ECOCHARD’S UFC FIGHT NIGHT ON FS1 PREVIEW & PREDICTIONS: Poirier vs. Johnson, Dunhan vs. Glenn, Hall vs. Brunson

By Matt Ecochard, MMATorch contributor

The following is a fight by fight preview and prediction for Saturday’s UFC Fight Night Event on Fox Sports 1.

Fight Pass Early Prelims

Alejandro Perez (18-6) vs. Albert Morales (6-0) – Bantamweight Bout:

TUF Latin America winner Alejandro Perez will be taking on incoming prospect Morales in the opening fight of the card. Perez and Morales are both versatile fighters, capable of winning by either TKO or submission. It appears that Morales has better submission skills, although it’s hard to tell in such a young career. This fight should be a fairly entertaining affair anywhere it goes, but the experience of Perez should be too much for Morales to handle this early in his MMA career.

Prediction: Alejandro Perez via TKO Round 1

Erick Montano (8-3) vs. Randy Brown (7-1) – Welterweight Bout:

Randy Brown looks to rebound from a disappointing second fight in the UFC against the submission heavy game of Erick Montano. Randy Brown is a young, talented fighter who still has holes to fill in his game, mostly in the wrestling department. His striking and Muay Thai is good at this stage in his career and he will look to keep distance, using his height and reach to his advantage and possibly force a clinch game to use knees. Montano will be looking to get in, take him down and get out which he may just do. The more likely outcome is the young Brown drilled plenty of wrestling and will look to send a message to the other welterweights with a dominant decision.

Prediction: Randy Brown via Unanimous Decision

Fox Sports 1 Prelims

Jose Quinonez (5-2) vs. Joey Gomez (6-1) – Bantamweight Bout

Two fairly inexperienced fighters are taking on each other here. Quinonez looks to make it 2-1 inside the UFC when he takes on the KO King Gomez. This battle is predominantly a battle between two strikers. Gomez has more power, so he seems to be the safer pick with this fight. Both men have been knocked out, but Gomez’s KO loss was to the strong striker Rob Font, Quinonez doesn’t seem to have the power that Font possesses, or the chin.

Prediction: Gomez via KO Round 1

Antonio Carlos Junior (6-2, 1 NC) vs. Leonardo Augusto Guimaraes (11-2, 1 NC) – Middleweight Bout

Antonio Carlos Junior won the heavyweight TUF Brazil 3 tournament, and then dropped to light heavyweight, then to middleweight where his last three fights have taken place. He has gone 1-1, 1 NC in those three fights, making it hard to tell where he stands in the division. Leonardo Augusto Guimaraes is fighting his second fight after having a lackluster UFC debut loss to Anthony Smith. Both men favor the ground game, but sometimes that leads to a striking affair. I believe that Carlos Junior will use his striking and reach to get in for a takedown and use his superior jiu-jitsu skills to sneak and find a way to be the first man to submit Guimaraes late in the fight.

Prediction: Antonio Carlos Junior via Submission Round 3

Augusto Montano (15-2) vs. Belal Muhammad (9-1) – Welterweight Bout:

Augusto Montano has gone 1-1 in the UFC and will look to rebound from a loss to Cathal Pendred in this fight. Belal Muhammad’s UFC debut didn’t go as planned, taking a fight against Alan Jouban on a month’s notice, but looking fairly competitive still. Montano showed some vicious striking against Chris Heatherly, but got out grappled and out powered by Cathal Pendred. Belal has some solid striking of his own, mixed in with some decent clinch game. This fight will be very competitive if it stays on the feet, as the ground game will be Montano’s realm.  Muhammad should be able to keep the fight standing and work a game plan that will let him earn his first UFC win.

Prediction: Belal Muhammad via Unanimous Decision

Gabriel Benitez (18-6) vs. Sam Sicilia (15-6) – Featherweight Bout:

Both Gabriel Benitez and Sam Sicilia are coming off of brutal first round knockout losses. Sam Sicilia is known for his own knockout power, but not for much else at all. Benitez is a competitive fighter with good grappling and submission skills. If Benitez is smart he will grab a takedown and make quick work of Sicilia on the ground, otherwise Sicilia will have every opportunity on the feet to knock him out. Sicilia is not an elite fighter, but makes for a solid gatekeeper to the top 15. Benitez is looking to get into there and I believe he will.

Prediction: Gabriel Benitez via Submission Round 2

Fox Sports 1 Main Card

Chas Skelly (15-2) vs. Maximo Blanco (12-7-1, 1 NC) – Featherweight Bout:

Chas Skelly had a strong win streak going, finishing the likes of Kevin Souza, Jim Alers and Tom Niinimaki, until he ran into a grinding machine called Darren Elkins. Maximo Blanco has been very inconsistent his entire UFC career. Beating some recognizable names, but losing to fighters people would think he should win against. Chas Skelly has amazing wrestling and an awkward striking game that compliments it in more recent fights. Blanco also has a solid background in wrestling, but not the likes that Skelly has. Maximo has some very flashy and dangerous striking as well that can put anyone away. Look for the calmer more cerebral Skelly to outwork the questionable cardio of Blanco and find a way to pull off a submission victory after an opening round of striking.

