UFC Fight Night 154 Staff Picks: Predictions for Moicano vs. Korean Zombie

Bleacher Report Combat Sports StaffFeatured ColumnistJune 20, 2019

UFC Fight Night 154 Staff Picks: Predictions for Moicano vs. Korean Zombie

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    The UFC is headed a bit off the beaten path to Greenville, South Carolina, for Fight Night 154.

    Whether fight fans are trekking from Charlotte, Atlanta or anywhere in between, those who make the trip should be treated to an entertaining evening as strikers fill up this card from top to bottom. 

    The main event features two exciting fighters who will both be looking to avoid consecutive losses in Chan Sung Jung, A.K.A. the Korean Zombie, and Renato Moicano. These featherweights are likely the favorites for Fight of the Night, but there won't be any shortage of stand-up action earlier in the event.

    Read on to see who Bleacher Report's expert panel of Scott Harris, Nathan McCarter and Jonathan Snowden are picking in each contest on the main card.

Renato Moicano vs. Chan Sung Jung

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    Scott Harris

    This one is a sure-shot for Fight of the Night contention. Everyone knows what the Zombie is capable of, be it with his chin, fists, or limbs.

    Moicano is more of a specialist given his outstanding jiu-jitsu pedigree, but he's no slouch anywhere else either. He might have an insurmountable ground edge on Jung, who's fighting for only the fourth time in the past six years.

    Moicano, submission, Rd. 4

          

    Nathan McCarter

    If there is just one reason, other than John Lineker, to watch this card...here it is. You simply cannot miss this donnybrook if you're a fight fan.

    The biggest question I have entering this fight is what the Yair Rodriguez fight took out of Jung?

    Five grueling rounds before eating a vicious knockout? Will we see the same Korean Zombie in this one? Likely not. But I don't think he'll be so diminished that Moicano has an easy night.

    Moicano wins just enough exchanges to open up takedowns and takes a fun decision victory.

    Moicano, unanimous decision

          

    Jonathan Snowden

    Jung is one of UFC's all-time best action fighters. Unfortunately, we've only seen him in the Octagon a handful of times in the last five years. Between injury and forced military service, it feels like we were cheated out of a special career.

    This is likely his final main event appearance. Moicano is younger, more skilled and just has that fresh, new feel about him. He's the future. The Korean Zombie may shuffle aimlessly forward for a few more fights, but his career as a contender ends here.

    Moicano, unanimous decision

John Lineker vs. Rob Font

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    Harris

    Rob Font is a good foil here. He likes to crack, and he's pretty good at it. If Lineker and his fans wanted a legitimate dance partner at 135 pounds, here he is.

    That said, Lineker will barrel through his size disadvantage against a competitor who's more of a brawler than a technician, and he'll find a way to find Font's chin.

    Lineker, KO, Rd. 1

        

    McCarter

    This is a pure action fight...for however long it lasts. Lineker is going to dig to the body before going to the head, and Font will get into enough exchanges that will allow Lineker to land the KO blow. Lineker may earn himself an (interim) title shot here.

    Lineker, KO, Rd. 1

          

    Snowden

    I love Lineker as much as anyone else. But, eventually, the fact that he gives up so much height and reach has to be a factor. Right? A win likely earns him a title shot. Unfortunately, I think he gets got instead.

    Font, KO, Rd. 1

Bryan Barberena vs. Randy Brown

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    Harris

    This one could have shades of Bryan Barberena's last fight, an epic violence-fest against Vicente Luque.

    Randy Brown is a good fighter but hasn't yet converted his potential into anything kinetic. He may not be able to consistently ward off Barberena's meat-and-potatoes double-leg takedown, either.

    Barberena, unanimous decision

         

    McCarter

    Per BestFightOdds, Barberena is a -270 favorite here (bet $100 to win $37.04). I don't know why. The difference between him and Brown isn't that steep.

    In fact, I think Brown wins this one. He's been off for a hot minute after being knocked out by Niko Price, but he'll come in fresh and get the better of Barberena for 15 minutes.

