UFC

UFC Fight Night 41/TUF Brazil 3 Finale: B/R Staff Main Card Predictions

Riley KontekFeatured ColumnistMay 29, 2014

UFC Fight Night 41/TUF Brazil 3 Finale: B/R Staff Main Card Predictions

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    The UFC comes to you this weekend with two cards on Saturday. That's not a typo: There will be two events that fans will need to keep their eyes on.

    The first is UFC Fight Night 41, live from Germany. That card will be headlined by middleweight contenders Gegard Mousasi and Mark Munoz, with support from a bunch of European talent.

    Then, we have The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3 Finale live from, well, Brazil. That card will host a heavyweight main event between Stipe Miocic and normal light heavyweight Fabio Maldonado, as well as the finals from the two weight classes on the Brazilian version of the reality show.

    Ready for some picks? Of course you are. Here as always to hopefully straighten you out are Scotty Harris, Sean E. Smith, Jimmy MacDonald, Craiger Amos and me, Riley Kontek.

2014 Records

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    As you can see, the rankings have stayed pretty similar in the last few events. The kings of the mountain are "Canadian Crippler" Craig Amos and "American Bad Boy" Riley Kontek. They hold a two-fight lead over "The Scottish Scorcher" James MacDonald, who continues to nip at their heels.

    Fellow Americans Scott Harris and Sean Smith lead up the rear, just shy of the 50-win mark at this point. Unless they have a total meltdown this weekend, they should join the 50-win club with the rest of the group.

    We are approaching the halfway mark of 2014, so it's still anyone's game. The current rankings are below.

    Riley Kontek: 52-29-1

    Craig Amos: 52-29-1

    James MacDonald: 50-31-1

    Scott Harris: 49-32-1

    Sean Smith: 47-34-1

TUF Brazil 3 Finale Quick Picks

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    You're telling me we have to analyze two cards?! We have families, dammit!

    On the real, when it comes to these two-a-day cards, we plan on giving you picks for both cards but only breaking down one of them. This time, the German card is the lucky card that gets more attention.

    However, we don't want to leave you without our picks for the Brazil card.

    As you can see, our staff unanimously went with Rony Jason, Warlley Alves, Demian Maia and Stipe Miocic on the main card. One fight split 3-2.

    The heavyweight final of TUF: Brazil 3 was the one that had dissension among the group since it's such a close matchup. James MacDonald and Scott Harris both went with the more experienced Vitor Miranda, while the rest took a gamble on the younger Antonio Carlos Jr.

     Rony Jason vs. Robbie PeraltaWarlley Alves vs. Marcio AlexandreVitor Miranda vs. Antonio Carlos Jr.Demian Maia vs. Alexander YakovlevStipe Miocic vs. Fabio Maldonado
    Riley KontekJasonAlvesCarlos Jr.MaiaMiocic
    Craig AmosJasonAlvesCarlos Jr.MaiaMiocic
    James MacDonaldJasonAlvesMirandaMaiaMiocic
    Scott Harris JasonAlves MirandaMaia Miocic
    Sean SmithJasonAlvesCarlos Jr. MaiaMiocic

Tom Niinimaki vs. Niklas Backstrom

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    Kontek

    After seeing Tom Niinimaki upset and beat Rani Yahya at his own game in his UFC debut, it's hard to see him losing to a newcomer here. Yes, Niklas Backstrom is a very good fighter and has a good future in the sport, but the late notice against a high-quality opponent will be his downfall here. The Finn should finish him to open the main card.

    Niinimaki, Submission, Rd. 2

     

    Amos

    It was kind of the Washington Capitals to let their star playmaker test his mettle in the Octagon, but I'm not sure the move is going to allow Backstrom to win for a change. Niinimaki looked awesome on the mat against Rani Yahya, and I'll say he once again relies on his grappling skills to get the W.

    Niinimaki, Unanimous Decision

     

    MacDonald

    I don’t exactly expect this one to bring the house down. I enjoy grappling as much as the next guy, but the competitors had better be active to hold my interest. Both men excel on the ground, but Niinimaki is the superior technician.

    Niinimaki, Unanimous Decision

     

    Harris

    Both of these men are grapplers, and fans should expect this fight to play out on the mat. Backstrom is still green and took this fight on late notice, so I expect Niinimaki, who showed great poise in outlasting Rani Yahya his last time out, to prevail.

    Niinimaki, Unanimous Decision

     

    Smith

    There aren't many fighters who look to beat Rani Yahya on the ground, but that is what Niinimaki did in his UFC debut in November 2013. Niinimaki was originally lined up to meet Thiago Tavares this weekend, which would have been a deserved step up in competition. Instead, Niinimaki gets Backstrom, who doesn't have nearly as much experience against high-level competition, and that will hurt him.

    Niinimaki, Submission, Rd. 2

Luke Barnatt vs. Sean Strickland

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    Kontek

    Two of the UFC's best middleweight prospects have been matched up against each other instead of built up more. That is kind of troubling to me. That being said, this fight should be interesting, especially considering Luke Barnatt's size (6'6"). He is a good striker and uses range well, but Sean Strickland is a good striker as well who will wrestle him to the ground. That will lead to the Brit's downfall.

