UFC Fight Night 106: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Predictions

Steven RondinaFeatured ColumnistMarch 10, 2017

UFC Fight Night 106: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Predictions

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    Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

    It's Fight Week (TM), and you know what that means! The Bleacher Report predictions crew is here to pick winners for each fight!

    The card this time? UFC Fight Night 106 in Fortaleza, Brazil. The lineup of contests? The standard roundup of "Brazilian Fighter vs. Not Brazilian Fighter" contests designed to pander to the hometown crowd. The main card stands as follows:

    • Vitor Belfort vs. Kelvin Gastelum
    • Mauricio Rua vs. Gian Villante
    • Edson Barboza vs. Beneil Dariush
    • Jussier Formiga vs. Ray Borg
    • Bethe Correia vs. Marion Reneau
    • Alex Oliveira vs. Tim Means

    That's a solid lineup of fights and a surprisingly competitive one, given how often the UFC puts together squash matches for these sorts of events.

    But the natural question, of course, is "who will win?" 

    Well, dear reader, just read on and find out.

Alex Oliveira vs. Tim Means

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    Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Scott Harris

    Batten down the hatches for this rematch. The last one, as you'll recall, ended in Means' illegal knees and a no-contest. This one will end similarly, just without the no-contest. He's a better fighter than Oliveira, including on the feet, where this will likely be contested for the short period of time that it's going to last.

    Means, TKO, Rd. 1

       

    Craig Amos

    Both guys had moments in their first, shortened tussle, which makes it surprising to me that Means is such a significant favorite. The upset is a tempting choice, but Means is just the kind of guy that makes good fighters uncomfortable and unable to perform to their best.

    Means, unanimous decision

        

    Nathan McCarter

    I love me some "Dirty Bird." Oliveira is going to take a lot of legal strikes in this one, and Means will serve him some elbows and knees that forces the referee to step in to stop the bout. Means continues to shine.

    Means, TKO, Rd. 2

        

    Steven Rondina

    There are no guarantees in this fight (outside Measns finding something to grump about afterwards) but Dirty Bird taking the win comes pretty close. I think he's big enough and active enough to keep Oliveira off his game and either out-point him on the scorecards or finish him down the stretch. 

    Means, unanimous decision

Bethe Correia vs. Marion Reneau

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    Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Harris

    Correia is an aggressive and competent striker first and foremost, whereas Reneau is a little more well-rounded. Reneau, despite being 39 years old, still appears to have plenty left in the tank. She'll play matador to Correia's bull.

    Reneau, unanimous decision

        

    Amos

    This looks like a close fight on paper, and if Correia can get a questionable decision win over an American in the U.S., she should have no trouble winning on the cards in Brazil. That's not to say the expectation is that she'll be gifted the win, only that this will be a competitive fight.

    Correia, unanimous decision

       

    McCarter

    Reneau is a decent striker, and Correia isn't. That's pretty much the tale of this fight. Correia has decent power and likes to bang, but that's not going to be a winning strategy here.

    Reneau, TKO, Rd. 1

       

    Rondina

    I think Craig is spot on. This one should be a competitive (though likely boring) bout, and that's a recipe for a controversial split decision in favor of the local star. I'm still picking Reneau, because I think she'll win the fight. Whether she'll win the contest is another story. 

    Reneau, split decision

Jussier Da Silva vs. Ray Borg

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    Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Harris

    Formiga is really good at jiu-jitsu, but at times he looks a little listless in there. Those tendencies won't be well complemented by Borg, a competitor eight years Formiga's junior. Borg should have an advantage on the feet as well.

    Borg, unanimous decision

       

    Amos

    I'm a little surprised to see Borg as the favorite in this matchup. He's obviously a high-level competitor, but Formiga has just as impressive a track record and has experience against a better pedigree of opponent. There should be some fun grappling exchanges, but I expect the Brazilian to have his hand raised at the end of the fight.

    Formiga, unanimous decision

       

    McCarter

    Will Borg make the weight? That may be the biggest question. He's one of the rising prospects at 125, but he's missed weight twice already. He may see himself pushed out in similar fashion to that of John Lineker.

    Anyhow, I'll take Formiga. Veteran savvy wins the day.

