UFC Fight Night 144- Preliminary Predictions

UFC Fight Night 144- Preliminary Predictions

185lbs- Markus Perez (10-2-0) vs Anthony Hernandez (6-0-0)

In the final bout of the undercard, former LFA Middleweight champion Markus Perez looks for his 2nd UFC win when he welcomes the debuting Anthony Hernandez to the cage. Perez is coming off a decision loss to Andrew Sanchez, he was unable to follow up on his submission victory over James Bochnovic. Hernandez is undefeated, most recently decimating Jordan Wright in a Tuesday Night Contender Series fight before having the bout overturned to a No Contest.

Perez is an inch taller, but Hernandez will have an inch reach advantage and is the younger man by 5-years.

Hernandez has finished 5 opponents in the opening round- 2 by knockout and 4 by submission. His only outing to go beyond the first frame was a 5 round fight in LFA in which he captured the aforementioned LFA Middleweight strap in an upset. In his Contender bout, he closed on his foe with a series of thunderous strikes and finished him quickly with a couple of massive right hooks.

A BJJ Black belt, Griffin offers a well-rounded attack, but his lack of long fight experience is certainly a significant factor to consider.

A BJJ Brown belt, Perez utilized his ground game his only UFC win, scoring an early takedown prior to securing his 4th submission win as a pro. Against Sanchez, his TDD held up on 6 attempts, but he struggled with the constant pressure of Sanchez- especially along the cage. Perez offers an unorthodox attack, throwing a number of kicking and spinning techniques.

Perez captured the LFA title in a similar fashion to Hernandez, debuting in the organization as an underdog upsetting the more established favourite.

Markus has a tendency to favour flash over function, which inhibits is overall output. He is a far more effective striker when he sticks to high percentage techniques. Hernandez has limited experience beyond the opening round and is making is debut in a tough environment. If the UFC newcomer can’t put Perez away early, he will need to work very hard to earn a decision. Perez will do just enough and pull away as Hernandez slows, my prediction is Markus Perez to defeat Anthony Hernandez by decision.

170lbs- Thiago Alves (27-13-0) vs Max Griffin (14-5-0)

Former Welterweight title challenger Thiago “Pitbull” Alves returns to Brazil for the first time since 2015 when he takes on Max “Pain Griffin”. Alves has dropped back to back fights and has just a single win over his last 5 contests- he is coming off a decision loss to Alexey Kunchenko. Griffin has alternated wins and losses since coming to the UFC, he defeated Mike Perry but came up short against Curtis Millender in his last fight.

Griffin is just 2-years older than the 24-fight UFC veteran. He will stand 2 inches taller than Alves with a sizeable 6″ reach advantage.

Thiago, a Fortaleza native, is nasty Muay Thai striker, building his offence around crippling low kicks and crisp punching combinations. The normally durable Alves has been knocked out in 2 of his last 4 defeats. Despite the defeat, Alves landed more significant strikes than his Russian counterpart by a total of 56 to 44. Alves allowed his foe to lead the exchanges and wasn’t sitting down on his own strikes which diminished the impact of his offence.

Of his 14 UFC wins, Alves has defeated just a single active member of the UFC roster- Jordan Mein.

Griffin beat Perry with a more technically sound and active striking attack. He stayed on the outside and avoid Perry’s power strikes. He fought a smart opening round against Millender, grounding him with his wrestling, but falter in rounds 2 and 3 and lost of the cards. Griffin comes from a kickboxing background and has some decent pop in his strikes with 7 wins by knockout.

Griffin is 5-4 on the scorecards, 1-2 in the UFC and 2-2 in split decisions.

Alves has had issues with longer opponents. He seems to get stuck on the outside, struggling to find a way into range where he can land his offence. Griffin is capable of fighting that style and his lateral movement will make it even more difficult for Alves to connect. Thiago seems unwilling to commit on most of his strikes and if Griffin can avoid the periodic power technique, he should be ahead on the cards- my prediction is Max Griffin to defeat Thiago Alves by decision.

125lbs- #12 Mara Romero Borella (12-5-0 1NC) vs Talia Santos (14-0-0)

In the Women’s Strawweight division, 2-fight UFC veteran Mara Romero Borella of Italy takes on the debuting Talia Santos. Santos earned the call after a Contenders win via decision, it was her first fight since 2016. Borella is 1-1 in the promotion, debuting with a win via RNC before falling to Katlyn Chookagian by decision.

