Rise and Shine! The UFC is back in action, as they head back to Singapore with an entertaining card. Headlining the event is former Middleweight and Welterweight title challenger Demian Maia and wrestling standout Ben Askren. Maia, at age 41 is on a two fight winning streak and is quickly climbing back up the ranks. Askren on the other hand will look to erase the memories of a his last fight that resulted in a five second knockout defeat. It would be his first professional defeat. However, good fortunes potentially lie ahead, as the former ONE Champion returns to his old stomping ground in Singapore and seemingly will have the crowd behind him.
UFC Fight Night 162 Main Card on ESPN+ (8 a.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Demian Maia vs. Ben Askren – I could see this fight really going either way. For one, Maia is an amazing grappler and has one of the very best top control games in all of mixed martial arts. He’s a submission artist through and through. If you were to nitpick weaknesses, it’s striking and cardio. The first, striking has actually improved and in this fight, it’ll look like world class against a non-striker in Askren. The cardio issue is a serious flaw, especially given this is a five round fight that anticipates to be a grind.
As for Askren, the man’s a pure wrestler. He’s got iffy standup, but his wrestling is above and beyond most of the game. On top, he’s absolutely a nightmare. While he may not knock you in top control, he does a good job of sapping your cardio. Normally too, Askren has good cardio. I say normally because in the whirlwind that was his debut against Robbie Lawler, he looked a little winded after two minutes. I mean, he did get tossed and abused for a bit, so maybe that played a role.
As for a prediction, I’ve got Askren. While he’s going to get lit up on the feet, he’s going to make up for it with takedowns and a suffocating top control. Given this is a five round fight, the later the fight goes, the better. Maia has shown suspect cardio at times, and there’s going to be a lot of grappling going on to sap it by round three. So with that, I’ll go with Askren winning via decision.
155 lbs.: Michael Johnson vs. Stevie Ray – I gotta say, I don’t get why Johnson went down to Featherweight. He’s a fine Lightweight that ran into some solid fighters and went on a skid. He must of forgot he beat Tony Ferguson, Joe Lauzon, Dustin Poirier, Edson Barboza among others… Given Rays seemingly lack of durability of late, I could very well see this fight ending. That’s if Johnson brings the pressure back that made him so successful. I’ll say he doesn’t, but still gets the job done via decision.
155 lbs.: Frank Camacho vs. Beneil Dariush – While Dariush is the more skilled fighter, his chin remains a culprit in why he’s yet to crack contender-ship. Camacho, is a tough out for anyone. The man’s insanely durable, has great cardio and pace, and walks foes down with his volume striking. It can be suffocating and it doesn’t help that Camacho also has some pop in those hands. As for a prediction, this is a tough call. I could see Dariush grinding out Camacho on the fence. However, I’m going with Camacho, thinking that he lands something clean that puts Dariush down. So with that, I have Camacho winning via TKO.
265 lbs.: Ciryl Gane vs. Don’Tale Mayes – This fight will end rather quickly. Gane looks the part of Heavyweight with heavy hands and a side of wrestling and grappling to resort to. The future is bright for the Frenchman, who will win this fight via knockout.
170 lbs.: Muslim Salikhov vs. Laureano Staropoli – This is going to be fun as long as it last. You have a wild man in Staropoli, who’s aggressiveness is going to get him cracked by the dynamic counter striker Salikhov. I’m thinking, a spinning back kick knockout.
UFC Fight Night 162 Prelims Card on ESPN+ (5 a.m. ET):
115 lbs.: Randa Markos vs. Ashley Yoder – Markos might be inconsistent, but she’s yet to lose two professional fights in a row. She’s a well rounded fighter, whom has really ramped up her striking of late. While Yoder is going to be competitive in this fight, I feel like Marcos is just a notch better than her everywhere. So with that, I have Yoder winning via decision.
155 lbs.: Rafael Fiziev vs. Alex White – We didn’t get to see the highlight reel striker Fiziev too much in his debut, as he was taken out in two minutes by a Russian brute in Magomed Mustafaev. White on the hand doesn’t carry that same power or skill like Mustafaev. So expect Fiziev to put on a striking clinic this time around. So with that, I have Fiziev winning via decision.
145 lbs.: Enrique Barzola vs. Movsar Evloev – This fight seems like a coin flip to me. Evloev is a wrestler, meanwhile Barzola has an all round game with wrestling being his strong point. Barzola however has solid takedown defense, so it will be interesting to see just how good of a wrestler Evloev truly is. Given the uncertainty, I’m going wi5h the UFC veteran Barzola to win via decision.
265 lbs.: Sergei Pavlovich vs. Maurice Greene – Pavlovich may be newer to the UFC, but on the regional scene, he was tearing through guys better than Greene. While Pavlovich doesn’t offer the striking output Greene does, he makes up for with legit knockout power. Greene’s yet to face power like this and I don’t think his chin holds up. So with that, I have Pavlovich winning via knockout.
125 lbs.: Alexandra Albu vs. Loma Lookboonmee – On the heels of the toughness and ability to keep coming forward for three rounds, I’m going with Albu via decision.
265 lbs.: Jeff Hughes vs. Raphael Pessoa – Despite the fact that Hughes has yet to taste a UFC victory, he’s already shown to be comparable enough fighter that will have some success at Heavyweight. He’s durable and he has fight in him for three rounds. Pessoa on the other hand is supposed to be a pretty good grappler, yet he was submitted in his debut against a pure striker. So with that, I have Hughes winning via TKO.