Mike Pyle (27-11-1)

Who he should face next: Ben Saunders (19-7-2)

After Mike Pyle’s impressive TKO victory over Sean Spencer at UFC Fight Night 82 it is clear the 40 year old veteran still has some gas left in the tank. Mind you it’s likely a very limited tank at his age.  However he’s still a great measuring stick for up and coming welterweights looking to make a name for themselves in the UFC.

Yet sometimes it’s fun to see veterans of the sport face off against one another, especially when they’ve had long careers without ever crossing paths. That’s why it seems like a matchup with Ben Saunders (19-7-2) could produce some fireworks. Saunders is coming off a TKO loss to Patrick Cote in January so he should be on the same schedule as Pyle.

The matchup would determine whether or not Saunders has what it takes to make an actual title run while it would give Pyle an idea as to whether or not retirement is a viable option.

 

Misha Cirkunov (11-2)

Who he should face next: Francimar Barroso (18-4)

Canadian light heavyweight Misha Cirkunov is riding high on a six fight win streak including two victories in the UFC. After making a mess of Alex Nicholson’s jaw at UFC Fight Night 82 he should be in for a step up in competition next time out.

Cirkunov’s most recent win should have put him close to the top 20 in the division so another top 20 opponent would be ideal. The only issue is that there are very few top tier light heavyweights that are actually coming off a win in their last fight.  One guy around the top twenty who is currently on a two fight winning streak is 35 year old Brazilian Francimar Barroso (18-4).

Barroso is 3-1 inside the octagon with victories over Ryan Jimmo and Elvis Mutapcic. Both men are finishers with nine of Cirkunov’s wins having been finishes while the same goes for 14 of Barroso’s 18 career wins.  The winner of this bout should be ready for a top ten opponent and the loser would be looking to refocus.

 

Joseph Benavidez (24-4)

Who he should face next: John Dodson (17-7)

When a guy has won 11 of 13fights in the UFC it’s hard to argue against giving him a title shot. Unfortunately when the two losses in that run have come against current UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson a title shot is unlikely.  That is the case right now for Joseph Benavidez who won yet again this past Saturday when he dominated Zach Makovsky for a unanimous decision victory.

I don’t think it’s time just yet for Benavidez to move up to the bantamweight division. However one more victory as a flyweight has got to get him a third crack at “Mighty Mouse”.  Another flyweight looking for a third crack at Johnson is none other than John Dodson (17-7).  He lost his last fight, to Johnson, but before that he had won three straight against legitimate flyweight contenders.

The winner of this fight would get the ever illusive third title shot while the loser would likely be forced to move up a weight class.

 

Ovince Saint Preux (19-7)

Who he should face next: Short Notice Opponent or Quinton Jackson

In the past Ovince Saint Preux has stumbled against opponents in the top five of his division, but after another solid dominating win at UFC Fight Night 82, it looks like Saint Preux should get another chance to prove himself against the best of the best.

Saint Preux’s biggest problem is that all of the guys he could face he’s either lost to or they are already scheduled to fight. That’s why it might be in his best interest to wait by the phone for an injury replacement opportunity.  But, if he isn’t interested in taking a replacement fight he could ask for a fight with veteran light heavyweight Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (36-11).

It’s unclear whether the 37 year old Jackson will fight again inside the octagon. It’s been close to a year since he returned to the organization.  If he does return he’d be the perfect name for Ovince Saint Preux’s impressive resume.

 

Roy Nelson (21-12)

Who he should face next: Derrick Lewis (14-4)

Roy “Big Country” Nelson was in desperate need of a win when he met Jared Rosholt at UFC Fight Night 82. Although it wasn’t one of his classic knockout victories it was a unanimous decision win against a young and tough wrestler.

Assuming he’s not going to hang his gloves up before he fights again, the UFC would be wise to put Nelson in a potentially fun fight. There is no reason to put him in a title eliminator or anything like that at this point in his career, so a fight that has the potential for entertainment is the way to go.

Although he’s on the rise, fellow heavyweight Derrick Lewis (14-4) is nowhere near ready to fight for a UFC title. But, he does pack an explosive punch and most likely he wouldn’t be afraid to stand in the pocket and trade with Nelson.  Plus, a win for Lewis would be a huge accomplishment and a win for Nelson would be a feather in his cap to say he took out an up and comer at his age.

