UFC Fight Night 119 Predictions: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Picks

Scott Harris@ScottHarrisMMAMMA Lead WriterOctober 27, 2017

UFC Fight Night 119 Predictions: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Picks

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    Derek Brunson (left) and Lyoto Machida (right)
    Derek Brunson (left) and Lyoto Machida (right)Alexandre Schneider /Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    From inside the guts of Sao Paolo, Brazil, it's UFC Fight Night 119. As is usually the case when the UFC hits Brazil, that means plenty of Brazilian fighters on the card. That, in turn, means good things are bound to happen.

    In the main event, aging lion Lyoto Machida steps into the cage after a two-year absence for a failed drug test. He's facing Derek Brunson, a streaking middleweight with designs on title contention in a shallow division.

    The co-main event sees the return of Demian Maia following his unsuccessful challenge to champion Tyron Woodley. 

    Oh, and did someone say John Lineker? Everyone's favorite tiny knockout artist is in the mix.

    Get yourself acquainted with the main card, which airs Saturday on Fox Sports 1, with the help of our predictions team. Nathan McCarter. Craig "Cookie" Amos. Steven Rondina. And myself, Scott Harris. Let's get it on.

John Lineker vs. Marlon Vera

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    John Lineker
    John LinekerJeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Nathan McCarter

    This is a great fight to restore some of that "Lineker Luster." John Lineker will be able to stand and stalk his prey before laying in thudding body shots that steal Marlon Vera's life force. And then Vera's chin will present itself for a blistering KO shot.

    Lineker, KO, Rd. 1

    Craig Amos

    This is going to be violent but brief. Vera is a solid fighter, but Lineker is an absolute killer. The Brazilian will stuff a couple of early takedowns and bring a swift, bloody end to the opening main card bout.

    Lineker, KO, Rd. 1

    Steven Rondina

    This isn't a full-blown rebound fight for Lineker, but this is one he's expected to win. Lineker will do his thing, press the action, land crushing punches and make Vera regret ever taking that first BJJ lesson.

    Lineker, KO, Rd. 1

    Scott Harris

    Praise be; it's time for another John Lineker fight. Give it up to Vera for taking this fight in his bantamweight debut. He's 4-2 in the UFC, and he'll have a significant height advantage (5'8" to Lineker's 5'3"). But Lineker will be motivated after his first loss in almost three years to T.J. Dillashaw. He'll come out swinging, and he'll find Vera's chin, no matter how high it is.

    Lineker, TKO, Rd. 2

Thiago Santos vs. Jack Hermansson

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    Thiago Santos (top)
    Thiago Santos (top)Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images


    This is a quality matchup more fans should be excited about, but neither man has too big a following. If Thiago Santos can avoid lengthy clinches, this is his fight to lose. At range, Santos' strong leg kicks and heavy hands should seal the deal.

    Santos, unanimous decision


    It took Santos a couple of years to find his footing in the UFC, but with the exception of a confusing loss to Eric Spicely, he's been terrific since 2015. He's facing a competent opponent in Jack Hermansson, but I'm too bullish on the Brazilian.

    Santos, TKO, Rd. 2


    You know those fights where there are two hot, up-and-coming strikers and they come together and everyone's expecting it to be great, but both fighters wind up retreating into a defensive shell because they're not comfortable working against a competent foil yet? That's what I'm expecting here, with Hermansson getting enough time in the clinch to take a snoozer of a unanimous decision.

    Hermansson, unanimous decision


    Santos is the most familiar of known quantities. He is going to come forward, and he is going to try to murder you with his limbs. Hermansson is a ground-and-pound type, powerful in his own right.

    It's easy to go with Santos here, given his fearsome, eye-catching style. He doesn't have much takedown defense, either, and his ground game is a question mark. If Hermansson doesn't mind eating some shots, he should be able to put Santos on his back and put him away. His style is a bit conservative, but his own power is real and raw.

    Hermansson, TKO, Rd. 2

Francisco Trinaldo vs. Jim Miller

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    Francisco Trinaldo
    Francisco TrinaldoBuda Mendes/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images


    Francisco Trinaldo had an unheralded seven-fight win streak snapped against Kevin Lee back in March. I don't think that streak was a product of being a fluke or strictly over lower-level opposition. And that's why Trinaldo is the betting favorite. Jim Miller is a live dog, but Trinaldo should be able to out-point him in the first two rounds to win a narrow decision.

    Trinaldo, unanimous decision


    This one could produce some fun scrambles and transitions. Both fighters are more than competent on the mat, and both are active. Trinaldo pulls away on the feet, though. He's developed the striking facet of his game and possesses enough power to make it count. 

    Trinaldo, unanimous decision 


    Trinaldo is ancient by the conventional standards of the UFC lightweight division and is coming off a loss to Kevin Lee, but boy he is good. I don't see a fighter outside the top 10 I'd look at as a favorite to beat him, and Miller? Yeah, he's well outside the top 10.

