ECOCHARD’S PREVIEW & PREDICTIONS: Saturday’s UFC Fight Night on FS1: Cyborg vs. Lansberg, Barao vs. Nover, Roy Nelson vs. Bigfoot Silva

By Matthew Ecochard, MMATorch contributor

UFC Fight Night: Cyborg vs. Lansberg – Matt Ecochard

Saturday’s fights should be some quality fight night entertainment from Brazil. The following are previews and predictions of the fights for the entirety of the card.

Fight Pass Early Prelims

Glaico Franca (14-4) vs. Gregor Gillespie (7-0) – Lightweight Bout:

Glaico Franca won TUF Brazil 4 at lightweight, but lost his second UFC fight against James Vick. Against Vick , Franca had some success early grappling but suffered an eye poke and from then he seemed to gas or just never recovered. His striking is okay, but he throws heavy and falls flat footed when he doesn’t land. Gregor Gillespie is making his UFC debut here, playing the part of an undefeated prospect at 155 lbs. He is a four time NCAA Division I All-American and really wastes no time taking fighters down. Once a fighter is down he uses some solid ground skills to either submit or flatten out his opponent and search for the TKO victory. He hasn’t been challenged and has been able to take everyone down without much difficulty. Gillespie has faced quite a few bigger challengers so the size discrepancy shouldn’t make too much a difference here.

Prediction: Gregor Gillespie via TKO Round 1

Vicente Luque (9-5-1) vs. Hector Urbina (17-9) – Welterweight Bout:

Vincent Luque lost during his run on TUF, and his first official UFC bout but he is redeemed himself and has won two straight. He has good skills in Luta Livre and Jiu-Jitsu, but his striking leaves something to be desired. Edgar Garcia has some stronger power behind his punches and has solid BJJ skills as well. He has more MMA experience than Luque, but I’d say Luque is a bit better everywhere else and is smart enough not to stand and trade with Urbina. Look for the takedown game of Luque to be too much and pull off the victory here.

Prediction: Vicente Luque via Submission Round 2

Alan Patrick (13-1) vs. Stevie Ray (19-5) – Lightweight Bout

Alan Patrick is looking to continue his winning ways against the young Scottish fighter Stevie Ray. Patrick’s only loss was to the dangerous and well rounded fighter Mairbek Taisumov. He is a high level Jiu-Jitsu fighter and has the wrestling and striking to provide support. Stevie Ray is more of a finisher than Patrick and has a stronger striking game. Stevie Ray is the younger fighter and has a small step up in competition here to prove his worth and get to fight some top 20 opponents at 155 lbs. with a win here. Look for Stevie Ray to implement his strong left hooks and counterstrike to finish him off.

Prediction: Stevie Ray via TKO Round 2

Fox Sports 1 Prelims

Erick Silva (18-7, 1 NC) vs. Luan Chagas (14-1-1) – Welterweight Bout

One of the most explosive welterweights in Erick Silva will be taking on relative UFC newcomer Luan Chagas. Silva was once touted as a huge prospect, but has floundered against any top 15 name. Luan Chagas had a long win streak stopped in a draw in his UFC debut against Sergio Moraes. Both fighters have great striking and even better submission skills. Silva will look to come out hot against Chagas, but Chagas should be able to fight off the early storm. Chagas has the more sophisticated striking and will most likely hurt Silva and finish him either on the feet or on the ground.

Prediction: Chagas via Submission Round 3

(#3) Jussier Formiga (18-4) vs. (#10) Dustin Ortiz (15-5) – Flyweight Bout

Judo and BJJ expert and #5 ranked Jussier Formiga is taking on the scrappy Dustin Ortiz. Formiga’s only losses have come to the four men who were ranked ahead of him in Cejudo, Benavidez, Dodson and McCall. His boxing is good enough to stay standing but his grappling and submission game is on another level against most of the flyweight roster. Ortiz is in a similar situation losing to Benavidez, Moraga and Reis. Ortiz has never been finished so it would be hard for Formiga to do so if Benavidez couldn’t. A submission is possible, but the Judo of Formiga will allow him to control the fight.

Prediction: Jussier Formiga via Unanimous Decision

Rani Yahya (22-8, 1 NC) vs. Michinori Tanaka (11-1) – Bantamweight Bout:

Rani Yahya the 2nd degree black belt in BJJ is set to take on a high level Judo fighter in Michinori Tanaka. Rani Yahya has had a long career with Zuffa, stemming from 2007 in WEC till today in the UFC. Most of Yahya’s recent loses in the last 6 years have been to the likes of Benavidez, Mizugaki and Mendes. His ground game is so much ahead of most of the 135 lbs. division. Tanaka has looked fairly strong so far going 2-1 inside the octagon with the wins coming against the likes of Roland Delorme and Joe Soto. Tanaka may be able to grind out the decision here, but Yahya’s BJJ skills might be too much for Tanaka too handle.

Prediction: Rani Yahya via Submission Round 3

Gilbert Burns (11-1) vs. Michel Prazeres (20-2) – Lightweight Bout:

One of the most skills Jiu-Jitsu practicioners in the world in Gilbert Burns is looking to climb the division against a tough Michel Prazeres. This fight is between two very high level BJJ fighters, but Burns is on another level, winning multiple championships all over the world in the sport of BJJ. The standup of Burns is starting to come together too and if he can keep improving, Burns can certainly become a world champion. Prazeres’ most prolific win to date was against Mairbek Taisumov, the other two larger names he fought in Paulo Thiago and Kevin Lee both handed him a decision loss. Prazeres has never been finished and with both of these fighters being as good as they are on the ground, this may very well be a boxing match. Look for a gritty fight and if it goes to the ground, enjoy the amazing display of BJJ you will witness.

