UFC on Fox Preview: Grocke’s predictions and updated odds for Gastelum vs. Weidman, Bermudez vs. Elkins

By Michael Grocke, MMATorch contributor

UFC on FOX 25 is live from the Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, New York on Saturday night. In the main event Kelvin Gastelum takes on Chris Weidman in what should be a fantastic fight between two of the UFC’s best middleweights. The co-main takes place in the featherweight division where Dennis Bermudez goes up against Darren Elkins.

The four fight main card rounds out with what should be a hard hitting scrap between light heavyweights Patrick Cummins and Gian Villante and in the bantamweight division Thomas Almeida meets Jimmie Rivera.

The early prelims will air on Fight Pass starting at 3 PM CT, with Fox taking over at 5 PM CT for the prelims. Keep it on FOX for the main card starting at 7 PM CT.

Main Card

#8 Kelvin Gastelum (13-2) vs. #7 Chris Weidman (13-3) – Middleweight 185 lbs.

Current Odds: Gastelum -170; Weidman +140

I wrote in my preview for UFC 210 that Chris Weidman was in a must-win situation when he took on Gegard Mousasi after dropping his previous two fights. Weidman lost to Mousasi. He has now lost three fights in a row, with none of them making it to the judge’s scorecards.

His team didn’t do him any favors by taking this fight against Kelvin Gastelum. It’s been two years and two months since Weidman last won a fight. I’ll say it again, this is a fight Weidman has to win if he’s ever going to get back into the title hunt. In Weidman’s thirteen career wins, six came via KO/TKO with three submissions.

Kelvin Gastelum on the other hand has won two fights in a row and thought he had won his third in a row after he finished Vitor Belfort in the first round at UFC Fight Night 106. However, the decision was later overturned to a no-contest after he tested positive for THC in a sample collected the day of the event. The twenty-five year old has nine finishes in thirteen career wins. Five were by knockout to along with four by submission.

Chris Weidman will have a noticeable size advantage when he steps into the cage to face Gastelum on Saturday night in Long Island. He is five inches taller and has a six inch reach advantage over Gastelum. The question is, will Weidman be able to take advantage by picking Gastelum apart from distance? For me, the answer is no, but I do think he’ll have the advantage when it comes to wrestling and the ability to get Kelvin to the ground. The problem with Weidman is he can’t keep his opponent on the ground and Gastelum is very good at getting back to his feet once taken down.

Another flaw in Weidman’s game is his cardio. He has a history, especially lately, of gassing out after the first round and a half to two rounds. Kelvin Gastelum does not tire out. I think Weidman will have success early in the fight. He will get Gastelum to the ground and if Gastelum gives up his back like he has a tendency to do the fight will be over. However, if Gastelum can keep getting back to his feet and make Weidman work for take downs he will eventually tire. I think Gastelum will survive past the first two rounds and begin to take over in the later rounds leading to a finish.

Pick: Gastelum by TKO

Dennis Bermudez (17-6) vs. Darren Elkins (23-5) – Featherweight 145 lbs.

Current Odds: Bermudez -235; Elkins +185

Darren Elkins enters his fight against Dennis Bermudez on Saturday with a ton of confidence. The thirty-three year is riding a four-fight winning streak with his most recent win occurring at UFC 209 where he finished Mirsad Bektic. In his twenty-two career wins eleven are by decision, six by knockout and five via submission. Seven of his last eight fights have gone to the judge’s scorecards.

Dennis Bermudez was on his way to getting a title fight until he was stopped at UFC Fight Night 104 by Chan Sung Jung. The thirty year old Long Island MMA product will be looking to get back on track with a win over Elkin on Saturday. He has seven finishes to go along with nine wins by decision in sixteen wins.

Darren Elkins’ last win, which was over prospect Mirsad Bektic opened a lot of people’s eyes, including my own. With a win here, he has a chance to become a real player in the featherweight division. It certainly won’t be easy, as the betting odds reflect.

