UFC on Fox 26 Predictions: Main Card Staff Picks

Craig Amos@@CAABRMMAFeatured ColumnistDecember 15, 2017

UFC on Fox 26 Predictions: Main Card Staff Picks

0 of 4

    Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    With December's days dropping off the calendar, the UFC is set to host its penultimate show of 2017 on Saturday.

    UFC on Fox 26 will be headlined by a welterweight tussle between former champions Robbie Lawler and Rafael dos Anjos.

    After seeing his title run come to a screeching halt back in 2016, Lawler rebounded with a hard-fought victory over Donald Cerrone, and he is looking to build some momentum on his way back up the divisional ladder. Dos Anjos, meanwhile, has posted an impressive 2-0 record since moving up to 170 pounds.

    With both men a single victory away from entering the title picture, there is a lot on the line.

    UFC on Fox 26's 12-fight docket features a bevy of intriguing matchups beyond the top draw, including a trio of main card clashes.

    From Santiago Ponzinibbio and Mike Perry facing off in a battle of knockout artists, to Glover Teixeira and Misha Cirkunov battling for ground at 205, to perennial contender Ricardo Lamas looking to beat back a rising Josh Emmett, there is plenty to get excited about. 

    In anticipation of the event, Bleacher Report MMA has assembled our usual team to provide you with our prognostications for each of the main card fights.

    Read on for predictions from Scott Harris, Nathan McCarter, Steven Rondina and Craig Amos.

Glover Teixeira vs. Misha Cirkunov

1 of 4

    Both Teixeira (left) and Cirkunov (right) are looking to bounce back from a loss.
    Both Teixeira (left) and Cirkunov (right) are looking to bounce back from a loss.Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Nathan McCarter

    I'll take Cirkunov in this spot. On paper, it's a matchup likely to favor Texeira, but in reality we do have to factor in how shopworn the Brazilian has become—he's well past his prime. Cirkunov has youth on his side and that will carry him against the former title challenger.

    Cirkunov, unanimous decision

                

    Steven Rondina

    I'm bearish on Volkan Oezdemir and he absolutely starched Cirkunov. Maybe that sours me on him too much and maybe I'll change my tune later, but right now I'm favoring the tried-and-true contender here in Teixeira.

    Teixeira, TKO, Rd. 2

                  

    Scott Harris

    Teixeira is a good-but-shopworn light heavyweight. His clinch-right hand power shot game is predictable. Yes, Cirkunov lost momentum in that loss to Oezdemir, but he's still talented and relatively fresh in a decidedly unfresh division. He'll get back on track here (and make Teixeira look old in the process).

    Cirkunov, unanimous decision

                

    Craig Amos

    "Shopworn" is a good word for Teixeira. He's tough as nails, but he no longer seems to be on par with the division's top level. I'm not convinced Cirkunov is there, either, but he's at least not trending down as quickly. I'll say Cirkunov uses his wrestling to eke out the points he needs for a decision win.

    Cirkunov, unanimous decision

Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Mike Perry

2 of 4

    Ponzinibbio is riding a five-fight win streak.
    Ponzinibbio is riding a five-fight win streak.Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Nathan McCarter

    Two guys who will throw heaters right from the start. Between the pair, I'll take the more tactical: Ponzinibbio. He can frustrate Perry with a more thoughtful approach before flattening him.

    Ponzinibbio, TKO, Rd. 2

               

    Steven Rondina

    Both of these guys have been developing quickly, so there's a lot of room for error when picking this one. I'm leaning in Ponzinibbio's direction right now, though. His striking is technical enough to avoid getting smashed by one of Perry's haymakers, and he has the savvy to avoid being dragged into an ill-advised brawl.

    Ponzinibbio, unanimous decision

                 

    Scott Harris

    Perry will try to weasel his way inside on Ponzinibbio and dirty this up in the clinch. But the Argentine has more tricks in his back, including kicks and footwork, to keep Perry at bay. The American will go down before he can really get going.

    Ponzinibbio, TKO, Rd. 1

                 

    Craig Amos

    Perry's power makes him a threat in any fight, but Ponzinibbio wields some serious power of his own and backs it up with a greater quantity of skill. Ponzinibbio will take control early and wrap things up in the second frame.

    Ponzinibbio, knockout, Rd. 2

Ricardo Lamas vs. Josh Emmett

3 of 4

    Lamas rarely loses to a non elite opponent.
    Lamas rarely loses to a non elite opponent.Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Nathan McCarter

    Can Lamas look impressive? He has a favorable matchup and needs to show UFC brass he's still a contender who can generate excitement. He'll have no issues with the win, but I'm not sure he can get a big finish.

    Lamas, unanimous decision

               

    Steven Rondina

    Lamas is one of those guys who always wins when I pick against himand always loses when I'm riding with him. This feels like a no-brainer, though, since Lamas is a viable contender, while Emmett is a guy who lost to Des Green a few months back.

    Lamas, unanimous decision

                

    Scott Harris

    I'm not sure what to make of this fight given the position it's in on the card. I realize Emmett is a replacement fighter here, but the stage seems bigger than he is, even if he does have good wrestling. Lamas has more tools, though, and could get a knockout or a submission. Here's guessing the latter.

    Lamas, submission, Rd. 2

                  

    Craig Amos

    Lamas is underappreciated. He doesn't say a lot and isn't flamboyant, but he quietly goes out and takes care of business. His only three UFC losses have come against Jose Aldo, Chad Mendes and Max Holloway, which are all forgivable, and he routinely disposes of lesser opponents. Emmett has shown some skill, but he's certainly the odd man out when added to the list of names in Lamas' loss column, so his prospects don't look promising.

    Lamas, unanimous decision

Robbie Lawler vs. Rafael dos Anjos

4 of 4

    A win would vault dos Anjos into the welterweight title picture.
    A win would vault dos Anjos into the welterweight title picture.Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

    Nathan McCarter

    I know there's a lot of buzz around RDA at welterweight due to how he's looked, but I think this is a decent matchup for Lawler. The additional reason I'm more excited about Lawler in this position is that he took extensive time off following the KO loss to Tyron Woodley. He'll be fresh and revamped.

    RDA can push a pace, but Lawler has shown his mettle far more often in five-round fights. Lawler ends up putting dos Anjos away with a swarm of heavy strikes.

    Lawler, TKO, Rd. 3

                  

    Steven Rondina

    It's really tough to pin down where Lawler is in his career. He's only fought once since his life-shortening reign as champion and while he won that bout against Donald Cerrone, it's easy to wonder if that was more a symptom of his opponent's decline than a statement on Lawler's longevity.

    It's easy to see how RDA is doing these days, though. He's doing great at 170 pounds. So great I'm expecting him to cruise through Lawler en route to a title shot in 2018.

    Dos Anjos, unanimous decision

                   

    Scott Harris

    Picking against Lawler is never something you do comfortably. But his chin is iffy, his takedown defense is good but not great and ditto his grappling. Dos Anjos seems more than capable of drawing up a game plan that exploits those things, then keeping to it in the crucible of Lawler's attack.

    Dos Anjos, unanimous decision

                   

    Craig Amos

    The results have been there for Lawler, who has won six of seven, but his last five fights are comprised of four brutal battles of attrition and a knockout loss. At 35, the time for his tumble down the cliff would seem to be nigh, and a fighter at the level of dos Anjos is a great candidate to nudge him off the ledge.

    The Brazilian has the chops to stand, but he will end the fight by notching his 10th career submission.

    Dos Anjos, submission, Rd. 3