UFC 172: Preliminary Card Predictions
One of the biggest pay-per-views of 2014 is upon us this Saturday, as UFC 172 comes to you live from Baltimore. Headlined by a light heavyweight title fight between Jon Jones and Glover Teixeira, the card is stacked from top to bottom.
Before the main card and title fight, there is a stacked undercard that features stars and up-and-coming talent. From former title challenger Joseph Benavidez to Japanese legend Takanori Gomi, the prelims are bound to be great.
UFC on Fox 11 provided a nice night of predictions. Of the nine prelims predicted, six were correct, helping to improve this year's win-loss record.
With that, let's take a look at these prelims and make some predictions.
2014 Riley's Record: 47-34
Last Event: UFC on Fox 11 (6-3)
Chris Beal vs. Patrick Williams
Kicking off the prelims on Fight Pass are the bantamweights, as The Ultimate Fighter 18 veteran Chris Beal makes his UFC debut against fellow UFC debutant Patrick Williams.
Beal is a wrestler and boxer with great explosiveness and athleticism. He is undefeated as a pro, going 8-0 with a recent knockout of Keith Carson after TUF 18.
On the reality show, he defeated Sirwan Kakai in the elimination round to get into the house. However, in the quarterfinals, he was beaten by eventual champion Chris Holdsworth.
Williams is a Florida native with a 7-3 record. That being said, this is a huge step up in competition for him, as he hasn't faced anybody on Beal's level.
Williams likes to strike, although Beal is likely the quicker fighter on the feet. He should win this fight wherever it goes and could finish Williams with a patient approach.
Prediction: Beal def. Williams via TKO
Danny Castillo vs. Charlie Brenneman
Next up are two wrestlers in the lightweight division, as Team Alpha Male rep Danny Castillo takes on two-stint UFC vet Charlie Brenneman.
Castillo is one of the many Team Alpha Male guys who started as a wrestler but has greatly improved his striking under the tutelage of Duane Ludwig. He has quietly put together a nice resume in the UFC, going 6-3 since entering the company.
His wins include decisions over Joe Stevenson, Anthony Njokuani and Tim Means, where he used his wrestling and control. However, Brenneman may nullify Castillo's wrestling, which may make this a striking bout.
Brenneman relies heavily on wrestling and top pressure. After going 4-4 in his first stint with the company, he made a drop from welterweight and posted a 4-0 record in the regional circuit to get a call back from the company. However, he was outstruck and choked out by newcomer Beneil Dariush in his UFC return, which makes this a must-win fight for him.
As stated, the wrestling will likely cancel out, turning this into a kickboxing match. On the feet, I trust Castillo more, who should outbox Brenneman to a decision.
Prediction: Castillo def. Brenneman via decision
Jessamyn Duke vs. Bethe Correia
A pair of undefeated female bantamweight prospects will throw down next, as TUF 18 vet Jessamyn Duke takes on Brazilian Bethe Correia.
Duke is a physical specimen at 135 pounds, as the near 6'0" striker towers over her opponents. She is foremost a striker, using her length and range to keep opponents at a distance and outpoint them.
Her UFC debut saw her edge out Peggy Morgan, another hulking fighter, on the scorecards. Her clinch is solid, which is a complement to her striking, and she also is solid off her back.
Correia will be fighting at about a seven-inch height disadvantage, as the normal flyweight (125 pounds) will find herself in a great size mismatch. She likes to throw power punches, which can leave her vulnerable on the feet in terms of defense. She also has a solid ground game, which she should look to implement after closing the distance on Duke.
Duke's size in this fight is going to be a huge difference in how things go down. She will stick and move, looking to avoid a brawl and keeping this technical. She takes a decision.
Prediction: Duke def. Correia via decision
Takanori Gomi vs. Isaac Vallie-Flagg
The lightweights are up next, as Japanese legend Takanori Gomi looks to get back to the win column against Greg Jackson disciple Isaac Vallie-Flagg.
Gomi is a power puncher with solid wrestling who is a legend of Pride and Japanese MMA. He has been inconsistent in the UFC, going 3-4. That being said, he should be on a three-fight win streak, as his March 2013 defeat to Diego Sanchez was highly controversial.
Vallie-Flagg is a grinder who likes to brawl on the feet and mix in the clinch and ground game, which leads to the balanced approach that has made him successful. He constantly finds himself in close fights, which will be dangerous against a Gomi.
Gomi is the superior striker and should be able to stay off the ground with Vallie-Flagg. He will outbox Vallie-Flagg and bust him up, either finishing him late or earning a decision.
Prediction: Gomi def. Vallie-Flagg via decision
Joseph Benavidez vs. Tim Elliott
The main feature of the prelims comes in the form of a flyweight bout, as Joseph Benavidez takes on Tim Elliott.
Benavidez is another Team Alpha Male guy who was basically a wrestler until Duane Ludwig brought along his striking. Since dropping to 125 pounds, he has gone 5-2, with his only losses coming to champion Demetrious Johnson. He has beaten Yasuhiro Urushitani, Ian McCall, Darren Uyenoyama and Jussier da Silva during his flyweight stint, who are all high-quality guys.
Elliott is a Tasmanian devil whose aggressive and reckless style has earned him many fans. He is a wrestler with solid striking and an iron jaw, which make him a tough out for anybody. He is 2-2 in the UFC, with his only losses coming to title challengers John Dodson and Ali Bagautinov.
This will be a fun fight, but Benavidez is on another level than Elliott. He will outstrike and wrestle him but not finish him. It will be an entertaining 15 minutes.
Prediction: Benavidez def. Elliott via decision
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