UFC Fight Night 80 is the first of three events in three days from the sports leading promotion this week and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Rose Namajunas vs. Paige VanZant
Two of the UFC’s most promising female talents clash in the main event of UFC Fight Night 80 in a pivotal bout at the top end of the strawweight division.
Both competitors show a great deal of potential, with Namajunas, who’s two years PVZ’s elder at 23, being the more technical of the two at this stage in their career’s with slick striking and good movement on the feet together with submissions on the mat being the hallmarks of her game.
Wrestling is something of an achilles heel for Namajunas, and while her aggressive, offensive style is fun to watch it can also be to her detriment at times as she can be too impulsive and eager to finish, particularly when it comes to her submission game, as her defensive game can get forgotten in the heat of the moment.
As for PVZ, her raw athletic potential is obvious and has so far made up for her technical deficiencies. She has excellent cardio and rarely ever takes a backwards step, pressuring her opponents from the opening bell, and while she’d do well not to get into a pure striking match with Namajunas, if she can close the distance then using her wrestling to bring the fight to the mat will pay dividends.
VanZant’s grappling is very much a work and progress and so she’ll be vulnerable to submission attempts from Namajunas. That will make it a tense fight, but PVZ has proven to be able to scramble her way out of trouble so far and overall I feel her pressure game and wrestling edge will edge her to a decision victory here.
Paige VanZant to win by decision.
Michael Chiesa vs. Jim Miller
Two lightweight fighters not afraid to roll their sleeves up and put in a hard shift battle it out in the co-main event of Thursday night’s show in Las Vegas.
Both fighters have serviceable rather than spectacular stand-up, so don’t be expecting to see a highlight reel KO from either man here. Chiesa likes to clinch and could have some success there, but really both men’s best work often comes on the mat and it’s most likely to be the former TUF winner who’ll be able to bring the fight there most frequently.
From there he’ll employ his relentless, grinding style while looking for a potential rear-naked choke submission if the opportunity presents itself. Miller has the better Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and will be comfortable fighting off his back, but might find that chances to attack from there will be few and far between under Chiesa’s base.
This looks like being a close fight, but while I feel Miller may have a better overall skill-set, Chiesa just has a knack for wearing his opponents down and I think his grinding mat work will be the difference between the two men here.
Michael Chiesa to win by decision.
Sage Northcutt vs. Cody Pfister
The UFC’s new wonderkid Northcutt gets his second fight in the Octagon with Pfister eager to derail his hype train and put himself on the MMA map.
While he’s clearly in excellent physical shape and is a natural athlete, Northcutt also has an impressive range of skills for a 19 year-old with his high-level, eye-catching Karate based striking being backed up by solid wrestling and even a threat from submissions too.
Pfister doesn’t have Northcutt’s flashy moves and lacks that level of comfort on his feet, but he’s a tough gritty fighter with solid wrestling, so look for him to try to attempt to bring this fight to the canvas.
I believe Northcutt has the movement and striking techniques to keep Pfister at bay though and will be able to land frequently with a varied diet of kicks and punches en-route to a second round TKO stoppage.
Sage Northcutt to win by TKO in Rd2.
Thiago “Marreta” Santos vs. Elias Theodorou
Theodorou was a winner on TUF Nations and has compiled a 3-0 record in the UFC so far, while Santos has gone 3-2 so far since joining up after a stint on TUF Brazil season 2.
Santos is a dangerous striker with finishing power, but this fight may well hinge on whether he’s able to showcase it by keeping this fight standing.
Theodorou is a grinder who’ll look to play spoiler by scoring takedowns and controlling Sants on the mat with his wrestling, and I think he’ll be able to do so, winning a decision on the scorecards here.
Elias Theodorou to win by decision.
Prelims: (Predicted winners in bold)
John Howard vs. Tim Means
Omari Akhmedov vs. Sergio Moraes
Kevin Casey vs. Antonio Carlos Junior
Johnny Eduardo vs. Aljamain Sterling
Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Andreas Stahl
Nathan Coy vs. Danny Roberts
Phillipe Nover vs. Zubaira Tukhugov
Kailin Curran vs. Emily Kagan