UFC 187: Johnson vs Cormier- Prelim Predictions
125lbs- #1 John Dodson (17-6-0) vs #9 Zach Makovsky (19-5-0)
170lbs- #8 Dong Hyun Kim (19-3-1 1NC) vs Josh Burkman (28-11-0)
185lbs- Uriah Hall (11-4-0) vs Rafael Natal (19-6-1)
In the Middleweight division, TUF finalist Uriah ‘Prime Time’ Hall takes on 12-fight UFC veteran Rafael ‘Sapo’ Natal. Hall has rebounded nicely from his early struggles; winning a trio of fights including a TKO stoppage of his most recent opponent Ron Stallings. Natal is currently riding a 2 fight winning streak, defeating Tom Watson and Chris Camozzi both by decision.
Hall is 2 years younger than Natal and will have a 3″ reach advantage.
A BJJ Black belt, Natal has earned 8 of his 19 wins by submission while averaging 2.87 TDs at a 38% completion rate. Conversely, Hall is a striking based fighter boasting a Black belt in Kyokushin Karate. 6 of his 10 wins have come by knockout, including 2 of his last 3.
Natal is 3-4 in fights ending by knockout, losing by KO to both Tim Kennedy and Andrew Craig. Hall is 3-4 in decisions.
The Brazilian’s striking looked much improved in his win over ‘Kong’ Watson, but it was the return of a constant takedown threat that was crucial to his success. If he can take Hall down with regularity, it will create some trepidation in the knockout artist. Unfortunately, it is hard to looked past the 4 knockout losses on the record of ‘Sapo’, especially considering Hall’s incredibly diverse and dangerous striking repertoire. The fight will be close early on, but look for Hall to exploit an adversary with below average cardio and subsequent defensive striking lapses- my prediction is Urijah Hall to defeat Rafael Natal by TKO.
115lbs- #4 Rose Namajunas (3-2-0) vs Nina Ansaroff (6-4-0)
Strawweight tournament finalist Rose Namajunas makes her first appearance after her unsuccessful title shot when she meets Nina Ansaroff. Namajunas has lost back to back fights on her official record, but picked up 3 impressive wins on her season of the Ultimate Fighter between those losses. Ansaroff entered the promotion on a 5 fight winning streak, but came up short in a close decision loss to Juliana Lima.
Despite their small number of fights, both girls have experience that is better than their records indicate. Rose has her aforementioned run on the show culminating with her bout with former champ Carla Esparza. She also fought top ranked opponent Tecia Torre pre-TUF. Along with her debut fight, Nina battled Esparza to a split decision loss and she also faced Invicta Flyweight champion Barb Honchak.
Both girls carry respectable combat accreditation. Ansaroff is Taekwondo Black belt and BJJ Purple belt, while Namajunas is also a Black belt in Taekwondo, a Black belt in Karate, and a BJJ Blue belt.
This bout has bonus money written all over it.
On the mat, both girls will chain submission attempts together, but Nina tends to be a little reckless and routinely give up position. Additionally, she doesn’t have the strong wrestling game that has given Rose trouble in the past. On the feet, both throw a nice variety of techniques, but Ansaroff frequently forgoes a consistent output in exchange for flashier spinning techniques. Conversely, Rose’s higher output will position her as the aggressor and keep her adversary backpedaling instead of engaging. Namajunas needs to avoid the post title fight letdown, but look for her capitalize on her opponent’s mistakes- my prediction is Rose Namajunas to defeat Nina Ansaroff by submission.
170lbs-Mike Pyle (26-10-1) vs Colby Covington (7-0-0)
In the Welterweight division, long time UFC veteran Mike ‘Quicksand’ Pyle takes on injury replacement Colby ‘Chaos’ Covington of American Top Team. Pyle has lost 2 of his last 3 after an impressive run of 4 straight wins over the likes of Rick Story and Josh Neer. Covington is making his third UFC appearance after back to back wins to get his Octagon career started.
Covington is replacing the injured Sean Spencer on roughly 3 weeks notice.
The long-time vet will hold a significant experience advantage over his opponent in both quantity and quality of opposition faced. Pyle has 37 pro fights compared to just 7 for Covington, who is 13 years younger than ‘Quicksand’.
