UFC on ESPN+ 17: Rodriguez vs. Stephens Predictions


The UFC is back in action, as they travel to Mexico City, Mexico with an enticing card featured by an awesome headliner. The dynamic knockout artist Yair Rodriguez locks horns with veteran Jeremy Stephens. Rodriguez is coming off an unbelievable knockout against the Korean Zombie with one second left in the fight. It was a very close fight, one in which the judges would have sided with TKZ without the stunning knockout. As for Stephens, the heavy handed slugger has lost two fights in a row. Make no mistake though, Stephens is one of the divisions best and can beat anyone on any given day.

UFC Fight Night 159 Main Card on ESPN+ (8 p.m. ET):

145 lbs.: Yair Rodriguez vs. Jeremy Stephens – This is a tough fight to call and at first I leaned Rodriguez. The man’s such a dynamic striker and his durability aided with cardio make him one of the toughest opponents in the Featherweight division. The problem I see in this fight is that Stephens is the complete package. He can wrestle if necessary, which could be a big factor in this fight. We saw Rodriguez crumble to Frankie Edgar’s wrestling. Another factor is that Stephens is a pressure fighter with power. Now, he can very well walk into something against the crafty Rodriguez or he can completely neutralize Rodriguez’s kicks. I think the later. So with that, with cardio, pressure and a few takedowns I see Stephens taking this via decision.

115 lbs.: Carla Esparza vs. Alexa Grasso – I want to pick Grasso so bad her because of how good her striking is. However, Esparza has really developed a formidable striking game to go with her already solid wrestling. Given Grasso has yet to fight a wrestler the caliber of Esparza, I’m just not sure if she can keep this on the feet. Even if she Grasso manages to stuff them, her minds going to be on the takedown which inhibits her striking. So with that, I have Esparza winning via decision.

125 lbs.: Brandon Moreno vs. Askar Askarov – Moreno is tough as nails and can’t be counted out in any fight, especially in his native country. The problem is, Askarov is a solid grappler and should take advantage of Moreno’s wildness. I see takedowns being a factor in the decision here, so edge Askarov who takes this fight via decision.

135 lbs.: Irene Aldana vs. Vanessa Melo – Aldana hasn’t been able to build consistent momentum, but she’s the complete package. And I’m very shocked that she’s getting a debuting fighter at this stage in her career. O well, Aldana wins via decision.

145 lbs.: Martin Bravo vs. Steven Peterson – This is a coin flip…and in that case, I’ve got Superman Peterson via decision.

UFC Fight Night 159 Prelims Card on ESPN+ (5 p.m. ET):

135 lbs.: Jose Quinonez vs. Carlos Huachin – Honestly, El Teco has a sweet mustache and based on that, he’s taking this fight via decision.

145 lbs.: Kyle Nelson vs. Marco Polo Reyes – This fight doesn’t seem likely to go the distance. Also, Reyes doesn’t seem likely to stuff a takedown. Given that, Nelson should lock in a fight ending submission.

115 lbs.: Angela Hill vs. Ariane Carnelossi – Hill’s got an ugly UFC record, but most of her loses are against ranked foes. Fortunately, Carnelossi is not ranked. So with that, I have Hill winning via decision.

125 lbs.: Sergio Pettis vs. Tyson Nam – Pettis is back at Flyweight, which is where he’s been his best in the UFC. The only concern I have here is that eventually going up and down in weight is going to catch up. Pettis has had some chin concerns and Nam who is making his long awaited debut can crack. Although Pettis is the more skilled fighter, I’m going with Nam via knockout.

205 lbs.: Paul Craig vs. Vinicius Moreira – Craig’s game-plan of pulling guard only works when your opponent isn’t a grappler better than you. Normally if that’s the case, then you can rely on striking. Something in which Craig doesn’t really have much of. Anyways, the point I’m trying to make is that Moreira is going to get top control, beat up and submit Craig.

135 lbs.: Sijara Eubanks vs. Bethe Correia – Eubanks should roll here. She’s the better striker and wrestler, and Correia at this point is only tough and durable. So with that, I have Eubanks winning via decision.

155 lbs.: Marcos Mariano vs. Claudio Puelles – On the basis that Mariano looks to be a pure striker without any other asset to his game, Puelles should easily take Mariano down and submit him. Puelles wins via submission.

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