    Formiga, unanimous decision

       

    Rondina

    Formiga has four losses to his name; a prime Ian McCall, Henry Cejudo, Joseph Benavidez and John Dodson. I don't think Borg is part of that lot yet.

    Formiga, unanimous decision

Edson Barboza vs. Beneil Dariush

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    Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Harris

    This is an excellent fight that makes it worth tuning in to the card. Barboza's razor-sharp striking speaks for itself through reams of highlight footage, but his strongest suit may be his takedown defense. That will be tested against Dariush, a rugged and relentless grappler. Taking Dariush is tempting, but Barboza's long-range muay thai should do enough damage to net another win for the Brazilian.

    Barboza, unanimous decision

       

    Amos

    Barboza has shown that he can deal with consistent wrestling pressure, but Dariush is way more than that. He's a guy who can hang with Barboza on the feet, albeit not excel there, and also pose the consistent threat of a takedown. I like that skill set in this fight.

    Dariush, unanimous decision

       

    McCarter

    I love this fight. The real test in this matchup is if Dariush will have success with his grappling. Barboza has gotten a lot better at his defense, and on the feet he'll be able to out-strike Dariush for the duration of the contest. I'll take the Brazilian to win on the cards after stuffing takedowns in the second and third rounds.

    Barboza, unanimous decision

       

    Rondina

    As everybody else said, this is an excellent fight. I'm not sure it ends up being an especially competitive one, though. Dariush is an excellent fighter, but if you're going to tailor-make a fighter to beat him, it's somebody like Barboza. I think the Brazilian out-lands him en route to a handy decision win.

    Barboza, unanimous decision

Mauricio Rua vs. Gian Villante

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    Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Harris

    Do I have to watch this? I hope not. Like one half of the main event, the co-main features a calcifying lion in Shogun Rua. Villante is a slight underdog, but I'll give him the upset nod in what should be a fun striking match. Villante will be ready for three rounds and should take it based on volume.

    Villante, unanimous decision

       

    Amos

    This is a tough one to call. It's difficult to gauge just how much Rua has left, and Villante has been inconsistent as a UFC competitor. Rua still hits hard though, and Villante has not been averse to trading at times. That makes it look good for the Brazilian.

    Rua, TKO, Rd. 2

       

    McCarter

    If this was even two years ago I would feel great about picking Shogun. Now? Not so much.

    I'm not sold on Villante, but I have almost no faith in a broken-bodied Rua either. Given that this is in Brazil, I'll take the former champion to find a way to finish to give his home country some false hope that one of their idols still has it.

    Rua, TKO, Rd. 2

        

    Rondina

    Rua is one of those fighters that I never pick properly. When I think he's back in the swing of things? He falls flat on his face. When I think he's done? He gets a terrifying knockout.

    I'll pick against him here and likely wind up shaking my head as he adds Villante to his highlight reel.

    Villante, TKO, Rd. 1

Vitor Belfort vs. Kelvin Gastelum

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    Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

    Harris

    It's Gastelum's second fight since he was effectively banished to the middleweight division, where he's at a significant size disadvantage. That won't matter much against Belfort, who likes to operate on the perimeter but may feel stifled by Gastelum's insistence on pressing forward. Plus, Belfort is 39 years old. If this is his retirement fight, something says he's not going out on top.

    Gastelum, TKO, Rd. 3

       

    Amos

    This card is composed of five difficult picks and one easy one. Yeah, Belfort has a puncher's chance, but his 39-year-old form is not nearly on the level of Gastelum, who showed immense capabilities as a middleweight by taking out the ultra-durable Tim Kennedy last year. Gastelum will take Belfort down early, spend a couple of moments wearing him out, then finish before the first bell.

    Gastelum, TKO, Rd. 1

       

    McCarter

    Belfort is still a threat due to his power, but it's a very easy threat to avoid. Especially for Gastelum. He matches up extraordinarily well with Belfort. I expect Gastelum to play it safe in the first round by clinching and wearing on the former light heavyweight champion before submitting him in the second.

    Gastelum, submission, Rd. 2

       

    Rondina

    Belfort was spent by the time he faced Chris Weidman, and the beatings he caught from Jacare Souza and Gegard Mousasi haven't helped matters. He's done, and Gastelum will be the latest fighter to show this.

    Gastelum, TKO, Rd. 2