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Ultimate Fight Night 28: Main Card Staff Predictions

James MacDonaldFeatured ColumnistSeptember 4, 2013

Ultimate Fight Night 28: Main Card Staff Predictions

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    If the rumours about ticket sales are to be believed, Ultimate Fight Night 28 won’t be pulling in the punters.

    Still, don’t let that put you off. There’s plenty to savour on tonight’s card from the Mineirinho Arena in Belo Horizonte, including Glover Teixeira vs. Ryan Bader, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza vs. Yushin Okami and Joseph Benavidez vs. Jussier Formiga.

    In addition to all that loveliness, the B/R crew is here to offer our picks for tonight’s main card: Scott “The Ginja Ninja” Harris, Riley “Kobra” Kontek, Craig “Famous” Amos, Sean “The Salmon” Smith and me, James “The Athlete” MacDonald. You lucky people, you.

Marcos Vinicius vs. Ali Bagautinov

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    Scott Harris:

    Two debuts happening here: Vinicius as a flyweight, Bagautinov as a person with "UFC fighter" on his resume. Bagautinov is the latest Russian wunderkind to get a foothold in major-league MMA. He's well-rounded and should be able to impose his will on Vinicius' boxing game.

    Bagautinov, TKO, Rd. 2

     

    Craig Amos:

    The Russian sambo pros are taking the lightweight division by storm. Now a little of that class finds its way to 125, where Bagautinov joins the budding division. His coming out party will be at the expense of Vinicius.

    Bagautinov, TKO, Rd. 2

     

    Sean Smith:

    After a knockout loss to Johnny Bedford, Vinicius is making a desperate move to 125 pounds. The Brazilian will have the home crowd on his side, but conditioning is always worth questioning when a fighter drops weight divisions. UFC newcomer Bagautinov is a solid flyweight prospect and could make a good first impression should Vinicius fade in the later rounds.

    Bagautinov, TKO, Rd. 2

     

    Riley Kontek:

    Finally, the UFC has added some further depth and talent to the flyweight division in Ali Bagautinov. Marcos Vinicius has seen mixed results in his UFC tenure, but his last fight—a loss against Johnny Bedford—may have laid the blueprint for this fight. Bagautinov will do something similar.

    Bagautinov, TKO, Rd. 1

     

    James MacDonald:

    Yeah, I’m not sure Sean Shelby did Marcos Vinicius any favours by booking this fight. By all accounts, Ali Bagautinov is a beast. This probably won’t last long.

    Bagautinov, TKO, Rd. 2

Rafael Natal vs. Tor Troeng

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    Scott Harris:

    Before his time on TUF, Troeng had a good reputation on the Nordic and wider European regional scenes. But the Swede is—and you'll pardon my parlance here—about to get bum-rushed. Natal is a physical dude, and in front of not only his home nation but his home town.

    He's going to put Troeng in something and submit him. 

    Natal, Submission, Rd. 1

     

    Craig Amos:

    If not for a shocking comeback by Andrew Craig, Natal would be on a five-fight win streak.

    "Would be" doesn't count for much, but it is convincing enough to suggest that Natal will be able to handle Troeng. The Brazilian's wrestling and top-game will be the difference.

    Natal, Unanimous Decision

     

    Sean Smith:

    Natal hasn't looked great since his knockout loss to Andrew Craig, but the Brazilian has still won four of his past five fights.

    Troeng has only defeated Adam Cella inside the Octagon and, while promising, is much less proven than Natal. Look for Natal to feed off of the Brazilian crowd and score a submission midway through this bout.

    Natal, Submission, Rd. 2

     

    Riley Kontek:

    Rafael Natal's recent UFC career has seen him feast on late replacement newcomers. That is literally the only reason he is still in the UFC.

    He has a great ground game, but he is taking on a well-rounded, tough fighter in Tor Troeng. Natal will try to make this an ugly fight, but Troeng is better at doing that. The Swede will take this fight on Natal's home turf.

    Troeng, Unanimous Decision

     

    James MacDonald:

    Despite Chael Sonnen’s protests to the contrary, Troeng looked very average on the most recent season of TUF. Natal may be a near-permanent fixture on the undercard, but he should have more than enough to deal with the Swede.

    Natal, TKO, Rd. 2

     

Francisco Trinaldo vs. Piotr Hallmann

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    Scott Harris:

    Yes, I closely follow the MMA prospect scene. And no, I have never heard of Piotr Hallmann. I wonder if he lives in one of those cathedrals made of human bones. I feel like that's a natural thing to wonder under these circumstances.

    But you know what? He's going to pull the shocker here against Trinaldo.

    I'm kidding.

    Trinaldo, TKO, Rd. 1

     

    Craig Amos:

    On paper, Poland's Hallmann has a real shot in this matchup. Trinaldo, though, has been taking on some tough competition in the real world. That counts for a lot, especially against a fighter making his UFC debut.

    The Brazilian takes his third straight win this Wednesday night.

    Trinaldo, Submission, Rd. 2

     

    Sean Smith:

    As is the case with many fights featuring UFC newcomers, it's tough to predict the outcome of this matchup. Hallmann is promising, but he hasn't been tested by any notable opponents. Trinaldo, meanwhile, has already proven to be a legitimate UFC lightweight. The Brazilian is the safe choice at UFC Fight Night 28.

    Trinaldo, TKO, Rd. 1

     

    Riley Kontek:

    Piotr Hallmann is an intriguing prospect, but he is really getting thrown in at the deep end for his UFC debut. Francisco Trinaldo is the size of a middleweight, has power like a bull and is a pretty well-rounded package of a fighter.

    He will overpower the Polish fighter en route to a stoppage.

