UFC Fight Night 198 Predictions

UFC Fight Night 198 takes place tomorrow night in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.

Main Card

Ketlen Vieira vs. Miesha Tate

After a submission win in her return from retirement against Marion Reneau, now former bantamweight champ Tate goes up against Vieira, who got off to a strong start in the UFC with four wins against respected opposition, but has since lost two of her last three fights.

Considering the 35-year-old Tate had been out of the Octagon for five years she impressed last time out, showing no signs of ring rust and even displayed signs of having levelled up her striking, which looked sharper and more assured than before.  On top of that she always had a very solid wrestling game and even had a chance to show off her submission chops against Reneau too.

Vieira is also capable on the feet and has an extra couple of inches and height over Tate to aid her cause, but she is quite hittable and the fact that she was KO’d by Irene Aldana a couple of years ago is unsettling.

However, with a background in judo and BJJ, Vieira makes a strong impression on the mat where she likes to dominate opponents with her top control.  She can lack the killer instinct at times however, and so if she was looking to grind out a win here, she’d have to do so for five rounds, which is a first for her and is an issue since her cardio has been questionable at times in the past.

This should be a close fight, but I feel a clearly re-motivated and rejuvenated version of Tate could make an impact here with her striking improvements, while also having the skills to be very competitive on the mat. I think with her cardio and mental toughness will also be key and lead to her taking more control of the action in the later rounds to emerge with a decision win.

Pick: Miesha Tate wins by decision.

Michael Chiesa vs. Sean Brady

Welterweight has clearly proven to be a great fit for Chiesa, winning his first four fights there, though he is now coming off a first round submission loss to Vicene Luque a few months ago.  Meanwhile, Brady has yet to taste defeat in his 14 fight career, including four wins so far in the Octagon.

Both fighters here have similar skill-sets, with their strongest suits undoubtedly being on the mat.  Chiesa thrives on embracing the grind and focuses more on control than landing strikes on the mat, though he also does well to find his way to his opponent’s backs and from their has knack for threatening with fight-ending chokes.

Brady is a strong, explosive wrestler who can also be stifling on top, but is more active with ground-and-pound from their than Chiesa if the opportunity presents itself.  Meanwhile, he’ll also be on the hunt for submissions, and has successfully done so in his last two fights, and giving him added confidence here will be the fact that his opponent’s submission defense has been an issue at times, accounting for four of his five losses in the UFC.

Making an impact on the feet has been more challenging for both men.  Chiesa tends to keep at range with long, straight punches, but he doesn’t have much stopping power and is often just biding his time for the chance to clinch up and / or seek a a takedown.

Brady gives up roughly 3″ in height and reach to Chiesa here, but he has a bit of technical edge, will threaten with hooks on the counter and has more power, so he may be more willing to stand and trade for longer periods.

This really is a finely balanced match-up, and the fact that Brady is taking a step-up in competition does make it trickier.  However, I feel he’s the physically stronger of the two and isn’t easy to take down, and with the added factors of having a minor edge in the stand-up and could catch Chiesa out with a submission on the mat makes me lean slightly towards him to win, securing a finish in the final round.

Pick: Sean Brady to win by submission in Rd3.

Rani Yahya vs. Kyung Ho Kang

37-year-old veteran Yahya has a mixed bag of a win, a loss and a draw coming into this fight, while Kang is on a roll with three wins in a row, though it’s worth nothing that two came by split decision.

Yahya is definitely past his prime athletically and though he’s durable he doesn’t have much at all to offer on the feet, but he’s such a crafty, high-level BJJ player that he remains as dangerous as ever on the mat, and has a record of 21 submission finishes from 27 career fights to prove it.

Kang presents an interesting challenge in that he too has a strong record of submitting opponents, finishing 11 of his 18 career victories by that method, but in addition to that he is certainly the more well-rounded fighter here.

He’s also the more athletic fighter and in addition has a 3″ height and major 6″ reach advantage, which should only enhance his advantage in the striking department, while enabling to fight at a range that will act as a deterrent to takedown attempts.

That’s not to say Kang couldn’t hold his own to some extent if the fight did hit the mat, but it would be a big risk to stay there for long, so I feel his focus should be striking and stuffing takedown attempts, leading him to a win on the scorecards.

Pick: Kyung Ho Kang wins by decision.

Joanne Wood vs. Taila Santos

Joanne Calderwood’s recent marriage led to her surname changing to Wood, and she now looks to get back to winning ways after a split decision loss to Lauren Murphy kept her in a pattern of bouncing between wins and losses.

Meanwhile, after losing her debut by split decision, Santos has now firmly established herself in the division with a trio of wins against Molly McCann, Gillian Robertson and Roxanne Modafferi.

While she has some ability in all areas, Wood’s muay thai is undoubtedly her biggest asset and she does well to work in elbows and knees into her frequent striking combinations, putting together a high-volume output that can trouble her opponents, though not necessarily finish them.

Santos is also a good striker though, but she’s also significantly more athletic too and I expect her to the be the faster of the two as well as landing the heavier blows.

Santos also has solid wrestling ability and as the stronger of the two I think that could also enable her to gain the upper-hand here, so I’m taking her to secure a decision win.

Pick: Taila Santos to win by decision.

Davey Grant vs. Adrian Yanez

After a good three-fight unbeaten run that including two KO wins in a row, Grant is now coming off a decision loss to Marlon vera, while Yanez is still on the rise, having secured three finishes via strikes since his UFC arrival.

Grant brings an all-action style and can be quite unorthodox and wild in the striking department, putting everything into his strikes, but they can be a bit on the slow side and overly telegraphed at times, while he can leave his chin exposed.  That said when he does connect it’s with power and he is durable.

Grant’s also a good wrestler and he may be wise to pursue that since Yanez has proven to be very dangerous on the feet with his sharp, hard-hitting and high-volume boxing ability.

Yanez is also bolstered by the fact that he’s never been finished inside the distance in his career to date.  As such I do favor him here to have the striking ability to exploit the flaws in Grant’s striking defense and finish him by second round TKO.

Pick: Adrian Yanez wins by TKO in Rd2.

Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)

Pat Sabatini vs. Tucker Lutz
Luana Pinheiro vs. Sam Hughes
Loma Lookboonmee vs. Lupita Godinez
Rafa Garcia vs. Natan Levy
Cody Durden vs. Aori Qileng
Terrance McKinney vs. Fares Ziam
Shayilan Nuerdanbieke vs. Sean Soriano