UFC Fight Night 145: Bleacher Report Staff Picks

Bleacher Report Combat Sports StaffFeatured ColumnistFebruary 21, 2019

UFC Fight Night 145: Bleacher Report Staff Picks

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    Pick up a pack of pilsners and settle in as the UFC heads to Prague this Saturday for Fight Night 145, with Jan Blachowicz and Thiago Santos headlining the action. 

    Blachowicz is riding a four-fight winning streak and is looking to continue his climb up the light heavyweight ladder after a difficult stretch during his career a couple years ago. Santos presents a serious challenge for him, though, after going 4-1 during a busy 2018. 

    Moving down the card doesn't offer quite as much excitement as fight fans may be used to, but Petr Yan is a prospect worth watching and has an opportunity to further make his mark in the UFC against John Dodson. 

    Read on to see who the Bleacher Report MMA crew of Jeremy Botter, Scott Harris, Nathan McCarter and Jonathan Snowden is picking for each and every fight on the main card. 

Jan Blachowicz vs. Thiago Santos

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    Jeremy Botter

    It feels like I've seen Santos fight 98 times in the last year, and here he is again, ready to do harm to poor Blachowicz, who is a fine enough fighter but who is not going to beat Santos on this night.

    Santos continues his slow march up the light heavyweight rankings towards an eventual first-round loss to Jon Jones.

    Santos, KO, Rd. 2 

        

    Scott Harris

    Blachowicz is no world-beater, but he can get some things done in the cage. After a rocky start in the UFC, he's ripped off four straight wins, the last two of which earned him performance bonuses.

    Ditto Santos, who observers are desperate to coronate. If he can get past an opponent in Blachowicz who isn't going to simply bang with him, that coronation is one step closer. But he won't, so it isn't.

    The Pole is too well-rounded and too canny a veteran to let that happen.

    Blachowicz, unanimous decision

         

    Nathan McCarter

    Blachowicz came into the UFC with a fair amount of hype and then squandered it with poor performances. He has quietly regained his form.

    Santos will have chances as Blachowicz is hittable and the Brazilian carries good power in his mitts, but this should be Blachowicz's fight.

    The Pole keeps his streak going with another solid win, but not before taking some unnecessary damage in the pocket.

    Blachowicz, TKO, Rd. 3

         

    Jonathan Snowden

    Jan is a former KSW champion and should have the European crowd solidly behind him here. He's a good, workmanlike fighter and a solid cog in the UFC's light heavyweight division.

    I think he'll surprise a lot of people by sending Santos scuttling back down to middleweight.

    Blachowicz, split decision

Stefan Struve vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima

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    Jeremy Botter

    I'm a Stefan Struve guy. Always have been. It's been tough to see his downward slide, especially given his young age.

    The wars he participated in earlier in his career caused his chin to vanish long ago, and he's on the verge of a four-fight losing streak. I'm pulling for the guy, but this could get ugly against Marcos Rogerio de Lima.

    De Lima, TKO, Rd. 1

          

    Scott Harris

    How is De Lima still here? His second UFC opponent was Igor Pokrajac, back when cars were still started by hand crank.

    I guess his 5-3 record over those four-plus years was enough to convince the matchmakers he was the man to call about ending Struve's three-fight losing streak.

    Struve, TKO, Rd. 2

         

    Nathan McCarter

    The UFC has gifted Struve a lay-up. If he can't beat De Lima, then he doesn't belong in the organization. Harsh, but fair.

    Struve will look good because this is a big mismatch, and I don't foresee him having many problems. It's just a matter of how he wants to finish.

    Struve, submission, Rd. 2

         

    Jonathan Snowden

    Neither guy is an elite fighter. But UFC isn't flying De Lima all the way to Europe because they think he's going to draw fans from around the continent to see him fight.

    He's there because they've identified him as a fighter that even the extraordinarily washed up Struve can beat. I'll trust them on this, despite Struve looking like a fighter who should consider another vocation.

    Struve, KO, Rd. 2

Gian Villante vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk

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    Jeremy Botter

    Michal Oleksiejczuk looks like he's got talent and might just be a decent prospect. If he's a hard hitter at all, he's going to melt Gian Villante, which I expect to happen.

    Oleksiejczuk, KO, Rd. 2

          

    Scott Harris

    On close inspection, Oleksiejczuk's record isn't all that bad. He beat Khalil Rountree last year only to have the win nullified by a positive drug test.

    He'll enter this one fresh off his suspension and topple low-action fighter extraordinaire Villante, whose last four(!) contests were split decisions.  

