Deiveson “Deus Da Guerra/Daico” Alcantara (11-0) vs Marco “Psycho” Beltran
Daico may not be a name that jumps off the page but with a undefeated record it’s easy to see a lot of upside for the Brazilian. You probably might recognize one of his recent KO’s which made the rounds on twitter in the holy GIF form which showcased Daico backfisting his opponent into oblivion. Daico like most Brazilians making their debuts in the UFC is a savvy grappler when it hits the canvas and a wild striker on the feet. It should be noted that Daico is a flyweight moving up to bantamweight* for this fight against a fighter in Beltran who showed up to his last 135 pound fight a full five pounds overweight. Beltran is a good striker and uses his *cough* size *cough* well to make the best of his striking but his takedown defense is not stellar and in his last fight his ground game was exposed. In an attempt to take the back Beltran found himself getting heel hooked by a superior grappler. Beltran carries himself with confidence on the ground and in scrambles but doesn’t have the technique to back it up. All of this considered I feel Daico has the easiest path to victory with Beltran’s suspect takedown defense/ground game. Beltran will have the size and striking advantage but I just can’t see him working a jab and staying consistent especially if Daico is drawing him into wild exchanges.
- Daico via Submission
* Correction this fight will be contested at 125 pounds how Beltran could make it down to 125 and not 135 in his last fight is beyond me.
Luan “Tarzan” Chagas (14-2) vs “Judo” Jim Wallhead (29-10)
In his last fight Chagas hurt Erick Silva on a number of occasions but in the waning minute of the fight with little juice left he dove on a takedown only to have his back taken and the choke sunk in. Chagas gave Silva his first win in the UFC outside of the first round but the 23 year old showed a lot of promise in the fight. Chagas being a natural southpaw can also switch stance and surprized the blindingly fast Silva with his hands on multiple occasions this probably being a product of his black belt in Karate. Not to mention his record is littered with submission victories owing to his other black belt in BJJ. It should be noted he fought to a draw with Sergio “BORINGEST FIGHTER EVER” Moraes in his debut and honestly I thought he took the decision but Moraes has a way of making fights slow and weird. The take away from the contest was Chagas takedown defense looked on point compared to what I saw from the little regional footage I could find of him. If Chagas is a young prospect then Wallhead is definitely the savvy veteran who has fought big names like Dennis Siver and Frank Trigg outside of the UFC. In his UFC debut Wallhead dropped a split decision to Jessin Ayari, who was destroyed by Darren Till last weekend, by being a little to willing to walk forward into strikes waiting to counter. The problem with this gameplan is that I saw little to no head movement from Wallhead though he does have some decent footwork and overall movement. As the “veteran” I should note how easily Wallhead became frustrated with Ayari when he would strike and move, strike and move. Wallhead does keep his guard up though in almost all the exchanges in the fight his hands were always in a great defensive position taking most of the sting off Ayari’s punches and kicks. I should note Wallheads nickname is legit he has a great judo game to fall back on but has relied on his growing striking game to carry him in recent fights. All things considered though Wallhead made it to the big show a little too late and Chagas got there a little too early.
- Chagas via KO
Viviane “Sucuri” Pereira (12-0) vs Jamie Moyle (4-1)
Pereira made her UFC debut against Valerie Letourneau in a fairly unimpressive showing though she picked up the split decision win. How I made it through watching that fight over again is beyond me but in the fight Letourneau dwarfed Pereira, aided by the fact that Letourneau blew weight for the contest, which caused Pereira serious trouble in landing her power strikes. Pereira’s style is similar to that of Jessica Andrade who just fought for the 115 belt recently. Pereira throws wide looping shot and packs some serious power in them once she has crashed the distance landing strikes she will look for double underhooks and drive for a takedown. On the ground Pereira has good hips from both bottom and top control but her top game isn’t as developed as one would hope for a UFC fighter. But at only 23 years of age Pereira should be improving consistently between fights and I hope to see less striking into clinches in this fight especially after rocking her opponents. Her clinches may end up putting her into a Mirsad Bektic vs Darren Elkins situation where all Bektic needed to do was keep it standing to win but instead forced grappling exchanges that cost him the fight. Moyle on the other hand is grinder with a clear wrestling base who likes to have gritty fights wherein she can break down her opponent over three rounds with her pace. In her UFC debut Moyle did just this to Kailin Curran who thought she was in the fight the whole time and because it was such a back and forth scrap not realizing she was playing right into Moyles game. Moyle is a willing striker but her best work is done in the clinch where she lands good knees and dirty boxing she also has great head pressure. In open space she has a number of entries into takedowns, usually double underhooks, and it is these takedowns that ultimately make her hands better as her opponent has to focus more on stopping the takedown. Moyle isn’t a defensive wizard but her pace and volume really makes up for her lack of a great guard or head movement. This all leads to an interesting match-up I see Pereira landing the bigger shots standing but she’ll be punching directly into Moyle’s strengths.
