UFC Fight Night 39 Preliminary Card Predictions
It has seemed like an eternity, but the UFC is back this weekend with a card from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Headlined by Roy Nelson and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, the 10-bout card has a mixture of veterans and prospects that should make for an interesting fight night.
The prelims have newcomers and familiar faces alike. Staples like Chris Camozzi and Thales Leites are joined by new employees like Jim Alers and Alan Omer to make a nice mix on the undercard for UFC fans to watch.
Our last set of prelim picks saw the bad come with the good. We stayed just above .500, but I'm certain the scrapped Diego Brandao-Will Chope fight only would have benefited my record.
Without further ado, here are the prelim picks for UFC Fight Night 39.
2014 Riley's Record: 33-28
Last Event: UFC Fight Night 38 (3-2)
Jim Alers vs. Alan Omer
Kicking off the prelims is a bout of premiering featherweights, as former Cage Warriors champion Jim Alers takes on Iraqi-German fighter Alan Omer.
Alers makes it to the UFC after a dazzling 5-0 run with Cage Warriors, which saw him capture the 145-pound strap. Alers is a grappler with great submission ability; nine of his 12 wins have ended with his opponent tapping out. He also has the wrestling chops to get guys down, which is essential when initiating a ground war.
Omer has a good ground game, too, but unlike Alers he needs to be on top to be more successful. Alers is good from any ground position. Omer is a powerful 145-pounder and has the ability to knock guy senseless with one punch.
Omer will likely get the Middle East home territory cheers, as seen recently when Cage Warriors was in Jordan and the Middle East fighters got huge ovations. That is not enough to fuel a fighter through a scrap, though, and Alers has more tools here. He should notch the victory with suffocating skill.
Prediction: Alers def. Omer via submission
Chris Camozzi vs. Andrew Craig
Next up, we move to the middleweight division in what could be a candidate for Fight of the Night, as TUF 11 alum Chris Camozzi meets the hard-nosed Andrew Craig in a pivotal bout.
Craig is a brawler who has made his UFC career on entertaining fights. After starting 2-0 with the UFC, including a come-from-behind head kick knockout against Rafael Natal, Craig has gone just 1-2 in his last three. His best bet is to try to make this an ugly fight and drag Camozzi to the mat.
That will be easier said than done, as Camozzi has solid takedown defense and polished Muay Thai skills. He has an underrated 6-4 record with the UFC, but has unfortunately fallen in his last two bouts against top guys in Thales Leites and Lorenz Larkin.
Craig can incite a brawl, but Camozzi has been in a few and tends to stay technical. I think Camozzi will stave off any takedowns attempted and avoid getting sloppy, outstriking Craig to a decision.
Prediction: Camozzi def. Craig via decision
Thales Leites vs. Trevor Smith
The next bout will see us stay in the middleweight division, as former UFC title challenger Thales Leites squares off with Strikeforce import and UFC vet Trevor Smith.
Leites is a ground fighter through and through. He is a grinder that has a heavy top game and great fundamentals, as well as a hankering for the arm-triangle choke. Since getting the call back to the UFC, Leites has been almost flawless, winning easy decisions over Chris Camozzi and Ed Herman.
Smith is a jiu-jitsu fighter as well, but would be wise to avoid a ground battle with Leites. After dropping a fun firefight to Herman in his debut with the UFC, Smith won a close bout against Brian Houston in his latest outing. He'll need a much better go-around than last time, as Houston came close to snagging victory from him.
If Smith has the hips, he must avoid takedowns at all costs and make this into a sloppy brawl. That is his best key to victory. However, Leites has faced tougher guys in the past and will impose his will here.
Prediction: Leites def. Smith via submission
Rani Yahya vs. Johnny Bedford
The bantamweights are next up, as Rani Yahya drops back to 135 to take on TUF 14 competitor Johnny Bedford.
Yahya is a world-class jiu-jitsu fighter whose entire game revolves around putting his opponent on the mat. He was on a three-fight surge until his latest offering, a bout in which he was surprisingly outgrappled and outhustled by Tom Niinimaki.
Bedford has not been the busiest man since entering the UFC, as injuries have kept him from being as active as he would like. Since joining the UFC in 2011, Bedford has just three fights, beating Louis Gaudinot and Marcos Vinicius before getting tapped out by Bryan Caraway.
Bedford will be the bigger, stronger guy, but in looking at Yahya's performance against Mike Brown, that doesn't mean the Brazilian will be outwrestled. He has a much better submission game, which is Bedford's kryptonite.
Prediction: Yahya def. Bedford via submission
Jared Rosholt vs. Daniel Omielanczuk
Headlining the prelims will be the big boys, as heavyweights Jared Rosholt and Daniel Omielanczuk look to continue their winning ways.
Rosholt has a tremendous wrestling pedigree, though the Oklahoma St. alum has added a vicious power-punching game to his arsenal. He looked just average in his debut against Walt Harris, but was able to notch the win. He was set to have a follow-up bout in Chicago against Alexey Oleinik, but the Ukranian was sidelined by an injury close to the bout date.
Omielanczuk is similarly 1-0 with the UFC, besting Nandor Guelmino via knockout at UFC 165. He has a nice submission game, but his power punching is something Rosholt needs to avoid.
Cardio will be a question for both men here, so whoever gets a better pace is in better shape. Rosholt's wrestling is too good to ignore, so he should use that and finish the Pole late.
Prediction: Rosholt def. Omielanczuk via TKO