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UFC Fight Night 38: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Predictions

Sean SmithAnalyst IMarch 22, 2014

UFC Fight Night 38: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Predictions

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    In their original meeting, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Dan Henderson engaged in one of the most entertaining fights in MMA history.

    So, it was only a matter of time until UFC matchmakers went back to that well again. With a rather shallow UFC Fight Night 38 fight card, the world's top MMA promotion is banking on fans wanting to see Rua and "Hendo" thrown down for five more rounds.

    Before the main attraction, The Ultimate Fighter winners Cezar Ferreira, Norman Parke, Leonardo Santos, Rony Jason and Diego Brandao will be among the biggest names to step into the Octagon on Sunday.

    As always, Bleacher Report writers Sean Smith, Riley Kontek, Scott Harris, Craig Amos and James MacDonald are here to provide their picks for this weekend's main card.

2014 Records

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    Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sport

    It's times like these that I wish I could go back to tee ball, where nobody kept score and we all got snacks and trophies for trying.

    This isn't tee ball, though.

    It's the Bleacher Report main card staff predictions, and there are no snacks to be had. James MacDonald stole them all and is laughing at us from across the pond.

    Anyway, here are the standings following UFC 171:

    1. James MacDonald (35-7)

    2. Craig Amos (33-9)

    2. Riley Kontek (33-9)

    4. Sean Smith (29-13)

    5. Scott Harris (28-14)

Rony Jason vs. Steven Siler

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    Felipe Dana/Associated Press

    Sean Smith

    Even though he hasn't been submitted in his UFC career, Steven Siler's biggest problems have continued to come on the ground. With eight of 13 career wins coming via submission, Rony Jason should be able to exploit Siler's grappling weaknesses.

    Jason, Submission, Rd. 1

     

    Riley Kontek

    Siler has made a name for himself as the ultimate underdog at 145 pounds. He wins fights he is not supposed to and loses the ones he really isn't supposed to win. That said, Jason is not a guy you want to mess around with for too long. Forget his knockout loss to Jeremy Stephens, as that was a highlight-reel KO that came out of nowhere. He is going to entertain Siler on the feet before grounding him, pounding him and tapping him out.

    Jason, Submission, Rd. 2

     

    Scott Harris

    Jason has very smooth boxing and very good jiu-jitsu. Don't forget Renan Barao needed a split decision back in the day to overcome him. Siler is a tough SOB and will stave off the stoppage, but Jason will be one step ahead in each phase.

    Jason, Unanimous Decision

     

    Craig Amos

    Siler brings the action each and every time he competes, and more than that, he's always a threat to pull out a victory. I don't much like his chances against Jason, though, as the Brazilian's ground game is at a level that he should be able to handle Siler's sharpest tools.

    Jason, Submission, Rd. 2

     

    James MacDonald

    Siler has been far more successful inside the Octagon than I expected him to be. He deserves a lot of credit for improving so much over the past couple of years. I think he might be slightly overmatched here, though. Jason may have been knocked stiff last time out, but there’s no doubt he has a lot of potential. I’m looking for the Brazilian to get back on track with a late win via submission.

    Jason, Submission, Rd. 3

Michel Prazeres vs. Mairbek Taisumov

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    Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images

    Sean Smith 

    If this turns into a grappling match, Michel Prazeres could walk away with a second straight victory. However, Mairbek Taisumov looks to be the more well-rounded fighter. I think the fighter out of Austria mixes it up enough to gain an edge on the scorecards.

    Taisumov, Unanimous Decision

     

    Riley Kontek

    Taisumov is looking to break out. He could have in his last fight in Singapore, but instead, he will try to do it against Prazeres, whose only hope is to catch Taisumov in a home-run submission. Otherwise, Taisumov will batter the Brazilian and test his cardio, if the bout even lasts that long.

    Taisumov, TKO, Rd. 1

     

    Scott Harris

    This one is too close to call. Taisumov has mowed through his opponents, with only one of his pro fights going the distance. After Sunday, it'll be two. Prazeres will take him into the place they call the deep water and ride him to a commanding, if unspectacular, decision.

    Prazeres, Unanimous Decision

     

    Craig Amos

    I need to see a little bit more of Taisumov before I'm completely sold on him, but I'll cautiously side with him in this case. He should hold a striking edge over Prazeres and stay upright enough to put it to good use. No outcome would shock me, but I think Taisumov gets the stoppage.

    Taisumov, TKO, Rd. 1

     

    James MacDonald

    This is another contest that could come down to where the fight takes place, with Prazeres having the edge on the floor and Taisumov having the striking advantage. Tough one to call, but I’m going with Taisumov in a decision.

    Taisumov, Unanimous Decision

Fabio Maldonado vs. Gian VIllante

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    Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sp

    Sean Smith

    Unless he's fighting a Glover Teixeira, Fabio Maldonado usually excels in brawls. That's why Gian Villante will need to mix in wrestling to win this matchup. A training partner of middleweight champion Chris Weidman, Villante should come in with the right game plan to get his hand raised.

    Villante, Unanimous Decision

     

    Riley Kontek

    This fight should be fun. Both men can bang. Both men can take a shot. Who will fall first? Likely neither. Expect fireworks en route to a fun judges' decision that may be extremely close.

    Villante, Unanimous Decision

     

    Scott Harris

    I'm thinking slugfest. Maldonado will not be confused with Shogun anytime soon, but he can stand in the pocket and bang like nobody's business. He's tough as nails, too. Same goes for Villante, who appears to have a brighter future than the ultra-grizzled veteran. But I think the grizzled one takes a stirring victory here, refusing to go quietly into the night.

