UFC Fight Night 120: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Predictions

Steven RondinaFeatured ColumnistNovember 10, 2017

UFC Fight Night 120: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Predictions

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    Anthony Pettis is looking to reestablish himself as an elite lightweight at UFC Fight Night 120.
    Anthony Pettis is looking to reestablish himself as an elite lightweight at UFC Fight Night 120.Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

    UFC 217 has been widely labelled as a "refreshing" night of mixed martial arts. UFC Fight Night 120, however, is set to bring fans back to earth with a lineup of fights that are long on name value but short on intrigue. The main card is as follows:

    • Dustin Poirier vs. Anthony Pettis
    • Matt Brown vs. Diego Sanchez
    • Junior Albini vs. Andrei Arlovski
    • Nate Marquardt vs. Cezar Ferreira
    • Raphael Assuncao vs. Matthew Lopez
    • Joe Lauzon vs. Clay Guida

    There are lots of aging veterans on that card but only six wins to go around. With that in mind, the Bleacher Report staff is here to preview and predict the UFC Norfolk card and discuss who will walk out of Virginia with a new lease on their career and who won't.

Joe Lauzon vs. Clay Guida

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    UFC Fight Night 120's main card kicks off with a showdown between two enduring fan favorites.
    UFC Fight Night 120's main card kicks off with a showdown between two enduring fan favorites.Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Scott Harris

    I'm not sure what to expect from this one. Both Joe Lauzon and Clay Guida are capable of fireworks and both are capable of slower-paced affairs. The former will play out, with Lauzon having just enough strength to stay out of Guida's wall-and-stall. He'll use his length in the stand-up to score on the more meat-and-potatoes Guida.

    Lauzon, unanimous decision

          

    Craig Amos

    Holy 2011, amiright? Lauzon has aged better, but he's looked inconsistent over the past couple of years, and Guida enters the contest as the betting favorite. Maybe it's optimism, but I'm picturing a vintage firefight that ends with a bloodied Lauzon's arms wrapped around Guida's throat.

    Lauzon, submission, Rd. 2

          

    Nathan McCarter

    Neither fighter has looked magnificent in recent years, but both still have a little bit left in the gas tank. This fight is about who has more. I lean toward "The Carpenter."

    After a few years toiling in the featherweight division and cutting quite a bit to get there, he returned to lightweight with a win earlier this year. I certainly wouldn't have called it a rebirth, but he looked refreshed. High pace and high volume wins the day for Clay.

    Guida, unanimous decision

            

    Steven Rondina

    Lauzon is probably the better overall fighter at this point, but Guida is just kind of perfectly suited to beat him at this point. There's a chance that Lauzon can lay a clean shot on to Guida's no-longer-steely chin and get this, but I'm fully expecting Guida to get the takedowns to take this on the score cards.

    Guida, unanimous decision

Raphael Assuncao vs. Matthew Lopez

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    Raphael Assuncao has scored back-to-back split decision wins that draws questions about a decline.
    Raphael Assuncao has scored back-to-back split decision wins that draws questions about a decline.Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Harris

    I'm not finished celebrating Raphael Assuncao's return in 2016 after two full years away with injury. He's 2-1 since that return, but surely no one will begrudge him a loss to TJ Dillashaw in his first fight back.

    Assuncao's classic strength is grappling, but he mixed it with powerful hands and solid overall defense. A converted wrestler, Matthew Lopez has proved a viable UFC fighter, but he's out of his depth in this one.

    Assuncao, submission, Rd. 2

         

    Amos

    Lopez has done some good work inside the Octagon, but this is a sizeable step up in competition. Assuncao has been on the edge of contention, seemingly forever, and it'll take more than this to knock him down from the precipice.

    Assuncao, unanimous decision

           

    McCarter

    I'm in lockstep with the crew here. Lopez is solid, but this is not going to go his way. Assuncao is one of the elite bantamweights. It'll show.

    Assuncao, submission, Rd. 2

           

    Rondina

    I'm tempted to pick against Assuncao just because I'm getting less and less convinced that he remains an elite bantamweight...but am I going to pick against him in favor of Matthew Lopez? No.

    Assuncao, unanimous decision

Nate Marquardt vs. Cezar Ferreira

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    Nate Marquardt's days as a UFC fighter seem to be winding down.
    Nate Marquardt's days as a UFC fighter seem to be winding down.Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Harris

    Cezar "Mutante" Ferreira is a wrestler and a grappler. He's going to try takedowns early and often. Nate Marquardt should be able to remain standing or return there after a takedown often enough to employ his striking.

    Marquardt's old, but he can still crack. With four of six defeats coming by knockout, it's clear that's not what Ferreira wants.

    Marquardt, KO, Rd. 1

            

    Amos

    Marquardt has been coasting on fumes since 2012. Ferreira is beatable to be sure, but so much has to go right for the one-time middleweight contender. I just don't have the feeling all the stars will align. Ferreira finishes it in the second round.

    Ferreira, TKO, Rd. 2

         

    McCarter

    I'm not too high on Ferreira's prospects long-term, but I have more faith in him than I do Marquardt's chin.

    It's not quite Andrei Arlovski-level—which is a coincidence they're both on this card—but it's certainly not great. Marquardt is the better fighter from a technique perspective, but the body can only take so much punishment. Ferreira lands with a clean punch and finishes Marquardt.

