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UFC 168 Prelims: The Predictions

UFC 168 Prelims: The Predictions

Robbie Peralta vs. Estevan Payan

“Problems” Peralta looks to be a menacing force in the featherweight division despite an overturned victory and a decision loss to Akira Corassani. Robbie’s hands are lethal and his tendency to trade early-and-often makes him an easy pick for a first round knockout against his opponent this Saturday. Estevan Payan didn’t show much against Jeremy Stephens in his UFC debut, which he lost by unanimous decision, other than how tough he is. Stephens is a hard hitter, like Peralta, so the likeliness of a first round knockout in favor of Peralta now becomes slightly out of logic. Expect Peralta and Payan to light eachother up as both men favor the striking game, but it’ll be Peralta’s speed and overall versatility that wins him a hard-earned decision over a tough guy in Payan.

Robbie Peralta via Unanimous Decision

William Macario vs. Bobby Voelker

TUF: Brazil Season 2 finalist, William “Patolino” Macario, will get a chance to earn his first UFC victory as he takes on a slugger from Kansas City in Bobby Voelker. Despite having an 0-2 record in the UFC, Voelker has displayed a thirst for combat, even in losing. Voelker is a hard-nosed, well-rounded fighter who likes to take the fight to his opponent – that style will serve him well in this fight. Patolino showcased just how fast he can get his opponents out of the cage with his slue of first round stoppages. Macario has the power, but so does Voelker. Both of these guys have the potential to knock eachother out in the first round which means it’s going to come down to technique and accuracy. After watching both men fight, I think it’s fairly evident that Voelker is the tighter of the two when it comes to striking defense and throwing with crisp technique. Voelker and Macario may get out of the first round, but don’t expect it to go much longer.

Bobby Voelker via 2nd Rd TKO

Siyar Bahadurzada vs. John Howard

Welterweight knockout artist, Siyar Bahadurzada, got a rude awakening to the reality of MMA in the UFC when he was ground out by rising contender, Dong Hyun Kim. Now, he gets a chance to rebound from a fairly disappointing performance, and a chance to rack up another vicious knockout like he had in his UFC debut over Paulo Thiago. His opponent, John Howard, is built to have much different plans. First off, John Howard is an excellent wrestler and just his frame alone is designed to give Siyar lots of problems; he’s short, stocky, and very explosive. Siyar fights best when his opponent leaves themselves open and gives Siyar the chance to counter, but Howard isn’t like that. John Howard will be looking for opening to get Siyar down to the ground where he should have all the tools to win a dominant decision and/or submission courtesy of his strong wrestling and grappling skills.

The one thing Siyar has in this fight however is that lurking punchers’ chance. Howard is going to be coming forward, looking for takedowns and/or small striking combinations to set them up; Siyar will have to pick his moments right to throw and hope he lands with enough power. Bahadurzada has the power and accuracy to knock Howard out, but whether or not he can do so before he gets taken down is the big question. It’ll be Bahadurzada by knock out, or Howard by decision, and I’m going to go with Howard.

John Howard via Unanimous Decision

Dennis Siver vs. Manny Gamburyan

Two short and stocky featherweights square off here in what should be a very heated battle. Siver, a striking expert, fell short in his last outing against Cub Swanson. Siver has really only lost when he’s outmatched on the feet by bigger, better, and faster opponents; he will not be in that situation in this bout. Gamburyan will need to tie this fight up and hope to overpower Siver if he wants any chance in out-grappling him on the ground, but this proves to be an incredibly difficult task as Siver is a master at controlling distance and shucking off takedowns. Look for Siver to be the much more accurate and power striker on the feet and eventually score a second round finish if he can avoid the wild, but effective, hay-makers from Gamburyan.

Dennis Siver via 2nd Rd TKO

Gleison Tibua vs. Michael Johnson

Two lightweights on the verge of cracking the top ranks square off to see who could potentially become the dark-horse of the lightweight division. Both Tibau and Johnson have established themselves as pretty much “gate-keepers”, but with their recent performances, there is much more available for these two. Tibau used his improved striking and powerful grinding game to out-point Jamie Varner while Johnson showcased his slick and dynamic striking to put a beat down on Joe Lauzon. Both Tibau and Johnson are extremely athletic and have lots of power, so expect some wickedly fast and powerful punches being thrown. On the feet, I’d say Johnson has the advantage because of his speed and overall feel on the feet. Tibau is a very stiff fighter on the feet, and because of the incredible amount of muscle he carries around with him his arms aren’t always fully functional later in the fight.

If Johnson can keep this fight on the feet and out-box Tibau, it should be a clear-cut win, but expect Tibau to work hard to get this fight to the ground. Tibau will have to expend a lot of energy to get Johnson, a solid wrestler, on the mat, but I do believe he has what it takes. I’m predicting a good start from Tibau as he gets the fight where he wants it, but as the fight drags on look for Johnson’s striking to rack up some momentum en-route to a close decision verdict.

Michael Johnson via Split Decision

Chris Leben vs. Uriah Hall

Set to top off the prelims for this years’ end event is a middleweight bout between two of the divisions most vicious fighters. Chris Leben, a long time UFC veteran has suffered extreme wear-and-tear through-out his career, but still has that granite chin combined with his zombie-like fighting style to keep coming forward. Forward pressure is the Kryptonite to Uriah Hall’s style, which is more of a “stand back and pick my opponent apart” approach. Uriah Hall, as dynamic and impressive as he is, has still yet to find his rhythm in the Octagon since his glory days on TUF 16. Hall has troubles against fighters who move forward and walk through his strikes, which is exactly what Leben does; either Hall has to change his strategy, or he’ll be prone to put on yet another disappointing display of great potential, but zero application.

Hall did showcase some solid offensive takedowns in his bout with John Howard; with Hall’s athleticism and explosiveness, we could very well see Uriah grind Leben out. It wouldn’t be ideal, but it could give him a victory. Predict Hall to attempt to slow Leben down in the first round with takedowns and kicks to the body; it’ll be an ugly first round, but once Hall finds his groove against someone willing to stand and trade, we might just be able to see what the young Uriah Hall is capable of. I think he finally gets that elusive victory.

Uriah Hall via Unanimous Decision

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Fight Cards

Bellator 129: Bradley vs. Neer

Event Date: October 17, 2014
Broadcast: Spike TV

UFC 179: Aldo vs. Mendes 2

Event Date: October 25, 2014
Broadcast: Pay-per-view, Fox Sports 1, UFC Fight Pass

UFC Fight Night 55: Bisping vs. Rockhold

Event Date: November 8, 2014
Broadcast: UFC Fight Pass

UFC Fight Night 56: Shogun vs. Manuwa

Event Date: November 8, 2014
Broadcast: TBD

Bellator 131: Tito vs. Bonnar

Event Date: November 15, 2014
Broadcast: Spike TV

UFC 180: Velasquez vs. Werdum

Event Date: November 15, 2014
Broadcast: Pay-per-view, Fox Sports 1, UFC Fight Pass