UFC 179: Aldo x Mendes 2- Prelim Predictions
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170lbs- William Macario (8-1-0) vs Neil Magny (12-4-0)
Capping off the undercard will be TUF 16 semi-finalist Neil Magny when he takes on TUF Brazil 2 finalist William “Patolino” Macario. Magny has hit a hot streak of late ripping off a quartet of victories after a 1-2 start to his UFC career. In his last outing, Macario earned his first UFC ‘W’ by defeating Strikforce vet Bobby Voelker, he is now 1-1 inside the Octagon.
Magny will have a 6″ reach advantage to go along with standing 4 inches taller.
Macario has 5 wins by knockout and while he didn’t end Voelker’s night early, he put on a clinic hurting him on a couple of occasions. He routinely landed a nice short right hand with some low kicks and followed up by swarming Bobby on the cage with knees, elbows, and well placed body shots. He use good head movement, effectively moving out of the way of the majority of his foe’s attacks. Overall, he was economical and quite accurate with his striking, outlanding Voelker 133-72 with a 63% accuracy rate.
The American doesn’t have the big knockout totals of his opponent, but has compiled some pretty solid striking exchange numbers. In 7 UFC bouts he has landed an average of 3.17 strikes per minute, while giving up just 1.54. Over his last 2 fights he limited his opponents to a combined 10 significant strikes landed, while connecting on 69 of his own. His high watermark was a 105 strike performance against Gasan Umalatov. He uses a long left jab, often doubling it up to maximize his reach advantage.
While Magny may offer less in the power department, if he can keep Macario on the outside with his jab and movement it will take away some of the power behind his strikes.
Both fighters are capable of doing work on the mat, but Magny has had some issues defensively. Over 7 UFC fights, he has been taken down 14 times. He was submitted by Sergio Moraes and dropped a decision to Seth Baczynski where he spent a lot of time on his back. Macario was submitted in his debut, but landed 3 takedowns on just 6 attempts against Voelker using solid timing catching him coming forward with a quick level change.
Magny needs to keep this fight at distance, maintain a high volume and push Macario in an effort to tax his cardio. Magny beat Alex Garcia, but had Alex not injured his knee and landed at a slightly higher rate on the feet the result could have been different. Macario will have success landing the more impactful shots, especially along the cage. If he can land a few well timed takedowns it will further add to his success, so my prediction is William Macario to defeat Neil Magny by decision.
155lbs- Yan Cabral (11-1-0) vs Naoyuki Kotani (33-11-7)
In the Lightweight division, Yan Cabral makes his 3rd trip to the Octagon when he meets long time ZST veteran Naoyuki Kotani. Cabral debuted with a win over Danny Mitchell, but lost his sophomore appearance against Zak Cummings. Kotani returned to the UFC after a 7 year and 21 fight stretch away from the promotion- his 13 fight winning streak was ended by Norman Parke.
Cabral’s undefeated run came to an end in his last fight, which can often lead to a rejuvenation for a fighter as they are forced to address shortcomings or other issues that seem minimal while still undefeated.
The Japanese import has faced multiple UFC caliber opponents, both in the promotion and outside- Yves Edwards, Dennis Siver, Thiago Tavares, Jorge Masvidal, Rich Clementi, Marcus Aurelio, Roger Huerta and the aforementioned Parke. Unfortunately, for Naoyuki he lost all 8 of those matchups which brings into question his ability to find success at this level.
Both men carry submission heavy win totals. Cabral has secure 10 of his 11 wins by tapout, while Kotani 25 off 33. 50% of Cabral’s wins have come by Arm-Triangle choke which would suggest an affinity for working from top position. Although he does have a solid sweep and reversal arsenal if put on his back. Kotani has 12 arm based submission wins on his resume, along with a few less common holds like an Achilles lock and a Leg scissor choke. His only submission defeat came via Reverse Full Nelson.
Kotani has far more MMA experience, but Cabral is the far more accomplished grappler. It is also worth noting that Kotani fought 25 times under the ZST banner, an organization that doesn’t permit striking while on the mat and is contested inside a cage. His inexperience in these two areas can weigh heavy in grappling based bouts in the UFC.
