UFC Fight Night 124 Predictions: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Picks

Nathan McCarter@McCarterNFeatured ColumnistJanuary 13, 2018

UFC Fight Night 124 Predictions: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Picks

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    It's a new year and the slate is clean. The UFC heads to St. Louis to kick off the calendar with a featherweight clash headlining the bill at UFC Fight Night 124 in the Scottrade Center.

    Contenders Jeremy Stephens and Doo Ho Choi will look to try to ignite fireworks in the evening's main event. It will be Choi's first fight back since his loss in the 2016 Fight of the Year contender against Cub Swanson.

    In the co-main event, MMA legend Vitor Belfort makes one final trip to the cage. Standing opposite him will be the dynamic Uriah Hall.

    Who walks out of the cage with a win under their belt for the remaining months of the new year?

    The Bleacher Report team is back. Steven Rondina, Scott Harris, Craig Amos and Nathan McCarter take a look at the four-fight main card to offer prognostications of the UFC's first event of 2018.

    Let's jump in and see what the expert picks are for UFC Fight Night 124.

Kamaru Usman vs. Emil Weber Meek

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    Steven Rondina

    Emil Weber Meek is an interesting semi-prospect and had a solid UFC debut, but Kamaru Usman is just impossible to deny at this point.

    He's 6-0 in the UFC, and I'm expecting him to advance to 7-0 in fairly convincing fashion with a solid, striking-heavy performance.

    Usman, unanimous decision

            

    Scott Harris

    Usman is the best. He's going to tear Meek a new garbage hole. No need to analyze this one.

    Usman, unanimous decision

           

    Craig Amos

    I've been tempted to go with the upset here, because I think Meek has the ability to disrupt the division a little bit. But I'm chickening out because Usman is unstoppable.

    Best case scenario, it's a competitive affair that leaves us with two guys on the rise to be excited about.

    Usman, unanimous decision

            

    Nathan McCarter

    Usman is quite possibly the best fighter at 170 pounds in the world right now, and he's getting better each outing.

    Meek is fun. Fun doesn't topple the best often, and it won't happen here either.

    Usman will turn up the pressure in the second round and pound out Meek to make a statement.

    Usman, TKO, Rd. 2

Paige VanZant vs. Jessica-Rose Clark

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    Steven Rondina

    The UFC pulled Paige VanZant out of a fight with Jessica Eye so she could face Jessica-Rose Clark. That should tell you all you need to know about her chances here.

    VanZant, unanimous decision

           

    Scott Harris

    VanZant is interesting to people for reasons that have nothing to do with her actual fighting ability. Come on, Jessy Jess.

    Clark, unanimous decision

           

    Craig Amos

    Clark acquitted herself well in her UFC debut, but despite the size advantage she holds over VanZant, she will be hard-pressed to match the pace thrust upon her. If the Aussie manages to keep her opponent at bay, then she'll earn the nod, but that's not the most likely way for this pairing to play out.

    VanZant, unanimous decision

            

    Nathan McCarter

    This is an odd one for me because I am not at all high on the prospects of VanZant, and I rather like what Clark brings to the cage. But I'm going to pick VanZant here. I think she'll have enough wrestling and submission defense to smother Clark for 15 minutes.

    VanZant, unanimous decision

Uriah Hall vs. Vitor Belfort

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    Steven Rondina

    It's possible that Uriah Hall does that thing where he just doesn't fight and seems content in backpedaling his way to a surefire decision loss.

    Against an old, slow Vitor Belfort, however, I'm expecting him to do that other thing where he annihilates his opponent in spectacular fashion.

    Hall, TKO, Rd. 2

          

    Scott Harris

    I guess Hall wins the cardio battle. They'll both try to get a big KO, but it won't happen. Hey, good luck in retirement, Mr. Belfort.

    Hall, unanimous decision

          

    Craig Amos

    This will either be a painful three-round kickboxing match fought underwater (possible), a quick knockout for Belfort (unlikely) or a knockout for Hall after Belfort exhausts himself (probable).

    Hall, KO, Rd. 2

          

    Nathan McCarter

    There is always the possibility of Belfort scoring a knockout, but those chances have gone down with the years. This looks like a spot where Hall can shine by sending Belfort's soul to the shadow realm.

    Hall, KO, Rd. 1

Jeremy Stephens vs. Doo Ho Choi

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    Steven Rondina

    Choi's mandatory South Korean military service is eclipsing his "next big thing" status, and because of that, the UFC is trying to have him catch as many losses as possible on his way out.

    After an agonizing fight with Cub Swanson, the promotion is trying to officially put an end to any realistic hopes of contendership by handing him a loss to Stephens. Choi will likely oblige and fall short on the scorecards in another physically grueling scrap.

    Stephens, unanimous decision

           

    Scott Harris

    I'm excited by the notion that these two will handle things with their fists. Stephens will fall to the Korean.

    Choi, TKO, Rd. 2

           

    Craig Amos

    I've been back and forth on this main event for some time now. Choi is an exciting up-and-comer with ample power, while Stephens has improved methodically over his career, peaking without fanfare.

    This will likely be a slugfest that sees both guys have their moments, but Choi will ultimately score the one that ends the bout.

    Choi, TKO, Rd. 3

          

    Nathan McCarter

    Stephens has looked phenomenal recently, but there is one specific key that has me leaning toward "The Korean Superboy" in this spot: accuracy.

    Choi's accurate punching will be the difference. As they mix it up and throw haymakers, Choi will find the chin more often to get a stoppage.

    Choi, TKO, Rd. 3