    Ferreira, KO, Rd. 1

         

    Rondina

    What more needs to be said? I'm taking Ferreira, but that's mostly just an indictment of Marquardt.

    Ferreira, TKO, Rd. 2

Junior Albini vs. Andrei Arlovski

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    Andrei Arlovski has been losing a lot lately.
    Andrei Arlovski has been losing a lot lately.Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Harris

    The 38-year-old Arlovski's fun late-career resurgence has cooled off big time, with a whopping five straight defeats. His jaw is suspect big time, and Junior Albini's not gonna help him out. The younger buck hasn't lost since 2012, and three of his last four wins came by knockout.

    Albini, TKO, Rd. 2

           

    Amos

    I'd be skeptical of any heavyweight with 10 knockout losses on his pro record, but one coming off five straight losses? I'll take the fighter moving up the ladder, not the one that fell off a couple years ago and has been reliving the landing over and over ever since.

    Albini, TKO, Rd. 1

           

    McCarter

    Albini made a cracking debut, and he'll keep that going. Arlovski is a punching bag at this juncture. He has lost five straight, with three of those losses by TKO. Make it four of six after Albini sleeps him.

    Albini, KO, Rd. 1

          

    Rondina

    Man, how depressing is it that Albini is getting higher billing than former UFC heavyweight champion Arlovski? Whoof. Almost as depressing as this fight will be.

    Albini, KO, Rd. 1

Matt Brown vs. Diego Sanchez

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    Matt Brown is set to hang 'em up after his bout with Diego Sanchez.
    Matt Brown is set to hang 'em up after his bout with Diego Sanchez.Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

    Harris

    If you have a hatch, batten it down. Matt Brown and his Rust Belt muay thai are big favorites for a reason. Diego Sanchez is as tough as steel and he is a berserker. You can never count him out, but the biggest intrigue may be what Sanchez—shopworn and bedraggled after 37 pro fights—still has in his tank.

    Brown, unanimous decision

          

    Amos

    Neither guy has done a ton of winning lately, but Sanchez has at least been getting some Ws here and there.

    While he's obviously prone to exchanges, and that's obviously not a great course of action in this one, Sanchez has never completely thrown away his wrestling, and that will be key here. A knockout from Brown is a real possibility, but I'm picking Sanchez to pull off the upset.

    Sanchez, unanimous decision

             

    McCarter

    This is a bout of pure fun regardless of how far past their prime they are. I give a decided edge to Brown. The size advantage will work against Sanchez over three rounds, and Brown's striking is going to give him problems when they are entangled. This will be a grueling, gritty fight with an abrupt end.

    Brown, TKO, Rd. 3

            

    Rondina

    I'm not sold on this fight being a barnburner in the way many are. Heck, just think about what these two men have been through in the UFC and tell me they haven't left something behind along the way.

    I do think it will be more competitive than the odds suggest, though, but unless Brown is suffering from some motivation issues in his (supposedly) final fight, he should be able to take this one.

    Brown, unanimous decision

Dustin Poirier vs. Anthony Pettis

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    Dustin Poirier is looking to bounce back from a disappointing fight with Eddie Alvarez.
    Dustin Poirier is looking to bounce back from a disappointing fight with Eddie Alvarez.Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Harris

    This is a cracker of a main card. When he defeated Jim Miller in July in his return to lightweight after 18 months and a 1-3 record following his loss of the lightweight title, Anthony Pettis had the look of a fighter who had his groove back.

    However, Miller chose, by and large, to let Pettis have the center of the cage, giving him space to get his striking off. Dustin Poirier may not be so generous, and he will choose to use his underrated wresting and submission games.

    Poirier, submission, Rd. 1

          

    Amos

    Poirier can hold his own in exchanges, but Pettis has him at a disadvantage there. His best avenue to victory is to lean on his wrestling, as he did in his victory over Joe Duffy. For Pettis, the key will be to stand his ground. He can't be so worried about the takedown that he ends up being pushed around the Octagon.

    For as good as Pettis has looked in the past, I need to see it again to believe he can beat a guy like Poirier. Until I'm convinced he's truly back, I'll lean toward his opposition when it passes a certain threshold of quality.

    Poirier, unanimous decision

           

    McCarter

    This fight may be the final chance these men have of being a true top contender. The loser could end up as a gatekeeper figure for the foreseeable future. With that hovering above the Octagon, this is sure to be a pivotal fight in their careers. And that's why I'm going with Pettis.

    Poirier has folded when met with big moments. Pettis has achieved glory when the bright lights shine. Back at 155, Pettis looks revitalized to make one last run up the rankings. He won't get caught up in wild brawls where Poirier could clip him, and he'll time Poirier well enough to earn a devastating KO.

    Pettis, KO, Rd. 2

            

    Rondina

    I just don't think that Anthony Pettis is an elite fighter at this point. He's still crafty, sure, but the quickness and pop that once made him a champ just seems to be gone, and that's bad news against a guy like Dustin Poirier. 

    Unless the 2014 Pettis makes a surprise return, Poirier should have this fairly handily via lopsided decision or late stoppage. 

    Poirier, unanimous decision