UFC 212 Predictions: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Picks

Nathan McCarter@McCarterNFeatured ColumnistJune 2, 2017

UFC 212 Predictions: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Picks

0 of 5

    Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    The UFC returns to Rio de Janeiro with UFC 212 on Saturday.

    Atop the bill is a featherweight unification bout between champion Jose Aldo and interim champion Max Holloway. The shadow of Conor McGregor still hovers over these two men and the division, but Saturday they will look to step out of the darkness with a five-round war.

    In the co-main event, strawweight contenders Claudia Gadelha and Karolina Kowalkiewicz meet. A loss would put a long hold on their title hopes, putting pressure on both to perform.

    With those two marquee bouts, and three others on the docket, the band is getting back together. Scott Harris, Craig Amos, Steven Rondina and Nathan McCarter are here to take you on a journey through the UFC 212 fight card and offer up our predictions.

    Want to see who we pick? Of course you do! Let's get to it.

Erick Silva vs. Yancy Medeiros

1 of 5

    David Dermer/Associated Press

    Scott Harris

    Silva is 4-4 in his last eight, and three of those four losses were knockouts. That's the wrong weakness to have against a power hitter like Medeiros.

    Medeiros, TKO, Rd. 1

        

    Craig Amos

    Back in my day, an Erick Silva was an uncrowned future champion. Nowadays, he's just some guy who's gonna get knocked out by Yancy Medeiros.

    Medeiros, TKO, Rd. 3

        

    Steven Rondina

    We've seen what Erick Silva is capable of, but in my mind, we haven't yet seen the best of Yancy Medeiros. I think the new, 170-pound Medeiros is capable of some big things, and I'm expecting him to trampoline off a win over Silva into a fight against a ranked opponent.

    Medeiros, TKO, Rd. 2

          

    Nathan McCarter

    I'm with the lot here. Silva could possibly melt Medeiros' face, but unless it happens in the first two minutes, this should be Medeiros' fight to lose. Silva fades quickly, allowing Medeiros to pile up damage before hurting and submitting the Brazilian.

    Medeiros, submission, Rd. 2

Paulo Borrachinha vs. Oluwale Bamgbose

2 of 5

    Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Scott Harris

    Batten down the hatches for this one. Neither of these guys are household names, but they can both take your head off. Borrachinha is a little more polished at this stage of their respective careers.

    Borrachinha, TKO, Rd. 2

         

    Craig Amos

    Picking against The Holy War Angel makes me a little nervous, but hey, Harris did it first, so I've him to hide behind. And from my hiding spot, I'll echo the sentiment that Borrachinha is just a bit smoother. Both of these guys throw with power, but Bamgbose is more liable to be hit.

    Borrachinha, KO, Rd. 1

           

    Steven Rondina

    This is a tossup between two sluggers. I'm leaning in the direction of Borrachinha, but don't be shocked if Bamgbose takes his head off early.

    Borrachinha, KO, Rd. 1

            

    Nathan McCarter

    I won't be shocked, Steven, because I'm taking Bamgbose. He's got a great nickname, he's got good power and they'll both swing for the fences. Bamgbose lands first.

    Bomgbose, KO, Rd. 1

Vitor Belfort vs. Nate Marquardt

3 of 5

    Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Scott Harris

    For Belfort's announced retirement fight, the Rio crowd is going to be a house of fire. It's hard to believe he's 40 years old, and it will be even harder to believe after he bum-rushes Marquardt.

    Belfort, KO, Rd. 1

        

    Craig Amos

    Belfort has about two minutes to finish the job; he seems to have trouble maintaining offense past that mark. And while Marquardt isn't known for not getting knocked out, he is an experienced fighter who is well aware of his opponent's shortcoming. He'll survive the initial onslaught and finish the job in Round 2.

    Marquardt, TKO, Rd. 2

          

    Steven Rondina

    Both of these guys are shot, but Belfort still has a bit of pop left. And of course, if this one goes to the judges, you're almost guaranteed to see a decision skew in his favor.

    Belfort, unanimous decision

         

    Nathan McCarter

    If I had any faith in Marquardt's chin, he would be my pick. But I don't. He won't survive the early Belfort onslaught.

    Belfort, TKO, Rd. 1

Claudia Gadelha vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz

4 of 5

    Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Scott Harris

    Kowalkiewicz is viewed as a striking specialist, but she's good everywhere. Gadelha is better. She'll work from the clinch and record a takedown. This is a bit of a stretch, but my spidey sense is tingling for a Kowalkiewicz tapout.

    Gadelha, submission, Rd. 2

          

    Craig Amos

    I find Kowalkiewicz is a little underappreciated, and I've been looking hard for reasons to pick her for the upset. But I just can't do it. Gadelha is a force in a three-round fight, and I expect her to wrestle her way to a hard-fought but decisive decision victory.

    Gadelha, unanimous decision

         

    Steven Rondina

    You need to have good wrestling to beat Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Coincidentally, Claudia Gadelha does! Look for the Brazilian to take Kowalkiewicz out of her comfort zone and keep her there en route to a handy decision.

    Gadelha, unanimous decision

          

    Nathan McCarter

    I agree with Craig. Kowalkiewicz is underappreciated. It's as if her clear-cut victory over Rose Namajunas has just been forgotten. Still, I'm taking Gadelha.

    I think Harris nailed the pick. Gadelha will get in and get the takedown, where she'll control the Polish striker. Kowalkiewicz has a solid ground game, but the strength of Gadelha from top will stifle any offensive attempts. The win for Gadelha should score a title shot for Namajunas.

    Gadelha, unanimous decision

Jose Aldo vs. Max Holloway

5 of 5

    Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Scott Harris

    Anyone picking a winner in this fight has a chance to look really stupid. It's passe to discuss Aldo's leg kicks, but they're a tailor-made weapon to slow down Holloway, who relies a lot on footwork and angles. I'll take the champ and the featherweight GOAT.

    Aldo, unanimous decision

    Craig Amos

    If not for a terrible 13 seconds with Conor McGregor, Aldo would be firmly ensconced in pound-for-pound debates. But alas, there are no mulligans in mixed martial arts, and the Brazilian has faded from those talks, even if he inhabits the fourth sport in the official pound-for-pound rankings. Holloway is an excellent, well-rounded fighter who is going to make this a battle, but let's not make the mistake of forgetting who he's going up against.

    Aldo, unanimous decision

    Steven Rondina

    Aldo is an all-time great, but the blueprint to beat him has been out there for a long time. A heavy-handed pure striker can beat him, a la Conor McGregor, and a well-rounded, high-volume pace-pusher, a la Max Holloway can also do the trick. I'll take the Hawaiian here to whittle the not-so-undisputed champion down en route to a clean decision win...or maybe even a late stoppage.

    Holloway, unanimous decision

    Nathan McCarter

    Has the blueprint been out there? Only a clean left hand from McGregor did the trick, and he's passed by nearly every other style. Aldo is extremely adaptable and skilled in every area. I can't co-sign that statement.

    Aldo's leg kicks have shut down so many foes. It helps to slow down or outright stop the movement of his opponents. Holloway isn't nearly as predicated on his movement. Is it a factor? Sure, but it's not the end all of his game at 145. His length will be the deciding factor here. Over the course of five rounds Holloway will score and eventually begin to show that a new guard is ready to take over.

    Holloway, unanimous decision