UFC Fight Night 105: Lewis vs Browne Preliminary Predictions
170lbs- Nordine Taleb (11-3-0) vs Santiago Ponzinibbio (24-3-0)
Capping off the undercard, Nordine “The Machine” Taleb battles Argentina’s Santiago “Gente Boa” Ponzinibbio. Taleb turned his UFC career around with a 4-1 run after a pair of unsuccessful stints on the reality show- he is coming off of a TKO victory over Erick Silva. Ponzinibbio has rattled off 3 consecutive wins, most recently defeating Zak Cummings by decision.
Taleb is an inch taller and will have an inch reach advantage, but he has been out of action for almost a full year. “Gente Boa” is the younger man by 5-years.
Having stopped 3 of his last 5 wins by knockout, Ponzinibbio has pushed his overall career total to 13 TKO/KOs. He has added in 6 submissions and a solid 4-1 record on the scorecards. Of the 19 finishes, 14 have come in the opening round. Ponzinibbio was knocked out by Lorenz Larkin- he has been stopped with strikes twice. Nordine’s KO of Silva was his first since 2012- he has finished 6 opponents with strikes. Taleb is 6-1 on the scorecards and has been finished twice- once each by submission and knockout.
Taleb is coming off a knockout, but his forte has been his takedown game. He has picked up 13 takedowns over his 4-UFC wins, including his UFC-best 6 completions in a fight back in 2015. He is a BJJ Brown belt, but his focus has been more on controlling from top position instead of looking for a finish. Warlley Alves stuffed both of his TDAs before locking up a guillotine for the tap. Nordine has some pop in his hands, but lacks a consistent output to dominate a fight without having success on the floor.
The Argentinian has power in his hands and has rounded out the technical aspect of his striking attack in recent fights. Ponzinibbio sits down on his strikes and lands long hard punches. He will also mix in a decent kicking game. At 4.15 SLpM, he does some of his best work when he can pin his opponent along the cage and unload with barrages. His TDD has improved, but it has been a point of vulnerability- he has given up 2 or more takedowns on 3 separate occasions.
There is an avenue to victory for Taleb if he can land takedowns with consistency and break down Santiago with his position control. Unfortunately, the improvements in the TDD of Ponzinibbio along with his superior striking attack and aggressive forward pressure are going to shut down Nordine’s wrestling. Taleb will hold his own on the feet, but the power and speed of Ponzinibbio will simply be too much for him to match- my prediction is Santiago Ponzinibbio to defeat Nordine Taleb by decision.
115lbs- #3 Carla Esparza (12-3-0) vs Randa Markos (6-5-0)
Dating back to their time in the Ultimate Fighter house, Carla “Cookie Monster” Esparza and Randa “Quiet Storm” Esparza renew hostilities in the Strawweight division. Esparza returned to action at UFC 197 to defeat Juliana Lima by decision in her first fight since dropping the title to Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Markos was submitted by Cortney Casey at UFC 202 and has alternated wins and losses over her last 8 fights.
At just 5’4″, Markos is still 3 inches taller than the former Champion. Both girls have a 63″ reach and Esparza is the younger woman by 2-years.
Esparza has recorded a trio of wins by knockout, 4 wins by submission, and 4 by decision. Carla has gone the distance in 3 of her last 6 wins, with her last stoppage coming via submission over Rose Namajunas when she captured the UFC title. Markos has never had a fight end via knockout and is coming off the first submission defeat of her career. She as a trio of submission wins to along with tapping out Felice Herrig during the TUF tournament. She is 3-3 on the scorecards, including a split decision loss to Jessica Penne.
Esparza comes from a strong wrestling background and is coming off of 5-takedown performance against Lima. She put up similar numbers against Namajunas. She has good timing on her double leg, catching her opponent coming forward and driving them to the mat. She has solid top position control, breaking down her foe with pressure and strikes. Conversely, Jedrzejcyk’s stout TDD shutdown Esparza’s wrestling in a complete wipe out of a fight.
Not to be outdone on the floor, Markos is a BJJ Purple belt and has completed at least 1 takedown in each of her UFC bouts. She ran into trouble against Casey after losing position resulting in the submission loss. She gave up 4 takedowns to Penne, but did a decent job of scrambling out of tough spots. When standing, the majority of her offense comes from the right side. She’s got some pop, but can be a little too one-dimensional with her hands.
This fight will come down to whether or not Esparza can take Markos down with regularity. Randa’s striking is too predictable and she is too offensively focus with her grappling which will create opportunities for Esparza to get on top and stay there. Esparza will hold her own on the feet until she elects to change levels and ground Markos- my prediction is Carla Esparza to defeat Randa Markos by decision.
135lbs- Aiemann Zahabi (6-0-0) vs Reginaldo Vieira (14-4-0)
In the Bantamweight division, Quebec’s Aiemann Zahabi makes his promotional debut across the cage from TUF Brazil 4 tournament winner Reginaldo Vieira. Vieira is coming off of a submission loss to Marco Beltran last July- he is 1-1 inside the Octagon. Zahabi fought just once in 2016, securing a victory via TKO due to injury- his last 3 foes are a combined 13-14 overall.
The Canadian is an inch taller than his opponent, but he will have a 4″ reach advantage. Zahabi is also the younger man by 5-years.
