The anticipation for UFC 200 has created a lot of buzz in the MMA world, and there is no shortage of fighters seeking a spot in that legendary card. However, there are a lot of interesting fights scheduled before July’s UFC 200. The most notable ones being Jones vs Cormier II, Weidman vs Rockhold II, Faber vs Cruz III, among others. All of those fights are amazing in their own right, and so are the cards for UFC 197 and 199. The problem is that the best card prior to UFC 200 just might be 198, and there is not a whole lot of people talking about it. The card is full of fresh, exciting, and fan friendly fights involving some of the biggest mixed martial arts fighters of all time. The event is scheduled to take place May 14th in Curitiba, Brazil. In addition to the great fights, the event will be held at Arena da Baixada, which will be the first UFC stadium event in Brazil. 

The undercard will likely have some main card worthy fights, such as Cris Cyborg’s UFC debut, and hot prospect Warlley Alves taking on Bryan Barberena. Rumors of Cyborg’s potential UFC debut have been thrown around quite a bit over the past few years. The speculation is over as she has been added to UFC 198 to fight Leslie Smith at a catchweight of 140 pounds. The anticipated match up with Ronda Rousey will not happen at her debut, but it is a huge step towards that potential fight. Cyborg has dominated Invicta FC’s featherweight division, and hopes to shake up women’s MMA in the UFC. Smith fought recently at UFC Fight Night Hunt vs Mir, and beat Rin Nakai via unanimous decision.  

On the other hand, the undefeated top prospect Warlley Alves is looking to move up the rankings in the very tough Welterweight division. Alves has finished his last two fights by submission both being guillotines, including the first round stoppage of Colby Covington at UFC 194. The talent of Alves is undeniable, but can he make some noise in one of the most stacked divisions. Bryan Barberena is no stranger to undefeated hot prospects, since his last fight was against Sage Northcutt. Barberena pulled a big upset against Northcutt, by submitting the young phenom in the second round. The question is can he do it again, or is Alves too skilled? 

Things get very interesting in the main card with important fights like Demian Maia vs Matt Brown, Anderson Silva vs Uriah Hall, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza vs Vitor Belfort, and the heavyweight championship bout between Stipe Miocic and Fabricio Werdum. As mentioned before, the Welterweight division is super deep with talented young fighters as well as tough and skilled veterans. A clash of top ten ranked veterans could have title shot implications, as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu wizard Demian Maia faces “The Immortal” Matt Brown. Brown has gone the distance against the last two Welterweight champions in the past, and he is looking to build on his latest submission win over Tim Means. He has a very tough task in the form of Maia, and this should be a very entertaining fight to watch. The winner will likely enter the top five and put himself in the position of fighting for a shot at UFC gold. 

If you enjoy striking battles, then you should love the matchup between Uriah Hall and Anderson Silva. It might be safe to say that nobody is shooting for a takedown in this on, but you just might see a knockout of the year candidate. Both fighters are coming off disappointing losses, but they are still top ten in the Middleweight division. The winner would take a step closer to a shot at the winner of  UFC 199’s main event, and most likely a spot in the top five. The fight should be very fan friendly and thrilling from start to finish, so make sure you don’t blink during this one.

The next fight has even more influence on the Middleweight division, as it should definitely provide the next number one contender. The number two ranked middleweight “Jacare” Souza will meet number three ranked Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort in the co-main event. Two guys with major knockout power, so this could easily be a quick one. There is nobody currently at middleweight or maybe even the entire UFC roster who has better Brazillian Jiu Jitsu than Souza, so If the fight goes to the ground he will certainly have the advantage. Souza lost his last fight to Yoel Romero in a very controversial fight, but he is looking to finally get that shot at the belt. Vitor’s last fight was a first round KO of Dan Henderson, and he hopes to get a rematch against either Weidman or Rockhold.

The main event is the Heavyweight championship of the world, as Fabricio Werdum defends his title for the first time against Stipe Miocic. Werdum was scheduled to fight Cain Velasquez in a rematch earlier this year, but Cain suffered a back injury. The UFC offered Miocic as a replacement to Werdum, but the champ was also injured. Nonetheless, they will fight in May and it should be a great fight between two warriors. Both men are very well trained and they can hit, so this could also be a quick fight as are most Heavyweight bouts. Fabricio’s tremendous ground game could be the x factor in this matchup, but it is not a grappling match so anything could happen. Two of the baddest men on the planet fighting for glory is a great way to close out an amazing card of fights. It is a great time to be an MMA fan, and the future looks very bright for the sport. 

