UFC Fight Night 137: Santos vs Anders Preliminary Predictions

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155lbs- Charles Oliveira (23-8-0 1NC) vs Christos Giagos (15-6-0)

In the Undercard headliner, Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira returns to Brazil for the first time since 2015 when he takes Christo “The Spartan” Giagos. Oliveira is coming off a UFC 225 submission win over Clay Guida and has gone 2-1 since returning to the 155-pound division. Giagos went 1-2 during his first stint in the UFC, but after winning 4 of his last 6 fights he got the return call to the Octagon.

Both men are 5’10”, but Oliveira will stand 3 inches taller. The American is the younger man by a year.

During his first UFC tenure, the success and failure of Giagos came on the mat. He dropped his debut via submission and game up 4 takedowns in a decision loss prior to getting cut. Giagos’s only UFC win was also the third submission win of his career. With a trio of losses via tap out, Christos will need to be very careful of the crafty submission game of Oliveira.

Charles has submitted 15 opponents, accounting for 10 of his 11 UFC wins. The Brazilian offers a variety of techniques and is incredibly opportunistic. On the feet, Oliveira will attack with impunity as he is afraid of being taken down. While he has yet to score a knockout in the UFC< he throws good kicks and knees with power.

The biggest knock on “Do Bronx” has been his lack of durability. He has lost multiple fights where he appears to shut down after taking a minimal amount of damage.

Giagos has a history of struggling with ground-based opposition, so he will need to maintain constant separation in order to be successful. Oliveira has improved his wrestling to further magnify his ground skills and he often only needs 1 opportunity to finish a fight. Look for the Brazilian to push forward, tie Giagos up in the clinch or shoot and then start attacking submissions- my prediction is Charles Oliveira to defeat Christos Giagos by submission.

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155lbs- Francisco Trinaldo (22-6-0) vs Evan Dunham (18-7-1)

A pair of former top-15 ranked fighters collide as Brazil’s Francisco Trinaldo meets Evan Dunham who will be making his 20th and final walk to the Octagon. Dunham is coming off a TKO loss to Oliver Aubin-Mercier, ending a 5-fight undefeated run. Trinaldo had won 7 consecutive fights, but he has since gone 1-2 with losses to Kevin Lee and James Vick.

The soon-to-be-retired Dunham is an inch taller, but they share the same 70″ reach. Dunham is the younger fighter by 3-years.

Trinaldo has developed a strong striking attack and coupled it with improved cardio. When he is able to fight at his own pace, he can maintain a consistent output without experiencing a drop off in performance. That could be an issue against Dunham, who works at a very steep pace and has eclipsed the 100-significant strike mark in 3 of his last 4 wins.

While Dunham isn’t the quickest fighter, his constant pressure is a lot to handle. Conversely, his willingness to constantly engage has exposed him to some significant damage over his career. Evan has been finished in each of his last 3 defeats, including back to back TKO stoppages that were the result of strikes to the body.

Dunham is a capable wrestler as well, landing 10 takedowns during his recent 4 fight winning streak.

This fight will be won by either Trinaldo’s brute force or Dunham’s relentless aggression. Dunham needs to push the pace and exhaust the Brazilian without exposing himself to the sizeable power that Francisco will be throwing back. Trinaldo throws hard kicks and knees to the body which is an area of vulnerability for Dunham. While a win to end his career would be a nice way to go, my prediction is Francisco Trinaldo to defeat Evan Dunham by TKO.

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205lbs- Luis Henrique (10-4-0 1NC) vs Ryan Spann (10-5-0)

In the Light Heavyweight division, Luis “KLB” Henrique takes on the debuting Ryan “Superman” Spann. Henrique went 2-3 while fighting as a Heavyweight, most recently dropping a decision to  Arjan Bhullar. Spann lost his first Contenders Series fight via 15-second knockout in mid-2017 but has since won 4 in a row including a 26-second submission win on his second appearance on the Tuesday Night show.

Henrique is returning to the Light Heavyweight division for the first time since 2015, but he will stand 3″ shorter than Spann and give up a sizeable 7 inches of reach. Henrique is the younger man by 2 years.

Spann’s time on the Contenders Series has been short, but he has scored a knockdown in both fights. Overall, he has finished 10 opponents by submission and 3 more by knockout. The majority of his wins have come by either guillotine or rear-naked choke. Henrique is a BJJ Brown belt with 4 pro submission. He completed 8 takedowns in his first 4 UFC bouts.

Henrique might opt to keep this fight standing and test the chin of the American. Spann has been finished twice by knockout, not including getting hurt early in his fight with Alex Nicholson. Henrique hasn’t scored a win by knockout since 2012 when he was fighting at Light Heavyweight. Against bigger man at Heavyweight is power didn’t seem to hold up as well.

