UFC On ESPN+ 14 Prelims Predictions

First off the bat, let’s talk about what went down at UFC Newark. You can check out last week’s picks to follow along, or not. It’s whatever.

This was a bad card. Not only was it the first week in months where we didn’t score at least 8 correct, but it was filled with bad judging, late stoppages, bad fight commentary, bad refs, and bad performances.

The most notable example being Gary Copeland’s ludicrous call about Darko Stosic’s accidental groin strike against Kennedy Nzechukwu. He took off a point twice after only one warning in a southpaw vs. orthodox match which are notoriously known for groin strikes. It just happens, Copeland, go back to ref school.

I mean the best fight was a clash between two Lightweight veterans Jim Miller and Clay Guida that had stunning strikes and brutal finishes. It’s disappointing when the best fight lasts under a minute.

Of course, this was all tapped off in a match where everyone’s least favorite fighter dominated fan favorite Robbie Lawler in obnoxious fashion, complete with the usual innapropriate Colby comment in the post-fight interview. Luckily, this card should be able to remedy all of that.

We have a terrific fight night card ahead of us. A record-breaking 14 fights all topped off with a title match… this will be a night to be remembered.

Tecia Torres vs. Marina Rodriguez (SW)

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Few have been present in the UFC Women’s divisions as long as Tecia Torres (10-4, 6-4 UFC). She was unable to find victory against the next title challenger Weili Zhang, but presented herself with her usual speed and wrestling. She does not have much power or submission potential, but is a hard fighter to pass on your way to the top. Torres has settled into a gatekeeper position after three straight losses, but has the explosiveness and game to never be counted out.

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Marina Rodriguez (11-0-1) took a draw in her UFC debut to come back with a fire, dominating Jessica Aguilar and putting on a striking clinic the whole way through. She has some real pop at the Strawweight division, as well as an underrated grappling game that she mainly uses in reverse to stay on the feet. She has a crazy 3.23 striking differential and is more than capable of using her volume while looking for a power shot to close the show.

This is an interesting match between two, for the most part, volume strikers. The gameplan to beat Tecia Torres has been exposed enormously as of late. Simply corral the fighter and stop that explosiveness and you can easily find a decision win. Torres is hard to put out, so there’s not much I see Rodriguez doing to close the show, but she may have the volume to disrupt Torres. On top of that, she has five inches in her favor in the height and reach side of things, making precision an absolute necessity for Torres. That is something she has not always been able to do, instead relying on pure volume and speed for the win.

Take the Shot: Marina Rodriguez via Unanimous Decision

Raulian Paiva vs. Rogerio Bontorin (FLW)

A win on the Contender Series brought Rogerio Bontorin (15-1, 1-0 UFC) into the cage, but he narrowly got a win over Magomed Bibulatov with a split decision. Bontorin has good striking accuracy, but has a tendency to get pieced up in there. Luckily, his strong suit is his jiu-jitsu, having successfully scored 11 submissions on his way to the UFC. His wrestling is good enough to get it there and he proved that against a proven wrestler in Bibulatov. Once he is on the back, Bontorin is as hard as any to get off of there.

Raulian Paiva had a rough draw in his debut against the hard-hitting Kai Kara-France, but came in full swing and made the fight close as possible but was unable to find a victory. Paiva has a good volume, but leaves himself open to shots and does not have tons of power. The main success Paiva has is in his judo, using it to take his opponent down and leave them stranded on the mat.

Bontorin is so good of a BJJ artist that he can do well off his back or in the top game. Paiva has struggled even in getting takedowns, much less being able to establish sufficient control. While Paiva may narrowly take the striking edge, the jiu-jitsu acumen of Bontorin is too large to ignore here and he should be able to find that sub anywhere against the poor ground defense of Paiva.

Take the Shot: Rogerio Bontorin via Round 2 Submission

Taila Santos vs. Ariane Carnelossi (FLW)

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The UFC debut against Mara Romero Borella left Taila Santos (15-1, 0-1 UFC) with a split decision loss and taking her undefeated record. She is a Muay Thai striker at heart with some real power in her hands. She also has some grappling, but I don’t see that coming into play here, as both fighters in this match would love nothing more than a chance to showcase their power.She won off the Contender Series with a dominant decision, using her and skillful defense to secure victory.

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Ariane Carnelossi (12-1) is making her UFC debut coming off a twelve fight win streak and not taking a loss since her debut against recent UFC victor Amanda Ribas. First off, Carnelossi is JACKED. Just look at her. She has serious one-punch powerr and makes most off her game off of her kickboxing. She does her best work when pressuring and loves to bully her opponent into the cage with immense power. She has had good competition, even just fighting off the regional scene, most recently claiming a knockout win over Ketlen Souza with a body kick.