    Brown, unanimous decision

          

    Snowden

    Barberena's last fight was "Fight of the Night" for UFC. When you're the athlete, that's not always a good thing. Sure, it usually comes with a cash bonus. But it likely also means you were in a grueling fight. You might have even been stopped by your opponent, as Barberena was by Vincent Luque.

    I wonder how well fighters respond to the physical grind they are put through in bouts like that? If MMA was a sport and not a spectacle, there would be all kinds of advanced statistics about how a fighter generally does after a knockout loss or long, active fight. But it's not, so I'll just have to guess.

    Brown, unanimous decision

Andrea Lee vs. Montana De La Rosa

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    Harris

    Andrea Lee's a clear favorite here, but Montana De La Rosa is no slouch. Coming into the UFC, she was perhaps best known as Mackenzie Dern's second pro victim. But she's 3-0 since then, thanks to a strong submission game.

    Actually, you know what? If De La Rosa can stay upright long enough to line up one good takedown, she's more than capable of pulling the upset. Ring the alarms.

    De La Rosa, submission, Rd. 1

          

    McCarter

    Lee has been on a nice run that almost makes you forget some of her deficiencies. De La Rosa will bring those back to light.

    De La Rosa's athleticism and pressure will allow her to win some grappling exchanges and stunt on Lee on the canvas. The pace wears on Lee, allowing De La Rosa to get a late-round choke.

    De La Rosa, submission, Rd. 3

          

    Snowden

    Lee has only fought twice since 2017, likely the result of swirling, awful personal issues. That story appears to be at an end, thankfully, and she resumes her career on a six-fight winning streak—one UFC is putting at risk with a tough piece of matchmaking.

    Styles make fights, and De La Rosa is good exactly where Lee is not. She'll control the match on the mat, leaving Lee to start over again—hopefully this time with a clear head and full heart.

    De La Rosa, submission, Rd. 2

Kevin Holland vs. Alessio Di Chirico

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    Harris

    This is a showcase fight for the wildly entertaining Kevin Holland. Provided he doesn't somersault out of the cage or something, Holland will have the wild-but-effective striking and zany psy-ops to handle the Italian Alessio Di Chirico.

    Holland, unanimous decision

          

    McCarter

    Scott hit the nail on the head here. This is a showcase for Holland. His only loss in the UFC is to Thiago Santos, which was by decision. That's the same Thiago Santos who is about to challenge Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title. Holland shines in a short night of work.

    Holland, TKO, Rd. 1

          

    Snowden

    Kevin Holland is a Dana White Contender Series veteran and being set up for success here. Di Chirico, the internet tells me, is a five-fight UFC veteran. But he's done nothing to make me remember his name, and I think he's in there to be a chalk outline at the end of the night.

    Holland, TKO, Rd. 2

Ashley Yoder vs. Syuri Kondo

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    Harris

    Syuri Kondo is a popular presence in the world pro wrestling and MMA scenes. But she just kind of plods around, as evidenced by her 1-2 UFC record to date over some pretty unremarkable opposition.

    After three straight losses to start her own UFC tenure, Ashley Yoder is looking to make it two straight here and will do so behind a high-level (if not scintillating) wrestling game.

    Yoder, unanimous decision

          

    McCarter

    Kondo hasn't looked good inside the Octagon yet, and I don't expect that to change.

    Yoder isn't an elite-level strawweight by any stretch, but don't forget how well she performed against Mackenzie Dern. She is tough and has some skill to compete against some of the upper echelon of the division. She's a good gatekeeper at the backend of the rankings, and that is well above where Kondo is at.

    Yoder, unanimous decision

        

    Snowden

    Yoder really impressed me in her fight with Dern, one of three consecutive turns as a valiant loser. She's your basic, middling, UFC fighter. That's not much to hang your hat on, except Kondo, a veteran Japanese pro wrestler, has been actively bad in her three UFC appearances.

    I'll take aggressively mediocre over actively bad any day of the week, wouldn't you?

    Yoder, unanimous decision