The UFC is back in action, as UFC Fight Night 119 marks the second of eleven UFC events in eleven consecutive weeks. Headlining the card is the return of the Dragon, Lyoto Machida. The former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion has been shelved for the past two years with a suspension and will need to shake off any rust, as his combatant is in the form of Middleweight contender Derek Brunson. The hard hitting Brunson most recently disposed of opponent Dan Kelly in a 76-second knockout. Brunson showed a less aggressive and more patient approach than he has in the past and it proved immediate dividends. That style will be needed, as the Machida has shown to halt aggressive fighters in their tracks (See Ryan Bader).
Anyways, let’s get to the Predictions!
UFC Fight Night 119 Main Card On FS1 (10 p.m. ET):
185 lbs.: Lyoto Machida vs. Derek Brunson – It’s been over two years since Lyoto Machida last stepped into the octagon. A failed drug test stemming from a steroid is the culprit for Machida’s lengthy absence, as he was suspended for 18 months. A mistake, which has cost Machida potentially the last of his prime. However, he has returned and has obliged to take on the heavy handed Derek Brunson. The rising Middleweight has been on tear of late, winning six of his last eight fights. Five of those six wins have come via first round knockout.
As for a prediction, I’m going with Machida. Although he’s been inactive for over two years, he’s also been able to heal up and improve him game. Machida uses his karate base to keep distance and throw several creative kicks. Opponents who have tried to be aggressive have found luck sometimes, but in most instances, they’ve been dropped.
With Machida’s excellent takedown defense, it will be up to Brunson’s power to get this one done. The once overly aggressive Brunson dialed it back in his last fight, using patience to dispose of Dan Kelly in 77 seconds. However, I envision Machida’s patience frustrating Brunson to the point where Brunson reverts to being overly aggressive. And when that happens, Machida will hault Brunson in his tracks. So with that, I have Machida via 3rd round knockout.
170 lbs.: Colby Covington vs. Demian Maia – Colby Covington has developed a mouth and look what it did. It got him a fight against Demian Maia, who is coming of a Welterweight Title fight defeat to Champion Tyron Woodley. Talk about the potential to fast track himself to a title fight, one in which could be interesting given his “beef” with Tyron Woodley.
Anyways, Covington is an excellent wrestler and his striking abilities are improving each fight. Maia on the other hand is a specialist, who’s grappling and submission abilities are perhaps the best in MMA. The one thing I always found fascinating is that is Maia’s gameplan is no secret and opponents know what’s coming. However, they can’t stop it.
As for a prediction, I believe that Covington has bit off more than he can chew. His wrestling which has guided him through many fights is virtually useless, unless he wishes to be in Maia’s dangerous guard. His striking has improved, but how much is he going to be able use if Maia is constantly trying to take him down? So with that, I like Maia’s chances to overpower Covington and floor him, wearing him out and eventually winning this one via submission.
135 lbs.: Rob Font vs. Pedro Munhoz – This is a great fight and I envision the winner being in store for a potential top-five fight. Font is a talented striker, who uses excellent movement to set up his strikes. Coming into this fight, Font is on a two-fight win streak and has finished both foes. As for Munhoz, the young talent has strung together an impressive three-fight win streak. Munhoz is more known for his grappling and ground game, as his striking abilities are more of a work in progress.
It would be imperative of Font to keep distance and avoid grappling exchanges. With a 6.5′ inch reach disadvantage, Munhoz has to get inside and get this one floored. As for a prediction, I’m honestly unsure, but I’ll go with Munhoz via decision.
155 lbs.: Jim Miller vs. Francisco Trinaldo – This has the feels of what Vitor Belfort seeks to create, a “Legend’s division”. These are two veteran Lightweights, who have a combined 64 fights. However, the trajectory of Jim Miller has been of mediocrity of late, while Trinaldo just had a seven-fight win streak snapped at UFC Fight Night 106 by Kevin Lee. In that defeat, Trinaldo looked amazing in the first round. He controlled the younger and talented Lee with grappling and hit him with several hard shots. In the second round however, Lee connected with a beautiful head kick that turned the tide of the fight.
