A week after an action packed UFC Fight Night in Sweden, the UFC continues it’s international travels to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Headlining the event, is perhaps in some eyes the most accomplished Brazilian mixed martial artist and current UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo. His combatant is in the form of Interim Featherweight Champion Max Holloway, who will look to shed the “Interim” tag, as well establish himself as the kinpin in the Featherweight division.
Co-Headlining the event, is two former Strawweight title challengers in Claudia Gadelha and Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Neither won the title, but both gave Joanna Jędrzejczyk her toughest title defenses by far. The winner of this bout, clearly is the number one contender in the Strawweight division, but a title shot is not guaranteed with both having just recently faced her. For Gadelha, it would be a third fight against Jędrzejczyk, which if she had won one of their previous two meetings, a third would be a no doubter. However, we’ve seen Joseph Benavidez in this same predicament and no third opportunity has come.
Anyways, let’s get to the predictions!
UFC 212 Main Card (10 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo vs. Interim Champion Max Holloway – Honestly, I don’t know… On one hand, Aldo is so good, that he shut down Frankie Edgar. I mean, Edgar is the guy that neutralizes everyone and breaks them to the point of quitting. Aldo beat that guy, twice and the last was practically a cakewalk. On the other hand, you have a young phenom taking the Featherweight division by storm. A guy that I touted before he even stepped into that Octagon for the first time. His current 10 fight win streak has been insanely impressive and he has finished 7 of those wins, including an absolute beat down on Cub Swanson.
As far as this fight, I think if Aldo keeps distance and lands those patented leg kicks at will, he can shut down Holloway. If Holloway can avoid those said leg kicks and pressure Aldo, throwing those unpredictable strikes of his, he can get Aldo uncomfortable quick. Now, I will say, I want Holloway to win because he is one of my favorites. However, I’m unbiased when it comes to predictions or try to be and I’m going to side with Aldo here. It’s a five round fight and I’m sure Holloway has the cardio for it, but Aldo is known for making solid adjustments throughout the fight and picking his shots. Holloway can get a little wild at times and if he can’t land early on Aldo, we might see forced striking to get inside. So with that, I have Aldo retaining and winning via decision.
115 lbs.: Claudia Gadelha vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz – This is the toughest fight to call! Gadelha has proven that she is the best Strawweight not named Joanna Jędrzejczyk. Her grappling is top notch, as she is just physically so strong. I’d say Gadelha’s weakness is probably her striking defense. It’s not even that bad, but If I’m nitpicking, that would be it. Kowalkiewicz is the same, as she has limited weaknesses…
However, in this fight, I just can’t see Kowalkiewicz being able to physically shrug off Gadelha’s takedowns. And while Kowalkiewicz has an active guard, Gadelha neutralizes that with her heavy top control. So with that, I got Gadelha via decision.
185 lbs.: Vitor Belfort vs. Nate Marquardt – Honestly, I see that Belfort or TRT Belfort has definitely regressed, but his hand speed and power is still there. Marquardt however, I think is far more regressed and I don’t see how he makes it out of the first round here. Unlike Alvey, Belfort is going to attack you in that first round with flurries and in this camp, he’s been training at Tristar. Maybe we some leg kicks or even a wheel kick… Anyways, I got Belfort easily knocking out Marquardt here….
185 lbs.: Paulo Borrachinha vs. Oluwale Bamgbose – This one is going to end early judging from all their first round knockout combined… I’m going to go upset and say that Bamgbose lands first and wins this bad boy by KO!
170 lbs.: Erick Silva vs. Yancy Medeiros – Man, talk about a fall from grace. I remember when Silva was touted to be the future welterweight champion and then…USADA? Honestly, I have no idea, but he looks like a shell of himself despite his last outing resulting in a victory. Medeiros is on the up and I think if he stays technical, he’s going to crack Silva’s chin in the very first round. So with that, I got Medeiros via KO!
UFC 212 Prelims on FOX Sports 1 (8 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Marlon Moraes vs. Raphael Assuncao – This is a tough one to call. The odds have Moraes as a moderate favorite, which is a little crazy to me. I mean, in terms of resume, Assuncao has fought the best of the best. He’s been a top five bantamweight for over five years and Moraes is debuting in the UFC. I realize that Moraes is riding a 13 fight win streak, but name the best opponent he has beaten in that span…
Anyways, to totally contradict myself, I think Moraes wins this fight. His aggressive striking style will be enough to get Assuncao backpedaling and not give him a chance to find his rhythm. Both men have solid cardio and are durable. so I expect this to be a decision victory for Moraes.
185 lbs.: Antonio Carlos Junior vs. Eric Spicely – Interesting fight, but I’m going with Carlos Junior. I think the once promising prospect is starting to put it together and fulfill his potential. He neutralizes anything Spicely offers and should be able to easily win this fight via decision.
135 lbs.: Johnny Eduardo vs. Matthew Lopez – This is your typical striker against wrestler matchup and I tend to lean wrestler. If Eduardo can shrug off Lopez’s attempts to take this one to the mat, then he will have a big advantage. However, I can’t see that, as I have Lopez grinding this one out via decision.
145 lbs.: Iuri Alcantara vs. Brian Kelleher – It’s been a long road for Kelleher just to get this opportunity and on short notice, it’s a tough task. Alcantara has 35 professional wins, 9 of which are in the UFC. He’s a solid striker, with heavy legs kicks. However, his bread a butter is grappling and submission game. Something in which will come into play very early in this fight, as I got Alcantara via first round submission.
UFC 212 Prelims on Fight Pass (6:30 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Jamie Moyle vs. Viviane Pereira – I was very impressed with Moyle’s victory over Kailin Curran and I’m siding with her here. I think her grappling is very solid and she kept active while on top. Pereira is coming off a huge win over former Strawweight title challenger Valerie Letourneau, which was a very odd fight. It seemed like Letourneau was diminished and checked out from the fight. Anwyays, I got Moyle via decision here.
170 lbs.: Luan Chagas vs. Jim Wallhead – Never got to see Chagas before, although I here good things about him. Wallhead is a veteran and his UFC debut was a razor thin split decision loss, but an exciting fight. Since I don’t know Chagas, I’m a go ahead and pick “Judo” Jim Wallhead via decision.
125 lbs.: Marco Beltran vs. Deiveson Figueiredo – Never heard of this Figuieredo cat, but I see he is undefeated. Beltran is debuting at Flyweight, which could be trouble if the weight cut is tough. But, his cardio and durability have been fairly solid at Bantamweight, so I’ll just give him the nod here via decision.