UFC Fight Night 112 Predictions: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Picks

Scott Harris@ScottHarrisMMAMMA Lead WriterJune 24, 2017

UFC Fight Night 112 Predictions: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Picks

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    Michael Chiesa (left) and Kevin Lee
    Michael Chiesa (left) and Kevin LeeCooper Neill/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    UFC Fight Night 112 goes down Sunday from Oklahoma City.

    The card is interesting enough, but one might describe the better matchups more as curiosities than as top-level fights with divisional implications.

    In the main event, lightweights Michael Chiesa and Kevin Lee will settle their semi-simmering feud, which involved a press-conference dustup and some disrespect to peoples' mamas.

    The greatest oddity, though, may be at the beginning of the main card, where all-time great BJ Penn continuesagainst all logica final quixotic grab for glory, at age 38, in the featherweight division.

    Those are just two of the main card bouts that air on Fox Sports 1 beginning Sunday at 9 p.m. ET.

    Here to get you more acquainted with the action and prognosticate some winners is Bleacher Report MMA's predictions team: Nathan McCarter, Craig Amos, Steven Rondina and myself, Scott Harris.

    Let's get it on.

BJ Penn vs. Dennis Siver

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    BJ Penn
    BJ PennChristian Petersen/Getty Images

    Nathan McCarter

    Sigh. I don't want to watch this fight. Watching BJ Penn try to perform in 2017 is saddening. A wing and a prayer is all I have.

    Penn, submission, Rd. 2

             

    Craig Amos

    Penn is sort of following the inverse of a typical career, where a young guy comes in, wins and faces progressively harder competition. He's an old guy who came back, and he moves down a rung with each loss.

    There won't be anywhere left to go after Dennis Siver beats him.

    Siver, unanimous decision

            

    Steven Rondina

    I have so little faith in Penn at this point that I can't even pick him here. Siver is a 38-year-old featherweight coming off back-to-back losses and a two-year layoff. And I still can't pick Penn to win.

    It's awful, and it makes me feel bad.

    Siver, unanimous decision

            

    Scott Harris

    Every fight fan feels the same way about Penn these days. There's a lot of handwringing about wanting to see his success but cringingly expecting the legend to receive more punishment than he gives.

    Like Penn, Siver is 38 and slowing, but his efficient kickboxing will be enough to notch a win.

    Siver, TKO, Rd. 2

Tim Means vs. Alex Garcia

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    Tim Means
    Tim MeansJeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    McCarter

    I want to pick Alex Garcia. When he fights to his potential, he looks like a future contender. The problem is that does not happen on a consistent basis.

    Tim Means is the kind of fighter who can make it dirty and drag Garcia into a fight where he makes critical errors. A late stoppage occurs when Garcia keeps getting elbowed in the clinch.

    Means, TKO, Rd. 3

            

    Amos

    Garcia is an amazing fighter for one round, but with the pace Means puts on his opponent, that one round might shrink to three minutes or so.

    Garcia has the power to stop the fight early, but if he fails to do so, the tide will turn quickly. In true Tim Means fashion, it could be violent.

    Means, submission, Rd. 2

            

    Rondina

    Despite Means' uncanny ability to make himself look silly, he's legit. So legit that I'm looking at this win as a bit of a slam dunk for the Dirty Bird.

    Means, TKO, Rd. 3

              

    Harris

    This could be a fun fight. Both are action fighters with a propensity to come forward and a variety of ways to hurt you.

    I'm going with Means because he has the toughness and cardio to outlast Garcia, who tends to burn bright and then burn out.

    Means, unanimous decision

Joachim Christensen vs. Dominick Reyes

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    Joachim Christensen (left)
    Joachim Christensen (left)Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    McCarter

    Dominick Reyes goes from viral knockout artist to UFC debut in a little over three weeks. He'll continue to gain fans with another KO on Sunday.

    Reyes is another quality light heavyweight the UFC needs, and Joachim Christensen is a good matchup for him.

    Reyes, TKO, Rd. 2

            

    Amos

    Reyes epitomizes the guessing game forced upon us by highlight-reel knockout artists who debut in the UFC. If the level of competition were a little more advanced, I would be willing to predict the firework is a dud.

    But Christensen...I don't have confidence.

    Reyes, KO, Rd. 1

           

    Rondina

    Amos nailed it. Can Reyes knock out UFC-level competition? Maybe. But he's not facing UFC-level competition here.

    Reyes, TKO, Rd. 1

           

    Harris

    There are few light heavyweight matchups that capture the imagination these days. This is another example.