This is a striker’s match that is live for a knockout through every second. Both women can close the show quickly and I think the creative striking lies with Santos, although Carnelossi can drop her opponent at any second. Volume has been a struggle for Carnelossi and that combined with the grappling of Santos (a hole in the game of Ariane) leaves her with more options to win. This is a lot closer than the line suggests, but I think the overall skillset of Taila should give her a win, but I may switch if I find more tape on Ariane.

Take the Shot: Taila Santos via Unanimous Decision

Rodrigo Vargas vs. Alex da Silva (LW)

Rodrigo Vargas is stepping in on short notice here for his Octagon debut. “Kazula” is mainly a Muay Thai kickboxer who mainly relies on volume for the win, despite coming off a fifteen second knockout. This may seem odd at first glance, but that was a perfectly placed head kick against an extremely low-level opponent. Still, he has some power in his kicks and can trade well, but has issues on his back foot and being forced on his bike.

A super quick MMA career has been successful for Alex da Silva (20-2, 0-1 UFC) until his debut. The 23-year-old is the type of fighter to take three fights in one week, however he has an INCREDIBLY low level of competition, losing to both elite fighters he has faced. Still, he has good submissions and a very heavy kicking style that he uses in his striking, not afraid of going to the mat, even though that is where was dominated in his last fight by Alexander Yakovlev.

This is an odd fight between two fairly green fighters (Silva should really be in that 6 fight range) new, or relatively new, to the UFC. While Vargas is the natural striker, da Silva has some power in his hands and a frightening ground game to pair with that. The second this goes to the ground, I see it closing. There’s a reason the 33-year-old Vargas hasn’t made an appearance until now.

Take the Shot: Alex da Silva via Round 1 Submission 

Alexey Kunchenko vs. Gilbert Burns (WW)

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The undefeated Alexey Kunchenko (20-0, 2-0 UFC) will be making his first Octagon appearance of 2019 here in Uruguay. The Russian works mainly as a boxer with a few kicks to toss out, but has yet to find a finish in the Octagon. He is based well enough to earn decisions, though, with his high volume and 71% striking defense. He keeps a high guard and is a hard fighter to score on, building a well-crafted resume with 13 knockouts, although not having the most one-punch power.

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Gilbert Burns (15-3, 9-3 UFC) is a wild animal. He is a jiu-jitsu ace with the wrestling to take it there and furious power. He can put his opponent out with one shot, normally coming from the hooks he likes to throw with both hands. I am a big fan of his ground game, only accentuated by his creative and tricky takedowns, making him live wherever the fight goes.

This match should mainly play out on the feet with Kunchenko’s high rate of takedown defense and both fighters love of striking. All of Kunchenko’s UFC matches have seen a slow pace with technical striking, but Burns will challenge that with his movement. Moving up to Welterweight, he will be a serious force and his dominant power can drop Kunchenko easily.

Take the Shot: Gilbert Burns via Round 1 Knockout

Polyana Viana vs. Veronica Macedo (FLW)

Polyana Viana (10-3, 1-2 UFC) lost out to Hannah Cifers in a Strawweight match at UFC 235, cutting it close with a split decision. All her victories remain in finish and Viana is a true expert on the mat with impressive jiu-jitsu. She has some pop in her punches and has scored four knockouts, and I imagine that factor will only increase at Flyweight.

Veronica Macedo (5-3, 0-3 UFC) came into the UFC as an undefeated prospect, but has but entirely unable to string together any kind of success. She is primarily a point-fighter relying on her volume to get the win. However, she has been entirely unable to find victory in that area as every opponent has more than doubled her output in strikes. She has also shown massive holes on the ground with her only real offense coming in wild submission attempts.

This should punch Macedo’s ticket out of the Octagon as she really has no way to win this. She doesn’t have power or a good volume and even if she lands a takedown, she has poor top control and will be in Viana’s world. Polyana can take this win however she wants it.

Take the Shot: Polyana Viana by Round 2 Submission

Geraldo de Freitas vs. Chris Gutierrez (BW)

Geraldo de Freitas (12-4, 1-0 UFC) came into the UFC off a submission victory on the regional scene to score a decision win over Felipe Colares. He used his wrestling and stirking to take it there, but the difference maker was his ground game, successfully landing six takedowns in that match and walking over Colares on the mat.

After a rough debut on the now uber-successful Raoni Barcelos, Chris Gutierrez (13-4, 1-1 UFC) showed off his striking against the debuting Ryan McDonald. Gutierrez moves in and out quickly, relying on his volume and boxing pedigree to find success. The huge hole in his game is the ground, where he seemed lost in his last match and struggled against a non-elite on the mat.

This is a striker vs. grappler match, essentially, but de Freitas is the more well-rounded one here. He has the volume to tango with Gutierrez on the feet, but the movement of El Chapo may be too much for him. The takedown should be relatively easy and once it’s there, it’s de Freitas’ fight all day long.

Take the Shot: Geraldo de Freitas via Unanimous Decision


I’m so ridiculously excited for this that it’s not even funny.

Stay tuned for our main card picks tomorrow.

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