UFC Fight Night 48 Preliminary Card Predictions
The UFC returns with a doubleheader this Saturday, as UFC Fight Night 48 and 49 come to you in the morning and nighttime.
First up will be UFC Fight Night 48, which takes place in Macau, China. The card is headlined by middleweights Michael Bisping and Cung Le, who promise to make the main event a fight to see.
The UFC's inaugural trip to Maine only had four prelims, which saw me go 3-1. This weekend will see a total of 11 prelims, which will make an impact on the overall record going forward.
The card, which airs entirely on Fight Pass, has some interesting prelims that precede the main card. Let's take a look at those fights and make some predictions.
2014 Riley's Record: 109-71
Last Event: UFC Fight Night 47 (3-1)
Zhikui Yao vs. Royston Wee
First, we kick things off in the bantamweight division, as Singapore native Royston Wee makes his return to the Octagon against Chinese newcomer Zhikui Yao.
Wee is a grappler, showing a prowess for securing the takedown and maintaining top position. This was evident in his UFC debut, when he continually grounded and controlled Dave Galera for three rounds in a one-sided decision. He will look to do the same here against the smaller, less experienced Yao.
Yao is a normal flyweight moving up to 135 for this opportunity. His lack of size needs to be made up with speed, which he should use to stick, move and stay out of the shooting distance of Wee.
Wee is being set up for success here. Yao is just 1-1 as a pro and hasn't faced any notable competition. Wee will put him on his back and manhandle him from there.
Prediction: Wee def. Yao via submission
Elizabeth Phillips vs. Milana Dudieva
The women are set to do battle next, as Russian Milana Dudieva is set to make her UFC debut against Elizabeth Phillips.
Dudieva comes into the company as a highly touted prospect who has run a 10-3 record. A submission specialist, she owns wins over UFC veteran Sheila Gaff and Danielle West. She possesses good takedowns as well as nifty submissions, especially leg and arm locks.
Phillips makes her sophomore appearance, looking for her first win with the company after losing a close decision to Valerie Letourneau in her debut. Phillips is a member of the Sikjitsu gym, where she works her grappling, but she is also quite scrappy on the feet. She needs to avoid the takedown of Dudieva to be successful here.
Phillips will not be an easy fight for Dudieva, but seeing how talented she is and how many more tools she has to use, it's tough not to take her. Expect a mix of striking, clinch and takedowns en route to a decision for the Russian.
Prediction: Dudieva def. Phillips via decision
Anying Wang vs. Colby Covington
Moving on, we head to the welterweight division, as newcomer Colby Covington looks to make an impact in his UFC debut when he takes on TUF China veteran Anying Wang.
Wang, who trains with Phuket Top Team, has shown to be a striker in his short pro MMA career. His UFC debut saw him mash up Albert Cheng's face with flurries of strikes throughout the fight, though the bout was anything but an instant classic.
Wang takes on Covington, an American Top Team rep holding an undefeated 5-0 record. Covington is a wrestler, using his hands to set up takedowns, where he uses heavy top pressure and underrated submissions to make opponents uncomfortable.
Wang is going to want to stick and move here, but taking on a wrestler of Covington's ability is going to be a new world for him. Covington will change levels early, put Wang on his back and tap him with his favorite submission, the arm-triangle choke.
Prediction: Covington def. Wang via submission
Roland Delorme vs. Yuta Sasaki
Next up, we have the bantamweights, as Canadian Roland Delorme welcomes highly touted Japanese prospect Yuta Sasaki to the UFC.
Delorme is a veteran of TUF 14 and a high-caliber judoka. He has nifty grappling skills and submissions, as evident by his six wins by way of tapout. He is 3-2 in the UFC, besting the likes of Josh Ferguson, Nick Denis and Edwin Figueroa while falling in his last two bouts to Alex Caceres and Michinori Tanaka.
Sasaki is a lot like Delorme's former opponent Tanaka, as he is a top talent from Japan with serious mat ability. His only loss came in 2011, and since then, he has taken home 10 wins, most of which by submission or knockout.
On the feet, it could be interesting. However, as good as Delorme is on the mat, Sasaki is likely stronger. In a fun grappling affair, Sasaki takes a decision over a tough opponent.
Prediction: Sasaki def. Delorme via decision
Shinsho Anzai vs. Alberto Mina
On we move to the welterweight division, as Hong Kong-based Brazilian Alberto Mina finally makes his UFC debut opposite Japanese late replacement Shinsho Anzai. Anzai fills in for Sheldon Westcott, who got injured late in training.
Mina is a grappler who is currently 10-0 in his pro MMA career. He has improved his striking in his most recent bouts, but it is his ground skills that he likes to employ in fights. Notably, he has put away Glenn Sparv and TUF 9 veteran Dean Amasinger in a couple of his most recent fights.
Anzai is a wrestler, though he prefers a ground-and-pound approach as opposed to a methodical submission game plan. He most recently fought at the end of June, where he knocked out Ryo Kawamura in under three minutes, showing he is a powerful guy who is no joke.
Anzai needs to put Mina on his back early. If not, he needs to keep this fight upright. Mina's submission game is too refined to mess with. In fact, that's what will catch Anzai at some point in a competitive fight.
Prediction: Mina def. Anzai via submission
Wang Sai vs. Danny Mitchell
Capping off the prelims are the welterweights, as TUF China finalist Wang Sai looks to nab his first UFC victory against a scrappy Brit named Danny Mitchell.
Mitchell is a grappler who showed off a nifty ground game in a valiant loss to Igor Araujo in his UFC debut. He showed an excellent, tricky guard that frustrated Araujo en route to a lackluster win for the Brazilian. Nine of his 14 wins come by way of submission, including a twister, flying triangle choke and Achilles lock.
Sai likes to wrestle, though he has been working on his striking with Mike Swick and Co. down at American Top Team Thailand. He was robbed in his UFC debut, thoroughly outworking Lipeng Zhang en route to a split-decision loss. He looks to get that win back here in his homeland.
Although Sai may be one of the better fighters from China, most Chinese fighters just haven't developed to the level of fighters from the USA, Brazil, Canada, U.K. and other large countries. Mitchell's ground presence is really going to overwhelm Sai, who falls via tapout.
Prediction: Mitchell def. Sai via submission