Anyways, I’ve Trinaldo winning this fight. His record in Brazil is 20-4 and his grappling abilities I feel are more superior to that of Miller. Trinaldo also packs a punch, but I could see Miller’s durability and cardio keeping him around for three rounds. So with that, I’ve Trinaldo via decision.
185 lbs.: Jack Hermansson vs. Thiago Santos – This is great matchmaking, as you have two rising talents in the Middleweight division. Both happen to be strikers, who aim to finish fights. Hermansson usually gets it done with his hands, while Santos is known for basically decapitating-like head kicks. As for a prediction, I’ve got Santos. I believe that competition-wise, Hermansson hasn’t had to face any sharks yet in the UFC. Santos is battle tested and has fought his share of talented UFC foes. So with that, I’m going with Santos to be the victor via knockout.
135 lbs.: John Lineker vs. Marlon Vera – This is just too soon for Vera. While he may be riding high on a three-fight win streak, I wouldn’t suggest the jump up in competition being against a top-five fighter in Lineker. The man nicknamed “Hands of Stone” literally has hands of stone, as he’s a legit knockout artist who only comes forward and has the pace and cardio to break you. The 5′ height advantage and 3.5′ reach advantage won’t matter, as I predict Lineker to defeat Vera via knockout.
UFC Fight Night 119 Prelims On FS2 (8 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Niko Price vs. Vicente Luque – Fun fight and definitely a contender for a bonus. As far as a prediction, I’ve been back-and-forth. I could envision Luque using Price’s brawling style to his advantage and taking him down. On the ground, Luque is world class and has the BJJ to stifle Price. However, with Luque’s improving striking, I could also see him engaging in Price’s brawling style. While Luque could manage to knock Price out, I would advise not to get into a phone booth type fight where Price strives in. Ughh, this is a tough one, but I’ll go with that latter and say that Price knocks out a very willing striker in Luque.
185 lbs.: Antonio Carlos Junior vs. Jack Marshman – Talk about a roller coaster with ACJ, as the TUF Brazil 3 winner has had his fair share of highs and lows. However, right now ACJ is on a three-fight win streak and he’s evolving each fight. Grappling-wise, I don’t see how Marshman is going to keep this one standing for three rounds. His cardio fades the later this fight goes and I can’t see him not eventually being floored. When his back does hit the mat, the dangerous submission artist ACJ will eventually finish Marshmann via…well…submission.
155 lbs.: Hacran Dias vs. Jared Gordon – If this fight were to of happened three years ago, Dias would of eaten up Jared Gordon like Kobayashi. However, Dias is a shell of himself and hasn’t fought in over a year. That inactivity will show early, as Dias won’t be able to find his footing due to Gordon’s always forward style. I expect Dias to hang around in this fight due to his toughness, but at the same time be engulfed by Gordon’s pace. So with that, I have “Flash” Gordon winning this via decision.
170 lbs.: Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos vs. Max Griffin – This could be an early candidate for a bonus, as you have two strikers with different styles going to toe-to-toe. dos Santos brings forth a more diverse striking attack, tying in his capoeira background to land more creative strikes. Griffin is more of a slugger, coming forward and swinging for the fences. It worked against Erick Montano, but I don’t see that style working here. dos Santos can take a punch and his more diverse arsenal of strikes will keep Griffin from getting inside. The deeper this fights goes, the more Griffin fades and my prediction is that dos Santos will finish Griffin via second round knockout.
UFC Fight Night 119 Prelims On Fight Pass (7 p.m. ET):
125 lbs.: Jarred Brooks vs. Deiveson Figueiredo – Tough fight to call and someone’s 0 has to go. Initially I was leaning with Figueiredo who shined in his UFC debut against Marco Beltran, but a strong wrestling background can stifle any striker. That’s what “The Monkey God” Brooks has, as I expect multiple takedowns to decide the difference in this fight. So with that, I have Brooks edging this one out via decision.
265 lbs.: Christian Colombo vs. Marcelo Golm – I’ve seen Colombo fight several times and he’s extremely sloppy and vulnerable to getting knocked out. While Golm hasn’t fought anyone relevant, he’s still disposed of his five opponents via first round round knockouts. Usually I’d side with the veteran, but I’ve seen nothing from Colombo to suggest he’ll run through this upstart Heavyweight knockout artist. So with that, I have Golm via knockout!