UFC on Fox 28 Predictions: Main Card Staff Picks

Matthew Ryder@@matthewjryderFeatured ColumnistFebruary 23, 2018

UFC on Fox 28 Predictions: Main Card Staff Picks

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    The UFC returns to Orlando for a Fox show this weekend, the city having become something of a routine network outing for the promotion in the past few years.

    Even so, this event is one of the less appealing offerings that the Sunshine State has ever received from the MMA leader, with a mediocre headliner between Josh Emmett and Jeremy Stephens propping it up.

    Other fighters slated to appear include Jessica Andrade and Tecia Torres, Ovince Saint Preux and Ilir Latifi, and Max Griffin and everyone's favorite bad boy Mike Perry.

    Again, it's a pretty far cry from the days of Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos.

    In any event, here to ponder the merits of the show and make some predictions as to how it might play out are Scott Harris, Nathan McCarter, Steven Rondina and myself, relative prediction neophyte, Matthew Ryder.

    Let's see what the team is thinking.

Mike Perry vs. Max Griffin

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Scott Harris: I like Max Pain, but he probably won't be able to stop Perry from getting inside. He will have his moments, though, as his kickboxing attack is sharp. It won't be as easy as it might seem, but Perry will get it done.

    Perry, TKO, Rd. 3

                      

    Nathan McCarter: This will not go well for Griffin. The UFC adores Perry's fighting style and has given him a matchup where he can shine. Expect a big KO to start the main card.

    Perry, KO, Rd. 1

                      

    Steven Rondina: The UFC put this fight together in order to expand Mike Perry's highlight reel, and there's no reason to think it doesn't get its wish. He'll disregard Griffin's offense, plod forward and land something to score a brutal win. 

    Perry, TKO, Rd. 1

                         

    Matthew Ryder: Perry has almost become what Nate Diaz once was for Fox shows: an action fighter who's going to put on a show no matter the cost. This will mark his third fight on the network, and while he's 0-2 so far, I'm looking for him to turn it around against Griffin.

    Perry, TKO, Rd. 2

Ovince Saint Preux vs. Ilir Latifi

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    Harris: The hardcore fans loves Latifi for his wrestle-boxing power and horse memes. His strength is impressive, but he's essentially a large cube of muscle, seemingly unable to contend with the rangy athleticism of Saint Preux.

    Saint Preux, on the other hand, is the type of fairly low-IQ fighter who could make the mistakes Latifi could capitalize on with that super-patient takedown game. In the end, though, more would have to break Latifi's way for him to beat Saint Preux, rather than vice versa.

    Saint Preux, unanimous decision

                      

    McCarter: Latifi is fun, but he'll be reduced to having a puncher's chance in this fight. OSP's length will pose a significant problem for him. Saint Preux will end up controlling a rather uneventful 15 minutes of action en route to a clean sweep on the scorecards.

    Saint Preux, unanimous decision                  

                   

    Rondina: Unless Latifi can land an early haymaker, this should be an easy one for OSP. His wrestling is good enough to keep it standing, and his striking is better than Latifi's. Look for OSP to find his timing, land something hard and score the submission win in the second half of the fight.

    Saint Preux, submission, Rd. 3

                     

    Ryder: Saint Preux is definitely the better athlete, Latifi is probably the more pure fighter. Unfortunately for the beloved Swede, most of the things he does well are things OSP does better or has proved capable of neutralizing. The former Tennessee Volunteer narrowly gets it done.

    Saint Preux, split decision

Jessica Andrade vs. Tecia Torres

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    Harris: This fight could legitimately break some records, as both of these fighters are notorious for blistering output.

    Torres uses her punches to set up takedown entries. Ditto Andrade to an extent, who showed immense strength in her win last fall over Claudia Gadelha but loves to be aggressive on the feet. What's more, both can keep the pace for 15 minutes.

    Andrade should have an edge in both wrestling strength and striking power that will win her another hotly contested and highly entertaining bout.

    Andrade, unanimous decision

                  

    McCarter: We will find out if Torres will ever become a true title contender in this fight. I don't think she will get there. Andrade poses a stylistic threat to what she does best, and Andrade is simply better overall at this stage in their careers. Torres will prove to be a tough out, but she won't be a factor on the judge's cards.

    Andrade, unanimous decision

                      

    Rondina: Tecia Torres needs to be able to outmuscle opponents in order to work her game...and that just isn't happening against Jessica Andrade.

    Unless Torres can transform into a 5'1" version of Stephen Thompson, Andrade is going to apply enough pressure and land enough leather to take this one by clean-cut decision.

    Andrade, unanimous decision

                     

    Ryder: This should be an interesting challenge for Torres, who'll look to break through into the upper echelon of the strawweight division. Andrade is already there, though, and she's been a nightmare since dropping to 115. 

    I've got her sending Torres back to the drawing board to work on her finishing skills. Torres has a staggering 90 percent decision rate in her wins, and it's hard to see her getting away with riding points to a win against someone so rugged and driven to finish.

    Andrade, TKO, Rd. 3

Josh Emmett vs. Jeremy Stephens

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    Harris: Emmett's brutal left hook to finish Lamas was impressive, but a flash knockout nonetheless. It's hard to see how that launched him to main-event status on big Fox.

    This is the same guy who dropped a decision to Desmond Green less than a year ago. He still hits hard, but so does Stephens, and the latter has really put together a complete game of late.

    He's not the hittable brawler people make him out to be. He'll frustrate Emmett's straight-ahead style with a patient attack predicated on kicks and counters.

    Stephens, unanimous decision

                  

    McCarter: I really cannot believe this is a main event of a Fox card. Emmett proved his skills in his last fight with the upset victory, but I'm not going to buy-in all the way just yet. Especially with how Stephens has looked in recent bouts.

    Stephens will keep his pace throughout, while Emmett will begin to fade. That'll spell doom in the later rounds. Stephens puts himself on the brink of a title shot with another W.

    Stephens, TKO, Rd. 3

                     

    Rondina: The thing that Nathan and Scott are dancing around is that the win that got Emmett into this main event was probably a fluke. Stephens, on the other hand, is tried, true and actually improving despite being deep into his career.

    Maybe Emmett will pan out to be a top guy, but right now, I'm taking Stephens to win this fight in decisive fashion without a second thought.

    Stephens, TKO, Rd. 4

                   

    Ryder: Emmett is a pretty unproven No. 4 contender, riding a single flash knockout over Ricardo Lamas to his current placement at featherweight. Stephens has been around forever but has been a decidedly mediocre 145er, mostly alternating wins and losses.

    I'll say Stephens slips up, if for no other reason than that he's won two in a row and tends to suffer a setback right around now when he gets a good run going.

    Emmett, unanimous decision