UFC 163: Main Card Staff Predictions

Sean SmithAnalyst IAugust 2, 2013

UFC 163: Main Card Staff Predictions

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    Originally expected to meet Anthony Pettis, featherweight champion Jose Aldo will now look to defend his belt against Chan Sung Jung at UFC 163 in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday.

    Undefeated in three bouts since joining the UFC roster, Jung separated himself as one of the top contenders in the 145-pound division. While some believed Ricardo Lamas was more deserving of the opportunity to replace Pettis, Jung's global popularity helped him earn the spot in Saturday's main event.

    As UFC 163 approaches, Bleacher Report writers Riley Kontek, Craig Amos, Scott Harris, James MacDonald and Sean Smith joined up to offer their takes on the main card bouts.

    Here are their predictions.

John Lineker vs. Jose Maria

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    Riley Kontek

    On paper, this is a no-brainer matchup. However, if you are a huge fan of Brazilian MMA or prospect-watching in general, you will note that Jose Maria is no joke. In fact, he is probably a top-20-25 flyweight in the world. He is likely better on the ground, though he can also strike. However, John Lineker is bigger, stronger and more powerful and will look to impose his devastating hands en route to a decision victory.

    Lineker, Unanimous decision

     

    Craig Amos

    Jose Maria is a relatively unknown commodity, but he deserves a shot in the UFC. He carries a grappling advantage over Lineker and may in fact be the more precise and controlled striker. Lineker has the edge in power, though, and he's also the better athlete. While no result would shock me here, I see Lineker pulling out a competitive decision win.

    Lineker, Unanimous decision

    Scott Harris 

    I believe Maria could dirty this one up, but I think the 31-year-old will struggle under the bright lights in his UFC debut. He's a fine fighter, but Lineker should handle him.

    Lineker, Unanimous decision

     

    James MacDonald

    This is probably a closer fight than most people realise. Tome has a ton of experience and possesses a well-rounded game. Still, Lineker is coming into his own and is a class above at this point.

    Lineker, Unanimous decision

     

    Sean Smith

    With back-to-back wins over UFC opponents, Lineker has an important experience advantage over Tome when it comes to fight time inside the Octagon. However, undefeated since 2008, Tome isn’t the average UFC newcomer. The 31-year-old has the tools to make this tough on Lineker, but I think the UFC veteran still finds a way to win and keep his momentum going.

    Lineker, Unanimous decision

     

     

Thales Leites vs. Tom Watson

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    Riley Kontek

    Tom Watson is rarely in a boring bout, especially when the fight stays on the feet. He will have to fend off takedowns from Thales Leites, who does not have the takedown chops of some of Watson's past opponents. The Brit is lethal on his feet, but Leites is a seasoned veteran who can handle himself. If Watson stays upright, this should be elementary. 

    Watson, Unanimous decision

     

    Craig Amos

    Watson will want to keep the action upright, while Leites, who makes his UFC return after a four-year absence, will want to take it to the floor. Between Leites' persistence and Watson's fondness for ground-and-pound, this one will eventually hit the mat. And when it does, Leites will not squander the opportunity to finish the fight.

    Leites, Submission, Rd. 3

     

    James MacDonald

    This is Watson’s fight to lose. If he keeps the fight standing, as I expect him to, the Brit should put a beating on the returning Leites. If the Brazilian can turn this into a grappling contest, he may have a shot at pulling off the upset. I don’t like his chances, though.

    Watson, TKO, Rd. 2


    Scott Harris

    Thales Leites is dangerous on the ground. If the fight goes there, he'll have a real shot, at least on paper. Leites has been out of action for so long that I'll believe he is a viable UFC fighter again when I see it.

    Watson, TKO, Rd. 1

     

    Sean Smith

    Although Leites has been inactive for 16 months and is jumping right back into competition with a UFC return, I believe he’s looking at a favorable matchup that could give him a chance to remind folks that he was once a top middleweight contender. Heading into this bout, he has quietly put together a three-fight winning streak over UFC veterans. Should the Brazilian drag Watson down at any point, he has the jiu-jitsu to end this one early.

    Leites, Submission, Rd. 2

    X

Cezar Ferreira vs. Thiago Santos

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    Riley Kontek

    Cezar Ferreira makes his UFC return for the first time since winning The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil last June. Sure, he has been on the shelf longer than cans of spam, but he is taking on a member of the second season of TUF: Brazil, who is fighting up a weight class on short notice. This is a no-brainer.

    Ferreira, TKO, Rd. 1

     

    Craig Amos

    Though Ferreira showcased his submission game most prominently during his time on TUF, the tournament champion wields enough power to knock out his foes out—something I think he'll prove on Saturday night. I expect him to control the action, put Santos on his back and work for the finish from there.

