UFC Fight Night 159 Main Card
Yair Rodriguez vs. Jeremy Stephens
This is an interesting fight between two featherweights who will be happy to engage in a striking battle for five rounds, or as long as it takes one of them to render the other unconscious.
Rodriguez in particular is naturally inclined to look for a finish and will throw all kinds of exotic and eye-catching techniques in search of another highlight reel knockout to add to his collection.
Stephens is more measured in his approach these days, but he still carries significant stopping power in his fists and with his years of experience he won’t be overawed by Rodriguez’s offense.
That leaves us with an intriguingly balanced fight. Stephens could well take advantage of Rodriguez’s wilder attacks to find an opening for a single big punch that ends his night, but with his higher output and good cardio I think it’s the more dynamic ‘El Pantera’ who will be making the bigger impact here and that’ll lead him to a fourth round TKO victory.
Prediction: Yair Rodriguez to win by TKO in Rd4 – Bet Now
Carla Esparza vs. Alexa Grasso
Grasso looked more like the fighter people thought she could be in her last outing against Karolina Kowalkiewicz and a win over Esparza could really see her build momentum in the straweight division.
This is a different kind of fight though and one that doesn’t play as well to Grasso’s strengths.
With that being said, if she can keep the fight standing it should go well for her as she’s a far better striker than Esparza and with her high output and crisp striking she would handily win by decision.
However, that’s a big ‘if’ as Esparza is a strong wrestler and Grasso has had issues with that before, even although she’s actually got a fairly decent ground game.
Grasso will win the striking exchanges when they come here, but I don’t think she’s got the stopping power to make those moments count for a finish inside the distance, and instead will find those opportunities coming few and far between as Esparza outwrestles her to a decision victory.
Prediciton: Carla Esparza to win by decision – Bet Now
Brandon Moreno vs. Askar Askarov
On paper the undefeated 10-0 Askarov looks like he could be a real contender in the UFC’s flyweight division, so it’ll be interesting to see how he handles a tricky opponent like Moreno for his promotional debut.
Askarov is a well-rounded fighter who has an effective kickboxing style, good wrestling and excellent submissions that account for the majority of his wins to date and include some out-of-the-ordinary ones like a twister and anaconda choke that suggest the 26-year-old is very much at home on the mat.
Moreno actually matches up fairly well here in that he can compete on the feet and the mat here, but I believe he’s going to find himself outmatched in both areas and lose by decision.
Prediction: Askar Askarov to win by decision – Bet Now
Irene Aldana vs. Vanessa Melo
Melo comes in on only two weeks notice for her UFC debut against Aldana, whose coming off a split decision loss to Raquel Pennington back in July.
Melo is a tough, gritty competitor who will attempt to take the fight to Aldana, but really she’s facing a tough task as she doesn’t have the technique, athleticism or power to really trouble her opponent here.
I’d expect Melo to stick it out for the full 15 minutes, but Aldana should hold the aces in the striking exchanges and emerge with a decision victory.
Prediction: Irene Aldana to win by decision – Bet Now
Martin Bravo vs. Steven Peterson
Two similar fighters here who have struggled to stay in the win colum during their UFC runs, but always put on fun fights thanks to their all-action offensive approach on the feet and mat.
That should make for a bit of a war here as they clash head-on in the center of the Octagon and with the Mexcian support behind him I’d expect Bravo to set a high pace with plenty of strikes on the feet, but he’ll have a hard time putting away Peterson, who is a very durable fighter.
Peterson might be the better overall grappler, but I can see these two slugging it out on the feet for extended periods and I think Bravo will be able to do the better work there to edge out a close decision victory.
Prediction: Martin Bravo to win by decision – Bet Now
UFC Fight Night 159 Prelims
(Predicted winners in bold)
Jose Alberto Quinonez vs. Carlos Huachin
Marco Polo Reyes vs. Kyle Nelson
Ariane Carnelossi vs. Angela Hill
Sergio Pettis vs. Tyson Nam
Vinicius Moreira vs. Paul Craig
Sijara Eubanks vs. Bethe Correia
Claudio Puelles vs. Marcos Rosa Mariano