- Moyle via Decision
Iuri “Marajo” Alcantara (34-7) vs Brian “Boom” Kelleher (16-7)
Alcantara is a incredibly offensive fighter with numerous dynamic finishes that make me scream like a little girl. On the feet Alcantara is a crafty southpaw with a insane number of strikes in his repertoire just look at the spinning back elbow that dropped Brad Pickett. Honestly the Pickett fight is Alcantara at his best dropping his opponent with a crazy strike only to finish the fight with his most dangerous skillset his submission game. I should note I wouldn’t say that Alcantara has a great grappling game but he is a serious submission threat in all phases of a fight. Ask Luke Sanders who in Alcantara’s last fight landed about 80 unanswered strikes in a ride position. Cut to the second round and they end up in the same position after Alcantara was rocked on the feet. Sanders begins to land the same devastating strikes as the previous round when out of nowhere a bloody and beaten Alcantara rolls for a kneebar securing the tap and the comeback win. The problem with Alcantara’s game is his stamina not that he has especially bad cardio but Alcantara is so aggressive in round one it’s hard for him to maintain his pace into the later rounds. Alcantara is a huge bantamweight as well and has to be cutting a serious amount of weight to be making the 135 pound limit. Alcantara is a textbook of the type of fighter who is either fighting like a wild man or drained from doing just that. It’s like breaking down two fighters in a sense cause round one Alcantara is a easy pick but a round three Alcantara leaves a lot to be desired. I had some trouble finding much footage on Kelleher who is making his UFC debut riding a six fight win streak with four finishes. Three of those finishes are guillotine chokes so I supposed you have to watch out for that as it has to be one of his main weapons. In the little footage I saw of Kelleher he looked to be a fairly powerful striker on the feet and has a decent takedown game. It’s hard for me to see Alcantara losing this fight as Kelleher seems to be willing to exchange with the aggressive Brazilian early. I’m not saying Kelleher can’t drag this fight out and finish Alcantara late but I see Alcantara’s submissions as his means to victory.
- Alcantara via Submission
Johnny “Pretinho” Eduardo (28-10) vs Matthew Lopez (9-1)
Johnny Eduardo’s game is summed up by the tattoo across his stomach “Muay Thai” as he’ll be out there trying to take both your legs and your head off with power strikes. Eduardo is a training partner of Jose Aldo who will be fighting in the main and this leads me to believe that he must have had a great camp for this fight as he would have been sparring and training with a peaking Aldo. Eduardo’s striking is dynamic and powerful but his defense is a little rigid as his heavy kicks usually leave his head unprotected on the centerline. His true weakness though is his ground game but thankfully he has great takedown defense to make up for the deficiencies he has on the ground. I should say that it took Aljamain Sterling, a incredible wrestler and grappler, to actually get Eduardo down and submit him. Eduardo’s career has been plagued by long bouts of inactivity with his career starting in 1996. He has gone years between fights and I’m glad to see him be more consistent with his career. With that said Eduardo is not the freshest fighter out there and could be well past his prime. Lopez on the other hand is young in the fight game with a decorated college wrestling career this is not to say he is a unwilling striker as he throws solid, though wild, combinations from a southpaw stance. It was one of these wild combinations that lead his face directly into a Mitch Gagnon hook that dropped him in his last fight. Lopez was able to survive and use his superior grappling and it is in those ground exchanges you can see how talented Lopez is. Lopez’s speed will probably play a factor into this as not only does he like to keep a crazy frenetic pace but he his very quick in both striking and grappling. Overall this is an interesting matchup with both fighters playing towards the other’s weakness.
