UFC Fight Night 50: Preliminary Card Predictions
Are you ready for an awesome, free TV card from the UFC? Well, strap in, because Friday is host to UFC Fight Night 50 in Connecticut.
Headlined by middleweight contenders Gegard Mousasi and Ronaldo Souza, the card is absolutely stacked. Said fight between Mousasi and Souza could be a top contender's bout for the winner of Chris Weidman-Vitor Belfort.
Before that, we get the prelims. The needle was not moved very much after UFC 177, as there were only three preliminary card bouts.
Without further ado, here are the predictions for the prelims on Friday night.
2014 Riley's Record: 120-74
Last Event: UFC 177 (2-1)
Sean Soriano vs. Chas Skelly
We kick things off on the prelims in the featherweight division, as Chas Skelly looks to notch two wins in two weeks against tough-as-nails Floridian Sean Soriano. Skelly steps in for Andre Fili, who got injured late in training camp.
Soriano is a striker with good takedown defense, though the relentless takedowns and superiority of Tatsuya Kawajiri led to his demise via submission in a short-notice debut. He gets a full training camp here, so we should really get a glimpse of how good Soriano can be.
Though he was outgrappled by Kawajiri, Soriano is not a bad grappler himself. While he is definitely a quick, athletic striker who likes to keep it standing, he does own an equal amount of tapouts to knockouts.
His opponent, Skelly, literally fought August 23 in Tulsa, where he made quick work of Finnish standout Tom Niinimaki with a rear-naked choke. That win reversed a tough debut, where he was outpointed by Mirsad Bektic in a back-and-forth affair.
Skelly is a wrestler, so there is no doubt about what he wants to do in this fight. He is going to shoot early and often, looking to take Soriano out of his element.
Soriano showed against Kawajiri that he can be taken down. Seeing that Skelly is a high-level Division I wrestler and that he is only getting better fight to fight, he should be able to take care of business here.
Prediction: Skelly def. Soriano via decision
Tateki Matsuda vs. Chris Beal
Next up are the bantamweights, as TUF 14 vet Tateki Matsuda looks to make a good first impression on late notice when he takes on TUF 18 vet Chris Beal. Matsuda steps up for Rob Font and Dustin Kimura, both of whom were opponents for Beal before they bowed out to injury.
Beal was a top prospect coming into TUF, though he failed to secure a contract following the show after the UFC decided to let most of the male part of the cast go. However, after notching a big knockout win on the regional territory, he got the call to make a move to the UFC.
Beal is a boxer with good wrestling, and he possesses the speed, athleticism and power to be a top 135er in the UFC. His debut showed some of that athleticism and power, as he flattened Patrick Williams with a nasty flying knee that scored a hit on SportsCenter's Top 10 Plays.
As for Matsuda, after failing to make the house for TUF 14, he went back to the East Coast regional circuit, where he has seen mixed success. The Japanese-American is a striker with good kicks, though he does have a solid ground game to complement that stand-up skill.
Matsuda is going to be in over his head here. Between the late notice and the overall skill disadvantage that Beal presents, he is going to need a career performance here to be successful. Don't expect that.
Prediction: Beal def. Matsuda via TKO
Rafael Natal vs. Chris Camozzi
Moving on, we head to the middleweight division in a win-or-go-home fight, as Chris Camozzi looks to halt a rough losing streak against Brazilian grappler Rafael Natal.
Natal finds himself on a two-fight skid here and is in need of a win. After getting trumped by Tim Kennedy in the main event at "Fight for the Troops," Natal was outpointed by Ed Herman in his last outing in a winnable affair.
He has improved his striking, though his jiu-jitsu black belt should be called upon for this bout. More than half of his wins come by way of submission, and he is taking on a guy who has struggled to beat top-game grapplers.
Camozzi is a muay thai stylist with great range, long limbs and excellent technique. His recent troubles, though, have come against grapplers for the most part, as guys like Ronaldo Souza and Bruno Santos have taken him down and kept him there.
If Camozzi can stay away from overusing the step knee on the feet, which has gotten him put on his back frequently, he will be able to thwart the takedowns of Natal. On the feet, though Natal has improved, Camozzi is superior and should be able to send Natal packing to the regional scene.
Prediction: Camozzi def. Natal via decision
Al Iaquinta vs. Rodrigo Damm
Capping off the prelims, we head to the lightweight division, as Al Iaquinta looks to return to the win column against Brazilian Rodrigo Damm.
Iaquinta recently found himself on an impressive three-fight winning streak before he was submitted by Mitch Clarke. What's crazy was Iaquinta was dominating the fight against Clark and got caught in an unorthodox D'arce choke that forced him to surrender after a great showing.
Iaquinta is well-rounded, possessing the trademark Serra-Longo boxing-wrestling combination that has made their camp so successful. His footwork and timing are strong when striking, which allows him to stick and move with ease.
Damm, on the other hand, is a grappler who has had to move back to lightweight after weight-cut issues in the past. He has had his ups and downs in the Octagon thus far and is looking to erase the memory of a loss to Rashid Magomedov in his most recent fight.
On the feet, Damm is going to have a hard time with Iaquinta, so he needs to force a ground engagement. However, as good as Damm can be with his takedowns, Iaquinta is a superior wrestler, which should allow him to keep this up on the feet. Notch a win for the American.
Prediction: Iaquinta def. Damm via decision