Dillashaw vs. Barao: A Complete Guide to UFC on Fox 16

Nathan McCarter@McCarterNFeatured ColumnistJuly 22, 2015

Dillashaw vs. Barao: A Complete Guide to UFC on Fox 16

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    UFC on Fox 16 on Saturday plays host to a bantamweight championship rematch.

    T.J. Dillashaw upset Renan Barao at UFC 173 last year to become the new champion. It was a shocking performance from the Team Alpha Male fighter, and he did it on short notice against one of the most dominant champions in the organization.

    Now, Barao has a shot at redemption.

    In the co-main event, top-five-ranked bantamweight contenders Miesha Tate and Jessica Eye will try to stake their claim as the next challenger for Ronda Rousey's title.

    There are 10 more exciting bouts for this stacked fight card. The action gets underway on UFC Fight Pass before shifting to Fox for the remaining eight bouts. Saturday's event continues the string of excellent fight cards from the UFC, and this one includes a free title fight.

    This is your complete guide to UFC on Fox 16 for each and every fight in Chicago this weekend.

Zak Cummings (17-4) vs. Dominique Steele (13-5)

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    Division: Welterweight

    Where to watch: UFC Fight Pass

    Dominique Steele will make his UFC debut in the opening contest at UFC on Fox 16. He earned this debut fight after back-to-back wins on the regional circuit. He squares off against Zak Cummings.

    Cummings was on a four-fight win streak before being stopped by Gunnar Nelson last July. After an extended period away from the cage, he returns on Saturday.

    This won't be a massive step up in competition for Steele. He has taken on MMA veterans such a David Branch, Brian Rogers and Dan Hornbuckle in the past. Unfortunately, he has not proved to be a significant threat to credible opposition.

    Cummings should take the win. He is a solid all-around fighter with quality submissions. He'll control the fight with his grappling en route to a decision victory.

    Prediction: Cummings defeats Steele by decision.

Jessamyn Duke (3-2, 1 NC) vs. Elizabeth Phillips (4-3)

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    Division: Bantamweight

    Where to watch: UFC Fight Pass

    This bout is actually a rematch dating back to their amateur careers. Jessamyn Duke defeated Elizabeth Phillips via submission at Resurrection Fighting Alliance 2 in 2012.

    A lot has changed since then. This is likely a loser-leaves-UFC matchup, as both women are on two-fight losing skids.

    Duke's status as a prospect is all but gone. She hasn't improved significantly and absorbs a lot of punishment. Phillips has been competitive in both of her fights inside the Octagon, so it will be difficult for Duke to outperform her.

    It's a struggle to think Duke has anything left for credible competition. She has looked that bad. Phillips will outwork her to claim a unanimous decision.

    Prediction: Phillips defeats Duke by decision.

Ramsey Nijem (9-5) vs. Andrew Holbrook (9-0)

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    Division: Lightweight

    Where to watch: UFC Fight Pass

    Andrew Holbrook brings his unblemished record into the UFC for a stiff test against Ramsey Nijem. He was having a solid 2014 with back-to-back wins over Justin Edwards and Beneil Dariush but suffered a TKO setback against Carlos Diego Ferreira.

    Lightweight is the deepest division in all of MMA, and Holbrook could establish himself as another solid 155-pounder with a win.

    Nijem is one of the most underrated lightweights in the UFC. The victory over Dariush is the best on his record, and that is his only signature victory. If he wants to make a move toward the top 15, it will start with Holbrook.

    This is a pick 'em fight, and I'll pick Nijem. He has been fighting better competition and performed well enough. This represents too much, too soon for Holbrook.

    Prediction: Nijem defeats Holbrook by decision.

Daron Cruickshank (16-6, 1 NC) vs. James Krause (21-7)

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    Division: Lightweight

    Where to watch: UFC Fight Pass

    The featured UFC Fight Pass prelim features two talented, but inconsistent, lightweights. Daron Cruickshank is coming off a submission loss to Beneil Dariush at UFC 185, and James Krause has lost back-to-back fights to Jorge Masvidal and Valmir Lazaro.

