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

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

The last time we saw Khabib Nurmagomedov (22-0) inside the octagon he was manhandling current UFC lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos. That was way back in April 2014, but it seems as though MMA fans won’t have to wait much longer for his return.

Nurmagomedov made it official on Twitter that he is signed once more to fight fellow top contender Tony Ferguson (20-3). The two men were supposed to face off this past December at the TUF 22 Finale.  Unfortunately Nurmagomedov had to pull out of that bout with yet another injury.  Ferguson of course went on to fight Edson Barboza and won by submission in the second round.

Overall Ferguson has won seven straight and has only suffered one defeat in his past fifteen fights. The only loss came at the hands of Michael Johnson in 2012.  The two were ready for a rematch later this year before Johnson became injured.  It’s probably the best scenario for Tony Ferguson, because the fight with Nurmagomedov will most certainly be a 5 round title eliminator.  The winner will face off against the winner of UFC 196’s main event between Conor McGregor and Rafael Dos Anjos.

Khabib Nurmagomedov is looking to hold on to his perfect professional MMA record and finally get the title shot that has eluded him for some time. Getting past Ferguson will be no easy task and the Russian will need to shake off the cage rust early if he wants a shot at gold.  When he is healthy he is one of the best fighters in the world, his stellar grappling makes him a tough fight for anyone at 155lbs.

Hopefully the UFC will make this official in the next few days but as long as they do this just became one of the biggest fights of 2016 so far! For continued coverage on UFC on FOX 19 and other MMA events keep checking back with Profightingfans.com

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans Editor/Writer

On Saturday January 30th, the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey hosts UFC on FOX 18. In the main event Ryan “Darth” Bader (20-4) meets Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (20-5) in a pivotal light heavyweight bout.

It’s expected that later this year Jon Jones will return to face Daniel Cormier for the UFC light heavyweight title. The winner of the fight on Saturday night will likely be next in line for a title shot.

In this edition of The Breakdown we’ll take a closer look at Bader vs. Johnson to see who may have the upper hand going into UFC on FOX 18.

As the winner of five straight fights, light heavyweight contender Ryan Bader was due a big matchup. He was hoping for a title shot but instead he gets an equally stiff test in Anthony Johnson.

Bader has used the strongest asset in his toolbox to help him during his recent winning streak, a suffocating wrestling game. His last two victories came against two of the best wrestlers in the 205lb division, Rashad Evans and Phil Davis so Bader’s ground game is no joke.  That being said, he never really threatens with submissions, instead he keeps the pressure on with ground and pound.  He doesn’t allow for his opponents to get any space.  This will be the key for Bader if he wants to take out Anthony Johnson.

Johnson has been known to gas out under constant pressure, just watch his title fight against Daniel Cormier last May. Cormier kept his foot on the gas pedal and was able to wear out Johnson quickly and secure a submission victory in the third round.  Bader is capable of doing this too, whether it is a TKO, submission or five round decision Johnson is going to have his hands full if the fight hits the mat.

The key for Anthony Johnson is quite simple; he needs to create space early in the fight before it gets to the ground. There is no doubt that Anthony Johnson can knock guys out with the best of them it’s just a matter of setting up his power shots.

Johnson is 4-1 since returning to the UFC and 3 of those victories have come by way of TKO. Most notably Johnson destroyed Alexander Gustafsson in the first round of their UFC on FOX 14 matchup last January.  “Rumble” never allowed for his opponent to get comfortable, he just moved forward throwing his massive power shots.  Those punches landed with an immediate impact and don’t kid yourself, if he can land one of those on Bader’s chin the fight will be all but over.

It’s an interesting matchup because Bader will want to setup his striking game to open holes with his wrestling game. But, the longer he stands on the feet the more opportunities Johnson will have to finish the fight.  It’s a classic striker vs. grappler matchup, and this one will determine the next challenger for the UFC light heavyweight title.

Make sure to continue checking back with Profightingfans.com for more coverage of UFC on FOX 18. As a reminder the fights air on FOX Saturday January 30th from the Prudential Center in Newark New Jersey.

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans Editor/Writer

 

UFC on FOX 18 is a little light on star power, but that doesn’t mean it lacks any meaningful bouts. Of course it’s speculated that the main event between Ryan Bader and Anthony Johnson will be a title eliminator.  If we look past the main and co main events we can see there a couple of very interesting fights taking place earlier in the night.

 

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

Saturday night will be all about Sage, there’s no doubt about it. At this point in his young UFC career Sage Northcutt is the main attraction no matter who stands across the cage from him.  At UFC on FOX 18 it will be Bryan Barberena, a late notice replacement for Northcutt’s original opponent Andrew Holbrook.

