UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs. Nascimento Predictions

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UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs. Nascimento Predictions

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UFC On ESPN 56  takes place on Sunday (AEDT) at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Missouri, United States  – and we’ve got our UFC predictions for all the fights below and you can place your bets with the best betting sites Australia has to offer!

UFC ON ESPN 56 Predictions

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Derrick Lewis vs. Rodrigo Nascimento Prediction

It’s been a tough few years for Derrick Lewis, who has lost five of his last seven fights, while Rodrigo Nascimento has had three wins and a no-contest over the same period of time.

The level of competition the two having been facing is drastically different though, with Lewis’ losses having come against the likes of Jailton Almeida, Ciryl Gane and Sergei Pavlovich, while Nascimento’s wins having been against lower-tier opponents like Tanner Boser, Ilir Latifi and Don’Tale Mayes.

Even taking into consideration who he’s faced it does still feel like at 39-years-old Lewis is in decline.  He still has that same devastating knockout power that’s led to him holding the record for the most knockout victories in the UFC (14), and he can attack with surprising speed for his size, but he’s not had as much success using that to win fights he’d otherwise have lost in recent times.  Instead it’s Lewis who has been T(KO)’d three times in the past three years, while his ability to just brute force his way out of bad spots on the mat has also failed to pay off against Sergei Spivac and Jailton Almeida.

At the same time, clearly this is still a huge step up in competition for the 31-year-old Nascimento to go from low-level heavyweights to someone who until recently had been a permanent fixture in the top 10 for years. Nascimento is a big heavyweight with some athleticism who tends to be most effective on the mat. His wrestling is quite rough-and-ready, but he has decent grappling and some submission wins under his belt. His striking has improved somewhat over his time in the UFC but still remains a work-in-progress and he hasn’t demonstrated much in the way of finishing power on the feet.

I think this is the kind of fight that Lewis can still win as I’m not convinced Nascimento has the technical ability to keep him down for long, while on the feet Lewis has a significant advantage and wields the kind of power that will punish his opponent for trying to close the distance, leading to a first round KO finish.

Prediction: Derrick Lewis to win by KO in Rd1.

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Joaquin Buckley vs. Nursulton Ruziboev Prediction

It’s only been around six weeks since these two fighters both fought on the same card together, with Joaquin Buckley emerging with a TKO victory over Vicente Luque to extend his winning streak to three fights, while Nursulton Ruziboev TKO’d Sedriques Dumas to go 2-0 in the UFC so far.

Buckley is just a few days past his 30th birthday and remains a physical specimen at 170lbs. He’s compact, muscular and his explosive striking ability has been responsible for some top-tier highlight-reel finishes during his UFC run. There was a real risk that Buckley could have become too committed to being a flashy knockout finisher and lost focus on developing other aspects of his game, but the signs are that’s not the case. Buckley paces himself better these days and so doesn’t tax his cardio as much, while he’s shown some solid offensive wrestling at times and is improving defensively too.

Despite still being relatively new the UFC the also 30-year-old Ruziboev has 46 fights to his name, though his level of competition at times has been quite questionable. Still, the experience, confidence and well-rounded skills that comes from that has shown in his performances so far, clocking up two 1st round finishes via strikes. It’s surprising to see him dropping down to 170lbs for a fight on five weeks notice as he’s a big man at 6ft 5″ and didn’t have a whole lot of bulk up at middleweight. He’ll tower 9″ over Buckley in this fight, although they actually have the same reach. Ruziboev is an assured striker who attacks with fast punches and kicks and has good timing, while despite his many fights he’s still durable, having suffered only once loss via strikes. Meanwhile he’s a well-versed wrestler and has a good finishing record via submissions, albeit on the regional circuit.

It’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out, particularly with Ruziboev dropping down to welterweight. That cut concerns me, and given Buckley’s current momentum and power advantage I’m leaning towards him to land big in the second round to secure a TKO finish.

Prediction:   Joaquin Buckley to win by TKO in Rd2.

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Alonzo Menifield vs. Carlos Ulberg Prediction

Alonzo Menifield is currently enjoying the best form of his UFC career with four wins and a draw from his last five appearances, while Carlos Ulberg has gone on a five-fight winning streak since losing in his UFC debut.

The 36-year-old Menifield is a stocky, muscular 205lb’er with good athleticism who has the punching power to end fights early, but has learned over time to manage his cardio better to avoid running out of steam later on in fights. That does mean he fights at a measured pace, but he will press forward and has some solid kicks too. He prefers to keep the fight upright and has improved his takedown defense to help with that, but he can operate on the mat if required and has picked up the occasional submission win.

The 33-year-old Ulberg will have a 4″ height advantage here, though only an extra inch in reach. He has a kickboxing background and it shows as he’s composed and clinical in the stand-up department from range, makes good use of counter-striking and attacks with speed.  He’s shown off his finishing power lately with three of his last four wins coming via strikes in the opening round. Other aspects of Ulberg’s game were a bit raw initially after joining from the Contender Series, but his ground game has shown promise over time and he did earn his first submission finish last time out.

I like Ulberg here. He’s the superior striker and his footwork and counter-striking will likely be a constant headache for Menifield that’ll eventually take it’s toll for a third round TKO finish.

Prediction: Carlos Ulberg to win by TKO in Rd3.

