UFC Fight Night 126: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Predictions
Anyone who had a sour taste in their mouth from the not-especially-great UFC 221 pay-per-view has the chance to wash that out at UFC Fight Night 126 Sunday. The UFC's latest Fox Sports 1 foray has a lot to offer fans, with a strong main event sitting atop a card full of interesting up-and-comers and recognizable veterans.
The full card reads as follows.
Main Card (Fox Sports 1)
- Donald Cerrone vs. Yancy Medeiros
- Derrick Lewis vs. Marcin Tybura
- James Vick vs. Francisco Trinaldo
- Thiago Alves vs. Curtis Millender
- Steven Peterson vs. Brandon Davis
- Sage Northcutt vs. Thibault Gouti
Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 1)
- Jared Gordon vs. Carlos Diego Ferreira
- Brian Camozzi vs. Geoffrey Neal
- Roberto Sanchez vs. Joby Sanchez
- Sarah Moras vs. Lucie Pudilova
Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass)
- Alex Morono vs. Josh Burkman
- Oskar Piechota vs. Tim Williams
Naturally, the Bleacher Report predictions squad is here to spoil the event for everyone and give its picks for the main card bouts. Read on to find out who is going to win Sunday night.
Sage Northcutt vs. Thibault Gouti
I'm not one of these Sage Northcutt haters who thinks he's hopelessly awful. He's just young and got pushed too far too fast and took what he was given like the rest of us would. Thibault Gouti is a tough out, but he's not a world-beater. I'll say Super Sage has developed some new tricks at Team Alpha Male and comes out on top.
Northcutt via TKO, Round 2.
Yeah, so this looks like another showcase matchup for Northcutt, and there's nothing to tell me he won't shine against Gouti. It will be more telling how his camp changes have improved him as a fighter. It's an interesting spot for the prospect.
Northcutt via TKO, Rd. 1.
I've said this before when discussing the UFC's darling fighters, and I'll say it again here: This is a fight tailor-made for Northcutt to win. There's a chance he punts it given the fact he's not very good, but odds are he gets it done here and looks good in the process.
Northcutt, TKO via Rd. 1.
Steven Peterson vs. Brandon Davis
I saw Brandon Davis firsthand in Boston in January and think he has some talent and personality. He's fighting "Subtle" Steven Peterson, whom I'm so naming because of the giant Superman shield he's got tattooed on his chest. With wings.
There's just no way I can side with that dude.
Davis via unanimous decision.
I'll be honest, I have no idea who these dudes are. I guess Davis was on Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series? I have no recollection of that or his one UFC fight. I'll still pick him. He has two bouts inside the Octagon, which gives him greater familiarity. Right? Sure.
Davis via unanimous decision.
One of the unintended consequences of all these Dana White-focused programs like the Tuesday Night Contender Series and Lookin' for a Fight is we have gotten to see how bad the UFC president is when it comes to scouting out talent. Seriously! The only gauge he's working with is "potential for a wacky knockout."
Clinchwork? Fight IQ? Literally anything related to grappling? He doesn't seem to know what he's looking at.
Oh, this fight? Peterson and his aforementioned stupid tattoos probably have this.
Peterson via split decision.
Thiago Alves vs. Curtis Millender
Remember back in 2009 when we all thought Thiago Alves would be a perennial title contender? Didn't happen. Now he's fighting a guy I don't know on a Sunday night FS1 show. Life comes at you fast, man.
Alves is still pretty good. He never should have toyed with dropping to lightweight because he's good enough to get wins at 170 against a lot of guys. He will do it here.
Alves via unanimous decision.
I was much more into Alves' proposed bouts against Zak Cummings and Mike Perry last year, but those never happened. If he's still the same Pitbull, Curtis Millender is in for a beating. Heavy leg kicks take away his base and set Alves up for some big shots in the second.
Alves via TKO, Rd. 2.
Alves' win over Patrick Cote last year went a long way in terms of making me a believer in him again. Do I think he's going to challenge for a title again? No. But can I, making predictions here, feel pretty darn confident in picking him to beat the brakes off a UFC newcomer? Heck yeah.
Alves via unanimous decision.
James Vick vs. Francisco Trinaldo
A battle between two underrated dudes who just win fights. I'm looking for a scrappy affair wherein Francisco Trinaldo tries to get inside and crowd James Vick, who will look to prevent that with rangy shots from distance.
Vick is on the rise, and it feels like Trinaldo is as old as my dad by now, so I'm taking the Texan to win on home soil.
Vick via unanimous decision.
Vick has been sneakily climbing the ranks, but I'll pull the trigger on the modest upset. Trinaldo's ground game and heavy hands will be a bad matchup for Vick regardless of the reach advantage. He will connect flush and rock Vick, leading to a submission.
Trinaldo via submission, Rd. 2.
Trinaldo's loss to Kevin Lee was the end of his Cinderella story. He's just one of the many anonymous dangerous-yet-mid-tier lightweights in the UFC, and that's the sort of fighter Vick has been consistently thrashing.
Vick via TKO, Rd. 2.
Derrick Lewis vs. Marcin Tybura
Derrick Lewis rules. He's just the best. It will be the seventh straight time he's been on a Fight Night event and the first in three that he hasn't been the headliner. He's a face we all recognize and love to watch compete.
Marcin Tybura is somewhere between being a prospect and being what he is. He probably learned some lessons in his loss to Fabricio Werdum, but I'm not sure which of them would apply against Lewis, who's about as far from Werdum as you are going to get stylistically.
My money is on Lewis landing one of those bungalows on the side of Tybura's dome and putting him to sleep.
Lewis via KO, Round 1.
Lewis regains some of the steam that left his hype train with an emphatic KO. Tybura is set up to fail.
Lewis via KO, Rd. 1.
Hate to rain on this parade, but this is an incredibly tough fight for Derrick Lewis. Tybura isn't one of those dudes who is going to slug it out with him. Tybura's one of those dude's who is going to clinch him, get some takedowns and take an underwhelming but undeniable decision win.
Tybura via unanimous decision.
Donald Cerrone vs. Yancy Medeiros
About five years ago, I'd have told you Yancy Medeiros was a top-5 prospect in MMA. He was training with the Diaz boys and either beating or hanging with some tough hombres. I mostly think things didn't pan out because he wasn't the most active guy around.
But there's one fact in this world that is unavoidable, and it's that Donald Cerrone always beats guys he's supposed to beat. He should beat Medeiros, and I think after a period of chopping leg kicks, he does just that.
Cerrone via submission, Round 3.
Remember what Nate Diaz was able to do to Cerrone? I'm not quite expecting that level of domination, but Medeiros has that same level of ability and toughness to keep in Cerrone's face. They are already on different career arcs, and Medeiros' pace will continue to send Cerrone's downward while he moves in the opposite direction.
Medeiros via TKO, Rd. 3.
My heart is saying Cerrone, but my head is winning this battle. The wear and tear from his 43 pro MMA fights (not counting his time in boxing or kickboxing) has started to add up, and I don't see that course reversing.
Medeiros via unanimous decision.