Dennis Bermudez has good wrestling to go with fantastic take down defense. However, I think Bermudez’s best chance to win this fight is by keeping it on the feet. As good as he is as a wrestler, Elkins is better. Elkins is also the better grappler and can very easily end this fight with a submission. I expect Bermudez to do everything he can to keep the fight standing and with his excellent take down defense he just might be able to do so.

If Bermudez keeps the fight standing he will get the win, and possibly finish Elkins. If Elkins can find a way to get through Bermudez’s defense I think his superior grappling will win the day.

Pick: Elkins by submission 

Gian Villante (15-7) vs. Patrick Cummins (9-4) – Light Heavyweight 205 lbs.

Current Odds: Villante-170; Cummins +140 

Gian Villante is 3-3 over his last six fights, alternating wins and losses. He suffered a knockout loss at the hands of Mauricio Rua in his most recent fight at UFC Fight Night 106. Prior to that fight he beat Saparbek Safarov by knockout at UFC Fight Night 102. The thirty-one year old fights out of Bellmore Kickboxing Academy and boasts twelve finishes in fifteen career wins. Ten wins are by knockout to go along with two wins by submission.

Patrick Cummins was on a two fight skid until he picked up a victory the last time he was in the cage. He beat Jan Blachowicz by majority decision at UFC 210. In his nine career wins, four are by KO/TKO and two are via submission. He was knocked out in all four of his losses.

Patrick Cummins is a wrestler first and foremost. Back in the day Cummins was a two-time NCAA All-American and even now, at thirty-six, he still has excellent take down ability. As good as his wrestling is, his striking is sorely lacking.

Villante is just the opposite. He has very good striking with a ton of power. Although he does possess decent take down defense, you won’t see Gian trying to take Cummins to the ground. Both fighters have weak chins and poor stand-up defense so I wouldn’t be surprised to see either one of them get knocked out.

For Cummins to win he has to get the fight to the ground, but even if he does have success doing so, there’s no guarantee. His chances definitely increase the longer the fight goes on. For Villante he will do everything he can to keep the fight standing. I think Cummins will have success early with take downs, but eventually Villante will catch him coming in and put him to sleep.

Pick: Villante by TKO

#9 Thomas Almeida (21-1) vs. #6 Jimmie Rivera (20-1) – Bantamweight 135 lbs.

Current Odds: Rivera -200; Almeida +160

Jimmie Rivera hasn’t lost since his second pro fight back in November of 2008. The twenty-eight year old has rattled off nineteen straight victories. His most recent fight was at UFC 203 where he won a lopsided decision over Urijah Faber in a fight I thought he would lose. The Team Tiger Schulmann product isn’t known as a finisher considering 70% of his wins have gone the distance. Even his one loss went to the judge’s scorecards.

Thomas Almeida started his professional MMA career winning his first twenty fights. His first loss came at the hands of the current bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt. Almeida was stopped by Garbrandt in the first round. Almeida returned to the cage at UFC Fight Night 100 where he got back in the win column by finishing Albert Morales in the second round. Unlike Rivera, Almeida is a finisher having twenty of twenty-one wins end inside the distance. The twenty-five year old Brazilian has seventeen knockouts to go along with three wins by submission.

This is a huge fight in the bantamweight division. A win by either fighter will get their name talked about as a potential challenger for the title.

Both guys like to pressure their opponents while keeping their fights standing. I do expect this fight to be fought primarily on the feet. Almeida has more power than Rivera and if he’s not careful he will become Almeida’s eighteenth win by knockout.

The difference here will be Rivera’s wrestling. He is the superior fighter on the ground and if he gets in trouble he has the ability to take Almeida down whenever he needs to. I can see this fight going either way and I expect it to be one of the more exciting fights on the Long Island card. While my pick is Jimmie Rivera, it is with little confidence.

Pick: Rivera by decision

Prelims Quick Look

Good -185 over Zaleski +155

Natal N/A over Anders N/A

Oliveira +160 over LaFlare -200

Sherman -250 over Grabowski +200

Early Prelims Quick Look

Kennedy -245 over Bochniak +195

Kelleher -220 over Vera +170

Johnson -225 over Albini +175

Burgos -375 over Pepey +290

Wade -285 over Perez +225

Enjoy the fights!

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