UFC 177 Preliminary Card Predictions
The UFC returns to pay-per-view this weekend with UFC 177. Live from Sacramento, California, the card boasts a title fight in the main event slot between TJ Dillashaw and Renan Barao.
The card in general is full of prospects, which corresponds with its lack of star power. It's a reason why fans are not jumping at the opportunity to cough up money for the event.
That said, this is all about the prelims. I had a fantastic weekend with the double header, as Macau and Tulsa provided me with an awesome 9-2 mark.
With that said, we move forward. Here is a preview for each fight on the preliminary card, along with predictions.
2014 Riley's Record: 118-73
Last Events: UFC Fight Night 48 and 49 (9-2)
Cain Carrizosa vs. Chris Wade
We kick things off on Fight Pass in the lightweight division, where Bellator veteran Cain Carrizosa takes on WSOF vet Chris Wade. Both men will be making their UFC debuts.
Wade prefers the ground but works his stand-up at East Islip Kickboxing in New York. His lone loss came in WSOF, where he was outpointed by Ozzy Dugulubgov. However, he does hold the distinction of being the Ring of Combat lightweight champion.
Carrizosa is a more well-rounded fighter. The undefeated Californian has knockout power and a refined ground game. While he has good takedowns, his jiu-jitsu is solid and he can work from the guard if necessary.
Wade can work takedowns and grind Carrizosa away, but he'll need to be careful of the armbars and triangles that his opponent will throw up.
On the feet, Carrizosa has the slight edge. He will take a close, fun decision.
Prediction: Carrizosa def. Wade via decision
Anthony Birchak vs. Joe Soto
We move to Fox Sports 1 next, where bantamweight standouts Anthony Birchak and Joe Soto make their debuts opposite one another.
Birchak is the former MFC champ and Soto is the former Bellator champ.
Soto is a well-rounded fighter with a great submission game, as showcased in his eight wins via tapout. He has pieced together his career after losing the Bellator belt and another bout by putting together a six-fight winning streak over the likes of Terrion Ware, Jeremiah Labiano and Chad George.
Similarly, Birchak is a submission fighter, but his wrestling may be a tad more effective than that of Soto.
He has not lost since 2011. Instead, Birchak has rattled off five straight wins over the likes of Matt Leyva, Tito Jones and UFC employee Ryan Benoit.
This is an interesting stylistic matchup because both men kind of mirror each other skill-wise. With that being said, Birchak's wrestling and overall grappling may be superior, which should lead him to a decision victory.
Prediction: Birchak def. Soto via decision
Anthony Hamilton vs. Ruan Potts
In the next bout, heavyweight Anthony Hamilton goes in search of his first UFC win in his second effort inside the Octagon in a bout against fellow second-timer Ruan Potts.
Potts is South Africa's premiere heavyweight. However, that meant nothing to Soa Palelei, who smashed Potts at UFC Fight Night in Cincinnati. In terms of skill, he is a judo guy with good grappling acumen, but he is far more successful from top position.
Hamilton is the more well-rounded fighter of the two. He is definitely more of a striker, but he can wrestle guys down with his physical presence. His striking will make the difference here, though.
Potts may be the king of South African heavyweight MMA, but the competition is just on another level over here. Hamilton is going to overwhelm him early and put him away in devastating fashion.
Prediction: Hamilton def. Potts via TKO
Scott Jorgensen vs. Henry Cejudo
Moving on, we head to the flyweight division, where former WEC title challenger Scott Jorgensen looks to continue a swing in momentum when he takes on Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo.
Jorgensen saved his job in his last bout by beating Danny Martinez, which turned around a 1-5 streak. He is a brawler with wrestling ability, but he is not likely to outwrestle a guy with Cejudo's credentials.
Cejudo is as mentioned a gold medalist in wrestling. He has become a top prospect. However, while he is undefeated at 6-0, weight and commitment issues have hindered his performances and training in the past.
Jorgensen will need to keep this fight upright, as Cejudo is still pretty green on the feet. He will need a sprawl-and-brawl strategy that will likely not hold up, as Cejudo is just too athletic and skilled in the wrestling department to be denied.
Prediction: Cejudo def. Jorgensen via decision
Lorenz Larkin vs. Derek Brunson
Headlining the prelims, Derek Brunson returns from a jaw injury suffered against Yoel Romero to face the struggling Lorenz Larkin in a battle of top-25 middleweights.
Larkin finds himself in a must-win situation here. The Strikeforce import has dropped two straight bouts to Costas Philippou and Brad Tavares. He is 1-3 in the UFC, failing to find his footing in the company. He will need to stay upright against his opponent.
Previous to his knockout loss to Romero, Brunson had won both of his UFC bouts, one against Chris Leben and the other against Brian Houston. Though he can handle himself on the feet, he would be smart to use his quickness and athleticism to shoot in and ground Larkin.
Brunson has a great matchup here. Larkin will throw kicks at him, which will allow him to secure takedowns. He will outwrestle Larkin and win this bout handily.
Prediction: Brunson def. Larkin via decision