UFC Fight Night 50: B/R Main Card Staff Predictions

James MacDonaldFeatured ColumnistSeptember 4, 2014

UFC Fight Night 50: B/R Main Card Staff Predictions

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    Throw a rock in any direction and you’re liable to hit an upcoming UFC event. This week is no different, my friends, with UFC Fight Night 50 coming to us from the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, Connecticut.

    We can look forward to Gegard Mousasi vs. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Alistair Overeem vs. Ben Rothwell, Matt Mitrione vs. Derrick Lewis, Joe Lauzon vs. Michael Chiesa, and more besides.

    As ever, you can rely on Bleacher Report MMA to guide you through Friday night’s event, with our team of Minority Report-like pre-cogs on hand to give you their predictions. Read on for the thoughts of Scott Harris, Riley Kontek, Craig Amos, Sean Smith and your truly, James MacDonald.

2014 Staff Records

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    Craig Amos has extended his lead over Riley Kontek at the top of the leaderboard, leaving everyone else to feast on his dust.

    But what’s that in the distance, I hear you ask? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s James MacDonald coming up like a damn freight train on the outside—note the bias of this copy.

    Plucky underdogs Sean Smith and Scott Harris continue to battle it out for 4th and 5th place in what has turned into a titanic struggle.

    Here are the staff records for 2014:

    Craig Amos: 102-53-1

    Riley Kontek: 99-56-1

    James MacDonald: 97-58-1

    Sean Smith: 93-62-1

    Scott Harris: 92-63-1

John Moraga vs. Justin Scoggins

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    Riley Kontek

    This one should be really fun. The flyweights seem to always deliver on UFC fight cards, and two guys in particular who are rarely in boring bouts are Moraga and Scoggins. In the wrestling part of things, Moraga is superior. On the feet, Scoggins has shown to be a stud. While everything in me is urging me to pick Scoggins, I can't ignore how his gas tank failed him against Dustin Ortiz. Moraga has cardio, and that may be the difference in a close fight.

    Moraga, Unanimous decision

     

    Craig Amos

    Can you believe that Moraga is a 3-1 underdog in this matchup? I'm really on the fence. I'll go with the decisive favorite though, as Scoggins has shown a very high ceiling. Each time out he should be taking steps toward fulfilling that potential. 

    Scoggins, Unanimous decision

     

    Scott Harris

    This bout is like a lot of bouts on the card—tough to call, but I still feel confident in my pick, if that makes any sense. Moraga can knock out any flyweight. I'm going with Scoggins, though. His quickness and athleticism will make the difference.

    Scoggins, Unanimous decision

     

    Sean Smith

    Even though Moraga won in a split decision against Dustin Ortiz and Scoggins lost in a split decision against the same adversary, I thought it was the latter who looked better against that common opponent. Obviously, this is a completely different matchup, so performance against Ortiz is hardly a foolproof indication of how this fight will go down. However, I do believe Scoggins has the wrestling and ground game to take away Moraga's striking and shut the former title challenger down on the canvas. 

    Scoggins, Unanimous decision

     

    James MacDonald

    I was disappointed when Scoggins lost to Dustin Ortiz last time out. It was a great fight, but his underwhelming gas tank left something to be desired. Cardio simply isn’t something you can afford to lack in the flyweight division. But perhaps against my better judgment, I’m taking Scoggins over Moraga here.

    Scoggins, Unanimous decision

Charles Oliveira vs. Nik Lentz

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    Riley Kontek

    Why this rematch was made, I don't know. Despite the no finish that Oliveira received as a result of an errant blow in their first meeting, he was utterly dominating. He has even looked better since dropping to 145. I don't see this fight going too much differently. Oliveira is the diamond in the rough of the featherweight division and will show why again. 

    Oliveira, TKO, Rd. 2

     

    Craig Amos

    Their first fight ended in a no-contest, but Oliveira had clearly established himself as the superior fighter. Theoretically, Lentz's style is ideal for stifling a guy like Oliveira, but the Brazilian just might have so large a skill advantage that he cancels it out.

