UFC Fight Night 159: Rodriguez vs Stephens | Prelim Predictions

UFC Fight Night 159: Rodriguez vs Stephens | Prelim Predictions

135lbs- Jose Quinonez (8-3-0) vs Carlos Huachin (10-3-1)

The final clash of the prelims goes down in the Bantamweight division as Mexico’s Jose “El Teco” Quinonez takes on Peruvian Carlos Huachin. Huachin lost his debut to Ranoi Barcelos ending a strong 6-0-1 stretch. Quinonez had won 4 straight after his TUF tournament final’s loss, but he is coming off a submission loss to Nathaniel Wood.

Quinonez is 1-inch taller to go along with 2-inch reach advantage. Huachin is the younger man by 6-years.

Huachin has some pop in his hands, winning the majority of his fight by knockout. Most of his wins have come in the opening frame and he is a dismal 1-4-2 after the first 5-minutes. Prior to coming to the UFC, Carlos’s combined opposition carried a sub .500 record.

Quinonez utilizes his length well when striking and he has shown he can mix in takedowns as well. His volume is serviceable when mixed with well-timed completions. He has just a single finish over his last 5 fights. The Wood pairing appeared to be too much, too soon. Overall, he has lost 2 of his last 3 fights in Mexico.

The power of Huachin is his key to victory- but that window is limited. His poor record outside of the opening round will be further complicated by the impact of the elevation on his cardio. Look for Quinonez to work on the outside with his long-range weapons before changing levels for a takedown. As the fight advances, Huachin will become less effective on the feet and more vulnerable to the takedowns- my prediction is Jose Quinonez to defeat Carlos Huachin by decision.

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155lbs- Marco Polo Reyes (8-6-0) vs Kyle Nelson (12-3-0)

A Canadian will make the trek down south as Kyle “The Monster” Nelson takes on Mexico’s Maro Polo Reyes in the Lightweight division. Reyes has lost 3 of his last 4 fights after winning his opening 3 UFC bouts- all but 1 of his UFC fights have ended via knockout. Nelson is still looking for his first UFC win, he has been finished twice including by Matt Sayles in his most recent outing.

Both fighters are 5’11” and share a 71″ reach. Nelson is the younger man by 7-years. Reyes is making his first UFC cut to 145-pounds.

Reyes has put together some entertaining fights, but his willingness to absorb damage is starting to catch up with him. He has recorded 6 wins by knockout compared to 4 defeats by TKO or KO. Reyes has power, but he simply eats too much offense. Further, he got mauled by Damir Hadzovic on the mat- demonstrating a vulnerability to a takedown heavy attack.

In a similar fashion, Nelson has been an all-action fighter but has yet to reap the benefits. Nelson both found success and struggle on the mat against Sayles. His willingness to sell out for sub attempts got him battered in round 1, but in round 2 he took and held his foe’s back- nearly sinking the RNC.

With Reyes’ power, he can hurt almost anyone- but he needs to connect. To have success on the feet, Reyes will need to stay vertical. Nelson hits very hard himself and has solid grappling skills which could exploit Reye’s struggles on the floor. The cut to 145-pounds could give Reyes a size advantage, but it could also compromise his durability and conditioning. Nelson will press the action early and most likely take Reyes to the floor for either a sub attempt or GNP- my prediction is Kyle Nelson to defeat Marco Polo Reyes.

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115lbs- Ariane Carnelossi (12-1-0) vs Angela Hill (9-6-0)

In the Strawweight division, former Invicta champion Angela Hill takes on short-notice replacement Ariane Carnelossi. Hill is just 3-5 in her last 8 UFC fights, including a 1-2 run in 2019. Carnelossi has won 12 in a row since her pro debut defeat which came back in 2014 against now UFC fighter Amanda Ribas- she has yet to fight this year.

Carnelossi took this fight with roughly a month to prepare. She is an inch shorter than Hill, but 7-years younger.

As the new debuting fighter, Carnelossi has finished 8 of her 12 wins by knockout- just 3 in the first round. Her last 3 of opponents are a combined 20-11. As the numbers indicate, she hits very hard and throws a nice variety of strikes.

Hill has built her attack round a mobile volume-based striking offense. She has surpassed the century mark in significant strikes on 5 different occasions. Hill utilizes solid footwork and movement but she doesn’t offer a lot of power.

While both girls are strikers, this bout will most likely come down to power versus volume. Hill needs to utilize her lateral movement to force the aggressive power punching Carnelossi to remain in pursuit. Carnelossi hits hard, but she can be linear in her attack and her heavily muscled build won’t hold up well in the altitude against a mobile opponent. Hill will need to be wary of the early exchanges, but once Ariane slows down Angela will take over- my prediction is Angela Hill to defeat Ariane Carnelossi by decision.

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125lbs- #5 Sergio Pettis (17-5-0) vs Tyson Nam (18-9-1)

With Alex Perez pulling out of the fight, former WSOF competitor Tyson Nam gets his first UFC opportunity when he takes on Sergio Pettis in the Flyweight division. Nam has lost just once in his last 8 including a 5-1-1 record since moving to 125-pounds- he knocked out Ali Baugatinov back in 2017. After a 5-1 stretch, Pettis has lost back to back fights including a Bantamweight bout against Rob Font.

Nam is an inch taller, but he will give up an inch of reach. The UFC newcomer is 10-years older than Pettis.

