Belfort vs. Henderson predictions
Saturday will mark the second time in four days that the UFC is live on Fox Sports 1, which means it is time to break out the crystal ball once again and offer up some picks for UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Henderson.
Vitor Belfort (23-10) vs. Dan Henderson (29-10)
As good as Henderson has been over his lengthy, decorated career, he has become too one dimensional to pick at this point, at least against strong competition like Belfort.
While there is always the potential of the 43-year-old landing that nasty overhand right of his, it’s easy to see it coming these days, and given that Belfort has a significant speed advantage and much younger legs, there is little chance of it happening here.
Look for Belfort to pace himself, staying out of harm’s way and doing damage in short bursts from the outside. Though the chances of him knocking out the durable veteran Henderson (he’s never been KO’ed in his career), “The Phenom” should win a fairly clean decision here.
Prediction: Vitor Belfort by Unanimous Decision
Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira (6-2) vs. Daniel Sarafian (8-3)
These two were supposed to meet in the Ultimate Fighter: Brazil middleweight finals last summer, but an injury to Sarafian kept it from happening. Both have since made a pair of appearances in the Octagon, and will finally lock horns here.
“Mutante” is Vitor Belfort’s protégé and I think we see the student earn a victory on the same card as the teacher in this one.
Ferreira is the most explosive and athletic of the two, and looks to have the superior conditioning as well. Sarafian looked very good last time out, but took a while to get going in his UFC debut against C.B. Dollaway. He’ll start sluggish here, and Ferreira will make him pay for it.
Prediction: Cezar Ferreira by TKO, Round 1
Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante (11-4) vs. Igor Pokrajac (25-10)
“Feijao” can’t possibly look as poorly as he did against Thiago Silva last time out… can he?
Both men need a victory in a bad way, and while the abysmal showing Cavalcante turned in last time should make Pokrajac the choice, the Croatian has a tendency to play to his opponent’s strengths, and it will cost him here.
Much like he did in his fight with Vinny Magalhaes, Pokrajac will make a mistake along the fence, leaving his neck out, at which point, “Feijao” will snag a guillotine, and secure the finish.
Prediction: Rafael “Feijao” by Submission, Round 1
Paulo Thiago (15-5) vs. Brandon Thatch (10-1)
Thatch is more than just a regional talent that has been beating up tomato cans on smaller shows, and the finisher known as “Rukus” should continue to prove that here.
As much as Thiago is a significant step up in competition, there is nothing in Thatch’s background that suggests he’s not capable of making the leap. He’s an aggressive, offensive fighter that won’t be overwhelmed fighting in Brazil, and his power is legit.
Thiago will need to close the distance to have a chance, and Thatch will catch him on the way in.
Prediction: Brandon Thatch by TKO, Round 1
Ryan LaFlare (8-0) vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio (18-1)
LaFlare maintained his perfect record through his UFC debut, using his superior wrestling skills to earn a decision win over Ben Alloway back in April. Now he faces off with Ponzinibbio, who would have been a finalist on Season 2 of TUF: Brazil had a broken forearm not sidelined him.
While LaFlare could certainly turn this into another wrestling exhibition, there is just something about the Argentine Ponzinibbio that is hard to overlook. Going 18-1 is one thing, but mixing in 16 finishes through those 18 victories speaks to an ability to capitalize on openings and win fights by various methods.
Ponzinibbio will be active off his back if he’s put there, and do just enough to earn the nod on the scorecards.
Prediction: Santiago Ponzinibbio by Unanimous Decision
Rony Jason (13-3) vs. Jeremy Stephens (21-9)
After three straight wins against lower tier opposition, Jason gets a significant step up in competition here, taking on Stephens in his second appearance at featherweight and 17th trip into the Octagon.
As much as this is the toughest fight the TUF: Brazil featherweight winner has faced to date, he’s shown improvement each time out, and has the kind of all-around skills to get the better of “Lil’ Heathen” here.
Stephens can be too aggressive for his own good at times, and while he worked the ground-and-pound well against Payan, Jason is much more of a threat of his back, and has far more power standing.
Look for the Brazilian to land with his hands, stun Stephens, and finish him with the submission.
Prediction: Rony Jason by Submission, Round 2
Godofredo Pepey (9-2) vs. Sam Sicilia (11-3)
This one comes down to whether Pepey wants to use his ground game or not. For the record: he should, as he’s the superior of the two on the canvas, and Sicilia throws everything with power.
The problem is that sometimes he gets too caught up in the energy of the fight and too aggressive, and it costs him, as it did last time out against Felipe Arantes. When he should be working hard to close the distance and fight on the ground, Pepey will leave his chin exposed, and Sicilia will tag him.
Prediction: Sam Sicilia by TKO, Round 1
Thiago Perpetuo (9-1-1) vs. Omari Ahkmedov (11-0)
This one is easy: with the run of success being enjoyed by the recent slew of Russians entering the UFC, it’s impossible to pick against the unbeaten Ahkmedov.
Prediction: Omari Ahkmedov by TKO, Round 1
Thiago Tavares (17-5-1) vs. Justin Salas (11-4)
Salas looked really good earning a win over veteran Aaron Riley last time out, and Tavares hasn’t been seen since Khabib Nurmagomedov dropped him with a single punch back in January.
Tavares’ rust and Salas’ more fluid striking game give “J-Bomb” the edge.
Prediction: Justin Salas by Unanimous Decision
Daron Cruickshank (13-3) vs. Adriano Martins (24-6)
Cruickshank does a very good job of maintaining space and using his kicks to score without putting himself in too much danger.
As dicey as it is to keep tapping “Out of Towners” in Brazil, this is Martins’ first fight since last January, and “The Detroit Superstar” is a much better than the opposition the Brazilian has faced as of late.
Prediction: Daron Cruickshank by Unanimous Decision
Jose Maria Tome (33-4) vs. Dustin Ortiz (11-2)
Ortiz is a nice addition to the flyweight division and should eventually have some success, but this feels like a tall order in his debut.
Tome looked good in the early going of his fight with John Lineker, and likely would have beaten just about anyone else, except than Lineker has a granite jaw and ate some gnarly shots before firing back with fire of his own and putting “No Chance” away.
After losing for the first time in five years, look for Tome to start another winning streak here.
Prediction: Jose Maria Tome by TKO, Round 2