UFC On FOX 18 takes place this Saturday night in New Jersey and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Ryan Bader vs. Anthony Johnson
Bader has put together a nice run of wins to put himself almost within reach of a title shot, showing off improved striking along the way to complement his already solid wrestling base. I still wouldn’t classify Bader as a great striker though and he doesn’t have the kind of power that’s going to scare off the division’s top contenders, with all five wins in his unbeaten stretch coming via decision.
Johnson on the other hand is one of the hardest hitters in the sport, stopping the likes of Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Alexander Gustafsson and Jimi Manuwa with bone-crunching strikes during his second spell in the UFC so far. Johnson also takes a punch well, having never been stopped by strikes in his career aside from an illegal eyepoke years ago during his first run in the promotion, while Bader’s had his night ended abruptly on a couple of occasions, so if this fight stays upright then it definitely favors ‘Rumble’.
Bader is the better wrestler of the two, so he’d be wise to incorporate that into his gameplan, particularly in the early rounds when Johnson is at his most dangerous. ‘Rumble’ has a tendency to run out of steam later on in his fights and can become disillusioned, so if Bader can take him into deep waters another decision win for him may be on the cards.
However, Johnson’s defensive wrestling is reasonably decent and I think he won’t have too much difficulty finding his target in the stand-up, so I’m taking him to find a TKO victory here before his gas tank runs low.
Anthony Johnson to win by TKO in Rd2.
Josh Barnett vs. Ben Rothwell
Two veteran heavyweights on display here with Rothwell’s rugged power on the feet going up against Barnett’s savvy grappling skills.
Barnett is the more refined and well rounded of the two here, with his control on top and threat from submissions making him one of the division’s best on the mat, while he’s also capable of mixing it up on the feet too.
Barnett doesn’t wield the kind of stopping power in his fists that Rothwell does however, and ‘Big Ben’ is also an extremely durable fighter and isn’t afraid to eat a couple of punches to land one of his own.
It would be risky for Barnett to go toe-to-toe with Rothwell, but I think he’s too smart for that and I see him figuring a way to get this fight to the mat, controlling the action from there and slowly but surely working his way towards a fight-ending submission.
Josh Barnett to win by submission in Rd2.
Iuri Alcantara vs. Jimmie Rivera
Bit of an odd choice for a main card spot on FOX here, but nice exposure for these two bantamweights nonetheless.
Both of these two can mix it up wherever the fight goes, but I feel the shorter, stockier Rivera will end up getting the better of his opponent on the feet with good counter striking and a higher offensive output, which, in an otherwise close fight, will be enough to edge him to victory on the scorecards.
Jimmie Rivera to win by decision.
Bryan Barberena vs. Sage Northcutt
Barberena steps in as a late replacement to face Sage Northcutt who agreed to move up to 170lbs to accommodate his new opponent as the teenage star looks for his third win in the UFC.
Northcutt has proven so far that he’s a great athlete, is a live wire on the feet and also has some nice takedowns and submissions at his disposal. On the mat he shows clear signs of being rough around the edges as you might expect giving his age, being prone to making mistakes and looking vulnerable from his back – though to his credit he doesn’t appear to wilt under pressure.
Against higher level opponents Northcutt’s vulnerabilities could be exposed at this stage in his career, but i don’t think that’ll be the case tomorrow night. Barberena is decent, but not especially dangerous and I don’t think his grappling will be a big cause for alarm in the Northcutt corner, particularly not when he’s had only 8 days to prepare. I’ll take Northcutt to win by ground and pound here.
Sage Northcutt to win by TKO in Rd3.
Jake Ellenberger vs. Tarec Saffiedine
Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Diego Ferreira
Kevin Casey vs. Rafael Natal
Dustin Ortiz vs. Wilson Reis
George Sullivan vs. Alexander Yakovlev
Alex Caceres vs. Masio Fullen
Damon Jackson vs. Levan Makashvili
Tony Martin vs. Felipe Olivieri
Randy Brown vs. Matt Dwyer