In his UFC debut Barberena came back from a slow start to defeat Joe Ellenberger in the 3rd round by TKO.  Things were looking up for the Minnesota native before he ran into TUF Nations winner Chad Laprise in his next fight at UFC 186 in Montreal, Quebec.

Barberena was originally scheduled to face Jonavin Webb at UFC Fight Night 82 on February 21st.  Instead he’ll step in against Northcutt.  Due to the short notice nature of the bout it will be contested at 170lbs.

Sage Northcutt tore through his first two UFC opponents, Francisco Trevino and Cody Pfister, making quick work of both men. But it’s likely that Bryan Barberena has faced the tougher competition inside the octagon and he was already training for a fight, so he shouldn’t be out of shape.

If Barberena isn’t afraid to stand in the pocket with Northcutt he could force him to engage in a brawl. If Sage can get distance though, he would be able to open up with kicks and cause all sorts of trouble for his opponent.

This fight is opening up the main card for UFC on FOX 18. It will be an interesting test for the 19 year old golden boy Sage Northcutt, so don’t miss it!

 

Jake Ellenberger (30-10) vs. Tarec Saffiedine (15-4)

Tarec Saffiedine’s UFC career could be described as inconsistent and not too many people would argue with that. Not only has he fought very few times in three years, the quality of his performances has been less than stellar.

Saffiedine has been scheduled to face Jake Ellenberger on two separate occasions but both bouts were scrapped due to injuries. Now it’s been over a year since we saw the former Strikeforce welterweight champion getting beat up by Rory MacDonald, it marked the first time in his career that he had been finished.  He has a great shot at redemption on Saturday night, but getting past Ellenberger is never an easy task especially if cage rust is a factor.

Jake Ellenberger might be fighting for his job at UFC on FOX 18 having lost 4 of his last 5 fights. All of those losses came against top notch competition like Robbie Lawler and Kelvin Gastulem, while the lone victory was a submission win over veteran Josh Koscheck.  However, when you are getting paid to fight it’s generally understood that winning has a positive effect on your employment.  Ellenberger needs to show up on Saturday night if he wants to keep getting paid by the UFC.

It would seem as though both men are healthy and this should be an entertaining matchup. It closes out the preliminary card which airs on FOX Sports 1 at 5pm ET.  For more coverage of UFC on FOX 18 keep checking back with Profightingfans.com.

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans Editor/Writer

The UFC’s annual super bowl weekend event has undergone some massive changes in the past 48 hours. Coming into this week UFC 196 featured a heavyweight title fight between current champ Fabricio Werdum (20-5-1) and former champ Cain Velasquez (13-2). We were finally going to see whether altitude was really the difference in their first fight. Instead, the pay per view card simply fell apart.

On January 24th UFC officials announced that due to a back injury Cain Velasquez would not be able to compete at UFC 196 on February 6th. It was a crushing blow to an already thin pay per view card, but the MMA gods came to the rescue. Stipe Miocic (14-2) was going to step in to the role of challenger and get a crack at the heavyweight title held by Fabricio Werdum. It was a worthy replacement and just as intriguing as the original matchup.

As the saying goes, when it rains it pours.One day after Cain Velasquez was pulled from the UFC 196 main event, Fabricio Werdum pulled out also citing various injuries as the cause.The UFC was then left with a tough decision, find a replacement for Werdum and have him fight Miocic for an interim title, or scrap the title fight altogether and move the co main event up to main event status.They went with the second option and decided to promote Johny Hendricks (17-3) vs. Stephen Thompson (11-1) to the main event, but with a wrinkle. Instead of it being a pay per view event the card has been moved to Fox Sports 1.Despite offers to save the card from the multiple fighters including former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, UFC 196 will now come without a price tag.

With the current lineup, this is a solid fight card for Fox Sports 1. The new welterweight main event between Johny Hendricks and Stephen Thompson promises to be an interesting clash of styles. The co main event is now a heavyweight fight between Roy Nelson (20-12) and Jared Rosholt (14-2), rounding out the main card are Rafael Cavalcante (12-6-1NC) vs. Ovince St. Preux (18-7) and Joseph Benavidez (23-4) vs. Zach Makovsky (19-6). It should be an entertaining evening and for up to date coverage keep checking back with profightingfans.com.

