After an exciting fight night in Glendale, Arizona last week, the UFC is back in action with a loaded card. Playing host to the event is a familiar place, but one in which hasn’t hosted an event in four years. That would be Atlantic City, New Jersey. A once hotbed for MMA, has fizzled out over the years as the boardwalk has seen hotels and businesses shut down.
Anyways, headlining the event are a pair of Lightweight contenders in Edson Barboza and Kevin Lee. Barboza, heads into this fight a winner of three of his last four fights. Barboza’s most recent fight however resulted in a loss. It wasn’t just any loss though, as he was dominated from start to finish by now Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. Nothing to be ashamed of, as Nurmagomedov has done the same, if not worse to other foes.
As for Lee, the young phenom took a huge leap in his last fight, fighting Tony Ferguson for the Interim Lightweight Championship. Unfortunately for Lee, a staph infection and a fight above his pay grade led to third round submission defeat. Prior to the defeat, Lee had won nine of his last ten fight and was riding into the Interim Lightweight Championship on a five-fight win streak.
The fight itself should be a doozie. Anyways, enough talkie, Prediction time!
UFC Fight Night 128 Main Card on FOX Sports 1 (10 p.m. ET):
157 lbs.: Edson Barboza vs. Kevin Lee – This is an excellent fight and I believe it goes either two ways. One, especially given that he missed weight, Lee goes for the kill early. Using his wrestling advantage, Lee takes down Barboza and while maintaining top control, batters Barboza with a heavy dose of ground-and-pound. In the second round, Lee repeats, but looks for the submission victory.
Two, Barboza weathers the early storm like he did against Khabib Nurmagomedov and starts to take over in the later rounds. Given Lee missed weight, his already unknown cardio will cause him to fade in the championship rounds. Barboza will then start to batter Lee’s legs, limiting his movement and ability to take Barboza down. In the fifth round, a tired and limping Lee will be put away by Barboza, as his leg shuts down from the punishment endured.
In my opinion, I’m going with the latter. I believe Barboza will outlast Lee’s early onslaught and win in a classic via fifth round TKO.
145 lbs.: Frankie Edgar vs. Cub Swanson II – While I’m wary that Edgar is taking this fight too quick after his first knockout defeat, this is simply still a bad matchup for Swanson. It’s even worse when you think about how motivated Frankie Edgar is to erase his last fight against Brian Ortega. And while people might signify that knockout defeat as the decline of Edgar, I chalk it up to a rising star landing a perfectly timed punch. Yes, the amount of punishment Edgar has taken over his career probably can be attributed to it, but a perfectly placed punch can knockout ANYONE!
Anyways, Edgar is fighting in his backyard of New Jersey and coming off that surprising knockout defeat, he’s going to find a way to get that sour taste out of his mouth and reign supreme in front of his family, friends and fans. A heavy dose of wrestling should be in order by Edgar, but something tells me that he’s going to not grind out a victory, but look for the finish. So with that, I have Edgar via submission.
265 lbs.: Chase Sherman vs. Justin Willis – Sherman has transformed from a slobber knocker striker to a more technical striker. However, his chin still last only about two rounds. So with that, I have the rising AKA product Justin Willis winning via third round knockout.
185 lbs.: David Branch vs. Thiago Santos – David Branch has come a long way from the boring grappler he was in his first UFC stint. He added a formidable striking game to his abilities, which saw him dominate foes in the World Series of Fighting. However, his inability to take damage has stayed the same from his first UFC stint. Given Thiago Santos is the definition of dishing out damage, I suspect this to be a short night for Branch. So with that, I have Santos winning his fifth consecutive fight via TKO.
135 lbs.: Brett Johns vs. Aljamain Sterling – This is a tough fight to call, but ultimately I believe that Aljamain Sterling will get the nod. Johns is the better boxer and he’s an excellent submission artist, but I’m not completely sold on his wrestling. On the other hand, Sterling is the complete package in my opinion. He’s a solid wrestling, who’s got striking abilities that are highlighted by his funky kicks. In what should be a close fight, I believe a combination of Sterling’s volume striking and the crowd behind him will get him the nod.
155 lbs.: Dan Hooker vs. Jim Miller – I’m calling upset here. Miller is fighting in his backyard and Hooker, while an excellent striker, has never fought someone as gritty as Miller. The veteran Miller has lost three fights in a row and is undoubtedly at the tail end of his career. However, this is a good matchup for Miller in my opinion. Hooker has struggled against grapplers and Miller is an excellent one.
If Miller can push Hooker against the cage and work in takedowns, then this fight is going to be a breeze. If Hooker can defend, on the feet, I’m not sure Miller can compete. Either way, this fight reminds me of Matt Brown vs. Stephen Thompson. So with that, I’ve Jim Miller winning via decision and perhaps retiring upon doing such.
UFC Fight Night 128 Prelims Card on FOX Sports 1 (8 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Alex Garcia vs. Ryan LaFlare – This is a tough fight to call. Is LaFlare on the decline? Has Garcia finally realized his potential? I’m going to say, LaFlare will aging, still can be a top ten welterweight. He’s got the wrestling abilities and very active striking game, that comes in volume. Garcia on the hand has won two of his last three fights, both via finish. A closely contested decision defeat to Tim Means is sandwiched between those victories.
As for a prediction, I’ve got LaFlare. I believe Garcia will look good early, as LaFlare will have to endure a few power shots. Then, in the middle of the second round, Garcia will fade and LaFlare’s volume striking mixed in which takedowns will wear down Garcia. In the end, LaFlare will get the nod, winning via unanimous decision.
135 lbs.: Merab Dvalishvili vs. Ricky Simon – No clue… Dvalishvili via decision.
170 lbs.: Siyar Bahadurzada vs. Luan Chagas – This is going to be a slugfest for however long it last. My prediction is that it’s Bahadurazada who will outlast Chagas, winning via knockout.
205 lbs.: Corey Anderson vs. Patrick Cummins – Anderson has lost two fights in a row, as well as three of his last four. Cummins on the other hand, is on the complete opposite trajectory, winning two fights in a row. However, it’s Anderson whom I’m picking. The TUF 19 winner, while “chinny”, is one the more well rounded Light Heavyweights in the division. Anderson has the ability of out-striking or grinding out foes over three rounds. Cummins simply doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong, Cummins is talented, but only at wrestling. He is a terrible striker, has a weak chin and has cardio issues.
As for my prediction, I believe Anderson will hurt Cummins early and finish him via TKO in the first round. If Cummins somehow survives early, the later the fight goes, the easier it will be to finish the fading standout wrestler.
UFC Fight Night 128 Prelims Card on Fight Pass (7:30 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Tony Martin vs. Keita Nakamura – While Tony Martin is the favorite, it’s Nakamura who I’m picking. The Japanese veteran is often overlooked, but his crafty grappling and striking abilities are underrated. And while Martin is a talent at 170, he often puts himself in dangerous positions. In what should be a close fight, a boneheaded blunder like will cost Martin the fight. So with that, I have Nakamura via decision.