UFC Fight Night 121 Predictions: Main Card Staff Picks

Craig AmosFeatured ColumnistNovember 17, 2017

UFC Fight Night 121 Predictions: Main Card Staff Picks

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    Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    The UFC continues its race to the end of 2017 when it brings the Octagon to the Land Down Under this Saturday, November 18, for UFC Fight Night 121. The card features a strong Australian presence, with six nationals populating the show's main card. 

    Aussies Bec Rawlings and Jessica-Rose Clark will battle it out in the co-main event. Rawlings enters the bout coming off a pair of losses, putting her in a desperate need of a victory. Promotional newcomer Clark brings a 7-4 pro record into her debut and will look to make an early impression on fans by forcing a surprising result.

    The main event pits heavyweights Fabricio Werdum and Marcin Tybura head-to-head. Werdum, a former champion, is looking to build off an October win over Walt Harris to reinvigorate his championship prospects.

    Tybura, meanwhile, enters the fray riding a three-fight win streak, looking to cement himself as a divisional contender.

    The UFC Fight Night 121 main card looks like this:

    • Fabricio Werdum vs. Marcin Tybura
    • Bec Rawlings  vs. Jessica-Rose Clark
    • Tim Means vs. Belal Muhammad
    • Jake Matthews vs. Bojan Velickovic
    • Elias Theodorou vs. Daniel Kelly 
    • Alexander Volkanovski vs. Shane Young

    As usual, the Bleacher Report picks team has graciously provided you with insight and prognostications. Read on for calls from Scott Harris, Nathan McCarter, Steven Rondina and Craig Amos.

Alexander Volkanovski vs. Shane Young

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    Volkanovski enters the fight as a big favorite.
    Volkanovski enters the fight as a big favorite.Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Scott Harris

    Shane Young is the third, count them, third person to face Alexander Volkanovski here. The Australian Volkanovski is a brutal fighter, and he'll take advantage of the young man Young, be it on the feet or on the ground. Expect blood.

    Volkanovski, TKO, Rd. 2

            

    Nathan McCarter

    Volkanovski is a -650 favorite, per OddsShark, here for a reason. Expect a dominant showing against an outmatched foe.

    Volkanovski, TKO, Rd. 1

            

    Steven Rondina

    I'm not completely willing to dismiss Young here because I'm not that bullish on Volkanovski. I'm not going to pretend that Volkanovski isn't the favorite, though.

    Volkanovski, TKO, Rd. 1

          

    Craig Amos

    I won't claim to know too much about Young, other than that he's largely untested. But given that Volkanovski has faced stiffer competition and posted better results on bigger stages, he's the obvious choice to grab the main card's first win.

    Volkanovski, TKO, Rd. 1

Elias Theodorou vs. Daniel Kelly

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    Theodorou is looking to hand Kelly a second straight loss.
    Theodorou is looking to hand Kelly a second straight loss.Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Scott Harris

    Old Kneepads Daniel Kelly keeps it going in the UFC middlweight division. The elite judoka is a nice, round 40 years old now. Can he impose his will against a well-rounded fighter like Elias Theodorou?

    Here's guessing he can not. Theodorou's striking is certainly better, even if it's methodical at times, and Kelly will have difficulty with takedowns until he proves that he won't.

    Theodorou, TKO, Rd. 2 

           

    Nathan McCarter

    Kelly's rise was fun while it lasted, but it finally came to an end. A younger foe like Theodorou will give him another loss.

    Theodorou will have to stay off the cage to avoid the grimy grappling exchanges, but that's really his only worry here. He'll do enough to score on the feet and take a decision.

    Theodorou, unanimous decision

            

    Steven Rondina

    Kelly's loss to Derek Brunson was a pretty big reality check for everyone's favorite Judo Grandpa. While Theodorou doesn't have the sheer power that Brunson does, he's got the tools to keep Kelly at a comfortable distance and outland him en route to a straightforward unanimous decision.

    Theodorou, unanimous decision

          

    Craig Amos

    Kelly shouldn't pose much of a threat here, but he has the habit of beating guys supposedly better than him. Theodorou will hold serve in this one, though, and I'll even call for the Canadian to get the finish, largely because 40-year-olds coming off knockout losses often seem to get knocked out.

    Theodorou, TKO, Rd. 2  

Jake Matthews vs. Bojan Velickovic

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    Matthews (right) has never needed a win like he does now.
    Matthews (right) has never needed a win like he does now.Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Scott Harris

    Jake Matthews is a ground-fighter through and through. With eight submissions to his name, Bojan Velickovic would seem comfortable here as well.

    And Matthews only has a 40 percent takedown accuracy, per FightMetric, so that doesn't exactly indicate a dominant figure. And on the feet, this is the Serb's fight to lose. The slight underdog pulls an upset.

    Velickovic, TKO, Rd. 2 

           

    Nathan McCarter

    After back-to-back losses, Matthews is coming back from a year-long layoff. The once bright prospect needs a big performance to bring back some of that confidence.

