UFC 178 takes place this weekend in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights for you below.

Main Card:

Demetrious Johnson vs. Chris Cariaso

There’s a lot of fights on this card that could go either way, but the main event isn’t one of them.

The 8th ranked Cariaso gets this fight purely down to the fact that DJ has already defeated most of the other contenders in the division. Without that I doubt Cariaso would ever have made it to a high enough spot on the rankings to challenge for the belt.

That’s not to say Cariaso isn’t a capable fighter, he has a fairly well-rounded skill-set, but he doesn’t excel in any one area and he’s outmatched in all aspects by the current champion. Of course anything can happen in the Octagon, but this looks like being a comfortable win for Johnson in which he has a chance to push for a stoppage win, with a submission being his best bet.

Demetrious Johnson to win by submission in Rd4.

Donald Cerrone vs. Eddie Alvarez

Things get much more interesting when we look at the co-main event which features two of the most consistently entertaining lightweights on the planet.

Alvarez strongest suit is his boxing, though he’s better offensively than defensively. He’ll happily go toe-to-toe and eat strikes in order to land his own and he certainly packs a punch. He often gets wobbled or hurt at some point in his fights though and that’s a concern as you can only get in wars so often before it takes it’s toll.

Cerrone has a height and reach advantage which he’ll take advantage of that by fighting more from range using his muay thai skills to land kicks and knees in which his punches. Key for him will be to maintain that distance and not get sucked into a brawl.

Alvarez can mix up his game with swift takedowns, but I’d give the advantage on the mat as a whole to Cerrone who’s got solid takedown defense and a dangerous submission game.

When all is said and done it’s a tough first fight for Alvarez in the UFC and while he may have his moments in this fight I think it’s more likely that Cerrone gets the better of him over three rounds to earn a decision victory.

Donald Cerrone to win by decision

Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor

What a fascinating fight between two very talented featherweights. Despite McGregor’s pre-fight bravado there’s no doubt he’ll know that this is the toughest test of his career so far.

Poirier has a well-rounded set of skills, delivering quality combinations of punches and kicks on the feet, good submissions and scrambles on the mat, and he blends those skills together well while maintaining a high work rate.

McGregor is best known for his striking, and he’s certainly gifted in that regard. I do believe he’ll have the edge there against Poirier as while both are technically sound, McGregor seems to be more fluid and accurate with his strikes while also having the ability to read his opponents well – fighting effectively off the counter when required and having a knack for throwing the right strike at the right time.

McGregor has shown himself to be a capable wrestler too, but he’d be wise to keep this fight standing as much as possible. If he is able to keep it upright, and I think he will, then I believe he can emerge victorious on points, but it’s going to be an extremely close fight and it would by no means be a shock of it’s Poirier who gets his hand raised.

Conor McGregor to win by decision.

Tim Kennedy vs. Yoel Romero

Another highly competitive match-up here. Striking wise Kennedy favors boxing fundamentals and the occasional kick for good measure. He’s solid, but not exceptional on the feet and offers few surprises. Romero on the other hand is a very big middleweight, yet moves surprisingly well and can be unpredictable with explosive knees being mixed in with big power punches, making him a very dangerous fighter.

On paper Romero is the better wrestler and has the Olympic silver medal to prove it, but it’s questionable whether he’s been able to translate his grappling prowess effectively inside the cage. He’s surprisingly been taken down at times (perhaps due to overconfidence), hasn’t proven to be a takedown machine himself, and has often favored his striking game instead.

Kennedy on the other hand has respectable takedowns and is suffocating once on top. Therefore I could see Kennedy potentially having success early in this fight on the mat, but I’d expect Romero to show a good ability to scramble and get back upright, and will adjust to be more alert to the danger of the takedown as the bout goes on.

This one could well go right down to the wire and it’s a tough one to call. Romero has more raw talent here and should be the more dangerous fighter offensively, but I question his overall strategic planning in the cage and Kennedy might be able to outgrind him to a victory. Overall though I think Romero’s more eye-catching, harder-hitting work on the feet may be what captures the judges attention in an extremely tight decision ruling here.

Yoel Romero to win by decision.

Cat Zingano vs. Amanda Nunes

Zingano finally returns to the cage after a series of setbacks kept her out of action for almost 18 months and it’ll be interesting to see how that layoff effects her performance on Saturday night.

Nunes is certainly not an easy first fight back, with the Brazilian being a good striker who’s extremely aggressive on the feet.

It’s possible that could give Zingano problems in the early going if she’s got any ring rust, but she’s a tough customer and is certainly the more well rounded of the two, so if she is in difficulty she always has the option to take the fight to the clinch or the mat to gain the advantage.

Cardio wouldn’t normally be an issue for Zingano, and even if her lack of cage time does show in the later stages of the fight she should still be ok as Nunes has been known to fade herself in the later rounds, and I think Zingano will have enough left in the tank to find a late stoppage victory on the mat via strikes here.

Cat Zingano to win by TKO in Rd3.

Prelims:

Dominick Cruz vs. Takeya Mizugaki

It just wouldn’t feel right if we didn’t offer a full prediction for Dominick Cruz’s long awaited return to the Octagon in a fight that could easily have featured on the PPV card.

Cruz is coming back after an unprecedented three year layoff after career threatening knee injuries amongst other ailments, so there’s a huge question mark here regarding his health, fitness and abilities heading into this fight, and going up against a tough veteran like Mizugaki only makes it harder on the former undisputed bantamweight champ.

Before his layoff Cruz had a first class gas tank and his movement and footwork were cream of the crop, cutting angles, switching stances and darting in and out with quick strikes in a way that left his opponents dazed and confused (a style that the likes of Frankie Edgar and Demetrious Johnson appear to have taken notes from). It’s a style that would normally give Mizugaki a lot of problems with his more predictable, orthodox approach.

Cruz has a champions mentality and if anyone can come back after everything he’s been through and make a go of it it then he seems like the guy to do it, though he also seems like the type of guy who’d risk everything, even his own health, in order to compete again, so we’ll not truly know where he’s at until Saturday night comes around. However, purely going by what we know of him from the past I can’t help but pick him here, and in true Cruz fashion it’ll be by decision.

Dominick Cruz to win by decision.

(Predicted winners in bold)

Jorge Masvidal vs. James Krause
Patrick Cote vs. Stephen Thompson
John Howard vs. Brian Ebersole
Jon Tuck vs. Kevin Lee
Manvel Gamburyan vs. Cody Gibson

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