Vieira is coming off the third submission loss of his career to go along with a knockout defeat back in 2013. He has 9 submission wins on his record and is 3-0 on the scorecards. His patented guillotine choke has accounted for 6 of his 9 victories. Zahabi has split his 6 wins evenly between submissions and knockouts. He has never fought beyond the opening round, with his longest fight lasting just 4:40. After starting his career with a trio of submission wins, 1 due to punches, he has since finished each of his last 3 opponents by knockout.
Training out of Tristar, the younger brother of Zahabi is short on quality experience and prolonged cage time. He offers a measured striking game with some decent pop and serviceable kicking game. Look for him to utilize feints to draw out his opponent’s attacks and then counter. In tight, Aiemann will throw hard knees or change levels for a takedown. Has had demoed decent hips to counter his opponent’s shot and once on top he is solid.
As the numbers would indicate, Vieira relies heavily on his mat game. He picked up a trio of takedowns against Beltran before getting finished. On the feet, he is a willing combatant and has some pop in his hands, but he throws primarily wide-ranging hooks. When not storming forward behind his punches, Reginaldo can get a little complacent on the outside. A tendency to muscle his techniques can result in a slowdown and he clearly was wearing down prior to getting finished last time out.
Despite the lack of overall experience, Zahabi comes from a strong camp and will be well prepared. His more refined striking technique will counter the wild aggression of the Brazilian and his counter wrestling will take Vieira’s grappling out of the equation- my prediction is Aiemann Zahabi to defeat Reginaldo Vieira by TKO.
185lbs- Jack Marshman (21-5-0) vs Thiago Santos (13-5-0)
Welsh-born Jack “Hammer” Marshman takes on Brazil’s Thiago “Marreta” Santos in the Middleweight division. Marshman made a successful UFC debut, scoring a TKO victory over Magnus Cedenblad to extend his current winning streak to 7-straight fights. Santos has dropped back to back contests after an upset submission loss to Eric Wisely.
Both men are 6’0″ tall, Santos will have a 3″ reach advantage. Marshman is 5-years younger.
The knockout of Cedenblad was the 13th of Marshman’s career to go along with 5 wins by submission and a 3-2 record on the scorecards. He has finished 10 opponents in the opening round while suffering a trio of knockouts himself. Santos has recorded 4 knockouts in the UFC and 8 overall. He is 4-1 in decisions including his upset win over Elias Theodorou.
A scrappy striker, Marshman landed a hard left hook that dropped Cedenblad early. When forced to fight on the outside, he struggled to land with regularity but once he moved forward he was able to find a home for his left hook behind an ineffectual right side strike. While he has some power, Marshman has a tendency to throw stiff arm punches that routinely come up short.
Santos’s boxing technique isn’t the most technical and when put under pressure he will open up defensively. Hower, the kicking repertoire of the Brazilian is lethal. “Marreta” will target up and down the body, forcing his opponent to defend one area before targeting another. When fighting Thiago needs to be either all the way out or all the way in. Once on the inside and locked in the clinch, look for Thiago to let go with brutal elbows and knee strikes.
Both men have power and both have been knocked out in previous fights. Santos is the more refined striker based on his kicking technique and should have a speed advantage. Look for him to keep Marshman on the outside, landing hard kicks and then jamming Jack up in the clinch when he tries to close the gap- my prediction is Thiago Santos to defeat Jack Marshman by knockout.
185lbs- Gerald Meerschaert (25-8-0) vs Ryan Janes (9-1-0)
The first of 4 Middleweight bouts on the card will also serve to open the evening’s festivities as Canada’s own Ryan Janes takes on Gerald “The Machine” Meerschaert in both fighter’s sophomore appearance. Meerschaert defeated Joe Gigliotti to extend his current winning streak to 6 consecutive bouts dating back to a 2014 defeat against Sam Alvey. Janes finally got into the Octagon at UFC Fight Night 102, defeating Keith Berish by decision for his 8th consecutive win.
At 6’3″, Janes is the taller man by 2 inches, but he will give up an inch to Meerschaert, who is younger than the Canadian by 8-years.
Janes picked up just his second career decision win in his debut, to improve to 2-1 when going the distance. He has finished 8 of his 10 wins- 7 by submission, with 6 of those coming via rear-naked choke. Holding a sizeable 23-fight edge in experience, Meerschaert has submitted 18 opponents. The Rufusport product has secured the majority of his submission wins by some form of choke. He has also been subbed 7-times, with his last coming in 2013. He has 5 wins knockout.
Despite making his debut on short notice, Meerschaert looked calm and composed. He slid in and out of range landing a quick jab, hooks, and quick kicks. He is considered a thinking man’s fighter, making adjustments on the fly. On the mat, Gerald demoed good scrambling skills and attacked off his back when Gigliotti took him down. The finish came when Meerschaert converted a well controlled back mount into a tight anaconda choke.
Janes relied on his reach and forward pressure, punctuated by a left jab against Berish. He was absorbing some big punches, but benefited from a lack of consistent activity from his opponent who focused on impact over work rate. The lack of a strong wrestling attack makes it difficult for Janes to bring his grappling skills to bear with consistency. He is dangerous on the floor, but if he is unable to put Meerschaert on his back he becomes a one-dimensional fighter.
Meerschaert has the superior wrestling attack which will give him a positional advantage on the mat or allow him to keep the fight vertical to avoid the grappling of Janes. On the feet, Janes is too defensively lax and doesn’t have the type of power needed to back his foe up. Meerschaert will get the better of the striking exchanges and hold the edge on the mat with top positional control- my prediction is [Body] Gerald Meerschaert to defeat Ryan Janes by decision.[/Body_1]