UFC Fight Night 139 Predictions: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Picks

Scott Harris@ScottHarrisMMAMMA Lead WriterNovember 8, 2018

UFC Fight Night 139 Predictions: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Picks

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    Korean Zombie Chan Sung Jung
    Korean Zombie Chan Sung JungMike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Out in the real world, no one's ever excited to see a zombie. But this is MMA, and we do things a little differently here.

    OK, I realize there are no zombies in the real world, but let me have this. It's a good lede. And it really does speak to the excitement surrounding the return of Chan Sung Jung, the electrifying featherweight known as The Korean Zombie, at Saturday's UFC Fight Night 139 in Denver.

    After mandatory military service pulled him away from the cage for a few years, the Zombie picked up where he left off with a three-minute knockout of Dennis Bermudez. But that was 2017, and injuries have stymied him until now.

    It's an interesting test for the 31-year-old. Mexican striking sensation Yair Rodriguez is stepping in to face the Zombie on short notice, replacing the injured Frankie Edgar, who happens to be the last and only man to beat Rodriguez in the UFC.

    The co-main event is a cracker, too, featuring two gunslingers in Donald Cerrone and Mike Perry. After that, the card falls off a bit. Like a Zombie haplessly stumbling into an abandoned elevator shaft.

    So let's wade through this multilayered main card. All five scraps have something to offer, and it airs on Fox Sports 1, so you're not paying anything. Our picks team is here to break it down and give their selections: Nathan McCarter, Matt Ryder, Steven Rondina and myself, Scott Harris. Let's get it on.

Mike Trizano vs. Luis Pena

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    Luis Pena
    Luis PenaJeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Nathan McCarter

    Did anyone really watch The Ultimate Fighter's 27th season? Uh, I'll take a shot here with Luis Pena. He has a cool nickname and may be able to use his length to prevent Mike Trizano from orchestrating his offensive game plan. It'll be a forgettable fight.

    Pena, unanimous decision

         

    Matthew Ryder

    It basically ruins my day to pick against Violent Bob Ross, but I'm going to have to. I think Trizano will have the grappling chops to stay out of trouble, and he packs a bit more of a punch. He gets a stoppage and stays undefeated.

    Trizano, TKO, Rd. 1

         

    Steven Rondina

    This one is a toss-up. Both men are finishers who have eye-catching records full of stoppages that came at the expense of regional-level, part-time opposition. I flipped a coin and got tails, so I'm going with Pena.

    Pena, unanimous decision

         

    Scott Harris

    This is your world. And we don't make mistakes in our world. We only have happy accidents. Ergo, Pena slips and falls, Trizano swarms, Violent Bob Ross catches him with an upkick.

    Pena, TKO, Rd. 2

Maycee Barber vs. Hannah Cifers

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    Maycee Barber (left)
    Maycee Barber (left)Chris Unger/DWTNCS LLC/Getty Images

    McCarter

    Maycee Barber is the latest prospect the UFC will throw its weight behind, and that's why she is on the main card. That should tell you all you need to know about Hannah Cifers' chances in this one.

    Barber, TKO, Rd. 1

         

    Ryder

    Barber was born in 1998. That is almost too much for my old-man brain to comprehend. It feels like this one is tailor-made for her to get some publicity with a big win, which she probably will do.

    Barber, unanimous decision

         

    Rondina

    Neither woman is especially well-proven heading into her Octagon debut. Both have faced generally weak competition, and both have been able to finish the majority of their opponents. It's hard to feel strongly about either woman, but Barber is just ever so slightly better on paper. Cifers' relatively recent loss to Gillian Robertson and inability to consistently put away low-level foes has me feeling like Barber is the safer pick.

    Barber, unanimous decision

         

    Harris

    Yeah, these aren't world-beaters here, but Cifers actually has some pretty solid muay thai. Still, she's making her UFC debut on late notice. Barber is a well-regarded strawweight prospect with complete skills and heavy hands. A better scrap than it might appear, but nevertheless no shockers here.

    Barber, TKO, Rd. 2

Beneil Dariush vs Thiago Moises

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    Beneil Dariush (right)
    Beneil Dariush (right)Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    McCarter

    I still think Dariush is a top-15 level fighter. If he performs up to his caliber, he will dominate this fight and that is exactly what I am expecting. Dariush takes his time before he is able to get the fight to the mat, and once there it should be a wrap. Dariush gets a rear-naked choke in the second round.

    Dariush, submission, Rd. 2

    Ryder

    Dariush feels like he's been on the brink of being important for so long that such a goal may have outrun him by now despite his relative youth, but it's hard to imagine him losing this one. Look for him to drown his late replacement opponent and pull away to a decision over time.

    Dariush, unanimous decision


    Rondina
    I'm of the same mindset as Nathan. Yes, Dariush has hit a rough skid but I don't believe he's fallen that far from being a top-10 lightweight quite yet. He'll win this one. Maybe not emphatically or decisively, but he'll win.
    Dariush, unanimous decision

    Harris
    It's easy to forget that Dariush has only really lost to top opponents. It's also easy to forget just how good a grappler he is. He'll remind everyone against a relatively untested competitor in Moises.