 

Stephen Thompson (12-1)

Who he should face next: UFC Welterweight Champion Robbie Lawler (27-10)

There is no doubt that after taking out Johny Hendricks at UFC Fight Night 82 Stephen “Wonderboy” Thomspon is ready for superstardom. Seeing as Hendricks probably would have received a trilogy bout with current champ Robbie Lawler had he won, it’s only fair that Thompson get the same reward.

Thompson looked fantastic on his way to a dominating first round TKO of the former champ and other than a stumble against Matt Brown he’s been flawless in his pro MMA career. A bout with Lawler might play out the similar to the one with Hendricks, and it’d be interesting to see how a true veteran like “Ruthless” would handle the unpredictable karate style of Stephen Thompson.

 

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans Editor/Writer

Heading into UFC Fight Night 82 most people were picking Johny “Bigg Rigg” Hendricks (17-4) to beat Stephen “Wonderboy” Thomspon (12-1). With a win Hendricks would have kept his hopes of a title shot alive.  Well apparently Thompson didn’t get the memo and had plans of his own on Saturday night.

Thompson came out and almost immediately looked to establish distance by using his karate style kicking game. It definitely worked because after the very first kick landed it was obvious Johny Hendricks didn’t have an answer.

Hendricks was able to close the distance once but it resulted in an unsuccessful takedown attempt. That seemed to take all the confidence right out of “Bigg Rigg” and it was the beginning of the end.  Thompson set the tone with kicks and then landed some really nice combinations with his hands that kept Hendricks constantly guessing as to what was coming next.

There was less than two minutes left on the clock in the first round when Thompson landed a spinning back kick to the body of Hendricks while he was against the cage and that was all it took. “Wonderboy” landed a few more punches before the referee was forced to jump in and stop the fight.

Although Hendricks is the former UFC champion it was Thompson who looked like a champion at UFC Fight Night 82. Once Thompson smelled blood he never took his foot off the gas.  It remains to be seen as to how Thompson will handle an opponent who can get him to the ground.  But until then it’s tough to argue that with a six fight winning streak in one of the UFC’s toughest divisions Stephen Thompson isn’t deserving of a title shot, or at the very least a number one contender fight with fellow welterweight Tyron Woodley(15-3).

For more coverage of UFC Fight Night 82 keep checking back with profightingfans.com.

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans Editor/Writer

 

 

The return of BS Predictions for last week’s UFC Fight Night 81 was a major disappointment. We went 1-3, only predicting the main event correctly.  Thankfully the UFC’s busy schedule gives us the opportunity for redemption only a week later, plus there are 6 fights on the main card!  So let’s see if we can get it right this time around.

Mike Pyle (26-11) vs. Sean Spencer (12-4)

If we are only looking at the experience factor Mike Pyle should win this fight. However, the outcome of this fight will have a lot more to do with skills than it will experience.

Sean Spencer will be entering the Octagon for the first time in over a year. He has alternated wins and losses in his last four fights.  He lost to Cathal Pendred and Alex Garcia while the wins came against Drew Dober and Paulo Thiago.  The victory over Thiago is probably the biggest win of his career.

Mike Pyle on the other hand has lost three of four coming into Saturday night. But, he’s definitely faced the tougher competition over the years.  He holds UFC wins over Ricardo Almeida and Rick Story.  He also had an early career win over former welterweight title challenger Jon Fitch.

Pyle is too crafty, both on his feet and on the ground for Spencer. He could win this one either way.  I’m thinking he’ll win by submission off his back in the 2nd round.

Prediction: Mike Pyle via submission round two

 

Misha Cirkunov (10-2) vs. Alex Nicholson (6-1)

I have a soft spot for Canadians, I am one. Naturally I think Canadian light heavyweight Misha Cirkunov is going to win on Saturday night.  He’s facing UFC newcomer Alex Nicholson who stole the show at Friday’s weigh-ins when he proposed to his girlfriend on stage.

