The main event planned for UFC Fight Night 45 in Atlantic City has Fight of the Night written all over it.
Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone, owner of three straight stoppage victories, will take on the tough and dangerous Jim Miller. Cerrone and Miller are ranked sixth and seventh, respectively, in the lightweight division.
The winner may not be ready for a title shot, but he would certainly have every right to consider himself one fight away. Khabib Nurmagomedov has already made it known that he would like to fight the winner of this bout.
Think Cerrone is feeling the pressure of a big fight? Don't count on it.
The Cowboy is one of the most likable and free-spirited characters in the UFC. He trips every fight like a road trip, per Marc Raimondi of Fox Sports. And here's how he views road trips: "Road-tripping is a serious chance to f*** off the whole way."
If you love mixed martial arts, you're definitely interested in seeing this one.
Let me help you out by giving the viewing information, the full card and I'll throw in my predictions for every bout. You're welcome.
Just below the table is a closer look at Cerrone-Miller and two other big-time bouts on the main card. The Cerrone-Miller section has a special virtual touch, courtesy of EA Sports UFC.
|UFC Fight Night 45: Viewing Info, Fight Card and Predictions|
|Wednesday, July 16||UFC Fight Pass 6:30 p.m. ET|
|Claudia Gadelha vs. Tina Lahdemaki||Women's Strawweight||Gadelha by Decision|
|Fox Sports 1 Prelims at 7 p.m.|
|Yosdenis Cedeno vs. Jerrod Sanders||Lightweight||Sanders by TKO|
|Hugo Viana vs. Aljamain Sterling||Bantamweight||Sterling by Submission|
|Jessamyn Duke vs. Leslie Smith||Bantamweight||Smith by KO|
|Gleison Tibau vs. Pat Healy||Lightweight||Healy by Decision|
|Fox Sports 1 Main Card 9 p.m.|
|Lucas Martins vs. Alex White||Featherweight||White by Submission|
|John Lineker vs. Alptekin Ozkilic||Flyweight||Lineker by TKO|
|Justin Salas vs. Joe Proctor||Lightweight||Proctor by Decision|
|Rick Story vs. Leonardo Mafra||Welterweight||Mafra by TKO|
|Edson Barboza vs. Evan Dunham||Lightweight||Barboza by Decision|
|Donald Cerrone vs. Jim Miller||Lightweight||Cerrone by Decision|
|Card per UFC.com, picks by Brian Mazique|
Leonardo Mafra Will Stop Story
The man known as "Macarrao" is one powerfully built and relentless welterweight. He keeps up a consistent pace, and his ground-and-pound skills are noteworthy.
Stamina can be a problem for him, but against Story, he should have ample opportunity to trade early. Because Mafra is more explosive, he should come out on the positive end of the exchanges.
He's the pick to win via second-round TKO. This should be an impressive UFC debut for the 25-year-old Brazilian.
Barboza Will Rebound With Win Over Dunham
These two men are just glad they don't have to face Cerrone in this bout. Both lost to the Cowboy in their last outings and face each other with a chance to bounce back. Only Barboza will be effective.
He was on quite a run before he was submitted by Cerrone at UFC on Fox 11 in April. He had won four straight fights. As a matter of fact, he was getting the best of Cerrone before he got caught with a punch that led to a knockdown and a finish via rear-naked choke.
Dunham is in a different situation. The longtime UFC veteran is at a bit of a crossroads in his career. He's lost three of his last four fights and five of his last eight. If he can't beat Barboza, he needs to seriously consider whether he should still be fighting.
Barboza's speed in the stand-up figures to be too much for Dunham. The Brazilian's leg kicks are among the best in the sport. Look for him to use them to set up a dominant stand-up performance. He'll win an easy decision.
The Game and Man Differ in Opinion on Cerrone vs. Miller
Before we get to the human prediction for the main event, let's talk about what the new video game predicted will happen.
I simulated the bout on EA Sports UFC with the difficulty setting on Pro (which is supposed to be the most realistic), and I set it for five rounds. It was one of the best simulated bouts I've seen.
If you'd like to watch the entire simulated fight, the video can be seen below. If you would prefer to know the results now, just keep reading.
After a bloody, back-and-forth battle where both men had their moments, Miller duped Cerrone into an encounter on the ground, and he used a nasty knee lock to score a fifth-round submission win.
Up to that point, Cerrone looked to be on his way to a close decision victory.
The Human Prediction
As the game predicted, this should be a brutal bout fought in both the stand-up and on the ground. Because Miller is the more skilled grappler and submission fighter, it would behoove Cerrone to keep it standing as much as possible.
If he does that, his four-inch height advantage, muay thai skills and quickness should get him the unanimous-decision victory.
It won't be easy. Miller has an excellent chin. He's never been stopped via strikes, and he's excellent at countering and at getting takedowns.
Still, Cerrone's striking should win it for him.
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