UFC Fight Night 128

Edson Barboza vs Kevin Lee

Edson Barboza is one of the best strikers in the UFC. He’s fast with accurate, snappy punches and he’s maybe one of the best kickers ever in mma. He’s a dangerous fight for anyone but I’m not sure he’s a real championship contender in a division full of great grapplers, we will get a better idea after this fight. He’s 32, 5’11 with a record of 19 wins and 5 losses. A very technical striker who likes to circle the outside and pick his opponent off. He reads opponents well very well and has excellent timing. If you haven’t seem him knock out Beneil Dariush then go look for it.

As good a fighter as Kevin Lee is, he’s sorta backing himself into a corner recently with his criticism of Nurmagomedov and McGregor and the likes. To back up his mouth he needs to beat Barboza here more impressively than Khabib did, which is going to be next to impossible I think. Even if he wins he has quite a few contenders ahead of him, but people talk themselves into fights all the time so we will wait and see. Lee is still young at 25 years old and is a solidly built 5’9, 155lbs. He can fight anywhere the battle takes him, good striking but nothing special but very good wrestling and an active and aggressive submission game which I think he will be using if he wants the result here.

Barboza is a great fighter and very dangerous but the blueprint for beating him has kinda been set, if you can pull it off. If you stand off and let him control the pace and the space in a fight then that’s a very risky game plan. Lee will need to harass Barboza, don’t let him settle, don’t let him breath. Don’t let him set for his kicks when ain’t easy cos he has some of the fastest kicks in the game. Nurmagomedov showed the perfect game plan and although Lee ain’t quite got the skill set of Khabib, he can definitely time it and get the takedowns he needs and do some damage from top position. As I said, Barboza is very dangerous but I think Kevin Lee has the brains and the ability to do what needs to be done.

Prediction : Lee by submission

Update : Kevin Lee misses weight which is a bit embarrassing after all his talk but props to Edson for still accepting the fight. Don’t think this changes the predicted result.

Result : Lee by TKO (doc)

Frankie Edgar vs Cub Swanson

Frankie Edgar is a stud, he’s proved it time and time again. Yes he’s coming off a loss and the first time he has been knocked out but reality is that he’s only lost to Aldo then Ortega in the last five years and in those five years he’s been fighting the best. He’s 36 years old and 5’6″ with a record of 22 wins and 6 losses and 1 draw. He’s a good wrestler and a good striker but he mixes them up excellently, faking shots then punching or fast takedowns after punch combos. He doesn’t hit with knockout power but he has good timing and has some knockouts on his record, but he usually uses frenetic pace and outworks most opponents and really makes the most of his abilities. Frankie Edgar is also the former UFC lightweight champion.

This is the first fight of a new contract for Cub Swanson. He was out of contract in December but they got him re-signed and they gave him Frankie Edgar a his prize, like welcome home. Cub definitely belongs in the UFC though, he’s never going to be champion though so is he a gatekeeper or a bit too good for that? Anyway, Cub is 34 years old and 5’8″ with a record of 25 wins and 8 losses. For as good a fighter as he is, 6 of his 8 losses have been by submission. Cub is one of the better guys to watch, never in a boring fight and gives it his all every time. He’s well rounded, his striking is good and he can throw in unorthodox shit too and hit from different angles and his grappling is also good but like I said, 6 submission losses.

So these two fought before in 2014 and Frankie absolutely dominated Cub before finishing him in the fifth round. The only reason I would hesitate in predicting the same thing this time is that Frankie just got knocked out for the first time in his career at the start of March, about six weeks before this fight. That’s the only X factor here. Will it affect the way the guys fight? Will Cub go hard early trying to do damage? Will this play into Frankie’s style? A few questions to be answered.

I think I trust Frankie to know what’s what, to be experienced enough not to be stupid about his health and career. I see this going the same as the last one except I think Cub doesn’t get finished this time.

