The UFC continues it’s eleven events in eleven consecutive weeks with it’s ninth event in Fresno, California. In the promotion’s first visit to Fresno, they are bringing out the guns with this headliner, as it all but guarantee’s fireworks. Two perennial Featherweight contenders in Cub Swanson and Brian Ortega will take center stage, with the stakes presenting itself in a potential title shot. It won’t be easy though, as Swanson and Ortega have earned two “Fight of the Night” bonuses each in their last four fights.
Anyways, let’s get to the Predictions!
UFC Fight Night 123 Main Card (10 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Cub Swanson vs. Brian Ortega – This is an outstanding fight and even harder to pick. Swanson has reeled off four consecutive victories and has looked more polished in his offensive striking. However, his striking defense has been porous and he’s taken a lot of punishment of late. I mean, his last two fights earned “Fight of the Night” bonuses, but at what expense does that amount of damage have on longevity. Meanwhile, Ortega too has vastly improved in the striking department. It’s almost dangerous to say that, as it’s the one aspect of his game that needs improved. His already superior grappling and submission game have cemented him as a fighter to not mess with on the mat.
As for a prediction, while I think that Ortega has all the intangibles to pull this out, it’s Swanson who I think can edge this fight out by keeping it contested on the feet. However, never count out Ortega. He is the Comeback kid, as he was losing his last four fights heading into the final round, only to finish every opponent. It’s a ridiculous streak and it only makes this prediction harder, as he’s capable of finishing his opponent in the later rounds at any given moment. Anyways, like I said, I’ve got Swanson. Ortega likes to trade on the feet and he too also takes a lot of damage. Swanson has more power than Ortega’s past opponents, which could result in a knockout. However, I’m going with Swanson via decision.
145 lbs.: Gabriel Benitez vs. Jason Knight – Benitez is tough, but Knight is a borderline zombie. I expect Benitez to find some success, possibly even hurt Knight. However, Knight is as durable as it gets and his offense is just relentless. Sooner or later, Knight will get Benitez to the ground and submit him.
135 lbs.: Marlon Moraes vs. Aljamain Sterling – Fun fight! Close one to call too, but I’ll go with Moraes here. His devastating leg strikes should slow down the ever improving striking attack of Sterling. The one route to victory though I could see Sterling employing, is that of a heavy wrestling attack. But he’s often abandoned his wrestling abilities, instead choosing to engage in a kickboxing match. If he does, then it’s Moraes who will win that battle. So with that, I’ve got Moraes via decision.
155 lbs.: Scott Holtzman vs. Darrell Horcher – I still can’t shed the fact that Holtzman at times struggled against Cody Pfister. So with that, I have Horcher via decision.
185 lbs.: Eryk Anders vs. Markus Perez – I’m very excited for this fight, as I’m very high on the former Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Anders. He exceeded expectations in his UFC debut, as he knocked out a ranked veteran in Rafael Natal in the very first round. While still raw, this fight is a very good indication that the UFC is building up Anders rather than throw him into the wolves. So with that, I’ve got Anders via knockout!
135 lbs.: Benito Lopez vs. Albert Morales – I think we can all access that while Morales is talented, he came into the UFC too soon. Even worse, while green, he’s fought talented opponents in Thomas Almeida and Brett John’s. This fight however is more on par of that of a regional fight and I expect Morales to get much needed cage time and finish Lopez late.
UFC Fight Night 123 Prelims on FOX Sports 1 (8 p.m. ET):
125 lbs.: Liz Carmouche vs. Alexis Davis – I’ve got Carmouche here. Davis doesn’t offer anything on the feet other than durability stemmed from toughness. Her grappling and submission game is her bread-and-butter, but it’s not going to be a factor in this fight. Carmouche is a heavy wrestler, who’s got smothering top control and and is rather defensively sound. That’s not to say she can’t get caught, but I think it’s unlikely. So with that, I’ve got Carmouche using timely takedowns en route to a decision victory.
135 lbs.: Luke Sanders vs. Andre Soukhamthath – With two straight split decision losses, Soukhamthath could be looking at his pink slip here. I give him credit for stepping up on short notice, but his last two opponents aren’t nearly as talented as Luke Sanders. This is clearly the best opponent Soukhamthath has fought and it’s going to perhaps come at the expense of his UFC career. I see Sanders using his wrestling at will, neutralizing Soukhamthath on the feet en route to a decision victory.
125 lbs.: Carls John de Tomas vs. Alex Perez – Don’t know much about either, but de Thomas doesn’t impress me at all. The caliber of his opponents aren’t eye popping and even though he’s won a majority of his fights, he wasn’t finishing fights he should have. Perez is rolling into this bout on a five fight win streak, most recently winning in impressive fashion on Dana White’s Contender series. Judging by the opportunity earned from the show, there’s talent. So with that, I have Perez via decision.
135 lbs.: Merab Dvalishvili vs. Frankie Saenz – It’s been over two years since Saenz has tasted victory, which is almost strange given that he had started his UFC career out with three consecutive wins. However, I often like to side with fighters with their back against the wall. Perhaps in this instance, it could be career defining. So with that, I’ll take the veteran wrestler to grind out a decision victory against the promotional newcomer.
UFC Fight Night 123 Prelims on UFC Fight Pass (6:30 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Iuri Alcantara vs. Alejandro Perez – While I’ll admit that Perez has over-performed much to my surprise, I think it ends here. Alcantara, while showing obvious signs of decline, is still a dangerous fighter anywhere the fight goes. The fact that Perez is a slow starter is problematic, as Alcantara will come out of the gate looking to finish the fight. If Perez can somehow whether the storm, Alcantara’s suspect cardio could result in his demise. However, with a 3′ inch height and 4′ inch reach advantage, I see Alcantara battering Perez early and eventually submitting him.
155 lbs.: Chris Gruetzemacher vs. Davi Ramos – Honestly, this is a toss up for me. I guess though I’ll side with Ramos, just due to Gruetzemacher’s porous striking defense. While he does provide volume in his striking, he leaves a lot of opening to being tagged. If he gets dropped here, the BJJ black Belt Ramos will take over. So with that, I got Ramos by submission.
185 lbs.: Trevin Giles vs. Antonio Braga Neto – Although Giles is undefeated and Braga Neto hasn’t fought in 43 months, I lean Braga Neto. While victorious in his UFC debut, Giles looked uncomfortable on the feet. His grappling, top control and ground-and-pound definitely though showed promise. However, Braga Neto is a talented grappler and submission artist. If Giles wants to play in his guard, it’s going to be a grave mistake. With a 3′ inch height and reach advantage, I can see Braga Neto attacking on the outside and forcing Giles to initiate the clinch. From there, Braga Neto will take down Giles and submit him.