sacramento, California on Big Fox! Headlining the card, we got a pair of Strawweight contenders in Paige VanZant and Michelle Waterson. It’s an intriguing fight that could very well catapult the winner in contender talks. The relatively new division is still shallow, so if there was anytime to win, it’s now!
Co-Headlining, is a pair of prospects in Sage Northcutt and Mickey Gall. Northcutt, comes into this bout on a victory over Enrique Marin at UFC 200. The touted karate based fighter, needs to show in this fight why he belongs. While he’s 3-1 in the UFC, he hasn’t quite shown the progression we expected. As for Gall, his road to UFC was the golden ticket. He fought to fight C.M. Punk and then he fought him. He’s looked like a very promising talent, but he hasn’t quite fought talent. This should be a great test.
Anyways, let’s just get to the Predictions!
UFC on FOX 22 Main Card (8 p.m. ET):
115 lbs.: Paige VanZant vs. Michelle Waterson – Fun fight between two Strawweight’s looking to climb the ranks in a relatively new and shallow division. VanZant enters this contest on a absolute highlight reel switch kick knockout over Bec Rawlings. It was an excellent bounce back victory from the absolute beat down she endured against Rose Namajunas. She’s got a 4-1 record in the UFC and a win over Waterson would catapult her into contender status. Also anyone questioning if she’s a fighter is crazy because she’s got obvious talent to one day become a champion.
As for her counterpart, the former Invicta FC Atomweight Champion Michelle Waterson will be returning to the Octagon over a year since she last defeated Angela Magana. The “Karate Hottie” is an excellent striking and probably one of the more dynamic ones in the division. However, VanZant’s striking has evolved and I think the switch kick knockout is evidence of that. VanZant has also shown to be a pretty good grappler and her toughness is no joke.
As for a prediction, I got VanZant. She’s got momentum and in a five round fight, I trust her volume and cardio to triumph over Waterson. I think if Waterson is going to win, it has to be in the early rounds. So with that, I have VanZant winning this via TKO in the championship rounds.
170 lbs.: Mickey Gall vs. Sage Northcutt – This an intriguing and kind-of the only fight that makes sense for Mikey Gall right now. He’s super green and his competition has been against a journalist who made his pro debut, as well as WWE superstar in C.M. Punk who also made his professional debut. Despite the opponents, Gall has shown that he is a prospect and will be threat in the UFC in due time. His lack of experience and opponents lack there of experience are the only red flags heading into this bout. As for Northcutt, he’s got a 3-1 record in the UFC and of his wins, only his last opponent Enrique Marin is still currently in the UFC. He’s got excellent karate, but his defensive wrestling has been suspect. His offensive wrestling is fine and he’s got some submission game too him. As for a prediction, while I lean Gall, I just can’t pick a guy who hasn’t fought anyone yet. Northcutt has at least faced professional fighters and I think he’s going to get this one done via late submission.
135 lbs.: Urijah Faber vs. Brad Pickett – This will be Urijah Faber’s retirement fight and I wish Brad Pickett’s too. Now I love “One Punch”, but he’s been a shell of himself. I mean, he’s 1-4 in his last five fights and he’s only accumulated 3 wins since April of 2013. His ability to withstand punishment is still somewhat there, but that can’t be your only skillset right now. Faber also hasn’t been himself and he’s wisely seen that, which is why he announced his retirement following this fight. When a title is no longer in his options, it’s almost pointless to continue fighting. His business is booming and he heads an excellent gym. As for a prediction on this fight, I’m going with Faber. Whatever he has in the tank is enough to beat Brad Pickett at this point. So with that, I got “The California Kid” going out in style with a submission victory.
170 lbs.: Alan Jouban vs. Mike Perry – This fight has violence all over it, as you have Mike Perry who was probably a hockey enforcer in another life against the dynamic striker in Alan Jouban. Perry, already 2-0 in the UFC is a pure striker with heavy hands. He has no intentions of taking the fight to the ground and no intention to let you out of the fight until your knocked out. Jouban, while people just call him a pretty face is much more than that, he’s a fighter and an excellent one at this. His one issue is his striking defense, which is not a good problem to have in a fight expected to take place mainly on the feet. However, I think Jouban knows that and is going to try to use his distance against Perry, as well as throw in some grappling to wear down him down. So with that, I’m going with Jouban to finish Perry late via ground-and-pound.
