UFC Fight Night 38: Preliminary Card Predictions
The UFC heads down to Brazil yet again this year, as UFC Fight Night comes to you live on Sunday. It is a rare treat that will give us remnants of what Sunday Night Football used to feel like not long ago.
An epic rematch between Mauricio Rua and Dan Henderson headlines the card. Their first fight was a five-round war and one of the best fights of all time.
Before that clash, we have the prelims featuring Brazilian talent and prospects from around the globe.
My prelim picks got a little better at UFC 171, as we avoided going .500 or worse. However, the overall record is still nothing to be proud of, so a rebound would be much appreciated.
With that said, let's take a look at the prelim fights and make some predictions.
2014 Riley's Record: 30-26
Last Event: UFC 171 (5-3)
Francimar Barroso vs. Hans Stringer
We kick off the Fight Pass portion of the prelims in the light heavyweight division, as Dutch newcomer Hans Stringer looks to make a successful debut against Nova Uniao vet Francimar Barroso.
Barroso is a grappler who did not overly impress in his UFC debut. Instead, the Brazilian took down and laid on Ednaldo Oliveira for three rounds, which elicited boos throughout the bout.
His best shot to win is on the ground, though it will be tough to take down Stringer. Barroso will have home-field advantage, though, which could help him here.
Stringer is 4-0-2 in his last six fights and is coming off a draw against Francisco France in his last tilt. France, in my opinion, is a more skilled version of Barroso, so Stringer could have a good shot here.
He would be wise to stick and move to stay out of the shooting range of Barroso. If he does that, he should be able to strike his way to victory.
Prediction: Stringer def. Barroso via decision
Godofredo Pepey vs. Noad Lahat
Next up on Fight Pass are the featherweights, as American Kickboxing Academy rep Noad Lahat makes his UFC debut against Brazilian Godofredo Pepey.
I had high hopes for Pepey coming off his runner-up effort on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, but he has struggled to find his feet in the UFC. He is 1-3 with the company, and his split-verdict win over Milton Vieira was highly contested.
He has shown that his striking is not where we thought it was. He needs to be on top when the fight hits the mat. In his last two fights, Felipe Arantes and Sam Sicilia viciously knocked him out.
As for Lahat, he has a little bit of hype coming with him to the cage, especially because he is an AKA rep. He is undefeated, winning every fight but one via finish. So long as he stays off the ground with Pepey, he should light up the Brazilian on the feet and earn a victory in his debut.
Prediction: Lahat def. Pepey via decision
Thiago Perpetuo vs. Kenny Robertson
We move over to the Fox Sports 1 prelims, where things start off in the welterweight division. Former middleweight Thiago Perpetuo makes a drop in weight to take on Kenny Robertson.
Robertson has underperformed in with the UFC with a 1-3 mark. That said, he owns a beautiful Suloev stretch submission against Brock Jardine and could have beaten Sean Pierson had he not taken his foot off the gas.
He has the right skill set to win this fight. Not only can he handle himself on the feet, he has the wrestling needed to put Perpetuo on his back and make him uncomfortable.
Perpetuo is a striker who could be 2-0 in the UFC, had he not overextended himself against Omari Akhmedov. Despite tagging and almost putting the Russian away, Perpetuo got caught and put to sleep with extreme prejudice.
He needs to watch the takedown here. Robertson will shoot and look to control him from the top. That will happen, as Robertson finishes Perpetuo down the stretch.
Prediction: Robertson def. Perpetuo via submission
Jussier Formiga vs. Scott Jorgensen
Next up are the flyweights, as former top 125er Jussier Formiga looks to get back some of his lost momentum against former WEC title challenger Scott Jorgensen.
Jorgensen has been struggling big time as of late, though those troubles have come against the best in the bantamweight and flyweight divisions. He is 1-4 in his last five, with his only win coming at John Albert's expense.
He is a great wrestler, which is what he needs to be here. However, that will be tough against a man who likes to grapple in Formiga.
The Brazilian has also underperformed as of late, going 1-2 in the UFC. While he beat Chris Cariaso, he came up short against Joseph Benavidez and John Dodson. That said, those two top flyweights would be tough fights for anybody.
I'll go with Formiga here. He is in his home country, and Jorgensen hasn't looked the same since the WEC. It will likely go to the judges and be close.
Prediction: Formiga def. Jorgensen via decision
Ronny Markes vs. Thiago Santos
Moving on, we head to the middleweight division, as Ronny Markes takes on Thiago Santos.
Markes recently saw his three-fight surge in the UFC end. After beating Karlos Vemola, Aaron Simpson and Andrew Craig, the Brazilian was brutally KOed by Yoel Romero in his last fight.
He is a power grinder, using his size and strength to pin opponents to the mat. From there, he wears guys down and usually rides his way to a decision.
Santos has one purpose in the rest of his UFC career: feed the strong. Cezar Ferreira quickly dispatched him in his last fight, as Santos was totally overmatched.
This fight is the Nova Uniao member's fight to lose. Markes is more talented than Santos and should take this one, possibly via finish.
Prediction: Markes def. Santos via TKO
Diego Brandao vs. Will Chope
The last preliminary card bout takes place in the featherweight division, as Brazil's Diego Brandao takes on the rangy, ridiculously tall Will Chope.
Brandao won TUF 14 but so far has not been able to notch a keynote win against a top fighter. He is a power brawler, using wild strikes to eventually secure a takedown.
He will have to get past a nine-inch height disadvantage against Chope, though. If he can get on the inside and force a brawl, he could catch the taller fighter.
Chope debuted in January in Singapore, where Max Holloway picked him apart on the feet. He needs to get Brandao on his back, as he does his best work from the top.
That will not happen, though. Chope showed he isn't ready for this level yet in his last fight, so expect Brandao to throw wild punches and catch Chope, eventually finishing him for the win.
Prediction: Brandao def. Chope via TKO