    A loss for Krause could send him back out of the UFC, but Cruickshank should be safe.

    Stylistically, this plays out nicely for Cruickshank. He has improved nicely since his UFC debut, and Krause does not offer too much that should concern him. Cruickshank should stuff the takedowns, and on the feet he has a significant advantage.

    Expect an emphatic finish from Cruickshank.

    Prediction: Cruickshank defeats Krause by KO in the first round.

Eddie Wineland (21-10-1) vs. Bryan Caraway (19-7)

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    Division: Bantamweight

    Where to watch: Fox

    The opening Fox prelim is a top-15 bantamweight matchup. No. 6-ranked contender Eddie Wineland battles No. 12-ranked Bryan Caraway.

    Wineland has not been back inside the cage since a 2014 loss to Johnny Eduardo in Cincinnati. Caraway is also coming off a 2014 loss when he dropped a decision to Raphael Assuncao.

    We know what type of fighter both men are, but this matchup will teach us who can make a last run toward title contention. A loss should signal the end of relevancy for either man. Wineland will go for the big knockout, and Caraway will try to use his wrestling to win this fight.

    I'll side with Caraway. Wineland gets wild at times, and that over-aggression will make it easier for Caraway to take him down. It won't be the most exciting victory on the card, but it will be an important one. Caraway ekes out a decision.

    Prediction: Caraway defeats Wineland by decision.

Kenny Robertson (15-3) vs. Ben Saunders (18-6-2)

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    Division: Welterweight

    Where to watch: Fox

    The Kenny Robertson-Ben Saunders bout could be a dark horse for Fight of the Night.

    Robertson is on a three-fight win streak, and Saunders enters with back-to-back victories. The winner would be in position to challenge someone in the back half of the top-15 rankings.

    Saunders is almost always exciting, and he constantly looks for a big finish. Robertson is an underrated welterweight who needs that signature win on a big platform. The stage could be set for both men to throw caution to the wind.

    If that's the case, I favor Saunders.

    He loves the spotlight, and his striking advantage should be evident. If he can stop the takedown, he will at least do enough to earn a decision. However, expect him to clip Robertson and finish with a second-round TKO.

    Prediction: Saunders defeats Robertson by TKO in the second round.

Jim Miller (24-6, 1 NC) vs. Danny Castillo (17-8)

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    Division: Lightweight

    Where to watch: Fox

    Jim Miller was involved in a UFC title eliminator just three years ago, but now he isn't even ranked in the top 15. He is fighting for relevancy at UFC on Fox 16. Danny Castillo, meanwhile, is fighting to get a win over a notable name in the division.

    This will be a fight that hardcore fans love, but casual fans may find it a bit tiresome. Castillo and Miller both will want to establish their grappling, and that could lead to many battles against the cage.

    Castillo's athleticism may be the difference. Miller is going to have to work hard to take him to the canvas and to keep him there. Ultimately, the crafty veteran can do it.

    It won't be a performance that sends him back up the rankings, but it will put Miller on that path.

    Prediction: Miller defeats Castillo by decision.

Gian Villante (13-5) vs. Tom Lawlor (9-5, 1 NC)

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    Division: Light Heavyweight

    Where to watch: Fox

    The featured prelim takes place at 205 pounds. Tom Lawlor returns after more than two years away from the cage, and Gian Villante has won back-to-back fights.

    Both of Villante's recent wins were Fight of the Night performances, but that doesn't mean he went above and beyond. He took considerable punishment. Lawlor is a former middleweight who will not have to cut as much weight for his return.

    Villante continues to improve with Serra-Longo, but he is not a top light heavyweight. He is ranked No. 15 in the division because it is a shallow talent pool. Lawlor won't be overmatched.

    If Lawlor doesn't have much ring rust, he'll win. Villante gets hit quite a bit and doesn't have anything that stands out. Lawlor picks up a big win in his return fight that could move him to the outskirts of the top 15.

