UFC On FOX 31 takes place tomorrow night in Milwaukee and we’ve got our predictiosn for all the fights below.
Kevin Lee vs. Al Iaquinta
Lee lost a competitive decision to Iaquinta in his UFC debut five years ago, but he’s established himself as a major player since then, while, despite an impressive winning record, Iaquinta eventually started to become disillusioned with the sport, becoming embroiled in disputes with the UFC over his pay and even contemplating retirement, which has meant he’s only fought twice in well over three years.
Lee has a lot more experience at the top-level now, has improved his striking and still has a strong wrestling and submission game, so he’ll come into this fight with a lot of confidence.
Iaquinta remains the better striker however and will be looking to capitalize on the fact that Lee has been hurt on the feet in the past, but the evidence so far has been that Lee also has very good powers of recovery, so he’ll be tough to put away.
Iaquinta has solid wrestling too, but I do think that Lee is the greater talent in that regard and has what it takes to put him on his back on Saturday night and keep him there for extended periods, leading to a third round submission victory.
Kevin Lee wins by submission in Rd3.
Edson Barboza vs. Dan Hooker
A move up to lightweight has proven to be just what Hooker needed to kickstart his career and he’s now matured into a robust muay thai striker with a string of knockout victories to his name.
He’s going up against another high level stand-up technician in Barboza here, though by contrast the Brazilian is coming off a couple of tough defeats in a row and has been in a lot of wars over the years that can take their toll on a fighter.
A key to this fight could be pressure as Barboza isn’t as effective when not being given the kind of room he likes to operate, and Hooker will look to operate in that fashion, and together with being the younger, fresher fighter riding a wave of momentum I think that will be enough for him to get the better of a still-dangerous Barboza and claim a second round TKO stoppage.
Dan Hooker wins by TKO in Rd2.
Rob Font vs. Sergio Pettis
Pettis makes his way back up to bantamweight here and you have to wonder if that’s got more to do with the fact the UFC seems intent on shutting down the flyweight division soon as he’s by no means a big bantamweight and doesn’t have much in the way of stopping power.
On the other hand, Font is more suited to the 135lb division and has been shown to be a heavy-hitter with numerous stoppage victories on his record.
Technically Pettis is a solid all-rounder who fights in a controlled fashion and doesn’t often leave himself exposed so I think he may be able to make it to the final bell here, but I think it’s Font who will land the bigger, more meaningful strikes here and can hold his own on the mat, which will stand him in good stead when it comes to the judges scorecards.
Rob Font wins by decision.
Jim Miller vs. Charles Oliveira
Oliveira lost by submission in one of his earliest fights in the UFC against Miller, but he’s since gone on to make his mark in the lightweight division as one of the best submission specialists around.
Now eight years on he gets another chance to fight what’s now an aging 35-year-old Miller who not so long ago was on a four-fight losing streak.
Nonetheless, Miller is still a crafty veteran whose well-rounded enough to have held down his place in the Octagon for a long time now.
Miller may have the edge on the feet as Oliveira can be reckless at times in his enthusiasm to find a finish, but while Miller is at his best on the mat I think it will be ‘Do Bronx’s’ energy, pressure and unrelenting submission attempts on the mat that will eventually lead him to secure a second round stoppage via tapout, though it’s certainly possible Miller could survive to the final bell.
Charles Oliveira wins by submission in Rd2.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Bobby Green vs. Drakkar Klose
Dwight Grant vs. Zak Ottow
Jack Hermansson vs. Gerald Meerschaert
Jared Gordon vs. Joaquim Silva
Jordan Griffin vs. Dan Ige
Jessica-Rose Clark vs. Andrea Lee
Adam Milstead vs. Mike Rodriguez
Zak Cummings vs. Trevor Smith
Juan Adams vs. Chris De La Rocha