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UFC Fight Night 26: B/R Main Card Staff Predictions

Craig AmosFeatured ColumnistAugust 16, 2013

UFC Fight Night 26: B/R Main Card Staff Predictions

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    The UFC's arrival on the Fox Sports 1 network is a homecoming of sorts, with the familiar "Fight Night" tag back in play. Surely you remember back in the day when Spike TV played host to the UFC Fight Night series? Well anyway, we resume the count on Aug. 17 with UFC Fight Night 26.

    The reprisal kicks off with a six-fight main card that is highlighted by a light heavyweight clash between Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Chael Sonnen. 

    Also set up are main card tussles between Alistair Overeem and Travis Browne, Iuri Alcantara and Urijah Faber, Matt Brown and Mike Pyle, Uriah Hall and John Howard, and Michael Johnson and Joe Lauzon.

    On the whole, the card is a good start for the UFC to kick off its relationship with Fox Sports 1.

    In anticipation of the UFC Fight Night 26 action, Bleacher Report's team of Craig Amos, Scott Harris, Riley Kontek and James MacDonald present you with their official staff predictions for each main card bout.

     

Michael Johnson vs. Joe Lauzon

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    Craig Amos

    After showing what looked to be some serious potential on the heels of The Ultimate Fighter, Johnson is in desperate need of a win after his career has stalled. In Lauzon, Johnson finds a tough opponent who happens to thrive where he struggles: the submission game. This one has the look of a barnburner, and it should produce some of the night’s most fantastic action.

    Lauzon, Submission, Rd. 2

     

    Scott Harris

    Johnson is a viable fighter. But it feels as if this entire fight was gift-wrapped to native Massachusetts warrior Lauzon. It's almost like a thank-you prize for the Jim Miller fight. Johnson struggles with submission fighters. Lauzon is a very good submission fighter. There, as they say, is the ballgame.

    Lauzon, Submission, Rd. 2

     

    Riley Kontek

    Joe Lauzon is getting a cookie in Michael Johnson, likely because of his bloody masterpiece of a fight he put up against Jim Miller in his last outing. Though he lost that bout, he is taking on a guy in Johnson who has holes in his submission game and defense. In one round, Lauzon puts his name in the hat for Submission of the Night.

    Lauzon, Submission, Rd. 1

     

    James MacDonald

    I have long felt that Michael Johnson is overrated. He flatters to deceive with his athleticism. Lauzon may lack the physical tools of Johnson, but he more than makes up for them with his technique on the ground and doggedness on the feet. The hometown hero should have too many tools for Johnson to deal with and will be spurred on by a partisan crowd.

    Lauzon, Submission, Rd. 3

Uriah Hall vs. John Howard

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    Craig Amos

    This fight is kind of like a mulligan for both guys—a second go in the UFC for Howard, a chance at redemption after a paltry showing in the TUF finale for Hall. Unfortunately, only one of the combatants can make good on the opportunity. While both are dangerous strikers, Hall is more polished and versatile and should be able to out-land Howard for the majority of the contest.

    Hall, Unanimous decision

     

    Scott Harris

    Good on the UFC for giving Boston native Howard a slot on his hometown card. And you know what? I've got me a feeling. Hall appears on paper to have big skill advantages here, but I wonder about his mental strength. If Howard can seize the momentum—and I think the crowd could help him in that regard—I'm not sure Hall can wrest it back. Sound the upset alarms.

    Howard, KO, Rd. 2

     

    Riley Kontek

    Let me be the first to say that I am stoked that John Howard is back in the UFC. His exciting style and nasty striking are something the UFC cannot get enough of. That being said, he is running into a more powerful, technical striker in Uriah Hall who is even more hungry than usual since dropping the TUF 17 title to Kelvin Gastelum. Howard has a good chin, so Hall may outpoint him on the feet.

    Hall, Unanimous Decision

     

    James MacDonald

    I like John Howard, but Uriah Hall will be determined to make up for his lackluster showing at the recent TUF finale. After changing camps, Hall may have already filled in some of the holes in his game. Indeed, I expect to see evidence of it on Saturday night. Unfortunately, that evidence will be to John Howard’s detriment. 

    Hall, TKO, Rd. 2

Matt Brown vs. Mike Pyle

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    Craig Amos

    The clash in styles here is apparent, but who has the edge is far less so. I'm confident that this ends with a finish—a knockout for Brown or submission for Pyle—but less confident that I know who will instigate that finish. In the end, I'm committing to Brown getting the job done with that particularly nasty brand of pressure-striking he has an affinity for.

    Brown, TKO, Rd. 2

     

    Scott Harris

    Everyone loves Matt Brown and that free-brawling style of his. And why shouldn't they? It's exciting and, lately, very effective. But he's a little like a baseball team with a recent tendency toward winning one-run ballgames. Eventually, the market will correct. Mike Pyle, an excellent fighter who must have stepped on Dana White's dog at some point, is just the man to do it. In the process, he will finally get himself to the pay-per-view.

