UFC 230: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Predictions

Matthew Ryder@@matthewjryderFeatured ColumnistNovember 1, 2018

UFC 230: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Predictions

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    It’s that time of year again: The UFC is returning to New York City for its November pilgrimage.

    The 2018 edition appears, at least compared to the past offerings, to be something of a dud—the promotion booked the main event only a few weeks before the show (after considerable turmoil beforehand), and there are no Georges St-Pierres or Conor McGregors entering the cage this Saturday.

    But still, outside of the context of what NYC has come to expect when the Octagon is set up at Madison Square Garden, the event is pretty solid. Beloved brawler Derrick Lewis will get a heavyweight title shot, Chris Weidman and Jacare Souza will lock horns and the flashy Israel Adesanya gets back to work against Derek Brunson.

    With such excitement brewing, your Bleacher Report MMA staff is here to make some picks. Read on to see what Scott Harris, Nathan McCarter, Steven Rondina and Matthew Ryder foresee.

Israel Adesanya vs. Derek Brunson

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    Harris: Brunson may have the wrestling to neutralize the super-striker Adesanya. But he has also shown he's susceptible to the knockout. This is a quintessential battle of styles, and Adesanya's learning computer will keep him a step ahead of the D-II All-American.

    Adesanya, TKO, Rd. 3


    McCarter: At one point, I thought Brunson could be a real contender in this division, but he hit a wall. It's a wall I doubt he can overcome. That is not to suggest he still isn't a talented and dangerous fighter, because he is. In this matchup, Adesanya will touch him up on the feet while Brunson struggles to work his grappling. Brunson continues a trajectory toward the bottom while Adesanya gets a big win.

    Adesanya, unanimous decision


    Rondina: The UFC, for whatever reason, seems committed to preventing Israel Adesanya from becoming the next big MMA star. Why is that the case? I don't know, but that's the only way to look at his time in the Octagon thus far. He might be able to make decision-makers look the fool once again, but I'm betting that Brunson's blend of wrestling and knockout power ends up taking the night.

    Brunson, unanimous decision


    Ryder: This should be a good test for Adesanya, who has developed consistently in his UFC career. If Brunson tries to win a stand-up battle, he’ll be butchered, given the Nigerian’s kickboxing credentials, and I’m not sure he’s got the tools to consistently impose a wrestling attack.

    Adesanya, unanimous decision

Karl Roberson vs. Jack Marshman

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    Harris: Karl Roberson is a fun young fighter, but he appears to be here because he's from nearby New Jersey and impressed Dana White on Tuesday Night Contender Series. He lost in his last bout to Mutante Ferreira. He can crack, though, and opponent Jack Marshman isn't much better. Roberson gets the win, White gets his vanity validation.

    Roberson, TKO, Rd. 1


    McCarter: A battle of middling middleweights. Uh, I'll take Marshman. Both are coming off defeats, and Marshman has proved to return to form after let-downs in the past. He'll be more mentally prepared to escape with a narrow victory.

    Marshman, unanimous decision


    Rondina: I'm kind of at the point where I'm going to pick against these random Tuesday Night Contender Series call-ups. While it's fun to watch, the main function of the show to this point has been letting the world know just how bad Dana White is at picking out MMA talent despite being in the business for nearly 20 years. While Roberson has already picked up a win in the real Octagon, I'm thinking Sean Shelby looks to serve Dana up a bit of matchmaking humble pie once again.

    Marshman, unanimous decision


    Ryder: This is a sensible pairing of middling middleweights. I don’t have much in the way of in-depth analysis, I just feel like Marshman is going to get it done. Going on gut here.

    Marshman, unanimous decision

Dave Branch vs. Jared Cannonier

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    Harris: Branch is a New York guy, and should have the jiu-jitsu to make good in his hometown. Plus, Jared Cannonier isn't so great. If you're thinking you might need a sandwich at some point during the main card, circle this fight as your big opportunity.

    Branch, unanimous decision


    McCarter: Cannonier is coming in on late notice against one of the most unheralded fighters in the game. Unless he can catch Branch with something big, Cannonier will tire quickly. That's what I'm expecting to happen. Branch's grind wears him down through 15 minutes.

    Branch, unanimous decision


    Rondina: Cannonier isn't bad, but he's coming in on short notice to fight a bona fide top-10 guy. Oh, and by the way, he's dropping down to 185 pounds for the first time ever. That's not a winning formula, and Branch has all the tools to take advantage of it.

    Branch, unanimous decision


    Ryder: Cannonier is a live dog thanks to his wrestling game, but it’s hard to imagine the former heavyweight is going to comfortably cut to middleweight on short notice and handle someone as skilled and capable as Branch is in all facets of the game.

    Branch, unanimous decision

Chris Weidman vs. Jacare Souza

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    Harris: Is Jacare's window closing? He's 38, but still seems at times to be improving in the stand-up phase and elsewhere. Weidman is the safe pick, but I wasn't born to be safe, bro. Weidman's wrestling will neutralize Jacare's jiu-jitsu, but Souza, fighting on short notice, will touch Weidman's chin. Given that Weidman recently broke a three-fight-KO-loss streak, I'd say the chin is there for the touching.

    Souza, TKO, Rd. 2


    McCarter: Weidman has lost a lot of steam since losing his title, but he hasn't lost much talent. He is still one of the best in the world. Jacare is always dangerous, but at 38 years old I am not banking on a big resurgence. Weidman should be able to control this contest. He'll catch Jacare and prove he is the next contender at 185 pounds.

    Weidman, TKO, Rd. 2


    Rondina: I'm guilty of perpetually underestimating Jacare, and maybe I'm about to do so again here, but this one seems like a slam dunk for Weidman. Unless Weidman does something stupid or gets clipped by something big, look for him to out-work the Brazilian and fairly convincing decision win.

    Weidman, unanimous decision


    Ryder: Weidman’s career has been such an oddity since he was champion. He’s essentially become the UFC’s face of New York events, this fight being his fourth straight in the state. He’s 1-3 in his last four, but he seems to think he’ll be fighting for a title with a win.

    Souza is almost 39 years old and has looked human for some time now, after having a claim to the best non-champion the UFC had on the roster for years.

    It’s a close one, but I think Weidman gets it done.

    Weidman, TKO, Rd. 2

Daniel Cormier vs. Derrick Lewis

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    Harris: I'm guessing there will be a remarkable level of sameness in these picks, not just here but across the mediasphere. "Derrick Lewis is a national treasure, but," is a reasonable summation. So throw another one on the pile. Cormier isn't going to let himself get hit.

    Cormier, unanimous decision


    McCarter: I don't think this was a smart fight to take for Cormier because of the risks, but I am not going to pick the upset. Lewis hits hard. Very hard. But Lewis doesn't have the blistering speed to shock Cormier out of nowhere. That is the major difference. No surprises. Cormier out-wrestles and tires Lewis before finishing with ground-and-pound.

    Cormier, TKO, Rd. 3


    Rondina: Lewis only has a puncher's chance here, and while we just saw him pull off a win over Alexander Volkov on that, it'd be near-miraculous to see him do so again. DC has all the tools to take Lewis down and hold him there for 25 minutes, and I imagine he'll do that, unless he decides to sink in a submission instead.

    Cormier, unanimous decision


    Ryder: There’s just not much to this: Cormier is a smaller, quick heavyweight and Lewis is a plodding dinosaur looking to behead his opponents. As much as we all love him, Lewis is in a bad way against DC. This will look like Cormier’s win over Anthony Johnson, where he survived as he needed to and won the fight on ground.

    Cormier, submission, Rd. 2