UFC Fight Night 131 takes place on Friday in Utica, New York and we’ve got our predictions for all the bouts for you below.
Jimmie Rivera vs. Marlon Moraes
This should be a very closely contested fight between two high-level bantamweight talents operating at the peak of their powers.
Rivera’s boxing is excellent and he can trouble opponents with his accurate, high volume striking, but his energy will dip as the fight progresses, helped along by Moraes robust muay thai stand-up, including damaging, strength-sapping leg kicks that will enable him to start edging out the later rounds and emerge with a decision victory.
Marlon Moraes to win by decision.
Gregor Gillespie vs. Vinc Pichel
Pichel is a solid enough all-rounder whose best bet here is to keep the fight standing, but Gillespie is an impressive prospect whose own stand-up is gradually improving, but is already a terrific wrestler, which will enable him to land takedowns frequently and enjoy long periods of control to secure a win on the scorecards.
Gregor Gillespie to win by decision.
Walt Harris vs. Daniel Spitz
A battle of the heavyweights here, with Harris having a less than impressive 10-7 record, but nonetheless still possessing the kind of raw power that I think will put Spitz in real trouble early in this fight, leading to an early KO.
Walt Harris to win by KO in Rd1.
Jake Ellenberger vs. Ben Saunders
Two grizzled veterans battle it out here and both have been having a rough go of it lately as age starts to catch up with them and their chins show signs of decline.
In some ways it still feels like there’s more fight left in Saunders, who has good muay thai, works well from the clinch and is dangerous with submissions off his back, but though Ellenberger looks a shadow of his former self at times, I think this could be a fight in which his heavy hands could pay dividends, leading to a second round TKO stoppage.
Jake Ellenberger to win by TKO in Rd2.
Julio Arce vs. Daniel Teymur
This should be a striking battle and I favor Arce to win it thanks to being the slicker, more technical fighter who will utilize movement to make himself difficult to hit, while he should be able to connect with his own strikes due to Teymur’s dubious defensive abilities, which will ultimately accumulate to bring about a TKO finish in the final round.
Julio Arce to win by TKO in Rd3.
Sam Alvey vs. Gian Villante
Alvey appears to still have the power in his hands to trouble fighters even after moving up to 205lbs, and Villante is definitely hittable with his offensively minded approach.
However, Alvey tends to wait on that one big fight-ending counter and I think his lack of volume in the striking department will really hurt him here if he can’t find the finish as the much busier Villante puts on the pressure and avoids getting starched to win by decision.
Gian Villante to win by decision.
Prelims: (predicted winners in bold)
Sijara Eubanks vs. Lauren Murphy
Nik Lentz vs. Leonardo Santos
Belal Muhammad vs. Chance Rencountre
Desmond Green vs. Gleison Tibau
Jessica Aguilar vs. Jodie Esquibel
Johnny Eduardo vs. Nathaniel Wood
Jarred Brooks vs. Jose Torres