- Matthew Lopez via Submission
Eric “Zebrinha” Spicely (10-1) vs Antonio “Cara de Sapato” Carlos Jr.
I should preface this fight pick by saying Eric Spicely is one of my boys his aggressive and creative grappling is a sight to behold for a MMA nerd like myself. Spicely is light on his feet and moves around the cage well almost like a poor man’s middleweight Dom Cruz. His movement forces his opponents to move forward and gives Spicely easier access to their hips. Spicely knows the ground is his path to victory so he isn’t afraid to just pull guard attack from his back until he can get into a dominate position. In his last fight against Alessio Di Chirico this is exactly how Spicely picked the win . After unsuccessfully taking Chirico down he was able throw up a triangle and elicit the tap fairly easily. There are a few big issues with Spicely’s game though first he’s not the greatest athlete on Earth but this is also probably why he developed so many tools on the ground. Second is his striking and striking defense are not world class like his grappling which can open him up to each shots on the feet. Lastly Spicely’s insistence on getting the fight down borders on desperation at times and repeated shot attempted is what got him caught in a submission against Sam Alvey. Antonio Carlos Junior on the other hand is an actual legit BJJ grappler on the international scene winning a number of tournaments and making a name for himself. If he gets your back it’s a Demian Maia level of control not to mention Junior is a former heavyweight and has a massive size advantage over almost all middleweights. Junior has worked on his striking and it shows in his fights as his technique has gotten better with each fight. Junior is confident in his hands and has great kicks that utilize his reach very well. One part of his game is that is lacking is his wrestling as he struggles to get a lot of his fights to the ground where he shines. It should be said about Junior that it seems at times he lacks motivation in his fights especially in his fight against Daniel Kelley who he basically let beat him down the stretch. For me it seems like Junior is working on his MMA game as a whole and unlike Spicely he has sort of lost his fighting style, or his prefered style, under all his training. Junior is getting to the point where he has all the skills and he just needs to figure out how his game works for him. It is this lack of focus that makes me think that Spicely will be able to work his game, gas Junior and find a finish
- Spicely via Submission
Raphael Assuncao (24-5) vs Marlon Moraes (18-4-1)
Lets for once give Assuncao the credit he deserves because he is one of the best fighters on the planet I’m not joking either he is a truly talented fighter. The reason he doesn’t get the credit he deserves is because he is not a dynamic finisher instead his true talents are hidden in his superb defense. Everyone who fights him looks bad it’s just impossible to really get your game going against him. Just think about how dynamic TJ Dillashaw is then watch his two fights with Assuncao. They are razor close and all the things that make TJ exciting are almost completely nullified. In their first contest Assuncao embarrassed TJ’s stance switches by just copying them. It seems like such a simple solution but not all fighters could easily read his opponents switch in the moment and have the confidence to fight in both stances. Assuncao did this flawlessly and with serious craft as his switches are so much more subtle than someone like TJ. The biggest takeaway from Assuncao is his style, defensively minded, leads him to have a large number of decisions coupled with his opponents nullified offense his fights can become slow and you can pretty much count on a split decision. Moraes is making his UFC debut after vacating the World Series of Fighting bantamweight belt and is riding a 13 fight win streak. Moraes destroyed the competition outside the UFC exactly the way you would hope from a prospect with most of his fights being cakewalks and those that went the distance only did so because his opponents reverted into a defensive shell. Moraes can be equated to his main training partner Edson Barbosa who has a similar game Moraes pulls it off so much better. So plan A is to stand a distance and pick you apart with kicks, Moraes has both head and leg kick finishes, plan B kicks, pardon the pun, into action once his opponent has enough of the kicks and tries to crash the distance with punches. Moraes will wait on his opponent to throw hands moving his head and counting with accurate and powerful shots. After eating a couple of those shots generally his opponents just end up staying on the outside getting smashed by kicks. Training with the likes of Frankie Edgar has also lead Moraes to have the takedown defense and ground game to maintain his kind of fight. Assuncao is a tough match-up for anyone but for a champion coming into the UFC this is poison as Assuncao could make Moraes look pedestrian to fans that have never had the chance of seeing him fight. Here’s oping Moraes makes a splash in his UFC debut beating of of the best bantamweights the UFC has ever seen.
- Moraes via Decision