UFC Fight Night: Allen vs. Craig Predictions

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UFC Fight Night: Allen vs. Craig takes place this weekend at the UFC Apex facility in Enterprise, Nevada – and we’ve got our UFC predictions for all the fights below.

UFC Fight Night: Allen vs. Craig Predictions


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Brendan Allen vs. Paul Craig

Brendan Allen is on a five-fight winning streak that’s taken him to No.10 in the middleweight rankings and now goes up against Paul Craig, who dropped down to 185lbs for the first time in July and earned a 1st round TKO victory.

The 27-year-old Allen is a well-rounded fighter who blends solid striking with capable wrestling and very good grappling ability. On the feet his kicking ability stands out most, working well to the legs and body. His striking defense isn’t the best, but he is generally quite durable. Meanwhile he’s very comfortable on the mat, has good back control and his record is littered with rear-naked choke finishes, including four in his last five fights.

The 35-year-old Craig’s game is well established at this stage, being one of the most dangerous submission threats off his back in the sport, particularly via his favored triangle choke, which everyone knows about, yet he still manages to pull off. However, the rest of Craig’s game has often left a lot to be desired as though he has decent kicks his overall striking game is poor, lacking speed, power and cohesion.  Meanwhile, his lack of wrestling means he has to resort to lower-percentage options like guard-pulling, and he can be left stranded when his opponents steer well clear of that.

To his credit Craig actually managed to land takedowns against Andre Muniz last time out as well as showing good submission defense and fight-ending ground-and-pound. That being said, Muniz is a ground specialist himself who is easy to convince to go to the mat, and so I’m not yet convinced Craig has suddenly become a good wrestler out of nowhere. Also, while it was a nice win it’s worth remembering that it was actually Allen actually who had become the first man to ever submit Muniz earlier in the year.

So even if they do go to ground I feel Allen can cope quite well, but at the same time I feel he has a good chance of steering clear of Craig’s attempts to get to the mat in the first place, enabling him to make the most of his clear striking advantage here to gradually wear down the Scottish fighter, leading to a 4th round TKO finish.

Prediction: Brendan Allen to win by TKO In Rd4.

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Michael Morales vs. Jake Matthews

Michael Morales is undefeated in his 15-fight career to date, including three wins in a row since joining from the Contender Series, while Jake Matthews has gone 12-6 during his 9-year stint in the UFC and has been alternating between wins and losses for the past couple of years.

For a Contender Series recruit who is still only 24-years-old Morales hasn’t been handled with kid gloves as he’s immediately been put in with some respectable fighters like Trevin Giles and Max Griffin. To his credit He’s dealt with the pressure well so far and definitely shows real promise. He’s a big, athletic welterweight with a particularly long reach at 79″, giving him 6″ over Matthews here. He’ll make the most of that with his lengthy jab, good punching power down the pipe and solid kicks, but he is hittable in return. Meanwhile he has good wrestling and defends takedowns nicely too, but hasn’t shown much of a submission game yet.

Despite his long run in the UFC, Matthews is actually still only 29-years-old. He’s a respectable all-rounder who has never quite managed to elevate his skills and intensity enough to break free from his middle-of-the-road standing in the promotion. He has good wrestling and a capable submission game to go with it, though he has been tapped out himself a few times. Meanwhile, on the feet he’s fairly solid technically but can be a bit cautious and generally doesn’t have the highest output.

I think on the feet Morales has the upper-hand here with his big reach, power and higher output, and while it would be interesting to see Matthews test him on the mat I feel he’ll do a good job of keeping the action upright here in order to earn a decision victory.

Prediction: Michael Morales to win by decision.

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Chase Hooper vs. Jordan Leavitt

Chase Hooper’s entire six-fight UFC run so far has seen him bob back-and-forth between winning and losing, while Jordan Leavitt has gone 4-2.

The 24-year-old Hooper has a 4″ height and 3″ reach advantage here, but don’t expect him to make too much of that as it has to be said his stand-up ability is very suspect. He’s slow, lacks power and his striking defense is just terrible. Thankfully it’s not all bad for him as he’s a considerably better fighter when the action goes to ground with solid wrestling and good grappling that enables him to make use of his long limbs in an effective manner that somehow eludes him on the feet.