    Pyle, Submission, Rd. 2

     

    Riley Kontek

    Matt Brown's career resurgence has been more than impressive as of late. I am the first to admit I doubted him in both wins over Mike Swick and Jordan Mein. However, he is running into a fighter who plays into his weakness. Mike Pyle is a no-nonsense opponent who can strike, but he is more comfortable grinding out opposition. He will take it one step closer, earning a tapout midway through the fight.

    Pyle, Submission, Rd. 2

     

    James MacDonald

    Everyone loves Matt Brown because he’s refreshingly uncomplicated. He’s the two times table to the string theory of fighters like Lyoto Machida and Jon Jones. Unfortunately, that means he’s occasionally a little bit too predictable. Mike Pyle is good enough and patient enough to take advantage of those shortcomings, but he may eventually wilt under the constant pressure of the TUF 7 veteran.

    Brown, TKO, Rd. 3

Iuri Alcantara vs. Urijah Faber

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    Craig Amos

    Alcantara has looked good since hooking up with the UFC (and the WEC before that), but this is a big step up in competition. Faber has never lost a non-title fight and only one title fight that was not for a particularly valuable belt. I don't see Alcantara becoming the man to end Faber's non-title dominance, so "The California Kid" is the pick in this one. 

    Faber, Unanimous decision

     

    Scott Harris

    Everyone says "don't sleep on Iuri" and then picks Faber. I'm just gonna keep on sleeping. Faber for the win and the continuation of Team Alpha Male's impressive resurgence.

    Faber, Unanimous decision

     

    Riley Kontek

    Iuri Alcantara is one of the hottest commodities in the bantamweight division, but he is taking a huge step up in competition when he takes on former featherweight kingpin Urijah Faber. As overrated as many think Faber is, he is still one of the best in the game. Wrestling and striking are the advantages that will carry him to a convincing decision.

    Faber, Unanimous Decision

     

    James MacDonald

    Alcantara is an underrated fighter, but I’m not sure he has the tools to hang with Faber. “The California Kid” seems to be the best of the rest at 135 pounds by a comfortable margin, and he’ll likely confirm that status on Saturday night.

    Faber, Unanimous decision

Travis Browne vs. Alistair Overeem

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    Craig Amos

    I understand that Overeem is a dangerous fighter, but his performance has never equaled his reputation as a mixed martial artist. Sure, he's a threat to knock Travis Browne out, but Overeem's dismal record in fights that go beyond a single round doesn't bode well. Ultimately, I see this ending before the final bell, but it won't be the favorite who does the finishing.

    Browne, TKO, Rd. 2

     

    Scott Harris

    Remember when Overeem was the next big thing, throwing a heavily muscled wrench into the Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos belt-trading machine? If he ever wants to cash in on that potential, he has to beat Travis Browne, who has indicated he wants to trade with Overeem. If Overeem can rein in that smugness and focus, he should take advantage of a similarly minded but less skilled opponent.

    Overeem, TKO, Rd. 1

     

    Riley Kontek

    I am high on Travis Browne and his future in the UFC. However, don't expect a former K-1 champion in Alistair Overeem to be out-struck in two consecutive fights, as he is coming off a knockout loss to Antonio Silva. Expect a valiant effort from Browne but a midway finish from "The Demolition Man."

    Overeem, TKO, Rd. 2

     

    James MacDonald

    While Overeem is undoubtedly the better striker, I worry about his chin. He has a tendency to don a pair of ice skates as soon as he gets clipped. That being said, I think his defence is solid enough to stand up to Browne’s striking. Expect the big Dutchman to put his foe away late in the fight.

    Overeem, TKO, Rd. 3 

Mauricio Rua vs. Chael Sonnen

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    Craig Amos

    A few years back, I would have been all over a "Shogun" win here, but times have changed. Despite being the younger fighter, Rua is rapidly breaking down and may lack the explosiveness to deal with Sonnen's takedowns. Of course, the potential for a submission is there, but Rua's decline and a recent history of cardio issues paint a bleak picture for the Brazilian.

    Sonnen, Unanimous decision

     

    Scott Harris

    Neither of these guys appear to be at their athletic peaks, but Shogun, inconsistent in the best of times, seems worn down nearly to the nub. His days of being a dangerous ground fighter would appear to be over. Sonnen is probably making the same assumption. There's no reason he won't want to go to the ground, and there is no reason to think he can't do it.

    Sonnen, Unanimous decision

     

    Riley Kontek

    PPV-quality main event, as Dana White promised? Probably not. However, a striker vs. grappler matchup is enough to grab my attention. Rua's knees are not what they used to be, and Sonnen is looking for double legs all day. I expect a classic Sonnen effort en route to a decision.

    Sonnen, Unanimous Decision

     

    James MacDonald

    This is just a bad matchup for Shogun. The Brazilian has some of the worst takedown defence you’re ever likely to see inside a UFC cage and happens to be facing one of the sport’s most dominant wrestlers. Of course, there’s always a chance that Rua can secure a submission, given Sonnen's frailty on the ground. I don’t see it happening this time, though.

    Sonnen, Unanimous decision 

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