UFC Fight Night 88 takes place tomorrow night in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for all the bouts below.
Thomas Almeida vs. Cody Garbrandt
There’s a lot of good match-ups on this card, and this is certainly one of them, though it’s a bit of a shame that one of these 24 year-old up and coming stars unbeaten records is going to come to a halt on Sunday night.
Both men are similar in that they are very much offensively minded strikers. Almeida is the most diverse of the two, however, being just as effective with knees, elbows and kicks as he is with punches and can put together good combinations as he pressures his opponents.
Garbrandt leans more towards his boxing skills, and he is heavy-handed, and like Almeida, has an excellent finishing record. He’s also the superior athlete of the two in terms of speed and agility, though if the fight goes the full five rounds I’d favor Almeida to last the pace better.
Overall it’s going to be a fun fight and both men have the capability to stop the other, but I think Almeida’s diverse, dynamic striking will win out here, leading to a third round TKO stoppage.
Thomas Almeida to win by TKO in Rd3.
Renan Barao vs. Jeremy Stephens
Former bantamweight kingpin Barao steps up to featherweight for the first time to take on a top 10 contender in Stephens.
Barao’s nine year unbeaten stretch was torn to shreds twice by TJ Dillashaw in the past couple of years, but his nemesis has a style that’s very tricky to deal with, and in no way does Stephens offer a similar skill-set, so I don’t think that plays too much of a factor going into this one.
The move up in weight may be good for Barao, since he’s struggled to make weight frequently at 135lbs, but it does mean he may be a bit undersized against a former lightweight in Stephens who also hits very hard indeed.
I feel that Barao is the better striker overall though, with excellent striking fundamentals in his boxing and low kicks, and I believe he’ll be able to counter Stephens own offense for the most part. Barao is also very good on the mat, and will pose a submission threat to Stephens if they do go to ground.
There’s always a certain degree of caution required when a fighter moves up in weight, but I think Barao’s impressive career record has to be respected here, and I’ll take ‘The Baron’ to win on the scorecards.
Renan Barao to win by decision.
Tarec Saffiedine vs. Rick Story
Saffiedine almost didn’t make this fight due to a cut on his knee in the past week, but thankfully he was cleared by doctors to participate, while Story will be fighting for the first time since late 2014.
Saffiedine is the better striker of the two, possessing excellent kickboxing skills, but to be at his best he’ll need room to operate, and Story’s relentless forward pressure won’t enable him to enjoy much of that.
Story has a knack of wading threw his opponents offense and closing the distance, leading to clinch and takedown opportunities against the cage, and that could be an effective strategy tomorrow night as that’s just not Saffiedine’s game, so I favor Story to win out by decision in this one.
Rick Story to win by decision.
Chris Camozzi vs. Vitor Miranda
There’s always a risk of underestimating Camozzi as he doesn’t have naturally heavy hands, an eye-catching style or raw athleticism, but he makes the best of his middle-of-the-road abilities and always maintains a doggedly dependable level of consistency in the Octagon.
Still, both men are at their best on the feet, and you’d have to say that there’s more spark to Miranda’s striking and he’ll enjoy the speed and power advantage here.
The key for Miranda will be to maintain his offensive output for the full 15 minutes, and if he does so, I believe he’ll walk away with his hand raised.
Vitor Miranda to win by decision.
Lorenz Larkin vs. Jorge Masvidal
This should be an intriguing as Masvidal continues to attempt to make some kind of an impact in the 170lb weight class against Larkin, with both men coming off a loss last time out.
A former middleweight, Larkin will be the bigger man of the two and hits harder, in addition to having a penchant for flashy striking techniques.
Masvidal has excellent boxing though and is a real technician on the counter, which makes him hard to deal with, though his habit of sitting back and waiting for his opponent to attack doesn’t always play well with the judges.
While he’s best known for his striking, Masvidal is actually quite crafty on the mat too, and a few well timed takedowns may well help outpoint Larkin overall.
Jorge Masvidal to win by decision.
Josh Burkman vs. Paul Felder
Burkman is a savvy veteran, but he’ll have his hands full if he tries to strike with Felder, who’s limited in other aspects of his MMA game, but is a tough customer to deal with in the stand-up realm.
It’d be in Burkman’s interests to take this fight to the mat, and he has the wrestling to make that a real possibility, but Felder has good takedown defense to counteract the fact that he’s vulnerable on the canvas, and I think he’ll manage to keep this one upright for the most part and earn a decision victory.
Paul Felder to win by decision.
Jessica Eye vs. Sara McMann
Jordan Rinaldi vs. Abel Trujillo
Jake Collier vs. Alberto Uda
Shane Campbell vs. Erik Koch
Bryan Caraway vs. Aljamain Sterling
Chris De La Rocha vs. Adam Milstead