    Oleksiejczuk, TKO, Rd. 1

           

    Nathan McCarter

    Oleksiejczuk is a bit of a mystery with just one UFC appearance, but he has fought in something called the "Thunderstrike Fight League," so that's pretty cool.

    I don't think that translates over to the UFC all that well. Villante is durable and ends up with a stoppage. 

    Villante, TKO, Rd. 2

          

    Jonathan Snowden

    Oleksiejczuk is a regional-level prospect. Villante is a serviceable undercard fighter who has gone 6-7 in his UFC career. Can he make it an even .500? This is truly the Super Bowl of mixed martial arts!

    Villante, KO, Rd. 2

Liz Carmouche vs. Lucie Pudilova

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    Jeremy Botter

    Here we have two fighters with middling records, both trying to get a sustained win streak going.

    Liz Carmouche is double-tough, and that'll serve her well here against Lucie Pudilova, who doesn't really present any threats Carmouche can't handle. 

    Carmouche, unanimous decision

          

    Scott Harris

    Carmouche will forever remain in the history books as literally the first female fighter to set foot in the Octagon (she came out first for her bout with Ronda Rousey).

    The legacy went down a bit from there. She's had success, but the only people she puts to sleep are the fans, who have to watch her stall-heavy style.

    Pudilova is fairly well-rounded and likes to press the action. Here's guessing, for the sake of my own attention span, that she has her way. Sound the upset alarms.

    Pudilova, unanimous decision

         

    Nathan McCarter

    Carmouche looked excellent against one of the tougher flyweights in Jennifer Maia, and Pudilova has been uneven.

    Carmouche should be able to just outmuscle her to the mat and dominate. We may see a 30-25 card in this one.

    Carmouche, unanimous decision

          

    Jonathan Snowden

    Both are fighters with even UFC records. But Carmouche is 11 years Pudilova's senior—and is also venturing into enemy territory to take on a local fighter. That's two reasons to consider a minor upset here.

    Pudilova, unanimous decision  

John Dodson vs. Petr Yan

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    Jeremy Botter

    This is sort of a big moment for Yan. He's looked good in his three UFC fights, winning them convincingly enough to earn an opponent with a name like Dodson.

    The thing is, Dodson is beatable, but he's always dangerous. He hits hard and is lightning fast. It feels like Yan is ready for that sort of thing, though, and this is his moment to take a big step forward.

    Yan, unanimous decision 

           

    Scott Harris

    Here's the fight to get excited about. Yan is an emphatic muay thai striker who acheived blue-chip prospect status years ago on the Russian circuits.

    He's carried that over to a 3-0 record thus far in the UFC, and he'll keep it going against an opponent in Dodson who, for all his physical gifts, just can't seem to make anything happen anymore.

    Yan, unanimous decision

          

    Nathan McCarter

    Yan has continued to impress each time out, but there is no question this is his toughest task yet.

    His size is a detriment at 135 pounds, and his power hasn't translated either. He is still dangerous, but we also have to be honest.

    As long as Yan doesn't get into a wild exchange and takes a hammer of a right hand, he should win a clean-cut decision.

    Yan, unanimous decision

            

    Jonathan Snowden

    John Dodson vs. Petr Yan: When Dodson started his professional MMA career, Yan was in the fifth grade. Just FYI, being an old fighter isn't usually a good thing.

    Yan, unanimous decision

Magomed Ankalaev vs. Klidson Abreu

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    Jeremy Botter

    Magomed Ankalaev and Klidson Abreu are, shall we say, still building their profile. I used to know every fighter on every card, but these days it takes insane dedication to keep up. I'm tossing a coin here.  

    Ankalaev, unanimous decision

          

    Scott Harris

    I think when we consider this bout, we must first consider that this card is bad. The card is bad, that's the way it is, and we must all come to terms with that in our hearts.

    Being a UFC card doesn't indemnify it against such charges. If you squint hard enough, "Klidson Abreu" kind of looks like "Harmon Killebrew." Now that was a ballplayer.

    Abreu, unanimous decision 

          

    Nathan McCarter

    Ankalaev is 1-1 in the UFC and I honestly cannot remember either performance. Is that good? Well, the UFC booking a debuting fighter on a streak for the main card opener leads me to believe they are setting him up for a win, so that's what I'll go with. Otherwise, I'm just throwing darts on this one.

    Abreu, submission, Rd. 1

           

    Jonathan Snowden

    These two haven't quite made it on to my radar. Oddsmakers, however, have made Magomed a significant favorite, according to MMA Mania. You should too.

    Ankalaev, unanimous decision