UFC 198 takes place tomorrow night in front of 45,000 fans in Curitiba, Brazil and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Fabricio Werdum vs. Stipe Miocic
The main event is shaping up to be a finely balanced heavyweight title fight between two fighters who have a lot to offer in the Octagon.
Werdum’s striking game has come a long way in recent years and he’s now offers up a relatively versatile offensive output of kicks and punches and works good knees from the clinch, though he’s not the heaviest hitter around. Miocic has less tools on the feet, but he’s a good boxer, has a solid chin and like his opponent he moves well for a heavyweight.
Miocic is also a good wrestler and transitions nicely into takedowns which allows him to unleashe effective ground and pound. That could be a very risky strategy against Werdum however, as he’s a tremendous grappler with as accomplished a BJJ game as we’ve ever seen in the division. Fedor Emelianenko, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Cain Velasquez have all been finished by Werdum’s submission skills, and Miocic could well be next if he goes to ground.
I think this one will be very closely contested on the feet for the most part, but in the end I feel that one way or another this fight will get to the mat at some point in this five round encounter, and Werdum will capitalize on that to emerge victorious.
Fabricio Werdum to win by submission in Rd3.
Vitor Belfort vs. Ronaldo Souza
Another well matched fight between two of the middleweight division’s best fighters will provide an intriguing co-main event in Brazil tomorrow night.
‘Jacare’ has developed into a very good striker over the years, but this is still Belfort’s world and he has more weapons at his disposal and is absolutely lethal with both his punches and kicks. The longer the fight goes the less explosive ‘The Phenom’ will be though, while his opponent will be more consistent down the stretch.
Grappling wise, Belfort is no slouch by any means, but ‘Jacare’ is a wizard, one of the finest Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu stylists ever in the UFC, and this would be the fight to showcase his skills.
I’m tempted to pick Belfort here, as he’s had a knack for being destructive early in his fights over the past few years, and I think it’s entirely possible he does catch ‘Jacare’ here. That being said, if ‘Jacare’ does weather the early storm then the fight swings significantly in his favor, and will eventually offer him the opportunity to get a tiring Belfort to the ground and submit him.
Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza to win by submission in Rd3.
Cris Cyborg vs. Leslie Smith
Not too much needs to be said about this one. It’s great to finally see ‘Cyborg’ in the Octagon, though nobody was crying out to see her fight Smith who everyone knows is a sacrificial lamb here.
Smith’s as tough as old boots, but her natural brawling style will only play into the bigger, harder-hitting punches, kicks, knees and elbows of ‘Cyborg’ and she’ll do well to make it out of the first round. I don’t she gets that far.
Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino to win by TKO in Rd1.
Corey Anderson vs. Mauricio Rua
A few years ago this would be a whole different fight, but ‘Shogun’ Rua’s decline has been clear to see and there’s a heck of a lot of miles on his 34 year-old body after all the wars he’s been in over the course of his career.
That’s not to say that ‘Shogun’ doesn’t still pose a threat. On the feet he still has fight-ending power, but he now lacks the speed and drive to execute it consistently and effectively and has an increasingly suspect chin.
Anderson lacks Rua’s ferocious power, but he’s the younger, more athletic fighter at this stage in his career and has a height and reach advantage that he’ll be able to use to keep his opponent at bay, while working at a higher tempo and landing more strikes.
In addition Anderson also has the wrestling advantage here which he’d be wise to utilize as often as possible, and overall it seems he has the right ingredients to earn himself a decision victory here.
Corey Anderson to win by decision.
Bryan Barberena vs. Warlley Alves
With Anderson Silva’s fight with Uriah Hall being called off this week due to the former champion undergoing surgery to remove his gall bladder, Barberena Vs Alves gets promoted to main card status.
Barberena made a name for himself by defeating Sage Northcutt, but he’s now going up against a more accomplished opponent in TUF: Brazil 3 winner Alves who’s on a four-fight winning streak in the UFC.
Alves is capable, though a little unrefined on the feet, but on the mat he’s very dangerous indeed and in front of the Brazilian fans I think he’ll be able to finish this one inside the distance by submission.
Warlley Alves to win by submission in Rd2.
Matt Brown vs. Demian Maia
Nate Marquardt vs. Thiago Santos
John Lineker vs. Rob Font
Patrick Cummins vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Yancy Medeiros vs. Francisco Trinaldo
Sergio Moraes vs. Luan Chagas
Renato Moicano vs. Zubaira Tukhugov