 

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans

Editor/Staff Writer

Thanks to Chris Weidman the UFC’s middleweight division is wide open for the first time in years.  That’s what makes UFC Fight Night 36 so interesting.  The final two bouts on Saturday night could very well determine the next man to challenge for the 185lb crown, when Lyoto Machida faces Gegard Mousasi and Ronaldo Souza meets Francis Carmont.  Depending on how they win, one of these four men will likely be the number one contender.  All in all there are 5 bouts on the main card and it promises to be a pretty entertaining event, so here are the predictions.

 

Andy Ogle vs. Charles Oliveira

I like Andy Ogle’s enthusiasm, but unfortunately that won’t help much when he steps into the cage with Charles Oliveira on Saturday night.  Oliveira looked pretty good in his last fight against Frankie Edgar, despite losing he was never completely out of the fight.  I think the Brazilian’s skillset is just too diverse for Ogle and I can’t see Oliveira losing.  Ogle will come out aggressive and that’s going to land him on the mat where Charles Oliveira will truly shine.

Prediction: Charles Oliveira via Submission Round One

 

Viscardi Andrade vs. Nicholas Musoke

I’ll be honest I don’t know much about Viscardi Andrade.  However, I do know that I really liked what I saw from Nicholas Musoke in his UFC debut when he submitted tough veteran Alessio Sakara.  He’s a huge welterweight and he should be able to get a win at UFC Fight Night 36.  It’s going to go the distance and Musoke will remain unbeaten inside the UFC octagon.

Prediction: Nicholas Musoke via Unanimous Decision

 

Takenori Sato vs. Erick Silva

It’s true that Erick Silva has never quite lived up to his potential since joining the UFC.  He’s been pretty inconsistent, especially in his last outing when he was brutally knocked out by Dong Hyun Kim.  That being said, this should be a pretty winnable bout for Silva and if he does end up losing, he should begin to rethink his strategy.  Sato is making his octagon debut and will be in over his head on Saturday night.

Prediction: Erick Silva via Submission Round Two

 

Francis Carmont vs. Ronaldo Souza

This is a very interesting matchup.  Carmont has bored fans with his grinding wrestling style, yet he remains unbeaten in the UFC.  Meanwhile, “Jacare” Souza has looked spectacular in his first two UFC fights, submitting Chris Camozzi and knocking out perennial middleweight contender Yushin Okami.  He was once known as a nasty submission fighter, but recently Souza has shown ever-improving striking skills.  The outcome of this fight really depends on where it is contested.  If Carmont can use his length to fight from a distance and turn it into a technical kickboxing affair I really like his chances.  But, if it’s a slugfest or a ground battle I am favoring Souza.  It’s kind of a toss-up and I’m going with Ronaldo Souza.  The win will get him another big fight and it’s possible that he’ll be competing for UFC gold by the end of the year.

Prediction: Ronaldo Souza via Submission Round Two

 

Lyoto Machida vs. Gegard Mousasi

Yes, Gegard Mousasi is extremely talented.  However, I truly think he is underestimating Machida heading into this fight.  I expect Mousasi to take a lazy approach in this one and he’s going to be shocked when Machida is the aggressor early and often.  Machida may not be able to get a finish, but I do think he can do enough to outpoint his opponent for the unanimous decision victory.  It’s likely “The Dragon” will get the next crack at the UFC middleweight title.  He’ll just have to wait to see if he is going to face Chris Weidman or Vitor Belfort.  I’m taking Machida for the win on Saturday night!

Prediction: Lyoto Machida via Unanimous Decision

It’s a rarity when the UFC has two title fights on the same card, but it is Super Bowl weekend, so Dana White is going big with UFC 169.  A Jose Aldo fight always carries the potential for excitement, combine that with Renan Barao vs. Urijah Faber and that potential becomes a guarantee.   B.S. Predictions has been on a serious roll for the last couple of UFC events.  Let’s see if we can keep it going.

Jamie Varner vs. Abel Trujillo

When Jamie Varner returned to the UFC and shocked Edson Barboza, it seemed like he would quickly establish himself as a contender in the UFC’s lightweight division.  Since then Varner has been somewhat inconsistent in his recent fights with Melvin Guillard and Gleison Tibau.  When he steps into the cage at UFC 169, opposite Abel Trujillo, there will be no room for inconsistency.  Trujillo is a massive lightweight with serious power in his hands and is capable of taking out anyone in the 155lb division.  If he doesn’t gas out I see Trujillo’s size being too much for Varner to handle.

