After a long hiatus, my first semester of graduate school is over and I am back writing predictions & analysis for No Apologies Sports. Tonight on UFC’s digital network, Fight Pass, and Fox Sports 1, the last fight card of the year will feature 12 fights: 6 prelim fights, 2 of which will be on Fight Pass, and 4 on Fox Sports 1; and 6 fights on the main card aired on Fox Sports 1.
The main event will feature Lyoto Machida facing off against C.B. Dollaway to find out which middleweight will move up or keep their place in the rankings. Machida, a former title challenger and perennial contender at light heavyweight, dropped down to middleweight in October of 2013 and earned a title shot after knocking out Mark Munoz and earning a dominant unanimous decision over Gegard Mousasi. Machida was outclassed by the middleweight champion Chris Weidman in the first 3 rounds, but came out hard in the 4th and 5th rounds, and put Weidman in the most trouble he’d seen in his UFC career. Machida clearly lost the decision to Weidman, but his stock rose after demonstrating his grit and striking ability in the face of adversity. Dollaway had a rough run in the middleweight division years back going 0-2 in 2011, but is now 4-1 including a 1st round KO win over Ultimate Fighter Brazil winner Cezar Ferreira and with his only loss coming by way of controversial decision to Tim Boetsch. Dollaway is a talented wrestler, and Machida struggles with elite wrestlers, but decimates mediocre wrestlers such as Ryan Bader. I don’t see Dollaway being a strong enough wrestler to challenge Machida, and I see Machida earning a knockout win in the second round.
The co-main event will feature the return of Renan Barão. Barão is coming back from weight troubles that cost him his title and a chance to regain his belt from TJ Dillashaw. Tonight he will be facing a surging submission ace in Mitch Gagnon. Barão was undefeated for 5 years, culmonating that streak in winning the interim bantamweight championship in a fight with Urijah Faber, defending the interim belt twice, and defending the interim turned undisputed belt against Urijah Faber once again after Dominic Cruz was stripped due to inactivity due to injuries. Barão was dominated by Dillashaw in May and lost his title via a 5th round TKO, and fainted cutting weight before attempting to challenge Dillashaw again. Gagnon has 11 submissions to his 12 victories, and is 4-1 in his last 5, with 3 submission victories and a lone loss to Bryan Caraway. Gagnon has never fought anyone near the realm of expertise that Barão possesses, and Gagnon is a warm up fight for Barão to regain his confidence in cutting down to the bantamweight limit disguised with the notion of Gagnon being a “surging prospect ready for a stiff test.” If Barão had a weight cut was actually as smooth as it looked yesterday, as he looked good stepping on the scale, he should destroy Gagnon in the first round.
The fourth bout of the main card will feature Antônio Carlos Júnior fighting Patrick Cummins in the light heavyweight division. Carlos Júnior is coming off of his victorious run on the Ultimate Fighter Brazil Season 3 where he was the heavyweight champion, and will be making his light heavyweight debut tonight. Cummins was 3-0 before becoming a late replacement to face Daniel Cormier earlier this year, and after losing that bout he has won 2 straight in impressive fashion, looking dominant in both appearances. Cummins is a former amateur wrestling standout that has been able to control all of his opponents who haven’t had higher wrestling credentials than him. Carlos Júnior is 4-0 professionally, but has never faced a wrestler the caliber or Cummins. For a lack of data on both fighter in general, I have to pick Cummins based on his high level wrestling experience, and I think he will earn a unanimous decision over Carlos Júnior in dominant fashion.
The first 3 fights on the main card feature fighters who can fit prelim spots on a big main card nicely, but due to the large number of events that the UFC puts on, these fighters have all landed on the main card televised on Fox Sports 1. Elias Silverio and Rashid Magomedov should be a competitive battle, but with a lack of finishes and high level experience between the two of them, I expect Magomedov’s boxing experience to hold true and earn him a unanimous decision victory. Erick Silva is a consistently exciting fighter, facing off against Mike Rhodes who is 0-2 in the UFC. Silva tends to either finish or get finished rather quickly, Silva has faced elite competition and has held his own relatively well and I don’t expect Rhodes to have the capability to hold up to his attack, Silva should finish the bout by submission in the first round. Ultimate Fighter Season 1 finalist Daniel Sarafian is fighting Antônio dos Santos Jr. in the middleweight division. Sarafian, the rightful winner of the Ultimate Fighter Season 1 after defeating the winner of the season after being forced to withdraw from the final due to injury, will face a debuting dos Santos Jr., and I expect Sarafian to win by submission in the first round, as high level experience is often the biggest attribute that a fighter can possess.
What are your thoughts set to air on on Fox Sports 1 tonight? Please comment below with any ideas and feedback.