UFC on Fox 11: Preliminary Card Predictions
The Ultimate Fighter Nations Finale is complete. Round 2 of the UFC's events this week comes to you live Saturday in the form of UFC on Fox 11.
Headlined by top contenders Travis Browne and Fabricio Werdum, the card is completely stacked from top to bottom. Names such as Miesha Tate, Donald Cerrone, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Rafael dos Anjos reside on the card, which could result in some great fights and important moments in their respective divisions.
My underdog picks did not pan out in the last event. However, I will take a 5-3 record on that undercard, as it continues to improve my record slightly.
With that, let's take a look at the preliminary card fights and make some predictions.
2014 Riley's Record: 41-31
Last Event: TUF Nations Finale (5-3)
Jack May vs. Derrick Lewis
We kick off the card with two newcomers in the heavyweight division, as Josh Barnett teammate Jack May looks to make a successful debut against Derrick Lewis.
Lewis is a veteran of the Legacy FC promotion and was supposed to make his debut last year, but was unable due to injury. Lewis a big, quick, athletic banger with great striking and very heavy hands. He also violently put down Jared Rosholt, who in the UFC at this point.
May is a big heavyweight, standing at 6'8" with a long reach. He is also a striker, though he gets good reps with his ground and wrestling with Barnett and his team. His last fight was very impressive, downing Carl Seumanutafa with a head kick that was blocked but still rocked him.
Size could be a determining factor here for May, though Lewis is no small man himself at 6'3", 250-plus pounds. Lewis has all sorts of power and needs to get on the inside of May. From there, his power should take over.
Prediction: Lewis def. May via TKO
Mirsad Bektic vs. Chas Skelly
Next up, we move to the featherweight division with two bright newcomers, as Johny Hendricks teammate Chas Skelly makes his debut opposite top prospect Mirsad Bektic.
Skelly is a wrestler who has exploded to a perfect 11-0 record in pro MMA. He has fought in Bellator twice already, so he should be familiar with the bright lights. He also owns two wins over UFC employee Daniel Pineda, both of which he took in impressive fashion.
Bektic is also a good wrestler with heavy top position and good ground-and-pound. He is currently 7-0 in MMA, while taking fights in the reputable RFA, VFC and Titan FC promotions. He has only gone to a decision once.
Skelly is an excellent prospect with a great camp and the tools to be successful. However, I truly think Bektic is one of the best prospects in the sport and should take this in a technical chess match.
Prediction: Bektic def. Skelly via decision
Ray Borg vs. Dustin Ortiz
Next up are the flyweights, as Dustin Ortiz welcomes newcomer Ray Borg to the UFC. Ortiz was originally supposed to fight last weekend in Abu Dhabi, but his fight with Alptekin Ozkilic was cancelled.
Ortiz is a wrestler who has been working his striking with Duke Roufus. He had a nice come-from-behind win in his UFC debut when he stopped Jose Maria Tome with strikes, but he slipped up in a closely contested bout to John Moraga in his most recent outing. He is a durable fighter that is a tough matchup for most men in the division.
Borg is a relative newcomer to MMA, but he is undefeated at 6-0. He gets this fight on short notice (like Ortiz), but is coming off a win on April 4 against Nick Urso for the Legacy FC promotion. He has a good submission game, which is aided by his ability to force the fight to the ground.
Ortiz definitely has the experience and bright lights edge. He is durable and skilled, but so is Borg. I have a hunch on Borg and have been high on him since he defeated Jeimeson Saudino via rear-naked choke. Therefore, I will take Borg in a bout that was hard for me to pick a winner.
Prediction: Borg def. Ortiz via decision
Jordan Mein vs. Hernani Perpetuo
Next up are the welterweights, as Canadian striker Jordan Mein looks to get into the win column against Brazilian newcomer Hernani Perpetuo. Perpetuo stepped up for Santiago Ponzinibbio, who drooped this bout due to injury.
Mein entered the UFC when the Strikeforce fighters migrated over, and the striker has gone 1-1 since. He opened his UFC tenure with an impressive knockout of Dan Miller, but was promptly downed by Matt Brown in his follow-up. Most of his wins come via knockout, including his Strikeforce debut against Evangelista Santos.
Perpetuo is a Nova Uniao rep that is coming off an impressive title victory in Shooto Brazil over underrated Belgian Tommy Depret. He has beaten some of the best talent Brazil has to offer outside the UFC, including Andre Santos, Daniel Acacio and Wendell Marques Oliveira.
This should be an interesting fight, as both men are well-rounded and tough as nails. Mein will likely want to bang with Perpetuo, who also will not mind a striking battle. That said, Perpetuo would have an advantage securing the takedown and working from top position.
This will be my upset pick of the prelims. Mein may be a touch overrated and Perpetuo is a bad, bad man.
