UFC Fight Night 158 Main Card
Donald Cerrone vs. Justin Gaethje
It almost goes without saying that fireworks are to be expected when two of the UFC’s most entertaining and all-action strikers go at it in the main event on Saturday night.
Cerrone is of course an excellent technical striker with a very good kicking game at range, with solid punches behind that, while the timing and accuracy of his knee strikes at closer range is also excellent.
However, in Gaethje he’s facing an opponent that’s quite unlike any other in terms of his ability to maintain an insane pace and volume of strikes – and thrown with fight-ending intensity.
Gaethje’s leg kicks also may be even more brutal than Cerrone’s and ‘Cowboy’ has had a habit of starting slowly at times during his career and he doesn’t always respond well to high-octane pressure, which will obviously be a big concern here.
Cerrone does also have a very good ground game and a submission is a real possibility here, though Gaethje has a wrestling background to fall back on if they do break from their shared love of striking.
Another possible factor in the fight is that as recently as Tuesday, Gaethje was wearing sunglasses as he continues his recovery from an eye infection, and it’s not clear how much that will have affected his training.
Nevertheless, Gaethje is a wildman and it’s unlikely anything will slow him down. He gets hit far too much, which is a concern against someone of Cerrone’s calibre, but I still favor ‘The Highlight’s’ pressure and high-volume offense from early on in the fight to unsettle ‘Cowboy’ and lead to a TKO victory in the first five minutes.
Prediction: Justin Gaethje to win by TKO in Rd1 – Bet Now
Nikita Krylov vs. Glover Teixeira
Krylov may not be the most technical fighter, but he’s certainly a fun one, as proven by the fact that every single one of his 25 career victories have come by either strikes or submission and he’s never fought to a decision.
He’ll be hoping that his high pace and finishing instincts will pay off against an ageing Teixeira, who at 39 has markedly slowed down on the feet and isn’t quite as durable as he once was.
However, Teixeira is a savvy veteran and he’s recognised this fact and now tends to rely more on his grappling skills than his striking ones, and to good effect as he’s an effective wrestler with a nice submission game to back it up.
Krylov’s offense also leaves plenty of defensive holes to be exploited both on the feet and the mat. With that in mind Teixeira may even have some success striking as he still has heavy hands, but I think he’ll use his wrestling advantage to get his opponent down and then work his way to a submission finish.
Prediction: Glover Teixeira to win by submission in Rd1 – Bet Now
Todd Duffee vs. Jeff Hughes
Duffee is the forgotten man in the UFC’s heavyweight division and that’s hardly surprising given that he hasn’t fought in over four years due to illness and injuries.
The last time he did fight back in 2015 he was quickly KO’d by Frank Mir, which is a cause for concern too.
On the plus side, Duffee is a true physical specimen at heavyweight, and though his chin is questionable, when he’s the one landing offense it often leads to his opponent’s crumbling – with all nine of his career wins being ended by strikes.
Hughes is much less athletic and doesn’t hit as hard, but he is potentially the more durable and better conditioned fighter and so if he can hang on in there he could have success later in the fight.
There’s definitely plenty of concerns about a ring rusty Duffee here, but I think it’s more likely to get the job done early here with big punches before his gas tank has a chance to fail.
Prediction: Todd Duffee to win by KO in Rd1 – Bet Now
Michel Pereira vs. Tristan Connelly
After getting an impressively quick KO win in his UFC debut, Pereira gets some main card shine here, but will be fighting a short-notice newcomer in Connelly, who only has a few days to get ready for his first fight in the Octagon.
Connelly is also having to step up a weight class for this match-up, so despite being fairly experienced it’s going to be a tall order for the grappler to make headway here against the naturally bigger man here.
Pereira is a heavy hitter and likes to go for flashy, eye-catching attacks, and while that might not work out so well against higher-level opposition, his size and power advantage should pay off her with a first round TKO victory.
Prediction: Michel Pereira to win by TKO in Rd1 – Bet Now
Antonio Carlos Junior vs. Uriah Hall
Hall is coming off a spectacular KO win over a relatively unheralded opponent in Bevon Lewis, but he remains as inconsistent as ever.
Hall can look great sometimes, producing moments of magic on the feet, but all too often he seems to be holding back – and at this stage in his career the fact he’s still not been able to figure out the key to unlocking his full potential is troubling.
If he can keep this one standing and is willing to pull the trigger then he could have some real success against ‘Shoe Face,’ who won’t offer up much himself on the feet.
However, Carlos Junior is a talented grappler with a proven record of finishing fights by submission – including five in his last six victories in the Octagon.
Hall does generally have good takedown defense which could make things interesting, but I don’t think he’s going to come out with all guns blazing here and so Shoe Face will have enough time to find success with takedown attempts and then use his grappling advantage to produce a second round submission victory.
Prediction: Antonio Carlos Junior to win by submission in Rd2 – Bet Now
Misha Cirkunov vs. Jim Crute
Crute made his way into the UFC via the Contender Series and has since extended his unbeaten record to ten fights with wins over Paul Craig and Sam Alvey.
This will be a step up though against Cirkunov, who is still far from the finished article on the feet and has a questionable chin, but is very capable on the mat and has a good submission pedigree.
At 23-year-old Crute is still a work in progress and is rough around the edges, but he’s got a decent foundation of skills to build from and if he can keep this one standing then he should give Cirkunov a good, competitive fight here and might even have a chance of a finish.
However, I believe Cirkunov will be able to bring him to the mat and I don’t think Crute is accomplished enough yet to deal with him on those terms, resulting in tapout finish within two rounds.
Prediction: Misha Cirkunov to win by submission in Rd2 – Bet Now
UFC Fight Night 158 Prelims
(Predicted winners in bold)
Augusto Sakai vs. Marcin Tybura
Miles Johns vs. Cole Smith
Hunter Azure vs. Brad Katona
Jordan Griffin vs. Chas Skelly
Ryan MacDonald vs. Louis Smolka
Austin Hubbard vs. Kyle Prepolec