UFC Fight Night Chile: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Predictions

Steven Rondina@srondinaFeatured ColumnistMay 17, 2018

UFC Fight Night Chile: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Predictions

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    Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Hopefully everyone is done fanning themselves off from the action-packed UFC 224, because the train ain't stopping! This weekend, the UFC makes its way to Chile for the first time with UFC Fight Night 129.

    The full card is as follows:

    Main Card (Fox Sports 1)

    • Demian Maia vs. Kamaru Usman
    • Alexa Grasso vs. Tatiana Suarez
    • Jared Cannonier vs. Dominick Reyes
    • Diego Rivas vs. Guido Cannetti
    • Veronica Macedo vs. Andrea Lee
    • Vicente Luque vs. Chad Laprise

    Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 2)

    • Zak Cummings vs. Michel Prazeres
    • Brandon Moreno vs. Alexandre Pantoja
    • Poliana Botelho vs. Syuri Kondo
    • Gabriel Benitez vs. Humberto Bandenay

    Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass)

    • Enrique Barzola vs. Brandon Davis
    • Henry Briones vs. Frankie Saenz
    • Claudio Puelles vs. Felipe Silva

    As per usual, the Bleacher Report staff picks team is on the scene to break down and predict each of the main card bouts. So be warned: Spoilers ahead!

Vicente Luque vs. Chad Laprise

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    Chad Laprise is coming off three consecutive knockout wins.
    Chad Laprise is coming off three consecutive knockout wins.Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

    Ryder

    Chad Laprise is a touch underappreciated and has a nice little run going for himself. When the UFC gives him guys on the level of Vicente Luque, he usually excels, and that trend will continue here.

    Laprise, unanimous decision

        

    McCarter

    I agree with Matthew that Laprise isn't appreciated enough, but I'll still take Luque. Laprise is the more consistent performer, but Luque has more dynamic ability to score with offense. I'm not sure he will be able to stop Laprise, but he should be able to take the first two rounds.

    Luque, unanimous decision

        

    Harris

    This is a fun action fight to kick off the main card. These guys are going to stand and bang, as it were.

    Laprise is the underdog, but I'll take him here. Luque has more physical talents, while Laprise is more of a bite-down-on-the-mouthpiece guy. Luque has a ground advantage, but Laprise hasn't surrendered a takedown since 2015. Laprise outlands Luque and edges him at the finish line.

    Laprise, unanimous decision

        

    Rondina

    This is just a good matchup for Laprise, in my book. Flat out. He makes it four in a row, and there's a good chance he makes it four knockouts in a row.

    Laprise, TKO, Rd. 2

Diego Rivas vs. Guido Cannetti

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    Diego Rivas will be the hometown favorite in Chile.
    Diego Rivas will be the hometown favorite in Chile.Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Ryder

    Diego Rivas is appearing in his homeland, so besides being younger and sharper athletically, he'll also have a big boost from the home fans (and, if one dared suggest it, the home judges). It's hard to see him dropping this one against Guido Cannetti.

    Rivas, unanimous decision

         

    McCarter

    This looks and feels like a rebound fight for Rivas. Cannetti has his back against the wall, and it'll take something special for him to take this one. He doesn't have it.

    Rivas, submission, Rd. 2

        

    Harris

    These two fighters are a combined 3-3 in official UFC competition. At the same time, three of those combined wins came by stoppage.

    Both men can get it done standing or on the mat. Cannetti uses aggressive Muay Thai but doesn't have the chin, size or power to really be a force. The 5'6" Argentinean gives up three inches of height to Rivas. What's more, all three of his pro losses came by submission. Rivas can exploit that.

    Rivas, submission, Rd. 2

         

    Rondina

    I'm picking Rivas, but make no mistake, this is a much more competitive fight than a clean sweep of predictions would suggest.

    Rivas, unanimous decision

Veronica Macedo vs. Andrea Lee

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    Veronica Macedo returns from a long layoff to try to spoil Andrea Lee's debut.
    Veronica Macedo returns from a long layoff to try to spoil Andrea Lee's debut.Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Ryder

    Andrea Lee is popular among hardcore fans for her aggressive style and high rate of finishing. She was supposed to debut at UFC 216 but ran into issues with USADA surrounding her time in the testing pool, pushing her maiden UFC voyage to this card. She should make an impression against Veronica Macedo.

    Lee, submission, round 1

         

    McCarter

    Lee should pick up the win here. It's a matchup that swings in her favor, and she has the athletic ability to keep Macedo off her game.

    I'm not eyeing a finish, but it should be a one-sided affair through all 15 minutes. She'll get to show off her stand-up skills and make a good first UFC impression.

    Lee, unanimous decision

         

    Harris

    It's the UFC debut for social media sensation Lee. Past experience indicates that Lee is the kind of fighter the UFC hopes will succeed, if you take my meaning.

    Macedo has a slight edge on the feet, but Lee should have a major advantage in the clinch and on the ground. That's where it will play out.

    Despite half of Lee's eight pro wins coming by submission, she'll play it safe in her debut and help fill out the UFC's fledgling women's flyweight division.

    Lee, unanimous decision

         

    Rondina

    Macedo is really young (22, to be precise) and because of that, there's a chance she can hit a stride and turn into higher-end fighter...but that's the long-term outlook for her. In the short-term, she's about to catch a clean "L" from KGB.

