UFC Fight Night 168 takes place tomorrow night in Auckland, New Zealand and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Paul Felder vs. Dan Hooker
This looks like being a well-matched fight between two lightweights who have been making a solid impact in the division over the past few years.
Hooker will have the New Zealand fans behind him here and will also take comfort from the fact he has a 4.5″ reach advantage here, which will suit him as he can fight effectively from range while applying both power and pressure.
Felder would ideally prefer to fight at a closer range where he can use his boxing ability and also get into the clinch, though he does have good leg kicks too.
In terms of grappling Hooker should have the advantage and could look to trouble Felder with submissions if the fight does hit the mat.
Felder is hard-headed and should make this a good scrap, but I think Hooker will manage the distance well to land more strikes than he receives and can mix in some grappling when neccessary to help steal rounds and take a decision victory.
Dan Hooker wins by decision.
Jimmy Crute vs. Michael Oleksiejczuk
These two relatively young fighters (23 and 24 respectively) should put on an entertaining fight for the fans on Saturday night.
Oleksiejczuk has good power, durability and operates well to the body, but he does like to overload on his strikes, which makes him very dangerous early in the fight, but can leave concerns about compromising his cardio in the later rounds.
Crute is also happy to throwdown on the feet and can take a punch, but it would be advisable not to try going blow-for-blow with Oleksiejczuk too soon, especially when Crute can take advantage of his superior ground game.
If Crute resists the urge to put on a show for the fans and concentrates on wearing Oleksiejczuk down with grappling then I think he can emerge victorious on the scorecards here, but he may have to weather an early storm.
Jimmy Crute wins by decision.
Ben Sosoli vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima
The stout Sosoli certainly has some knockout power to call on and a solid chin, but he has quite a rudimentary approach and has questionable ground skills.
De Lima could use his muay thai here and try to use his height and reach advantage to outpoint Sosoli on the feet, but he’s shown he can make effective use of his wrestling and I think that will eventually lead him to a ground and pound stoppage here.
Marcos Rogerio de Lima wins by TKO in Rd3.
Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Yan Xiaonan
It’s been a tough time for Kowalkiewicz of late, suffering three losses in a row, but that doesn’t mean the former title contender should be overlooked as she is still a good fighter.
This is another tough fight for her though as Yan is another Chinese fighter on the rise, racking up four wins in the Octagon to add to a 10-year unbeaten run in the sport.
Yan will be the quicker, more aggressive and more exposive fighter here, though despite that she’s not known for being a big finisher and can be there to be hit as she rushes in.
Kowalkiewicz is unlikely to be overwhelmed by this as she remains calm in the heat of the battle and will look to return fire, while she can be surprisingly effective when she gets into the clinch.
However, I think the fact that Yan is more of a livewire who will be dictating the pace and being the more active of the two will work in her favor when it comes down to the judges to make a decision here.
Yan Xiaonan wins by decision.
Magomed Mustafaev vs. Brad Riddell
New Zealand’s own Riddell initially made his mark in kickboxing and will be hoping those skills can help him get the edge on Saturday night in front of his home fans.
Mustafaev’s career has unfortunately suffered at times due to injuries, but he definitely looks good when he is competing, being a powerful fighter with a strong kicking game, who supplements that with solid skills on the mat.
Riddell should put up a good fight on the feet, but I think Mustafaev’s better all-round MMA game may just give him the edge on Saturday night over the course of 15 minutes.
Magomed Mustafaev wins by decision.
Kevin Aguilar vs. Zubaira Tukhugov
When he’s not getting into trouble for post-fight brawls with Conor McGregor, Tukhogov is actually a talented fighter in his own right with a relatively well-rounded skillset.
Tukhogov strikes well, albeit without being much of a finisher, while as you might expect from a teammate of Khaib Nurmagomedov’s, his wrestling is on-point when he needs it.
Aguilar is most comfortable on the feet and his counter-striking style helped him rack up a lot of finishes on the regional circuit, though that hasn’t reaped the same rewards during his time in the UFC so far, with all three of his fights going to a decision.
I can see that being the case again here, with Tukhogov’s combination of striking and wrestling in the early rounds being enough to see him to victory even if he does start to slow down in the later stage of the fight.
Zubaira Tukhugov wins by decision.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Jake Matthews vs. Emil Weber Meek
Callan Potter vs. Song Kenan
Kai Kara-France vs. Tyson Nam
Maki Pitolo vs. Takashi Sato
Angela Hill vs. Loma Lookboonmee
Jalin Turner vs. Joshua Culibao
Priscila Cachoeira vs. Shana Dobson