UFC 212: Aldo vs. Holloway prelim card preview and predictions

Starting with last Sunday’s UFC Stockholm card, the UFC began its busy Summer. Between then and August 5th, the UFC will hold a total of 11 cards, with zero weeks off. This is just the second of those cards, and to be honest, it’s actually pretty fun on paper. It’s not a huge card, but it should be fun.

The same goes for the prelims. As is often the case with prelim cards, this one is chock full of prospects and veterans, including the debut of one of the most decorated fighters not previously in the UFC. Most of these matchups are fun on paper, and hopefully, they will deliver. Without further ado, here are my predictions for all seven of the preliminary bouts on deck for Saturday night in Brazil.

 

Fight Pass Prelims (6:30/5:30c, UFC Fight Pass)

Deveison Figueiredo (11-0) vs. Marco Beltran (8-4)

As is often the case with prelim bouts, this is a bout between a veteran and a prospect. It’s kind of  a shame that this fight is opening the Fight Pass card. That’s because it deserves better. Figueiredo is a legitimate prospect, with an unbeaten record and 10 of his 11 wins coming via stoppage. He has five knockout and submission wins apiece, including eight in the first round. Betran was a semifinalist in the first season of TUF: Latin America, and won his first three UFC bouts before losing to Joe Soto via heel hook last November. This is his first fight since, and while a loss won’t get him cut, it will put him in trouble. Add in the fact that he’s been finished four times in 12 career fights, including three times via submission? I have to go with conventional wisdom with this one. Prediction: Figueiredo via submission, round 1. 

 

Luan Chagas (14-2-1) vs. Jim Wallhead (29-10)

I low key love this next bout. It features a pair of veterans from opposite sides of the Atlantic, both of whom have gone severely under the radar since coming to the UFC.

Luan Chagas is one of those fighters who was great before coming to the UFC, didn’t get marketed as well as he should’ve, and since coming to the promotion last May, is 0-1-1. He entered the UFC with a 14-1 record, with all 15 fights ending via stoppage. His lone loss had come via second round submission in April 2013, and of his 14 wins, eight had come via submission, while six had come via knockout. Of those 14 finishes, 11 had come in the first round. And now, he’s a loss or two away from getting cut. Bottom line, he needs the win.

As for Wallhead, the 33-year-old Judo black belt is partaking in his 40th professional MMA fight. He’s fought throughout the UK, and in notable promotions such as BAMMA, Cage Warriors, and even Bellator and KSW. He’s fought and defeated a bevy of MMA veterans, including former UFC fighters. He finally got called up by the UFC last September, losing an ultra close split decision to Jessyn Arari. He’s finished 21 fights in his career, including eleven via knockout and ten via submission, and has had a very decorated career by journeyman standards.

No matter who loses, I will be sad. I openly root for both guys, and both need the win. Neither will necessarily be cut with a loss, but still, seeing either one lose would hurt. I’ll pick Chagas, but honestly, absolutely no result will surprise me in this one. Prediction: Chagas via split decision. 

Viviane Pereira (12-0)  vs. Jamie Moyle (4-1)

In the headlining Fight Pass bout, unbeaten female Brazilian prospect Viviane Pereira will look to go 2-0 in the UFC, when she faces TUF 23 contestant Jamie Moyle. Moyle is good, went 5-2 in three years as an amateur, is 1-0 in the UFC like Pereira, has gone the distance in four of five professional bouts, and wants to prove she’s got potential to hang with some of the best the UFC’s Strawweight division has to offer.

Then there’s Pereira. While half of her wins, including four of her last five have come via decision, “Sacuri” is very gritty. That was well evidenced in her UFC debut last December, when she won a controversial split decision against recently departed Valerie Letourneau. Moyle isn’t a step up by any means, but this is still a “prove it” fight for Pereira, as it is for Moyle. I’ll pick Pereira, but this won’t be an easy fight for either woman. A finish for Pereira won’t shock me, but I have to go with Pereira in this one. Prediction: Pereira via decision. 

 

Televised Prelims (8/7c, FS1)

Brian Kelleher (16-7) vs. (13) Iuri Alcantara (35-7, 1 NC)

Originally, this was a Brazil vs. Brazil bout between Alcantara and longtime veteran Felipe Arantes. However, with Arantes getting hurt and bowing out of the bout, Kelleher stepped in and will make his UFC debut against a very tough opponent. A veteran in the Northeastern United States for promotions such as CES and Ring of Combat, Kelleher rebounded from a 1-3 stretch to win his last six fights to date. He has finished 13 of his 16 victories, including seven via submission, and is always game.