Prediction : Edgar by decision

Result : Edgar by decision

Justin Willis vs Chase Sherman

Not much to say about Chase Sherman up to now, trying to make his way in the sport and he’s also growing his social media following by being active on Twitter and the likes. Definitely on the right track in that regard but he needs to keep on backing it up in the cage. He’s 28 years old, 6’4 and 250lbs with a record of 11 wins and 4 losses.

I know absolutely nothing about Justin Willis apart from he’s a bit guy and he can bang. He’s 30 years old, 6’3 and 265lbs southpaw with a good reach.

This one is probably a case of whoever lands clean first wins. I would say that Sherman has more speed and better movement but Willis hits harder. Hopefully this doesn’t go the distance cos, you know with heavyweights. I think that at some point Willis lands the big shot and gets the finish.

Prediction : Willis by KO/TKO

Result : Willis by decision

David Branch vs Thiago Santos

David Branch’s claim to fame is that he is a genuine simultaneous 2 weight champion. He held the WSOF middleweight and light heavyweight titles and defended them both, imagine that. He’s also a Renzo Gracie black belt with very good jiu-jitsu. He 36 years old, 6’1 and a well built 185lbs. His record is 21 wins and 4 losses.

Thiago Santos is on a bit of a roll. In his last 4 fights he’s stopped his opponent in the first or second round. I remember a lot of years ago on social media Thiago was begging Dana White to give him a fight, saying he would do it for free against anyone,he just wanted his shot. Well he got his shot and he’s now making the most of it and looks like he will be sticking around for a while. He’s 34, 6’2, 185lbs with a record of 17 wins and 5 losses with 12 wins by knockout. He’s a very very good striker. Dangerous with punches, kicks, knees and elbows. He has very nice movement, very fluid for a big guy and his style is very nice to look at.

Is it too simple to say that if this fight stays standing Thiago wins but if it goes to the ground Branch wins? Yes and no.

Obviously David Branch has his best chance if he can get Santos down but Branch also has passable stand up skills and a bit of confidence in them and Santos can hold his own in grappling. The way Thiago fights at times though, he stands off and let’s people come while he probes for openings and that can give people false hope but when he finds that opening he goes all in. Thiago will also get confidence from the fact that when he lands that good shot, recently, the fight is over. It will be more of an even fight in the clinch range and I’d favour Branch on the ground but I think over the course of 3 Rounds Thiago Santos will be able to land something hard on Branch and maybe get the finish.

Prediction : Santos by KO/TKO

Result : Branch by KO

Aljamain Sterling vs Brett Johns

Aljamain Sterling in his first fight back after being knocked out for the first time. Not only knocked out though, fucking flatlined into a ‘dab’ by Marlon Moraes. Sterling is 28, 5’7 and 135lbs and is a product of the Serra Longo team. His record is 14 wins and 3 losses. He’s a good striker but unorthodox, hits from different angle and throws a lot of kicks. Sometimes he just jumps in with strikes and relies on his speed and agility to get him out of any bad position he lands in. He’s a very good wrestler, fast and strong, with a good submission game.

Brett Johns was the first Welshman signed to the UFC, and he’s not cannon fodder. The better you do though, the harder the fights get and we get to find out how good he really is. He’s 26 years old, 5’7 and 135lbs with a perfect record of 15 wins and no losses. He’s the former Cage Warriors and Titan bantamweight champion. He has had issues making weight a few times but none in this UFC run. Brett is a very good grappler, good wrestling with an aggressive and suffocating top game and he’s a good enough striker to punch his way into range.

Both of these guys like to fight from the same position, on top, it will be interesting to see who prevails and how. Johns takes less risks and is better with the basics maybe. Sterling has the edge with quickness and like I said, unorthodox striking. What swings it for me though is that this is a big step up for Brett Johns while Aljamain has been in the cage with much better opponents than Johns has. Should be a hell of a good fight but I think Aljamain hands Brett Johns his first loss.