That may be the only highlight of Nicholson’s weekend in Vegas. Cirkunov is coming off a first round knockout of Daniel Jolly at UFC Fight Night 74 last August.  In fact, Cirkunov is on a five fight win streak with all of the wins coming by way of stoppage.

Five of Alex Nicholson’s six career wins have been TKO’s so he does have a puncher’s chance. Unfortunately that won’t matter much when he’s the one getting punched.

Prediction: Misha Cirkunov via TKO round one

 

Joseph Benavidez (23-4) vs. Zach Makovsky (19-6)

The only times Joseph Benavidez has lost inside the UFC octagon have been when he’s faced current flyweight champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson.

Sure Zach Makovsky is a former Bellator bantamweight and RFA flyweight champ but none of that will matter come Saturday night.

Joseph Benavidez will get the submission victory and might even make it look easy. This will once again prove that he’s the second best flyweight in the world.

Prediction: Joseph Benavidez via submission round one

 

Rafael Cavalcante (12-4) vs. Ovince Saint Preux (18-7)

Cavalcante has lost two straight fights and those losses came against solid competition in Patrick Cummins and Ryan Bader. Ovince Saint Preux lost his last fight to Glover Teixeira but before that he had won two straight against Mauricio Rua and Patrick Cummins.

This should be an exciting matchup that is likely to take place standing up. As of late “OSP” has shown some devastating knockout power against some of the best light heavyweights in the world.

However, I think this one will be a back and forth battle and goes the distance with Saint Preux getting a unanimous decision victory. He should be ready for another step up in competition the next time he fights inside the octagon.

Prediction: Ovince Saint Preux via unanimous decision

 

Roy Nelson (20-12) vs. Jared Rosholt (14-2)

Both of Jared Rosholt’s career losses have come by way of TKO. Therefore, I’m not going to waste much time predicting his co-main event matchup against Roy “Big Country” Nelson.

Roy will come out swinging and land one of his patented bombs, putting the lights out for Jared Rosholt very quickly.

Prediction: Roy Nelson via knockout round one

 

Johny Hendricks vs. Stephen Thompson

Now we are at the main event for UFC Fight Night 82 which pits former welterweight champ Johny Hendricks against up and comer Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.

On paper this is a very intriguing stylistic matchup. You have the raw power and world class wrestling of Johny Hendricks against the unpredictable karate style of Stephen Thompson.

If you take a closer look what you have here is a former UFC champion taking on a guy who might be a little in over his head. Yes Thompson has a win over Jake Ellenberger, but at this point a win over Ellenberger doesn’t mean as much as it used to.

Hendricks might have trouble finding his range on the feet, seeing as Thompson’s standup style is so unique. That’s why we’ll see Hendricks go back to his wrestling roots Saturday night and get a ground and pound TKO win.

Prediction: Johny Hendricks via TKO round two

 

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans Editor/Writer

 

 

Despite having only fought twice in the welterweight division, it’s the 170lb title that Benson Henderson will be challenging for when he makes his Bellator debut on April 22nd at Bellator 153.  When Henderson announced he had signed with Bellator many expected he would get an immediate title shot, it was just a matter of what division he would be fighting in.  Now we know its Andrey Koreshkov’s welterweight title that will be on the line.

Henderson joins Bellator riding high on a two fight winning streak. He defeated Jorge Masvidal and Brandon Thatch in his last two fights as a member of the UFC.  Before that he was on the first two fight losing streak of his career.  He dropped a decision to Donald Cerrone at UFC Fight Night 59 and was knocked out by current UFC lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos at UFC Fight Night 49 in August of 2014.  On April 22nd Henderson will look to add another title to his resume as he is a former WEC and UFC lightweight champion.

Bellator welterweight champ Andrey Koreshkov won the vacant title at Bellator 140 when he took a unanimous decision from Douglas Lima. It was the second time he’d fought for the Bellator welterweight title.  He lost a decision to former champ Ben Askren in 2013.  Koreshkov is also the Bellator Season 10 Welterweight winner.  The champ only fought once in 2015, the title fight against Lima, and will have a tough task in front of him upon his return to the cage.

Bellator 153 is scheduled to take place April 22nd, 2016 at The Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut and will air live on Spike TV.  Other matchups for the card are expected to be announced in the coming days.  Keep checking back with Pro Fighting Fans for more coverage on all things MMA.