Joao V. Gomes

Pro Fighting Fans Staff Writer

Okay, maybe no one is going crazy about the lineup for UFC Fight Night 29, but at least Dana White and the gang are giving us free fights.  I don’t care who is fighting, as long as the action is entertaining.  Obviously, if the card ends up being terrible, I’m sorry about my optimism.  The main event between Jake Shields and Demian Maia is an interesting matchup.  It’s Interesting because we could see an awesome BJJ display or a boring clinch fight.  If it becomes the latter, change the channel, it’s a Wednesday night and there is bound to be some other show calling your name.  Hopefully the rest of the main card will provide enough highlights to justify missing Criminal Minds.

 

Raphael Assuncao vs. T.J. Dillashaw

The winner of this matchup will put themselves in an excellent position in the UFC’s bantamweight division.  Both men are on four fight winning streaks and could be a win or two away from a title shot.  Dillashaw is a member of Team Alpha Male, training alongside Urijah Faber, Joseph Benavidez and Chad Mendes.  He made it to the finals of The Ultimate Fighter 14, but lost by knockout to John Dodson.  Since that night, Dillashaw has not been defeated inside the octagon and is looking better every time he fights.  Raphael Assuncao will definitely be T.J.’s biggest challenge; the former WEC fighter has taken on some of the sport’s elite.  Assuncao submitted Vaughan Lee in his last fight and the one before that he took a unanimous decision from Mike Easton.  Let’s face it, this is youth vs. experience.  In this case, I think Dillashaw is going to outhustle Rapheal Assuncao, he’ll beat him to the punch consistently and win a unanimous decision. This will prove once again that Team Alpha Male is more than just mirrors and abs, they are contenders. .

Prediction: T.J. Dillashaw by Unanimous Decision. 

 

Rousimar Palhares vs. Mike Pierce

This is going to be a grinding, clinching type of fight.  It probably won’t be pretty.  Mike Pierce has some power in his hands but his true strength is his wrestling.  Can that wrestling nullify the dangerous Jiu-Jitsu game of Rousimar Palhares?   Maybe.  But, I think I’ll fast forward to the end to find out.  I’m going with Pierce by unanimous decision, just because.

Prediction: Mike Pierce by Unanimous Decision

 

Joey Beltran vs. Fabio Maldonado

Beltran failed his last post-fight drug test and was suspended for 9 months.  This is his big return to the cage, so maybe he’s not everybody’s favorite fighter, but we all know he can bang and that makes this fight worth watching.  Plus, Fabio Maldonado can take a punch as well as Beltran and won’t back down from a slugfest.  The Brazilian has the better technical boxing, if he can combine that with solid footwork, he should be able to win this one.  This fight won’t hit the mat and it might not last the full three rounds, so I’m predicting Fabio Maldonado finishes Beltran in the 2nd round.  It’s very likely I’ll end up being wrong about this one.

Prediction: Fabio Maldonado by 2nd round TKO

 

Thiago Silva vs. Matt Hamill

If this fight had happened in 2008 it might have meant something, now it means nothing when it comes to the UFC’s light heavyweight division.  The biggest motivation to win this fight is that the winner will be on a two fight winning streak.  I’ve become bored with both Silva and Hamill recently and I doubt that’s going to change anytime soon.  If Silva shows up in good shape he could knock out Hamill.  But, if Hamill can secure takedowns it could be a very long night for Thiago.  Let’s hope that’s not the case, I like Silva to get a Thai clinch in the 2nd round and finish this fight.

Prediction: Thiago Silva by 2nd round TKO

 

Dong Hyun Kim vs. Erick Silva

In all of his official UFC wins, Erick Silva has looked awesome.  He’s only had one hurdle he couldn’t clear, but losing to Jon Fitch is not a bad thing.  Fitch is a longtime welterweight contender and has beaten some of the best.  It was a learning experience for Silva and now he looks to take out Judo wizard Dong Hyun Kim.  The native of South Korea has won two straight fights, and Kim could put himself in the title picture with a win over a young star like Erick Silva.  Let’s assume this fight will go to the ground, although Kim is an excellent grappler I think Silva’s BJJ could be the perfect antidote.  Silva is going to give Kim his first career loss by submission.  It will be a great fight and there is no doubt about that.

Prediction: Erick Silva by 1st round submission

 

Demian Maia vs. Jake Shields

There is only one question on my mind going into this fight.  Can Demian Maia get Jake Shields to the mat?  If he can, I believe Maia will become the first man to ever submit Shields.  But, he’ll need to get him to the ground consistently, because one time likely won’t be enough.  Jake Shields is an excellent grappler and he has average standup skills, he may need to use those a bit if he’s going to win this fight.  Shields will need to grind this one out, he’ll want to pressure Maia up against the cage and not give him much room to work.  Yes, Maia is undefeated since dropping to welterweight; however, Jake Shields is his toughest test in his new weight class.  I’m predicting that in the 2nd round Maia will get a dominant position on the mat and win by submission.

