UFC Fight Night 175: Smith vs Teixeira | Prelim Predictions

UFC Fight Night 175: Smith vs Teixeira | Prelim Predictions
265lbs- Andrei Arlovski vs Philipe Lins

Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski (28-19-0 2NC) headlines the final fight of the undercard. Arlovski has just a single win over his last 6 walks to the cage- a wide decision over co-main even fighter Ben Rothwell.

Despite his record, he has fought in many recent closer bouts that could have gone his way. Andrei had gone to decision in 8 straight fights prior to his last loss. He has become more of a point fighter, utilizing movement and volume mixed with some ground fighting.

Plaguing the “Pitbull” throughout his career has been a crackable chin. He has been knocked out 11 times over 19 defeats, but his UFC 244 KO stoppage was his first since 2017- 10 fights.

Brazil’s Philipe (14-3-0) Lins went 3-3 in Bellator before entering the Professional Fight League. His 4-0 PFL run was capped off with a 4th round TKO win over Josh Copeland to win the organization’s Heavyweight tournament.

Lins has some punching power, but at times can be a little tentative. He has multiple wins in which he was behind on the cards before finishing his foe. Against Alex Nicholson, he was hurt and in trouble before landing his own power strikes and stopping his adversary.

“Monstro” has been finished 4 times by knockout. He tends to be a counter puncher which can put him behind in the exchanges if he is unable to land with regularity.

Prior to his recent success, Lins fought at Light Heavyweight and he will the smaller man here. He is also returning from an injury-related layoff and debuting. Arlovski and Philipe have trained together so there is a level of familiarity. To say the least there are a number of factors here. Andrei doesn’t have the power he used to and his output can lag. Look for Lins to land heavier counter strikes while out-quicking the Belarussian from start to finish- my prediction is Philipe Lins to defeat Andrei Arlovski by decision.

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155lbs- Michael Johnson vs Thiago Moises

Over the first 5-years in the promotion, TUF 12 Finalist Michael Johnson (19-15-0) went 8-4 including wins over Edson Barboza and Tony Ferguson. Over his last 5-years with the company he has gone a dismal 3-7 including back to back losses in his last 2 fights.

Johnson has power, he has speed, and he can wrestle. Unfortunately, he also has subpar cardio, vulnerable submission defense, and a less than concrete chin. He has been known to get off to a quick start before fading as the fight advances.

In his return to Lightweight against Stevie Ray, Johnson was finding a lot of success on the feet but gave up a key third-round takedown in a close fight.

Jumping into the deep end early, Thiago Moises (12-4-0) dropped a decision to Beneil Dariush in his debut. His sophomore fight he utilized a strong combination of takedowns and top position to take the fight on the scorecards.

Moises authored several well time double legs. Once on the mat, he did an excellent job of maintaining control and doing damage.

The Brazilian has some decent kicks and solid counterpunching, but he got knocked down in his last fight and couldn’t match his opponent’s vertical volume.

Johnson’s key to victory is his volume. He needs to engage Moises on the feet and keep the pressure on him. Unfortunately, his history of fading suggests he can’t do that for a full 15-minutes. Moises can counter strike and has decent pop in his hands, but he needs to focus on his grappling. Johnson seems at a loss when on his back and Thiago can replicate his previous issues. Thiago will pick up a couple of takedowns to nullify Johnson’s volume and score with the judges- my prediction is Thiago Moises to defeat Michael Johnson by decision.

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135lbs- Sijara Eubanks vs Sarah Moras

Despite a 3-0 run and TUF 26 tournament finals birth, Sijara Eubanks (4-4-0) has struggled to find her footing in the UFC. Unable to compete in the inaugural Flyweight title fight, “Sarj” has finally settled on a run as a Bantamweight.

She recently lost a competitive rematch to Aspen Ladd, but more concerning she came up short against Bethe Correia. After a strong start, Eubanks tired and was outworked in the final 2 frames- dropping a 29-28 decision on all cards.

A physically strong fighter, Sijara’s cardio has been a concern over her career.

Another fighter that has had issues with cardio is Canadian Sarah Moras (6-5-0). That being said, she is coming off of a third-round TKO victory to snap a 3-fight losing skid. She put forth a definitive final frame leading up to the finish.

Moras is at her most dangerous early in her fights while relying on her grappling attack. She submitted Ashlee Evans-Smith and will threaten from both top and bottom positions.

The Canadian used her jab effectively her last fight, but she also capitalized on a young fighter that was debuting after a prolonged layoff. Moras also missed weight and the lack of a draining cut could have improved her cardio.

