Donald Cerrone vs. Yancy Medeiros
Despite having lost his last three fights in a row at welterweight, Donald Cerrone has opted to continue on in the division rather than fall back to lightweight, and now faces the in-form Yancy Medeiros, who is on a three-fight winning streak.
Not so long ago this would be the kind of fight where Cerrone would seem like a more convincing favorite, but having been TKO’d twice in three fights there are now question marks over his chin and concerns that, having put his body through the grinder for years both inside and outside of the cage, time may be starting to catch up with him.
If so then Medeiros could punish him as he’s got the power to crack a weakened Cerrone and has fought as high as light-heavyweight during his career, though on the downside he’s also lacking defensively, leaving plenty of room to be hit by punches and kicks from ‘Cowboy’.
Medeiros will pose a submission threat on the mat, but so does Cerrone, and in fact that’s accounted for many of his stoppage victories over the years, despite the fact he tends to favor striking these days.
This is a risky match-up for Cerrone given his current form, but on face value he is still the better fighter overall and I think he’ll eventually hurt Medeiros and then finish him off on the mat by submission.
Prediction Donald Cerrone wins by submission in round two BET NOW
Derrick Lewis vs. Marcin Tybura
For the first time in seven fights, Derrick Lewis tasted defeat last time out against Mark Hunt and now he goes up against Marcin Tybura, whose own three-fight unbeaten stretch came to an end against Fabricio Werdum back in November.
Lewis doesn’t have much in the way of technique, but he has massive knockout power in his hands and that’s helped him rack up wins over a number of big name heavyweights, while he also moves faster than you’d expect for a man of his size and will throw kicks at times to vary things up.
Cardio has been a big issue for Lewis though and even more worryingly he’s also had back issues in recent fights that have left him contemplating retirement, which doesn’t inspire confidence.
As for Tybura, he has a better gas tank than Lewis and will use that to push the pace, but though he’s a little more technical than his opponent on the feet and has a good chin, he’ll still need to very careful about engaging with ‘The Black Beast’.
However, Tybura can also work effectively from the clinch and as the better grappler takedowns will also likely be a factor, as will potential submissions attempts, though he needs to be mindful that Lewis can work reversals.
Given his punching power, Lewis could end the fight at any moment, but the back issues he’s been experiencing make it hard to pick him with any confidence and so I favour Tybura here to wear him out with grappling and emerge with a decision victory.
Prediction: Marcin Tybura wins by decision BET NOW
James Vick vs. Francisco Trinaldo
Both James Vick and Francisco Trinaldo have won an impressive eight of their last nine fights in the UFC, so it’s going to be very interesting to see who comes out on top when they go head-to-head in Texas.
Vick is an exceptionally tall, rangy fighter for the lightweight division and has a strong boxing game that’s continued to improve, while he can also use his lanky limbs to catch people by surprise with submissions on the floor.
Trinaldo is more of a jack-of-all-trades – comfortable in most aspects of the game, though not necessarily excelling in one particular area. He pushes a good pace despite being 39 and if he can get in close then it’s quite possible that he will be able to get Vick to the mat.
This is as finely balanced a match-up as any on the card, but I feel Vick’s range management and power, plus his submission threat makes him the more dangerous fighter here and I’ll take him to finish Trinaldo by TKO in the final round of a competitive fight.
Prediction: James Vick wins by TKO in round three BET NOW
Thiago Alves vs. Curtis Millender
After a 10 month absence from the Octagon, Thiago Alves returns to action at UFC Fight Night 126 looking to build on a win over Patrick Cote last time out when he goes up against a newcomer from the LFA promotion, Curtis Millender.
Millender, who has also fought for Bellator in the past, has impressed of late with some big head kick knockout wins and he’ll also have a 5” height and whopping 12” reach advantage over Alves, which suits his rangy fighting style.
Nevertheless, Alves is a vastly experienced and highly technical muay thai fighter and is accustomed to competing against bigger opponents. He’s also only been finished by strikes twice in his 33 fight career and is an effective counter-striker, which could pay dividends against his opponents more telegraphed output, while his vicious leg kicks should also be a major weapon here.
Generally Alves uses strong takedown defense to keep fights standing, but in this particular match-up he may well have the advantage on the mat if he wants to use his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills, particularly as Millender has been vulnerable to being tapped out in the past.
This isn’t an easy one to call, but I lean towards Alves as the superior technician on the feet to stop Millender’s flashy strikes and land the cleaner, more effective strikes himself to win out on the scorecards.
Prediction: Thiago Alves defeats Curtis Millender by decision BET NOW
Steven Peterson vs. Brandon Davis
Due to a short notice fight cancellation, Peterson vs. Davis gets boosted all the way up from the Fight Pass prelims to the main card of the event.
Peterson isn’t afraid to scrap, but he’s very hittable and will chew on punches in order to land himself or get into takedown range.
That’s good news for Davis, who will by happy to strike from distance and has good takedown defense. Peterson will likely stick around for the duration of the fight, but will lose out on the scorecards.
Prediction: Brandon Davis wins by decision BET NOW
Sage Northcutt vs. Thibault Gouti
Despite having already been fighting in the UFC for two-and-a-half-years, it’s worth remembering that Sage Northcutt is still only 21-years-old as he heads into his next fight with Thibault Gouti.
Northcutt has been alternating between wins and losses in the last couple of years, but notably his successes during that period have come at lightweight and his losses at welterweight, so its not surprising that he’s sticking at 155lbs this time around.
Northcutt has now settled into life as a member of Team Alpha Male and it seems life a good fit for him as it will surely help shore up some of the holes in his grappling game, which could prove crucial in this fight as Gouti has defensive weaknesses on the mat.
That being said, Gouti is dangerous on the feet as he wields fight-ending power, but I believe Northcutt has the striking chops to be able to edge him out in that regard and is the better wrestler of the two, which will enable him to mix things up a little as he goes on to claim a win on the scorecards.
Prediction: Sage Northcutt wins by decision BET NOW
(Predicted winners in bold)
Jared Gordon vs. Diego Ferreira
Brian Camozzi vs. Geoffrey Neal
Joby Sanchez vs. Roberto Sanchez
Sarah Moras vs. Lucie Pudilova
Prelims (UFC Fight Pass)
(Predicted winners in bold)
Alex Morono vs. Josh Burkman
Oskar Piechota vs. Tim Williams
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.