UFC 166

UFC 166: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Predictions

Craig AmosFeatured ColumnistOctober 18, 2013

UFC 166: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Predictions

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    Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

    The UFC Octagon will be back in use this Saturday night, which means it's time for Bleacher Report's fantastic five to provide you with some main card predictions.

    This time around, we look at a showcase headlined by the rubber match between heavyweight bruisers Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez and rounded out with an additional four solid contests. 

    On the whole, the card shakes out like this:

    • Junior dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez
    • Roy Nelson vs. Daniel Cormier
    • Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez
    • Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Shawn Jordan
    • John Dodson vs. Darrell Montague

    Check out the picks from Scott "Don't Call Me Gerald" Harris, Sean "Salmon" Smith, "Rowdy" Riley Kontek, James "Ares" MacDonald and yours truly, Craig "Max" Amos.

     

John Dodson vs. Darrell Montague

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    Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

    Craig Amos

    The UFC adds another promising flyweight in Montague, but they aren't taking their time to build him up. In fact, they're throwing the poor chap to the wolves. Dodson is a remarkably stiff test as a first UFC fight, and when you add in the novelty of the Octagon, it'll all prove too much to overcome for "The Mongoose."

    Dodson, Knockout, Rd. 2

     

    James MacDonald

    This is a great fight. Make sure your eyes are well lubricated beforehand or else you might blink and miss something spectacular. I’m a fan of Montague, but I have a feeling he’ll come unstuck against John Dodson, who has a ton of potential. I’m taking the former TUF winner by unanimous decision.

    Dodson, Unanimous Decision

     

    Riley Kontek

    I can't think of a better way to kick of the main card. Darrell Montague is one of the top flyweights in the world, but he is taking on a former title challenger and the quickest man at flyweight in John Dodson. Montague relies a lot on his wrestling and grappling to stifle opponents, but Dodson has top-notch takedown defense and wizard-like striking. Montague is durable and will give Dodson some tough spots to work out of, but "The Magician" will walk away victorious.

    Dodson, Unanimous Decision

     

    Sean Smith

    Montague hasn't competed inside the Octagon, but he's already one of the best flyweights in the world. He won't be eased into his UFC career, though. Dodson is also one of the top 125-pounders going and proved it against UFC champion Demetrious Johnson in a highly competitive matchup. This should be closely contested, but Dodson's experience on MMA's biggest stage should help him early on as Montague settles in and deals with the debut jitters that often hamper UFC newcomers.

    Dodson, Unanimous Decision

     

    Scott Harris

    Best fight on the non-event main card? Maybe. I just hope they give Montague another shot after Dodson knocks him out. It won't be fully representative.

    Dodson, TKO, Rd. 1

Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Shawn Jordan

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    Craig Amos

    If not for his suspect chin, I'd take Gonzaga in a heartbeat. But he does have a suspect chin, so I won't. Jordan possesses ungodly power and just needs to connect once to put an end to the first of three heavyweight main card fights this Saturday night.

    Jordan, Knockout, Rd. 2

     

    James MacDonald

    I shan’t lie. I have almost no interest in this contest, and I’m puzzled as to why it has been included on the main card. Those objections aside, this is Jordan’s fight to lose. For some reason, I’m leaning toward a knockout early in the first round.

    Jordan, Knockout, Rd. 1

     

    Riley Kontek

    One of the three heavyweight bouts on this card, Gabriel Gonzaga-Shawn Jordan has flown well under the radar. Jordan is a former football player with heavy hands, solid takedown defense and horse-like strength. He is likely the more athletic man, even though he gives up a little bit of size. Gonzaga also has deceptive power on the feet, though he would be wise to plant Jordan on the mat and work his world-class jiu-jitsu. Jordan will sprawl-and-brawl before eventually catching Gonzaga on the chin.

    Jordan, Knockout, Rd. 2

     

    Sean Smith

    If Gonzaga gets this fight to the ground, Jordan will be in serious danger. Jordan is not easy to take down, though, having only been dragged down once in four UFC bouts. If Jordan can keep this fight standing, he should be able to overwhelm the more experienced Gonzaga on pure athleticism.

    Jordan, TKO, Rd. 1

     

    Scott Harris

    Everyone thinks Gonzaga is done. Jordan's knockout of Pat Berry, maybe, was fluky. But jiu-jitsu ages relatively well. You know what? Go ahead and crank the upset alarms. The wily veteran teaches the young man what it's really like to fight in the UFC.

    Gonzaga, Submission, Rd. 2

Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez

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    Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    Craig Amos

    Picking a Sanchez fight is not the easiest thing in the world since you never really know what you're going to get. At times, The Ultimate Fighter 1 winner looks outstanding, while at others he's downright average. I'll go with the less athletic but far more consistent option in Melendez here, but I'll say he requires the full 15 to wrest the W.

    Melendez, Unanimous Decision

     

    James MacDonald

    Diego Sanchez’s self-belief is simply unshakable, but it’s tough for me to visualise a path to victory for the TUF 1 veteran. Gilbert Melendez does everything that little bit better than Sanchez, with the exception of his submission game. However, Melendez’s exceptional takedown defence is near-insurmountable for Sanchez to overcome. Expect “El Nino” to box his way to a lopsided unanimous decision.

