UFC Fight Night 140: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Picks

Nathan McCarter@McCarterNFeatured ColumnistNovember 15, 2018

UFC Fight Night 140: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Picks

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    The UFC heads to Estadio Mary Terán de Weiss in Buenos Aires for UFC Fight Night 140 on Saturday. Atop the bill? A welterweight clash between No. 8-ranked contender Neil Magny and No. 10-ranked Santiago Ponzinibbio.

    The Fight Night event may lack a premier name on the marquee, but it does offer a six-fight main card sure to provide excitement for fight fans on a Saturday without much else on the docket.

    In the co-main event, Ricardo Lamas and Darren Elkins will duke it out to get back into position in the featherweight division. Also on the bill is a rising light heavyweight contender in Khalil Rountree.

    The Bleacher Report staff, Matthew Ryder, Scott Harris, Steven Rondina and Nathan McCarter, are back on their beat to pick a winner for each and every fight of the main card. Will Rountree make himself one of the names to watch at 205 pounds heading into 2019 or will he be upset by Johnny Walker? Can Elkins pull off the modest upset? And which welterweight finishes their 2018 on a high note with a main event victory?

    The crew gives you their thoughts on all that and more. Here are the Bleacher Report staff picks for UFC Fight Night 140.

Cynthia Calvillo vs. Poliana Botelho

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    Matthew Ryder

    Calvillo is the truth. Nobody should want a single thing to do with that lady. For someone of limited experience, she seems to have taken to the finer points of MMA like a particularly mean duck to water. Look for her to show improvements in the standup before grounding Botelho and eventually burying her there.

    Calvillo, unanimous decision

       

    Scott Harris

    Botelho has impressed in her short UFC run, notching wins over Pearl Gonzalez and Syuri Kondo, the latter coming via a 33-second body kick TKO. Calvillo's her toughest test to date with a more impressive record and grappling skills that can cause difficulty. But Botelho just seems to have the hot hand.

    Botelho, TKO, Rd. 3

       

    Steven Rondina

    This is a weird matchup to me because the UFC clearly felt strongly about Cynthia Calvillo and the way they'd usually handle a loss like the one she sustained from Carla Esparza would be a tune-up fight. So does this mean the UFC doesn't feel great long-term about Botelho and view her as a tune-up? Or is this an Erick Silva vs. Jordan Mein sort of "ok, we're done with you now" kind of fight? I don't know! Either way, I feel like Calvillo is the favorite here, but I just don't know, man!

    Calvillo, unanimous decision

       

    Nathan McCarter

    I'm completely with Steven on this one. This seems like weird matchmaking between two prospects with a little bit of promise, but the manner in which Calvillo lost to Carla Esparza may have left the UFC in a seller's market. Even still, I have a little more trust in Calvillo's game at this point although I want to join Scott in pulling the trigger on Botelho. I just can't talk myself into it. Calvillo's grappling wins out.

    Calvillo, unanimous decision

Guido Cannetti vs. Marlon Vera

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    Ryder

    The much younger, surprisingly UFC-worn Vera should get this done. He’s never been stopped in his five losses, and the push of the hometown crowd will only take Cannetti so far.

    Vera, unanimous decision

        

    Harris

    Vera only seems to lose to upper-echelon guys. Cannetti is not an upper-echelon guy. Cannetti will bang but Vera will emerge on top. Low-key Fight of the Night favorite here.

    Vera, TKO, Rd. 2

       

    Rondina

    Scott hit the nail on the head. Vera's comfortably settled into gatekeeper duties and Cannetti probably isn't the kind of up-and-comer that gets past him. Vera should win this, in my mind, albeit not necessarily in impressive fashion.

    Vera, unanimous decision

       

    McCarter

    Sure, I'll jump on the bandwagon here for this matchup. Vera should be able to take two of three rounds, but I can't foresee a finish. It should be a fun scrap though.

    Vera, unanimous decision

Cezar Ferreira vs. Ian Heinisch

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    Ryder

    I haven't watched one second of Ian Heinisch in action, but I've been a long-time believer that Ferreira is among the most overrated men on the UFC roster. I'm looking for the Contender Series callup to announce his arrival to the big time with something vicious.

    Heinisch, TKO, Rd. 1

      

    Harris

    Another Contender Series prospect rushed into the deep end too soon. Mutante will dirty it up and smash him into the fence in classic Mutante fashion.

