UFC Fight Night 179 takes place tomorrow night on Fight Island and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Marlon Moraes vs. Cory Sandhagen
Moraes is the current No .1 contender in the bantamweight ranks, having rebounded from a TKO loss in his title challenge at the hands of Henry Cejudo with a split decision victory over Jose Aldo.
Now he faces up to the No.4 ranked Sandhagen, who had been in excellent form during a five-fight winning streak, but had that snapped last time out when he suffered a quick submission loss to Aljamain Sterling in June.
Sandhagen will enjoy a 5″ height and 4″ reach advantage over Moraes and he operates well from range with lengthy, high-volume striking and hard-to-read movement.
He’ll need that though as Moraes is one of the fastest, most dynamic and hard-hitting strikers in the lighter divisions, particularly early in the fight while he’s still fresh.
Sandhagen has solid cardio despite his high output, but it’s worth noting he’s never fought into the championship rounds before, while Moraes gas tank can decline, but he has successfully won fights that went the full 25 minutes during his title run in the WSOF promotion.
Both fighters have ways to win here, with Sandhagen having a real possibility to emerge with his hand raised if this one goes the distance, but it will be hard to keep Moraes at bay early in the fight and his heavy leg kicks will punish his opponent’s lankly limbs, so I’m going to take the Brazilian to secure a second round TKO stoppage here.
Prediction: Marlon Moraes wins by TKO in Rd2.
Edson Barboza vs. Makwan Amirkhani
Amirkhani comes into this fight on short notice after Sodiq Yusuff had to withdraw, giving a completely different look for Barboza to contend with as he looks to register his first win at featherweight.
In fact, despite his reputation as one of the best technical strikers around, Barboza is actually just desperately seeking a win in general, having lost five of last six fights, albeit against top-flight competition, including current lightweight top dogs Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje.
Amirkhani is not a bad striker, but he’s certainly outgunned against someone of Barboza’s caliber and so for his sake it’s just as well that he’s best on the mat and he has a very good submission game that the Brazilian will be equally eager to avoid.
However, throughout his long UFC run Barboza has consistently shown very good takedown defense and can even punish fighters who rush into sloppy takedown attempts due to his clinical striking and use of all eight limbs.
If Amirkhani can force takedowns then he could absolutely find a finish, even though Barboza has only been submitted twice in his career, but overall I think the Brazilian’s ability to keep the fight standing and unleash his superior firepower will lead him to a TKO stoppage midway through the fight.
Edson Barboza wins by TKO in Rd2.
Ben Rothwell vs. Marcin Tybura
There’s a real chance that this heavyweight encounter turns out to be a pretty dull affair as two plodding veterans lumber around the Octagon looking to extend there recent winning runs to three fights.
Rothwell remains a rugged fighter but since his USADA suspension a few years ago there’s been very little spark to his game, fighting at a slow pace while getting punched more than he should.
Tybura is not the kind of fighter who is going to up the tempo and in some respects is quite similar to Rothwell, but doesn’t have the same level of durability. Tybura can grapple, but I don’t see him having much success there against ‘Big Ben’ and if he did he’d have to be very wary of his opponent’s submission threat.
I can see a relatively uneventful fight here, but Rothwell getting the better of the stand-up and clinch work to emerge with a decision victory.
Ben Rothwell wins by decision.
Dricus Du Plessis vs. Markus Perez
With a 2-3 record in the UFC so far you could be forgiven for questioning Perez’s skills heading into this fight, but don’t forget that even prior to his time in the Octagon he’d actually already beaten former and current UFC notables like Paulo Thiago, Iuri Alcantara and Ian heinisch.
Now he’ll face a late replacement in Du Plessis, and a credentialed one at that as he’s a former KSW welterweight champion and won welterweight and middleweight title honors during a long stint in the EFC Africa promotion.
Striking wise Du Plessis is the more accomplished technician here with good kickboxing, while Perez has real power but is less refined and his single shots could well come off second-best against his opponent’s combinations.
However, Du Plessis doesn’t have the best takedown defense and Perez is a solid grappler with a proven submission record and while this one could go either way, I’ll take him to get the upperhand on the mat and find a tapout finish.
Markus Perez wins by submission in Rd2.
Tom Aspinall vs. Alan Baudot
Heavyweight fighter Aspinall’s UFC debut couldn’t have gone better, TKO’ing Jake Collier in only 45 seconds.
Now it’s Baudot’s turn to make his debut and in his 8-1 record to date he’s shown he’s got finishing power, but there are caveats since the level of competition has been underwhelming, he only registered a win last time out due to a DQ after initially being submitted and he hasn’t fought in the nearly 17 months since.
Aspinall is a solid prospect, demonstrating solid boxing, good handspeed and movement, while he’s also a capable BJJ player too. He’s certainly the more technical fighter in this match-up, though he’s not without his flaws and does tend to be front-foot heavy and lead with his chin.
Nevertheless, though Baudot’s winging punches are dangerous, Aspinall’s cleaner, faster hands should win out here and lead to a first round TKO stoppage.
Tom Aspinall wins by TKO in Rd1.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Thomas Almeida vs. Alejandro Perez
Ilia Topuria vs. Youssef Zalal
K.B. Bhullar vs. Tom Breese
Chris Daukaus vs. Rodrigo Nascimento
Joaquin Buckley vs. Impa Kasanganay
Ali Alqaisi vs. Tony Kelley
Giga Chikadze vs. Omar Morales
Tracy Cortez vs. Stephanie Egger
Bruno Silva vs. Tagir Ulanbekov