UFC Fight Night 231 takes place in Sao Paulo, Brazil tomorrow night and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Jailton Almeida vs. Derrick Lewis
Jailton Almeida has put the rest of the heavyweight division on notice after racking up five stoppage wins in a row since joining the UFC and now fights Derrick Lewis, who ended a three-fight losing slump with a 33 second TKO last time out.
The 32-year-old Almeida is a very well-rounded fighter, particularly by heavyweight standards, making him a threat wherever the fight goes. His grappling ability is certainly a stand-out aspect of his game and he has amassed numerous wins via submission, aided by the fact that his wrestling is also on-point. His natural athleticism has also helped him to develop a potent striking game to compliment his mat work, demonstrating finishing power in his hands and good kicks too.
So this is a tough test for Lewis, who took the fight on around a month’s notice Lewis’ last win was encouraging as he looked in better shape than usual, but it was a step down in competition for ‘The Black Beast’ to go up against Marcos Rogerio de Lima, having suffered three stoppage losses in a row against Sergei Spivak, Sergei Pavlovich and Tai Tuivasa prior to that.
The 38-year-old remains one of the most thunderous one-punch knockout artists in the game, and despite his size he can have short bursts of surprising speed and ability when he does go on the attack. However, Lewis’ cardio is an issue and there can be long spells in his fights where he takes a time-out, lacking activity and urgency in his work. To his credit he can still be dangerous even when he appears physically spent, but it’s far from an ideal approach. Meanwhile, his ground game is suspect and relies heavily on his brute strength to get himself out of trouble.
This feels like a bad match-up for Lewis. Almeida has the striking ability and athleticism to be able to compete with him on the feet, but it’s his major advantage on the mat that’s his key to victory here and I think he’ll get Lewis to the mat early and lock up a submission finish to continue his unbeaten run in the Octagon.
Pick: Jailton Almeida wins by submission in Rd1.
Gabriel Bonfim vs. Nicolas Dalby
Gabriel Bonfim has made a perfect start in the UFC, securing two 1st round submission victories since joining from the Contender Series. Now he lands a co-main event spot and takes on Nicolas Dalby, who is in the mist of a three-fight winning streak.
At 26, Bonfim is entering into his prime years with all the tools necessary to be a serious threat. On the feet he has a high-volume style and good technique, though his grappling is even more of a threat, as evidenced by 12 submission stoppages from 15 career victories. He also secures takedowns well, ensuring he can keep the action where he’s most effective when required.
Dalby is getting on in years now at 38, but he’s still a tough, gritty competitor and a solid all-rounder. He has a pressure style and relies on being hard to stop, having a strong chin and good cardio to help break down his opponents over time rather than being a big finisher in any particular regard.
Having never been stopped inside the distance, Dalby is clearly no easy fight, but it’s hard to hold onto that forever as time takes over and I think the younger, fresher and more skilled Bonfim will find his way to a second round submission finish here.
Pick: Gabriel Bonfim wins by submission in Rd2.
Rodrigo Nascimento vs. Don’Tale Mayes
Rodrigo Nascimento comes in off two split-decision victories to rematch Don’Tale Mayes, who TKO’d Andrei Arlovski a few months ago.
There wasn’t really much of a call for a second fight between these two after previously going head-to-head in 2020, which saw the debuting Nascimento claiming a rear-naked choke finish in the second round.
Mayes did pick up his most notable win to date against Arlovski last time out, but truth be told the 44-year-old veteran seemed to be edging out the action up until Mayes landing the fight-ending overhand right. Mayes is certainly heavy-handed but there’s no real finesse to his work and if he can’t land a big finisher he often resorts to grinding clinch work. Given that he’s also underwhelming defensively it’s not hard to see why he’s struggled to break beyond the low-end of the heavyweight ranks.
Nascimento has more versatility to his game, mixing up his strikes more on the feet, while he has a solid ground game that’s already proven to be effective against Mayes and I don’t see any reason why it won’t be again this time, securing another submission stoppage mid-way through the fight.
Pick: Rodrigo Nascimento wins by submission in Rd2.
