UFC 170 Preliminary Card Predictions

Riley KontekFeatured ColumnistFebruary 20, 2014

UFC 170 Preliminary Card Predictions

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    Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Spor

    UFC 170 limps toward the finish line this weekend, as the card headlined by women's bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey and Sara McMann is afoot. It is a card that has been crippled by injury, as men such as Rashad Evans, Francisco Rivera and Bryan Caraway have all been pulled from the card.

    This card has some decent fights, but most of the title implications take place on the undercard. Jessica Eye and Alexis Davis battle for what could be top contention, while Raphael Assuncao meets Pedro Munhoz in a bout which could make him top contender with a win.

    It truly was a dismal night for my picks last time in Brazil. It wasn't even close, as I got hosed with a 1-6 record on the prelims. It has really been a rough start to 2014 for me, so we will see if UFC 170 changes my fortunes.

    Here are the preliminary card predictions for UFC 170.

     

    2014 Riley's Record: 16-17

    Last Event: UFC Fight Night 36 (1-6)

Yosdenis Cedeno vs. Ernest Chavez

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    Opening up the card will be the lightweights, as debuting fighters Ernest Chavez and Yosdenis Cedeno take a late-notice bout on the Fight Pass prelims.

    Chavez is undefeated at 6-0, as the BAMMA USA veteran has shown to be a good striker. He owns half of his wins by knockout, showing he is powerful and persistent in pursuing a stoppage with his hands.

    He is taking on a fellow striker in Cedeno who will also be headhunting in this fight. He is more experienced while fighting in the east for companies like CFA, where he has scored victories over tough competition.

    This will be a fun way to open the card. Both men move forward and throw heat in the process. However, I trust the skills of the Cuban more, as Cedeno will bang his way to a stoppage in a bout that gets the crowd going.

    Prediction: Cedeno def. Chavez via TKO

Erik Koch vs. Rafaello Oliveira

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    Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    The second of the Fight Pass prelims comes in the lightweight division, as former featherweight Erik Koch moves back up in weight to take on Brazilian grappler Rafaello Oliveira.

    Koch, who dropped his last two fights at 145, moved back up with a run at 155 on his mind. He is a striker that trains with the Duke Roufus camp, where he has not only strengthened his striking but developed a nice ground game as well.

    He takes on a man in Oliveira who has struggled to find consistency in the UFC. After going 1-2 in his first UFC stint, he was rehired, but is sitting on a 1-3 record in his current run with the company.

    This may be a "loser leaves town" bout, as the lightweight division continues to be a crowded mess of talent. Koch has shown sturdy takedown defense in the past and will be vastly superior on the feet. That will lead to a stoppage over "Tractor."

    Prediction: Koch def. Oliveira via TKO

Zach Makovsky vs. Josh Sampo

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    Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    We move on to the flyweight division on Fox Sports 1, where former Bellator champ Zach Makovsky takes on former CFA champ Josh Sampo. This fight could be vital in looking at the flyweight championship picture.

    Both men are wrestlers with good grappling acumen and a solid submission base. They have combined to tap out 12 opponents, while they have just one knockout between them. This will either turn into a grappling stalemate or an ugly brawl on the feet.

    Both are 1-0 in the UFC, but took on different level opponents. Makovsky won a convincing decision over UFC vet Scott Jorgensen, while Sampo choked out fellow debutant Ryan Benoit.

    This is going to be an extremely close fight. Both men are top prospects at 125 and have title aspirations on the horizon. I am going to go with the upset here, as Sampo may be the more solid striker, something which may make the difference.

    Prediction: Sampo def. Makovsky via decision

Cody Gibson vs. Aljamain Sterling

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    A pair of late replacements are set to square off with one another in the bantamweight division, as highly touted Aljamain Sterling meets Cody Gibson in their respective debuts. The original bout was supposed to be between Lucas Martins and Bryan Caraway, but Caraway dropped out to injury, setting up Martins-Sterling. Then, Martins suffered an injury, giving Gibson the opportunity to fight here.

    Sterling is a wrestler who has developed a reputation as a terror on the ground. To go along with his collegiate background, he has added a nasty submission game that has seen him tap out half of his opponents.

    He is training at Serra-Longo Fight Team, the same camp that hosts UFC champ Chris Weidman. He is getting great training and had more notice of this fight than Gibson.

    Gibson is more of a well-rounded fighter, though it is his striking that is vital in this fight. While Sterling has competence on the feet, he would rather get this fight down, so Gibson needs to be wary of that.

    Sterling is one of the best prospects at 135 pounds, and Gibson is a tough customer. That will make this an interesting fight, but in the end, Sterling's power on the ground will prove to be too much for "The Renegade."

    Prediction: Sterling def. Gibson via submission

Raphael Assuncao vs. Pedro Munhoz

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    Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

    Next up are the bantamweights, as Raphael Assuncao takes on late-notice replacement and RFA champ Pedro Munhoz. Munhoz steps in for Francisco Rivera, who was injured in training in the lead-up for this fight.

    Both men have a similar skill set, which could make this an interesting chess match. They are jiu-jitsu fighters that are developing their striking, though it can be asserted that Assuncao has advanced on the feet more.

    The big thing with this fight will be experience. While Munhoz is undefeated against some good competition, Assuncao has been competing at a high level for a long time and has taken on higher level competition than Munhoz.

    I really wouldn't be surprised if Munhoz scores the upset here. However, I am going to bet on Assuncao, who is the better striker and has Octagon experience already.

    Prediction: Assuncao def. Munhoz via decision

Jessica Eye vs. Alexis Davis

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    Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Spor

    The headliner of the prelims comes in the women's bantamweight division, as former top flyweight Jessica Eye takes on Canadian Alexis Davis in what could be a bout that thrusts one lady into title talks.

    Eye has proved that the move up from flyweight hasn't affected her against larger opponents, as she beat Sarah Kaufman on the scorecards in her debut. However, that fight was overturned due to a drug test, effectively halting the momentum from the fight.

    The question here for Eye is will the distraction of the failed drug test at UFC 166 affect her camp for this fight? She is a great striker with underrated ground skills, but if her focus isn't where it should be, she could be in for a rough night against Davis.

    Davis is a jiu-jitsu black belt who has improved her striking, as seen in her last fight. She is already 2-0 in the UFC, owning decision wins over Rosi Sexton and Liz Carmouche. The Carmouche bout was especially impressive, as she showed great takedown defense while battering the former title contender.

    Davis seems to be on the fast track to a title shot and will continue to thrive here. She will mix in takedowns and decent striking to earn a decision over the ultra-tough Eye.

    Prediction: Davis def. Eye via decision