If Moras’ cardio has improved, she could replicate her late fight success if Eubanks falters. Sijara had issues with the grappling of Aspen Ladd which suggests Moras could capitalize as well. Conversely, Moras tends to give up position, and Eubanks is not a fighter you want on top. Moras is the bigger girl, she will force the grappling exchanges, wear on her foe, and either edge her out with position or catch a sub- my prediction is Sarah Moras to defeat Sijara Eubanks by decision.

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155lbs- Gabriel Benitez vs Omar Morales

Mexico’s Gabriel Benitez (21-7-0) was unable to continue his winning ways, falling via round 1 TKO to Sodiq Yusuff- he had won 2 in a row. “Moggly” has struggled to remain active, fighting just once a year since 2016, with the exception of 2017 when he made the walk on two occasions.

Benitez has a pretty solid kicking arsenal and will work his opponent up and down the body. Against Sodiq he landed some sharp inside leg kicks that over the course of a full fight will do some serious damage.

His hands look solid as well, dropping his Yusuff midway through the round before getting finished himself in the final minute.

Despite having finished all but one of his bouts prior to his debut, Omar Morales (9-0-0) was unable to take Dong Hyun Ma out, but still took a victory on the cards.

Morales will be the larger man as Benitez traditionally fights at Featherweight.

With 5 of his 9 wins coming by submission, it wasn’t surprising to see Morales land an early takedown against Ma and control the majority of the round from top position. As the fight advanced, he found more success with his striking, mixing up his kicking and punching techniques.

Benitez has issues with opponents that try to take him down and Morales is capable on the mat. On the feet, they both throw solid kicks while Benitez might have a slight edge with his boxing. The biggest factor here is the size of Morales. He is a large Lightweight taking on a fighter coming up from 145 pounds. If they trade for the duration of the bout, look for the impact of Omar’s offense to add up. Morales grabs some key top time which augments his more impactful striking- my prediction is Omar Morales to defeat Gabriel Benitez by decision.

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135lbs- Hunter Azure vs Brian Kelleher

A prolonged layoff and 2-fight losing skid had Brian Kelleher (20-10-0) near the end of his UFC tenure. A first-round upset victory on the strength of his patented guillotine choke, accounting for 6 of 9 sub wins, put “Boom” back on track”.

The BJJ Brown belt has lived and died on the strength of this submission game. While his biggest win total is a product of his submissions, he has also been submitted in 6 of his 10 defeats.

Kelleher does push an aggressive pace which can overwhelm his foe, but it also opens him up defensively.

Undefeated, Hunter Azure bested TUF winner Brad Katona in his debut- his 4th win of 2019.

In his Contender Series bout, he utilized hard low kicks and punches to help him to close the gap and set up his wrestling.

He didn’t find the wrestling success against Katona, giving up multiple takedowns but winning the bout on the feet. He hurt Katona on a couple of occasions, but at times he was throwing some wide loose hooks.

Azure put together a solid debut performance, but against Kelleher, he is facing a fighter that can be more dangerous in key moments. Azure is more durable, has a stronger wrestling based, and pushes a pretty steady pace. He needs to be mindful of his neck when shooting on Kelleher, but unless “Boom” can catch him in a bad moment- Hunter should outwork him from start to finish- my prediction is Hunter Azure to defeat Brian Kelleher by Decision.

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265lbs- Chase Sherman vs Ike Villanueva

A 2-5 record in the UFC led to the dismissal of Chase Sherman (14-6-0). He has since rebounded to win a trio of contests under the Island Fights banner to go along with a 1-1-1 record with Bare Knuckle FC all in 2019.

Sherman continued to add to his knockout totals, adding 3 stoppages for a total of 14 wins by TKO or KO. Conversely, he has also been knocked out in 4 of his 6 losses. His 3 regional wins came over opponents with a combined record of 22-20.

When in the UFC, Sherman demonstrated moments of capability largely on the strength of his striking. His kicking game was serviceable and as the numbers indicate, he has power in his hands.

Across the cage will be the debuting Ike Villanueva (16-9-0). “Hurricane Ike” returned from a nearly 2-year hiatus to go 3-0 in 2019. He picked up recent wins over UFC veterans Roger Narvaez and Rashad Coulter. Coulter also lost to Sherman inside the Octagon.

Another heavy hitter, Ike has recorded 13 wins by knockout. He has also been finished 8 times, 5 times by submission. Villanueva has fought at Heavyweight, but he traditionally fights at 205 pounds and will be the smaller man.

In addition to his punching power, he has some decent hand speed. In recent fights, he showed good killer instinct hurting his opponent but not getting over-aggressive prior to the finish.

Sherman is the bigger man, but he is going to struggle with the speed and power combination offered by Ike. If Sherman can routinely land his low kicks he could take away his base and set up a finish, but that will take time. Instead, look for Villanueva to close the distance behind punching combinations, targetting Sherman’s shaky chin- my prediction is Ike Villanueva to defeat Chase Sherman by TKO.