    Lee, unanimous decision  

Jared Cannonier vs. Dominick Reyes

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    Jared Cannonier's move to the bigtime was thwarted in December.
    Jared Cannonier's move to the bigtime was thwarted in December.Srdjan Stevanovic/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Ryder

    Jared Cannonier feels close to being a guy at light heavyweight, but every time he tries to break through against top competition he falters.

    Dominick Reyes is a work in progress, but one that has been particularly ruthless in his 2-0 UFC run. He halts any hope Cannonier may have of reaching the upper echelon.

    Reyes, TKO, round 2

          

    McCarter

    I won't go as far as to call Reyes a future champion in the division, but he is a future contender. He is the truth.

    Cannonier is a good test for him, and one he will pass with flying colors. He has been nothing but impressive since his head-kick KO that got him a UFC look to his two UFC performances. He stops Cannonier in the first.

    Reyes, TKO, Rd. 1

    Harris

    I'm going to date myself and channel my inner Seinfeld: who are these people? Am I supposed to be caring right now? You tell me to block off my Saturday night, and then I get there, and you tell me I have to watch two fighters who do not appear in the official UFC rankings despite competing in the wind-swept light heavyweight division? And in the middle of a main card? I'm sorry, but I think I hear my mother calling.

    Reyes, unanimous decision

          

    Rondina

    Cannonier has, indeed, settled into a gatekeeper role, and in the 205-pound division where you're always just a few wins away from contention, that's kind of indicative of where his long-term chances lie.

    I'm not especially bullish on Reyes simply because we haven't seen that much of him, but I do like him to get the win here.

    Reyes, unanimous decision

Alexa Grasso vs. Tatiana Suarez

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    Alexa Grasso returned to the win column in August.
    Alexa Grasso returned to the win column in August.Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Ryder

    I've liked what Alexa Grasso has brought in the UFC, and that she's kind of been built more traditionally as a prospect than many that the UFC gets behind in modern times.

    Tatiana Suarez is a touch less experienced and hasn't fought as high a level of competition, so look for Grasso to get it done in this one.

    Grasso, unanimous decision

         

    McCarter

    Grasso has been one of the prospects to watch over the last few years. She has a decent ground game and some sharp hands. But her progression really stagnated since joining the UFC.

    A loss to Felice Herrig and coming in overweight against Randa Markos hasn't been a good look. And Suarez may be the real deal. The TUF 23 victor has a fantastic and quick wrestling attack with growing skills elsewhere.

    The ability to quickly get in on shots against Grasso will pay off, as Grasso doesn't have the technique or strength to stop the takedown. Vegas favors Suarez at minus-400 (per OddsShark), and I'm in total agreement. Look for a coming out party for Suarez as a new contender.

    Suarez, unanimous decision

         

    Harris

    Suarez is 5-0 as a pro, but that's behind subpar competition. Grasso is the toughest opponent she's faced.

    Grasso has beaten Markos and Jodie Esquibel, among others. On paper, this is a striker-grappler matchup, but Grasso's output slows against wrestlers because she wants to avoid a takedown. That worked (barely) against Markos but may be an even more exaggerated issue against a world-class wrestler in Suarez.

    Suarez, unanimous decision

           

    Rondina

    I want to disagree with Nathan and Scott because Grasso has always been on the short list of "fighters that could be breakout stars for the UFC." But I just can't do it.

    As Nathan alluded to, she hasn't looked spectacular since jumping up to the UFC, and Suarez is a less-than-friendly matchup for her. 

    Expect a slog of a fight that ends with a decision win for the two-time wrestling world championships medalist.

    Suarez, unanimous decision

Demian Maia vs. Kamaru Usman

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    Kamaru Usman has looked stellar in the UFC to this point.
    Kamaru Usman has looked stellar in the UFC to this point.Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Ryder

    Kamaru Usman is allegedly the most feared, avoided 170-pounder alive, so leave it to Demian Maia to take the fight on short notice because he's the most soft-spoken gangster on the roster.

    I'm going out on a limb here and saying that the BJJ ace gets it done against the hot young prospect. It's a fight that feels like it plays to his strengths, and I think he exploits that for a finish.

    Maia, submission, Rd. 3

         

    McCarter

    Remember how Colby Covington was able to shutdown Maia? Well, Usman is three times the fighter that Covington is.

    That is not to say there isn't some danger when facing Maia. He is still an amazing grappler, and if Usman takes him down, plays in his guard, and gets lazy...watch out.

    But when has Usman been lazy? What you should expect is Usman to finish Maia and make his claim for a title shot by dominating Maia way more than Covington was able to do. Usman is the future champion at 170.

    Usman, TKO, Rd. 2

          

    Harris

    I don't have much to add to what Nathan said. Over the years, when you think you have Maia figured out, the train does a sharp about-face. But as Woodley and then Covington showed, Maia has a hard time with power wrestlers.

    Usman is one of the most powerful power wrestlers doing it. Not long after Maia lost to Covington, he celebrated his 40th birthday. So another about-face may not be forthcoming, at least at this level. He'll put Usman over in the talented Nigerian-American's first UFC main event.

    Usman, TKO, Rd. 3

          

    Rondina

    I'm not completely sold on the idea that the Maia puzzle has been solved and he doesn't stand a chance against any high-end fighters anymore. That said, I am completely sold on Usman being a legitimate elite welterweight that just needs a coming-out party.

    Usman, TKO, Rd. 4