Cabral’s undoing against Cummings was the wrestler’s ability to mute Yan’s offense with a heavy top game, but that won’t be the case with Kotani. Naoyuki was taken down twice by Parke and going back to his first UFC run he struggled with the ground game of Thiago Tavares giving up 4 TDs on only 6 attempts. This fight should contain some entertaining back and forth exchanges on the mat, with Cabral rebounding front of his home crowd after his first career loss- my prediction is Yan Cabral to defeat Naoyuki Kotani by submission.
125lbs- #15 Scott Jorgensen (15-9-0) vs Wilson Reis (18-5-0)
In the Flyweight division, former WEC Bantamweight title challenger Scott Jorgensen faces Bellator alumni Wilson Reis. Jorgensen snapped a 3 fight losing streak with a win over Danny Martinez, he has won 2 of his last 7. Reis made a successful Flyweight debut, defeating Joby Sanchez by decision- he has won 6 of his last 7.
While many battles between grappling reliant competitors often result in striking heavy exchanges, this one will most likely be decided on the ground.
Both fighters come from grappling backgrounds. Jorgensen is a former NCAA Division 1 wrestler averaging 2.73 takedowns at a 46% completion rate. Reis is a BJJ Black belt with 8 wins coming by way of submission, including 3 of his last 4 fights prior to signing on with the UFC. Reis has also compile some impressive takedown numbers, averaging 5.33 takedowns per fight completing nearly 60% of his tries.
In each of Scotty’s last 6 defeats, he has lost the takedown battle by a lopsided margin of 18-4. Conversely, he has put up an impressive 20-0 total in his last 5 victories. His success clearly hinges on his ability to get the better of the grappling exchanges.
Reis’s ability to routinely takedown and out grapple the likes Yuri Alcantara and Ivan Menjivar indicates that he should be able to find similar success against Jorgensen. Even after cutting to 125 pound, Jorgensen was badly out grappled by Zach Makovsky and submitted by Jussier Formiga (head-butt noted). He has been submitted 3 times in his career.
Jorgensen may be best served to keep this fight standing as Reis has been knocked out twice and has some clear defensive liabilities. Remaining vertical against Reis will be easier said then done and the end result will be Jorgensen spending too much time on his back, so my prediction is Wilson Reis to defeat Scott Jorgensen by decision.
145lbs- Felipe Arantes (16-5-1 2NC) vs Andre Fili (13-2-0)
In the Featherweight division, Sao Paulo native Felipe Arantes fights Alpha Male team member Andre Fili in his first fight outside of the USA. Arantes fights for the 7th time inside the Octagon most recently having defeated Maximo Blanco- he is 3-2-1 in the UFC. Fili is coming off just his second career loss, submitting to Max Holloway at UFC 172.
With 7 wins by knockout each, both men are capable of ending this contest inside the distance. Conversely, both men have excellent chins with the only knockout between the two coming due to a knee injury suffered by the American.
Arantes is a Muay Thai based striker and pairs his kicking arsenal together with his hands pretty consistently. Arantes has yet to score a standing knockout in the UFC, but has instead used his variety effectively. Fili is more boxing oriented and while he will throw kicks, his hands are the key to his success. He had a lot of success early landing power strikes against Holloway and was also being the busier fighter early on out landing him 31-17 in the first frame.
The Brazilian struggled with power boxing style of Kevin Souza, allowing Souza to routinely land first. Statistically, Andre holds a wide advantage in strikes landed at 5.07 compared to just 2.81 for Arantes. Defensively, Felipe does a better job limiting his opponent’s landing rate, but his near even strikes for versus strikes against numbers are concerning.
While this bout will spend a lot of time on the feet, the deciding action will come on the mat or for Arantes sake not on the mat.
The Brazilian has appeared vulnerable at times to being put on his back. He has defended only 45% of attempted takedowns, with Blanco scoring 3 times on 6 attempts and Yuri Alcantara going a perfect 6 for 6. While he is capable of attacking off his back he hasn’t scored a submission win since late 2010. Fili has demoed excellent timing on his takedowns, anticipating his opponent’s attack and changing levels to take them off their feet. Using this approach he was able to take Holloway down 3 times predominately with a single leg.
