UFC 159 goes down tomorrow night in New Jersey and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights for you below.
Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen
One of the most telling things leading up to this fight has been that even Sonnen seems to be less than convinced about his chances of winning this fight. Perhaps rightly so as his window of opportunity is small here – if he can’t take Jones down and hold him there for five rounds it’s hard to see how he’s got a chance.
In fairness getting Jones on his back still seems like the best chance anyone has of beating him, and Sonnen’s proven to be rather good at that, but unlike, say Anderson Silva, Jones does have a wrestling background himself, and also has a mammoth reach advantage which he uses well, and that’s going to make it tough for the challenger to get inside.
I just don’t see Sonnen being able to get five rounds worth of takedowns here, and if he has to spend any time on the feet with him that’s going to spell a lot of trouble. I expect to see Jones shutting down his wrestling and picking him apart with punches and kicks from a safe distance, laying down a fair sized beating en-route to a TKO finish. As a sidenote, I wouldn’t be surprised if at some stage in this fight Jones looks to clinch up and throw Sonnen in order to show off his own wrestling prowess.
Jon Jones to win by TKO in Rd3.
Michael Bisping vs. Alan Belcher
This is a very nicely matched fight between two fighters who like to mix it up on the feet, but are also capable on the mat if it comes to it.
Of the two Belcher is the harder hitter, but he’s not in the same league in that regard as others Bisping’s faced like Brian Stann, Vitor Belfort and Dan Henderson. Both men have a versatile offensive game with Bisping having better punching combinations, work rate and movement for my money, while Belcher has the better chin and more effective kicks.
Belcher will be at his most dangerous in the opening round, but if Bisping can survive beyond that he’ll settle in the fight more and he has the superior cardio which could prove to be a significant factor. He might have to survive a few scares, but over the course of three rounds I think the UK fighter will connect with the greater volume of punches and land a decision victory.
Michael Bisping to win by decision.
Roy Nelson vs. Cheick Kongo
To me this seems like a bad match-up for Kongo. While he may have a technical striking advantage over Nelson, his opponent has shown time and time again then he’s exceptionally durable and wields the kind of one-punch power that could end his night at a moments notice.
Kongo’s actually had a good amount of success with getting on top and laying down ground and pound over the years, but that’s not going to be an option here – he’d do well to avoid any kind of ground battle or clinchwork with Nelson who’s the superior grappler and would have a big advantage if he was to get on top.
So a stand-up battle is likely here and while he might take some shots along the way I think Nelson is going to eventually find a home for one of his haymakers in this fight and end up with a KO victory.
Roy Nelson to win by KO in Rd2.
Phil Davis vs. Vinny Magalhaes
Here we have a high-level wrestler going up against a high-level jiu-jitsu expert and history tells us that in that scenario it’s often the former who emerges victorious.
I think there’s a good chance that will prove to be the case here, though Magalhaes is on a different level to most MMA fighters on the mat with his submissions. Nevertheless, I think Davis has the kind of stifling wrestling that will offer him few opportunities to catch him out.
Meanwhile, on the feet I’m still not overly convinced by Davis in the stand-up department, but then again Magalhaes is still a work in progress in that regard himself and think that ‘Mr Wonderful’ will be able to do enough there, combined with multiple takedowns throughout the fight, to earn the decision win.
Phil Davis to win by decision.
Jim Miller vs. Pat Healy
Healy’s proven to be hard to beat during his Strikeforce run which left him within touching distance of a title shot before the promotion was shut down – something Miller can relate to having been extremely close to a title shot in the UFC himself.
These two lightweights are both tough, gritty, vastly experienced competitors who can mix it up standing and on the mat for three hard-fought rounds, but I do feel that overall Miller is the better fighter in all the key areas.
I suspect Miller will hold his most distinct advantage in the stand-up, but wherever they go I see him having a slight edge which will pay dividends on the judges scorecards – but make no mistake, he will have to work hard for his win.
Jim Miller to win by decision.
Bryan Caraway vs. Johnny Bedford
Gian Villante vs. Ovince St. Preux
Sara McMann vs. Sheila Gaff
Rustam Khabilov vs. Yancy Medeiros
Leonard Garcia vs. Cody McKenzie
Nick Catone vs. James Head
Steven Siler vs. Kurt Holobaugh