Regardless of Henrique’s gameplan, he will need to find a way to work through the reach of Span to get into attacking range.

Spann is a concerning 0-3 in his last trio of bouts to go beyond the first round and his durability is questionable. Henrique is a grinder and while he has been knocked out on multiple occasions- it was at Heavyweight and he took some serious damage prior to the finish. The weight cut is key for Luis, but it if goes well, look for him to grind down Spann and eventually hurt him with strikes either standing or on the mat- my prediction is Luis Henrique to defeat Ryan Spann by TKO.

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265lbs- Augusto Sakai (10-1-1) vs Chase Sherman (11-4-0)

Contenders Series graduate and 6-fight Bellator veteran Augusto Sakai makes his UFC debut when he takes on Chase “The Vanilla Gorilla” Sherman in the Heavyweight division. Sakai went 4-1-1 in Bellator with a split decision loss to Cheick Kongo giving way to a 2-fight winning streak outside of the promotion. Sherman has lost back to back fight, most recently via decision to Justin Willis- he is 2-4.

Both men are 6’4″, but it will be Sakai that comes in close to the limit and 10-15 pounds heavier than the American. Sherman will have a 1″ reach advantage.

Each man exhibits above-average speed and movement for the Heavyweight division. Additionally, they each employ a decent volume of kicks in their attack and both fighters have won the majority of their bouts via knockout.

The key difference is the durability factory. While Sakai has shown a willingness to absorb damage, he can take it. Sherman doesn’t wear it nearly as well and his chin isn’t nearly as sturdy with a trio of defeats by knockout.

Sherman needs to keep this fight on the outside and avoid getting drawn into a firefight. Sakai’s low kicks will slow him down and if he opts to close the gap, the Brazilian’s clinch work can be devastating. Sherman won’t be able to avoid or withstand Sakai’s power- my prediction is Augusto Sakai to defeat Chase Sherman by knockout.

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170lbs- Sergio Moraes (13-4-1) vs Ben Saunders (22-9-2)

In the Welterweight division, Sergio “Panther” Moraes takes on Ben “Killer B” Saunders. Moraes is coming off of a split decision win over Tim Means and has put together an impressive 7-1-1 run over his last 9 fights. Saunders stopped Jake Ellenberger in his last recent outing, ending a 2-fight losing skid- he has 3 wins in his last 5 fights.

Saunders is the taller man by 2 inches and will have a 5″ reach advantage. Ben is the younger man by a year.

Ben offers a variety of weapons, including a capable submission game, but he would be best suited to avoid the ground against Moraes. Saunders does have 10 career wins by knockouts, doing his best work in the clinch with knees and elbows.

Despite Moraes’s elite level BJJ game, he prefers to slug it out on the feet. He has landed just a single takedown over his last 6 fights and hasn’t picked up a submission win since 2013. Moares doesn’t have a lot of pop on the feet, but his willingness to come forward aids his overall offence.

Sergio is 5-0-1 in his last 6 fights at home, including a 2-0-1 record in split decisions.

Saunders has the edge on the feet, but he is far from an overwhelming striker. Moraes’ aggression will be the key to overcoming Saunders’ reach and if he can time Ben’s kicking game it could set up a key takedown. In a close fight, Moraes has the edge fighting at home- my prediction is Sergio Moraes to defeat Ben Saunders by decision.

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125lbs- Mayra Bueno Silva (4-0-0) vs Gillian Robertson (5-2-0)

In the second of 3 Women’s fights on the card, Canadian Gillian “The Savage” Robertson goes for UFC win #3 when she battles Contender’s graduate Mayra Bueno Silva in the Flyweight division. Robertson has upset both Emily Whitmire and Molly McMann by submission. Silva made her pro debut in 2016 with a pair of wins and scored a 62-second submission to get the call to the big show.

Silva has traditionally fought at Bantamweight and will stand an inch taller than her foe. Robertson is the younger fighter by 4-years.

The Brazilian has a trio of opening-round finishes, including 2 inside the first 90-seconds. She also won a 5-round split decision in March of 2017. Her last 2 adversaries offer a solid 17-4 combined record, so she has faced a decent competition in her short pro career.

Robertson has finished 4 of her 5 pro wins with submissions. She has a solid top game and is willing to take her foe to the floor. While she snatched the early submission win in her debut, she wore her sophomore opponent out with a steady attack on the mat prior to getting the finish.

The Brazilian is debuting in the UFC, fighting at lighter weight class than in her recent fights, and she has fought beyond the opening round just once. Robertson’s grind mat game and willingness to push forward will be a lot to handle if Silva can’t get the early finish. Look for Robertson to push the pace early, defend Silva’s grappling attempts, and take over as the fight advances- my prediction is Gillian Robertson to defeat Mayra Bueno Silva by decision.