 

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans Editor/Writer

Well, it is official that Scott Coker and Bellator are in the hunt for free agents! Not just washed up veterans either, we’re talking still relevant contenders.  That became quite clear when Benson Henderson announced yesterday that he has signed with the Viacom owned company.

This is Bellator’s first major free agent signing since the UFC teamed up with Reebok in 2015, a move that took a lot of money out of the pockets of fighters in regards to sponsorships. Bellator doesn’t have any such partnership and fighters are free to have their own sponsors.  It wouldn’t be shocking if other fighters start following Benson’s footsteps.

Money may have something to do with Henderson’s decision, but the fact that he could be a major focal point for Bellator’s 155lb and 170lb divisions is just as big of a deal. It is quite possible that within the next year “Smooth” could hold either one of those titles and be on his way to a long and illustrious reign as champion.

The former UFC lightweight champion has two straight victories over Brandon Thatch and Jorge Masvidal. Both were at welterweight and both were short notice matchups.  It was the perfect way for Henderson to end his UFC contract, riding high on a winning streak never hurts contract negotiations.

An opponent for Benson Henderson’s Bellator debut has yet to be announced, but expect it to be a high profile fight. For more updates on this situation and all things MMA keep checking back with profightingfans.com.

 

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans Editor/Writer

After every UFC event we here at Pro Fighting Fans love to play matchmaker. In this column we’ll tell you who we think the winners and losers of each fight should face next.  So check back with Pro Fighting Fans after a UFC event to see what we think the next step is.

Sage Northcutt

Who he should fight next: Scott Holtzman

The UFC put a lot of effort into promoting 19 year old Sage Northcutt (7-1). Then he met Bryan Barberena at UFC on FOX 18 and suffered his first professional loss. Not only did he lose, he was also roasted on social media by fellow fighters, especially for the “quick tap” nature of the loss.

It was Northcutt’s third fight in as many months so he should take some time off. When he comes back it should be against a beatable opponent who still presents challenges for him. Fellow lightweight Scott “Hot Sauce” Holtzman (8-1) would be a great starting point on the comeback trail for Sage.

Holtzman is also coming off his first professional loss and is looking for a return to the win column. Holtzman and Northcutt have similar experience levels so this would be an even matchup. “Hot Sauce” wouldn’t be an easy fight for Northcutt, but then again in the UFC there are no easy fights. This is a fight that should happen sometime in 2016.

 

Iuri Alcantara

Who he should fight next: Eddie Wineland

Iuri Alcantara (33-7-1NC) has now lost two of his last three fights inside the octagon. Although his loss to Jimmie Rivera earned him “fight of the night” honours, Alcantara knows winning is what matters most at this point in his career. The 35 year old is a tough matchup for anyone. But if he wants to make a final push at a UFC title he’ll have to keep taking on solid opposition.

Eddie Wineland (21-11-1) is on a two fight losing skid and is in desperate need of a victory. He and Alcantara are in similar positions right now. They both need to start winning again as they aren’t getting any younger. Wineland is 3-5 since joining the UFC but just like Alcantara he’s faced some of the best bantamweight fighters in the world.

Even if neither of these gets a title shot in their UFC career this would be a highly entertaining bout. The loser could be in jeopardy of getting his pink slip so the stakes would be high.

 

Josh Barnett

Who he should fight next: Retire or fight Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva

Realistically UFC heavyweight Josh Barnett (34-8) has nothing left to prove in the sport of mixed martial arts. He’s a former UFC heavyweight champion and has fought all over the world for many years. He’s fought a who’s who of heavyweight contenders since turning pro in 1997. It’s incredible to think that before he lost to Ben Rothwell at UFC on FOX 18 he’d never been submitted in his lengthy career.

So if Barnett decided to retire no one would hold it against him. However, he’s a fierce competitor and going out on a loss may not sit well with “The Warmaster”. If he must fight again “Bigfoot” Silva (19-8) would be an excellent foe. He’s also on the tail end of his fighting career but wanting to stay relevant in a thin heavyweight division. This would be the perfect main event for a UFC event overseas in Asia and a nice curtain call for the 38 year old Josh Barnett.

