UFC Fight Night 78 takes place in Mexico on Saturday night and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Kelvin Gastelum vs. Neil Magny
Gastelum returns to welterweight after just one fight at middleweight and as well as having to prove to the UFC that he can still make weight he also has to contend with one of the division’s most consistent performers in Magny who’s now 8-2 in the Octagon over the past two years alone.
The size difference between these two is going to be very apparent on Saturday night, with Magny enjoying a 6″ height and 9″ reach advantage over the former TUF winner. That’ll play nicely into his rangey striking strategy, though he’s versatile so he’ll also be open to mixing things up in the clinch and on the mat.
Gastelum is also well-rounded, but he likes to push a harder pace, and constant forward pressure will be required as he looks to close the distance. Gastelum is the better wrestler of the two, and stronger as well, so look for him to get inside and work for takedowns where both ground and pound and submissions are viable options for him.
Magny will be hoping to limit Gastelum’s takedown opportunities and take this fight to the later rounds to test his cardio after the weight cut. That could pay dividends, but I do believe that Gastelum’s pressure will lead to a number of takedowns and control on top which will ultimately help win him the fight on the scorecards.
Kelvin Gastelum to win by decision.
Ricardo Lamas vs. Diego Sanchez
Sanchez looks to rejuvenate his career with a cut down to 145lbs which is somewhat surprising given that in the past he’s found it difficult to get down to 155lbs.
Even if he is successful in getting down to the featherweight limit he then faces a daunting fight against former title contender Lamas who’s talented, has no glaring weaknesses, and even taking into account his TKO loss to Chad Mendes last time out has still taken far less punishment than Sanchez over the years despite being the same age.
Sanchez will most likely try to turn this into the kind of gritty brawl that he favors despite actually having more to his game than that, but I don’t see Lamas getting sucked into that. Look for Lamas to mix things up with superior speed on the the feet while picking his moments to get the all-important takedowns that will prove an important factor in his eventual decision victory.
Ricardo Lamas to win by decision.
Henry Cejudo vs. Jussier Formiga
Two talented flyweights go at it here with a title shot potentially on the card sometime in 2016 for the winner.
Cejudo is still developing as a fighter, but the former Olympic gold medalist is already well on his way to being an excellent fighter with ever-improving striking skills now backing up his elite level wrestling.
Formiga is a real test for him though, particularly on the mat where his submission savvy could expose any weaknesses in Cejudo’s defensive game on the ground.
Cejudo has proven to be a quick learner as well as a natural athlete though and I think he’ll be well prepared here, leaning more towards his striking in order to get the nod from the judges.
Henry Cejudo to win by decision.
Efrain Escudero vs. Leandro Silva
if this fight plays out on the feet then Escudero should have the edge by being the busier, more cohesive striker of the two, pushing the action while Silva will look to land big shots, but not really set them up well or piece together significant combinations.
Really though both men are grapplers at heart with Escuedro being the more capable wrestler, while Silva possesses the higher level BJJ and will pose a significant threat with submissions.
If Escudero can keep this fight on the feet more often than not then a decision win is within his grasp, but I think he may be drawn into a ground battle that Silva will emerge victorious from.
Leandro Silva to win by submission in Rd2.
Prelims: (Predicted winners in bold)
Enrique Marin vs. Erick Montano
Enrique Barzola vs. Horacio Gutierrez
Taylor Lapilus vs. Erik Perez
Bartosz Fabinski vs. Hector Urbina
Scott Jorgensen vs. Alejandro Perez
Gabriel Benitez vs. Andre Fili
Valmir Lazaro vs. Michel Prazeres
Alvaro Herrera vs. Vernon Ramos
Cesar Arzamendia vs. Polo Reyes