Prediction: Abel Trujillo via TKO Round 2

 

Ali Bagautinov vs. John Lineker

At Friday’s UFC 169 weigh-ins all eyes were on John Lineker and surprise, surprise he once again failed to make weight on his initial attempt.  However, unlike in the past, this time Lineker was successful when he stepped on the scale 45 minutes later.  It’s a good thing Lineker did make weight, because his matchup with Ali Bagautinov will likely determine the next challenger for Demetrious Johnson’s UFC Flyweight title.  There is no doubt that the Brazilian is a legitimate knockout artist, but I think Bagautinov’s superior grappling skills will be the difference in this one.  I like Ali Bagautinov to grind out a three round decision.

Prediction: Ali Bagautinov via Unanimous Decision

 

Frank Mir vs. Alistair Overeem

Although a loss won’t necessarily force retirement for either of these heavyweights, the loser will likely have to continue their career outside of the UFC.  Neither Alistair Overeem nor Frank Mir has been super-impressive in any of their recent outings, which is why I’m not too excited for this fight.  Overeem should be able to dominate the stand-up exchanges; he just needs to be careful that he doesn’t get taken down.  If this fight does hit the mat all bets are off, because that is Frank Mir’s world and he is extremely dangerous from top position or off his back.  I just can’t see how Mir will get Overeem down to the ground before he gets knocked out.

Prediction: Alistair Overeem via TKO Round 2

 

Jose Aldo vs. Ricardo Lamas

In my opinion the closest Jose Aldo has come to losing since joining the UFC was in his promotional debut against Canadian Mark Hominick.  It was Aldo’s cardio that caused him to struggle in that fight.  In the later rounds when the Brazilian tired, Hominick was able to take advantage and get takedowns, which is where he did the most damage.  This is the same strategy Ricardo Lamas should go with at UFC 169.  If the “Bully” can withstand Aldo’s initial offensive onslaught, his wrestling could win him this fight.  However, that is one huge “if”, because Aldo is a striking master and can finish a fight at any time.  The only problem is I love an upset story and Lamas is going to get it done on Saturday night.

Prediction: Ricardo Lamas via Unanimous Decision

 

Renan Barao vs. Urijah Faber

Urijah Faber’s 2013 was quite impressive as he went 4-0, most recently submitting a very tough Michael McDonald in December.  That being said, on Saturday night he’ll be taking on the last man to beat him, Renan Barao, with less than 2 months’ notice.  If Faber couldn’t beat Barao with a full training camp, I don’t see anything changing this time around, especially when he’s taking this fight on such short notice.  The one thing that will change is how Barao gets the win.  In the first fight Renan Barao won a hard fought unanimous decision.  At UFC 169 I see him finishing Faber.  He’ll catch “The California Kid” with punches and then submit him on the ground.  Don’t ask me why I’m thinking this way.  I just have a feeling that’s all.

Prediction: Renan Barao via Submission Round 2

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans Staff Writer

 

I’ve never been a UFC champion.  But, I imagine that once you have the belt, losing it sucks, a lot.  Benson Henderson was the UFC lightweight champion for ? years.  He successfully defended his crown ? times, including wins over Nate Diaz and Gilbert Melendez.  ? months before Henderson lost his belt to Anthony Pettis he was on top of the world.  He had just defended the title for the 3rd time and his longtime girlfriend had accepted his marriage proposal in the cage after the fight.  All that glory and he had it taken away from him in a matter of seconds when Anthony Pettis forced him to tapout due to an armbar.

The memories of the second Pettis fight are likely still fresh in Henderson’s mind as he prepares to face Josh Thomson at UFC on FOX 10.  And when you are one of the best lightweight fighters on the planet, the challenges don’t get any easier, even if you aren’t the champion.

Josh Thomson made a triumphant return to the UFC last April with a 2nd round TKO victory over perennial contender Nate Diaz.  He is also well known for his incredible Strikeforce title fights with Gilbert Melendez.  Thomson is an MMA veteran and a guy who is truly well-rounded.  It’s a tough fight for Benson Henderson, but an impressive win could get him another title shot.  And when you are in the business of fighting, title shots are what motivate you to keep going.  So far there are no signs that Benson Henderson is anywhere close to slowing down.  And although not many people are interested in seeing him face Anthony Pettis for a third time, that won’t stop Henderson on his pursuit to reclaim gold.

UFC on FOX 10 takes place from the United Center in Chicago, Illinois on Saturday, January 25th.  The event will be headlined by the pivotal lightweight bout between former UFC champion Benson Henderson and Josh Thomson.  In the evening’s co-main event heavyweights Gabriel Gonzaga and Stipe Miocic will meet to see who is worthy of stiffer competition.  For more news on UFC on FOX 10 keep checking back with Profightingfans.com.

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans Staff Writer