Prediction: Gilbert Burns via Unanimous Decision

Fox Sports 1 Main Card

Godofredo Pepey (13-4) vs. Mike De La Torre (14-5, 1 NC) – Featherweight Bout:

Godofredo Pepey had a three fight win streak snapped against a grinding Darren Elkins in his last bout, but he seemed to be putting it together prior to that fight. Mike De La Torre may be fighting for his spot on the roster here going 2-2, 1 NC so far in the UFC with his wins coming against lower, unranked fighters. Pepey has shown the ability to strike and land some flashy flying attacks as of late and it complements his black belt in BJJ. De La Torre is a blue belt in BJJ and has lost three fights via submission. Look for Pepey to take advantage of the gap in ground levels and take the fight there and force the tap.

Prediction: Godofredo Pepey via Submission Round 1

(#15) Thiago Santos (13-4) vs. Eric Spicely (8-2) – Middleweight Bout:

Thiago Santos is set to take on Eric Spicely. This bout seems like interesting booking to me as Thiago Santos seems to be on a higher level than Spicely. Santos’ two most recent losses have come against Uriah Hall and Gegard Mousasi, both top 10 fighters. Spicely most recently loss to Sam Alvey in his last bout and is getting a ranked opponent as a reward? Spicely has a decent all around game, but Santos’ striking has been fairly strong as of late with his Muay-Thai skills. This fight won’t likely see the judges, look for a brutal end to this one.

Prediction: Thiago Santos via KO Round 1

Francisco Trinaldo (20-4) vs. Paul Felder (12-2) – Lightweight Bout:

Durable veteran Francisco Trinaldo looks to continue his impressive six fight winning streak against the dangerous Paul Felder. Trinaldo at 38 years old has looked incredible and has beaten some very solid names in Ross Pearson, Yancy Mediros and Norman Parke amongst others. He has solid hard shots in his kickboxing, and has good grappling and BJJ skills to threaten on the ground as well. Paul Felder has shown glimpses of greatness on the feet, knocking out Danny Castillo with a spinning back fist. Losses to Ross Pearson and Edson Barboza took away some of his thunder though, but he looks to make this his third victory straight Saturday night. If the fight stays standing we could have a very fun affair with both men trading sharp power shots in hopes of the other dropping. Trinaldo has just shown incredible skills and I don’t expect him to lose his momentum just yet. This fight may very well be fight of the night.

Prediction: Francisco Trinaldo via Split Decision

(#11) Roy Nelson (22-13) vs. (#15) Antonio Silva (19-9, 1 NC) – Heavyweight Bout:

Both of these fighters are looking to rebound in their careers and get back on the winning path. Neither of these fighters are going to challenge for a belt again or even move in to the top 5 at heavyweight. Roy Nelson is 2-6 in his last eight fights, onoly beating Big Nog and Jared Rosholt. Antonio Silva is even worse off going 1-5, 1 NC in his last 7 bouts only beating Soa Palelei. Roy Nelson has a good chin and strong hands, Antonio Silva has no chin and strong hands. This fight will be over in the first round if Nelson isn’t afraid to stand and trade. Antonio Silva shouldn’t be cleared to fight with all of his recent losses stemming from relatively harsh knockouts. This won’t make it far and I will be jaw to the floor surprised if Silva pulls off a win.

Prediction: Roy Nelson via KO Round 1

Renan Barao (35-4, 1 NC) vs. Phillipe Nover (12-6-1) – Featherweight Bout:

Renan Barao has not looked the same since his first loss to T.J. Dillashaw. He has moved up to featherweight and lost via decision to Jeremy Stephens.  Phillipe Nover is getting the chance of a lifetime to shoot up in rankings and get to face off against a former dominant champion. The issue here is, even the deflated version of Renan Barao of late should have more than enough skill to take on Nover. Barao has amazing BJJ skills and his striking is solid enough to hang with most top fighters. Nover also has excellent submission skills, but I don’t think he will be able to withstand Barao, especially if Barao looks like his old self.

Prediction: Renan Barao via Unanimous Decision

Cris “Cyborg” Justino (16-1,1 NC) vs. Lina Lansberg (6-1) – 140 lbs. Women’s Catchweight Main Event (5 Rounds):

Normally the main event deserves a few paragraphs, but there just isn’t much to say here besides expect Cris Cyborg to just absolutely dominate here. Cyborg has knocked out every woman she has faced in MMA since 2009. Here is the good news for Lina Lansberg, she has the chance to come in and knockout Justino with a puncher’s chance. The bad news for Lina Lansberg, she will most likely be brought to slaughter in the arena to appease Brazilian fans.

Prediction: Cris Cyborg via KO Round 1

(Matthew Ecochard of New Jersey contributes fight card preview articles to MMATorch. He became fascinated watching MMA starting with UFC 111: St. Pierre vs. Hardy and hasn’t missed an event since. UFC, Bellator, Invicta FC, and more, he watches as many MMA events as possible. He is an environmentalist when I’m not overly-obsessed with watching MMA or WWE.)

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