Prediction: Demian Maia by 2nd round submission

 

Brent Haugh

Profightingfans.com Staff Writer

Let me begin this by saying that fight fans throughout the world, myself included, don’t want to see an ugly kickboxing match between two of the best Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners in MMA today. However, I think there will be periods (perhaps extended periods) where this happens. Those periods will probably be the reason that one man wins this fight.

So, who has the better standup? There are arguments on both sides. Demian Maia survived five rounds with Anderson Silva and even began tagging him in the latter part of their contest. Maia also won a round from Mark Munoz in their fight. However, since dropping to welterweight, Maia has barely shown off his fists and feet. Smartly, he has gone for takedowns as quickly as possible. With a perfect record at 170, who’s complaining about seeing Maia’s ground game? Nobody.

When Jake Shields took on Georges St-Pierre, it was basically a kickboxing match. Not many people expected Shields to take a couple rounds from GSP and actually inflict some damage. (Controversial eye poke non-withstanding) Shields also beat Yoshihiro Akiyama primarily using his standup.

However, neither of these competitors’ striking skills are particularly athletic, acrobatic or even fun to watch. They are pretty basic, with some flaws in their technique. Both of these men have improved, and will continue to improve their striking, but they won’t ever look as natural as Anthony Pettis while throwing a head kick. These two are about as evenly matched on the feet as can be. Zero knockout power has been shown between them, but I give the tiniest edge to Shields. He was throwing some nice 1-2 combos and landing them on GSP. In a match like this, the guy who can throw the straighter, quicker punches gets the edge.

Now it’s time to get to the fun part: the ground game. While it sounds weird to be looking forward to a ground battle, this is about the best matchup on paper for the welterweight division. Both men have credentials upon credentials on their resumes. They can clinch, takedown, trip and submit the best fighters in the world. However, Maia has actually been doing that to top fighters in his UFC career while Shields has yet to tap anybody in the UFC. His last submission win was a guillotine choke against Robbie Lawler in 2009.  Maia has tapped Chael Sonnen after a beautiful lateral drop, Jason MacDonald and Rick Story with a disgusting neck crank.

However I think the most important win for either of these men was Maia’s win against Jon Fitch. For 15 minutes he controlled and threatened Fitch with submissions and punches. Fitch was baffled and unable to mount any offense against the smothering attack of Maia. I think Maia gets Jake Shields down to the mat in this fight. The question is: can Shields defend himself. Remember that Mayhem Miller would have choked out Shields if there were 3 more seconds left in the round. Jake Shields has heart; I will never doubt that. Coming back to win against Miller and Dan Henderson showed his will to fight. But, Demian Maia has been sapping the energy from other fighters.

Maia has been relentless and unstoppable since dropping to 170 pounds. His mental game has been as strong as his physical game and I think that puts him over the edge against Shields.

Result: Maia by Unanimous decision 30-27, though there’s a chance he puts a rear-naked on Shields in round 3

 

Andrew Jerrick

Profightingfans.com Staff Writer

 

Welcome to the inaugural B.S. Predictions column. In this reoccurring PFF post Brent and I will take a closer look at the main card fights for every UFC event and accurately predict the outcome – Let me rephrase that, where I (Scott) accurately predict the outcome.

Without further ado let’s get right to the UFC 156 main card bouts.

Joseph Benavidez vs. Ian McCall

Brent: This match-up is a great example of how weak the UFC flyweight division is. The winner could get a shot at champion Demetrious Johnson.  The problem with that, they have both already lost to Johnson.  I just think Benavidez is the more talented all-around fighter.  His power should be the difference in this one.  “Uncle Creepy’s” creepiness won’t be enough to get him a win.  What a great way to open up the UFC 156 main card.

Prediction: Benavidez via 2nd round TKO

Scott: TKO? Really Brent? You must have a lot of faith in Benavidez’s punching power. I on the other hand have more confidence in McCall’s chin due to the fact that he’s never been knocked out in a fight. Setting aside our predicted victory differences I have to agree with your assessment of Benavidez’s skill level verses McCall’s.

It’s hard to count Uncle Creepy out of a fight but I believe Benavidez desperately wants a rematch with flyweight champion Johnson and he just might get it with a win on Saturday night.

Prediction: Benavidez via unanimous decision 

Jon Fitch vs. Demian Maia

Brent: Demian Maia has been a stud since joining the welterweight ranks, but I think Fitch will be his toughest test at 170lbs. I imagine the majority of this fight will take place on the mat. Fitch is a grinder. He will do that while Maia will be extremely active off his back.  Fitch has only been submitted once in his career, in his first pro fight, ten years ago.

