UFC 188 takes place tomorrow night in Mexico live on pay-per-view and you can check out our predictions for all the fights below.
Cain Velasquez vs. Fabricio Werdum
It’s great to see Velasquez back in the Octagon, especially against someone other than either Junior dos Santos or ‘Bigfoot’ Silva (something that hasn’t happened for three years!).
Werdum is a good test to see if Velasquez has still got it after a long injury layoff. The Brazilian has matured well as a fighter over the years with an improved striking game to go with his already top-drawer ground game.
Takedowns are something of a weak spot for him though and he’ll find it especially difficult to get a wrestler of Velasquez’s caliber on his back. Velasquez’s striking has also stepped up since he first entered into the UFC and I believe his natural pressure-heavy fighting style and endless cardio will unsettle the interim champ.
Werdum’s best chance of victory here is producing a slick submission from his back like he did against Fedor Emelianenko years ago, but he’ll find that tough to accomplish against Velasquez’s stifling top control. I expect Velasquez to mix in some striking along with long spells in control in the of clinch and on the mat to wear down the challenger and open up the possibility of a finish in the championship rounds.
Cain Velasquez to win by TKO in Rd4.
Eddie Alvarez vs. Gilbert Melendez
This should be a fun fight between two fighters who aren’t afraid to throw down. Alvarez in particular is a live wire with his offensive striking output, But while Melendez can operate more methodically he has also shown a willingness to go toe-to-toe (for example against Josh Thomson back in the Strikeforce days, or more recently with Diego Sanchez in the UFC) when required and has a sturdy chin.
Not to say that Alvarez can’t take a punch, but he is a bit too hittable at time and often gets rocked, though in fairness he shows very good powers of recovery and is never out of a fight.
Melendez is the more well-rounded of the two and has better wrestling in particular, though Alvarez isn’t the easiest to take down. Still, overall this feels like it’s going to be an entertaining scrap, but one that Melendez is able to edge out – keeping things competitive on the feet while also being the more dominant grappler over the course of three rounds.
Kelvin Gastelum vs. Nate Marquardt
Despite Gastelum’s split decision loss to Tyron Woodley last time out he’s still a fighter that’s very much in the rise, while the opposite feels true for Marquardt.
Marquardt was a good fighter in his day, but the signs of wear and tear are clear to see nowadays as you might expect after a 16 year career, with a diminished ability to take a punch and a more ponderous overall approach.
On the other hand Gastelum is still fresh and has a similar set of tools at his disposal, but implements them with a more dynamic, energetic approach that I believe will pay dividends by way of a second round TKO.
Kelvin Gastelum to win by TKO in Rd2.
Yair Rodriguez vs. Charles Rosa
Rodriguez gets some main card love courtesy of winning a talent-light debut edition of TUF: Latin America, and will now look to prove himself against the more experienced Rosa.
Rodriguez is at his best on his feet and has a nice collection of kicks at his disposal, but Rosa should be able to hang with him in that regard and has a distinct advantage if and when the fight hits the deck which I’d expect will eventually lead to a submission stoppage.
Charles Rosa to win by submission in Rd2.
Angela Hill vs. Tecia Torres
I think Hill is a good athlete and has potential, but this is a tough match-up for her against Torres who wasn’t at her best during TUF, but is still one of the better strawweights around at this time.
Torres game just feels a bit more complete at this stage compared to her opponent and I believe her aggressive output on the feet together with some takedowns will be enough to seal a decision victory.
Tecia Torres to win by decision.
Chico Camus vs. Henry Cejudo
Drew Dober vs. Efrain Escudero
Alejandro Perez vs. Patrick Williams
Johnny Case vs. Frank Trevino
Augusto Montano vs. Cathal Pendred
Gabriel Benitez vs. Clay Collard
Andrew Todhunter vs. Albert Tumenov