The UFC is back in Vegas, for another Fight Night card. Headlining the event is a pair of Light Heavyweight contenders in Thiago Santos and Glover Teixeira’s. Both men are former title challengers and could very well once again be next in line for another crack at UFC gold. However, with news that Israel Adesanya is moving up to fight Light Heavyweight Champion Jan Blachowicz, this once title eliminator dampers that notion. The fact that this fight has been cancelled and rescheduled already two times, hurt it’s chances at ‘right timing’. Regardless, this is an excellent fight and in my opinion, the winner should just wait for a title shot.
UFC Fight Night 182 Main Card on ESPN+/ESPN2 (10 p.m. ET):
205 lbs.: Thiago Santos vs. Glover Teixeira – Thiago Santos is returning to the octagon for the first time since valiantly fighting Jon Jones compromised. In what turned out be a torn ACL and MCL, Santos never gave in and nearly won the fight. After losing to David Branch, Santos had begun to be more technical and not as wild as he used to be. The approach led four consecutive victories, including a knockout over the Champion Blachowicz. Santos carried that style into the Jones fight and proved to be worthy of the title shot.
Glover Teixeira enters this fight on a four fight winning streak. At 41 years of age, Teixeira is proving to have some gas left in that old tank. Most recently, Teixeira dispatched Anthony Smith. It was a mauling to say the least, as the Brazilian’s power and grappling were too much for Smith to handle. With a fifth straight win, could you deny Teixeira another crack at UFC gold?
As for a prediction, I’m going with Teixeira. Santos is coming off major surgery and while he has the clear power advantage, I am afraid that he won’t be able to keep this fight upright. Teixeira is a strong grappler and Santos has notably iffy takedown defense. If at any point this fight hits the mat, Teixeira is going to get his licks in and potentially lock in a submission. In fact, that’s my prediction – Teixeira wins via submission.
265 lbs.: Andrei Arlovski vs. Tanner Boser – While I don’t see Tanner Boser continuing his knockout streak, I do see him extending his win streak to three. Andrei Arlovski is a legend and I think it’s fair to say, he’s turned back those who said he had no chin. In Arlovski’s last ten fights, only once has he been knocked out. It’s also important to note too, Arlovski can still strike with the best of them. He lacks power, but his experience has waned over others in fights. Unfortunately, Boser is coming into this with momentum and confidence. Boser’s ability to use leg kicks is going to slow the attack of Arlovski, allowing him to pick apart the former Champion – ultimately leading to a decision victory.
135 lbs.: Raoni Barcelos vs. Khalid Taha – I’m high on Raoni Barcelos. He’s well rounded, with only a few weaknesses. The one glaring one, is striking defense. Due to a world class chin, Barcelos has been able to endure anything thrown at him thus far. While I don’t see Khalid Taha knocking on that door, there could be problems the further Barcelos rises within the division. In my opinion, while Barcelos can strike with Taha, the clear route to winning is getting this fight to the mat. In both Taha’s losses in the UFC, he was taken down a total of eight times. Barcelos is no stranger to getting opponents to the ground and I don’t expect anything different here. So with that, give me Barcelos to win via submission.
145 lbs.: Giga Chikadze vs. Jamey Simmons – I’m confused about this matchup. Giga Chikadze has rattled off four consecutive wins inside the octagon, most recently defeating the previously unblemished Omar Morales. Next up – A debuting 7-2 fighter? Odd, but Chikadze possible is trying to stay active, while racking wins and paychecks. So with that, give me Chikadze to win via TKO.
115 lbs.: Claudia Gadelha vs. Yan Xiaonan – All the signs point to the emergence of a contender in Yan Xiaonan. She’s won all five of her fights inside the octagon, including beating the likes of Angela Hill and Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Thus far, she’s shown excellent striking and cardio. Xiaonan’s volume is overwhelming, as she’s thrown over 200 strikes in all five of her UFC fights. As for Claudia Gadelha, she’s won two consecutive fights and three of her last four. Unfortunately, two of her victories have been very controversial. She brings forth good striking, strength and excellent grappling.
As for a prediction, I want to lean Xiaonan. If this fight stays on the feet, by late into round two – she’s going to overwhelm Gadelha for the rest of the fight with volume. However, I’m yet to see what Xiaonan can do against a grappler. Gadelha is physically one of the strongest in the division and should she take this fight to the mat, I’m not sure what Xiaonan’s abilities off her back are. In light of the unknown, I’m going with Gadelha. I will note as well, Xiaonan hasn’t exactly fought anyone other than Angela Hill. In the end, I’ll go with the upset – Gadelha wins via decision.
UFC Fight Night 182 Card on ESPN+ (7:30 p.m. ET):
185 lbs.: Trevin Giles vs. Bevon Lewis – This fight is a toss-up, but give me Trevin Giles. I just don’t see how Bevon Lewis is going to continue to excel at this level by just pushing fighters against the cage and landing little to no output. Giles is a gamer and I see volume and the will to win guiding him to a decision victory.
265 lbs.: Marcos Rogerio de Lima vs. Alexander Romanov – Marcos Rogerio de Lima has about three minutes to win this, otherwise he’s completely gassed. Against an all around talent like Alexander Romanov, having no cardio isn’t going to work. I expect Romanov to take down the wild swinging de Lima, and ultimately putting him away via vicious ground-and-pound (TKO).
145 lbs.: Darren Elkins vs. Eduardo Garagorri – After winning six consecutive fights, Darren Elkins now finds himself a loser of his last four fights. It appears age and the amount of punishment has caught up to him. However, Elkins find himself in a rather favorable fight. Unfortunately for Eduardo Garagorri, unless he figured out his takedown defense – then he should expect to be fighting off his back the majority of this fight. After all, a striker in Humberto Bandenay took Garagorri down four times. So with that, give me Elkins to win via decision.
170 lbs.: Ramiz Brahimaj vs. Max Griffin – This is a tough fight to pick. I believe Max Griffin is the overall better fight. I also believe he’s gotten jobbed in a few fights that didn’t go his way. Besides that, my problem is that I never know what Griffin is going to show up. On one hand, you have a guy who can strike and mix in his wrestling excellently. On the other, a guy who just throws little to no output and losses. Given the inconsistencies, give me the upset here. Ramiz Brahimaj takes Griffin down several times and wins via split decision.
135 lbs.: Anthony Birchak vs. Gustavo Lopez – Not sure what to expect from Anthony Birchak’s return to the octagon. The letdown in his Rizin stint gives me pause. The one thing I will say though, Birchak can wrestle. Given Gustavo Lopez was wrestled into oblivion in his UFC debut against Merab Dvalishvili, the route to victory is there. The problem is, Birchak usually elects to strike with opponents. He’s got some pop too, but Lopez is the overall better striker. Should Birchak elect to neglect mixing in his wrestling, than Lopez is going to put him down at some point. In my opinion, that’s exactly what’s going to happen. Lopez outlast Birchak’s early storm, ultimately winning via TKO.