UFN 138: Oezdemir vs Smith Preliminary Predictions



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170lbs- Nordine Taleb (14-5-0) vs Sean Strickland (19-3-1)

In the headlining fight of the undercard will feature France born and Canadian trained Nordine “The Machine” Taleb taking Sean “Tarzan” Strickland in the Welterweight division. Taleb is coming off a shocking upset loss to Claudio Silva- he is 6-3 in the UFC. Strickland has won 4 of his last 6 fights, but he is coming off a knockout loss to Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos.

Both men are 6’1″, but Strickland will have a slight 2″ reach advantage. Strickland is the younger fighter by 10-years.

Strickland is a talented but frustrating fighter. He appears to lack urgency in his offence, but yet still averages over 4 significant strikes per minute. He does his best work behind a snappy jab, but fails to follow up with power strikes on most occasions.

Picking up a couple of recent stoppages, Taleb has showcased his improving striking power. Despite that success, he has leaned heavily on his wrestling. Nordine had completed at least 1 takedowns in all but 2 of his UFC wins.

This fight has the potential to be very close. Both men can operate on the mat and both offer simplistic but effective striking attacks. Statistically, Strickland’s volume is superior and his reliance on a jab and 2″ reach advantage should allow him to be the more successful striker. The American’s TDD is better and he could opt to shoot on Taleb for some crucial top time- my prediction is Sean Strickland to defeat Nordine Taleb by decision.

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155lbs- Thibault Gouti (12-4-0) vs Nasrat Haqparast (9-2-0)

In the Lightweight division, Thibault “GT” Gouti takes on Nasrat Haqparast of Afghanistan. Gouti is a dismal 1-4 in the UFC, stopping Andrew Holbrook to keep his spot in the promotion before dropping a decision to Sage Northcutt in his last fight. Haqparast fell via decision to Marcin Held in his debut, but scored a decision win over Marc Diakiese in his sophomore outing.

Both men are 5’10” and share a 72″ reach. Haqparast is the younger fight by 8-years.

Finishing 8 opponents by knockout, 6 in the opening round, Haqparast is a dangerous striker. He deploys the majority of his offence with a hard left hand. Against Diakiese, he demonstrated sound defence slipping out of range and then returning forward to force his foe backward.

Gouti comes from a boxing background, but he has won more fights by submission (6) compared to wins by knockout (4). He has also been finished on multiple occasion; once TKO and twice by submission.

In his debut, Haqparast gave up a trio of takedowns so Gouti may look to attack Nasrat’s defensive wrestling. “GT” took Northcutt down 3 times but didn’t do enough with the position to earn a decision.

The manner in which Haqparast avoided the majority of Diakese’s offense before deploying his own was impressive. The combinatin of his power and pressure based attack will replicate the issues that Gouti has had in previous fights. Gouti may score early with his takedowns, but ultimately this fight will be decided on the feet- my prediction is Narat Haqparast to defeat Thibaoult Gouti by TKO.

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145lbs- Calvin Kattar (18-3-0) vs Chris Fishgold (17-1-1)

After an impressive 2-0 star to his UFC tenure, Calvin Kattar is looking to rebound from defeat when he takes on the debuting Chris Fishgold in the Featherweight division. Kattar was unable to take that next step, dropping a decision to Renato Moicano in his last fight. Fishgold enters the Octagon with 7 consecutive wins, including a 5-fight winning streak under the Cage Warriors banner.

Kattar is the taller man by 3 inches, but it is the Brit that is 4-years younger. Fishgold has previously competed at 155 pounds.

Fishgold carries a submission heavy record, subbing 12 opponents and finishing 14 overall. The majority of his tap outs (11) have come by either guillotine or rear-naked choke. He has 11 first round finishes.

Kattar’s finish of Shane Burgos was impressive. He offers a solid striking attack, working behind a crisp jab. In his last fight, Calvin struggled to land with consistency and was badly out struck.

While Fishgold is capable of competing on the feet, this contest will ultimately be decided by his wrestling. An aggressive pursuant of the single leg takedown, if the Brit can’t put Kattar on the floor it will badly compromise his overall offense.

Debuting and cutting down a division can be a difficult task by itself. There is also the question of how well Fishgold’s wrestling will translate outside of the European regional scene. Kattar offers the superior striking technique and his countering ability will serve as a nice foil for the aggressive power punching nature of his foe. Look for Kattar to evade the an early flow of TDAs before striking his way to a victory- my prediction is Calvin Kattar to defeat Chris Fishgold by decision.

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135lbs- Sarah Moras (5-4-0) vs Talita Bernardo (5-2-0)

In the Women’s Bantamweight division, Sarah “Cheesecake” Moras takes on Talita Bernardo of Brazil. Moras is coming off a decision loss to Lucie Pudilova to see her UFC record fall to 2-2. Benardo has yet to secure a UFC victory, losing fights to Marion Reneau and Irene Aldana.

Moras is 3 inches taller than Bernardo, but Talita will have a 1″ reach advantage. The Canadian is a year younger.

These fighters share a couple of key similarities. Both fighters do their best work on the mat and both girls have some questionable gas tanks beyond the first frame.

