The matchup: If it wasn't for the sinister marijuana leaf, Cacares would essentially be enjoying a four fight winning streak; beating Roland Delorme, Kyung Ho Kang, Motonobu Tezuka, and Damacio Page. The TUF product wasn't taken seriously earlier in his career, thought of as being a little like Junie Browning; not near as volatile or malicious, but a sideshow all the same.
How things have changed huh? He's turned into a solid scrapper with real chops on the ground. However, he's taking on the blue chip prospect; Anthony Pettis' brother.
Pettis has been expected, just by virtue of his name, to shake things up in the BW division. Against journeyman Will "yea yea, joke about how I couldn't hide my excitement about ogling the ring girls at the weigh ins all you want" Campuzano, there wasn't much shaking.
However, Pettis is still learning, and at age 20, the UFC is moving him along correctly. Cacares isn't some massive step up from Campuzano. They're similar in a lot of ways with the difference being that Alex is just flashier.
I could see this one being a difficult one for Sergio. His takedown defense is still questionable, as opponents can not only get deep on him, but have a tendency to grind out takedowns b sheer persistence. I think you tend to see this against neophytes who are confident in their grappling, which Pettis absolutely is. This is how I expect this bout to go down.
On the feet, Alex will land here and there, and Pettis' technical boxing from both stances, in particular his right hook from southpaw, will force Alex into takedown mode. There I think we'll see some exciting grappling exchanges with Pettis proving the more disciplined specialist. Alex is offensively gifted as a grappler, but his defense leaves quite a bit to be desired.
Prediction: Sergio Pettis by RNC, round 3.
The matchup: This matchup feels like walking into a WEC nostalgia shop. You'd think the fight already happened, but alas...here we are five years later or so.
Wineland had two major wins over Scott Jorgensen and Brad Pickett before losing to Renan Barao (who continues his blistering, undervalued pace). Meanwhile Jabouin is coming off a win over Dustin Pague; his 4th in his last five with the lone loss coming to Brad Pickett.
This fight is pretty not close. I've always liked watching Jabouin fight. He's got real skill underneath his small frame with a wicked spin to his striking that manifests itself in some of the more beautiful backfists and kicks in the sport. But his problem is that he fights like a power puncher without real power (all of his TKO/KO's came against opposition that wasn't Zuffa approved).
In addition, he's traditionally had cardio problems. Wineland on the other hand is a blue collar gatekeeper in the noblest sense of the word: he may not own the castle, but if you want to walk through those gates you better be good, and Wineland is good at revealing who has what it takes and who doesn't. His crisp right hand-left hook serves as the meat and potatoes, but his boxing is enabled by swift movement.
This is a terrible stylistic matchup for Jabouin because Wineland will be in his face all night landing hard shots, never giving an inch.
Prediction: Eddie Wineland by TKO, round 2.
The matchup: Camus continues to pick up decent wins despite a fighter who is often considered someone limited. He's 2-1 in the UFC, with wins over Kyung Ho Kang, and Dustin Pague (his lone loss against Dustin Kimura). Meza is 1-1 in the UFC, beating John Albert via RNC, and losing to Chad Mendes via KO in the first.
Both guys are respectable fighters but neither guy stands out much as a persistent threat. Chico is a pretty calculated boxer from the southpaw position. He likes to look for openings, rather than just crash his way into an opportunity.
Meza likes to look for opportunities in top control, landing punches on the ground. He's much better than his quick KO loss to Mendes is, though you might he's also the kind of fighter that could lose to Mendes that way again. After all, Meza can be hesitant, and unsure against an opponent with power.
Camus doesn't represent the same obstacles, but I think his polished left hand will keep Meza honest and at bay. He'll have a decent speed advantage as well, which bodes well for what I suspect will for a comfortable decision that likely won't look pretty.
Prediction: Chico Camus by Decision.
The matchup: Junior Hernandez made his UFC in a loss to Lucas Martins via RNC in the first round. Quick submissions first round submissions are usually a tell tale sign of a fighter who may or may not belong in the UFC. Junior isn't a bad fighter but he's a guy who when faced against someone with talent coming from a strong camp just won't stand a chance in my opinion.
