It’s rare for UFC events to place on a Sunday, which was the case last week in Liverpool, England. It’s even rarer for a UFC event to happen on a Friday, five days no less since the last event. I’m not complaining though, as we have an intriguing card that’s going down in Utica, New York. Headlining the event is a pair of Bantamweight contenders in Jimmie Rivera and Marlon Moraes. One would have to think too, that this is most likely a number one contenders fight. The winner undoubtedly would be deserving of a title shot.
Rivera heads into this fight on a tear, winning twenty consecutive fights. Of the twenty victories, five of them have come inside the octagon. Most notably of the five victories, is a huge victory over Urijah Faber. As for Moraes, the former WSOF Bantamweight Champion has started to build momentum in his quest for the title. Since losing his UFC debut via split decision to Raphael Assuncao, Moraes has notched two consecutive victories. The most recent being a huge knockout victory over Aljamain Sterling. Again, this should be a doozy of a fight, with the winner perhaps next in line for a shot at the Bantamweight belt.
To the Predictions!
UFC Fight Night 131 Main Card on FOX Sports 1 (10 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Jimmie Rivera vs. Marlon Moraes – This is a hell of fight. Rivera’s game leans on his cardio and pace. Given this is a five round fight and he’s yet to fight past three rounds, it’s an unknown if his cardio will hold up. Moraes on the hand, has gone five rounds twice, so that experience could be huge. Rivera relies heavily on his technical counter-striking and surprising he has legit power in his hands. Rivera also has solid wrestling abilities, which he could come into play due to the leg kicks expected by Moraes. Those said leg kicks though, if not caught or checked by Rivera could be a huge factor in slowing down and hurting Rivera.
In what should be a tight fight, I’m going to side with Rivera. Moraes is a hell of a fighter, who will has some of the best head feints and leg kicks in the division. He can compete with anyone and is most definitely Championship material. However, Rivera is tough, gritty and determined as ever. He’s got a chip on his shoulder and has felt he should of been warranted of a title shot. He’ll get it here, as I have Rivera winning via a close decision.
155 lbs.: Gregor Gillespie vs. Vinc Pichel – I could go on and on about how Gillespie is a ridiculously talented wrestler and the future of the lightweight division. However, people are sleeping on the power in the hands of Pichel. And given Gillespie has been some legit brawls, I very well could see him getting cracked and finished. In fact, I’ll double down on that and I’ll pick the biggest underdog on the card Pichel to win this via knockout.
265 lbs.: Walt Harris vs. Daniel Spitz – Harris has potential to be a fresh face in the Heavyweight division. Unfortunately of recent, he’s taken a few tumbles. However, this is a perfect opponent and fight to get back in the win column while showing off his skills. So with that, I have Harris winning via knockout.
170 lbs.: Jake Ellenberger vs. Ben Saunders – Oof! This is a battle of two veterans with evaporated chins. However, Ellenberger actually looked good in his last fight against Mike Perry before getting knockout out. On the other hand, Saunders has looked dreadful and easily hittable in his last few fights. So with that, I have Ellenberger via knockout.
145 lbs.: Julio Arce vs. Daniel Teymur – This should be a relatively fun fight. I’m not quite sold on Teymur, as his striking and durability are there, but it’s his cardio that can’t keep up with his non-stop pace. Arce is well rounded with good cardio and I expect him to use some takedowns to tire and neutralize Teymur on the feet. This should be fun early, but it’s Arce who well come out on top via decision.
205 lbs.: Sam Alvey vs. Gian Villante – Honestly I have no idea. Either Alvey throws 4 punches and somehow knocks out Villante with one or the fight is a boring slop fest with a gassing Villante getting a hometown decision. I’ll take the later. So with that, I have Villante via decision.
UFC Fight Night 131 Prelims on FOX Sports 1 (8 p.m. ET):
125 lbs.: Sijara Eubanks vs. Lauren Murphy – I’m a little unaware of Eubanks skillset, so I’ll side with Murphy. She’s gritty, durable and has never not been in the fight. At the very least, her wrestling and grappling should be able to her grind out a victory. So with that, I have Murphy winning via split decision.
145 lbs.: Nik Lentz vs. David Teymur – Lentz is a very talented wrestler and grappler. His striking is serviceable, but it’s his cardio that just doesn’t bode well for a three round fight. Against a cardio machine and in-and-out striker like Teymur, it’s only a matter of time before Lentz gets picked apart and finished via TKO.
170 lbs.: Belal Muhammad vs. Chance Rencountre – This is a rough matchup for your debut, as Muhammad is one of the more well rounded fighters in the welterweight division. With octagon experience and an ability to take this fight wherever, I expect Muhammad to cruise in a dominant decision victory.
155 lbs.: Desmond Green vs. Gleison Tibau – I’m not sure what to make of this fight, as Tibau is perhaps a shell of himself. However Green, while young and more athletic, has not shown he’s a finisher. If Tibau has something left in the tank, his massive size and strength advantage should allow him to smother Green on the ground. So with that, I’m banking on the belief Tibau’s not done yet and takes this via decision.
UFC Fight Night 131 Prelims on UFC Fight Pass (7:00 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Johnny Eduardo vs. Nathaniel Wood – While Eduardo definitely has a shot to catch and finish Wood, he is 39 years old and has shown signs of father time catching up. In what should predominantly be a kickboxing match, it’s the newcomer Wood who’s younger, athletic and has legit pop in his hands who I foresee coming out on top. So with that, I have Wood winning via KO.
125 lbs.: Jarred Brooks vs. Jose Torres – This is an awesome fight to open the card. I have Torres winning though, as Brooks is definitely an excellent wrestler, but his striking is just not there yet. And while I expect him to have success early with his wrestling abilities, it’s the later rounds where I believe Torres will begin his takedowns. On the feet, Torres will have no problem cracking Brooks and ultimately finishing him. So with that, I have Torres via TKO.