 

Ryan Bader

Who he should fight next: Alexander Gustafsson

Just because Anthony Johnson made quick work of Ryan Bader (20-5) at UFC on FOX 18 doesn’t mean Bader isn’t a top ten light heavyweight. The problem for Bader is that he’s already fought most of the guys in the top ten. But one guy he hasn’t faced is two time title challenger Alexander Gustafsson (16-4).

Gustafsson has lost two straight fights but those losses were to Anthony Johnson and Daniel Cormier. In the fight with Cormier, Gustafsson once again rose to the occasion in a title fight and took the champ to his limits. A win over a guy like Gustafsson would be absolutely huge for Ryan Bader and would put him right back into the title picture at 205lbs.

Neither guy is currently booked for a fight so a late spring, early summer matchup would be perfect for these two light heavyweights. It would be one of the biggest fights in the division for 2016 and one that fans would love to see.

 

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans Editor/Writer

After every UFC event we here at Pro Fighting Fans love to play matchmaker. In this column we’ll tell you who we think the winners and losers of each fight should face next.  So check back with Pro Fighting Fans after a UFC event to see what we think the next step is.

 

Bryan Barberena (11-3)

Who he should face next: Drew Dober (16-7-1NC)

Bryan Barberena brought the Sage Northcutt hype train to a screeching halt with a second round submission victory over the 19 year old prodigy. He took the fight on short notice so he was doing the UFC a favour.  Hopefully the UFC will return the favour and give him a solid challenge in his next fight.

Fellow lightweight fighter Drew Dober would be a great matchup for Barberena the next time he steps inside the octagon. Dober is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Scott Holtzman earlier this month at UFC 195.  In his UFC career Dober owns a win over former WEC lightweight champion Jamie Varner.

Bryan Barberena may have stopped Sage Northcutt, but if we’re being realistic he still has a lot of room for improvement. There is no reason for the UFC to rush him along and Dober is a perfect step up in competition for Barberena

 

Jimmie Rivera (19-1)

Who he should face next: Thomas Almeida (20-0)

Jimmie Rivera faced the biggest challenge of his career at UFC on FOX 18 when he took on Brazilian Iuri Alcantara. Rivera came away with a well-earned decision victory despite being knocked down.  He had some key takedowns that were likely the difference in the minds of the judges.

Rivera is on a eighteen fight win streak and should be on the cusp of breaking into the top ten of the UFC’s bantamweight division. Therefore he deserves a top ten opponent and Thomas Almeida is another rising superstar who’s looking to prove he’s ready for the big time.  Almeida has a perfect 21-0 record and has started his UFC career with four straight victories, including a knockout victory over veteran Brad Pickett in his last fight.

The outcome of this fight would determine which man is ready for the biggest fight of his career. There is no doubt it would be an entertaining scrap and would be the perfect co- main event for a Fight Night card.

 

Ben Rothwell (36-9)

Who he should face next: Cain Velasquez (13-2)

Unfortunately for Ben Rothwell the UFC’s heavyweight division is falling apart and it’s unclear what his submission win over Josh Barnett actually means. It’s one of the biggest wins of Rothwell’s career and with three straight stoppage victories he should be put into a title eliminator the next time we see him in the octagon.

Cain Velasquez lost his heavyweight title to Fabricio Werdum then dropped out of the rematch due to injury. Velasquez was dominated in the first fight and many fans were disappointed that he was getting an immediate rematch.

So why not have him and Ben Rothwell fight for the right to a title shot? It’s a rematch as well, Velasquez stopped Rothwell with strikes way back in 2009 at UFC 104.  This fight would give us a legitimate number one contender in the heavyweight division.  In the meantime current champ Fabricio Werdum can defend his belt against Stipe Miocic, a more deserving contender than Velasquez at the moment.

 

Anthony Johnson

Who he should face next: Winner of Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier II

If it wasn’t already it official it definitely is now, Anthony Johnson is the scariest knockout artist in the UFC today. He’s so scary Ryan Bader tried to take him down from across the cage in an attempt to avoid getting hit.  It didn’t work out well for Bader and Johnson ended up smashing him until he lost consciousness.