    Strickland, Submission, Rd. 2

     

    Amos

    I would have liked to have seen both Barnatt and Strickland continue to rise slowly and steadily, but I guess that's not in the cards. At least not for both men. It's a tough one to call, but I was just so impressed with Strickland in his UFC debut I can't go against him here.

    Strickland, Submission, Rd. 2

     

    MacDonald

    Barnatt is a lot better than certain MMA journalists (who shall remain nameless) give him credit for being. He’s still a little too upright for my liking, but his striking is coming along nicely. Strickland is another fine prospect, but Barnatt is the superior martial artist, for my money. I’m taking the Englishman by late TKO.

    Barnatt, TKO, Rd. 3

     

    Harris

    I don't like this bit of matchmaking from the UFC. These are two very fine prospects, and one of them is going to lose a lot of momentum Saturday night. Why cut off your nose to spite your face? Anyway, it's hard not to love Barnatt's size and kickboxing game, but here's guessing Strickland uses his power wrestling and beyond-his-years fight acumen to get this one to the ground and keep it there.

    Strickland, Unanimous Decision

     

    Smith

    These up-and-comers both have a lot of potential and are equally capable of picking up a win on Saturday. With three UFC wins under his belt, Barnatt is slightly more proven than Strickland, who is coming off a win over Bubba McDaniel in his first trip to the Octagon. Essentially only because I have a better feel for Barnatt's abilities, I'm going with the Englishman.

    Barnatt, Unanimous Decision

Francis Carmont vs. CB Dollaway

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    Kontek 

    Before falling to Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, Francis Carmont was a freight train running through the competition. However, taking on a Top Five guy like Souza has put him back in the human category. As for CB Dollaway, he has been good at taking out middle-of-the-road competition. That said, Carmont is not middle-of-the-road competition. He will use his size and athleticism to overwhelm Dollaway in another grinding decision.

    Carmont, Unanimous Decision

     

    Amos

    Carmont's long-awaited step up in competition ended in defeat, but that could very well be the learning experience he needs to take his game to the next level. In Dollaway he finds a viable measuring stick, and I think the results will be promising.

    Carmont, Submission, Rd. 2

     

    MacDonald

    I see Carmont’s name on the card, and my heart immediately sinks. Don’t be ashamed to take a bathroom break during this one, folks. Dollaway is improving, but the Frenchman isn’t an ideal matchup for the TUF veteran. I’m going to have to go with Carmont by yawn-inducing decision.

    Carmont, Unanimous Decision

     

    Harris

    Get ready for a sludgefest. Dollaway looked good in his last fight, but Carmont is going to break out that sticky clinch game and keep "The Doberman" (is that still Dollaway's nickname?) under wraps.

    Carmont, Unanimous Decision

     

    Smith

    Carmont is the better fighter in this matchup, but Dollaway could prove to be a tough opponent stylistically. He might be one of the more underrated wrestlers in the middleweight division, which means Carmont isn't going to be able to grind out another decision win. That may be a blessing in disguise, though, as he has the clinch striking to make Dollaway pay, should he fail on an attempted takedown.

    Carmont, TKO, Rd. 2

Mark Munoz vs. Gegard Mousasi

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    Kontek

    In my opinion, Mark Munoz has been oversold and overrated for a while now. However, he does have the skills that have defeated Gegard Mousasi in the past. But that's the thing; it was the past. Mousasi has tightened up his takedown defense since his Strikeforce days and has vastly superior striking to Munoz. He will use rangy striking to outpoint Munoz.

    Mousasi, Unanimous Decision

     

    Amos

    I've long been skeptical that Mousasi has the talent to match his reputation, but I find myself partial to him in this matchup. While Munoz could win the fight by implementing his wrestling to make it a grind, I see the more probable scenario playing out of Mousasi maintaining distance and picking his opponent apart. 

    Mousasi, TKO, Rd. 3

     

    MacDonald

    Despite his outstanding amateur wrestling credentials, Munoz isn’t the most potent MMA wrestler around. Unlike a Georges St-Pierre or Jon Jones, he doesn’t set up his shots nearly as well as he needs to. However, that may not be an issue against Mousasi, whose defensive wrestling leaves a lot to be desired. I expect Munoz to be able to score the takedown consistently enough to earn the decision.

    Munoz, Unanimous Decision

     

    Harris

    What am I missing on this one? I like Mousasi as much as anyone and root for him to have a successful (or at least stable) career from here on out. I also understand that he's an outside fighter who is hard to get to. But I think Munoz gets to him. His takedowns are very hard to stop, and he'll use heavy top control to stifle any Mousasi submission attempts. Sound the upset alarms.

    Munoz, Unanimous Decision

     

    Smith

    Mousasi is an excellent striker, but Munoz will be the best wrestler he's faced in a long time and possibly in his entire MMA career. The NCAA champion wrestler will need to get Mousasi to the ground as quickly as he can, and I believe he will do so at least three times as he ground and pounds his way to a decision win.

    Munoz, Unanimous Decision

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