UFC 245: Usman vs Covington | Early Preliminary Predictions

UFC 245: Usman vs Covington | Early Preliminary Predictions

145lbs- Daniel Teymur (7-3-0) vs Chase Hooper (8-0-1)

The final fight of the FightPass undercard features Sweden’s Daniel Teymur welcoming the debuting Chase Hooper in the Featherweight division. Teymur is coming off his first UFC win, rebounding from a dismal 0-3 start inside the Octagon. Hooper has yet to taste defeat in his pro career, including a decision win on the Tuesday Night Contenders Series and a submission victory under the Titan FC banner.

At a towering 6’1″, Hooper is a towering 8-inches taller than Teymur. He is also the younger man by 11-years.

Teymur’s UFC struggles have been characterized by a gap in his grappling defense and a lack of long fight experience. Prior to coming to the UFC, all of his regional bouts finished inside the opening round. All 4 of his UFC contests have lasted beyond the first frame- he is coming off his first career victory outside of round 1.

Teymur has power in his hands and will attack aggressively, but he struggles to maintain his pace.

Hooper’s recent level of competition has been decent, but not overwhelming. He spent the majority of the opening round in his Contender’s bout eating strikes and pulling guard. Once his foe slowed down, he found success controlling the fight on the floor.

His striking leaves a lot to be desired, which to date he has made up for with toughness.

Teymur is far from a complete fighter, but he looked much better in his most recent outing. He should have the striking edge here, if he can maintain his vertical base. Hooper’s strength is his grappling, but he is way too willing to pull guard and lacks a strong wrestling attack. Additionally, his significant height will make it difficult for him to change levels and take Teymur down. The porous striking defense of Hooper will open opportunities for Teymur to land at will- my prediction is Daniel Teymur to defeat Chase Hooper by TKO.

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125lbs- #5 Brandon Moreno (15-5-0) vs #6 Kai Kara-France (20-7-0)

A pair of fighters attempting to build towards future Flyweight title contention, Mexico’s Brandon “The Baby Assassin” Moreno takes on Aussie born Kai Kara-France. Moreno returned to the UFC and fought to a split draw with Askar Askarov- he is 3-2-1 in the UFC. Kara-France has yet to suffer a defeat in the UFC with a trio of wins extending his winning streak to 8 in a row.

Moreno is the taller man by 3-inches to go along with a 1″ reach advantage. They are the same age.

The majority of Moreno’s UFC career has been determined on the floor. He is an opportunistic submission artist, recording 10 wins by sub including a pair inside the Octagon. He is coming off of a fight where he spent some time in both top and bottom positions and proved himself to be aggressive from both spots.

He is aggressive on the feet, but tends to be a little wild. Moreno is just 3-5-1 on the cards.

The Aussie has relied more on his striking and is coming off of a fight in which he defended 6 of his 7 TDAs to force his foe to remain on the feet. He offers good pop in his punches, dropping Mark De La Rosa early in round 1. He should have a technical edge in this fight, working behind his jab before throwing with power.

This will be the first fight for Kara-France in the United States.

The travel factor could be an issue for Kara-France, especially against an aggressive opponent that will push a steady pace. If he has any complications, Moreno will draw them out. “The Baby Assassin” is a fantastic scrambler and will look to force Kara-France into a ground-based attack. KKF needs to stay at range, but he is dealing with a longer opponent that will press forward with power. Look for Moreno to find Kara-France’s back and control some key top position while doing some damage on the feet- my prediction is Brandon Moreno to defeat Kai Kara-France by submission.

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125lbs- #2 Jessica Eye (14-6-0 1NC) vs #5 Viviane Araujo (7-1-0)

Recent Flyweight title challenger, Jessica “Evil” Eye returns to action to take on the surging Viviane “Vivi” Araujo. Eye suffered a devastating 2nd round knockout loss to Valentina Shevchenko, ending her 3-fight winning streak. Araujo is 2-0 in the UFC, debuting with a violent knockout of Talita Bernardo at Bantamweight before besting Alexis Davis via decision.

Eye is the taller fighter by 2-years, but Araujo will have a 2″ reach advantage. They are roughly the same age.

These competitors are in vastly different places in their careers. Araujo is a rising contender on a 5-fight winning streak. Eye is coming off her first and potentially only UFC title shot. She started her career 5-years before Araujo and debuted in the UFC 6-years and 11-fights ago.

Her long journey and tough title loss equates to a potential “post-title fight letdown” scenario for Eye.

Araujo is a multi-faceted fighter with power in her hands, good striking technique, and a capable ground game. She has finished 7 of her 8 wins, 4 by submission and 5 in the opening round.

On route to a title shot, Eye did a nice job of fleshing out her offense. She incorporated more takedowns into her attack to augment her boxing-centric offense. Conversely, earlier in her career she struggled with opponents that attempted to take her down.

The Brazilian appears to have the edge in offensive and defensive grappling, which will make it difficult for Eye to find success in that aspect of the fight. Eye has a tendency to rely too much on her counters and this can result in her falling behind on the scorecards. She is prone to close fights and is 3-2 in split decisions. It can be anticipated that the post-title fight letdown will impact Jessica’s performance which will be key in a close fight. “Vivi” will push a steadier pace and land a couple of well-timed takedowns- my prediction is Viviane Araujo to defeat Jessica Eye by decision.

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185lbs- Oskar Piechota (11-2-1) vs Punahele Soriano (6-0-0)

To open the event, the debuting Hawaiian Punahele Soriano takes on 4-fight UFC veteran Oskar Piechota in the Middleweight division. Piechota has lost back to back bouts to Gerald Meerschaert and Rodolfo Vieira- he is 2-2 in the UFC. Soriano is coming off of a successful Contender’s Series Fight- he also owns wins under the LFA, Titan, and PFL banners.

Piechota is the taller man by an inch to go along with a 4″ reach advantage. Soriano is the younger fighter by 2-years.

The Czech-fighter appeared poised to make a run with a 2-0 start including an impressive knockout win. He has split his 10 finishes evenly. A talented BJJ Black belt, Piechota controlled “GM3” over the opening round before gassing and succumbing to an arm-triangle.

Oskar has landed more strikes in 3 of his 4 UFC fights, but he is also coming off of back to back bouts in which he gave up 3 takedowns each.

The debuting Soriano had finished each of his pro wins inside the distance, 3 times by knockout. His Contender’s bout was his first to end on the scorecards. Punahele is an aggressive fighter, wading forward behind wide hooks and forcing his opponent into a firefight. He comes from a wrestling background and will look for takedowns when required.

Prior to his last 2 fights, Punahele’s combined 4 opponents offer a record of 5-11.

This is a difficult fight to predict as there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding Soriano. He has shown he can wrestle and has finishing power, but the majority of his success has come against lower-level opposition. With the majority of his fights ending inside the first round, it further creates concern regarding how he will fare at the next level. Piechota’s stock is at an all-time low after back to back-finish defeats. He has the experience advantage and if he can avoid the early attack, his grappling heavy style will wear on his foe- my prediction is Oskar Piechota to defeat Punahele Soriano by submission.

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