UFC Fight Night 31: Fox Sports 1 previews and prognostications

Photo by Esther Lin of MMA Fighting

Men and women are set to do battle on the Fox Sports 1 portion of UFC Fight Night 31 in Kentucky. How do the participants stack up?

James Krause (20-4) vs. Bobby Green (20-5) Lightweight

When we last left our heroes...Krause rose up in the ranks away from the UFC, but always had his eyes on the organization. After calling out Joe Silva (literally) more than once in post-fight interviews, he finally got his wish and ended up in the big show.

Though he had a shot on TUF (losing to Justin Lawrence to get on the show), he made a real statement against Sam Stout at UFC 161. Ditto for Green, who seems to have made real strides since losing an odd scrap to Dan Lauzon in Affliction. He's currently on a five fight winning streak that includes chiropractic rabble rouser Jacob Volkmann at an event that saw the Strikeforce influx prove worthwhile at UFC 156.

What both men can do: Krause does a lot of things...'interestingly'. Forgive the cryptic language, but he's a bit of an eccentric in the cage. With his lean 6'2 frame, he pumps the jab nicely, and has especially versatile kicks. However, most of his wins are by submission, with the triangle and guillotine being his specialties (8 of his wins have finished the bout with one or the other).

Green is a little similar. He has good raw power in both hands (as he proved early on against Charles Bennett), quick leg strikes, and a grappling ability that is often underestimated. His rear naked choke on Volkmann wasn't just a display of resolve, but an illustration of his improvement over time.

What both men can't do: I favor Krause, but I don't like how Krause can be inconsistent with his jab. Sometimes he'll double up and look to sting his opponent with it, and other times he just sort of paws with it. Justin Lawrence, current owner of a Zuffa pink slip, was able to ice him (though it was assisted by what appeared to be a fight altering headbutt).

Krause relies a bit too much on his reach for defense, believing all he has to do is sit in his recliner to dodge strikes. Green's power and speed could test that. At the same time I feel like Green will be forced to go for takedowns. He won't be comfortable with Krause's length, and when he does, Krause should be able to sink in that patented guillotine. Expect this one to be hotly contested while it lasts though.

X-Factor: Just the usual...inept judges, bad refereeing, and Murphy's Law.

Prediction: James Krause via Guillotine, round 2.

George Roop (14-9-1) vs. Francisco Rivera (9-2-NC) Bantamweight

When we last left our heroes...There was a time in Roop's career when you could use the Dennis Green speaker to say that he is, who we thought he was. Now, not so much. Roop certainly looks the part when it comes to journeyman, and has the brutal losses to prove it, but he's shown himself to be durable, racking up upset win after upset win.

He's coming off a win over Brian Bowles at UFC 160 via TKO. In the other corner sits the PED disgraced Rivera. He has not lost his last five fights, with his last two technically being TKO/KO wins against Edwin Figueroa and Roland Delorme (which would later be overturned).

What both men can do: Roop's asset comes with keeping fighters honest on the feet with a very good versatile striking game that uses his 6'1 frame well. He constantly mixes up his punches with his kicks. In addition, he's adept on the ground, as shown by his survival against Hatsu Hioki on the floor.

Rivera will be looking to do the John Lineker routine; throw as many right and left hooks as possible until your opponent goes down. Rivera does what a lot of expert brawlers do well, which is cutting off angles as the opponent retreats. He can also throw off his backfoot, which he showed against Delorme.

What both men can't do: I favor Rivera here, against my better judgment. I feel like these are the fights Roop has trouble with - brawlers who can also box. Roop still has terrible defense, and is on Cub Swanson and Mark Hominick's highlight reel to prove it. Even against Reuben Duran, who isn't unique, seemed to give Roop all sorts of trouble.

X-Factor: This is how the fight goes IMO, with Roop staying at range for a round or two, but ultimately getting blasted by Rivera's hooks as Francisco pressures him against the cage.

Prediction: Francisco Rivera by TKO, round 3.

Dennis Bermudez (11-3) vs. Steven Siler (23-10) Featherweight

When we last left our heroes...Bermudez is coming off of two split decisions, one against Max Holloway, the other against Matt Grice (in a brutal memorable standup war). Even with his crowd pleasing go for broke style, he's undefeated since losing the TUF Finale to Diego Brandao.

Siler, another TUF product, is fresh off a KO win over Mike Brown's morose corpse. Still, he's on a two fight winning streak, with his only loss to Darren Elkins, who seems to win all of his fights, much to the dismay of those that like betting.

What both men can do: Siler is the well rounded type, but his agility, and awareness make him more dangerous than the average jack of all trades types. Although we can skip the praise directed at his good but sort of typical striking and focus on his tripod sweeps.

Bermudez is the whirling dervish fans have come to appreciate him for. With a powerful right hand, and a wrestling prowess that makes him a tough fight for anyone, each win has been earned if not felt by fans.

What both men can't do: The problem with Dennis is that he doesn't need to swing wildly to be so effective. He's like the Dallas Cowboys...always so capable of sabotaging himself. He's definitely the type of fighter that would benefit from the Jackson MMA coaching. Fans would probably hate it, but it's not like anyone has stopped loving Donald Cerrone, or Carlos Condit.

I'm tempted to pick the underdog here. Although Dennis' brute force can take over the fight, Siler is just so polished that he feels like the perfect counterpoint. Siler will definitely land some good counter punches, and Bermudez will definitely walk into them with reckless abandon, but I'm not sure interested Dennis will be in getting the fight to the ground, which he has the capacity to do.

X-Factor: Bermudez powers his way to victory again. If he can fight with more purpose, he walks away in victory comfortably, but if he doesn't, he'll struggle. I don't know if he knows how to fight anyway else, but I feel like his takedowns and aggression will be enough to rattle Siler for three rounds.

Prediction: Dennis Bermudez by Decision.

Germain de Randamie (4-2) vs. Amanda Nunes (8-3) Women's Bantamweight

When we last left our heroes...Nunes was last seen absolutely destroying Shiela Gaff at UFC 163. Only one of her wins is not by knockout, so how she handles herself against another standup specialist in the Dutch kickboxer in de Randamie should be very very interesting. This is probably a better fight than Kennedy vs. Natal, but I'm not supposed to say that out loud am I?

What both women can do: Fun times at the OK Corral. While Nunes is more of the traditional brawler type, Germain is a pure technician. Nunes throws like the Wanderlei Silva of old...winging hooks inside, hoping one shot will be enough, which is usually the case. Randamie on the other hand is much more methodical. She likes to use her length to keep the left jab right straight open at all times, and she has solid kicks.

What both women can't do: What I don't like about Randamie's game is that she's too inactive at times. I'm not even sure she really won that Julie Kedzie fight. Kedzie was getting handled in the third, but the first two rounds were iffy, all because Randamie let Kedzie just walk in on her. Nunes won't give Randamie the choice to take minutes off at a time, but Randamie has shown she can make the fight ugly despite her standup advantage against most. Her clinchwork will come in handy against Nunes, who she'll hope to neutralize.

X-Factor: I feel like wrestling will be the factor. I like Randamie to win this one via wrestling. I just feel like her wrestling will be good because she can feint strikes well enough for Nunes to walk into trips, and even double legs. It's not a part of Randamie's game were used to seeing, but I think it's a part of her game she'll have to use eventually, and Nunes is a pretty good candidate to experiment with.

Prediction: Germaine de Randamie by Decision.


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