    Maldonado, TKO, Rd. 3

     

    Craig Amos

    This one looks like a slugfest on paper, but I'm not so sure. Maldonado has shown an inability to adapt when fights don't go his way, so if Villante takes a strategic approach to this bout, it'll be his match to lose.

    Villante, Unanimous Decision

     

    James MacDonald

    I’m looking forward to this fight. Watching Maldonado in particular is always fun. Few fighters in MMA go to the body quite like him. Unfortunately, the Brazilian is a little one-dimensional. If Villante can turn this into a grappling match, Maldonado could be in trouble.

    Villante, Unanimous Decision

Leonardo Santos vs. Norman Parke

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    Sean Smith

    Before his latest outing against Jon Tuck, Norman Parke had been cruising to wins by utilizing his solid top control. However, at UFC Fight Night 30, the Irishman showed he's capable of winning fights with his striking as well. That was an important sign of progression heading into a matchup with Leonardo Santos, who is a dangerous opponent for Parke to roll with.

    Parke, Unanimous Decision

     

    Riley Kontek

    A pair of TUF winners with good grappling pedigrees makes for an interesting bout. Santos is world class on the ground, while Parke is a hard-nosed grinder. On the feet, this is likely closer. Picking a winner here is really tough, but Santos' submission edge likely makes him the victor here.

    Santos, Submission, Rd. 3

     

    Scott Harris

    Parke is a fast-rising fighter in the division. I like his hands and his judo base, which is strong for a European. I think he'll push the pace and outlast a smart but overmatched fighter in Santos.

    Parke, Unanimous Decision

     

    Craig Amos

    There's a lot of submission prowess in this matchup. Between them, Santos and Parke have tallied a total of 20 finishes on the mat. Often in these scenarios, you'll see a striking match ensue, but I think Santos will control the action and prove he is the superior grappler.

    Santos, Submission, Rd. 2

     

    James MacDonald

    While neither fighter is one-dimensional—particularly Parke—this contest should come down to who dictates the terms of the fight. If Santos can get the Northern Irishman to the mat consistently, he should have a significant advantage. However, if Parke is able to stuff the Brazilian’s shots, it’s his fight to lose. My money is on the latter scenario playing out.

    Parke, TKO, Rd. 3

Cezar Ferreira vs. CB Dollaway

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    Jason da Silva-USA TODAY Sports

    Sean Smith

    Will Vitor Belfort be the same cornerman without testosterone replacement therapy? Obviously, with "The Phenom" being a regular voice in Cezar Ferreira's ear, that's the big question in this matchup. Seriously, though, CB Dollaway is going to wrestle himself right into a submission.

    Ferreira, Submission, Rd. 1

     

    Riley Kontek

    Ferreira is here, but the UFC could have come up with a much better co-main than this bout. Ferreira is an impressive fighter, and I think he is going to test Dollaway's chin. Whether it holds up remains to be seen.

    Ferreira, TKO, Rd. 2

     

    Scott Harris

    Seems like this will be either a Fight of the Night candidate or a snooze-fest. I'm fearing the latter. I like "Mutante's" skills and his future, but he won't be able to get off on Dollaway. The Arizona State wrestler takes a sludgy decision.

    Dollaway, Unanimous Decision

     

    Craig Amos

    This one has given me a bit of a headache, but I've settled on Ferreira for two reasons. First, he's a finisher, and Dollaway is a fighter who can be finished. Second, the contest will take place in Brazil, which means there is a good chance a close decision will end up going the Brazilian's way.

    Ferreira, TKO, Rd. 2

     

    James MacDonald

    I’m not sure which way to go on this one. I shan’t lie: Neither fighter particularly excites me. However, I think Ferreira has a slightly higher ceiling, even if I believe he’s a touch overrated. I can see the Brazilian stopping Dollaway fairly early.

    Ferreira, TKO, Rd. 1

Mauricio Rua vs. Dan Henderson

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    Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

    Sean Smith

    Dan Henderson could go right back to owning one of the better chins in the light heavyweight division. I feel his knockout loss to Vitor Belfort was a sign of things to come for the 43-year-old, though. Ask Chuck Liddell how quickly a fighter's chin can turn to glass once he gets up there in age and mileage.

    Rua, (T)KO, Rd. 1

     

    Riley Kontek

    Sometimes, when you have an amazing fight that is considered one of the best, you leave it at that. Doing it again is how you ruin things. It's going to be very tough for Henderson and Mauricio Rua to top their classic bout. I will go with history despite the fact "Hendo" is on a losing streak. His wrestling is ever important here, as is his ability to throw one huge strike that turns the tide.

    Henderson, Unanimous Decision

     

    Scott Harris

    This fight isn't exactly earth-shaking for me, but that doesn't mean it won't have value to a large number of fans. And hey, that's cool. I just hope they're not expecting something like the original, which was a peerless brawl. In this one, Rua should use kicks and clinch knees to even the score on the strong but plodding Henderson.

    Rua, Unanimous Decision

     

    Craig Amos

    Of these two men in decline, Rua most recently showed a spark, knocking out James Te-Huna in short order. Add in that Henderson is on the wrong side of 40 and that being knocked out (which he just was) at his age usually spells bad things for the future. This might be the end of the road for Hendo.

    Rua, TKO, Rd. 2

     

    James MacDonald

    The last time these two met, circumstances were very different. Henderson had been on a tear in Strikeforce, while Rua had only recently relinquished the UFC light heavyweight title. Now times have changed, with both men struggling badly for form.

    That being said, Shogun showed us he may have something left last time out, starching Te-Huna inside a round. Henderson, on the contrary, hasn’t posted a win since the pair’s first war at UFC 139. I can see the Brazilian ending this one late, after a competitive opening few rounds.

    Rua, TKO, Rd. 4

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