UFC Fight Night 109 Predictions: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Picks

Scott Harris@ScottHarrisMMAMMA Lead WriterMay 26, 2017

UFC Fight Night 109 Predictions: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Picks

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    Alexander Gustafsson
    Alexander GustafssonDean Mouhtaropoulos/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Flying through the clouds, below the radar and touching down in Stockholm, Sweden, it's UFC Fight Night 109.

    With so many of the sport's top stars out of action or indisposed, some of these events have a hard time taking on real gravitas. As such, this is the part where I would normally write something like "that's not the case with this card," but you know something? It is the case with this card. If you've got something else to do on Memorial Day Sunday morning that doesn't involve access to television, you shouldn't feel too bad about it.

    The main event carries some stakes, with Alexander Gustafsson and Glover Teixeira (and it's hard to believe they've never fought before) facing off for the right to maybe possibly fight for the UFC light heavyweight belt (again) some day. Neither one exactly gets the blood racing as a challenger, though, given that they've whiffed on their three combined bouts against current champ Daniel Cormier and divisional GOAT Jon Jones.

    There's some intrigue along the main card, though, I guess. But you have to want it. Do you want it? Read our breakdowns and predictions for each of the six main-card bouts, airing on Fox Sports 1, then make your own determination.

    Nathan McCarter. Steven Rondina. Craig "Cookie" Amos. And myself, Scott Harris. Let's get it on.

Jack Hermansson vs. Alex Nicholson

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    Jack Hermansson
    Jack HermanssonJason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

    Nathan McCarter

    Although Jack Hermansson and Alex Nicholson have not fought before, it certainly feels like they have. Perhaps that's just because it feels like a standard undercard fight we've seen a thousand times before. Yet, here it is on the main card. I'm not expecting anything exciting or important from the bout. Give me Hermansson by decision.

    Hermansson, unanimous decision

         

    Steven Rondina

    This is easily the toughest fight to pick on the card for me, since we don't really know what either man is capable of. Both guys have been generally overmatched to this point in their UFC careers, but both have looked great against softer competition. I'm leaning in the direction of Hermansson based on experience and the possibility of preferential treatment from Swedish judges...but this one's a tossup.

    Hermansson, TKO, Rd. 2

         

    Craig Amos

    This fight was put together to give the Swedish crowd something to cheer about. Hermansson isn't going to challenge for a UFC middleweight title anytime soon, but he's a capable fighter with a clear advantage in this one.

    Hermansson, unanimous decision

          

    Scott Harris

    Nicholson is a karate fighter with a fun arsenal of strikes. Hermansson is pretty high-volume himself but is more methodical. The American Top Team product has six knockouts. Make it seven after Saturday, and in the meantime, why don't you sound the upset alarms.

    Nicholson, TKO, Rd. 2

Oliver Enkamp vs. Nordine Taleb

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    Nordine Taleb
    Nordine TalebTom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

    McCarter

    Enkamp is an undefeated prospect making his UFC debut, and the "0" in his record will disappear. A little too much, too soon in this fight against an underrated Taleb.

    Taleb, unanimous decision

         

    Rondina

    Enkamp's 7-0 record has largely been built at the expense of subpar regional talent. There's no reason to believe that, in his UFC welterweight debut, he can pull one over on Taleb here, short of a fluke knockout.

    Taleb, unanimous decision

          

    Amos

    It's a little surprising at how large an underdog Encamp is, but I guess were all more or less on the same page here. Taleb, who has amassed a chequered record against solid competition, has the tools to handle the prospect.

    Taleb, TKO, Rd. 2

          

    Harris

    This would have been a lot more fun if Taleb had stayed in there against his original opponent, Emil Weber Meek, also known as that crazy Norwegian berserker who knocked out Rousimar Palhares a while back. As it is, Taleb is a rugged striker who should be able to put away a fighter who appears to be making his UFC debut based solely on his Swedishness.

    Taleb, TKO, Rd. 1

Abdul Razak Alhassan vs. Omari Akhmedov

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    Abdul Razak Alhassan
    Abdul Razak AlhassanBrandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    McCarter

    I'll take the undefeated Alhassan here. I have no overriding reason other than a gut instinct he'll continue his streak. Akhmedov has been in some tough battles against solid competition, but he usually comes up on the losing end. Same story here.

    Alhassan, TKO, Rd. 2

          

    Rondina

    Akhmedov is prone to getting knocked out, while Alhassan is prone to knocking people out. You can do the math here!

    Alhassan, TKO, Rd. 1

           

    Amos

    It's always an iffy proposition backing newcomers who have never fought past the one-minute, 26-second mark. Alhassan could flame out badly when met by a UFC-caliber welterweight, but this does look like a good matchup for him.