    Melendez, Unanimous Decision

     

    Riley Kontek

    Former Strikeforce champ Gilbert Melendez takes on Diego Sanchez, whose recent fame comes from pulling a Van Helsing-like move when entering the Octagon against Jake Ellenberger. Melendez looked good in his bout with former champ Benson Henderson and is extremely well-rounded with great striking, wrestling and jiu-jitsu. Sanchez has slowed down as of recent due to the amount of punishment he has taken in his career. I just don't see any way the Cesar Gracie disciple takes a loss here, even though Sanchez is quite rugged.

    Melendez, Unanimous Decision

     

    Sean Smith

    Sanchez never makes things easy on any type of opponent, but he has had difficulty with good offensive wrestlers. Having taken down Benson Henderson and Josh Thompson in his past two outings, Melendez is good enough to ground Sanchez multiple times. Melendez is going to have a tough time finishing the durable Sanchez, but he should be able to come away with a victory on Saturday.

    Melendez, Unanimous Decision

     

    Scott Harris

    Melendez holds off the takedowns, keeps Sanchez at the end of his punches, and that's it.

    Melendez, Unanimous Decision

Roy Nelson vs. Daniel Cormier

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    Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sport

    Craig Amos

    Cormier plans on making a run at 205 next year, but not because he can't hack it at heavyweight. He'll prove he fits in just fine by dismantling a quality big boy in Roy Nelson at UFC 166, bullying him around the Octagon and avoiding his power. Cormier is rarely thrilling but always effective, and that should once more prove the case this Saturday.

    Cormier, Unanimous Decision

     

    James MacDonald

    This is a tough task for Roy Nelson, particularly if his training camp has been as disastrous as he recently let on. “Big Country” always has the potential to land that missile-like overhand right, but I don’t see him catching Daniel Cormier on Saturday night. The former Olympic wrestler is technically superior and will, if he so chooses, out-strike Nelson on the feet. He needn’t even mess with Roy’s underrated ground game.

    Cormier, Knockout, Rd. 3

     

    Riley Kontek

    This is the first fight ever where both parties signed to fight each other on a bar napkin. However, the excitement is pretty much going to stop there. Roy Nelson has been out-wrestled in the past by Frank Mir, who is not nearly on the level wrestling-wise as Daniel Cormier. Cormier will set up his takedowns with strikes, shoot and hold Big Country down. The judges will see a clear decision.

    Cormier, Unanimous Decision

     

    Sean Smith

    Nelson isn't going to be able to score a takedown and work from the top against an Olympic wrestler in Cormier, so his only shot at scoring an upset win at UFC 166 may be to land one of his huge overhand rights or right uppercuts. Cormier should be able to limit the risk of getting hit with Nelson's right hand by dirty boxing against the cage and mixing in takedowns en route to a decision victory.

    Cormier, Unanimous Decision

     

    Scott Harris

    I just heard some burbling sound. It's Roy Nelson, after being smothered to death by Cormier. For the record, Nelson is an outstanding grappler, and his gut and bird's nest beard tend to occlude that. Fact is, Cormier will be better prepared, though, and he has to get this win before he drops to 205. Burble on, Roy. Burble on.

    Cormier, Unanimous Decision

Junior dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez

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    Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    Craig Amos

    With each guy owning a win over the other, there is no doubt that either one could take the rubber match. But what's more convincing, a 1:21 knockout or 25 minutes of utter destruction? To me, Velasquez proved that he has more tools the last time these two hooked em' up, and I see him taking the lead in the trilogy in what will be the most competitive match of the three.

    Velasquez, Unanimous Decision

     

    James MacDonald

    Boy, this is a tough fight to call. The second fight may have given the false impression that Velasquez will simply run through dos Santos again, but most of the Brazilian’s problems stemmed from his lacklustre cardio—lacklustre by Cain’s standards, I hasten to add. If dos Santos has managed to address that one issue, we’re talking about a pick ‘em fight. All that being said, my money is going on the champion to retain his title via decision. I expect a much closer fight this time around, though.

    Velasquez, Unanimous Decision

     

    Riley Kontek

    The rubber match is here, and it is going to be glorious. The big question in this fight is has Junior dos Santos figured out his gas tank following the drubbing Cain Velasquez gave him last time? His takedown defense was solid until he got exhausted. Cigano's best chance is landing a bomb early like he did in their first fight, but I think Velasquez is cautious and smart enough to avoid that shot. Velasquez will again out-wrestle dos Santos on his way to a decision.

    Velasquez, Unanimous Decision

     

    Sean Smith

    The main lesson to be taken from their first two fights is that dos Santos needs to beat Velasquez early. Otherwise, he isn't going to beat him at all, as Velasquez's pace will drain dos Santos' energy and punching power before long. As long as he weathers dos Santos' early storm, Velasquez should retain his belt on Saturday.

    Velasquez, Unanimous Decision

     

    Scott Harris

    If the aliens came down from space right now and demanded that we send one person to confront their unseen champion in hand-to-hand combat for the fate of the entire race, do you know who I'm sending? Who? It's Cain Velasquez. Junior dos Santos is the greatest heavyweight on Planet Earth right now not named Cain Velasquez. Cain will establish that, for good and all, this Saturday.

    Velasquez, TKO, Rd. 4

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