UFC travels to the Arena CFO in Fortaleza, Brazil for UFC Fight Night 144 on Saturday. In the main event, Raphael Assuncao takes on Marlon Moraes. This will be the second time the two MMA veterans meet in the cage. Assuncao won their first meeting by split decision at UFC 212 in a fight I thought should have gone the other way. Since losing his UFC debut to Assuncao back in June of 2017, Moraes has put together a three-fight win streak. His most recent fight took place at UFC Fight Night 131 where he finished Jimmie Rivera in spectacular fashion in the first round. The thirty-year-old former WSOF bantamweight champion boasts ten wins via (T)KO to go along with five by submission.
Longtime UFC veteran Raphael Assuncao enters Saturday’s fight riding a four-fight win streak. Three of the four wins went to the judge’s scorecards. His last loss was to bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw at UFC 200. Of the thirty-six-year-old Brazilian’s twenty-seven professional wins, only five are by way of knockout to go along with ten via submission.
In the co-main, MMA great Jose Aldo makes the walk for the thirty-second time when he steps into the octagon against Renato Carneiro. Aldo is one of, if not the greatest featherweight of all time. There’s nothing this man has not seen in the cage. Granted at thirty-two years of age he may have lost a step, but don’t tell that to Jeremy Stephens whom Aldo finished in the first round at UFC on FOX 30. Prior to the Stephens win, Aldo went 1-2, losing to current featherweight king Max Holloway twice and defeating Frankie Edgar by UD at UFC 200.
Renato Carneiro is 5-1 in the UFC with the lone loss coming at the hands of Brian Ortega at UFC 214. His most recent win came at UFC 227 where he subbed Cub Swanson in the first round. The #5 ranked Brazilian has six wins via submission to go along with seven by decision.
The six-fight main card also includes UFC veteran Demian Maia taking on Lyman Good, Charles Oliveira vs. David Teymur, Johnny Walker squares off against Justin Ledet and Sarah Frota goes up against Livinha Souza.
This was a very difficult card to handicap. Aside from being confident in Johnny Walker and Livinha Souza winning their fights, I can make a solid case for either fighter winning on the rest of the main card. The main event should be a ridiculously close fight just like the first fight. I thought Moraes won the first fight, and I see him doing just enough to get his hand raised. Don’t be surprised if we see another split decision. I took “Moicano” in the co-main, but betting against Aldo is never recommended. Especially in this spot. My pick on Lyman Good is more of a play against Maia. Granted the fighters Maia have lost to recently are the best in the division, but he just hasn’t looked good in any of those fights. Can age be finally catching up? I was very close to taking David Teymur to outlast Charles Oliveira so I would not be surprised at all to see him get his hand raised.
Note: The predictions in this column do not necessarily mean that I will be betting them. I have changed my mind in the past and gone the other way after conducting more research. For all of my official bets follow me on Twitter @MichaelGrocke.
Raphael Assuncao (27-5) vs. Marlon Moraes (21-5-1) – Bantamweight 135 lbs.
Current Odds: Moraes -165; Assuncao +145
Pick: Moraes by Decision
Jose Aldo (27-4) vs. Renato Carneiro (13-1-1) – Featherweight 145 lbs.
Current Odds: Carneiro -140; Aldo +120
Pick: Carneiro by Decision
Demian Maia (25-9) vs. Lyman Good (20-4) – Welterweight 170 lbs.
Current Odds: Maia -175; Good +155
Pick: Good by Decision
Charles Oliveira (25-8) vs. David Teymur (8-1) – Lightweight 155 lbs.
Current Odds: Oliveira -115; Teymur -105
Pick: Oliveira by Submission
Johnny Walker (15-3) vs. Justin Ledet (9-1) – Light Heavyweight 205 lbs.
Current Odds: Walker -210; Ledet +175
Pick: Walker by (T)KO
Livinha Souza (12-1) vs. Sarah Frota (9-0) – Straweight 115 lbs.
Current Odds: Souza -220; Frota +180
Pick: Souza by Decision
Markus Perez (10-2) vs. Anthony Hernandez (7-0) – Middleweight 185 lbs.
Current Odds: Hernandez -155; Perez +135
Pick: Hernandez by (T)KO
Mara Romero Borella (11-5) vs. Taila Santos (15-0) – Flyweight 125 lbs.
Current Odds: Santos -165; Borella +145
Pick: Santos by Decision
Thiago Alves (22-13) vs. Max Griffin (14-5) – Welterweight 170 lbs.
Current Odds: Griffin -200; Alves +170
Pick: Griffin by Decision
Junior Albini (14-4) vs. Jair Rozenstruik (6-0) – Heavyweight 265 lbs.
Current Odds: Albini -120; Rozenstruik +100
Pick: Rozenstruik by (T)KO
Geraldo De Freitas (11-4) vs. Felipe Colares (8-0) – Featherweight 145 lbs.
Current Odds: N/A
Pick: Colares by Decision
Ricardo Ramos (12-1) vs. Said Nurmagomedov (12-1) – Bantamweight 135 lbs.
Current Odds: Ramos -140; Nurmagomedov +120
Pick: Ramos by Decision
Rogerio Bontorin (14-1) vs. Magomed Bibulatov (14-1) – Flyweight 170 lbs.
Current Odds: Bibulatov -470; Bontorin +375
Pick Bibulatov by (T)KO
Enjoy the fights!