UFC Fight Night: Mendes vs. Lamas Crystal Ball Predictions

This Saturday, trade in your cartoons and cereal for fights and … well, you can keep the cereal if you want. Point is, UFC action is coming at you bright and early this weekend on FOX Sports 1 from Fairfax, Virginia, with one heck of a stacked free card.

Check out all our analysis and picks on fights featuring Chad Mendes, Ricardo Lamas, Clay Guida, Julianna Pena and more. Then, let us know who you’re picking in the comments section and on Twitter!

Chad Mendes (17-2) vs. Ricardo Lamas (15-3)

Other than champion Jose Aldo, Mendes and Lamas are the best the UFC’s talent-rich division has to offer (OK, Frankie Edgar too). Both Lamas and Mendes have run through just about everyone they’ve faced other than the champ, and now will fight one another to see who can take a step closer to another title shot.

Lamas already has begun his recovery since losing a decision to Aldo in February 2014, with a decision win over Hacran Diaz in June, and then a first-round submission win over Dennis Bermudez in November. For his part, this will be Mendes’ first time fighting since losing his blood and guts rematch against Aldo by close decision in October.

Mendes told us that he’s treating the five-round main event as a world title fight. Lamas, meanwhile, is motivated to take on and take out the division’s clear No. 2.

Both men possess similar styles, in some respects. Their bases are in wrestling, both are comfortable with stand-up striking, and each has good top control.

Lamas may have even better striking on the ground from on top, as well as sharper submission holds. Mendes, however, may be the better takedown artist, and he may also have a slight speed advantage with his ground scrambling.

Chad Mendes (R) will fight for the first time since his epic title rematch against champion Jose Aldo (L).

Those two areas likely give a slight advantage to Mendes. If he can put Lamas on his back, he should be able to stay out of submissions and win.

That said, Lamas has the hand speed to catch anyone on the feet, and if Mendes gives up takedowns repeatedly, he could have his work cut out for him.

Prediction: Mendes by close decision

Jorge Masvidal (28-8) vs. Al Iaquinta (11-3-1)

Jorge Masvidal (R) will have an unexpectedly tough challenge in Al Iaqunita.

This fight could take place entirely on the feet as both lightweights are sluggers. Both Masvidal and Iaquinta are on a roll, and an exciting co-main event win could propel either man into the lightweight division’s top five.

If they come to stand and bang, either man could end up connecting first, and getting a sudden win. However, Iaquinta may have a slight punching power advantage.

In addition, Iaquinta would be well served to keep a mind toward timing takedown attempts off of Masvidal’s punches, if the Floridian starts chasing him without cutting angles.

Prediction: Iaquinta by decision

Michael Chiesa (11-2) vs. Mitch Clarke (11-2)

Clarke hasn’t fought for nearly a year but carries a two-fight win streak into his Fairfax scrap against Chiesa. One of those wins was a submission victory over Iaquinta in May 2014.

That’s nothing to sniff at. Chiesa has lost to the very good Joe Lauzon and Masvidal in the past year and a half but also has won two of his past three bouts.

"The Maverick" is always well-conditioned, durable and dangerous with submissions. This could be a wild affair on the feet as well as a fast-paced grappling contest.

Prediction: Chiesa by decision

Julianna Pena (5-2) vs. Milana Dudieva (11-3)

One of the UFC’s brightest new talents, Julianna Pena (left), finally returns to action. 

"The Ultimate Fighter" season 18 winner Pena returns to the Octagon for the first time since 2013 after a series of traumatic leg injuries that required surgery and a long layoff. Her opponent, Dudieva, won three straight fights in 2014, including two by submission.

These two have contrasting grappling styles with Pena being the better wrestler and Dudieva being extremely dangerous with submissions. Pena will need to be on point all fight long, and stay alert and aware of submission attacks, even if she spends most of the fight on top.

Dudieva needs to put doubt in to the head of the returning Pena, attacking her limbs with submission combinations all fight long. She’ll need great conditioning to do so, but she may be the sharper fighter given Pena’s time out.

Prediction: Dudieva by arm bar

Clay Guida (31-15) vs. Robert Peralta (18-5)

Clay Guida (L) will bring his hustling style to Fairfax, Saturday. 

Guida is fighting for the first time since losing to Dennis Bermudez last July. "The Carpenter" has made lots of changes in his training, including who he trains with and under.

Guida has lost two of his past three fights, and absorbed some very hard shots in both of them. After nearly nine years in the UFC alone, one of the sport’s most exciting and durable top fighters is racking up the mileage, and that could be a factor against a young power puncher like Peralta.

That said, Peralta has never beaten someone at Guida’s level, and the scrappy wrestler has faced and beaten more top fighters than just about anyone who isn’t currently a world champion, at either lightweight or featherweight.

That experience, as well as his wrestling, could give Guida a good chance at getting another "W."

Prediction: Guida by decision

Dustin Poirier (16-4) vs. Carlos Diego Ferreira (11-1)

Neither man has fought since the fall of 2014, and both are looking to rebound after losses. Ferreira tasted defeat for the first time in his career against Beneil Dariush in his last outing, and Poirier got caught by a punch to the back of the head and lost to Conor McGregor via sudden TKO.

With time to rest, heal and hone their skills, both the American and Brazilian have chances to shine once more. We think that Poirier, who was on a three-fight win streak before his loss to McGregor, is still one of the more well-rounded in the featherweight division, and should be the favorite.

Prediction: Poirier by decision

Liz Carmouche (9-5) vs. Lauren Murphy (8-1)

Carmouche is undersized for 135 pounds, but the former world title challenger has been finished only by champion Ronda Rousey. Murphy is coming off of a split-decision loss to Sara McMann, her first as a professional.

If Murphy can use her size advantage, she could slow Carmouche enough to win a decision. However, Carmouche is hard to overpower and has the experience advantage in terms of top competition.

Prediction: Murphy by decision

Gray Maynard (11-4-1) vs. Alexander Yakovlev (21-6-1)

Maynard has long been one of the very best lightweights in the world. However, "The Bully" hasn’t earned a clear-cut win since winning a decision over Kenny Florian in 2010.

Following that, he had two wars against Edgar, with a draw and a loss to show, and then a controversial win over Guida that this writer feels he deserved to lose.

What is beyond debate is that Maynard took a lot of punishment in his past three fights — all TKO losses — against TJ Grant, Nate Diaz and Ross Pearson. Saturday, Maynard will return to action for the first time since August.

Yakovlev has lost two straight, but by way of decision. This fight is hard to call because it’s impossible to know just how much damage Maynard has sustained and whether his health might require him to hang up his gloves after a great career.

Yakovlev has good striking power and strong submissions from the top position. But if Maynard can figure out a way to get inside and take him down, he should be able to win a decision.

Having the timing and reflexes to do so may be tough for him at this point. Still, we’ll pick Gray one more time.

Prediction: Maynard by decision

Shamil Abdurahimov (15-2) vs. Timothy Johnson (8-1)

Both big men are finishing machines. The Russian has a bit of an experience edge, but Johnson has the confidence of a young man on a win streak.

Prediction: Abdurahimov by decision

Ron Stallings (12-7) vs. Justin Jones (3-1)

Stallings will get his chance to show what he can do in the UFC with more than a few days’ notice when he takes on San Diego’s Jones. Everything we hear out of Jones’ camp is that the young fighter has crazy strength and big upside.

Both men had tough draws for their first UFC bouts, and this should be a fair test for both.

Prediction: Jones by decision