UFC on FOX 22 “Prelims” on FOX Sports 1 (5 p.m. ET):
185 lbs.: Henrique da Silva vs. Paul Craig – Both men enter this contest undefeated and with 100% finishing rates. In other words, someones getting finished and it’s going to be Craig. The promotional newcomer has to face one of the scarier Light Heavyweight prospects in the division in Henrique da Silva. The man is well rounded and is already 3-0 in the UFC. His UFC experience and well rounded abilities should easily take this fight via knockout.
145 lbs.: Hizuto Mirota vs. Cole Miller – This should be an interesting fight, as Miller will be 6 inches taller than Mirota and will have a sizable reach advantage. Miller, while more known for his excellent grappling abilites, has slowly been improving his striking. This fight stylistically favors him and while I really like Mirota as a fighter – his routes to winning are slim. So with that, I got Miller via decison.
170 lbs.: Bryan Barberena vs. Colby Covington – Excellent Fight, but I’m going with the biggest underdog on this card in Barberena. I just believe that his ability to make a fight ugly and neutralize your strengths is an advantage among advantages. Covington is an excellent wrestler and has a bright future at welterweight, but Barberena is a cardio and comeback kid. He might be on his back the entire first round, but he doesn’t stop punching you and working to get the fight back to the feet. I expect a close fight, but again I edge Barberena – and I got him winning via decision.
155 lbs.: James Moontasri vs. Alex Morono – Tsk Tsk Tsk, boy I thought Moontasri was going to be a real threat in the lightweight division. He’s a really talented striker and showed that off especially in his fight against Anton Zafir. His combatant Morono, is also a striker from what I saw in his fight against Kyle Noke. He’s tough and throws in volume, but if he’s going to stand with Moontasri, I see his night ending via knockout. So that’s my prediction…Moontasri via knockout!
155 lbs.: Josh Emmett vs. Scott Holtzman – I’ve seen both fight, but I’m not entirely familiar with them. Emmett I recall fought in a “Fight of the Night” type fight against Jon Tuck. He survived the early onslaught and came back and won. Meanwhile, Holtzman is a powerful wrestler and he showed every bit of that in a starching against Cody Pfister. I tend to favor wrestlers, especially when I’m not familiar with either guy. But, Emmett trains at Team Alpha Male, so he should be prepared. So with that, I got Emmett!
135 lbs.: Irene Aldana vs. Leslie Smith – Fun fight! Aldana, one of the more talented fighters at Invicta FC, finally will make the crossover to the UFC. Riding on a two-fight win streak, Aldana has disposed of both opponents via TKO in the first round. Smith, a veteran and pioneer of the sport, will make a return to the Octagon since coming off a beatdown at the hands of the number one pound for pounds Women’s fighter in “Cyborg” Santos. Anyways, Smith is one of the more game fighters and will attack with volume striking. Her durability is one of her assets too, as she can take an insane amount of punishment and keep coming. Aldana, is a volume striker and durable as well. I think her toughness was shown at it’s highest against Tonya Evinger. She’s a bright star at 135 lbs and I’m looking at this fight as a changing of the guard. So with that, I got Aldana via decision.
UFC on FOX 22 “Prelims” on UFC Fight Pass (3:30 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Takeya Mizugaki vs. Eddie Wineland – Finally here we go! Two guys I know, but not much of a breakdown here. Mizugaki clearly can’t take a punch again and Wineland specializes in punch facing. You know what that means…Wineland via knockout!
125 lbs.: Hector Sandoval vs. Fredy Serrano – Ehh, more somewhat unknowns. Coin flip… goes to Sandoval via decision.
170 lbs.: Sultan Aliev vs. Bojan Velickovic – I think Aliev used to fight for Bellator, but I’m too lazy to look up the information on a fight I have very little clue on either fighters. So with that, I got Aliev via decision.