Prediction: Chas Skelly via Submission Round 2

Chris Wade (11-2) vs. Islam Makhachev (12-1) – Lightweight Bout:

Two very different style grapplers meet in a matchup between wrestler Chris Wade and Russian Sambo artist Islam Makhachev.  Both fighters are coming off losses and Wade lost to another Russian Sambo fighter in Rustam Khabilov. Islam does not possess the same striking skills as Rustam, but his Sambo might be just as good. If Wade struggled with the grappling of Khabilov, he is going to be in for a long night of grappling frustration.

Prediction: Islam Makhachev via Unanimous Decision

Roan Carneiro (20-10) vs. Kenny Robertson (15-3) – Welterweight Bout:

The third degree Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Roan Carneiro is dropping back down to 170 lbs. in order to try to get back in the win column against the NCAA wrestler Kenny Robertson. Robertson would be smart to keep the fight standing and avoid the ground game all together against Carneiro so he doesn’t get submitted. Carneiro needs to find a way to get him down otherwise he will likely not be able to hang on the feet with Robertson. Robertson’s takedown defense should do him right here and allow him to batter Carneiro on the feet.

Prediction: Kenny Robertson via TKO Round 2

Evan Dunham (16-6) vs. Rick Glenn (18-3-1) – Lightweight Bout:

Gritty veteran Evan Dunham was going to facing Abel Trujillo but will now be taking UFC newcomer Rick Glenn. Evan Dunham has a fan friendly, exciting style in which he is willing to stand and trade with the division’s best. He had a rough streak in 2013-2014, but they came against some of the UFC’s biggest names now. Rick Glenn is debuting on short notice and moving up a weight class, yet is still the taller fighter. Glenn was well known to World Series of Fighting fans as he took out Georgi Karakhanyan for their featherweight title.

This fight could be a contender for fight of the night due to the styles of both of these men. Look for a fun standup affair. The outcome is a little hard to predict due to the similarities. Dunham has faced the harder competition and naturally competes at lightweight, but maybe Glenn will look even better at lightweight. An upset is definitely possible here so that’s what I’m sticking with.

Prediction: Rick Glenn via Split Decision

Uriah Hall (13-6) vs. Derek Brunson (15-3) – Middleweight Bout:

Welcome to an extremely entertaining striking bout ladies and gentleman. Knockout artists Uriah Hall and Derek Brunson will be looking to take each other’s heads off on Saturday night in the co-main event. Hall and Brunson are ranked #9 and #10 respectively and this fight could really go either way. Hall uses some very flashy techniques that land seemingly out of nowhere, but have some real power behind them. Derek Brunson has really worked on his technique over the last couple of years and his striking has improved tremendously. Riding a three fight, first round knockout streak into this fight spells nothing but fireworks.

Hall could be outworked and drop a decision here as he has in the past, but Brunson’s chin for me is the deciding factor. He has been rocked a few times in recent memory, before coming back for some finishes. I believe he won’t see one of Hall’s interesting strikes coming and get clipped and followed up for the finish. Don’t blink folks.

Prediction: Uriah Hall via KO Round 2

Dustin Poirier (20-4) vs. Michael Johnson (17-10) – Lightweight Main Event (5 Rounds):

The main event features the resurgent career for Dustin Poirier at 155 lbs. against a dangerous opponent in Michael Johnson. Dustin Poirier was looking defeated at 145 lbs. with his chin not holding up due to his hard weight cut. His improved cardio and chin have allowed him to really excel and show off the striking potential he had always shown glimpses of at featherweight. He currently is riding a four fight win streak, most impressively KO-ing Bobby Green in the first round at UFC 199.

Michael Johnson was looking really slick for a few fights against the likes of Lauzon, Tibau, Guilard and Barboza, but then he started to get outworked by opponents in Dariush and Nate Diaz. He still is considered to be ranked number 10 in the world, but he has more to prove in this fight than Poirier. Johnson has shown off fluid striking mixed in with clinching and grappling for a very solid game overall. If he can put the pieces together he should be able to become a contender.

This fight will be over fast. Within the first two rounds, almost guaranteed with the way Poirier has looked as of late. Poirier normally doesn’t have to much a feeling out process like other fighters normally have. No disrespect to Johnson, but Poirier has just sharpened his skills and improved every fight for the last two years. He has had almost no struggles against his last four opponents and will continue to look crisper and earn his shot at a top 5 opponent after this fight.

Prediction: Dustin Poirier via KO Round 1

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