The UFC is back in action, as the promotion’s first event of 2018 takes place in St. Louis, Missouri. Headlining the card is a pair of heavy hitting Featherweights in Jeremy Stephens and Doo Ho Choi. This should be an exciting fight, as both are heavy handed and durable. In their respective last fights, both men earned “Fight of the Night” bonuses. However, Stephens would defeat Gilbert Melendez, while Choi fell defeat to Cub Swanson. Also important to note, Choi missed all of 2017 with injuries, so ring rust could be a factor.
Anyways, to the Predictions!
UFC Fight Night 124 Main Event:
145 lbs.: Jeremy Stephens vs. DooHo Choi – This is a solid fight and it’s going to be fun for as long as it last. Stephens is a well rounded fighter, who’s fought the who’s who’s. His success however has been limited, often trading wins and losses. His durability and willingness to fight has brought forth some of the best fight’s in the UFC. However, that style catches up to everyone, as father time is not kind. Choi is an excellent striker, who is precise and powerful. I firmly believe Choi will evade Stephen’s power shots on the feet, pick him apart and finish him in the second round. Sorry to be brief!
125 lbs.: Jessica-Rose Clark vs. Paige VanZant – I’ve got Clark in this fight. While VanZant is an excellent volume striker, it’s Clark who can match that output with better power punches mixed in. However, Clark has struggled against grapplers, so it would be in VanZant’s best interest to attack that weakness. If VanZant mixes in takedown’s, I could see her edge out a decision. If Clark keeps this upright, I’m fully confident she will outstrike VanZant. I’ll go with the latter, Clark via decision.
170 lbs.: Emil Meek vs. Kamaru Usman – I’ve believed this for a long time, but Usman is a future Champion. His wrestling is superior, top control is smothering and his striking is starting to be a real threat. It’s only a matter of time that the UFC has to give him a shot at a top contender. As for Meek, I really like his skillset, but Usman is a nightmare matchup for anyone. So with that, I got Usman via domination.
145 lbs.: Darren Elkins vs. Michael Johnson – This is an awesome fight and I just don’t know what to expect from Johnson’s Featherweight debut. Elkins on the other hand is an excellent fighter who relies on his durability and cardio, as he more than often comes from behind in fight’s. A combination of being a slow starter and non-athletic hurt’s him early, but he’s practically a zombie, enduring anything opponent’s lay on him. Johnson, is a pressure fighter, who has excellent striking and knockout power. His wrestling abilities aren’t bad, but for some reason his takedown defense is sub-par at best.
As for my prediction, Elkins should be the pick. Johnson, has notoriously has gassed in several fights, which doesn’t bode well given he’s dropping ten more pounds to make Featheweight. Also, Elkins is one of the most durable fighters, withstanding punishment like no other. However, despite all that, I’ve got Johnson. Looking at Elkins opponent’s, he has only fought two power punchers in Chad Mendes and Jeremy Stephens. Mendes put him away in the first round, which is what I’m predicting Michael Johnson will do.
UFC Fight Night 124 Prelims on FOX Sports 1 (8 p.m. ET):
155 lbs.: James Krause vs. Alex White – This is a fantastic fight and while I like what Krause brings to the table, it’s White’s aggressiveness that will present issues for Krause in this fight. It would be in Krause’s best interest to avoid brawling on the feet, as he just doesn’t have the power to put someone away. It’s his sneaky trips and takedown’s that can be the x-factor in edging out the decision victory. However, White’s showing improvements in his striking and takedown defense enough for me to believe he lands some big power shots that drop Krause several times, earning him a decision victory.
155 lbs.: Matt Frevola vs. Marco Polo Reyes – My lack of knowledge on Frevola leans me towards the incredibly tough Polo Reyes. His last outing was rough, but then again that was to an abnormally tall Leightweight in James Vick. So with that, I have Polo Reyes via knockout.
135 lbs.: Irene Aldana vs. Talita Bernardo – Aldana hasn’t quite lived up to the hype she brought over from her time in Invicta. However, this seems like a tailored matchup to get her back in the win column. Bernardo is a ground specialist, who has a suspect gas tank. Aldana has superior takedown defense, stuffing all eleven attempt’s by Katlyn Chookagian in her most recent fight. Aldana is also a whopping 6 inches taller than Bernardo and is a far superior striker. So with that, I have Aldana winning via 3rd round TKO.
135 lbs.: Guido Cannetti vs. Kyung Ho Kang – I know Kang hasn’t fought in over three years due to the mandatory two-year South Korean military service, but I recall him being a massive Bantamweight. With a 4 inch height and 3 inch reach advantage, I expect Kang to have his way with Cannetti on the feet. If ring rust is a factor, Kang might instead use his superior strength advantage to floor Cannetti. From there, top control and ground-and-pound earn his the second round victory.
UFC Fight Night 124 Prelims on Fight Pass (6:30 p.m. ET):
125 lbs.: Jessica Eye vs. Kalindra Faria – Eye is a natural Flyweight who’s been fighting at Bantamweight for way too long. With four consecutive losses and the UFC finally adding the Women’s Flyweight division, it almost appeared like Eye was never going to get her real chance. Well, luckily enough her fighting style has kept her in the UFC, but it won’t survive another defeat. That won’t happen though, as Eye is going to show why she was the very best Flyweight when she first debuted in the UFC. So with that, I got Eye via TKO.
115 lbs.: J.J. Aldrich vs. Danielle Taylor – Honestly, I’m going with Danielle Taylor based on her ability to win fights with almost no volume striking. It’s incredible, but it’s worked. So with that, I have Taylor via decision.
145 lbs.: Mads Burnell vs. Mike Santiago – Don’t know much about either man, but I know Burnell got dealt a bad hand in his UFC debut. He had to fight up a weight class against a massive Lightweight in Michel Prazeres. To think of it, Santiago too had a rough debut against a future contender in Zabit Magomedsharipov. That would complicate this prediction, except looking at both men’s record’s. It appears Burnell has a strong submission game, while Santiago has lost 8 fights via submission. With that, I have Burnell via submission.