Prediction: Perpetuo def. Mein via decision
Caio Magalhaes vs. Luke Zachrich
We move on next to the middleweight division, as Brazilian UFC vet Caio Magalhaes welcomes late-replacement newcomer Luke Zachrich to the company. Zachrich takes this bout on about a week's notice for Josh Samman, who injured his leg before the fight could materialize.
Magalhaes is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist who has enjoyed an underrated 2-1 run with the UFC. After dropping his UFC debut to Buddy Roberts in 2012, he enjoyed a fruitful 2013 with a submission of Karlos Vemola and a good decision over Nick Ring.
Zachrich, a Bellator veteran, is 13-2 in his career thus far, with more than half of his wins coming by way of submission. He is currently riding a three-fight surge, including a tapout of Justin Gamble in his latest fight.
Magalhaes has fought higher-level competition than Zachrich and has the benefit of a full camp. Zachrich has also taken both of his losses via submission, which will play into the hands of Magalhaes.
Prediction: Magalhaes def. Zachrich via submission
Estevan Payan vs. Alex White
Next up are the featherweights, as UFC and Strikeforce veteran Estevan Payan meets newcomer and late-replacement Alex White. White steps in for Mike Brown, who initially stepped in for Sean Soriano in this bout.
Payan is a striker with a "go out on his shield" mentality. He is always in barn burners, unless he is taken down and beaten up on the mat like he was against Jeremy Stephens. This is a do-or-die situation for Payan, as he is 0-2 in the UFC.
White, on the other hand, is an undefeated prospect at 9-0. White is a finisher, only going to decision once and tapping out five opponents in that time. He has good upside and is young; plus he is 6'0", which is a good size for a featherweight.
Payan hasn't shown much to be excited about in terms going far in the UFC featherweight division. I think White has the style to beat him as well, as he will secure a takedown and beat Payan up for three rounds.
Prediction: White def. Payan via decision
Jorge Masvidal vs. Pat Healy
We move on to the lightweight division for the next bout, as veteran grinder Pat Healy looks to jump back into the win column opposite fellow Strikeforce veteran Jorge Masvidal.
Since entering the UFC, Masvidal has been nothing short of impressive, even with a loss on his record. After beating up Tim Means and choking out Michael Chiesa, Masvidal took on buzzsaw Rustam Khabilov and survived a deadly head kick to make it to a decision. He showed great toughness in that bout.
Healy is the wrestler to Masvidal's striker and loves taking opponents into deep water. He has run into some bad luck in the UFC, having a win over Jim Miller overturned due to a faulty drug test and taking losses to Khabib Nurmagomedov and Bobby Green.
Masvidal needs to stick and move in this bout, as staying out of the shooting distance of Healy is vital. That being said, Healy is extremely good at closing distance and imposing his will. Masvidal will make this a competitive fight, but Healy's hand will be raised when it's all said and done.
Prediction: Healy def. Masvidal via decision
Thiago Alves vs. Seth Baczynski
An exciting return is set to be made next in the welterweight division, as former title challenger Thiago Alves takes on the tough Seth Baczynski. This will be the first fight for Alves since March of 2012, as numerous injuries have kept him on the sidelines.
Alves is a technical, powerful Muay Thai stylist with deadly leg kicks, powerful knees and fast hands. He has been with the UFC since 2005, and in that time has run a record of 11-6 with wins over the likes of Josh Koscheck, Matt Hughes and Karo Parisyan.
Baczynski is a jack of all trades, but master of none. He is a wise game planner and always tries to play to his opponent's weakness. He won his last bout against Neil Magny, which reversed a two-fight skid to Brian Melancon and Mike Pierce. He has only gone to a winning decision twice, showing that he likes to finish men before the judges get involved.
Alves may have some rust on him since it has been over two years since he's last competed. However, his skills and athleticism are hard to pick against here, as he outclasses Baczynski on the feet.
Prediction: Alves def. Baczynski via TKO
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Rafael Dos Anjos
Headlining the prelims are a pair of top lightweight contenders, as surging Brazilian Rafael dos Anjos takes on Russian sambo specialist Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Dos Anjos has made a case that he is ready for a title shot as of late, as he is currently riding a five-fight win streak over the likes of Donald Cerrone, Evan Dunham and Mark Bocek. The jiu-jitsu stylist has added some good striking lately, as seen in his drubbing of George Sotiropoulos via knockout.
Nurmagomedov has a simple philosophy when he gets into the cage: Push forward, get the takedown and beat up whoever is in front of him. The undefeated Russian is 5-0 in the UFC, with wins over Pat Healy, Abel Trujillo and Thiago Tavares.
On the feet, Nurmagomedov and dos Anjos are somewhat similar, though I give the slight edge to the Russian. On the mat, dos Anjos will have a hard time putting Nurmagomedov on his back. Therefore, this matchup is great stylistically for Nurmagomedov, who takes the win here and rallies for a title shot.
Prediction: Nurmagomedov def. dos Anjos via decision