With 10 wins by knockout, including stoppages of Eduard Dantas and the aforementioned Baugatinov, Nam packs some serious power. Nam relies heavily on his boxing, but he will augment his standup with decent kicks. He does a decent job of pressing forward to engage, but at times he will allow his foe to the lead the exchanges.

Pettis offers a sharp striking attack working in solid variety. He has a solid jab and in recent fights, he has worked towards improving his output. While he has had some success with his takedowns and is capable of working off of his back, Pettis’ TDD has been a focal point of his adversaries. He has given up at least 1 takedown in 7 straight fights.

Nam’s near .500 record in decisions is a product of his lack of urgency. He is simply too willing to wait for his moments to deploy his power and if the opportunities don’t come, he often gets outworked. Pettis’ chin is not ironclad, but his superior work rate and more linear offense will help him to avoid the majority of Nam’s power. Look for Pettis to outwork Nam on the feet and even add in a couple of his own takedowns- my prediction is Sergio Pettis to defeat Tyson Nam by decision.

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205lbs- Vinicius Moreira (9-2-0) vs Paul Craig (11-3-0)

The heaviest fight on the card features a battle of grapplers as BJJ Black belt Vinicius Moreira takes on Scotland’s submission ace Paul “Bearjew” Craig in the Light Heavyweight division. Craig is coming off a violent knockout against Alonzo Menifield- he had won 2 of his previous 3 fights. Moreira is 0-2 in the UFC, including a knockout defeat versus Menifield- he scored a submission win on the Brazilian Tuesday Night Contenders Series to get the call to the UFC.

Moreira is the taller man by an inch, but they will share the same 76″ reach. The Scot is 2-years older.

Craig and Moreira share a couple of key similarities. Both have found their greatest level of success on the floor; Vinicius 8 of 9 wins by knockout and Craig 10 of 11. Conversely, they have both struggled on the feet- each suffering a trio of knockout defeats.

The Brazilian seems to thrive from top position but lacks a strong wrestling attack to routinely take his opponent down. For Craig, he has found a lot of success working off of his back- including his signature triangle choke finish.

Craig has found some success with his wrestling but may opt to force a striking battle. Craig has demoed mild improvements in his standup, but Moreira looks lost. The Brazilian’s attack centers so much around closing the distance that he will eat shot to do so- it has not worked well for him at this level. Additionally, Moreira has gone to the second round just 3 times while Craig has found success in longer fights. This suggests the Scot will have the edge if this bout is drawn out. Craig is the superior striker and unless Vinicius can take him down and finish early, he will struggle- my prediction is Paul Craig to defeat Vinicius Moreira by TKO.

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135lbs- #14 Sijara Eubanks (5-2-0) vs Bethe Correia (10-3-1)

Long removed from her unsuccessful Bantamweight title shot, Bethe Correia looks for her first win since 2016 when she battles former Strawweight contender Sijara Eubanks. Eubanks is 2-1 in the UFC, coming off a rematch defeat against Aspen Ladd. After a strong start, Correia fell victim to the submission games of Irene Aldana- she is just 1-4-1 over her last 6 fights.

Correia is the taller fighter by an inch, but she will give up 3-inches of reach to her foe. Eubanks is 2-years younger. Bethe missed weight in her last fight by 6-pounds.

The Brazilian is a decision machine with 8 of her 10 wins coming on the card. While she has a solid record in decisions, she has battled through a trio of split decisions- winning 2.

Eubanks made the move to 135 after difficulty with the weight cut. She is still a physical fighter and can use her wrestling effectively, but her boxing will most likely be at the centerpiece of her offense against Bethe.

Correia will benefit from not facing a taller fighter, but her slack of striking variety makes her predictable and ineffective at times. Eubanks might struggle to land takedowns against Bethe, so her success could come down to her striking acumen. If one of these girls slows in the latter half of the action, the door swings wide open for the other. Ultimately, Eubanks will outwork Bethe on the feet and potentially find some success with her wrestling- my prediction is Sijara Eubanks to defeat Bethe Correia by decision.

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155lbs- Claudio Puelles (9-2-0) vs Marcos Mariano (6-5-0)

The first fight of the night features the sophomore appearance of Brazil’s Marcos Mariano as he takes on Claudio Puelles in the Lightweight division. Puelles fell via middle-round TKO against Martin Bravo in his debut, before returning to submit Felipe Silva in his next fight. Mariano stepped in to face Lando Vannata in his first Octagon showing- tapping to a Kimura.

Mariano is the taller man by 2 inches, but Puelles is his 10-years younger.

The Brazilian has lost 2 of his last 3 fights and barely sits above .500. The biggest number that stands out on Marcos’ record are the 3 submission losses. He is a striker by trade working, that will focus on remaining at distance. Conversely, Vannata and multiple regional foes have found success forcing him to grapple.

Puelles is coming off a submission win that saw him land a pair of takedowns, but badly lose the striking exchanges. Claudio came out looking for submission early, attacking his opponent’s legs and pulling guard on multiple occasions. He took a lot of damage and was hurt on multiple times while still looking for the takedown.

While Mariano bares a striking resemblance to Anderson Silva, he appears to lack the ground skills of the former Champion. Puelles needs to avoid giving away top position and allowing Mariano to land ground and pound. Conversely, the unorthodox submission attacks of the Peruvian will create a lot of issues for Marcos. The outcome could come down to whether or not Mariano can defend the first sub attack and force Puelles into a defensive shell- my prediction is Claudio Puelles to defeat Marcos Mariano by submission.

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