UFC Fight Night: Machida vs. Romero Crystal Ball Predictions

This Saturday’s UFC Fight Night in Hollywood, Florida, is a beleaguered event that has lost several fights due to visa complications for athletes. Even still, the event features some excellent matchups, and is headlined by an intriguing middleweight contender’s bout.

Former champion Lyoto Machida looks to jump right back into the middleweight title picture with a short-notice fight against former Olympian Yoel Romero. Romero wants to extend his win streak to six, and earn the biggest win of his career.

So, read on, then let us know who you’re picking on Twitter and Facebook! Then tune in to FOX Sports 1 on Saturday, starting at 7 p.m. ET.

Lyoto Machida (22-6) vs. Yoel Romero (9-1)

This middleweight contender’s bout has its positives and negatives. The positives are obvious — Romero and Machida are both top-of-the-food-chain athletes, with stopping power, who are seemingly always on the verge of earning a title shot.

So, fans are in for a high-caliber, entertaining affair. Really, the only thing not to like about this fight is that Lyoto Machida took the fight too close to his tough submission loss to Luke Rockhold in April.

Two months isn’t nearly enough time for Machida to have recovered from damage sustained from his previous training camp, to say nothing of the rough fight against Rockhold. Machida no doubt jumped at the chance to get back on the winning track, and against a top contender like Yoel Romero.

Romero’s coach, Ricardo Liborio, told us that he’s confident that since Machida keeps himself in shape year-round, he’ll be ready and dangerous in this fight, despite his taking it on short notice. "The Dragon" can certainly win this fight, and he may very well be the more well-rounded fighter in this match-up.

However, it simply isn’t smart or healthy for someone near 40 years of age, who has fought for all of his adult life, to rush back into camps and fights. If Machida wins, he could still very well be more banged up for the effort.

Certainly, a win over the streaking famed wrestler would put Machida right back into title contention. He also must like the prospect of fighting someone his own age for a change.

Romero is explosive and strong, but Machida’s own defensive wrestling is impressive. He also posesses one-strike KO power just as Romero does but combines it with more slick and technical striking.

Romero has won five straight fights, four by stoppage. However, he has been far from dominant, and that may be what is most impressive about his streak.

Though he finished both Tim Kennedy and Derek Brunson, he was in big trouble and hurt badly by them before doing so. Romero showed that, even when slowed and stunned, he has the conditioning to keep pressing forward, and that he’s a threat until the very end.

Make no mistake about it, Machida certainly has multiple ways to win this fight — including KO or decision — but it is hard to pick against Romero because of his preparation. This fight is a toss-up, but I like that Romero has had since last September to rest and improve, as opposed to Machida’s quick turnaround.

Prediction: Romero by decision

Antonio Carlos Jr. (4-1) vs. Eddie Gordon (7-3)

Gordon has lost two straight fights and knows he’ll likely need a win to keep his UFC run going. Carlos Jr. is also coming off a loss — the first of his young professional career.

Antonio Carlos Jr. has a tough fight ahead of him, but he has the stuff to win it.

It will be interesting to see how the Brazilian bounces back after his first major setback. He’ll want to close the distance and put Gordon on his back and look for his first UFC submission.

Gordon will want to keep the submission fighter off him and try to land some strikes with his big power. This one could certainly go either way.

Prediction: Carlos Jr. by decision

Santiago Ponzinibbio (19-2) vs. Lorenz Larkin (15-4)

Santiago has won two straight fights after losing his UFC debut. Larkin snapped a three-fight losing streak last January with a TKO win over John Howard. Both these men are sluggers, though Ponzinibbio also mixes in some solid submission ability into the mix. But we can’t disregard Larkin’s skills in the clinch.

Prediction: Larkin by decision

Steve Bosse (10-1) vs. Thiago Santos (10-3)

Bosse finally gets his UFC debut, after several false starts. He carries with him an eight-fight winning streak but has not fought in over two years.

Santos has gone 2-2 in the UFC but has been much more active and faced stiffer competition than the former hockey player. Bosse will also have to make the middleweight category, after fighting at higher weight classes in the past.

He’s told us in the past that he walks around at just around 20 pounds over the middleweight limit, so we suspect the 33-year-old will make weight just fine. In any case, someone is probably going to go out in this fight — sad to say — as both men are heavy hitters.

Santos’ recent activity could mean he’s a bit sharper, but only time will tell.

Prediction: Santos by stoppage

Hacran Dias (22-3-1) vs. Levan Makashvili (7-1)

Dias’ submissions will battle against Makashvili’s wrestling and KO power. Tough fight for both featherweights but we like Dias in a close fight.

Prediction: Dias by decision

Alex Oliveira (11-2) vs. Joe Merritt (6-0)

This fight will be Oliveira’s third since March, and his second in just about three weeks. He’ll take on the debuting Merrit, who is a knockout machine.

Alex Oliveira is very dangerous on the ground.

All of Merritt’s wins are by KO, but the Brazilian took out another good striker in KJ Noons, by submission, and he’s confident that he can do it again.

Prediction: Oliveira by decision

Leandro Silva (17-2-1, 1 NC) vs. Lewis Gonzalez (10-1)

Both men are coming off of long absences from fighting, but Silva has faced the stiffer competition. Gonzalez is quite well rounded, but Silva’s submission abilities may make the difference.

Prediction: Silva by decision

Steve Montgomery (8-2) vs. Tony Sims (9-2)

Both men are making their UFC debuts this Saturday, but Montgomery has the hometown advantage as a Florida fighter, as well as getting the nod in the nickname department. "The Creepy Weasal" has good striking power in addition to a fantastic moniker.

Sims will bring solid wrestling skills to this bout, however, and he won’t be an easy out.

Prediction: Montgomery by decision

Danny Martinez (16-6) vs. Sirwan Kakai (11-2)

Martinez will try to use his power to earn his first UFC win, in his third outing with the promotion. Kakai has been a solid finisher en route to this, his UFC debut.

There’s no telling with this one, but we like Kakai’s size and momentum, heading into this fight against the American.

Prediction: Kakai by decision