    Ferreira, unanimous decision

       

    Rondina

    I feel like UFC matchmakers Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard take a kind of sadistic pleasure in making Dana White's hand-picked favorites from the Tuesday Night Contender Series look bad. It's as though they want to prove just how bad Dana White actually is at that particular area of his job. Needless to say, I'm not feeling bullish on Heinisch here.

    Ferreira, submission, Rd. 2

       

    McCarter

    Heinisch got a bad draw here. Mutante should be able to control this bout if he fights up to his potential, which hasn't always been the case. Heinisch may have some upside, but he needed to get a slower introduction into the UFC than a main card fight against a mid-tier opponent.

    Ferreira, unanimous decision

Khalil Rountree Jr. vs. Johnny Walker

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    Ryder

    There's probably going to be a joke in here about Johnny Walker red or blue, depending on what corner he's in come Saturday night. There won't be anything funny about the violence Rountree unleashes on him though.

    Rountree, KO, Rd. 1

       

    Harris

    This is another showcase fight for the hot-striking Rountree. Here's guessing Walker will be..."on the rocks"...in short order.

    Rountree, TKO, Rd. 1

      

    Rondina

    If you can out-wrestle Rountree, you'll probably beat him. I'm not sure that Walker can, though, and that bodes poorly for his chances against the dude that just smoked Gokhan Saki.

    Rountree, KO, Rd. 1

      

    McCarter

    It should not last long. Rountree is primed for a big finish that gets turned into a viral KO tweet.

    Rountree, KO, Rd. 1

Ricardo Lamas vs. Darren Elkins

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    Ryder

    The last time I remember watching Ricardo Lamas, he was getting vaporized by Josh Emmett. I'm aware he's lost a close decision since then, but that Emmett knockout is just etched in my brain. Still, Elkins is a consistently capable threat who's probably a step below Lamas in all imaginable areas of the game. Lamas rebounds here.

    Lamas, unanimous decision

        

    Harris

    Two grizzled veterans who never quite reached that final level. I agree with Ryder. Toughness alone only gets you so far, and this is that point.

    Lamas, TKO, Rd. 2

       

    Rondina

    Elkins' recent six-fight winning streak wasn't really a fluke, but I don't think it was indicative of some kind of career resurgence that would make him the kind of top-10 guy that could beat Ricardo Lamas. He'll make this fight competitive, in all likelihood, but Lamas should be able to avoid his grinding wrestling game and take this one on the scorecards.

    Lamas, unanimous decision

       

    McCarter

    This is the kind of fight that makes predicting MMA very difficult. It's a fight that, on paper, Lamas should win. But it's also the kind of fight where Elkins has historically generated the upset. Do I base my pick on a fighter's technical advantages or go with a gut pick? I'm going to trust my brain here. Why? Lamas still has the grappling to stymie Elkins' best attacks. That'll ultimately be the difference in a trying bout where Elkins will have his moments.

    Lamas, unanimous decision

Neil Magny vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio

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    Ryder

    Ponzi is really on his way up in the division and appears to have the well-roundedness to get close to the top-five. Magny kind of looked like that guy at one point, but his stock has held for quite some time. I think Ponzi takes it in front of his home crowd in a fine, though probably fairly uninteresting, decision. 

    Ponzinibbio, unanimous decision

       

    Harris

    This card isn't really a needle-moving main event, but it should be fun. Magny is too tough and too skilled in too many areas. The reach and the wrestling make for an interesting combination. That and his fight IQ will feast on an overwrought Ponzinibbio. Sound the upset alarms.

    Magny, submission, Rd. 2

       

    Rondina

    I'm kind of officially done with Neil Magny being a legitimate top-10 welterweight at this point. Ponzinibbio, though? Yeah, I'm buying into him. He wins here, looks good in the process and starts sniffing in title eliminator territory in his next fight.

    Ponzinibbio, TKO, Rd. 3

       

    McCarter

    Magny has been one of the biggest surprises to me because I've never viewed him as a legitimate contender. Even when he won all those fights to move himself into contendership. I still never bought it. And I'm still not buying in. Is he talented and can win this fight? Absolutely. Will he? No.

    Ponzinibbio may struggle with the length at first, but Magny doesn't have the best defense. He'll be able to find his range in the first couple rounds before putting Magny away.

    Ponzinibbio, TKO, Rd. 3