UFC Fight Night 117 Predictions: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Picks

Nathan McCarter@McCarterNFeatured ColumnistSeptember 21, 2017

UFC Fight Night 117 Predictions: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Picks

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    This was supposed to be Mauricio "Shogun" Rua's return to Japan in a rematch against Ovince Saint Preux, but an injury forced him to withdraw.

    Now UFC Fight Night 117 is headlined by an inexplicable light heavyweight tilt between Saint Preux and a returning Yushin Okami. Okami had been fighting in the World Series of Fighting/Professional Fighters League at welterweight.

    The true main event, and lone fight of substantial consequence on the card, happens right before the headlining bout. No. 1-ranked strawweight contender Claudia Gadelha meets No. 4-ranked Jessica Andrade.

    Gadelha is coming off a thrashing of No. 2-ranked contender Karolina Kowalkiewicz, while this is Andrade's first fight since coming up short against Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

    There are four other contests on the main card, and the Bleacher Report staff is here to pick a winner for each fight on the main slate of Friday's card.

    Steven Rondina, Scott Harris, Craig Amos and Nathan McCarter are back at it again. Here are the predictions for UFC Fight Night 117 at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan.

Mizuto Hirota vs. Charles Rosa

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    Steven Rondina

    This is a tough one to pick between two middling fighters. Mizuto Hirota is the safer bet in my book, based on Charles Rosa's recent struggles and the possibility of home-cooked judging breaking in favor of the local fighter. Still, it's hard to feel strongly about either man.

    Hirota, unanimous decision

            

    Scott Harris

    Hirota is a brawler's brawler, coming forward and swinging. Rosa is more of a grappler, but a penchant for leather at the expense of this skill has hurt him in the past. Here's guessing Rosa gets back to his roots and controls the 36-year-old for a victory.

    Rosa, unanimous decision

              

    Craig Amos

    Rosa has a favorable stylistic matchup here. He'll grind Hirota down, control him for the better part of 15 minutes and get his hand raised for an effective but unspectacular victory.

    Rosa, unanimous decision

               

    Nathan McCarter

    I was leaning toward picking Hirota until the morning weigh-ins. He nearly fell off the scale, as shown by MMAjunkie.com's Ken Hathaway. It was already a tough bout to pick, but when one fighter is so clearly drained, it makes the selection a tad easier. Rosa stops the pressure of Hirota, scores with strikes and gets his first TKO victory since 2014.

    Rosa, TKO, Rd. 2

Teruto Ishihara vs. Rolando Dy

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    Steven Rondina

    Teruto Ishihara needs to get back on the horse after back-to-back losses, and Rolando Dy seems like as good a jobber as any. The Filipino fighter is just 8-5 in his career, and that's just not good enough to hack it in the competitive UFC featherweight division.

    Ishihara, TKO, Rd. 2

            

    Scott Harris

    Everyone likes Ishihara, with his hilarious (I guess) misogyny and all. But after a big splash in the UFC, he's cooled off with two straight losses. Too much in love with celebrity, perhaps? In either case, he'll have a chance to lead the dance against Dy, who is not well known but still an effective counterstriker. Aggression wins it for the lady killer.

    Ishihara, TKO, Rd. 2

          

    Craig Amos

    I've lost any faith in Ishihara as an actual prospect, but he's good enough to put in some exciting performances against lower-tier opponents. That's the script the UFC wrote from this pairing, and it's likely to play out as they intended.

    Ishihara, knockout, Rd. 1

            

    Nathan McCarter

    Let's keep it chalk. I suspect this will be an entertaining fight, but as Scott says, aggression wins out. Ishihara earns a stoppage.

    Ishihara, TKO, Rd. 2

Gokhan Saki vs. Henrique da Silva

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    Steven Rondina

    Da Silva's struggles are impossible to ignore here and, against a bruiser like Saki, that's not good.

    Saki, TKO, Rd. 1

                        

    Scott Harris

    Henrique da Silva could muscle into Gokhan Saki and push him around in the cage. But Saki is an exciting prospect, even if those prospects are mixed because of his exclusively kickboxing background. For the sake of the moribund light heavyweight division, I'm hoping for fireworks.

    Saki, TKO, Rd. 2

            

    Craig Amos

    If Saki can stay on his feet, it should be a fun match. Otherwise, we could see some sloppy grappling and heavy breathing. I'll be optimistic and say we get some exchanges. That means Saki should notch his first win.