    Ferreira, TKO, Rd. 2


    Scott Harris

    Bonus points to the fans who know who these guys are. Ferreira should have the advantage here, though I think Santos makes it a contest.

    Ferreira, Unanimous Decision 

     

    James MacDonald

    It’s an unfortunate reflection of UFC 163’s lack of depth that this bout has such a prominent place on the main card. Ferreira is the more complete fighter—expect him to ground and pound his way to the W.

    Ferreira, TKO, Rd. 3

     

    Sean Smith

    Following an injury setback after winning TUF: Brazil, this bout with replacement opponent Santos should be a nice tune-up for Ferreira. Santos will earn favor with the UFC brass for stepping up on short notice, but that won’t help him against Ferreira.

    Ferreira, TKO, Rd. 1

Lyoto Machida vs. Phil Davis

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    Riley Kontek

    This matchup is a lot closer than MMA fans are giving it credit for. Phil Davis is athletic, strong, quick and a power wrestler who will look to put Lyoto Machida on the ground. Machida is unorthodox and has great movement and vastly superior striking, which will aid him when he defends takedowns, especially given he is a great counterstriker. See Ryan Bader vs. Machida for result.

    Machida, KO, Rd. 2

     

    Craig Amos

    Machida's significant striking edge makes him the favorite here, but it would be silly to count Davis out completely. "Mr. Wonderful" is a terrific athlete, continues to improve as a mixed martial artist and has a chance of pulling off the upset. Ultimately, I shy away from picking him, but I do think the American will use leg kicks and takedowns to keep it close.

    Machida, Split decision

     

    Scott Harris

    No one is going to enjoy this fight...I'm calling that right now. Davis is a wrestler, Machida is, I don't know, an evader? Machida will keep the fight standing and land enough shots to outpoint a boxing-deficient Davis.

    Machida, Unanimous decision
     

    James MacDonald

    This isn’t a great matchup for Davis. The former wrestling standout from Penn State has only one clear path to victory here: Drag the fight to the mat. Unfortunately, that means he has to grab a hold of Machida. This has proved to be difficult for most of the former light heavyweight champ’s foes. He is so expert at managing distance that it is inconceivable to me that Davis will be able to take the fight to the floor. Expect Machida to rack up the points for 15 minutes and secure a decision win.

    Machida, Unanimous decision

     

    Sean Smith

    Davis might battle for a LHW championship one day, but he’s not going through Machida to do so. Despite all his amateur wrestling accomplishments, he is still learning how to transition from striking to grappling against high-level competition. With the distance that Machida continually maintains when standing, it’s tough to see Davis working inside with much frequency. There’s potential for a knockout, but expect another snoozer from Machida against Davis.

    Machida, Unanimous decision

Jose Aldo vs. Chan Sung Jung

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    Riley Kontek

    Unbeaten in eight years versus unbeaten since George Roop—that is the matchup. Chan Sung Jung is noted for his underrated submission ability, but his forte is his kickboxing. Unfortunately, the "Korean Zombie's" strength is also Jose Aldo's strength, and the Brazilian does it better. Jung is tough, but Aldo is a shark.

    Aldo, TKO, Rd. 3

     

    Craig Amos

    Jung is a well-rounded fighter, but it would be a poor decision to try and exchange with Aldo. Unfortunately for the Korean Zombie, he may be forced to do so anyway, since Aldo's takedown defense rates better than Jung's takedown offense. That spells trouble, and eventually I think it will also spell the end of the fight.

    Aldo, KO, Rd. 3

     

    Scott Harris

    I'm like everyone else in that I have much respect for the Zombie. I want to see him lead a fruitful life. But he won't be able to outstrike the champ and won't be able to get him to the ground. Jose Aldo is the king of the featherweights until further notice.

    Aldo, TKO, Rd. 2

     

    James MacDonald

    The Zombie has made remarkable strides in his overall game since being starched by George Roop. I daresay no one believed he had this kind of potential. Unfortunately, in Jose Aldo he is facing a fighter who is better than him in every single area. Jung’s durability might carry him through the five rounds, but he’ll probably be hopping on one leg by the end of the night.

    Aldo, Unanimous decision

     

    Sean Smith

    There isn’t a soul in the featherweight division capable of outstriking Aldo in the early rounds, and the champion is difficult to take down despite his lack of a wrestling background. It’s possible that an always tough Jung pushes this into the later rounds and makes things interesting as Aldo fades. However, Aldo will be looking to make a statement after losing his marquee fight to Pettis' injury.

    Aldo, KO, Rd. 2