Johnson is only two fights removed from a UFC title shot, but with the win over Bader at UFC on FOX 18 it looks like he is ready for another shot. Yes, he could keep taking fights while he waits for Jones and Cormier to go at. It is just a really big risk.  However, like Daniel Cormier said on Saturday night, if Johnson can make easy money knocking guys out while waiting for a shot he should do it.

We should know soon when Jones and Cormier will fight. No matter what happens Anthony Johnson is the number one contender and deserves to be next.

For more coverage of UFC on FOX 18 keep checking back with Pro Fighting Fans.

 

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans Editor/Writer

To open up the main card of UFC on FOX 18 rising star Sage Nortchutt (7-1) met Bryan Barberena (11-3) in a welterweight matchup. Barberena took the fight on eight days’ notice when Northcutt’s original opponent Andrew Holbrook dropped out due to injury.

Barberena proved to be a worthy opponent for the 19 year old prodigy. He took some solid shots from Northcutt and was even knocked down at one point in the first round.

Every time Northcutt created distance on the feet he was able to land punches and kicks. However, Bryan Barberena scored a takedown late in the first round that changed the momentum of the fight. Northcutt got right back to his feet that time, but to begin the second round it was a different story.

Barberena settled into Northcutt’s guard and stayed active with some solid ground and pound. He opened up a cut on Sage’s forehead and for the first time in his career the 19 year old was getting beat up.

Around the two minute mark of the second round Barberena started to work on an arm triangle submission. Despite not having proper position Barberena was able to tighten his grip enough to force a tap from Sage Northcutt.  Many believe it was a quick tap from Northcutt, but in his post-fight interview Bryan Barberena said it’s a submission he gets all the time in the training room.

The victory puts Barberena back in the win column after having his seven fight winning streak broken by Chad Laprise last April. It’s likely the biggest win of his career and now ten of his eleven victories have come by way of stoppage.

Sage Northcutt has now tasted defeat for the first time and this could very well be a crossroads in his career. He can learn from the mistakes he made and use them to improve, or he could never recover and fall into obscurity.  Either way Northcutt will continue to be the topic of many conversations for a long time to come.

For more coverage of UFC on FOX 18 please keep checking back with profightingfans.com.

 

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans Editor/Writer

Going into the UFC on FOX 18 main event the gameplans were straight forward for both Anthony Johnson (21-5) and Ryan Bader (20-5). Johnson wanted to keep the fight standing and go for the knockout, while Bader wanted the fight on the ground where he could utilize his wrestling ability.

Once the fight started both men stuck to their gameplans. Almost immediately after the opening bell Ryan Bader shot for a takedown.  It was a sloppy attempt that Johnson easily stuffed.

Bader then found himself underneath “Rumble” and quickly grabbed onto an arm.  “Darth” tried for a Kimura but eventually he had to let it go.  Johnson got into mount and landed bombs.

It was a matter of seconds before Bader was out cold on the mat.  Officially the fight lasted 88 seconds, but it seemed a lot faster than that. The loss snaps a five fight winning streak for Ryan Bader and the All American wrestler will need to go back to the drawing board. Bader has been finished in all five of his professional losses and has never lost a decision.

Anthony Johnson is a very scary man. He has now won two straight since losing to Daniel Cormier last May in a light heavyweight title fight.He’s also all but guaranteed himself another shot at the belt.  Or, he could take another fight instead of waiting for Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier to do battle again.  Cormier thinks it would be easy money for Johnson if he decided to take another fight before a title shot.

Either way Anthony Johnson is deserving of another title shot and is a tough fight for anyone in the division, just ask Ryan Bader. For more post fight coverage of UFC on FOX 18 keep checking back with Pro Fighting Fans.

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans Editor/Writer

 

 

 

With another UFC event taking place this weekend it’s time to bring back an old tradition here at Pro Fighting Fans. One of the best things about sports is trying to figure out who is going to win and who is going to lose.  That’s why we are excited to announce the return of…BS Predictions! Write your picks in the comments and we’ll compare after Saturday night!