The 28-year-old Leavitt is similar in that he’s generally shown very dubious, awkward striking ability, though there’s starting to be some signs he might be making some progress in that regard. Like Hooper he’s at his best on the mat. His wrestling should come off second-best here, but he is somewhat of a quirky character and that extends to his tricky, diverse grappling game. He has proven submission ability, but he can overcommit on risky attempts and his cardio isn’t the best.

I do think this fight is quite competitive. If it plays out on the feet then it could be an ugly encounter, but I feel Leavitt would have the edge. However, though he’s a threat on the mat too I think Hooper’s stronger wrestling and more methodical grappling will help him control the action and earn a decision win.

Prediction: Chase Hooper to win by decision.

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Payton Talbott vs. Nick Aguirre

Recent Contender series addition Payton Talbott brings a 6-0 record to the Octagon as he goes up against Nick Aguirre, who was defeated in his Octagon debut early in the year, marking the first loss of his 7-1 career.

The 25-year-old Talbott already has some hype surrounding him and it’s not hard to see why as he’s clearly a talented offensive striker. His high-volume boxing in particular stands out, piecing together accurate combinations well, ripping to the body nicely and showing impressive stopping power too. His defense isn’t as convincing though and we’ve not really seen him tested on the mat to any extent yet.

The 27-year-old Aguirre had an easy time of it on the regional circuit against low-level opposition but struggled in his first UFC appearance. He’s primarily a grappler with good submissions and decent wrestling, but though he’ll have a 3.5″ reach advantage over Talbott on the feet he doesn’t have a whole lot to offer there.

Talbott is more athletic than Aguirre and has a major stand-up advantage here, so I think he’ll manage to keep this one standing and give his opponent a tough time with his punching prowess, leading to a 3rd round TKO finish.

Prediction: Payton Talbott to win by TKO in Rd3.

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Luana Pinheiro vs. Amanda Ribas

Luana Pinheiro defeated Michelle Waterson last time out to go 3-0 in the UFC so far, while Amanda Ribas was TKO’d by Maycee Barber, leaving her 2-3 in her last five fights.

Ribas is back down at strawweight for this fight and holds a 1″ height and 3.5″ reach advantage here. At her best Ribas is an aggressive, well-rounded fighter who likes to apply pressure and mixes solid muay thai striking on the feet along with takedowns and a good submission threat on the mat. However, though she’s undeniably tough her forward pressure can lead her into trouble at times and two TKO losses in the past few years in addition to a KO defeat earlier in her career have raised concerns over the quality of her chin.

As with Ribas, Pinheiro has a background in judo which she’ll use to go for throws.  She is generally at her best using her physicality and ability on the mat and can find finishes via submission from there.  However, on the feet she doesn’t have a great deal of stopping power and is less active offensively than Ribas.

This should be a competitive fight, but I feel that even if her chin is compromised Ribas shouldn’t be overly troubled by Pinheiro’s strikes on the feet, and has the better skills on the mat too, which should enable her to press the action wherever the fight goes to emerge with a decision victory.

Prediction: Amanda Ribas to win by decision.

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Uros Medic vs. Myktybek Orolbai

Myktybek Orolbai has been rushed in on short-notice to make his UFC debut against Uros Medic after his original opponent Johnny Parsons withdrew during fight week.

It’s clearly far from ideal circumstances for the 25-year-old Orolbai, but he’s gained valuable experience fighting in the LFC promotion in recent years to take his career record to 11-1 and looks to have a solid set of skills.  At his core he’s a wrestler, but he’s been showcasing good power in his hands on the feet too, and despite being at a 3” height disadvantage he’ll have 3.5” in reach over his opponent.

The 30-year-old Medic is a good-sized welterweight who likes to bring the fight to his opponent on the feet, and while he’s not the most refined technically he has demonstrated both speed and power.

Of course Medic also benefits from a full fight camp here which makes it tempting to pick him, but  Orolbai shows promise and with his mix of wrestling and punching power I’ll say he battles his way to a decision win.

Prediction: Myktybek Orolbai to win by decision.

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UFC Fight Night: Allen vs. Craig Prelims

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Categories: UFC Betting Tips

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About Ross Cole

Ross Cole is one of the most prolific mixed martial arts writers in the world, having written more than 17,000 MMA news stories for MMA Insight, which he founded in 2009 as a way to channel his passion for the sport of mixed martial arts, and reaching millions of die-hard MMA fans in the process. You can read more of Ross's work at MMAInsight.com.