MMA fans, the time has come for one of the most annoying squash matches in recent history to finally be settled. That fight is Ronda Rousey vs. Bethe Correia. Why is it happening? Because Rousey wanted it. Go figure, this is one of the few times where she comes across as the more, well reasonable fighter compared to her opponent.
As for the card as a whole, it’s gotten a whole lot of heat. Many fans and “experts” claim that it is an outdated, washed-up card loaded with depressing bouts throughout the main card, barring the ppv opener. The main card is getting so much heat that nobody is paying attention to the prelims at all!
Truth be told, this is a better card than people would like to believe. The prelims are pretty damn good, from top to bottom, the main card opener is terrific, and the rest of the card could yield some solid entertainment, as depressing as it may wind up being.
Alas, I must restate that the prelims are being extremely overlooked by the masses here. As a result, I will present my prelim picks, with analysis, separately from my main card predictions. Granted, I tend to do that anyways. However, that is usually due to convenience. This time however, I truly believe the prelims deserve their own article.
Anyways, here are my picks for the preliminary portion of the card.
Fight Pass prelims (7/6c, UFC Fight Pass)
Hugo Viana (7-2) vs. Guido Cannetti (6-2)
The first fight of the evening is actually a pretty decent one, for a Fight Pass bout on a Brazil card.
Hugo Viana was a contestant on the first and only decent season of TUF: Brazil. He may be a decision machine (seven wins via decision,) and he has lost two of his last three fights via tko, but he’s still a decent fighter. His opponent, Guido Cannetti, is far from great. However, he does make for solid entertainment. He has never gone the distance, and has only gotten to the second round once. That fight was his most recent one, a second round submission loss to Enrique Briones at UFC 180 last November.
If Gannetti wins, it will be in exciting fashion. It’s also a possibility, since he’s won via knockot three times, which is the exact manner by which Viana has suffered his two career losses. Unfortunately for Cannetti, I will have to lean towards the more experienced fighter, as always, via decision. Prediction: Viana via unanimous decision.
Clint Hester (11-4) vs. Vitor Miranda (10-4)
The second and final Fight Pass bout, well, should not be on Fight Pass. Vitor Miranda is a former Kickboxer with knockout power, ending 18 of his Kickboxing bouts, as well as seven of his MMA bouts, in that manner. He lost the TUF: Brazil 3 “Heavyweight” finale via decision to current Light Heavyweight Antonio Carlos Junior last May, but went back to his natural weight class of Middleweight, and stunned Jake Collier with a head kick knockout in the final second of the opening round of their bout in December.
Meanwhile, his opponent, Clint Hester, needs a win to finally get some respect from the UFC. The TUF 17 contestant won each of his first four bouts inside the octagon, but only fought on television on two of those occasions. Three of his first five octagon bouts, including his loss to TUF: Smashes winner Robert Whittaker, took place on Fight Pass. Tomorrow’s bout will mark the fourth time he will be fighting on the UFC’s digital network.
If either man wants to escape from the clutches of fighting on the online portion, they need a win. Both are knockout artists anyways, so this one should end with a bang. In the end, I believe the man to do just that will be Hester, en route to finally getting the spotlight he so richly deserves. Prediction: Hester via tko, round 2.
Televised Prelims (8/7c, FS1)
Iuri Alcantara (31-6, 1NC) vs. Leandro Issa (13-4)
The televised prelims are perhaps the most entertaining, least depressing portion of the card. It’s an interesting crop of fights, starting with an entertaining Bantamweight matchup between a pair of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belts.
Simply put, both men are finishers. Issa has only gone the distance four times in 17 professional bouts, and has won his last two UFC bouts, since being submitted by Russel Doane in January of last year. His opponent, Alcantara, has finished 25 of his 31 victims. He is 6-3 with a no contest inside the octagon, and is looking to get back on track, following a shocking upset loss at the hands of Frankie Saenz back in February. Both men will be looking for the kill, right from the start. I have to roll with the Brazilian, simply because I still believe he has the makings of a contender in him. The loss to Saenz destroyed any hype he had garnered, and in order to regain any portion of it, a win tonight is necessary. It’ll be tough, but I see Alcantara coming away with the tko victory. Prediction: Alcantara via tko, round 2.
