The UFC is back in action with its last event of the year and the decade. Returning to South Korea, the UFC continues its global expansion with a fun main event featuring former Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar and South Korea’s own, the Korean Zombie Chan Sung Jung. The winner of this fight is in for big things in a Featherweight division with a new king on top in Alexander Volkanovski.
UFC Fight Night 165 Main Card on ESPN+ (5 a.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Frankie Edgar vs. “Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung – I really wish Edgar didn’t take this fight. Not only is this a bad fight matchup-wise, but I really believe that he’s Championship caliber at Bantamweight. His footwork, speed and boxing are still there albeit a little slower. His wrestling is always reliable when he truly needs it. However, his size isn’t ideal at Lightweight and while Featherweight is more reasonable, he’s still always the smaller fighter. TKZ is a machine. He’s got an iron chin, so don’t expect Edgar to win via knockout. His striking is top notch and he’s got legit power. His pace and pressure break fighters. His cardio is some of the best in the UFC. His grappling is sneaky good, so don’t expect to see TKZ get taken down without a scramble where he finds his way in an advantageous position. In the end, I don’t see how Edgar wins this fight. TKZ is better everywhere in my option and is a real dark horse to become a Featherweight Champion. As for this fight, it’s only a matter of time before TKZ wins this via knockout.
205 lbs.: Volkan Oezdemir vs. Alexander Rakic – I’m so conflicted in this fight. I’ve been really impressed with Rakic. He’s got size, good striking and has been battled tested thus far in the UFC. Oezdemir however, has fought some of the divisions best and in his last fight, really showed that he’s still a top contender. If Rakic can get by him, its very possible he’d be one fight away from a title shot. However, Oezdemir is a handful and I see him edging out a close fight via decision.
145 lbs.: Doo Ho Choi vs. Charles Jourdain – The Korean Superboy is back and they’ve brought in a sacrificial lamb in Jourdain to get him back on track. So with that, I have Choi winning via early TKO.
205 lbs.: Da Un Jung vs. Mike Rodriguez – With so much steam heading into the UFC, Rodriguez has been a bit of a dud thus far. Jung on the other hand impressed me in his UFC debut. He ate some heavy shots early, weathered the storm and looked really fresh in the later rounds. I’m curious to see how he fairs in this fight, given Rodriguez can throw hands too. However, I’m going with Jung via decision.
185 lbs.: Marc-Andre Barriault vs. Jun Yong Park – I wasn’t too impressed with Park’s debut, and while Barriault is on a two-fight skid, he’s the better all around fighter. I’ve got the Canadian getting back in the win column via decision.
135 lbs.: Kyung Ho Kang vs. Liu Pingyuan – Ive got to say, Kang is underrated. He’s won five of his last six fights, with the lone loss coming via split decision. His standup is coming along and his wrestling is becoming problematic for any opponent. I believe that Kang’s physical strength is his biggest asset and I really don’t see Pingyuan matching it. So with that, Kang totally dominates and secures an eventually submission victory.
UFC Fight Night 165 ‘Prelims’ Card on ESPN+ (2 a.m. ET):
265 lbs.: Tanner Boser vs. Ciryl Gane – Are you telling me that Gane, who is a heavy handed slugger is finishing foes with submission? The last victory coming via heel hook no less? Hard to say that the future isn’t bright with this prelim headliner spot too. As for a prediction, I’ve got Gane winning via knockout.
145 lbs.: Suman Mokhtarian vs. Seungwoo Choi – While Mokhtarian did face a buzzsaw in his debut in Sadiq Yusuff, his record heading in is extremely padded. On the other hand, Choi’s already fought two tough UFC foes with a combined 20-1 record. Before entering the UFC, Choi was dispatching foes via knockout. Given this fight is against a lesser foe, I have a feeling the knockout is coming back. So with that, gimme Choi via knockout.
155 lbs.: Dong Hyun Ma vs. Omar Morales – I’m not too sure about Morales, but I’m more familiar with Ma’s terrible defensive striking. Nevertheless, the man can be wild and land one once in awhile. I think somehow, someway his power shots disrupt the fight and he takes a decision victory.
125 lbs.: Alexandre Pantoja vs. Matt Schnell – This is a big fight in a shallow Flyweight division that is now Champion-less with Henry Cejudo vacating the belt. While I believe that Pantoja is the all around better fighter and clearly has fought The who’s who of the division, I’m taking a flier on Schnell. The mans’s strung together a four-fight win streak and he’s been a threat on the feet and even more-so on the ground. I’m not entirely confident, but I’m going with the momentum of Schnell to take this fight via decision.
135 lbs.: Raoni Barcelos vs. Said Nurmagomedov – This is an excellent fight and it’s odd that it’s so far down the card. Barcelos has stormed into the UFC with a perfect 3-0 record inside the octagon, all by finish. He’s got heavy hands on the feet and a knack on the ground for finding the finish. Nurmagomedov is a perfect 2-0 and is known for his solid wrestling. In what I expect to be a close fight, I feel like Nurmagomedov‘s wrestling can somewhat neutralize Barcelos. So with that, I have Nurmagomedov winning via decision.
115 lbs.: Miranda Granger vs. Amanda Lemos – No clue honestly…Granger via decision.
135 lbs.: Heili Alateng vs. Ryan Benoit – I’m a little concerned with Benoit finding success at Bantamweight given his size. However, Alateng isn’t a big Bantamweight nor has fought the level of talent Benoit has. Throw in the fact that Benoit has some good wrestling chops and legit knockout power and I’m predicting an early TKO victory for the American.