UFC Fight Night 125 Predictions: Main Card Staff Picks

Scott Harris@ScottHarrisMMAMMA Lead WriterFebruary 2, 2018

UFC Fight Night 125 Predictions: Main Card Staff Picks

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    Lyoto Machida (left) and Eryk Anders
    Lyoto Machida (left) and Eryk AndersBuda Mendes/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    The UFC returns to Brazil Saturday when UFC Fight Night 125 goes down on Fox Sports 1 and UFC Fight Pass.

    In the main event, 39-year-old Lyoto Machida takes what is probably his last grab for continued relevance when he takes on one of the middleweight divison's hottest young bucks in power striker Eryk Anders.

    Since Machida has lost his last two fights by knockout, there's a sense that a power striker may not be the world's most favorable matchup for him.

    As always, we shall see. And we will see plenty in a busy six-fight main event.

    Here to break it all down is our valiant predictions team. Hold on to your hats, though—we have a new member.

    We're bidding a fond farewell to long-time fight picker and live blogger Craig "Cookie" Amos and welcoming in columnist and general Swiss Army knife Matthew Ryder. He'll join Nathan McCarter and myself, Scott Harris.

    Ready? Let's get it on.

Thiago Santos vs. Anthony Smith

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    Thiago Santos
    Thiago SantosBuda Mendes/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Matthew Ryder

    Thiago Santos vs. Anthony Smith should be a good fight to open the card—short and violent.

    Both guys are riding three-fight KO streaks against middling competition, but Smith is younger than Santos, and his most recent win is over Hector Lombard, who's more proven than anyone else on either guy's resume.

    I'll take Smith here. He'll use his size and length to land something flush and finish things in the first.

    Smith, TKO, Rd. 1

           

    Nathan McCarter

    This isn't a bad fight by any stretch, but it should be a win for Santos. He's simply the better fighter.

    If he gets dragged into an ugly fight, Smith could take over late. I don't think it gets that far. Santos will hurt Smith to the body and finish for another statement-making performance.

    Santos, TKO, Rd. 1

             

    Scott Harris

    Santos is a freight train and is fun to watch, but Smith weathers the storm in this one.

    He's solid in the clinch and on the ground (certainly more so than Santos). "Deep waters" is an annoying cliche, but it applies here.

    Smith, unanimous decision

Timothy Johnson vs. Marcelo Golm

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    Timothy Johnson
    Timothy JohnsonJosh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Ryder

    I have literally—literally—never heard of Marcelo Golm. Timothy Johnson has flip-flopped wins and losses throughout his UFC run, but the last time he fought a Brazilian guy I'd never heard of he got stretched by Junior Albini.

    Even so, I'll say Johnson continues his trend of alternating wins and losses here, fueled by that lesson learned against Albini. 

    Johnson, unanimous decision

            

    McCarter

    After an impressive UFC debut last October, the UFC is going to see just what the undefeated Golm has to offer.

    Johnson is a classic UFC measuring stick. He's not a top contender, but he's able to push fighters into deep waters to see if they sink or swim. Golm will swim in an ugly fight.

    Golm, unanimous decision

          

    Harris

    There aren't a lot of hard-and-fast rules in MMA. One of them is that if you lose to "Diapers" Albini, you need to earn your way back from that. No benefit of the doubt.

    Golm beats Johnson in the output game and takes a fun decision.

    Golm, unanimous decision

Michel Prazeres vs. Desmond Green

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    Desmond Green
    Desmond GreenJosh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Ryder

    Michel Prazeres is sneaky good, amassing a 7-2 UFC record while only losing to Paulo Thiago and Kevin Lee. He's repeatedly shown he can beat guys in the middle of the pack, which is where Desmond Green is, at best.

    I'd say Green tries to make it ugly, then Prazeres surprises him by being comfortable there and takes a close decision.

    Prazeres, unanimous decision

          

    McCarter

    Green may get slept on in this spot, but don't forget he took Josh Emmet to the limit. But, I'll still take Prazeres, one of the most underrated workers on the roster. A gritty 15 minutes is expected. 

    Prazeres, unanimous decision 

            

    Harris

    I really like this fight. Prazeres is more of a power grinder than anything else, but there's pop in his fists, and that keeps opponents honest.

    Green is seeking a signature win, and he will get it here with a more well-rounded skill set, assuming he can stay clear of Prazeres' dangerous chokes.

    Green, unanimous decision

Valentina Shevchenko vs. Priscila Cachoeira

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    Valentina Shevchenko (right)
    Valentina Shevchenko (right)Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    Ryder

    Valentina Shevchenko might be the best bantamweight on the planet today and might not even be doing this whole 125-pound thing with some more goodwill from judges.

    Look for this one to be a showcase for her against a badly overmatched but game opponent in Priscila Cachoeira, who has never fought above the regional level.

    Shevchenko, TKO, Rd. 3

          

    McCarter

    Per OddsShark, Shevchenko is a minus-900 favorite in some places. That tells you almost everything you need to know. She'll win.

    As for Cachoeira, she's an undefeated prospect. This fight will help her identify where she needs to develop, but it's simply too much, too soon.

    Shevchenko, TKO, Rd. 2

           

    Harris

    I'm inspired by Cachoeira's amazing backstory, chronicled by Bleacher Report MMA's own Chad Dundas.

    I'm glad she has an opportunity to compete in the UFC, and in front of her compatriots no less.

    She's not winning this fight, though. Not only is there a skills gap, there's a chasm in terms of raw speed and general athleticism.

    The keys to the fledgling women's flyweight division are on a tee for Shevchenko. She'll take a big swing Saturday.

    Shevchenko, TKO, Rd. 2

Lyoto Machida vs. Eryk Anders

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    Eryk Anders
    Eryk AndersSteve Luciano/Associated Press

    Ryder

    Machida has looked done in recent bouts. Big, strong athletes have just been blasting him cold and finishing him, which is sad considering how uniquely excellent he once was.

    Anders is a big, strong athlete—one people seem increasingly hyped on. Logic says he's going to be the next dude to tee off on The Dragon and get famous, but I'll be damned if I'm going to be logical here.

    Anders has precisely one win over someone with a Wikipedia page, and while he's looked good for a 10-0 prospect, he is still incredibly raw with obvious holes in his stand-up game.

    A guy as skilled and experienced as Machida might just find one of them and surprise some people.

    Machida, TKO, Rd. 1

          

    McCarter

    It feels weird saying this, but I have no faith in Machida. Especially against a developing, athletic, hard-hitting talent like Anders.

    Machida may look good early as he did against Derek Brunson, but much like that fight, it will quickly go all wrong for the Brazilian when he takes a power shot.

    Anders, KO, Rd. 1

           

    Harris

    I don't begrudge anyone from taking a sentimental flyer on Machida. I'm not going to follow suit.

    One day, Anders will face someone who can test him in different areas. Saturday is not that day. MMA isn't always rocket science.

    Anders, TKO, Rd. 2