UFC Fight Night 51: B/R Main Card Staff Predictions

Sean SmithAnalyst ISeptember 12, 2014

UFC Fight Night 51: B/R Main Card Staff Predictions

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    Antonio Silva and Andrei Arlovski haven't been grabbing headlines recently, but the veteran heavyweights are set to meet in a rematch, which will serve as the UFC Fight Night 51 main event on Saturday.

    Having failed a drug test following his December 2013 draw with Mark Hunt, Silva has not fought in nine months. With two losses to champion Cain Velasquez, Silva also isn't likely to be fighting for a title anytime soon, but he does remain a Top Five fighter in the heavyweight division.

    Not long ago, many were calling for Arlovski to retire from MMA. However, the former UFC champion rebounded after leaving Strikeforce and earned a UFC return by winning six out of seven fights. In his first UFC appearance in more than six years, Arlovski defeated Brendan Schaub to earn a Top 15 position in the heavyweights rankings.

    Per usual, Craig Amos, Riley Kontek, James MacDonald, Sean Smith and Scott Harris are here with their best guesses on who will win the bout between Silva and Arlovski as well as the rest of the matchups on this weekend's main card.

2014 Staff Records

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    Eat my dust, Harris.

    After spending some quality time in the basement, I'm moving on up in the MMA predictions world. Now solidly in fourth place, I have my sights set on catching MacDonald before September comes to an end.

    Craig Amos and Riley Kontek are still battling for the top position, but check your rearview mirrors, fellas.

    Pos.Staff MemberRecord
    1.Craig Amos103-56-1
    2.Riley Kontek101-58-1
    3.James MacDonald100-59-1
    4.Sean Smith96-63-1
    5.Scott Harris93-66-1

Jessica Andrade vs. Larissa Pacheco

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    Riley Kontek

    Larissa Pacheco is undoubtedly one of the best prospects in all of WMMA. It's awesome that she's finally in the UFC. She is young and only getting better, which is scary considering she is incredibly well-rounded. Jessica Andrade is a brawler, but getting into a firefight with Pacheco is a bad idea. Andrade will get caught and be finished on the ground.

    Pacheco, TKO, Rd. 2

    Craig Amos

    Pacheco is more technical on the feet than Andrade, and her superior size should give her a sizable advantage. Andrade will have to take some punishment if she hopes to procure a takedown, and even if she gets it, she isn't exactly in a safe place. This matchup should prove a nice start to Saturday's main card.

    Pacheco, TKO, Rd. 3

    Scott Harris

    At 20 years old, Pacheco is the UFC's youngest fighter. When the UFC brings you in that young, you must be serious. But you know what? Andrade is pretty serious, too. Remember that hellacious beating she laid on Rosi Sexton? If she had a touch more finishing power, I'd take her. As is, I don't think she can roll with Pacheco indefinitely.

    Pacheco, Submission, Rd. 2

    James MacDonald

    Andrade has looked good in her UFC career so far, and she should prove to be a decent test for the debuting Pacheco. However, the latter looks to have a ton of potential. Look for the 20-year-old to make a statement here.

    Pacheco, TKO, Rd. 2

    Sean Smith

    I'll echo the rest of the gang. Andrade should be a good test for Pacheco, a talented prospect making her UFC debut on Saturday. However, Pacheco will likely be able to wear Andrade down and earn her 11th consecutive stoppage win in the second or third round. 

    Pacheco, TKO, Rd. 3

Iuri Alcantara vs. Russell Doane

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    Riley Kontek

    This should be a very interesting fight. Iuri Alcantara is a guy who should be around the title picture at 135 and can really get into those talks with a big win here. Russell Doane's best chance of winning is wrestling Alcantara, though the Brazilian has a good ground game and can evade takedowns. Alcantara is going to outstrike Doane and possibly finish him midway through the bout.

    Alcantara, TKO, Rd. 2

    Craig Amos

    Doane is more than fortunate to have left the Octagon against Marcus Brimage as a winner, as the decision that favored him was a dubious one indeed. Alcantara, on the other hand, has posted some nice wins of late and even gave the stalwart Urijah Faber some trouble back in August 2013.

    Alcantara, Submission, Rd. 2

    Scott Harris

    Within the last two years, Alcantara's only loss came to Urijah Faber. That should tell you something about the man. He'll get it done against Doane, who is not as well-rounded as Alcantara and may even be overmatched on the ground, his strongest phase.

    Alcantara, Unanimous decision

    James MacDonald

    This is a rough fight for Doane. Alcantara may not quite be at the elite level, but he isn't far off. I'm looking for Alcantara to win this one with his superior grappling.

    Alcantara, Unanimous decision

    Sean Smith

    I'm actually more excited about this matchup than any other on the UFC Fight Night 51 card. Doane is solid enough on the ground to make this a fun grappling match. That said, I do agree with the rest of the crew that Alcantara will ultimately be stronger in that area.

    Alcantara, Submission, Rd. 2

Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Wendell Oliveira

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    Riley Kontek

    It's good to see Wendell Oliveira get a shot in the UFC, as he was a guy who should have made The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3 but got an elimination-round bout against Warlley Alves. He is a well-rounded vet with all sorts of skills. Ponzinibbio was one of the few guys to come off the second Brazilian season and did not look so hot in his UFC bout against Ryan LaFlare. He will struggle against the seasoned vet and get his walking papers after the effort.

    Oliveira, Unanimous decision

    Craig Amos

    Ponzinibbio had won seven straight prior to dropping a division in his UFC debut, but since two of those wins came against a guy with a 1-11 professional record, I remain unconvinced. Oliveira, on the other hand, has beaten both Jonathan Jonathan (0-2) and Ivan Ivan (0-1). Based on that intel, the choice is clear.