    How often do you see a debuting UFC fighter favored over an existing UFC fighter? Not often, but it's the case here, at least according to OddsShark. Reyes is an exciting fighter, but he'll need more than that to overcome a solid, if uninspiring, competitor in Christensen.

    Sound the upset alarms.

    Christensen, unanimous decision

Felice Herrig vs. Justine Kish

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    Felice Herrig
    Felice HerrigTim Warner/Getty Images

    McCarter

    This is perhaps the most undervalued fight of the weekend. Justine Kish was one of the hot prospects of the division, but when she got injured on The Ultimate Fighter, she was almost entirely forgotten. This is a chance to get that shine back.

    Felice Herrig has looked too good recently. She seems to be finally realizing her potential, and another victory should move her a win away from a title shot. Kish is a tough out, but Herrig's stand-up and defensive grappling puts her in the win column for a third straight fight.

    Herrig, unanimous decision

             

    Amos

    I'm not as bullish on this fight as McCarter; it could be an entertaining scrap, but both women have ceilings well below title threat. Herrig will wear Kish down, controlling the bulk of the action to eke out a tightly contested decision. 

    Herrig, unanimous decision

             

    Rondina 

    We know what Herrig can do in the cage. We're still not sure about Kish, though. Herrig is the safer bet here, but there's a big opportunity for Kish.

    Herrig, unanimous decision

             

    Harris

    Herrig is a wrestler. She hits takedowns, racks up clinch time and rides top control all day. That's what she'll do against Kish. It's not the most electrifying formula, but it will be successful against fighters such as Kish who can't match Herrig's strength.

    Herrig, unanimous decision

Tim Boetsch vs. Johny Hendricks

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    Johny Hendricks
    Johny HendricksTom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

    McCarter

    Tim Boestch is strong, but he's not as strong or as good a grappler as Hector Lombard. Johny Hendricks got past that test, so there's no reason he can't get past this one. A grinding decision is on the way.

    Hendricks, unanimous decision

            

    Amos

    Whether or not Hendricks is reinventing himself at middleweight, he has the tools to win this fight. He has the wrestling chops to negate Boetsch's takedowns and the power to win in the striking theater. He'll earn himself a stoppage.

    Hendricks, TKO, Rd. 2

            

    Rondina

    Hendricks still isn't a legitimate middleweight, but his pure technical skills are better than Boetsch's. The former welterweight champion should be able to work his wrestling base to take a clean, but boring, decision win.

    Hendricks, unanimous decision

            

    Harris

    Everyone is pegging Penn's match as the "sad" one of this card. This one is also up there, pitting two diminished middleweights against each other.

    The former welterweight champ, Hendricks, gets into the phone booth and swings, though his speed and power are no longer game-changing. He also missed weight...again!

    Boetsch is facing a similar situation. They are 3-7 combined in their last 10. That should tell you what you need to know. Expect a few fun exchanges and an overall low-energy decision.

    Hendricks, unanimous decision

Kevin Lee vs. Michael Chiesa

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    Kevin Lee
    Kevin LeeBuda Mendes/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    McCarter

    Kevin Lee was given a tough task in his UFC debut (Al Iaquinta) and lost. After a 4-0 run against lower-level opposition, the UFC put him against another rising contender in Leonardo Santos; he lost.

    Now he's on a 4-0 run against midtier opponents, and the UFC is ready to give him a third test to see if he can ascend to the next level. This is a pivotal fight for Lee's career. 

    I do think Lee has a lot of excellent tools, but in his previous bouts against the next level he has faltered. I think that happens again.

    Lee tries to do too much in his first main event. Trying to meet that pressure causes him to make too many mistakes against a seasoned vet.

    Chiesa, submission, Rd. 3

            

    Amos

    I have a bad habit of underestimating Chiesa. I should learn my lesson, but I'm going to pick against him again. I swear, just one more time.

    Lee has developed and rounded out his skills during his UFC tenure and has the tools to keep Chiesa from grinding him to dust. He'll end the fight in the third.

    Lee, TKO, Rd. 3

               

    Rondina

    I feel like Chiesa's game has improved to the point where he should be looked at as a favorite over anyone outside the top 10. Lee is good, but I don't think he makes that cut.

    Chiesa, unanimous decision

              

    Harris

    Chiesa's bread and butter is the scramble, where he has an uncanny ability to take the back and lock on a rear-naked choke—five of his seven UFC wins have come that way. 

    But against a wrestler as good as Lee, that game plan is a tall order. Lee is a compact, powerful wrestler with his own impressive arsenal of subs. This is Lee's day.

    Lee, submission, Rd. 2

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