    Dariush, submission, Rd. 2

Raquel Pennington vs. Germaine de Randamie

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    Raquel Pennington (left)
    Raquel Pennington (left)Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    McCarter

    If this fight were to be contested at 145 pounds, I may be compelled to pick Germaine de Randamie. At 135, I struggle to see where Raquel Pennington doesn't control the action. De Randamie struggles with making the weight, and it affects her performances. Pennington is a grinder who can, and will, wear her down. That's the whole fight. Grit and determination.

    Pennington, unanimous decision

         

    Ryder

    In a way, I find it hard to believe the UFC didn't cut de Randamie after her dramatic fling as featherweight champion. In any event, Pennington has been on the come-up for a while now, and she'll show she's hit the top of her game here with a convincing decision over the bigger, more experienced Iron Lady.

    Pennington, unanimous decision

         

    Rondina

    It's easy to dismiss the Iron Lady based on her short, ugly reign as UFC featherweight champion but she's legit. More legit, I'd say, than Pennington. Unless Pennington can turn this into a prolonged grappling match, de Randamie will out-land her and take a clean decision win to reestablish herself as a contender at 135 pounds (not that the UFC will ever let her near a belt again, though).

    De Randamie, unanimous decision

    Harris

    Lots of strange emotions in this one. Plenty of fans regard de Randamie as one of the biggest bums under the UFC sun because of her ducking of Cris Cyborg and what not. She will be booed. And who can forget Pennington telling her corner no mas between rounds against Amanda Nunes, only to be told, essentially, to shut up and go back out there? She went back in there and took more unnecessary punishment at the hands of the champ as home viewers cringed and turned away. Pennington later backed her coaches, because what else was she going to do? Either way, this surely isn't what she wants to be known for. Using her wrestling, she'll take it out on a muay thai specialist—and one who has just slightly less heart than her, it seems—in de Randamie.

    Pennington, unanimous decision

Donald Cerrone vs. Mike Perry

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    Donald Cerrone
    Donald CerroneNICHOLAS YEO/Getty Images

    McCarter

    Technically speaking, this would be Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone's fight to lose. However, more important than technique is size and power, which favors Mike Perry. He'll absolutely cork Cerrone at some point within the first 10 minutes and get a big KO victory.

    Perry, KO, Rd. 2

         

    Ryder

    Perry is so MMA it hurts. Cerrone has been doing his thing so long that it's hard to imagine a time when he won't be showing up on random UFC Fight Night cards to provide a little star power. I think the UFC sees this as a passing of the torch, but Cerrone will show some guile and veteran savvy on his way to a decision.

    Cerrone, unanimous decision

         

    Rondina

    Cerrone is old and undersized at 170 pounds. He's much more technically refined than his former teammate, but Perry's physicality will just prove to be too much here. Either Cerrone hangs on to take a lopsided decision loss or does that thing where he struggles to get out of the gate and loses early on.

    Perry, unanimous decision

         

    Harris

    Perry is a solid fighter, with better skills than he gets credit for, and he has his place for better or worse in the UFC. And for sure, Cerrone is a veritable wisp at welterweight. Cerrone's recent run, in which he's dropped four of five, doesn't help the optics. But for all his power and bluster, Perry is not bulletproof here. He lost to Max Griffin earlier this year. He can be outfought. Cerrone cowboys up, manages range, waits for the adrenaline dump and then picks Perry apart from the perimeter. Sound the upset alarms.

    Cerrone, unanimous decision

Chan Sung Jung vs. Yair Rodriguez

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    Yair Rodriguez
    Yair RodriguezJohn Locher/Associated Press

    McCarter

    This is a sensational matchup, and I'm very torn on who to pick. I lean Chan Sung Jung. He is a more proven, more consistent fighter than Yair Rodriguez, and in this incredibly close fight, it may be the more consistent fighter who pulls through. Rodriguez may have more raw talent, but Jung matches up well to steal rounds when he gets too wild.

    Korean Zombie, unanimous decision

         

    Ryder

    Zombie's fought once in five years. Rodriguez has fought once in 18 months. This is going to be rusty and a bit sloppy early, but I'm taking Rodriguez to score a highlight-reel stoppage simply because I believe the sport has passed by the plodding, methodical stylings of Jung since he was at his peak.

    Rodriguez, KO, Rd. 4

         

    Rondina

    I feel bad for writing this, but how many serious injuries can one man take and remain a high-level mixed martial artist? Especially in the lower weight classes where you can't just bludgeon your way to a title shot Derrick Lewis-style? Jung hasn't been seen in over 18 months. Before that, he was gone for more than three years.

    A younger, quicker, healthier Rodriguez will be able to out-maneuver The Korean Zombie and either take this with the judges or score a stoppage in the second half of the fight.

    Rodriguez, TKO, Rd. 4

         

    Harris

    I get the sloppiness argument, but I still favor the Zombie for his physicality and for that blend of high-level judo and jiu-jitsu that makes him a monster on the ground. Everyone sleeps on his ground game. Rodriguez is no babe in the woods there, but if he can't get one of those patented high-wire knockouts—and there's no reason to suspect that the Zombie's chin has gotten rusty—it's only a matter of time before he gets planted on the mat, where he will stay.

    Zombie, unanimous decision