    Oliveira, Unanimous decision

     

    Scott Harris

    I've been looking forward to this rematch for a while. Lentz will do his best to dirty it up inside, but Oliveira should get the better of him with kickboxing and jiu-jitsu, just as he did the last time before the no-contest occurred.

    Oliveira, TKO, Rd. 2

     

    Sean Smith

    In their first meeting, Oliveira was constantly forcing Lentz to defend against submissions. Not a fighter who usually has the ability to win with his striking, Lentz has no choice but to test his luck in Oliveira's guard again. I think the Brazilian eventually finds a way to catch Lentz, hopefully before landing an illegal knee this time around.

    Oliveira, Submission, Rd. 2

     

    James MacDonald

    Oliveira has a ton of talent. Why he isn’t at the top of the featherweight division remains a mystery. Lentz may not have the Brazilian’s natural talent, but he can grind with the best of them. He has improved a ton over the past couple of years. That being said, I’m giving the nod to the more dynamic Oliveira.

    Oliveira, Unanimous decision

Joe Lauzon vs. Michael Chiesa

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    Riley Kontek

    Joe Lauzon is an old dog that can still hunt. However, he's not the consistent top-20 guy he used to be, and that scares me in this matchup. He's a great submission artist, but being on the bottom of a scrappy, resourceful Michael Chiesa doesn't bode well for a guy who seems to be slowing down in his career. This may well be the coming-out party for the Jesus look-alike.

    Chiesa, Unanimous decision

     

    Craig Amos

    Though he snapped a two-fight losing streak last time out, Lauzon hasn't looked right lately. It could be that he's just slowing down—a sad possibility given all the entertainment he has provided over the years. Maybe he'll put in a vintage performance on Friday, but current trends being what they are, I have to go with Chiesa.

    Chiesa, Unanimous decision

     

    Scott Harris

    Chiesa is on a great roll, and he'll keep it going against Lauzon. He'll be the stronger man and will use Lauzon's aggression against him, getting the better of a scramble and locking in one of his signature chokes.

    Chiesa, Submission, Rd. 2

     

    Sean Smith

    Outside Jorge Masvidal, this will be the toughest matchup Chiesa has had, and The Ultimate Fighter 15 winner was submitted by Gamebred. Possibly even trickier on the ground than Masvidal, Lauzon could be a dangerous opponent for Chiesa. This is a fight Lauzon needs to win in order to remain within reach of title contention, and I believe he will win in a fun grappling match.

    Lauzon, Submission, Rd. 2

     

    James MacDonald

    This isn’t a great matchup for Chiesa, who is almost exclusively a grappler. He’s about as close to a specialist as you’re likely to find in the UFC these days. Lauzon is the more well-rounded fighter and, in my opinion, even the superior grappler. I’m taking the veteran.

    Lauzon, TKO, Rd. 3

Matt Mitrione vs. Derrick Lewis

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    Riley Kontek

    Derrick Lewis and his immense power give me nightmares at night. This monster of a man packs a mean punch, and you can tell that he enjoys hurting dudes. However, for as athletic and powerful as he is, Mitrione can match him. The former NFLer has the speed of a lightweight and the hands to go along with it. Lewis found himself in trouble early with Jack May in his UFC debut, and Mitrione is a step above anybody he's fought thus far. 

    Mitrione, Unanimous decision

     

    Craig Amos

    I need to see more of Lewis before getting excited about his prospects, but I do like him in this matchup. Mitrione is a guy who will exchange, and Lewis knocks guys like that out. It's possible that Mitrione proves me wrong and takes a more tactical approach to his craft, but I've just got that knockout feeling.

    Lewis, TKO, Rd. 1

     

    Scott Harris

    Neither one of these guys has a shred of a ground game, so expect a stand-up brawl. Lewis has a little more power than Mitrione, and Meathead has shown he can be knocked out. 

