Heili Alateng (13-7) Vs Ryan Benoit (10-5)
To open our night of fights, we got Ryan Benoit making a return to the octagon. Benoit has been out of competition since 2017. He’s had 5 fights in the UFC, going 3-2 in them. Standing across from him is Heili Alateng who is coming off a decision win against a fellow UFC debut. This will be Alateng’s second fight since joining the UFC. During Benoit’s last time out, he won by head kick and looked great in doing so. Benoit has trouble remaining calm when he gets hit, and doesn’t have the best wrestling or takedown defense. Alateng has some serious power and has pretty good wrestling. I’m not sure how this fight plays out, but I see Alateng winning, be it by decision or getting knocked out. Benoit won his last fight, and in the UFC he alters his wins and losses. So if history prevails, he’ll lose this one.
Amanda Lemos (6-1-1) Vs Miranda Granger (7-0)
Amanda Lemos is coming off a 2 year USADA suspension. She lost her last fight to the ever durable Leslie Smith. Miranda Granger was undefeated 5-0 in her amateur bouts before making her professional debut in 2017. Granger made her UFC debut against Hannah Goldy, an impressive looking prospect from the Contender Series, her last fight out. Lemos is the more powerful striker, but something about Granger makes me think she’s going to win. She dominated Goldy, who I was very high on, had a good gas tank, and crisp striking. This fight is hard to pick because Lemos hasn’t fought in so long. I expect Lemos to lose this one but you never know with women’s MMA.
Said Nurmagomedov (13-1) Vs Raoni Barcelos (14-1)
This is my potential fight of the night. Said Nurmagomedov is coming off a impressive finish of Ricardo Ramos his last time out, while Raoni Barcelos is 3-0 in the UFC having yet to go to decision. Said Nurmagomedov is the longer fighter with slick takedown defense. Barcelos is going to have to get inside his range to get this win and I feel that is going to be a tough task. I expect Said to win this one, but I’m pulling for Raoni Barcelos.
Matt Schnell (14-4) Vs Alexandre Pantoja (21-4)
Matt Schnell starting 0-2 in the UFC, went back to the drawing boards and has now won 4 in a row. Pantoja is another exciting flyweight who has only tasted defeat in the UFC against two really tough opponents, Dustin Ortiz and Deveison Figueiredo. This is another fight that is going to be bananas. Pantoja is coming off a war his last time out and I expect him to come out guns blazing. Schnell has been on this run, but the thing is, for him to win he needs to get his opponent to the ground, and that’s going to be hard against Pantoja. Pantoja has the better striking and isn’t going to get finished from top mount. I mean, he couldn’t get submitted by Formiga or knocked out against a guy like Figueiredo. I expect Pantoja to win this and derail the hype train Matt Schnell.
Omar Morales (8-0) Vs Dong Hyun Ma (16-10-3)
Omar Morales is another Contender Series veteran. I personally think he’s one of the best fighters this past season on the show and expect him to do great things in the octagon. Dong Hyun Ma is truly in for a rough night. Ma was looking good his last fight out before ultimately getting stopped by Scott Holtzman. Omar Morales should knock Dong Hyun Ma and get his first win in the UFC. Ma gets hit every fight and if he hasn’t fixed that, he’s going to end up face down, butt up on the canvas.
Suman Mokhtarian (8-1) Vs Seung Woo-Choi (7-3)
This fight, I genuinely have no idea how it’ll play out. I normally have some type of clue but this one is up in the air. Both fighters aren’t the best. Suman and his brother are mightily green and finessed themselves into the position they’re in. Woo-Choi is a brawler with some power and if I had to pick someone in this fight, it’s him. I expect them both to just stand and trade because neither have any wrestling. I expect Seung to get the finish, probabaly in the first round.
Ciryl Gane (5-0) Vs Tanner Boser (17-5-1)
Ciryl Gane is Francis Ngannou’s training partner and close friend. This will be his third fight since making his debut in August. He’s a very promising prospect, securing a submission in both of his first two fights. What’s crazy about that is he came in as a striker. Tanner Boser is making his second walk to the UFC octagon. He’s coming off a decision victory against the very bad Daniel Spitz. I expect Gane to toy with Boser like he did Mayes, and eventually get the TKO stoppage or submission.