The ATT product is making a massive step up in competition considering his first 2 Octagon adversaries have a combined record of 5-4.
Both fighters have won the bulk of their fights by submission. Pyle a BJJ Brown belt has won 16 times by submission, while Covington has locked up subs in 5 of his 7 triumphs.
4 of Pyle’s last 5 wins have come by knockout, pushing his career total to 6. He has also been knocked out 5 times, along with 4 losses by submission.
Pyle has firmly established himself as a top level gatekeeper with his last 4 losses coming against top level competition. His chin is a bit of a concern, but Covington has yet to record an official win by knockout with his debut recorded as a submission due to strikes. Pyle is a seasoned grappler with an aggressive guard. If he can take his opponent’s grappling skills out of the equation, he should have the advantage on the feet. Covington didn’t look that comfortable exchanging with his last 2 opponent’s and Pyle has shown himself to be increasingly dangerous both at range and in the clinch. Covington is making a significant step up in competition and doing it on short notice, so my prediction is Mike Pyle to defeat Colby Covington by decision.
155lbs- Islam Makhachev (11-0-0) vs Leo Kuntz (17-1-1)
In the Lightweight division, Islam Makhachev takes on fellow UFC debutant Leo ‘The Lion’ Kuntz. Makhachev has yet to taste defeat, winning his last 4 fights all under the M-1 banner. Kuntz is riding an impressive 15 fight unbeaten streak that has included stoppages in 3 of his last 4.
The American will have a 5″ reach advantage, but is 8 years younger than his opponent.
Kuntz has been on the shelf for 17 months, which included a previously scheduled UFC debut against Yosdenis Cedeno getting scrapped. The ATT member did make an appearance on the 16th season of TUF, where he was knocked out by Sam Alvey.
Another Dagestani import, Islam is a training partner of top ranked Lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov. He is an International Master of Combat Sambo with 5 wins by submission and an overall strong takedown game.
Kuntz has 12 wins inside the distance, 7 by knockout and 5 by submission.
There isn’t any recent footage of Kuntz available and that makes for a difficult prediction. He does come from a good camp, but his lack of activity is extremely concerning. Makhachev grappling is very strong, he has a nice variety of takedown techniques, and he has improved his top position play. He can finish, but he is also capable of dominating with his grappling skills for a full 3 rounds. On the feet, he does tend to throw wide looping punches and Kuntz could capitalize on that, but he will need to remain vertical to do so. Kuntz is a bit of a wildcard here, but Makhachev’s grappling game carries him to victory so my prediction is Islam Makhachev to defeat Leo Kuntz by submission.
125lbs- Justin Scoggins (9-2-0) vs Josh Sampo (11-4-0)
To open the card, Justin ‘Tank’ Scoggins looks to rebound from a pair of defeats when he takes on Josh ‘The Gremlin’ Sampo who has also lost back to back fights. Scoggins started his UFC career with 2 wins, but has since seen his Octagon record fall to 2-2 after a come from behind loss to John Moraga. Sampo’s 2 fight skid includes a decision loss to fellow undercard participant Zach Makovsky and an upset submission defeat to Paddy Holohan.
Scoggins is 8 years younger than his opponent and will have a 3″ reach advantage.
A former CFA Flyweight champion, Sampo is a BJJ Purple belt with 6 wins by submission. Unfortunately, his last 2 losses have come as a result of him getting out grappled. He was taken down by 5 times by Makovsky and quickly submitted in his last bout after getting stunned on the feet.
Scoggins has compiled an impressive finishing rate, knocking out 6 opponents and submitting 1 while going the distance just twice. He has a strong striking repertoire and augments with a very good wrestling game.
Sampo’s struggles on the mat against superior ground fighters should continue here against Scoggins. With an excellent single leg, look for Justin to time his opponent’s forward push and change levels. Once on top he will need to defend against Sampo’s aggressive guard, but his positional advantage will negate whatever his foe throws at him. If the fight remains standing, look for Scoggins to get the better of his opponent with a superior work rate and strong variety of kicking techniques. Scoggins made a mistake in his last fight and he needs to mindful not to fall into a similar trap, but my prediction is Justin Scoggins to defeat Josh Sampo by TKO.