Borella is an inch taller and 7-years younger than her foe.

The UFC newcomer enters the Octagon with a great finishing recording, stopping 10 of 15 opponents by knockout to go along with a pair of wins by sub. She has stopped 11 foes in round 1. Despite going the distance last time out, Santos showcased hard low kicks and a stinging left jab. She switches stances and moves well, making her difficult to hit and magnifying the significance of her own offence.

Prior to the Contenders bout, Talia faced a pair of regional opponents with a combined record of 0-11.

Borella picked up her 4th submission win in her debut, but completed just 1 of 3 TDAs against Chookagian and was forced back to her feet quickly. Mara maintained pressure on her Chook and landed more significant strikes but struggle to attack with consistency. The Italian found success with a repetitive low leg kick, but the distance appeared to give her issues.

Borella is well-travelled, having fought in China, the Ukraine, Finland, Switzerland, and more recently the United States, but this is her first trip to Brazil.

Borella is the more battle-tested fighter and Santos has faced a lot of low-level competition on the regional scene. If Borella can drag her foe to the floor she could bring her submission game to the forefront. On the feet, Santos’s stiff jab and hard low kicks will land with consistency if Borella opts to fight at close range. Borella has been knocked out 3-times and if this fight goes the distance she will need a significant edge in offense to get the nod, my prediction is Talia Santos to defeat Mara Romero Borella by decision.

265lbs- Junior Albini (14-4-0) vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik (5-0-0)

In a fight bitten by the “injury bug”, Junior Albini makes his fourth Octagon walk when he takes on the debuting Jairzinho Rozenstruick of Senegal. Albini’s debut stoppage of Tim Johnson quickly gave way to a pair of losses to Andrei Arlovski and Alexey Oleynik. Rozenstruik is undefeated, going 2-0 in 2018 with a split decision win over Andrey Kovalev under the Rizin FF banner.

Albini is an inch taller than Rozenstruik and will weigh in roughly 20 pounds heavier. He is also the younger man by 3-years.

Rozenstruik is a talented kickboxer, amassing a record of 76-6, including 64 wins by knockout. In MMA, he has finished 5 of his 6 wins by first round knockout. He offers hard and crisp boxing and heavy low kicks. The big concern for Jairzinho is the potential takedown. If he gets put on his back, he is in a lot of trouble.

After returning from a 5-year hiatus in 2017, he has faced a 4-pack of opponents with a combined record of 17-14, with his only above .500 opponent accounting for 9 wins and taking him to split decision.

The Brazilian is in need of a win after a pair of lacklustre performances. He has split his 12 finishes evenly between submissions and knockouts- all but 1 in the opening round. He knocked out Johnson, but looked underwhelming against Arlovski in a fight mainly contented on the feet.

Over a trio of fights, Junior attempted a pair of takedowns- successfully landing one.

Albini has a clear path to a win; he is the bigger man with more overall MMA experience against an opponent that is vulnerable on the mat. He needs an early takedown. Rozenstruik should be the quicker man and his normal path to victory shouldn’t be impacted by the short notice. Look for Albini to stick to his striking, trade with Rozenstruik, and get blasted- my prediction is Jairzinho Rozenstruik to defeat Junior Albini by knockout.

145lbs- Geraldo de Freiras Jr. (11-4-0) vs Felipe Colares (8-0-0)

A pair of top-ranked regional competitors go head to head as Jungle Fights alumni Felipe Colares meets fellow Jungle Fights and Shooto veteran Geraldo de Freiras Jr. Colares is undefeated but last saw action in 2017 with sparse activity since his 2013 pro debut. de Freiras Jr. is currently riding a 6-fight winning streak, finishing 4 of his last 6 opponents.

Both men are 5’9″, but Colares is the younger man by 3-years. He has not seen action in roughly 16-months while de Freiras Jr. has fought just once in the last 17-months.

Colares has put away 7 of his 8 opponents- 5 by sub and 5 in the opening round.  He has faced some reasonably capable regional competition with his last 3 opponents all over .500 with a combined record of 26-13. Colares offers a decent chain wrestling attack, pushing for takedowns until getting his adversary horizontal. He will utilize throws and trip from the clinch when he closes the distance.

Corales won the Jungle Fights Featherweight title in 2017.

