There’s 2 UFC cards and a nice Bellator card on deck for tonight, and the prelim slate for this card is far from decent. The main card is solid though, and here are my picks for tonight’s set.
Main card (9/8c, FS1)
Sergio Moraes (10-2) vs. Zak Ottow (14-3)
The main card kicks off with a matchup between a pair of submission specialists. Moraes has seven such wins, a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and is 4-0-1 since losing his UFC debut back in mid 2012. Ottow has 10 submission wins though, so he’s no joke. That said, I feel like Moraes is better on the ground, and will pull off a sub win. Prediction: Moraes via submission, round 2.
Warlley Alves (10-1) vs. Kamaru Usman (8-1)
A pair of TUF winners will take the stagw nexr. Alves is a stud who won the TUF: Brazil 3 Middleweight Tournament, has six submission wins, and is looking to turn the tide after suffering his first ever loss at UFC 198 in May. Usman won TUF 22, has a 3-0 UFC record, and five knockout wins. This fight is a tossup, but my gut tells me that Alves will pull off a submission in the 3rd. Prediction: Alves via submission, round 3.
Thales Leites (26-6) vs. Kryzysztof Jyotko (18-1)
Jyotko is a decision machine, while Leites is a former title challenger who’s 6-2 inside the octagon since returning to the UFC, with four straight finishes as wins. He’s got 19 wins to his credit, with 15 submissions, and while this could he a boring fight, I’ll just pick a third straight fight to end via submission. Prediction: Leites via submission, round 2.
Claudia Gadelha (13-2) vs. Cortney Casey (6-3)
The night’s lone women’s matchup features the best non-champion in the division in Claudia Gadelha. Gadelha has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, six submission wins, five decision wins and a pair of knockouts to her credit. The only person she’s ever lost to is current champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk – first in 2014, and then in her last fight, the title bout in July. Without a doubt, she’s the best in the division after the champion.
That said, Casey is a killer. All six of her wins have come via first round finish. That said, she’s never faced someone of Gadelha’s level, and has lost twice via decision. Either Gadelha dominates for 15 minutes, or gets a submission win. I like Casey a lot, but I don’t see her winning. Prediction: Gadelha via decision.
Thomas Almeida (21-1)vs. Albert Morales (6-0-1)
Albert Morales is solid, but this is a showcase fight for Almeida. Almeida has 16 knockout and three submission wins, and is looking for a rebound after suffering his first loss back in May. Morales will be tough, but if Almeida doesn’t win by the 2nd, I’ll be shocked. Prediction: Almeida via tko, round 2.
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (22-7) vs. Ryan Bader (21-5)
In the main event of the evening, we get a rematch several years in the making. Bader is 14-5 inside the octagon, always near title contention, and has won six of his last seven bouts. Ten of the high-level wrestler’s wins have come via decision, and he also has seven knockout and four submission wins.
His opponent, best known as “Lil Nog,” is 5-4 inside the octagon, a great boxer, and a third degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Bader may have beaten him via decision years ago, and should win tonight. All signs point to it. However, I’ll go with my heart and say that he’ll find a way to pull off a knockout win. Prediction: Nogueira via knockout, round 3.