Viana, meanwhile, is a solid scrapper, owning a big win over Reuban Duran (who isn't bad and I'd argue much better than Junior) and a loss to T.J. Dillawshaw (who continues to prove he belongs higher than even the biggest cynics ever suspected).
Viana, despite wining by basically nothing but decisions, does have decent punching. It's fairly one note, as he basically just comes in with a left hook right hand combination while lunging forward, but he's more than capable of moving side to side. His movement is supported by his agile footwork, but it's usually to set up a takedown where he does most of his work.
There's nothing about Junior's game to make me think he'll stop these takedowns. He's lumbering for a BM, which is a surefire sign of a fighter who will end up getting a pinkslip.
Prediction: Hugo Viana by Decision.
The matchup: I was frankly shocked when Daron lost to Adriano Martins. It's not that I think Martins is bad so much as I overvalued the impossibly quick to learn to spell Cruickshank. Daron is still solid at 3-2 in the UFC while Rio needs this bout. He lost his last two to Tony Ferguson and Francisco Trinaldo.
Daron continues to impress on the feet. While he's not a a real power puncher, his punches are crisp and accurate. The fact that he's able to vary his striking as good as anyone in MMA speaks to his abilities on the feet, which he's always looking to exploit.
Rio is all about the scramble. How to create opportunities with strikes and submissions by making sure all roads lead to wrestling. Rio is in semi luck because he'll have plenty of opportunities to to get Daron to the ground with his active kicking game like Daron did against Martins.
I actually like Rio in this one. I don't think Rio's losses reveal who he really is, while I I'm starting to think Daron's wins don't tell us much in a matchup like this one where Rio will use every strike as an excuse to get this one down. I expect everyone to disagree, which is fine. I'm not sure even I believe what I'm writing, but every now and then that hunch comes along, and this is my hunch; that Rio walks away with a win against a striker who doesn't like being on the ground.
Prediction: Mike Rio by Decision.
The matchup: Two unknowns who wikipedia doesn't recognize will be performing on the undercard. Sullivan is on a 6 fight winning streak while Rhodes only blemish in his short career was to Brandon Thatch (the WW currently no longer under the radar as someone to watch).
Both guys do their work on the feet (sort of). Rhodes is the more patient striker. He likes to chamber quick kicks inside and when he's not looking for a right hand, he's looking to get the fight on the ground. He's a fairly well rounded guy who takes his time. Perhaps to a fault.
Sullivan relies on movement and a quick (and impressive) straight right hand. That movement should net him the win in this one as I think Rhodes is just a little too slow on the feet to offset Sullivan's advantage in the boxing department. It's interesting to note that in his 14 wins, Sullivan has never won by submission. It's either TKO or bust (decision). Still...speed kills, and Sullivan's speed will kill in this one.
Prediction: George Sullivan by TKO, round 2.
The matchup: And now the moment we've all been waiting for....here come the heavyweights to show us what MMA looks when when the combatants are drunk and overtrained. In all seriousness, both guys aren't bad HW's. Krylov's hype relied on looking like Fedor, and wearing pants even Rick James would have felt were too flashy. And beneath his bizarre looking Sherdog profile picture is a HW who is undersized, but formidable on the ground.
He only has three losses, and he's 21 so he's got plenty of room to grow, and probably at LHW where his submission game may translate better. Against Soa Palelei his cardio tanked, and proved to be the end of it. He certainly looked better than Pat Barry did against Soa.
Harris is a decent boxer from the southpaw stance. He didn't show much against Jake Rosholt but that's to be expecteded: Rosholt is pretty good. He throws fast, and with volume. Honestly I don't quite know what to dissect this fight.
On the feet, Harris will be able to bully Krylov, who has some chops, but only for a round. And even then it's just a traditional one two. On the ground, Krylov has a wealth of tricks, including plenty of leg submissions.
While I think Harris has the ability to do what Soa did, I'll go with Krylov, because people that still believe in M-1 need to be thrown some kind of bone. There ya go Ed Fishman.
Prediction: Nikita Krylov by submission, round 2.