UFC Fight Night 45: B/R Staff Main Card Predictions

Riley Kontek@@BigRIlesMMAFeatured ColumnistJuly 15, 2014

UFC Fight Night 45: B/R Staff Main Card Predictions

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    We have a busy week ahead, folks. We have UFC Fight Night 45 on Wednesday in Atlantic City and UFC Fight Night 46 in Ireland on Saturday.

    Both cards promise a bunch of great action. First up is UFC Fight Night 45, which is headlined by Donald Cerrone and Jim Miller. It is a fight that has Fight of the Night written all over it.

    Our crack team is back to make some predictions for you. Our usual team of all-stars is here to guide you through both events. Joining me, Riley Kontek, are Scott Harris, Sean Smith, Craig Amos and James MacDonald.

    Let's get it on!

Staff Records

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    Ladies and gentlemen, I am pulling away. Like a thoroughbred that hits his stride at the decisive moment, I have widened the gap from the rest of the pack.

    Craig Amos is still within shouting distance. After him, the gap widens even more.

    James MacDonald, Sean Smith and Scott Harris are all very close to one another in the bottom three spots. They are going to use the next few events to jockey for position and get back into the race.

    Here are the records so far in 2014.

    Riley Kontek: 81-39-1

    Craig Amos: 78-42-1

    James MacDonald: 73-47-1

    Scott Harris: 72-48-1

    Sean Smith: 71-49-1

Lucas Martins vs. Alex White

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    Kontek: I thought Lucas Martins looked good at bantamweight, but if he feels most comfortable at 145, then more power to him. Martins has devastating striking but an untested ground game. White is also a strong puncher and could surprise some people. I just think Martins will be too much, but White could steal it if he takes Martins to deep water and tests his cardio.

    Martins, Unanimous Decision


    Amos: Two up-and-comers kick off the Fight Night 45 main card. White enters having won a quick UFC debut, while Martins comes in having reeled off back-to-back victories, both of the stoppage variety. I'm a bit iffy here, but I'll go with White.

    White, Unanimous Decision


    MacDonald: I’m not sure which way to go on this one. Both have looked good in their short UFC careers, so this is a tossup. I think I’m going to stick my neck out and give White my vote.

    White, Unanimous Decision


    Smith: Martins has rebounded well from a loss to Edson Barboza in his UFC debut, but the Brazilian has been facing low-ranked opponents. White is a serious prospect coming off a win over a tough veteran in Estevan Payan. He might not be as skilled when standing as Barboza, but White is dangerous enough to hand Martins another knockout loss.

    White, TKO, Rd. 1


    Harris: I always get overexcited for prospects, it seems, but seriously, watch out for Alex White. He's good at everything, as evidenced by his parallel amateur grappling and pro boxing careers. He should have minimal trouble with the aggressive but rough-hewn Martins.

    White, TKO, Rd. 2

John Lineker vs. Alp Ozkilic

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    Kontek: If you want some excitement, put a bet down on whether John Lineker makes weight. I'm sure there are 2-1 odds that he has to get the towel out for his weigh-in. Anyways, come fight night, Lineker always has a puncher's chance at winning. He has concrete for hands and reckless intent. However, his weakness is his ground game. Ozkilic is a wrestler, so I will take the upset here.

    Ozkilic, Unanimous Decision


    Amos: I'm pretty sure I know who is going to win this fight. I'm more curious to learn whether Lineker manages to make weight.

    Lineker, KO, Rd. 2


    MacDonald: I just hope Lineker makes weight here. It’s getting to the stage that the UFC is going to have to cut him if he misses the flyweight limit again. Oh, and I see him beating Ozkilic either way.

    Lineker, KO, Rd. 2


    Smith: Four wins in a row put Lineker within striking distance of a shot at the flyweight championship. However, the fighters he defeated on that run are nowhere near the top of the 125-pound class. Ozkilic isn't either, but his wrestling background could be enough to hand Lineker a second straight loss should the Brazilian have another tough weight cut.

    Ozkilic, Unanimous Decision


    Harris: How about you just make weight, John Lineker? If he can do that, that KO power and sneaky-good wrestling should be more than enough to counter what Ozkilic, who is primarily a mat technician but not an overwhelming one, can bring to the table.

    Lineker, TKO, Rd. 2

Justin Salas vs. Joe Proctor

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    Kontek: How this fight made it on the main card over a couple of other fights is puzzling to me, but maybe it's got Fight of the Night written all over it. Proctor is a jiu-jitsu guy whose striking has greatly improved. Salas is a wrestler with who has also put together some decent striking ability. I think their striking will cancel out, so expect the wrestling of Salas to make the difference here.

    Salas, Unanimous Decision


    Amos: Neither Salas nor Proctor has a terrific foothold in the UFC right now, so both need a victory here. Salas has impressed me at times, displaying the type of tools he'll need to take out someone of Proctor's level. If he comes in and fights to his potential, it's Salas' bout to lose.

    Salas, Unanimous Decision


    MacDonald: Both men are decent fighters, but it’s hard to imagine either ever competing amongst the elite. Look for this to be a close contest in every department. However, Salas has been the more impressive fighter throughout is UFC tenure, so he’s my pick.