    Prediction: Lawlor defeats Villante by TKO in the third round.

Joe Lauzon (24-10) vs. Takanori Gomi (35-10, 1 NC)

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    Division: Lightweight

    Where to watch: Fox

    Two of the most exciting lightweights in MMA history are finally pitted against each other. It's a shame it has taken this long to do the fight.

    Takanori Gomi and Joe Lauzon are both coming off TKO losses but earn a main card scrap because of their name recognition.

    This fight may come down to Lauzon avoiding the big haymaker. He has the grappling advantage over Gomi but has never had the best chin in the division. Gomi overcommits and opens himself up to being taken down. If Lauzon can exploit that, then he will be able to employ his stellar ground game.

    Lauzon is the better fighter in 2015, but Gomi will land a knockout blow within the first five minutes. With a big victory, Gomi's legendary status will move him to a more important bout.

    Prediction: Gomi defeats Lauzon by KO in the first round.

Edson Barboza (15-3) vs. Paul Felder (10-0)

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    Division: Lightweight

    Where to watch: Fox

    This is Paul Felder's chance to move into the rankings. He squares off against No. 7-ranked contender Edson Barboza.

    Barboza is a striker with devastating leg kicks, and Felder has shown off his excellent striking during his young MMA career. His spinning backfist KO at UFC 182 earned him a Performance of the Night bonus.

    This should be highlighted as a potential Fight of the Night. They both love throwing flashy techniques, and both of them land those flashy techniques. That's what separates them from most fighters in the division. On Fox, they have a chance to advance their case for big-time bouts at 155 pounds.

    In a pure striking battle, it will be hard to go against Barboza. The kicks he throws will sap the power of Felder and will create distance that will lessen Felder's accuracy. The fight goes the full 15 minutes, but it will be an exciting tilt.

    Prediction: Barboza defeats Felder by decision.

Miesha Tate (16-5) vs. Jessica Eye (11-2, 1 NC)

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    Division: Bantamweight

    Where to watch: Fox

    Ronda Rousey will need a challenger following her anticipated destruction of Bethe Correia on August 1. This co-main event will likely provide that contender.

    Miesha Tate has already fought Rousey twice, but a win on Saturday would make it difficult not to give her a third crack at the undefeated champion. Jessica Eye would be a fresh face for the champion who can sell a fight with her personality.

    This is a striker vs. grappler matchup.

    Eye is a solid boxer with good power but has shown a lack of takedown defense. Tate is more well-rounded than Eye but does not handle power strikes that well. Her wrestling advantage may be the key to this fight. If she can take Eye down, it will be a long night for the Ohioan.

    Eye will hit the canvas, but her ability to get back up and do damage will win her the fight. Her hands are superior to Tate's, and judges always value stand-up over grappling. Eye likely earns a title fight with a win over the No. 2-ranked contender in the division.

    Prediction: Eye defeats Tate by decision.

T.J. Dillashaw (11-2) vs. Renan Barao (33-2, 1 NC)

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    Division: Bantamweight

    Where to watch: Fox

    No one gave T.J. Dillashaw a shot to defeat Renan Barao when they fought last, but after his performance he quickly became king of the division. Can Barao get his gold back?

    Barao is an outstanding fighter. He has excellent striking and submissions and can finish the fight from anywhere. Dillashaw will always have to be concerned with his power. However, the biggest thing Barao struggled with in their first encounter was Dillashaw's movement.

    Dillashaw looked like Dominick Cruz during their last fight. He moved so effectively that Barao had little chance to score points. The Brazilian did not have an answer for it.

    Barao has to slow Dillashaw down to have a chance. Cutting off the cage will be paramount, and leg kicks may play a large role toward his success. But landing them is easier said than done.

    This fight will be a bit more competitive than their initial meeting, but Dillashaw's movement is too good. He will simply outwork Barao until he secures another late-round finish.

    Prediction: Dillashaw defeats Barao by TKO in the fifth round.

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