    Trinaldo, unanimous decision


    How can you not love Trinaldo? He's won plenty of hearts and minds for his heartfelt post-fight speeches and charitable pledges, like the one where he threw a birthday party for children in his neighborhood. There's a lot to like in the cage, too.

    Despite now being 39 years old, he has won seven of his last eight, with the only defeat coming to Kevin Lee. He'll get back on track by defeating Miller, who is himself one of the sport's good guys but who cedes size and strength in this contest, even if his rail-hard toughness doesn't permit a stoppage.

    Trinaldo, unanimous decision

Pedro Munhoz vs. Rob Font

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    Pedro Munhoz (right)
    Pedro Munhoz (right)Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images


    Another quality fight on this overlooked card occurs in the bantamweight division. This is a pick 'em type of fight that has me scratching my head, but when forced to make a selection, I'll lean toward Pedro Munhoz. The matchup tilts just a tiny touch in his favor for what should be 15 minutes of fun.

    Munhoz, unanimous decision


    I agree with Nathan here: This should be a good, competitive fight. But I disagree with the outcome. I'm leaning toward Rob Font, who is a bit more vicious on the feet. He'll do enough damage to hand Munhoz his first stoppage loss and use the victory to propel himself into a higher-profile matchup.

    Font, KO, Rd. 2


    I'll echo what both Craig and Nathan said. Fun. Competitive. Font is more dangerous at range, and that is enough for him to get my pick.

    Font, TKO, Rd. 2


    The oddsmakers have several razor-thin matchups on this bout. This one fits that category, with OddsShark giving Font a -144 (bet $144 to win $100) nod as favorite. In a nutshell, Font is a hyper-aggressive power striker, and Munhoz is a submission artist. Something has to give.

    Munhoz is a little more well-rounded, though. Font will want this standing. Munhoz knows enough not to get into a striking war with Font. He'll hold his own, bide his time and eventually drag Font to the ground and keep him there.

    Munhoz, submission, Rd. 2

Demian Maia vs. Colby Covington

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    Demian Maia
    Demian MaiaAlexandre Schneider /Zuffa LLC/Getty Images


    Colby Covington has tried to promote himself, but the fans are not buying what he's selling. Demian Maia should bring him back down to Earth with a first-round submission. Covington has a lot of skills to the point where a victory wouldn't stun me, but he's not quite ready for this jump in competition. Maia will go back to his bread and butter: Stick Covington against the cage, grab a single, get the takedown and choke him out.

    Maia, Submission, Rd. 1


    Covington's Twitter trash talk is as awkward as a prime The Office episode, but his previous showing saw him enter the bout as the favorite. A lot of fans remember Maia's futile effort against Tyron Woodley and assume Covington can shut him down the same way, but I foresee the wily Brazilian willing his way to the win here. I'm cautious, but Maia is my official pick.

    Maia, unanimous decision


    Colby Covington is shaping up to be a poor man's Chael Sonnen. Go look up what happened when the real thing crossed paths with Maia.

    Maia, submission, Rd. 1


    It's true that we've all enjoyed Covington's tomfoolery these last couple of weeks, but now it's time to pay the piper. It's true that Covington is a heavy body with great control-wrestling skills. It's also true he's not Woodley.

    More accomplished grinders than Covington have tried and failed to keep Maia under wraps. Covington's bread and butter is the takedown. Where does that leave you when you're facing one of the best jiu-jitsu fighters on the planet?

    Maia, submission, Rd. 2

Derek Brunson vs. Lyoto Machida

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    Brunson (left) and Machida
    Brunson (left) and MachidaAlexandre Schneider /Zuffa LLC/Getty Images


    Machida's UFC return is not a gift-wrapped fight. Brunson is a tough stylistic matchup for the former light heavyweight champion, and I'll take the American. Brunson's wrestling and power will be the difference.

    If Brunson gets wild, as he did against Robert Whittaker, Machida will knock him out. I just don't see him doing that again. Brunson stays composed and eventually earns a TKO stoppage.

    Brunson, TKO, Rd. 3


    The results have been no good for Machida recently. His struggles can be partly attributed to strength of schedule, but he's also 39 years old and employs a style that requires a lot of quickness. Plus, he hasn't fought in a year-and-a-half. And Brunson is an outstanding fighter. It all adds up to a disappointed Brazilian crowd. 

    Brunson, TKO, Rd.2 


    Brunson is good enough that I think he'd be able to give a younger, less rusty Machida a run for his money. A 39-year-old Machida coming off a two-year suspension? I don't see how that can work out.

    Brunson, unanimous decision


    As much as I want to give Machida the nod here, and as thin as the odds are (just about -150 for Brunson, according to OddsShark), I can't do it. The older you get, the more prone you are to stiffness and atrophy.

    It stands to reason Machida's attack, always predicated on reflex and precision footwork and counterstriking, will be particularly prone to rust. He won't be able to stand up to Brunson's takedowns.

    Brunson, unanimous decision