UFC Fight Night 44: Preliminary Card Predictions
If you're not busy this week, there is plenty of UFC to be watched. That's because they will be holding events twice on Saturday.
The second event of the weekend comes live on Fox Sports 1 from San Antonio. Headlined by featherweight contenders Cub Swanson and Jeremy Stephens, the event promises to be exciting from the top to the bottom.
UFC 174 was good to me when it came to the prelim predictions. I keep separating myself from the .500 mark, as I continue to climb up the win percentage ladder.
So, who will win this Saturday on the prelims in San Antonio? Let's take a look at the five fights.
2014 Riley's Record: 81-52
Last Event: UFC 174 (4-2)
Alexey Oleinik vs. Anthony Hamilton
The one and only fight on Fight Pass takes place in the heavyweight division, as longtime vet Alexey Oleinik makes his UFC debut opposite Greg Jackson-disciple and fellow debutant Anthony Hamilton.
Hamilton is a big heavyweight at 6'5", 265 pounds. He has really rebounded his career since two straight losses in 2012, winning six straight fights over the likes of TUF 10 vet Darrill Schoonover, Canadian super-prospect Smealinho Rama and Matt Kovacs. Hamilton is a knockout artist with great power.
Oleinik, known as "The Boa Constrictor," lives up to his nickname with his amazing choke variety. The 37-year-old grappler finds himself on a nine-fight win streak, with wins in that time over Mirko Cro Cop, Dion Staring, Jeff Monson and Tony Lopez. His trademark is the Ezekiel choke, something rarely seen in MMA.
If Oleinik can't get Hamilton down, he is in for a long night. Hamilton has good defense on the shot and has vastly improved in the last two years. If he doesn't knock Oleinik out, he will outstrike him to a clear-cut decision.
Prediction: Hamilton def. Oleinik via decision
Ray Borg vs. Shane Howell
Kicking things off on the televised preliminary card are the flyweights, as Ray Borg takes on late-replacement fighter Shane Howell. Borg was originally supposed to fight Ryan Benoit, but Benoit had to bow out due to an injury.
Howell, who is riding a six-fight win streak, has not fought since March 2012. The Oklahoman is a Bellator vet who likes fighting on the ground, using ground strikes and submissions to stifle opponents. He takes this fight on just over a week's notice.
Borg is a ground fighter as well, though he has been more proficient than Howell. In his UFC debut, he dropped a close decision to Dustin Ortiz in a bout I personally thought Borg won. Wins over Nick Urso and Jeimeson Saudino via submission show Borg is the future of the division.
Howell was brought in to make sure this fight stayed on the card. Borg is vastly superior and should win this easily.
Prediction: Borg def. Howell via submission
Marcelo Guimaraes vs. Andy Enz
Next up are the middleweights, as TUF 17 vet Andy Enz makes his sophomore effort in the UFC against Brazilian Marcelo Guimaraes.
Known as "Tank Mode," Enz is a tough customer and can take some serious punishment, as seen in his elimination fight on TUF against Uriah Hall. He is a submission grappler with underrated stand-up, owning six wins via submission. He dropped his debut to Clint Hester, where he was outstruck by the former boxer.
Guimaraes is a jiu-jitsu fighter whose cardio is something of a question mark. He won a close fight over Dan Stittgen in his UFC debut but was brutally knocked out by Hyun Gyu Lim in his sophomore fight with the company. He needs to get this fight down to be successful.
On the feet, Enz is superior to the Brazilian. He needs to use his takedown defense here to keep Guimaraes at bay. He will do that and wear out Guimaraes for the victory.
Prediction: Enz def. Guimaraes via decision
Johnny Bedford vs. Cody Gibson
Moving on, we go to the bantamweight division, as TUF 14 vet Johnny Bedford looks to defend his home state against late replacement Cody Gibson. Bedford's original opponent, Rani Yahya, was set to score a grudge rematch, but he suffered an injury in training.
Bedford is a wrestler with good ground strikes and decent submissions. Though he likes to fight on the ground, he has suffered nine losses via submission. Bedford opened his UFC career with two knockouts, putting down Louis Gaudinot and Marcos Vinicius. He then lost to Bryan Caraway before taking a no-contest from a clash of heads against Yahya.
Gibson is a striker with good kicks and knockout power. He also has a good guillotine choke, which could come in handy if Bedford shoots in on him. In his UFC debut, he dropped a decision to top prospect Aljamain Sterling, who outhustled Gibson in an entertaining bout.
Gibson is going to give Bedford a tough fight, but Bedford is an aggressive guy who will look to ground Gibson. It will be a close bout, but Bedford's wrestling should prevail.
Prediction: Bedford def. Gibson via unanimous decision
Colton Smith vs. Carlos Diego Ferreira
Headlining the prelims are a pair of lightweights, as TUF 16 winner Colton Smith takes on top prospect newcomer Carlos Diego Ferreira.
Smith is a wrestler who has poor striking and a top-position-dependent style. After beating Mike Ricci to become a TUF champion, Smith has been knocked out by Robert Whittaker and choked out by Michael Chiesa. At 3-3, he is lucky to even have a job in the UFC still.
Ferreira makes his UFC debut after a 9-0 run in the Texas regional scene, including Legacy FC. His biggest wins to date come against UFC vet Carlo Prater and Strikeforce vet Jorge Patino, both of whom he beat via decision. He is a jiu-jitsu fighter who has decent stand-up, better than that of Smith.
Smith needs to get a takedown, but a ground battle with Ferreira is no picnic. On the feet, Smith will get lit up and desperately shoot in. Ferreira is a better grappler and will likely tap him out.
Prediction: Ferreira def. Smith via submission