UFC 138 Fight Card: Early Main Card Betting Odds and Predictions
War pigs gather in their masses...
A quick glance at the UFC 138 fight card might have one thinking this event is just a snack to tide us over until the big Jon Jones fight at UFC 140.
Although UFC 138 lacks the star power of recent and upcoming events, it does feature some hard hitters and interesting matchups.
Plus, it is being held in Birmingham, England, and who isn’t excited about going to the West Midlands to hang with the Brummies?
Since Birmingham is the birthplace of Black Sabbath, I thought it would be appropriate to let the poetry of John Michael "Ozzy" Osbourne lead the way.
Paul Taylor vs. Anthony Njokuani
"Relentless" will keep on kicking until he has won...
"Children of the Grave": “They'll fight the world until they've won...”
Paul “Relentless” Taylor (11-6) is a native Englishman who has done most of his fighting on the pale side of the pond. He will be home again for this one, coming off of a defeat of Gabe Ruediger.
Taylor generally provides exciting fights and has taken home Fight of the Night honors on three different occasions, so expect more of the same from this lightweight kickboxing specialist.
Anthony “The Nigerian Money Offer” Njokuani (14-5) was born in Nigeria and immigrated to Texas, so he definitely shouldn’t be affected by the culture shock of the Brummie accent in Birmingham. He also has one of the greatest nicknames I’ve ever heard. Njokuani has only two fights in the UFC since they merged with the WEC—a close loss to Edson Barboza (Fight of the Night honors) and a win over Andre Winner (inappropriately named), in which he landed over 100 significant strikes.
Being that these two have four Fight of the Night bonuses between them, I am going to go out on a limb and say that this one will not be boring. Both of these fighters will be looking for the KO, so it will likely come down to who has the better chin.
And when it comes to chins, I always like the thick-headed English, especially in front of a friendly crowd.
Taylor will win by TKO in the third round, but it won’t be easy. This one will have some blood.
Terry Etim vs. Edward Faaloloto
Etim will have his work cut out for him, after all Faaloloto has been shot AND stabbed....
"Never Say Die": “Never, never, never say die again…”
Terry Etim (14-3) practices Muay Thai as well as Luta Livre (a freestyle grappling, submission style), so he is comfortable anywhere in the cage. Etim hasn’t fought since April 2010 (a loss to Rafael dos Anjos), so ring-rust could definitely be a factor. However, prior to that, he had two Submission of the Night victories, so look for Etim to take this one to the ground and try to choke out Faaloloto in front of his fellow Englishmen and women.
Edward “Captain Falcon” Faaloloto (7-2) comes from Hawaii, and if there is one thing we know about fighters from Hawaii, it’s that they are tough as hell and Faaloloto is no exception. He has been shot, stabbed and worked as a bodyguard in the Navy. Faaloloto practices Kajukenbo, which should be called a “kitchen sink” martial art as it uses a bit of everything. Faaloloto lost his only UFC fight to Michael Johnson, and he is eager to make a name for himself.
This should be a good contrast in styles, as Faaloloto will likely try to keep the fight standing, while Etim will try to take this one by submission. I hate to go against a Hawaiian, especially one who has been shot and stabbed, but Etim has a clear advantage in experience.
It won’t be easy, but eventually Etim will win by guillotine choke in the second round. Smaller prediction is that the Birmingham crowd will boo native son Etim because he is from Liverpool.
Thiago Alves vs. Papy Abedj
The world is wicked when you have to fight the Pitbull in your UFC debut
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
"Wicked World": “The world today is such a wicked place…”
Thiago “Pitbull” Alves (18-8) is trying to bounce back after losing three of his last four fights by unanimous decision, most recently to Rick Story at UFC 130. This is a big fight for Alves, who wants to prove that he belongs in the discussion for a shot at the welterweight title. If Alves loses this one, or has trouble making weight, look for him to move up to middleweight. Alves has won most of his fights by KO, so he'll try and put Abedi away early.
Papy “Makambo” Abedi (8-0) comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo and is making his debut in the UFC. Just surviving in the Congo is tough enough, but facing Alves in your promotional debut may be an even bigger challenge. Not much is known about Abedi except that he has finished all but one of his fights and most of them by KO. Papy has a black belt in Judo and a purple belt in BJJ, but Alves is no stranger to the ground game either, so Abedi has his work cut out for him.
This is really a must-win for Alves—so if he doesn’t come prepared, it will be a big surprise. This will be a massive leap in opponent for Abedi and, as much as I’d like to pick this mysterious fighter from the Congo, I just can’t go against the experience of Alves, who has fought many of the best welterweights in the world.
Alves will win with a big first-round KO, which will earn him Knockout of the Night honors and put him back on the map in the welterweight division.
Brad Pickett vs. Renan Barao
Pickett better not start too late or Renan will choke him out.
"Don’t Start too Late": Instrumental, but good advice for these two.
Brad “One Punch” Pickett (21-4) doesn’t necessarily live up to his nickname, as most of his wins have come by submission. Pickett will be making his debut in the UFC, and the 33-year-old hopes to make a name for himself in the bantamweight division after an impressive run in the WEC.
Renan Barao (26-1) is riding a 26-fight win streak after losing his very first MMA fight. The Brazilian has only fought once in the UFC and has won most of his fights by submission. Barao has a black belt in BJJ and will look to take Pickett down and submit him.
These two fighters are on their way up in the bantamweight division, and the winner of this fight will position himself nicely for the future in UFC’s newest weight class. There is a lot riding on this fight, as both of these fighters are trying to prove that they deserve a shot at the title. It should be very technical as both men are good on the ground, but the edge has to go to the Brazilian.
Barao will keep his ridiculous win streak alive by submitting Pickett by an arm bar in the second round, much to the disappointment of the English fans. Barao will win Submission of the Night, as well as a big fight on an upcoming card.
Chris Leben vs. Mark Munoz
A true War Pig
"War Pigs": “Evil minds that plot destruction, Sorcerers of death's construction…”
Chris “The Crippler” Leben (22-7) is coming off a first-round knockout of Wanderlei Silva, which took the "Cat Smasher" all of 27 seconds. Afterwards, he screamed in the cage like an insane caveman. It is hard to predict what we’ll see from Leben as his fights have been all over the place.
Whether he wins or loses, one thing you can never say about "The Crippler's" fights is that they are boring. What would you expect from a maniac who dyes his hair red to hide the blood? Leben’s style is to try and put his fist through his opponent’s head. Not sure what martial art that is, but it makes for exciting fights that often reap bonuses for Leben, who has won KO of the Night on three occasions.
Mark “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Munoz (11-2) is a wrestling specialist who is coming off of three straight wins over quality opponents, the most recent being Demian Maia at UFC 131. Munoz has heavy hands, so if this one stays standing up, expect chaos one way or the other.
Usually I lean towards the better wrestler in fights like these, but Leben has such insane punching power that he could very well end this one before Munoz has a chance to break a sweat. Even though Munoz is the better wrestler, Leben has an underrated ground game and should be able to negate some of Munoz’s advantage. Leben is the more seasoned fighter, but Munoz is still favored because of his vicious ground and pound. This one is a tough call, as it really depends on which Leben shows up.
I am going to say Leben is ready and able to stop Munoz’s takedown attempts and will win a close, split decision, disappointing the bloodthirsty crowd, who expected one of these fighters to be unconscious or even dead by the end of the fight.