Bernardo started strong in her debut with her top game, but gassed and was finished. In her next fight, she was unable to get her opponent on the mat and slowed considerably as the fight advanced.

Moras has finished 4 of her 5 wins, with her lone decision win coming over a foe that was impacted by a bad weight cut. On the mat, she offers a strong top game and can also work off her back, but she lacks consistent wrestling to set up her BJJ.

While she has finished 4 opponents by sub- all inside the opening round, Talita has faced some questionable competition finishing 4 foes with a combined 8-17 record.

This fight most likely will come down to who can stay fresher longer and earn top position. Moras is the bigger fighter and has faced and defeated better competition. Look for her to pick up some opportunistic top control while scoring during some gritty striking exchanges. The final round of this bout could get sloppy, but my prediction is Sara Moras to defeat Talita Bernardo by decision.[/Body_1]

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155lbs- Te Edwards (6-1-0) vs Don Madge (7-3-0)

A pair of UFC newcomers square off as Tuesday Night Contenders product Te “T” Edwards meets South Africa’s Don “Magic Man” Madge in the Lightweight division. Edwards enters the fray following a 28 second knockout of his most recent foe which extended his current winning streak to 5 consecutive fights. Madge has won 4 in a row, all by stoppage- he has fought his entire career under the EFC banner.

Despite sharing a 72″ reach, Madge will stand 4 inches taller at 6’0″. They were born just 2 months apart.

Madge enters the UFC having finished all 7 of his pro opponents- 6 in the opening round. His last 3 opponents are a combined 31-29, but only 1 has a record over .500.

Offering an equally as finish-heavy record, Edwards has stopped 6 opponents by knockout- all in the opening round. His only fight to go beyond the first 5 minutes ended in a decision loss. “T” owns a trio of stoppages inside the first 60 seconds.

Madge comes from a kicking boxing background and while Edwards has shown a willingness to stand and trade, he needs to consider returning to his wrestling roots.

This is a difficult fight to predict with both men debuting. Madge does have the size advantage and has the superior collection of experience beyond the opening round. That being said, the South African MMA scene is still developing and has yet to produce UFC level talent. Edwards could get himself in some trouble if he completely forgoes his wrestling, but appears to be the more proven fighter- my prediction is Te Edwards to defeat Don Madge by TKO/

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265lbs- Arjan Singh Bhullar (7-1-0) vs Marcelo Golm (6-1-0)

Canadian Heavyweight Arjan Singh Bhullar looks to rebound from the first loss of his career when he takes on Brazil’s Marcelo Golm. Golm is also coming off his first career defeat- after a successful debut, he dropped a decision to Tim Johnson last February. Bhullar defeated Luis Henrique in his first Octagon bout, but fell by submission to Adam Wieczorek in his last fight

At 6’3″, Golm is 2 inches taller and will weigh-in roughly 5 pounds heavier than Arjan. They share a 75″ reach and Golm is the younger man by 6 years.

Golm will be taking his first fight outside the borders of Brazil and he is coming off his first fight to go beyond the first round. Prior to the Johnson fight, Marcelo had finished all of his adversaries- 5 by knockout.

In stark contrast, Bhullar has only ended one fight in the opening frame. He is 4-0 in decisions, including a 5 round decision win in 2016.

Golm comes from a grappling background and wins the majority of his fights from top position. The Canadian also does his best work on the floor, changing his level for a takedown and grinding out his foe from top position.

With both men coming off their first career defeat, they will be hungry to get back in the win column. Prior to coming to the UFC, Golm faced some very low-level competition and his lack of experience/success outside of the opening round is concerning. Singh will need to be careful early, but once he establishes his wrestling he should find increasing success as the fight advances- my prediction is Arjan Singh Bhullar to defeat Marcelo Golm by decision.

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155lbs- Stevie Ray (21-7-0) vs Jessin Ayari (16-4-0)

The opening fight of the night will feature Scotland’s Stevie “Braveheart” Ray battling German-born Jessin Ayari in the Lightweight division. Ray has dropped back to back decisions, including a narrow split against Kajan Johnson- he is 5-3 in the promotion. Ayari is coming off a loss to recent title challenger Darren Till, he earned a split decision win over Jim Wallhead in his debut.

Jessin is making his Lightweight debut, he is the taller man by 2 inches and will have a 3″ reach advantage. Ayari is the younger fighter by 2-years, but he has been out of action for 17-months.

Ray has put together some solid wins, finding the majority of his success on the feet. The Scot has some pop in his hands and can counter strike, but this can result in some close fights on the scorecards.

The German has won 8 times by sub, but has yet to showcase his ground game over his 2 UFC outings. He is a combined 0-8 on takedown attempts.

The debuting 155er could focus his attack on his ground game as Ray has been submitted 4-times over his career and has been taken down on multiple occasions.

The long layoff and divisional debut both have the potential to impact Ayari performance. Ray is the more pure striker and unless the German begins to find consistent success with his ground game, he is going to struggle to match Ray on the feet. Stevie has decent power and the cut 15-pound cut could prove detrimental to a fighter that has already been stopped twice in his career- my prediction is Stevie Ray to defeat Jessin Ayari by TKO.

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