    Lewis, TKO, Rd. 1

     

    Sean Smith

    Lewis is 260 pounds of knockout power, but The Black Beast doesn't bring much finesse into the Octagon. In his bouts with Shawn Jordan and Joey Beltran, Mitrione showed that he fares well against wrecking-ball heavyweights like Lewis. The TUF 10 contestant will fight a smart fight, using his quickness to avoid Lewis' power and taking home a decision victory.  

    Mitrione, Unanimous decision

     

    James MacDonald

    Lewis was calling for a title shot after one fight in the UFC. Beating the elite of the division is certainly beyond him, but he may have the tools to take out the inconsistent Mitrione. The TUF veteran is more skilled on the feet, but just one good shot from the powerful Lewis could be enough. I have to give the edge to Mitrione, though.

    Mitrione, Unanimous decision

Alistair Overeem vs. Ben Rothwell

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    Riley Kontek

    In all honesty, this is not the most advantageous matchup Overeem could have gotten. His chin has never been considered stone, and he really hasn't found his footing in the UFC completely. In fact, it seems like nowadays he hurts more training partners than opponents. Rothwell can present a challenge on the feet with his kickboxing ability, but I have enough confidence that Overeem will earn the victory here. He's one of the few heavyweight challengers left for Cain Velasquez.

    Overeem, TKO, Rd. 2

     

    Craig Amos

    Overeem finally paced himself last time out, and he took flak for being conservative. But hey, at least he's moving toward a proper balance. I expect him to put in a good showing against Rothwell.

    Overeem, KO, Rd. 1

     

    Scott Harris

    If Rothwell didn't go through gas like a Hummer limousine, I might give him a chance for the shocker. But nothing doing. Overeem will, as he did last time, fight the smart fight and emerge with his second straight W. 

    Overeem, Unanimous decision

     

    Sean Smith

    Although Overeem has disappointed inside the Octagon, he's still immensely talented and dangerous. Rothwell is tough to put away, but he has been stopped. Overeem will again be the quicker and more skilled striker.

    Overeem, KO, Rd. 1

     

    James MacDonald

    I’m increasingly reluctant to pick Overeem. His chin just isn’t reliable enough. Despite being far superior to Rothwell technically, there’s no guarantee the Dutchman won’t hit the deck like a sack of spuds if his opponent connects. Still, the skill gap is large enough that I’m willing to put my money on Overeem.

    Overeem, TKO, Rd. 1

Gegard Mousasi vs. Ronald "Jacare" Souza

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    Riley Kontek

    Although Mousasi won their initial meeting, one has to realize how much better Jacare has gotten since that encounter. In that fight, he had already put Mousasi on his back and simply got caught by a devastating upkick. This time around, Souza has better striking and the same ability to put Mousasi on the mat. It is there that Jacare is vastly superior, and he will show that come fight night.

    Souza, Unanimous decision

     

    Craig Amos

    It was back in 2008 that Mousasi defeated Jacare, but much has changed since then. Sure, Mousasi remains a top-tier fighter, but I have really been amazed at how Souza's game has come together. I think the Brazilian will even the score on Friday and state his case for a title shot.

    Souza, Unanimous decision

     

    Scott Harris

    Both of these guys have great offense, but I give a slight defensive edge to Jacare. Power edge, too. I think he redeems the knockout loss he suffered to Mousasi those many years ago.

    Souza, Unanimous decision

     

    Sean Smith

    I don't put much stock into Mousasi's September 2008 win over Souza as it pertains to breaking down this rematch. The chances of Souza getting caught by another upkick are miniscule, and the Brazilian's striking has improved by leaps and bounds. I don't know that he can win this fight standing up, but Souza should be able to hold his own while looking for takedowns that will allow him to dominate on the ground.

    Souza, Unanimous decision 

     

    James MacDonald

    There’s no doubt Souza’s striking has improved almost beyond recognition since he first faced Mousasi. However, he still isn’t close to the Dutchman’s technical level on the feet. Souza’s success in this fight will likely depend on his ability to drag Mousasi to the ground. If he can turn this into a grappling match, it’s his fight to lose. And that’s precisely what I expect the Brazilian to do.

    Souza, Unanimous decision