That said, Kelleher has also been submitted four times. Against a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt like Alcantara, that spells bad news. Alcantara has submitted 14 opponents, and also knocked out 14 additional victims. A pro since 2003, the former Jungle Fight Lightweight champion has gone 9-4 with a no contest in the UFC since debuting in August 2011. He has never once had a losing streak, has only been finished twice in 43 career fights, and the only time he got legitimately finished was in October 2009. If Kelleher will beat him, it will have to come via decision. While that is possible, as well as the fact that Alcantara is inconsistent, turning 37 in August and didn’t look good at all against Luke Sanders before pulling off a submission from out of nowhere, I’ll still have to go with Alcantara. Kelleher has a chance, but Alcantara should get the finish. Prediction: Alcantara via submission, round 1 or 2. 

(10) Johnny Eduardo (28-10) vs.  Matthew Lopez (9-1)

The next bout is tough to call, especially since Lopez is no joke. He’s a very good grappler, has finished seven of his nine wins including four via submission, and all seven of his finishes have come in the first round, including a few in the first two minutes. His grappling skill was fully on display in his UFC debut last July against Rani Yahya. Expected by many to get chewed up and spit out, Lopez proved he was game, as he and Yahya engaged in an epic grapplefest in which he nearly pulled off some successful submission attempts. He ultimately got submitted with 41 seconds to go in the bout, but earned the respect of fans with his performance. Since then, he’s gotten his first UFC victory, decisioning Mitch Gagnon in December. With a win  against a top ten Bantamweight in Eduardo, Lopez can earn a spot in the rankings as a result.

Trying to keep Lopez out of the rankings is tenth-ranked Bantamweight Johnny Eduardo who, honestly, most people probably have no idea is ranked. The only year in which he’s fought more than once since 2009 was in 2014, when he fought twice. He’s been in the UFC since August 2011, but this is only his sixth fight with the promotion. He’s 3-2 in the UFC, and the only ranked person he’s finished  is Eddie Wineland-three years ago. Don’t get me wrong, he’s very good. He’s finished 21 fights, including 13 via submission, and has a decent enough gas tank most of the time. He’s also had trouble with grapplers, getting submitted eight times. He’s also relatively inactive, turning 37 in August just a day before Iuri Alcantara, and has 38 fights already. This fight feels like one where he’ll likely get outgrappled and either get submitted or decisioned. I’ll go for the upset on this one. Prediction: Lopez via decision or late submission.

Antonio Carlos Junior (7-2, 1 NC) vs. Eric Spicely  (11-1)

A pair of TUF veterans take the stage next. Carlos Junior was the TUF: Brazil 3 Heavyweight winner, and like most competitors, dropped multiple weight classes thereafter. He’s 4-2 with a no contest in the UFC, has won two straight, and a win in this bout could potentially lead to a ranked opponent sooner rather than later.

Spicely will pose as a very tough threat though. The TUF 23 semifinalist came into the UFC with a 9-0 record. He lost his debut against fellow TUF alum Sam Alvey, but has won two straight since, both via first round submission. He’s finished nine of his 11 wins, eight in the first round, and seven via submission. He’s very dangerous, and while Carlos Junior has a good shot here, I think he’ll get caught and finished by Spicely. Prediction: Spicely via submission, round 2. 

(3) Raphael Assuncao (24-5) vs. Marlon Moraes (18-4-1)

In the headlining prelim bout of the evening, we have a must see bout. Moraes is one of the best prospects to not fight in the UFC until now, and was the WSOF champion since March 2014. He’s won 13 straight fights, eight of them via finish including four straight, has a black praijed in Muai Thai, 13 finished victories including six via knockout, and a very good gas tank. Make no mistake about it, he’s worthy of fighting the best in the division, which is why he’s being thrown to the wolves right from the start.

In this case, that wolf is Raphael Assuncao. A black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the UFC/WEC staple has been a contender ever since coming to the WEC in 2009. He came into that promotion with a 13-1 record, and after going 3-2 there, he came to the UFC. Since coming to the promotion, he’s gone 8-2. Granted, 11 of his 15 fights in the WEC and UFC have gone the distance, but he does have 10 submission wins.

That said, this bout feels guaranteed to go the distance. Both men can finish, but Assuncao has a great chin and grappling defense, while Moraes hasn’t lost since November 2011. If Moraes wins, it’ll likely be by finish, but you never know. I see this one going the distance, and the result being a coin flip. It most likely won’t be a very exciting fight, but for hardcore fans, this is must-see stuff for sure. Prediction: Assuncao via razor-thin split decision. 

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