    Trinaldo, TKO, Rd. 1

     

    James MacDonald:

    Trinaldo has looked good recently and conventional wisdom would suggest that he is the favourite against UFC newcomer Piotr Hallmann—not to be confused with the dude who occasionally fights in speedos.

    I’m going with the upset here, though. People may be underestimating Hallmann.

    Hallmann, Unanimous Decision

     

Joseph Benavidez vs. Jussier "Formiga" da Silva

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    Scott Harris:

    It would be rather foolish to pick against anyone on Team Alpha Male right now (especially after what Chad Mendes did to Clay Guida last weekend; that right hook is still echoing through the Bradley Center).

    Benavidez will be bigger and stronger than Formiga and should be able to keep Formiga's jiu-jitsu under wraps long enough to find the Brazilian's chin.

    Benavidez, KO, Rd. 2

     

    Craig Amos:

    The UFC's flyweight division has an elite core that includes only the very best at 125 pounds. Benavidez is very much a part of that crew while da Silva is not. At Fight Night 28 Benavidez will show just how large that gap is.

    Benavidez, TKO, Rd. 1

     

    Sean Smith:

    A great grappler but lacking takedowns and striking, Formiga is always going to have a tough time with well-rounded opponents. Benavidez should have no problem keeping this fight standing, where he'll pick the Brazilian apart and potentially earn a title shot with an impressive finish.

    Benavidez, KO, Rd. 2

     

    Riley Kontek:

    I remember before the UFC had a flyweight division. That was when Jussier da Silva was the undisputed, number-one flyweight in the world.

    Then along came Ian McCall. After that, the UFC came around and the division filled out. Joseph Benavidez is the cream of the crop in the division and is among the most well-rounded fighters in the game. He will use his wrestling to keep the fight standing, where he tags da Silva and finishes him with strikes.

    Benavidez, TKO, Rd. 2

     

    James MacDonald:

    I’m not going to go so far as to call this a mismatch, but it’s not a million miles away from it. The sport is evolving and Benavidez is in another league to Formiga entirely.

    This probably won’t go past the second round.

    Benavidez, TKO, Rd. 2

     

Yushin Okami vs. Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza

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    Scott Harris:

    I enjoy watching both of these fighters do their jobs. My heart wants to pick Souza and his virtually nonpareil jiu-jitsu, but Okami just has such a terrifically complementary set of skills, with the crisp boxing and the takedowns and the takedown defense and so on.

    Don't forget: with the exception of Anderson Silva and the third round against Tim Boetsch, Okami hasn't tasted defeat in the past three-and-a-half years.

    Okami, Unanimous decision

     

    Craig Amos:

    The blueprint to beat Okami is pressure and that meshes with Souza's approach quite well. He might not get the takedown very easily, but he'll get the job done all the same. It will be close, though.

    Souza, Unanimous Decision

     

    Sean Smith:

    As great as Souza's jiu-jitsu is, he's going to have a tough time submitting Okami, who has never been forced to tap in 36 career fights.

    Souza will make Okami work for takedowns and may even put the Japanese fighter in some bad spots with his improving striking. However, Okami's judo against the cage will give him the edge on the scorecards. 

    Okami, Unanimous Decision

     

    Riley Kontek:

    It seems everybody thinks that Ronaldo Souza is the next challenger to the middleweight title, once Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva sort things out. The thing is, despite his amazing ground game and improved striking, a grinder is going to give him a tough time.

    Yushin Okami is a tough fight for anybody, so look for him to make this an ugly fight with lots of clinch work that favors the Japanese fighter on the judge's scorecards.

    Okami, Unanimous Decision

     

    James MacDonald:

    If Okami had a decent chin and a possessed a little more grit, he’d be a world-beater. As it is, he’s still pretty formidable. Unfortunately, that may not be good enough against “Jacare”.

    The Brazilian has looked incredible recently, seemingly transforming himself into a well-rounded mixed martial artist over the course of the last year. Okami may be in for a long night.

    Souza, Unanimous Decision

     

Glover Teixeira vs. Ryan Bader

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    Scott Harris:

    I drank the Glover Teixeira Kool-Aid a long time ago. I quaff it straight from the side of the pitcher, and I don't see any reason to put the pitcher down now. I'd pick him in every phase and subphase of this fight.

    He's not exactly Junior dos Santos in the striking phase but he'll have enough to hand Bader his second knockout loss.

    Teixeira, TKO, Rd. 3

     

    Craig Amos:

    This might be the final pit-stop on Teixeira's run to a title shot. All he has to do is best Bader. Luckily, he's better on the feet as well as the ground, so as long as he can avoid being smothered for the entirety of the bout, he'll be that one step closer.

    Teixeira, Submission, Rd. 2

     

    Sean Smith:

    With no wins over top-10 light heavyweights, Teixeira isn't as proven a contender as his official No. 2 ranking suggests. That said, he looked like an elite 205-pounder against a motivated, albeit fading Quinton Jackson.

    Although Teixeira and Bader are both very solid grapplers, this one is likely to be won by the fighter who lands the first big shot, and a boxing edge has to given to the Brazilian.

    Teixeira, TKO, Rd. 1

     

    Riley Kontek:

    If Glover Teixeira wins, he is the top contender, and despite what you think of him and who he has beaten, Teixeira is top five in the 205-pound division. Bader needs to try and get Teixeira down, but that's easier said than done.

    Teixeira will dominate the striking, catch him and tap him on the ground to meet the winner of Jon Jones-Alex Gustafsson.

    Teixeira, Submission, Rd. 2

     

    James MacDonald:

    My only worry for Teixeira in this fight is that he ends up underneath Ryan Bader, getting dry-humped for five rounds. Still, I feel the Brazilian is good enough to stop that from happening. Wherever the fight ends up, Teixeira should have the advantage.

    Teixeira, Submission, Rd. 2

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