    Oliveira, Unanimous decision

    Scott Harris

    Ponzinibbio has to be the toughest surname to intuitively spell in the UFC, outside of Joanna Jedrzejczyk. I hope both of these individuals are cut. I think Oliveira will help me out with that. He's a bruiser who should punish that other guy for the win.

    Oliveira, Unanimous decision

    James MacDonald

    This is hardly the most spectacular fight on the card. I don't think either man is likely to be challenging for the 170-pound title. That being said, I'm giving Oliveira the edge over Ponzinibbio.

    Oliveira, Unanimous decision

    Sean Smith

    I seriously thought about going with Ponzinibbio in this matchup, but I will also pick Oliveira. While he didn't make it to the TUF: Brazil finals like Ponzinibbio would have had it not been for injury, Oliveira did battle to a split decision with eventual tournament winner Warlley Alves.

    Oliveira, Unanimous decision

Leonardo Santos vs. Efrain Escudero

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    Riley Kontek

    Efrain Escudero is getting yet another chance in the UFC for one reason: his Mexican heritage. The UFC is looking for Mexican fighters due to the push into the country, which is why Escudero is getting another chance here, especially considering he hasn't been consistent in the regional scene. Leo Santos is superior in the submission game, though his striking needs some fine-tuning. I will go with the champion jiu-jitsu fighter.

    Santos, Unanimous decision

    Craig Amos

    Though he is a strong wrestler, Escudero tends to get into trouble when he fights good grapplers. Santos is definitely one of those, as evidenced by his eight submission victories. I expect a competitive matchup, but I don't expect an upset.

    Santos, Unanimous decision

    Scott Harris

    Santos has top-notch jiu-jitsu. Escudero does not. Santos is new to the UFC but not to the fight game overall; his first fight was against Takanori Gomi back in 2002. He also has eight wins by submission. Bottom line: He'll know what to do with Escudero.

    Santos, Technical submission, Rd. 2

    James MacDonald

    Once upon a time, Escudero looked like a legitimate lightweight contender. He hasn't lived up to his potential, but he should have too many tools for the relatively limited Santos.

    Escudero, Unanimous decision

    Sean Smith

    I thought the UFC pulled the trigger a little quickly when it cut Escudero in April 2012, but he didn't do all that much to prove them wrong outside the Octagon. The former TUF winner posted a 4-3 record, beating competition that he was expected to defeat comfortably. I don't think Escudero is ready for a UFC return, and Santos will expose him on the ground.

    Santos, Unanimous decision

Gleison Tibau vs. Piotr Hallman

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    Riley Kontek

    Gleison Tibau may be the longest-tenured gatekeeper in the UFC. He has some impressive wins on his resume and some questionable losses. Piotr Hallmann is a dark horse and hasn't gotten an easy fight since entering the UFC. He will definitely give Tibau all he can handle, but the grinder is well-rounded enough to eke out a decision here.

    Tibau, Unanimous decision

    Craig Amos

    Hallmann has shown his roster spot in the UFC is well-deserved, but Tibau is no pushover. The Brazilian has posted checkered results against the lightweight division's second tier, but he should be able to answer everything Hallmann brings to the Octagon. The fact that the fight is in Brazil won't hurt if the bout goes the distance, not that I'm suggesting judges don't make the correct call 100 percent of the time.

    Tibau, Unanimous decision

    Scott Harris

    Tibau is a notoriously up-and-down competitor. I think he's due for a downturn, despite being in his home nation. Hallmann is aggressive and well-rounded with a deep gas tank. He won't scare in hostile territory, and he'll wear down the big lightweight.

    Hallmann, Unanimous decision

    James MacDonald

    Hallmann is a very decent fighter. However, he's going to have a tough time of it against the caricature-esque Tibau. I expect the Brazilian to grind Hallmann down with his superior strength and grappling.

    Tibau, Unanimous decision

    Sean Smith

    I don't see Tibau as inconsistent at all. He consistently loses against lightweight contenders but handles middling 155-pounders like Hallman rather easily. This is a fight that will help build Tibau back up, only for him to lose to an elite lightweight again later on.

    Tibau, Unanimous decision 

Antonio Silva vs. Andrei Arlovski

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    Riley Kontek

    What will post-TRT Bigfoot look like? Will he remain solid, or will he suffer like others who have come off the therapy? Given his size and power, plus the strategical advantage he has on Arlovski, I think he has a good matchup against the former heavyweight champ. Perhaps he finishes on the ground where he's superior.

    Silva, TKO, Rd. 3

    Craig Amos

    Arlovski may have "won" his return-to-the-UFC bout, but he didn't inspire a great deal of confidence with that performance. At least, there was nothing in it that suggests he can do what he wasn't able to do back in 2010—beat Antonio Silva.

    Silva, TKO, Rd. 3

    Scott Harris

    Arlovski is an enjoyable character and story and so on, but I don't trust his chin or his grappling. Silva is a beast, and he'll show that again, probably by mashing Arlovski into the chain link or the canvas.

    Silva, TKO, Rd. 2

    James MacDonald

    It's difficult not to worry about Arlovski's chin. In addition to his yawn-worthy performance last time out, it's hard to have any confidence in his chances against Silva. I'm going with the Brazilian.

    Silva, TKO, Rd. 2

    Sean Smith

    Everybody wants to question Arlovski's chin these days. I guess I get it, but he hasn't been stopped in eight fights, and he took some big shots from Anthony Johnson. That said, going the distance is about the best Arlovski can do in this matchup.

    Silva, Unanimous decision