A natural Bantamweight, de Freiras Jr. will benefit as the smaller man with just a week to prep for his debut. He offers a slightly more diversified record with 4 knockouts and 5 submission wins. He has a trio of wins by submission. Similar to his opponent, he has faced some decent regional competition, with all recent opponents boasting about .500 records.

de Freiras Jr. started his pro career 4-3, dropping all 3 defeats on the scorecards.

Both fighters are coming in on short notice and making their debuts. Additionally, there isn’t a lot of quality film on either man as of right now. Corales appears to be the better athlete and the larger fighter. His tenacity when looking for the takedown and decent work in the clinch will be key in a grinding affair- my prediction is Felipe Corales to defeat Geraldo de Freiras Jr. by decision.

135lbs- Ricardo Ramos (12-1-0) vs #12 Said Nurmagomedov (11-1-0)

Promotional sophomore Said Nurmagomedov looks to build on his successful debut when he takes on surging Brazilian contender Ricardo Ramos in the Bantamweight division. Ramos has picked up a trio of wins since entering the Octagon, most recently scoring a split decision win over Kyung Ho Kang. Nurmagomedov has won 6 straights fights including his first UFC appearance, besting Justin Scoggins by split decision.

Nurmagomedov made his debut at Flyweight, but will move up 10-pounds for this fight. Ramos is an inch taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. He is 3-years younger than the Russian.

An aggressive fighter no matter where the action takes place, Ramos has finished 9 of his 12 wins- 6 by submission. Ricardo has finished 6 fights in the opening, but has posted a notable increase in fight time since taking a step up in competition. Ramos’ aggression has led him to give up position in pursuit of a submission which can cost him with the judges.

Ramos has some pop in his hands; he finished his sophomore appearance with a spinning back-fist and dropped Michinori Tanaka during an exchange.

Contrarian to his opponent, Said offers a more decision-heavy record. He has gone the distance 8 times, winning 7 compared to a pair of knockouts and 3 submission wins. Unlike his Champion cousin, Nurmagomedov is a striking-based fighter. He has more pop in his hands than his record suggests and will offer a variety of kicking and spinning techniques.

The Russian will take the fight to the mat if the opportunity presents itself, landing just 1 of 11 TDAs in his debut.

Ramos’s questionable late-fight cardio and periodic over-aggression are concerning. Conversely, the combination of Ricardo’s constant offense and the boisterous Brazil crowd can be an overwhelming combo. Nurmagomedov needs to maintain distance with his kicks, but he will be forced to fight off his back foot making it hard to kick. Ramos’ more active and sharper boxing couple with his ground skills will be the difference- my prediction is Ricardo Ramos to defeat Said Nurmagomedov by submission.

125lbs- Rogerio Bontorin (13-1-0 1NC) vs #11 Magomed Bibulatov (14-1-0)

The opening scrap on the undercard goes down in the Flyweight division as Russian Magomed Bibulatov looks to rebound from the first loss of his pro career when he takes on the debuting Rogerio Bontorin. Bibulatov is coming off a stunning upset loss to John Moraga, he is now 1-1 in the UFC. Bontorin picked up a win on the Contenders Series for his second straight victory since his first career loss to former UFC fighter Michinori Tanaka.

The Brazilian is the taller man by an inch and will have 2″ reach advantage. He is also 4-years younger than his foe. Bibulatov has been out of action for 15-months.

Bontorin has a background in BJJ and Muay Thai finishing 13 of his 14 wins- 11 by submission. He has finished 8 opponents in the opening round, falling via submission in the 3rd round against Tanaka. In his last fight, Bontorin found success with his jab but didn’t throw a lot of volume and was badly hurt prior to recovering and grabbing an RNC finish.

Botorin has fought both at Bantamweight and Flyweight and is one of the top lighter weight fighters in Brazil.

The Russian comes from a strong ground fighting background based in Sambo and wrestling. Bibulatov hasn’t showcased his ground skill much in the Octagon, landing just 2 takedowns on 7 attempts. At distance, he throws a nice variety of kicking attacks, switching stances to disguise his offence.

Bibulatov showed a lot of fakes in his debut and moved well on the feet to shut down the offence of his foe, but Moraga was able to put him away with one big shot.

Bontorin seems dependant on taking his opponent down and working his submission game. That is going to be difficult against Bibulatov. The Russian should have the ability to dictate where the fight goes and either work from a strong top position or force his opponent to compete on the feet. Bibulatov’s layoff and chin are concerns, but he has the skill set to shut down his counterpart- my prediction is Magomed Bibulatov to defeat Rogerio Bontorin by TKO.


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