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185lbs- Thales Leites (27-9-0) vs Hector Lombard (34-9-1 2NC)

Former Bellator Champion Hector Lombard attempts to put a halt to his tailspin when he takes on 2009 Middleweight title challenger Thales Leites. Lombard is coming off a loss via DQ for landing late strikes against CB Dollaway- he has lost 5 consecutive fights. Leites has dropped back to back bouts after suffering a 3rd round TKO defeat against Jack Hermansson.

The Brazilian is 4 inches taller and will have a marked 7″ reach advantage. Hector is the older man by 3-years.

Lombard’s loss to Dollaway was the product of strikes that dropped CB after the bell. For Leites, he is coming off a fight where is opponent was clearly injured during the action but rallied and finished Thales in the final frame.

Leites is the taller man and might have a slight edge in cardio, unless Lombard can keep the fight at his pace. The big issue with Hector has been his inability to land enough volume in close fights and more recently the finishes have started to pile up.

In his last 2 fights at home, Leites has been badly outclassed with his last win on Brazilian soil coming over 5-years ago.

Lombard has the edge in power and his takedown defence is still strong. If Thales can’t score takedowns, he will need to find success out-striking Lombard- especially with his low kicks. Lombard’s power should serve him well here, as long as he doesn’t punch himself out. Without his BJJ, Leities becomes too one-dimensional and when he gets tired he will start to give up position- my prediction is Hector Lombard to defeat Thales Leites by decision.

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170lbs- #15 Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos (19-5-0) vs Luigi Vendramini (8-0-0)

A late opponent change sees Brazil’s Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos welcome promotional newcomer and Italian-born Luigi “The Italian Stallion” Vendramini to the UFC. Dos Santos was originally scheduled to face Belal Muhammad- he has won 5 straight fights since his unsuccessful UFC debut. Undefeated, Vendramini is coming off an opening-round TKO win under the Samurai Fight banner- he turned pro in 2016.

Vendramini fought last on September 7th, just 2 weeks ago- he will have just over a week to prep for his debut. He is 10-years younger than dos Santos, but 3 inches short. He traditionally fights at Lightweight.

Luigi has split his 8 career wins evenly between knockouts and submission- all but 2 occurring in the first round. Fighting mainly in Brazil, his last 2 opponents carry a combined record of 14-10, but prior to that, he has face mainly sub-.500 competition.

The Brazilin is coming off an impressive opening round TKO win, but prior to the stoppage, he had showcased his ability to go deep into bouts and utilizes volume and durability to pick up wins. In his 4 wins to go into the 3rd round, he has surpassed the 70-strike mark on 3 occasions.

The TDD has been a concern for dos Santos, but he has shown a willingness to get back to his feet with regularity.

There is just too much riding against Vendramini; extreme late notice, debut, fighting above his weight class, and taking a sizeable step up in competition. Dos Santos is durable, hits hard, and offers a nice variety of offence- that is a bad matchup for a young fighter with limit experience beyond the opening frame. Dos Santos can win this fight early with his power or overwhelm his foe as the action advances- Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos to defeat Luigi Vendramini by TKO.

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115lbs- Livia Renata Souza (11-1-0) vs Alex Chambers (5-4-0)

In the opening fight of the night former Invicta Strawweight champion Livia Renata Souza makes her UFC debut opposed Aussie Alex “Astro Girl” Chambers. Souza has won back to back fights and went 4-1 under the Invicta banner- with her only loss coming via split decision to Angela Hill. Chambers has struggled her way to a 1-3 record under the UFC banner, securing her only UFC victory over Kailin Curran.

Souza is 2 inches taller than Chambers and 13-years younger. Chambers hasn’t fought in nearly 10-months and Souza has been out of action for 13.

At 39-years old, Chambers is one of the oldest females in the UFC. On the plus side, she has just 9 pro fights so she doesn’t have the wear and tear of other older fighters. Souza has a slight edge in overall experience and fighting in a trio of title fights is also a positive.

A BJJ Black belt, Souza has submitted her foe in 7 of her 11 wins- 3 by armbar. Chambers has a pair of submission wins, including her only UFC victory- but for the most part, she has struggled on the floor. Chambers gave up 6 takedowns over his first 3 UFC fights and has been submitted 3 times as a pro.

Chambers also has a tendency to fade in fights, slowing down as the action reaches rounds 2 and 3.

Souza is making her debut after a bit of a layoff which can impact a fighter’s performance but fighting at home will be an added advantage. Chamber’s has struggled with the type of skill set that Souza provides and at her age, sitting out for nearly a year won’t be to her benefit. Look for Souza to find success with her grappling attack, wearing Chambers down until she is able to synch up a submission- my prediction is  Livia Renata Souza to defeat Alex Chambers by submission.

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