UFC Fight Night 143: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Predictions

Scott Harris@ScottHarrisMMAMMA Lead WriterJanuary 17, 2019

UFC Fight Night 143: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Predictions

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    TJ Dillashaw
    TJ DillashawJohn Locher/Associated Press

    UFC Fight Night 143 is noteworthy for a few reasons.

    This is the first UFC event to be broadcast through ESPN, with the card airing on the network's new ESPN+ streaming service.

    And the UFC braintrust, in all its wisdom, chose to book former NFL star Greg Hardy—who was previously convicted of assault against his ex-girlfriend before charges were later dropped—on the same card as Rachael Ostovich, a recent victim of alleged domestic violence.

    Whatever it takes to make a buck!

    Oh, and third, bantamweight champ TJ Dillashaw moved down to 125 pounds to face Henry Cejudo for Cejudo's flyweight crown.

    We just touched on three of the six main card bouts in this event. Now, we'll offer picks for all of them. Nathan McCarter, Steven Rondina and myself, Scott Harris. Let's get it on.

Glover Teixeira vs. Karl Roberson

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    Glover Teixeira
    Glover TeixeiraJeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Nathan McCarter

    Too much, too soon for Karl Roberson, who comes in on short notice. Glover Teixeira has lost a step at 39 but remains a tough out for the upper end of the division. Roberson isn't quite there yet.

    Considering he's had a full camp for the event, I'll take Teixeira by finish.

    Teixeira, submission, Rd. 2

         

    Steven Rondina

    The UFC is officially looking at Teixeira as somebody on his way out, but Roberson isn't some kind of blue-chip prospect looking to add names to his resume.

    Teixeira will be able to savvy his way to a win here and potentially take it inside the distance.

    Teixeira, TKO, Rd. 2

         

    Scott Harris

    This is a closer fight than some might expect. Teixeira is getting long in the tooth, and his game remains remarkably simplistic, and Roberson is a well-rounded up-and-comer.

    The New Jersey native pulls off a mild upset.

    Roberson, TKO, Rd. 2

Paige VanZant vs. Rachael Ostovich

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    Rachael Ostovich
    Rachael OstovichBrandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    McCarter

    This is an interesting battle between two overhyped prospects. Neither Paige VanZant nor Rachael Ostovich has championship talent.

    That's not to say they don't offer value in being tests for future up-and-comers. I like VanZant's overall skill set more in this fight, but I favor Ostovich's strength and grappling. Takedowns end up sealing the deal.

    Ostovich, unanimous decision

         

    Rondina

    Ostovich isn't quite a tomato can, but this fight was made with the expectation of VanZant winning in front of a bunch of ESPN executives.

    VanZant isn't good enough to expect her to dunk on anybody capable of getting a UFC win, but she should be able to grind this one out.

    VanZant, unanimous decision

         

    Harris

    Steven makes a good point. In the cold light of day, neither of these fighters is a true threat in the women's flyweight division. Still, expect Ostovich to accumulate enough riding time that she ekes out a decision and makes one hell of a good post-fight speech.

    Ostovich, unanimous decision

Joseph Benavidez vs. Dustin Ortiz

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    Joseph Benavidez
    Joseph BenavidezChris Unger/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    McCarter

    Oh, we got a banger on our hands. Dustin Ortiz is going to put up a valiant fight in a losing effort. Joseph Benavidez is just too much for him.

    Ortiz's length (65-inch reach) may pose some issues for Joe B, but overall, this should be a clean sweep on the cards.

    Benavidez, unanimous decision

         

    Rondina

    I'm not completely back on the Benavidez train quite yet. That loss to Sergio Pettis back in June reeked of "past his prime," and smashing Alex Perez wasn't enough perfume to cover it.

    That said, Dustin Ortiz doesn't have the tools to exploit any kind of slipping from the ex-Alpha Male.

    I'm expecting Benavidez to get the job done but not necessarily look amazing in the process. 

    Benavidez, unanimous decision

           

    Harris

    Benavidez picked up steam following his strange double knockout of Perez in November. Even at age 34, he's as finely tuned an athlete as there is in the flyweight division.

    He'll get a second win over an overmatched Ortiz and ask for a flyweight title shot.

    Benavidez, unanimous decision

Gregor Gillespie vs. Yancy Medeiros

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    Gregor Gillespie (top)
    Gregor Gillespie (top)Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    McCarter

    Here is your Fight of the Night winner.

    Yancy Medeiros has looked excellent at 170, but Gregor Gillespie is a prospect ready to make noise.

    I suspect we'll see war for the first five minutes at least, but Gillespie will wear down Medeiros enough to where he can pour it on in the third for a finish.

    Gillespie, TKO, Rd. 3

           

    Rondina

    Medeiros only loses to the cream of the crop, and I'm not willing to look at Gillespie as that kind of fighter yet.

    It's possible he is (his 5-0 record in the UFC suggests he's a bona fide talent), but there's not enough data there for me to pick him.

    Medeiros, unanimous decision

           

    Harris

    Medeiros is a gritty competitor and fun to watch. But to date, Gillespie's wrestling and ground striking have been like knives through hot butter.

    There's no reason to think he won't keep it rolling against Medeiros, who doesn't have elite ground skills at this level.

    Gillespie, TKO, Rd. 2

Greg Hardy vs. Allen Crowder

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    Greg Hardy
    Greg HardyChris Unger/DWTNCS LLC/Getty Images

    McCarter

    Ignoring the personal life of Hardy and focusing solely on the fight itself, it should be a no-brainer. True athleticism will carry you far in the heavyweight division.

    Add in excellent coaching at American Top Team, and you're about to see why the UFC is willing to bet on bringing him in. Another short night for the former football standout.

    Hardy, KO, Rd. 1

         

    Rondina

    This was made to make Hardy look good. It's heavyweight MMA, so there are no guarantees, but it's hard not to imagine this ending with Hardy's hand raised and Crowder getting the pen lights stuck in his face. 

    Hardy, TKO, Rd. 1

          

    Harris

    It's obvious the UFC brass will go to some length to promote its new golden goose. There is no chance the company would put him in danger of losing this fight.

    In any case, Hardy has one-shot power and displayed decent footwork the last time out. This is a layup in the cage, but don't expect the questions to go away.

    Hardy, TKO, Rd. 1

TJ Dillashaw vs. Henry Cejudo

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    Henry Cejudo
    Henry CejudoMike Stobe/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    McCarter

    The fight being at flyweight changes everything. At 135, I would pick TJ Dillashaw without much hesitation. However, the weight cut is going to effect Dillashaw. We just don't know how yet.

    That is going to make me side with Henry Cejudo. If he can find ways to take down Demetrious Johnson, he'll find ways to take Dillashaw to the mat.

    It's going to be a close, 25-minute fight, but Cejudo is going to keep the flyweight division alive by edging it out on the scorecards.

    Cejudo, unanimous decision

           

    Rondina

    I mean, if Cejudo could sucker two judges into giving him that win over Johnson, who am I to doubt him at this point?

    He gets it done against the 125-pound piece of TJ Dillashaw jerky that shows up Saturday night, but not easily.

    Cejudo, unanimous decision

          

    Harris

    Unlike Johnson, Dillashaw is going to push the pace. Cejudo has decent boxing, but it's nothing like Dillashaw's full-on striking attack.

    Dillashaw will spend some time on his back, but he'll spend even more time picking Cejudo apart, especially down the stretch. Champ champ incoming.

    Dillashaw, unanimous decision