Over the weekend UFC officials announced several fights that will be a part of UFC Fight Night 88, which takes place May 29th, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Former UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao is making the move up to the featherweight division and his first assignment is not an easy one.  He’ll be facing off against Jeremy Stephens.

A former lightweight, Stephens will be making his 8th appearance as a featherweight and is a big power puncher.  He’s had mix results at 145lbs, going 4-3 since dropping down but he still remains a tough out for anyone.  “Lil’ Heathen” has good takedown defense and is usually able to keep his fights standing.  Over the course of his career he’s had notable victories over Rafael dos Anjos, Sam Stout and more recently Dennis Bermudez.  However he is on a 1-3 stretch and in desperate need of a win.

Renan Barao was once the most feared bantamweight in the world. His reign of destruction included wins over Michael McDonald, Eddie Wineland and he’s twice defeated Urijah Faber.  Barao first beat Faber at UFC 149 and won the interim bantamweight championship.  After multiple injuries to then champion Dominick Cruz, the UFC made Barao the official bantamweight champion.  He defended the title three times but after losing to TJ Dillashaw in 2014 he’s seemed to have lost a step.  Jeremy Stephens is going to be a really good test for Barao to see where he stands in the featherweight division.

Barao vs. Stephens will likely be part of the main card for UFC Fight Night 88 taking place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada on May 29th, 2016.  The main event features a bantamweight clash between rising stars Cody Garbrandt and Thomas Almeida.  Broadcasting information is not yet available.  Keep checking back with profightingfans.com for more updates.

 

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans Editor/Writer

Over the weekend UFC officials announced that a bantamweight bout between Thomas Almeida and Cody Garbrandt will be headlining UFC Fight Night 88. The event is set to take place May 29th at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The winner of this fight could find themselves in a bantamweight title fight before the end of 2016. They both have perfect records, Almeida is 20-0 while Grabrandt is 8-0, so someone will be tasting defeat for the first time.

It will be Almeida’s fifth fight in the UFC and he has wins over veterans Yves Jabouin and Brad Pickett. In the fight with Pickett, Almeida had to survive an early barrage before he was able to get the TKO in the 2nd round by flying knee.  He’s a very dangerous striker and possibly the best prospect in the UFC’s 135lb division.

Garbrandt is coming off his third straight UFC win and eight overall. He was supposed to face John Lineker in his last fight but the Brazilian dropped out at the last minute due to injury.  Instead Garbrandt faced UFC newcomer Augusto Mendes and he got the win in the first round by TKO.  He trains with Team Alpha Male, led by bantamweight title challenger Urijah Faber, so Garbrandt is definitely well rounded and would be a tough fight for Thomas Almeida.

Along with the main event several other bouts have been announced for the UFC Fight Night 88 card, including, Renan Barao vs. Jeremy Stephens at featherweight, Tarec Saffiedine vs. Rick Story and Lorenz Larkin vs. Jorge Masvidal. It looks like a stacked card, for more coverage of this fight card and everything UFC, check out profightingfans.com.

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans Editor/Writer

Following the success of the last B.S. Predictions column for UFC Fight Night 35, I was excited to get right back to the magic.  This week we have another stellar free fight card from the UFC.  It’ll be headlined by a very important lightweight matchup between former lightweight champion Benson Henderson and Josh Thomson.  Of course Henderson lost his belt the last time out to Anthony Pettis, while Thomson shocked fans with a TKO of Nate Diaz in his return to the UFC.  Along with 3 other main card bouts this event will not disappoint, so let’s get to it.

 

Donald Cerrone vs. Adriano Martins

On paper I think Donald Cerrone is the better fighter in this matchup.  However, when you take a closer look it’s not so clear cut.  Adriano Marins is a very talented Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and he did take out a dangerous striker in Daron Cruickshank when he made his UFC debut in November of last year.  It probably helped that Martins was fighting in his home country of Brazil, while he’ll be facing Cerrone on American soil.  But, the difference maker is going to be the level of competition Cerrone has faced thus far in his career.  He’s shared the cage with some very tough and talented fighters.  It might take “Cowboy” a round or so to get comfortable and when he does he’ll be able to easily outpoint Adriano Martins for a unanimous decision victory.

Prediction: Donald Cerrone via Unanimous Decision

 

Darren Elkins vs. Jeremy Stephens

Now here’s a striker vs. grappler matchup I can get into.  Darren Elkins is a grinder with the ability to wear down anyone in the UFC’s 145lb division.  Meanwhile, Jeremy Stephens hits very hard and he’s always looking for the finish.  Since dropping from lightweight to featherweight, Stephens has been on fire.  In his last bout he went into Brazil and absolutely destroyed Rony Jason.  The only trouble Darren Elkins has run into in his last 7 fights was when he was stopped by Chad Mendes, another hard hitting featherweight.  I actually have Elkins as a slight favorite in this one, but I’m going to say Jeremy Stephens will pull off the upset.

Prediction: Jeremy Stephens via TKO Round 2

 

Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Stipe Miocic

The co-main event at UFC on FOX 10 is an interesting heavyweight bout between Gabriel Gonzaga and Stipe Miocic.  Other than a knockout loss to Travis Browne, Gonzaga is experiencing a career resurgence as of late with 4 wins in his last 5 UFC appearances.  However, Miocic looked ultra-impressive in his June 2013 victory over Roy “Big Country” Nelson.  He was able to avoid Nelson’s power punches and was the superior boxer inside the cage on that night.  Although Gonzaga is likely faster than Roy Nelson, I still think Miocic can out strike him and his defensive wrestling should be good enough to keep the fight standing.  Miocic will once again surprise many people on his way to a unanimous decision win.

Prediction: Stipe Miocic via Unanimous Decision

 

Benson Henderson vs. Josh Thomson

Josh Thomson shocked MMA fans when he defeated Nate Diaz in his UFC return.  It wasn’t so much the fact that he won that was shocking, but the way Thomson did it.  The former Strikeforce champion became the first man to finish Diaz by TKO, which is something his next opponent Benson Henderson was not able to do.  That doesn’t necessarily give Thomson an edge over Henderson, especially since Benson is coming off his first UFC loss.  It wasn’t just a normal loss either, it cost Henderson his UFC lightweight title and made him winless in two fights against Anthony Pettis.  It is definitely the kind of loss that stings.  We can expect “Smooth” to show up on January 25th with something extra to prove.  The winner of this fight could be next in line for a title shot, seeing as Thomson was originally scheduled to face Anthony Pettis for the title in December of last year before the champ pulled out due to injury.  Benson Henderson is my choice to get his hand raised at UFC on FOX 10, but it won’t come easily.  Thomson is going to give him all he can handle and it could very well end up being another one of those infamous split decision victories that Henderson has become known for in his UFC career.

Prediction: Benson Henderson via Split Decision

 

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans Staff Writer