Prediction : Sterling by decision

Result : Sterling by decision

Jim Miller vs Dan Hooker

Dan Hooker sort of flew under my radar until the last 2 fights, just an average guy who will win some and lose some. Then he knocked Ross Pearson and derailed the Diakiese hype train and he’s got my attention and I hope everyone else’s, now he got another name with a lot of experience, his career is definitely moving in the right direction. Hooker is 28 years old, 6’0 tall and 155lbs. He has 15 wins and 7 losses. He very tall and long for the division and uses the range very well usually, keeping just out of the way of his opponents strikes and he also has some decent submissions.

Jim Miller is one of those guys who seems to have been around forever and seems to have fought almost everyone. Name a lightweight and chances are Jim has been in the octagon with them, won some lost some. He’s 34 years old and 5’8. His record is 28 wins and 11 losses. Jim was an NCAA Division 1 wrestler in college but he really does have some decent striking these days.

One of the obvious things that sticks out in the fight is Hooker’s height and reach advantage. It will be a potent weapon if he can make the most of it. I would imagine Miller will want to test Hooker’s striking early in the fight and if that doesn’t work out for him he should try wrestling, but some people get stubborn and get stuck in a plan that isn’t working or leave it too late to make the change. If Miller starts hitting takedowns in round one then I can see him winning the fight but Hooker is not that easy to put on his back and he can catch submissions on the way in but I don’t see him getting Jim like that. I would say that Hooker will use movement and range to avoid damage and win rounds especially the first and probably third (how fucking precise is that eh? 😎😎)

Prediction : Hooker by decision

Result : Hooker by KO

Rest of the Card

Ryan LaFlare vs Alex Garcia

Garcia is coming off one of his best performances I have seen from him but if LaFlare is ‘on’ I see him controlling this fight.

Prediction : LaFlare

Result : LaFlare

Magomed Bibulatov vs Ulka Sasaki – Cancelled

Haven’t really been impressed with either of these two but Bibulatov wins this.

Prediction : Bibulatov

Siyar Bahadurzada vs Luan Chagas

Siyar ‘The Killer’ was great, Siyar ‘The Great’ is not so great…..Strange that.

I really want Siyar to win this and if it stays standing I think he can, just needs to avoid the leg kicks and hope his opponent hasn’t worked too hard on his wrestling.

Prediction : Bahadurzada

Result : Bahadurzada

Corey Anderson vs Patrick Cummins

Two wrestlers who can bang. Cummings has the better wrestling pedigree but he’s also much older. Still I back the old guy to make it 3 straight losses for Anderson.

Prediction : Cummins

Result : Anderson

Leslie Smith vs Aspen Ladder – Cancelled

Interesting fight. Ladd is younger, faster, technically better, better grappler… but Smith has this fucking zombie tenacity. She keeps coming forward, keeps throwing and eventually breaks her opponents will. Aspen is undefeated though and I think she’s good enough to stay that way.

(I would love Smith to win just to see if they give her the microphone though)

Prediction : Ladd

Update: Aspen Ladder misses weight and Leslie Smith declines to fight her which is absolutely her right. Smith has been paid her ‘show’ and ‘win’ money and this represents the end of her UFC contract,she will not be re-signed.

Merab Dvalishvili vs Ricky Simon

I could see a lot of this fight being contested in the clinch and defending takedowns. Dvalishvili is really tenacious with his takedowns and Simon is no slouch either and Simon also has a good left hand, if he gets room to use it. Underdogs have been kind to me lately so I’ll say Dvalishvili here.

Prediction : Dvalishvili

Result : Simon

Tony Martin vs Keita Nakamura

Nakamura can be a very reactive striker at times, sitting back and trying to precision counter and waiting for opportunities. Problem is, sometimes you can be waiting for the whole fight. Tony Martin will come forward but he is very hittable but he’s tough. If it stays standing I pick Martin if Nakamura can find a few takedowns I say him. I’m going to go for the experience of Nakamura here.

Prediction : Nakamura

Result : Martin

Total Predictions 7/11

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