Bryan Barberena (10-3) vs. Sage Northcutt (7-0)

Judging by the amount of hype the UFC has put behind 19 year old Sage Northcutt it’s safe to say he’s being given winnable fights. It doesn’t mean he’s a guarantee or that his opponents are total bums, but Dana White wouldn’t want the train to fall off the tracks before it has even hit its stride.

That made it even more interesting when Northcutt was tapped to face Andrew Holbrook at UFC on FOX 18. Holbrook is also undefeated as a professional at 11-0 and in his last fight he came away with a split decision victory over Ramsey Nijem.  He could have been a solid test for the youngster, so it may have been a blessing in disguise when Holbrook dropped out of the bout due to injury.

Instead Northcutt will face Bryan Barberena on Saturday night. It’s a short notice fight and one that pits the unbeaten Northcutt against a man coming off a loss way back in April of 2015.  Northcutt is the busier of the two men and this will no doubt be a factor.  He will dazzle early and often, coming away with a TKO victory in the first round.

Prediction: Sage Northcutt via TKO Round One

 

Iuri Alcantara (33-6-1NC) vs. Jimmie Rivera (18-1)

This fight is cruising under the radar and it’s unfortunate because it promises to be a pretty good scrap. Maybe Jimmie Rivera and Iuri Alcantara are not household names, but that doesn’t mean they won’t put on a show at UFC on FOX 18.

In his last fight Alcantara got back in the win column, after a loss to Frankie Saenz snapped a three fight winning streak, by defeating Leandro Issa. Alcantara has faced some great competition since joining the UFC in 2011, most notably Urijah Faber at UFC Fight Night 26.  He’ll need that experience when he meets Jimmie Rivera.

Rivera hasn’t lost in just over 7 years and sports an impressive record of 18-1. He’s coming off a split decision victory over Pedro Munhoz in November 2015 at UFC Fight Night 77.  12 of his 18 victories have gone the distance, so don’t expect a finish from him at UFC on FOX 18.

Iuri Alcantara has a 5 inch height advantage and a 6 inch reach advantage; he’d be smart to utilize these against Rivera. If he can keep the fight at a distance and occasionally threaten with takedowns he’s got a great shot at coming out on top.

Prediction: Iuri Alcantara via Unanimous Decision

 

Josh Barnett (34-7)vs. Ben Rothwell (35-9)

Call me a skeptic, call me negative but I have not been looking forward to this fight one bit since it was announced. It might be due to the fact that there is a very good chance this fight ends up crawling to the final bell. These are two guys with a lot of wear on their bodies.  Although they’ve combined for a total of 12 stoppages in their last 13 victories I still can’t be convinced we’re in for a barnburner at UFC on FOX 18.

Josh Barnett is 2-1 since returning to the UFC in 2013 after an 11 year absence from the sports premier organization. He’s taken out Roy Nelson and Frank Mir respectively.  Neither of those guys are anywhere near a title shot so let’s take that into account when we’re discussing Barnett’s most recent wins.  He’s a submission ace and his best shot at winning this fight with Rothwell is on the mat, that’s all there is to it.

Rothwell is no slouch on the ground either, 12 of his 35 victories have come by submission. It’s at least a possibility that he could keep Barnett at bay if the fight gets to the ground.  That’s where my concerns become valid; I see this fight taking place against the cage.  In other words it’s going to be a three round grind.

If it is a three round grind I’m going to have to give it to Josh Barnett. He just might have the better cardio between the two of them.

Prediction: Josh Barnett via Split Decision

 

Anthony Johnson vs. Ryan Bader

If you’re looking for in depth analysis of this fight you’ll find a bit of that in my Breakdown column from earlier this week on Pro Fighting Fans. Right now I’m just going to call it like I see it.

Ryan Bader wants nothing to do with Anthony Johnson’s striking. Anthony Johnson wants nothing to do with Ryan Bader’s smothering wrestling game.

Bader has been known to charge forward with reckless abandon, watch his UFC on FOX 4 bout with Lyoto Machida. That is a dangerous move against someone with the type of power Anthony Johnson possesses in his fists.

It’s sad because Bader has been on a tear, but this one isn’t getting out of the 1st round.  I’m taking Anthony Johnson by way of complete destruction.

Prediction: Anthony Johnson via TKO Round One

 

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans Editor/Writer