    I think he can do it. Matthews has all the raw talent to be a factor in this division. I'm not sure this is the spot where he puts it all together, but it's a spot where he can do enough to get his hand raised.

    Matthews, unanimous decision

              

    Steven Rondina

    The time off and move to 170 pounds should breathe some new life into Matthews' career. Velickovic is a manageable opponent who shouldn't push him too hard, and that should make for a nice reintroduction for Matthews to Australian fans.

    Matthews, unanimous decision

           

    Craig Amos

    Matthews has had some hiccups during his UFC tenure, but he remains a talented young prospect. It may just be a case of taking on too much too soon.

    Velickovic is another guy who has shown some promise, but his natural ability pales in comparison. The guess here is that Matthews turns in a strong performance, showing that he's ready to get things moving again.

    Matthews, submission, Rd. 1

Tim Means vs. Belal Muhammad

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    Means has consistently had his hand raised.
    Means has consistently had his hand raised.Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

     Scott Harris

    Tim Means has that rust belt muay thai thing going on. Belal Muhammad will need to get inside and land short shots or notch a takedown.

    Neither one seems likely against the much rangier Means. He'll make Muhammad pay for his attempts to get close.

    Means, TKO, Rd. 2

          

    Nathan McCarter

    This is the best fight on the card by a wide margin. I enjoy both fighters immensely and it's a coin-flip.

    I'm going to take Muhammad in this spot. I'm a believer, what can I say? His strength advantage will help him force the fight where he wants it, and he'll be able to wear down Means through 15 minutes of high-paced action.

    Muhammad, unanimous decision

            

    Steven Rondina

    Tim Means is older and further into his career than Belal Muhammad. Means should be the craftier of the two, but I feel like he's trending downward while Muhammad is moving up the ranks, and that should result in a decent, but hard-fought, win for the 29-year-old.

    Muhammad, unanimous decision

            

    Craig Amos

    Means is completely vicious, but Muhammad is no pushover. I expect a fair amount of action and for both fighters to have their moments, but Means will ultimately wear down the other man, turning him from opponent to prey.

    Means, TKO, Rd. 2

Bec Rawlings vs. Jessica-Rose Clark

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    Rawlings may be fighting for her UFC career.
    Rawlings may be fighting for her UFC career.Tim Warner/Getty Images

    Scott Harris

    Clark has a nice muay thai game and she'll have her opportunities at other times. The UFC is kind to late replacements with camera appeal, regardless of what happens in the fight. Rawlings will brawl her way to a tough victory.

    Rawlings, unanimous decision

            

    Nathan McCarter

    Late replacements are usually a bad pick, but I'm going to take a flier on Jessy Jess here. Expect her to look strong at flyweight, and she has an athletic advantage over Rawlings. Given their relative skill levels, I'm leaning toward the better athlete.

    Clark, unanimous decision

           

    Steven Rondina

    Rawlings isn't really good enough that I'd favor her heavily over anybody in the UFC, even a debuting opponent like Clark. Still, she has a judges-friendly style, and Clark doesn't have the finishing skills to keep the fight from reaching that point. That should make for an ugly, boring fight that ends with Rawlings' hand raised.

    Rawlings, unanimous decision

           

    Craig Amos

    A couple of weeks ago, our co-main event was TJ Dillashaw vs. Cody Garbrandt. Now it's this. I miss a couple of weeks ago.

    The ceiling is pretty low for both fighters, but Rawlings has posted better results and has more experience against high-level competition. She'll roll to a one-sided decision win.

    Rawlings, unanimous decision

Fabricio Werdum vs. Marcin Tybura

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    Werdum is poised to see his hand raised once again.
    Werdum is poised to see his hand raised once again.Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Scott Harris

    No chance for Tybura on this one. No chance. He's a ground and clinch fighter. Werdum has him outflanked eight ways from Sunday. Perhaps he could land a big knockout, but that's remote too given Werdum's superior all-around striking skills.

    Werdum, unanimous decisio 

             

    Nathan McCarter

    Maybe I'm sleeping on Tybura, but I have absolutely no belief that he's going to walk out the victor on Saturday. If Werdum stays composed, he will make quick work of Tybura. This is one of the least competitive main events you'll see.

    Werdum, submission, Rd. 1

              

    Steven Rondina

    I'm not usually the guy to make these kinds of picks, but when I do, they usually pay off. This fight is all Tybura.

    The former M-1 champion is younger, hungrier and has a style that is well-suited for beating out an aging Werdum, who apparently has to rely on boomerangs to dispatch fighters 40 pounds lighter than he is.

    Werdum is ripe for the picking for an up-and-comer like Tybura, and I think he makes the most of this opportunity.

    Tybura, TKO, Rd. 2

           

    Craig Amos

    If Werdum is able to use his boomerang, this one will be over before it begins. But since that's probably a no-go, it'll take him a little longer to secure the W.

    The Brazilian remains a top contender in the heavyweight division, while I'm not entirely convinced that Tybura has reached that height.

    Werdum, TKO, Rd. 3