MMA fans, the biggest weekend in UFC history is officially here! Ok, so maybe last night put a damper on things. But, it’s still an incredible weekend. Three straight days of high-level UFC action, with a title fight on each one.
There’s a lot to get to, so this will be a relatively short post. It’s a nice Fight Pass prelim set for tonight’s card though, so if anyone’s looking to gully satisfy their MMA fill for the nonth, this slate should be a great start.
Fight Pass prelims (6:30/5:30c, UFC Fight Pass)
Vicente Luque (8-5-1) vs. Alvaro Herrera (9-3)
Luque was a semi-finalist on TUF 22, and won his last fight via stunning submission over Haider Hassan, the same man he lost a split decision against in the semifinals of that season. He’s a finisher with three knockouts and four submissions to his credit. He’s split his last four bouts, so maybe he’ll lose this? Nobody knows.
Herrera has never gone the distance. He’s got five knockout, three submission and one win via disqualification. The only time he got submitted was in February 2009, and the second of his two knockout losses came in 2011. He won his UFC debut against Vernon Ramos in 30 seconds last November, and while it would be awesome to see him repeat the feat, my gut tells me he’ll get submitted tonight. Prediction: Luque via submission, round 3.
Marco Beltran (7-3) vs. Reginaldo Viera (13-3)
Viera has the experience advantage, has never had a losing streak, and nine submissions to his credit. He hasn’t fought since last August, but I think he’ll win his second UFC fight tonight. Prediction: Viera via submission, round 2.
Gilbert Burns (10-1) vs. Lukasz Sajewski (13-1)
Up next is a sneaky important fight. The two men have a combined 24-2 record, and 13 combined submission victories. Both also lost their first fights in their latest bouts, although Burns’ loss came against the better fighter, an underrated potential star in Rashid Magomedov. Burns is a Jiu Jitsu star, possessing a second-degree black belt in that discipline. He’s also the better striker, and I’ll believe he’ll be able to take the fight to the ground before locking in a sub in the first or second rounds. Meh, I’ll go with late first. Prediction: Burns via submission, late round 1.
Jerrod Sanders (15-2, 1NC) vs. Felipe Arantes (17-7-1, 2NC)
Arantes’ fights are the worst when it comes to predicting them, just like Efrain Escudero. Both are so talented, and shine whenever you don’t expect them to. Arantes hasn’t had a winning streak since 2010, going 4-3-1 with a no contest since then. He also won his last fight, so he should lose, right?
Well, his opponent has the better record, and six submission wins, but is 1-1 with a no contest in his last three fights. He also has seven decision wins. I’d love to see Arantes win, but these two have such a crazy recent history, that I’ll have to go with a crazy result to boot. Prediction: Split draw
Pedro Munhoz (11-2, 1NC) vs. Russell Doane (14-5)
I love this fight. Both men always bring it. Munhoz can submit anyone, but is 1-2 with a no contest in the UFC. A loss could result in his release. Doane has finished 11 of his 14 victims, but has lost his last two fights via decision. I don’t want either man to lose, but I don’t foresee a draw either. I’ll go with Munhoz, but anything can happen. Prediction: Munhoz via submission, round 2.
Anthony Birchak (12-3) vs. Dileno Lopes (18-2)
Birchak is a warrior. He may have lost two of his three UFC bouts, but the losses came via heel hook to heel hook specialist Ian Entwistle, and then via ko against star phenom Thomas Almeida. Birchak has finished 10 of his 12 victories, and is a guarantee to put on a show whenever he’s fighting.
Lopes is no joke though. He’s submitted 12 foes, knocked out an additional four, and is looking for his first UFC victory. Has he not been fighting Birchak, I probably would’ve picked him. I’ll go with Birchak, but a Lopes win definitely won’t surprise me. It should be an exceppent fight regardless of who wins. Prediction: Birchak via tko, round 3.
John Makdessi (13-5) vs. Mehdi Baghdad (11-4)
I hate this fight. I’m a fan of both fighters, and a loss for either one could result in a release. Makdessi has nine knockout wins, but has lost three of four. Baghdad made me a fan due to his RFA fights in 2014, but lost his TUF fight last season, and his UFC debut in January via submission. I have to pick Makdessi, since a Baghdad loss doesn’t guarantee a release. I just hope it’s an epic fight. Prediction: Makdessi via thrilling decision.
Mike Pyle (27-11-1) vs. Alberto Mina (12-0)
It’s hard not love Mike Pyle. The man was a coach for Forrest Griffin. He’s 40, and rocks a mullet. He also pulls off inspirational victories from out of nowhere. Of his 27 wins, 23 are finishes, 16 of which have come via submission. He’s also been finished nine times. In other words, he’s a fighter who always brings it, win or lose. When he wins, he tends to take damage early, before coming away eith an epic comeback finish in the final round.
That said, Mina is no joke. He’s an undefeated third degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, with 11 finishes in his 12 fights. But, he barely best Yoshihiro Akiyama last November, so he’s far from invincible. The logical pick would be Mina. But, Mike Pyle takes your logic, and spits it back in your face by winning fights in epic comeback fashion. All I know is that however long it lasts, this fight will be a great one. Head pick: Mina via finish, round 1. Heart pick: Pyle via epic comeback submission, late round 3.