The UFC is back in action, as they make their first trek to South Carolina, USA. It’s bittersweet though, as the card is missing the pride of South Carolina, former Welterweight title challenger Stephen Thompson. Unfortunately Thompson was knocked out (first time in his career) in his last fight by Anthony Pettis, and this would of simply been too soon.
However, make no mistake about it, the headliner in way eases the pain. Two Featherweight strikers in Renato “Moicano” Carneiro and “the Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung are more than capable of putting on a fight for the ages. Moicano enters this contest on the heels of a TKO loss to Jose Aldo. Before setback, a Moicano had reeled off two straight victories and was perhaps a win away from a title shot.
As for TKZ, minus one second of an epic fight against Yair Rodriguez, he’d a been a fight away from a title shot. A lapse in judgement, perhaps due to Rodriguez embracing Jung several times in the final round led to a confusion in how much time was left. Ultimately what happened, happened and it led to an insane knockout. That aside, TKZ’s stock didn’t drop. He got a main event against a top contender who will put him right back into contention.
All I know is, this fight is going to be an all out battle!
UFC Fight Night 154 Main Card on ESPN+ (7 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Renato Carneiro vs. Chan Sung Jung – Love this Main event. Two strikers who will undoubtedly put on a show. Renato “Moicano” Carneiro is a stud. The Brazilian striker is technical and does a great job of staying on the outside. From there, Moicano picks apart his opponents with his jab and lethal kicks. I could very well see him giving “The Korean Zombie” issues. I mean, he’s already handled a heavy handed brawler like Jeremy Stephens and two technical strikers in Cub Swanson and Calvin Kattar.
As for the TKZ, what’s there not to say. The man is a well rounded warrior. Gifted with an iron chin, and an ability to keep coming forward, TKZ is a hard out for any opponent. He’s got power and an ability to land flush shots at such a consistency. In a five round fight, I really believe that at some point in the later rounds, TKZ is going to land the fight ender. We’ve seen Moicano’s chin take punishment, so it won’t be easy. However, the amount of punishment and the fact that his cardio is going to be put to the test for five rounds has me siding with who’s done it before. And that’s TKZ. So with that I have TKZ winning via TKO!
170 lbs.: Bryan Barberena vs. Randy Brown – I really like Randy Brown and how the UFC has built him up, however his progression hasn’t really showed like I thought it would. He’s got the size, youth and talent to be a known commodity in the Welterweight division, yet he still shows glaring problems in his overall game. Bryan Barberena on the other hand is a nightmare for any opponent. The man is gluten for punishment and is the real life terminator. If you can’t put him out, expect to be pressured and swarmed with volume striking. Also expect it to last for three rounds, as the Barberena’s cardio is one the best in the UFC.
As for a prediction, I have Barberena winning. Brown might shine early with his dynamic offense and potentially a takedown. However, as the fight goes on, Barberena will break Brown like others with his pressure. So with that, I have Barberena winning via submission in the later rounds.
145 lbs.: Anderson dos Santos vs. Andre Ewell – On the strength that Anderson dos Santos has been knocked out three times in his career and Andre Ewell is going to use his massive reach advantage to jab down the Brazilian, I’m picking Ewell to win via TKO. There’s a real danger though that dos Santos resorts to his grappling, in which Ewell has yet to show he can keep the fight standing. Nevertheless, I still am going with Ewell.
125 lbs.: Montana De La Rosa vs. Andrea Lee – This is a fantastic fight and a tough one to call. If Montana De La Rosa can get this fight to the ground, I’m certain she has very few issues controlling Andrea Lee. That’s not a knock on Lee’s ground game, but more so how dam good De La Rosa is on the mat. However, on the feet, Lee is an excellent kickboxer. She’s technical and accurate, which De La Rosa just isn’t yet. In a close one, I’m going to trust the Lee keeps the fight standing long enough to edge her the rounds. So with that, I have Lee winning via decision.
185 lbs.: Alessio Di Chirico vs. Kevin Holland – This is Kevin Holland’s fight to lose. He’s better everywhere than Alessio Di Chirico, but his wild unpredictability leads to his chin being exposed. Now, his chin has proven to be forged from iron, but it’s going to melt one of these days. Today just isn’t the day though. So with that, I have Holland winning via decision.
UFC Fight Night 154 Prelims on ESPN2 (4 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Kevin Aguilar vs. Dan Ige – Fun fight, but I really like Kevin Aguilar in this fight. I feel like stylistically the fight plays into his game. Dan Ige is an aggressive fighter, whereas Aguilar is powerful counterpuncher. Aguilar is the bigger man and has a better gas tank, which will come into play the later this fight goes. Due to Ige’s toughness, I’ll say Aguilar wins this fight via decision.
115 lbs.: Syuri Kondo vs. Ashley Yoder – I expect Syuri Kondo to bring forth the volume in this fight, but it’s Ashley Yoder who’s going to land the more precise shots. I also believe Yoder has a sneaky ground game that’s ultimately going to grab her a late submission victory.
145 lbs.: Luis Pena vs. Matt Wiman – I’m kind of in the air about this fight. On one end Matt Wiman has been out for four years and the games definitely passed him by, but he’s also healed his body tremendously in the process. On the other end, Luis Pena is dynamic and has speed, size and youth on his side. However, mix in his overall inconsistency’s, and there’s an opening for the veteran Wiman. In the end, I have Pena winning this one via decision. Just hard to gauge what Wiman returns here to really side with him.
265 lbs.: Allen Crowder vs. Jair Rozenstruik – Allen Crowder likes to brawl, but he leaves his chin wide open when doing so. Against a legit knockout artist like Jair Rozenstruik, except that kind of defense leading to Crowder face down on the mat. So with that, I have Rozenstruik winning via knockout.
125 lbs.: Ariane Lipski vs. Molly McCann – This is going to be an early contender for Fight of the Night. Molly McCann is warrior. A true brawler, who will go toe to toe with her foe inside the pocket. She makes for entertaining scraps. Unfortunately though, when someone that’s technical, powerful and young like Ariane Lipski steps across from her, she’s going to be nail. I expect Lipski to land often and with authority, ultimately finishing McCann in the 3rd round via Doctor Stoppage.
185 lbs.: Deron Winn vs. Eric Spicely – Since being let go by the UFC, Eric Spicely has finished two foes in short order. Back for a second stint and on short-notice, Spicely has his hands full against the 30 year old prospect Deron Winn. The AKA product, who is the protege of Daniel Cormier, looks very much the part of the former double champ.
Winn features a top notch wrestling background to go along with heavy hands. He’s also very aggressive on the feet, leading to four of his five wins coming via knockout. Now, Spicely is much bigger sand features a really sneaky submission game. However, much like DC, being undersized doesn’t always mean much. Winn is more athletic and I don’t see size being an issue here. So with that, I have Winn getting inside the pocket and cracking Spicely en route to a TKO victory,