    Salas, Unanimous Decision


    Smith: Now 3-2 inside the Octagon, Salas has looked good at times, but he still hasn't completely answered questions about his issues on the ground. Three of his five losses have come via submission. Although he hasn't shown it much against UFC opponents, Proctor is good enough on the ground to take advantage of Salas' shortcomings.

    Proctor, Submission, Rd. 1


    Harris: Granted, it was against Ben Wall, but Salas looked terrific in his last fight, earning a clean first-round KO victory. He'll keep it rolling in this battle of the journeymen, thanks to a slight edge in the striking department.

    Salas, TKO, Rd. 2

Rick Story vs. Leonardo Mafra

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    Kontek: I was super stoked for John Howard vs. Rick Story—for this fight, not so much. Leonardo Mafra definitely earned his way back to the UFC, but Story is going to be too much for him here. The vet's striking and wrestling will be too much for Mafra.

    Story, TKO, Rd. 2


    Amos: Story has been wildly inconsistent during his UFC tenure, so picking his fights against anyone is a challenge, especially when his opponent is making his UFC return. I'll take the vet, though, believing that his high-pressure striking-wrestling tactics will carry the day.

    Story, Unanimous Decision


    MacDonald: Story isn’t the most reliable performer, but he should be too good for Mafra. The UFC vet’s strength and power should win the day.

    Story, Unanimous Decision


    Smith: With a 3-5 record over his past eight fights, Story has had trouble reaching the potential that many felt he had. That said, this is a guy with a win over welterweight champion Johny Hendricks. He's simply too good to lose against Mafra, who lost to Thiago Perpetuo in his lone UFC outing.

    Story, TKO, Rd. 1


    Harris: I get why Mafra got the replacement nod here. He has some The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil notoriety, and he's a banger. Not enough to get to Story, though, who I think makes relatively easy work of the Brazilian with his attrition boxing game. Thud.

    Story, TKO, Rd. 2

Edson Barboza vs. Evan Dunham

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    Kontek: Remember when Edson Barboza and Evan Dunham were the future of 155? Now, they are fighting for relevance. Barboza's leg kicks are brutal, as are most of his other strikes. However, in watching Barboza's fight with Danny Castillo, it should be realized Dunham can use a similar game plan but be more successful. Expect strikes to set up takedowns and a long night for the Brazilian. Here's my upset pick.

    Dunham, Unanimous Decision


    Amos: Both guys enter this matchup coming off a defeat at the hands of Donald Cerrone, and neither looked particularly good. Dunham actually hasn't looked good for a while now, and though he holds a wrestling edge in this matchup, Barboza should be able to put in enough work on the feet to come away with the W.

    Barboza, Unanimous Decision


    MacDonald: Dunham has decent striking, but success for him in this fight means dragging Barboza to the ground. He may also have a chance if he turns the fight into a brawl. If this remains a technical affair, Barboza is your winner.

    Barboza, Unanimous Decision


    Smith: While Barboza has had some scares against lesser strikers, Dunham hasn't shown the power needed to hurt the Brazilian. With only one knockout win in his past 11 bouts, a doctor stoppage against now-featherweight Nik Lentz, Dunham is going to have trouble catching Barboza. Underrated on the ground, Barboza should be able to keep this matchup standing long enough to beat a scrappy Dunham on the scorecards.

    Barboza, Unanimous Decision


    Harris: Neither of these men is afraid to stand and bang, as it were. Dunham would probably have an edge in a grappling contest, but Barboza has the takedown defense to prevent it from going there. I see Dunham weathering another slugfest but again emerging on the wrong end of the decision and the visual evidence.

    Barboza, Unanimous Decision

Donald Cerrone vs. Jim Miller

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    Kontek: This is going to be an awesome fight. Both men are rarely in boring affairs. On the feet, Cerrone will light up Miller, but Miller can probably get Cerrone on his back. I can see Cerrone tagging Miller on the feet and finishing him on the ground with a rear-naked choke.

    Cerrone, Submission, Rd. 2


    Amos: Miller has the type of stifling wrestling offense that can, in theory, be troublesome for Cerrone. However, Cowboy has looked pretty solid of late, and I think he keeps the ball rolling with another stoppage victory this Wednesday night.

    Cerrone, Submission, Rd. 3


    MacDonald: I cannot wait for this fight. While Miller has good wrestling, I don’t expect he’ll be able to impose his grinding game on Cerrone. I anticipate this largely being a stand-up affair, and I think Cerrone wins that matchup all day long.

    Cerrone, TKO, Rd. 3


    Smith: Cowboy should have a significant advantage over Miller when standing. And having only been submitted by former lightweight champion Benson Henderson, Cerrone is solid enough on the ground to survive against Miller. Cerrone keeps this upright enough to gain a sizable edge on the scorecards.

    Cerrone, Unanimous Decision


    Harris: I think either Cerrone is going to lure Miller into a kickboxing battle, or Miller is going to lure himself. Cerrone's muay thai will get to Miller, though Miller's rugged chin will keep him upright long enough to make this the Fight of the Night.

    Cerrone, TKO, Rd. 3