Warlley Alves (8-0) vs. Nordine Taleb (11-2)
A pair of international TUF contestants will take the stage next, as TUF: Nations contestant Nordine Taleb hopes to extend his winning streak to four against undefeated TUF: Brazil 3 winner Warlley Alves. Taleb may have struggled on the reality show, but the former Bellator fighter has won all three of his UFC bouts. Meanwhile his opponent, TUF: Brazil 3 Middleweight winner Warlley Alves, is a controversial 2-0 in the UFC. He choked out Marcio Alexandre in the final round of their May 2014 bout to win the TUF: Brazil 3 Middleweight crown, but followed up with a controversial win over Alan Jouban in December, in a fight where many felt the wrong man was crowned the victor.
Both men want to make a statement, and the winner could find himself in a major bout sooner rather than later. I believe that man will be Alves. I’ll admit, I’m not really sold on either fighter to be much of a contender. But, if either one of them is even marginally close, it would be the Brazilian. Expect a close, decent fight, hopefully without a controversial finish. Prediction: Alves via unanimous decision.
Patrick Cummins (8-2) vs. Rafael Cavalcante (12-5, 1NC)
Up next is a Light Heavyweight bout between a pair of fighters who are battling for not only respect, but possibly their UFC jobs as well. Cummins is the former barista who coaxed Dana White into allowing him to take on current Light Heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier in the co-main event of UFC 170 last year. Cummins got annihilated in 79 seconds, but closed out the year with three straight wins. He earned himself a bout against Ovince St. Preux this at UFC on FOX 15 past April, but was knocked out in the final seconds of the opening round. If he wants to regain some traction, a win tomorrow night is a must.
Cummins opponent, Rafael Cavalcante, has had quite a roller coaster of a career. He is the quintessential “kill or be killed” type of fighter, with every fight ending via finish, until a smothering decision loss to Ryan Bader last June ended the streak. Since knocking out Mohammad “King Mo” Lawal to win Strikeforce’s Light Heavyweight title in August 2010, “Feijao” has gone 2-3 with a no contest. The no contest stemmed from a failed drug test, which resulted in a year-long suspension, while dampening all of Feijao’s credibility.
Cavalcante is 1-2 inside the octagon, is facing a very good wrestler, and a loss could spell his release from the promotion. However, he has shown that he still has knockout power, and Cummins does not possess a great chin. This fight could wind up being more interesting than one would like to believe. However, even though I do admit that Cavalcante can pull of a stunning knockout victory, as my gut says, but I’m going to side with logic instead. Prediction: Cummins via unanimous decision or late tko.
(6) Demian Maia (20-6) vs. (13) Neil Magny (15-3)
The headlining preliminary bout is a tantalizing Welterweight showdown that pits the resurgent Neil Magny against Brazilian Jiu Jitsu ace Demian Maia. Magny was one of only four contestants from the dreadful twelfth season of The Ultimate Figher, and began his UFC career with a 1-2 mark. Since then, he has won seven straight, including a UFC record five wins in 2014. He already has two wins this year, and finds himself ranked for the first time in his career.
Magny’s opponent, Demian Maia, is one of the greatest Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners in all of MMA. He has fought 20 times inside the octagon, going 14-6 in his eight years with the promotion. He submitted each of his first five UFC opponents, including former title challengers Nate Quarry and Chael Sonnen, before suffering a one-punch knockout loss at the hands of Nate Marquardt in August 2009. A win over Dan Miller in his follow up bout earned him a short-notice title bout against longtime champion Anderson Silva the following April, a fight that has garnered much notoriety ever since.
Maia has only submitted opponent since 2009, but that one submission was quite memorable. On October 13, 2012, at UFC 153, Maia choked out Rick Story in such a ferocious manner, Story’s nose began leaking blood. And although he has not submitted anyone since, his grappling is still quite a puzzle to overcome.
If Magny wins, he will likely find himself within the top ten in the division, and may be just a couple wins away from a potential title shot. If Maia wins, it will give him three straight wins, and six victories in his last eight bouts. Another win or two for him could land him his first Welterweight title chance. The fight might not be the funnest one on the card, but it’s definitely relevant. While it is possible that Magny can land a shot and potentially end the fight, I see the UFC’s staple, high-level gatekeeper ending the surging potential contender’s streak in a grappling bonanza. Prediction: Maia via unanimous decision.