    Saki, KO, Rd. 1

          

    Nathan McCarter

    Can Da Silva get this to the mat? Maybe, but I'm going against him here. He's on a three-fight skid and is being fed to an exceptional striker for a reason. A very violent reason.

    Saki, KO, Rd. 1

Takanori Gomi vs. Dong Hyun Kim

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    Steven Rondina

    Takanori Gomi is done. Just flat-out done. Despite being an MMA legend, he is possibly the single worst fighter on the UFC roster today, and that's a damn shame. I don't foresee this one even being competitive.

    Kim, TKO, Rd. 1

             

    Scott Harris

    Gomi is a shot fighter until further notice, and it's typically not something that reverses. He hasn't won since 2014. "The Other" Dong Hyun Kim is a brawler and may just surrender a knockdown, but he'll return fire on Gomi and write another sad chapter in the legend's slow decline.

    Kim, TKO, Rd. 2

            

    Craig Amos

    I'm on the same page as Steven and Scott. Kim is a winnable fight for Gomi, and that's why the UFC booked it in Japan. But I have a policy of not picking aging fighters who have accumulated a ton of damage and are coming off of four straight first-round losses.

    Kim, submission, Rd. 3

           

    Nathan McCarter

    Y'all are a bunch of no-good haters. Don't get me wrong, you're probably right. Gomi is completely shot at this juncture. Still, give me "The Fireball Kid" for one last hurrah. Against all the odds, he is able to catch Kim with a thunderous punch.

    Gomi, TKO, Rd. 1

Claudia Gadelha vs. Jessica Andrade

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    Steven Rondina

    Andrade is good, but Gadelha is great. Look for her to work her wrestling, keep things to the cage and take two handy 10-9s without having to enter those dicey championship rounds.

    Gadelha, unanimous decision

          

    Scott Harris

    This is the best fight on the card, and it's not close. Gadelha is more rounded, but Andrade throws strikes by the hailstorm. This will have some outstanding standing exchanges, but Gadelha's ground game will tell the tale and pave the way for a violent pounding.

    Gadelha, TKO, Rd. 3

             

    Craig Amos

    Gadelha might be the best strawweight in the world for two rounds or less. And that's typically enough to win a three-round fight. The caveat here is that Andrade doesn't really let up, so Gadelha can't coast in Round 3. She's talented enough to survive, though, so I'll back her to take the fight on points.

    Gadelha, unanimous decision

            

    Nathan McCarter

    This should be the main event, but I'm not sure it needs five rounds. Gadelha has come up short against the champion twice, but both were close. Now she is fully acclimated to her new home and camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and looks absolutely sensational. Ask Kowalkiewicz who suffered a first-round defeat to Gadelha.

    Gadelha uses Andrade's pressure against her by taking her down and utilizing ground and pound until the referee stops it. Gadelha firmly cements her position and third title shot.

    Gadelha, TKO, Rd. 3

Ovince Saint Preux vs. Yushin Okami

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    Steven Rondina

    Okami's been solid since his dubious UFC release in 2013, but he's moving up to light heavyweight for his return when he's been fighting at 170 of late. That's a recipe for disaster against a power puncher in Saint Preux.

    Saint Preux, TKO, Rd. 3

           

    Scott Harris

    What is this. Why am I writing this. No one knows what Okami, being age 36 and having competed in a word salad of organizations these past two years, can still bring to this level. But all guesses are leaning toward "not very much." Okami shouldn't be able to hang with Saint Preux on the feet, and perhaps elsewhere.

    Saint Preux, unanimous decision

              

    Craig Amos

    Ah yes, Okami. The man I thought would beat Anderson Silva back in 2011. We've all come a long way since then, but nothing about Okami's journey tells me he's going to win a short-notice fight against an opponent competing two divisions higher than he last competed. At least there's a little nostalgia in it.

    Saint Preux, TKO, Rd. 3

            

    Nathan McCarter

    As mentioned, Okami was fighting at 170 in the Professional Fighters League. That's not a good sign coming up to light heavyweight on short notice. But it does put a lot of pressure on Saint Preux. I'm not sure he'll look outstanding, but his frame and full camp will allow him to settle in and overtake Okami by the third.

    Saint Preux, TKO, Rd. 3