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Diego Ferreira vs. Mateusz Rebecki Prediction

After a three fight losing slump back in 2021, Diego Ferreira was then kept out of the cage for two-and-a-half years due to injuries.  Then almost exactly 12 months ago he returned to action in style with a KO victory over Michael Johnson. Now he will attempt to keep that late career momentum going against Mateusz Rebecki, who has won all three of his UFC fights so far and holds a 19-1 record overall.

At his peak the 39-year-old Ferreira was a significant player in the division, being an industrious, well-rounded fighter who pushed the pace on the feet with good volume and respectable technique. Despite getting a KO last time out he’s not known for his stopping power though. Meanwhile he’s a capable wrestler, although really he’s been at his best in the grappling department as a decorated BJJ black belt. Ferreira began to look jaded and in decline a few years ago with less durability and endurance than in the past leading to two TKO losses in a row, so it remains to be seen whether his win over a fellow ageing veteran last time out was just a one-off.

While Ferreira’s career is at it’s later stages, the 31-year-old Rebecki is still in his prime and has been riding a winning streak for the best part of a decade now, albeit with much of that taking place on the Polish regional circuit. He’s a short, but powerfully built fighter who will give up a sizeable 8″ in reach to Ferreira, but will be willing to wade into battle to land with heavy hands and hard kicks knowing that he’s the heavier hitter and has a more durable chin. Rebecki has also been able to use his wrestling well to get opponents down and has solid ground-and-pound and submission threats from there.

I’m not convinced that Ferreira has gotten his second wind this late in his career and I expect Rebecki to prove that by taking the fight to his opponent and getting the better of it wherever the fight goes, leading him to a 2nd round TKO victory.

Prediction: Mateusz Rebecki to win by TKO in Rd2.

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Alex Caceres vs. Sean Woodson Prediction

Alex Caceres lost last time out to Giga Chikadze on the scorecards, but to his credit before that he’d surprised many people by going 7-1 in his previous eight fights. Now he’ll look to get back in the win column against Sean Woodson, who is unbeaten in his last five UFC appearances and holds an overall 11-1 career record.

Caceres is now 35-year-old and has been competing in the UFC for 13 years. His striking has become a bit more focused and less flashy over time, but he still likes throw a lot of kicks from range.. He stays active offensively, moves a lot and attacks from unexpected angles but doesn’t tend to have much in the way of power. he’s more of a finishing threat on the mat though with some crafty offensive grappling when he can create scrambling opportunities, but though he can find submissions he can also be caught in them too.

Woodson is very long and lanky for a featherweight and will have a 4″ height and 5″ reach advantage to work with here. He’s a clean technical striker who trained in boxing initially before transitioning to MMA in his late teens and as such works well to the head and body with punches. He also uses kicks nicely from range too and will threaten with knees at closer quarters, which also serves as a takedown deterrent. He’s not a notable finisher though and isn’t much of a finishing threat on the mat.

Caceres has a chance here if he can get Woodson to the mat, but it’s going to be hard for him to get inside without eating strikes from his taller, longer and more accurate opponent and so I can see it settling into a striking battle from range that Woodson comfortably wins on the scorecards.

Prediction: Sean Woodson to win by decision.

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Waldo Cortes-Acosta vs. Robelis Despaigne Prediction

There’s heavyweight action in the main card opener as Waldo Cortes-Acosta brings a 4-1 record in the UFC so far to a match-up against Robelis Despaigne, a former Olympic Taekwondo bronze medalist who KO’d Josh Parisian in 18 seconds in his UFC debut last month.

Remarkably that fast finish wasn’t a one-off for the 35-year-old Despaigne as though he’s only had five fights in his MMA career he’s not only finished each of his opponents inside the first five minutes, but also stopped three of them in the opening seconds of the fight including one in 3 seconds and one in 4 seconds!  He’s helped out by the fact that he lives up to his ‘Big Boy’ nickname, standing 6ft 7″ tall and 260lbs with a whopping 87″ reach and strong, athletic physique to go with it. He’s very good at leveraging that size into his strikes and is fast too and showed good technique to KO Parisian while moving backwards. That being said he he can leave himself wide open to being hit on the counter and we’ve not seen much of his ground game yet.

The 32-year-old Cortes-Acosta is not a small heavyweight, but while he might weight a few more pounds here he will give up 3″ in height and a huge 9″ in reach. He’s a durable striker who largely sticks to boxing fundamentals and adopts a volume-based approach to the head and body rather than attempting to go all-out for a finish. There’s nothing about him that really stands out as being special, but his workmanlike style has helped him get the better of low-level heavyweights and a 45-year-old Arlovski so far in the UFC.

Cortes-Acosta’s best chance here seems to be to take this fight long and hope his opponent overexerts himself in search of a finish and gasses out. It’s certainly a possibility, though an unenviable task given Despaigne’s huge power and major reach advantage, so while I think Cortes-Acosta will last a little longer than some of ‘Big Boy’s’ other recent opponents, I still think he’ll be TKO’d in the first round.

Prediction:  Robelis Despaigne to win by TKO in Rd1.

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UFC On ESPN 56 Prelims

(Predicted winners in bold)

Chase Hooper vs. Viacheslav Borshchev

Terrance McKinney vs. Esteban Ribovics

Tabatha Ricci vs. Tecia Pennington

Billy Goff vs. Trey Waters

Charles Johnson vs. Jake Hadley

Jared Gooden vs. Kevin Jousset

JJ Aldrich vs. Veronica Hardy

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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.