I don’t think Maia has the power in his hands to win by TKO or the strength to submit Jon Fitch. Fitch will use his wrestling to win this one, but it will be close. If I had to guess, I’d say there will be more boos at the end of this one than an open bar party at Scott Levesque’s.

Prediction: Fitch via Split Decision

Scott: Brent your hearing aid must be shorting out. They’re not “booing” they’re “yahooing.”  Why are they doing that? Well for starters they’re going to see Fitch keep this fight on the feet and secondly Fitch will use his hands to win this fight. CRAP! I gave away my pick to early, but it’s the truth nonetheless.

There’s not way Fitch wants to mess with the BJJ specialist on the ground (just ask Rick “Squeeze and Squirt” Story). Fitch will do all he can to keep the fight standing and pick the Brazilian apart with his punches. Fitch will stun Maia and may even drop him a few times during the fight, but ultimately it will go to the judges – Crap did I just say that, dang it!

Prediction: Fitch via unanimous decision

Alistair Overeem vs. Antonio Silva

Brent: Finally, Overeem will make his return to the UFC octagon.  Yes, he’s been away for some time, but that doesn’t give Silva a better chance of winning.  Does anyone really think Overeem is going to lose?  No way, as long as the drug tests come back clean, and I imagine they will, Overeem is going to prove why he is worthy of a title shot.  Alistair will have fans wondering what happened to “Bigfoot”, it’ll be like he never existed.

Prediction: Overeem via 1st round TKO

Scott: This must be a joke, right? How do you expect me to write anything about this fight with a straight face? My analysis might be the shortest in this columns existence. Overeem has more power, experience and overall skill.

Prediction: Overeem via 1st round TKO (decapitation, impaling or liver explosion)

Rashad Evans vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

Brent: I still believe Rashad Evans has the skills to be a champion. When I first heard about this fight I thought it was a mismatch.  I haven’t changed my mind. Nogueira is an elite BJJ practitioner, but Evans’ wrestling will nullify that. Rashad should be able to dictate this entire fight.  If he wants the fight on the feet, he’ll do that, if he wants it on the mat, he’ll take “Little Nog” down, simple as that.

Nogueira will take a beating and finally cave to the pressure in the third round.  Rashad will dance his way to victory, maybe he’ll get an invitation to “Dancing With The Stars”.

Prediction: Evans via 3rd round TKO 

Scott: Unlike my counterpart I don’t believe Evans has that “championship material” anymore. I believe this for one reason and one reason only, Jon Jones. Unless Jones bumps up to heavyweight the only “championship material” is Jones himself. Needless to say Evans will win this fight without much difficultly. He’ll keep it on the feet and win decisively – It helps that it’s not in Brazil where age or skill don’t factor in if you’re a Nogueira.

Little Nog has struggled against opponents with a strong wrestling background. If you need evidence just watch his fights against Ryan Bader and Phil Davis. Both fights ended in unanimous decision losses for Nogueira. Evans has better, well-rounded, skill and more experience then either Bader or Davis.

Prediction: Evans via unanimous decision

Frankie Edgar vs. Jose Aldo

Brent: That’s right I’m predicting Aldo will win by submission.  Here is why, Edgar is a tough kid, I can’t deny that.  But, Edgar will realize in the first round that Aldo is a ninja on the feet.  That will lead to Edgar trying to get a take-down  something I think he is capable of, when he does that Aldo will jump all over the opportunity to submit him.  Aldo will get his first legitimate submission victory since 2004.

I don’t think we’ll see Aldo run into the crowd this time, the fans will be on Edgar’s side; it would be a bad idea for Jose to celebrate so openly.  With this correct prediction it will give me a 5-0 record at UFC 156, try and do better Mr. Levesque, I dare you!

Prediction: Aldo via 2nd Round Submission

Scott: Alright already, I’ll drink the UFC public relations kool-aid and call this a “super-fight.” I’ve been fed that designation for a while now and I’m tired of fighting it. If this is the closest thing we’ll get to a super-fight then I’ll call it just that, a super-fight.

Honestly I have no clue what to expect from this bout. I have a bunch question marks for both fighters and I’m not sure anyone can answer them before they step into the cage. At this point I’m going strictly on “body of work” between the two fighters. With that said it’s probably going all five rounds with fireworks all the way through.

As I see it Aldo will ROCK Edgar early in the bout. Frankie, like he always does, will recover and make a fight out of it. In all honesty it’s going to come down to the third round. Yes I said third round. Aldo wins the first and second while Frankie wins the fourth and fifth. Well here we go…

Prediction: Frankie Edgar via split decision (Because why the hell not? It’s Edgar’s M.O.)

Tell us your UFC 156 predictions by finding us on Twitter. You can tweet Brent at @BrentHas2Write and Scott at @scottlevesque.

By Scott Levesque (@scottlevesque)

ProFightingFans.com Staff Writer