    Alhassan, KO, Rd. 1

         

    Harris

    Alhassan's judo base and knockout power are a potent combination, as his 7-0 record illustrates. Akhmedov's chin is certainly vulnerable, but the Dagestani is going to fight a smart fight, staying at distance early before taking Alhassan into late-round deep waters in the clinch. Oh, wait, what...what's that in the distance? It's the upset alarms again? Let them keep on rolling.

    Akhmedov, unanimous decision

Peter Sobotta vs. Ben Saunders

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    Ben Saunders
    Ben SaundersMark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    McCarter

    This could be your fight of the night. I really like this welterweight matchup and it'll be a great test for both men. Passing the test will be Peter Sobotta. A little less wear and tear on his body with a good enough game to squeak by on the scorecards.

    Sobotta, unanimous decision

            

    Rondina

    Ben Saunders isn't a world-beater, but the vet still seems to have quite a bit left in the tank...and more than enough to take a win over Sobotta.

    Saunders, unanimous decision

          

    Amos

    I anticipate Sobotta spending a fair amount of time in Saunders' guard, which will allow him to curry favor with the judges, but also expose him to submission risk. Between attacking off his back and outpointing his opponent on the feet, I expect Saunders to earn a tightly contested decision win.

    Saunders, unanimous decision

          

    Harris

    Not going to pick against my guy Ben Saunders. Sorry, I'm just not going to. That dangerous, rangy muay thai game and wily submission arsenal are still very much there, and they should be enough to turn back Sobotta and stave off a few scary moments on the ground.

    Saunders, unanimous decision

Volkan Oezdemir vs. Misha Cirkunov

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    Misha Cirkunov
    Misha CirkunovTom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

    McCarter

    Thank the heavens that the UFC struck a deal with Misha Cirkunov because the wasteland that is 205 pounds surely needed his presence. He'll look outstanding against Volkan Oezdemir. Cirkunov notches another submission victory and inches closer to title contention. A fresh face the division desperately needs.

    Cirkunov, submission, Rd. 1

          

    Rondina

    Oezdemir added a pretty solid name (Ovince Saint Preux) to his resume in his UFC debut, but his win wasn't dominant enough to inspire confidence in him in any serious long-term way. He might prove to be legit here against a solid Cirkunov...but I'm not expecting that to happen.

    Cirkunov, submission, Rd. 2

          

    Amos

    Oezdemir is probably a little better than he's given credit for, but he's not so underrated that an upset feels palpable. Expect some early fireworks, then expect Cirkunov to put Oezdemir on the mat and finish inside the distance.

    Cirkunov, submission, Rd. 3

         

    Harris

    We'll see how ready Oezdemir really is for the spotlight when he jumps in with Cirkunov, who has already put those questions to bed on his own side. Oezdemir is big, strong and clunky, but effective. He'll get some wins in the UFC, but this will not be one of them. Cirkunov will have better striking and he'll be superior on the ground; there will be no comparison. 

    Cirkunov, submission, Rd. 2

Alexander Gustafsson vs. Glover Teixeira

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    Alexander Gustafsson (left) and Glover Teixeira
    Alexander Gustafsson (left) and Glover TeixeiraMichael Campanella/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    McCarter

    I'm simply not a believer in Glover Teixeira anymore. "Shopworn" may be the best descriptor for him in 2017. He's still a top fighter at light heavyweight because the division is garbage. Harsh, but true. This is truly about where Alexander Gustafsson is at in his career. If he struggles with Teixeira, it could mean that his time as a true elite fighter is done. Not that will remove him from being a top-five talent in 205's shallow waters. He just won't be a realistic threat to win the gold.

    Gustafsson should piece up Teixeira by utilizing his length. I'm expecting a workmanlike, but dominant, performance from Gustafsson.

    Gustafsson, TKO, Rd. 4

           

    Rondina

    Gustafsson is probably the all-around better fighter between the two and matches up well against Teixeira stylistically. There's a scratching doubt here for me just because we don't really know what kind of condition Gus is in after his 6,000th injury, but it's not enough to dissuade me from taking him.

    Gustafsson, unanimous decision

          

    Amos

    Like Nathan, I've lost a little bit of faith in Teixeira. He's still head and shoulders above the majority of light heavyweights on the roster, but Gustafsson is one of the few legitimately top-tier fighters at 205. The Swede will take control of the fight early, and it will be only Teixeira's toughness that allows him to survive as long as he does.

    Gustafsson, TKO, Rd. 4

        

    Harris

    Teixeira's game was plodding even when he was at the height of his powers. He may be able to get Gustafsson to the ground, but those triumphs will be hard-won and fleeting. Listen, this card is basically just this one fight. Sweden turns out for their guy. The UFC doesn't have to do much else except give him a glamorous but winnable fight. Here you go. Gustafsson stays clear of Teixeira's shopworn pressure and does what he does.

    Gustafsson, TKO, Rd. 2