Caio Borralho vs. Abus Magomedov
Caio Borralho has racked up four wins in a row in the UFC and after his original fight on this card fell through now fights Abus Magomedov, who lost to Sean Strickland last time out and has taken this match-up on a few weeks notice.
Borralho is a talented grappler with good wrestling too, who is quite happy to control opponents on the mat for extended periods, though he is also more than capable of delivering potentially fight-ending submissions or ground-and-pound too. He can also hold his own on the feet, using his very good cardio to constantly apply pressure.
Magomedov actually gave soon-to-be-champion Strickland a tough time in the opening round of their fight, making good use of his kickboxing ability from range to land solid kicks, punches and even land a takedown. However, his early exertion resulted in him burning himself out, leaving him a sitting duck in the second round as Strickland turned the screw and beat him up to win by TKO.
With that in mind, the fact that Magomedov doesn’t have a full fight camp heading into this one against a fighter whose energy, pressure and grappling advantage doesn’t bode well. It’s possible Borralho could find a finish late in the fight, but I’ll say he looks to play it safe and control the action on top to grind out a decision win.
Pick: Caio Barralho wins by decision.
Rodolfo Vieira vs. Armen Petrosyan
After going back-and-forth between wins and losses in his recent Octagon outings, Rodolfo Vieira now looks to string together two victories in a row when he takes on Armen Petrosyan, who is 3-1 in the UFC to date.
Grappler vs. striker is very much the story of this one. Vieira is one of the best BJJ players in the sport and has 8 wins via submission from 9 career victories to prove it. His striking isn’t much to right home about, but he’s not the kind of grappler who is likely to be left stranded on the feet as he is a solid wrestler too. However, cardio is a big issue for the muscular 34-year-old, and even left him so tired in the second round of his fight against Anthony Hernandez a couple of years ago that he was actually tapped out – something that no-one would have expected.
Petrosyan may be hoping to take advantage of that decline in his abilities later in the fight too, but in order to do so he’ll have to keep the fight standing as he’s not got much to offer on the mat. That’s concerning as his takedown defense in particular is poor. On the upside though the 33-year-old has a background in kickboxing (not to be mistaken with the champion kickboxer who holds the same name as him) and has a skilled kicking game in particular, good offensive output and solid cardio.
If Petrosyan does keep the fight upright then things bode well for him later in the fight. However, I just can’t see him having the wrestling chops to stop Vieira’s takedowns long enough to tire him out, and that’s going to leave him in a very bad spot sooner than later on the mat, leading to a first round submission finish.
Pick: Rodolfo Vieira wins by submission in Rd1.
Ismael Bonfim vs. Vinc Pichel
The brother of co-main event fighter Gabriel Bonfim, Ismael has gone 1-1 in the UFC and now fights long-time UFC fighter Vinc Pichel, whose three-fight winning streak came to an end last time out.
The injury-prone Pichel has been fighting in the UFC for 11 years, yet has only fought 10 times during that period. He’ll also turn 41-years-old later this month and is coming in off a year-and-a-half layoff. Pichel was never the quickest or most explosive fighter at the best of times, but even as the years have progressed he’s remained a tough all-rounder who will press the action, absorb punches to land his own, is strong in the clinch and has decent wrestling ability too.
In Bonfim he’s fighting an athletic 27-year-old who has finely-honed muay thai ability, has more power and will be considerably quicker than the veteran, while also being defensively sound. Meanwhile, Bonfim might not be as dangerous as his brother on the mat, but he does have solid takedown defense and can work for submissions.
Age is clearly a factor here, but truth be told I think Bonfim is the more talented fighter anyway, and with his speed and power advantage I see him notching up a 2nd round TKO stoppage here.
Pick: Ismael Bonfim wins by TKO in Rd2.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Elves Brener vs. Esteban Ribovics
Victor Hugo Silva vs. Daniel Marcos
Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos vs. Rinat Fakhretdinov
Vitor Petrino vs. Modestas Bukauskas
Angela Hill vs. Denise Gomes
Eduarda Moura vs. Montserrat Ruiz
Kaue Fernandes vs. Marc Diakiese