This should be an entertaining back and forth battle. Fili’s higher striking volume and more aggressive style should give him an edge during the vertical exchanges and his ability to land well timed takedowns and hold key top control minutes will help him seal the deal. If Arantes can keep this fight standing he could steal a decision, but that has been one of his biggest struggles so my prediction is Andre Fili to defeat Felipe Arantes by decision.
155lbs- Gilbert Burns (8-0-0) vs Christos Giagos (10-2-0)
In the Lightweight division, Gilbert Burns makes his sophomore appearance when he battles the debuting Christos Giagos. Burns is undefeated through his first 8 fights after a decision win over Andreas Stahl in his debut. Giagos has won 4 in a row including wins over TUF Alumni Dakota Cochrane and Sevak Magakian.
Burns debuted as a 170 pounder after stating that the cut to Lightweight was difficult for him, even though he was successful he made the decision to move to 155. If the cut does well the size/ strength disadvantage he faced at Welterweight should turn in his favour as a Lightweight.
The Brazilian is a highly regarded BJJ Black belt with a number of first place finishes at various grappling competitions. His fight with Stahl was his first to go the distance, with all others ending inside the first round- 4 submissions and 3 knockouts. While he had moderate success in his debut with his grappling, but landing just 2 of 10 takedowns, his striking proved enough to get the job done.
Burns is far from a refined strikers, but his aggression and decent variety of techniques makes his stand-up workable. Against Stahl he was able to land strikes both in the clinch and at range, but the overall goal was still to drag the fight to the ground.
Giagos has 6 wins by knockout and just a pair of submission victories, but he appears to orient his attack around taking his opponent to the ground. In his fights with Cochrane and Chris Tickle he routinely shot in, but lost position, was mounted a couple of times, and was put in some tough situations. Based purely on position, he lost the first frame versus Tickle but was able to rally eventually submit him in round 2. He has a pretty decent reactionary sprawl, but his it is his offensive game that will get him in some trouble.
Both of his defeats, including a 2013 loss to Poppies Martinez, have come by submission.
The RFA vet did land an impressive flying knee knockout against Dakota Cocrhane, but his striking game doesn’t look that impressive that he will gain an advantage if he can keep this fight standing. Burns should find more success looking for takedowns against a lighter weight opponent Giagos’s willingness to engage on the mat will cost him, so my prediction is Gilbert Burns to defeat Christo Giagos by submission.
155lbs- Fabricio Camoes (14-8-1) vs Tony Martin (8-2-0)
Getting the night going will be a Lightweight contest featuring Brazilian Fabricio Camoes taking on ATT product Tony Martin. Martin has dropped back to back fights since joining the promotion. Camoes earned his first UFC win in early 2012 in his second stint with the company, he is now 1-3-1 inside the Octagon.
Camoes is a 3rd degree BJJ Black belt, but submissions have accounted for 4 of his 8 losses. He has been submitted by Jim Miller, Kurt Pellegrino, and Gleison Tibau- his first defeat by sub came due to injury. Less surprisingly, he has won 7 times by submission, including his only UFC win coming via rear naked-choke.
Martin should be the superior wrestler and has accumulated 75% (6 of 8) of his wins by sub. While he has got off to strong starts in both of his UFC bouts, he has faltered down the stretch. A limb wrenching armbar attempt early in his debut fight almost had him in the winner’s circle, but his inability to finish and subsequent slowdown sealed the decision defeat.
In similar, fashion Martin got off to a strong start against 179 main carder Beneil Dariush, outworking him on the feet, but before the first round concluded he tired, became vulnerable to being taken down, and was submitted in round 2.
Martin is the superior wrestler, will have a striking advantage, and is overall the more gifted athlete. His ability to get off to a strong start is essential to his success in a hostile environment, but his poor cardio will be his undoing. The atmosphere will get the better of the American and he will eventually succumb to the grappling of his opponent, so my prediction is Fabricio Camoes to defeat Tony Martin by submission.