Main Card for UFC Fight Night 135
Justin Gaethje vs. James Vick
It’s something of a miracle that Gaethje managed to make it as far he did in his career without being KO’d given how recklessly offensive he is in the cage.
That’s a testament to his toughness and his relentless striking, but now that he’s facing a higher caliber of opposition than ever since joining the UFC, it’s finally taken it’s toll and as such he’s suffered a KO and TKO loss in his last two fights.
A change in approach, perhaps utilizing more of his wrestling would be a smart move, but the evidence of his career to date suggests that’s probably not likely to happen, and in Vick he faces another fighter who can give him a serious challenge if he does just want to stand and trade.
Vick has a major height and reach advantage here, but he’s not a fast starter, so he’ll have to be careful as Gaethje ramps up the intensity and pressure early in the fight.
Vick does have the crisper boxing, but I think he’ll struggle to cope with the fact that Gaethje will simply be looking to walk through his offense in order to close the distance and land his own strikes, with heavy leg kicks and high volume punching foiling his distance game and leading to ‘The Highlight’ claiming a third round TKO victory.
Prediction: Justin Gaethje wins by TKO in Rd3 – BET NOW
Michael Johnson vs. Andre Fili
Johnson’s recent run of form at lightweight has been rough, claiming just one win from his past six fights, although admittedly the standard of opposition he’s been facing has been consistently high.
Now he’s looking to rebuild at featherweight and he remains a solid, athletic fighter with decent boxing that’s made more effective by having fast hands, while he’s also got respectable wrestling too.
Fili isn’t as athletic as Johnson, but he too is essentially a boxer / wrestler, who doesn’t load up on his punches as much, and as such should have the greater energy reserves the longer the fight goes.
This is a close fight, but I think Johnson should be the bigger man on the night and have the power advantage, which will enable to hurt and then finish Fili in the second round by TKO.
Prediction: Michael Johnson to win by TKO in Rd2 – BET NOW
Jake Ellenberger vs. Bryan Barberena
Ellenberger is clinging on by his fingertips to a place on the UFC roster following eight losses from his last 10 Octagon outings, not to mention the fact he’s been stopped by strikes in his past three fights.
As such, Barberena is undoubtedly the fresher fighter here, and although he’s only 4-3 in the UFC to date, it’s worth noting that two of his three losses came against divisional standouts in Colby Covington and Leon Edwards.
Ellenberger has big power, but often these days he’s been hesitant to use it, and meanwhile he lacks durability, which I think could be a problem against Barberena, who is effective offensively, has good power and has never been stopped by strikes to date, so I like his chances of adding yet another loss to his opponent’s record by way of TKO.
Prediction: Bryan Barberena wins by TKO in Rd2 – BET NOW
Cortney Casey vs. Angela Hill
Casey and Hill haven’t exactly the set the world alight so far in the UFC, but that doesn’t mean these two strawweights aren’t good fighters.
On the feet Casey’s punches carry more power, but I expect Hill to be far more mobile here, showing good movement and consistently landing a higher volume of strikes over the course of the fight – albeit without having much in the way of stopping power.
Both fighters can be vulnerable on the mat, but I expect this one to play out on the feet for the most part and though I think she’ll get caught with a few big punches, I think Hill will ultimately emerge victorious on the scorecards thanks to her more energetic, high-volume output.
Prediction: Angela Hill wins by decision – BET NOW
John Moraga vs. Deiveson Figueiredo
Figuiredo is still establishing himself in the UFC, but already has three wins under his belt and with an overall unbeaten record of 14-0, he’s certainly somebody worth watching.
The Brazilian is largely a counter puncher and has stopping power in his fists, but he’s also a threat with submission too and appears to be improving with every fight. What we still have to see though is whether that’s going to be enough to enable him to maintain his winning run against a higher level of opposition.
Moraga is a UFC veteran and is currently enjoying one of his best spell in the promotion to date with a three fight winning streak. He’s a well-rounded fighter who’s very capable on the feet, without being especially lethal, but is at his best on the mat, where he’s proven to be much more of a finisher.
I think this could prove to be a close fight and one that the lesser known Figuiredo has a real chance to emerge victorious from, but overall I do slightly favor the savvy Moraga to be able to put up a more consistent offensive output on the feet and get the better of the ground work to emerge with a decision victory.
Prediction: John Moraga wins by decision – BET NOW
Eryk Anders vs. Tim Williams
This feels like a fight that’s been put together to help Anders get back to winning ways after just coming up short in a significantly higher-profile fight with Lyoto Machida last time out.
Williams was KO’d in his UFC debut and if he can’t get this fight to the floor and work his submission game then a similar fate is likely to await him here.
Unfortunately for him his chances of taking the stronger, more athletic Anders down are slim and I think the former football player will land big power punch to KO williams inside the first five minutes.
Prediction: Eryk Anders to win by KO in Rd1 – BET NOW
(Predicted winners in bold)
Mickey Gall vs. George Sullivan
James Krause vs. Warlley Alves
Joanne Calderwood vs. Kalindra Faria
Iuri Alcantara vs. Cory Sandhagen
Luke Sanders vs. Rani Yahya
Andrew Sanchez vs. Markus Perez
Drew Dober vs. Jon Tuck