UFC Fight Night 82 takes place tomorrow night in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Johny Hendricks vs. Stephen Thompson
Thompson is riding a nice five fight winning streak heading into this one and has done a commendable job of improving his wrestling since joining the UFC to complement his already excellent striking game which features a creative mix of eye-catching kicks and solid punches.
Hendricks wrestling is on another level though and if he’s sensible and uses that fact to his advantage then he could make life very difficult for his opponent. ‘Big Rigg’ likes to stand and throw hands though, and in all fairness he’s proven he’s more than capable in that department too, possessing big power, a strong chin and while he doesn’t have ‘Wonderboy’s’ flashy moves, his punches and leg kicks take their toll.
Thompson’s offensive arsenal means he can create moments of magic out of thin air to finish a fight, but I believe his opportunities to do so will be limited in this fight as Hendricks denies him the space he needs to operate and uses clinch work, dirty boxing and mat work together with improved cardio to plot a route to a ground and pound stoppage victory in the later rounds.
Johny Hendricks to win by TKO in Rd4.
Roy Nelson vs. Jared Rosholt
Nelson’s recent record doesn’t look good at all with losses in four of his last fights, but he’s been fighting some of the top talents in the division and taking most of them to the scorecards, while Rosholt is only just starting to bet matched up in more meaningful fights.
Rosholt is a strong, grinding wrestler, but the rest of his game leaves a lot to be desired and his striking is very limited indeed. He’s easy to hit which could be a big problem against a man wielding the kind of power than Nelson does.
I suspect Rosholt will know he’s outmatched on the feet and so that’ll make him even more eager to just grind this one out on the mat. It’s quite possible he could do that as Nelson’s not exactly very mobile which could limit his ability to maintain distance, but I can’t shake the feeling that at some stage, perhaps sooner rather than later, Nelson is going to drop a bomb on his opponent’s chin and end the fight there and then.
Roy Nelson to win by KO in Rd1.
Rafael Cavalcante vs. Ovince Saint Preux
‘Feijao’ has very dangerous muay thai skills, but he often seems to run out of steam if he doesn’t make an impact in the early stages of a fight and at the age of 35 his chin has also become a cause for concern.
OSP is perhaps not quite as violent as his opponent, but is still a proven finisher, is less battle worn and is certainly the better athlete of the two.
I like St. Preux to use superior movement, pick his moments to land clean punches and kicks to the legs and body, leading to a TKO stoppage in the second round as ‘feijao’ begins to fade.
Ovince St. Preux to win by TKO in Rd2.
Joseph Benavidez vs. Zach Makovsky
This fight seems clearly in Benavidez favor as he’s never been one to struggle with anything other than the creme de la creme of the lower divisions, with the only two fighters to beat him in his 27 fight career being flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson and bantamweight title holder Dominick Cruz.
Makovsky isn’t on their level, though he is a good fighter, posing a threat both on the feet and on the mat. It’s nothing Benavidez hasn’t seen before though and he’s more than capable of handling himself wherever the fight goes.
The only real question mark though is what effect the recent disruptions at Team Alpha Male will have had on Benavidez who’s been an integral part of the camp for years, but didn’t train there for this fight. I suspect he’s too much of a veteran to let that effect him here.
Joseph Benavidez to win by decision.
Mike Pyle vs. Sean Spencer
Pyle has always been a crafty competitor, but at the ripe old age of 40 with losses starting to mount up on his record it does feel like his career in the UFC is now hanging in the balance.
Spencer has been struggling to put together a consistent run in the promotion himself despite having much less miles on the clock. He’s a respectable striker, but doesn’t have a great deal of power which is good news for Pyle who’s ability to take a punch isn’t the best.
It’s tempting to pick the younger man here, but I’m going to side with Pyle to show his veteranship and find a route to victory via a late submission here.
Mike Pyle to win by submission in Rd3.
Misha Cirkunov vs. Alex Nicholson
Nicholson, an aggressive fighter who’s always on the lookout for a finish makes his debut here against Latvia’s Cirkunov who’s a strong grappler who should have the takedowns to put his opponent on the mat and dictate the action from there, eventually leading to a finish via strikes.
Misha Cirkunov to win by TKO in Rd2.
Prelims: (Predicted winners in bold)
Josh Burkman vs. K.J. Noons
Damian Grabowski vs. Derrick Lewis
Ray Borg vs. Justin Scoggins
Noad Lahat vs. Diego Rivas
Mickey Gall vs. Mike Jackson
Artem Lobov vs. Alex White