UFC Fight Night 196 takes place tomorrow night in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Paulo Costa vs. Marvin Vettori
This fight was originally scheduled to take place at 185lbs, but two days out from weigh-ins Costa still weighed 212lbs and Vettori agreed to a 195lb catchweight, only to then have to agree to a 205lb limit a day later due to his opponent’s continued struggles cutting weight.
It’s a situation that’s put an entirely different complexion on the entire fight for a number of reasons. For one, competing at 205lbs appears to favor Costa as he’s a huge, muscle-bound middleweight with surprising cardio for his size at it is, and so with an extra 20lbs to work with, his punching power and ability to defend against takedowns could be enhanced.
On the other hand, his weight-cutting issues and the fact that during fight week he’s appeared to be in complete denial and indifference to what’s going on raises serious questions about his mental state as much as his physical one heading into the fight. Adding to that is the fact that he’s previously claimed that he drank a bottle of wine the night before his last fight, a title bout with Israel Adesanya last year and still felt the affects of that during an uncharacteristically lackluster performance in the Octagon, which led to him being TKO’d.
When he’s at his best Costa is a serious threat, being an aggressive striker who will pressure his opponents with both volume and fight-ending power, which has been a highly successful strategy, resulting in 11 stoppage victories due to strikes from 13 career victories.
In Vettori he faces someone who is similarly pressure-heavy in his approach, although he’s not packing the same natural horsepower in his punches as Costa. That being said, Vettori is very durable, has great cardio and strong wrestling, which feels like a crucial factor for him if he’s going to tame Costa on Saturday night. He also has a good record of submission finishes, though it should be noted that Costa also has good BJJ.
All the pre-fight drama certainly leaves big question marks over the outcome here, but I’m sticking to my original thoughts that Vettori won’t be intimidated by Costa’s early pressure and with his strong chin and wrestling ability will be able to work takedowns. I also think it’s even more likely now that Costa will struggle cardio wise over five rounds, which will aid Vettori’s cause and lead him to a decision win.
Pick: Marvin Vettori wins by decision.
Grant Dawson vs. Rick Glenn
Dawson is enjoying a great run of form since joining the UFC, having won five fights in a row, while Glenn’s record is more of a mixed bag, having gone 4-3 in the promotion to date.
Dawson has good wrestling and at featherweight he was manhandling opponents a times, although in his only fight at lightweight so far he was finding that a little more challenging. On the mat he has a penchant for rear-naked choke finishes, though his ground-and-pound is also a significant threat, while he’s a capable striker too.
Like Dawson, Glenn has previously competed at featherweight, so neither is the biggest lightewight around. Glenn returned to action in June after two-and-a-half years out due to hip surgery, and came back in style with a 37 second KO of Joaquim Silva.
Glenn hasn’t always demonstrate that level of stopping power in the UFC despite a good finishing record on the regional scene, but he does pack a punch and stays active offensively, while he can grapple when required too.
I think Glenn could have a level of success on the feet here, but I feel Dawson can remain somewhat competitive in that regard, while really pressing home an advantage in the wrestling department in order to eek out a decision victory.
Pick: Grant Dawson wins by decision.
Jessica-Rose Clark vs. Joselyne Edwards
Clark is coming off a TKO win after losing twice prior to that, while Edwards is 1-1 in the UFC so far.
Edwards is 3″ taller and has a 6″ reach advantage and she’ll bring that to bear with her striking ability, showcasing speed and power from range.
Meanwhile, Clark is more off an all-rounder, mixing in pressure-based striking with wrestling, without really standing out in any particular aspect.
Given Edwards striking ability and size I’d expect Clark to be leaning more towards her wrestling here, and given her lanky opponent’s questionable takedown defense I think there will be opportunities for her to duck under and bring the fight to the mat, so i’ll pick her to grind out a decision win here.
Pick: Jessica-Rose Clark wins by decision.
Alex Caceres vs. Seung Woo Choi
Credit goes to Caceres for managing to put together a nice four-fight winning streak after more than a decade in the promotion, while Choi is also doing solidly with a three fight unbeaten stretch following two losses in a row at the start of his UFC run.
It does have to be noted that the level of competition Caceres has been facing was generally in that same ‘hot-and-cold’ category as himself, but there has been signs that his flashy, karate-based striking style has been improved upon in recent times, with his jab in particular having become a more effective weapon to compliment his range-based attacks.
Choi has a background in muay thai so he’ll be more than happy to go to battle on the feet here and he has the bigger power of the two, while also holding a slight 2″ height and 1″ reach advantage too.
Choi’s takedown defense is not as weak now as it once was and he is a capable grappler and is physically strong. That being said, Caceres crafty ground game can lead him to being effective in scrambles and working for submission attempts, though he also has been caught in submissions himself in the past by better BJJ players.
I don’t think Choi will fit into that category, but I do think the South Korean can keep this one on the feet and get the better of the striking action to win on the scorecards here.
Pick: Seung Woo Choi wins by decision.
Dwight Grant vs. Francisco Trinaldo
Two fighters still showing they can make a good go of it in the twilight stages of his career, with the 43-year-old Trinaldo having lost his last fight, but earning wins in his previous three before that, while the 37-year-old Grant has three wins from his last four Octagon outings.
Trinaldo’s loss came after a move up to 170lbs, but despite it not paying off initially he’s staying up at welterweight for this fight, which does pose a significant size problem since Grant will be 4″ taller and have 6.5″ in reach over him.
Trinaldo is a talented striker though and while he may have a little speed, he’s still an agile fighter who will look to pressure into close range and make his impression felt, while he still possesses a sturdy chin, having never been stopped by strikes in his 33 fight career to date.
Grant will test him though as in addition to his imposing size he also has good stopping power. That being said, his output isn’t the best and he’s not as comfortable when opponents are able to close the distance, so I think the busier, more effective striking of Trinaldo could lead him to a decision win here.
Pick: Francisco Trinaldo wins by decision.
Nicolae Negumereanu vs. Ike Villanueva
Villaneuva really needs a win here after picking up only one in his four UFC fights to date, while Negumereanu has a 1-1 record so far.
Villaneuva is major offensive threat, with his heavy-handed style resulting in 15 stoppages from 18 career victories, but balancing that out is the fact that he’s also been finished by strikes three times already during his four-fight UFC run, while on the regional circuit he was no stranger to being tapped out at times.
Negumereanu will like the sound of that as he’s a notable finisher both on the feet in particular, but also on the mat. That being said, the Romanian has wins over some very underwhelming opposition padding out his record, so he still has a lot to prove in the Octagon.
Still, Negumereanu is strong physically and can land big takedowns, while also having a 5″ reach advantage to work with on the feet. He’s also a full decade younger than his opponent, is much fresher durability wise and so while Villaneuva’s power always has to be respected, I like Nuegumereanu to find a finish inside of two rounds here, whether on the feet or the mat.
Pick: Nicolae Negumereanu wins by TKO in Rd2.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Jun Yong Park vs. Gregory Rodrigues
Alan Patrick vs. Mason Jones
Tabatha Ricci vs. Maria de Oliveira Neta
Jamie Pickett vs. Laureano Staropoli
Khama Worthy vs. Jai Herbert
Jeff Molina vs. Daniel Lacerda
Livia Renata Souza vs. Randa Markos