Kyung Ho Kang (16-8) Vs Pingyuan Liu (15-5)
The first fight: the kick off for the main event is going to be a very interesting fight. Both fighters are virtually identical. Kyung Ho Kang is coming off a split decision victory against Brandon Davis, while Pingyuan Liu is coming off a knock out loss in the 3rd round of his last fight. I’m not sure who is going to win this one, both fighters can scramble with the best of them, and both fighters are technical as hell. I expect this to be a decision and I don’t know who’s going to win. Let’s just hope me and my fellow Americans don’t fall asleep during this one.
Jun Yong Park (10-4) Vs Marc-Andre Barriult (11-3)
Both of these fighters have yet to win in the UFC octagon. I’m honestly surprised they’re on the maincard. Park lost his last fight by submission, while Barriult lost back to back decisions. Barriult is a strong striker, he just struggles with defending the take down. Luckily for him, Park is a striker himself so I expect this to be a brawl. I believe Marc-Andre Barriult has the harder strikes. He’s coming off back to back losses and he’s not looking for his third loss in a row. I got Jun Yong Park losing by KO or decision.
Da Un Jung (12-2) Vs Mike Rodriguez (10-4)
Mike Rodriguez, another Contender Series veteran, is returning after suffering defeat to UFC debut, John Allan. Da Un Jung is currently on an 11-fight win streak dating back to 2015. Da Un Jung is coming off a submission victory against Khadis Ibragimov. Mike Rodriguez, I thought was going to be something serious. Turns out I was wrong. Mike doesn’t have the best cardio and can’t defend a takedown to save his life. Jung doesn’t look for takedowns but he can at least threaten them. If Mike keeps this standing, he can win this fight, but I lean Da Un Jung and expect him to get the win.
Doo Ho Choi (14-3) Vs Charles Jourdain (9-2)
The return of fan favorite “Korean Superboy” is finally here. His last two bouts were anything but pretty, suffering a devastating decision and a brutal knock out. The thing is, those were against Jeremey Stephens and Cub Swanson. This time around, he’s going to be facing Charles Jourdain who is coming off a short notice fight against Desmond Green, where he was ultimately out wrestled. Charles Jourdain is young and still can eventually put it all together. I just don’t see it happening against someone like Doo Ho Choi. I expect Doo Ho Choi to win by finish here, and get back in the win column.
Volkan Oezdemir (16-4) Vs Aleksander Rakic (12-1)
Man, this is a SUPER tough fight to gauge. I am so high on Aleksander Rakic. He has shown a very high ceiling. When he fought Justin Ledet, he took him down and beat him to a pulp for 3 rounds. When he fought Jimi Manuwa and Devin Clark, he hit them with insanely powerful strikes, knocking both of them out. Volkan earned the nickname “no time” for a reason. He has his own knockout wins against Musharraf Cirkunov, Jimi Manuwa, and Ilir Latifi. Rakic has yet to lose and this will be his toughest test to date. I personally want Rakic to win, but he’s going to have to bring his A game. Volkan has yet to be knocked out, so I think the key to victory for Rakic is to implement his takedowns like he did against Justin Ledet. If he does that, he should be able to get the victory.
Chan Sung Jung (15-5) Vs Frankie Edgar (23-7)
Now for the main event: the fight nobody asked for, but here we are. TKZ, coming off his devastating knock out of Renato Moicano, was originally slated to take on Brian Ortega. He is now going to take on Frankie Edgar, the very savvy veteran. I personally don’t see any way TKZ doesn’t win this fight. He’s going to be the faster fighter everywhere around. He hits like a truck and can defend a takedown when needed. TKZ is going to have the reach advantage, the height advantage, and the hometown advantage. TKZ has stopped 75% of the takedowns against him and I don’t see him slipping. This is going to be a close fight for a little until it’s over. I got Chan Sung Jung winning, most likely in knock out fashion.