It’s now or never for Lyoto Machida, who returns to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) from a two-year suspension this Saturday evening (Oct. 28, 2017) when he locks horns with Derek Brunson Ginasio do Ibirapuera in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
UFC Fight Night 119 will also feature Demian Maia looking to rebound from his failed Welterweight title bid by taking out Colby Covington, plus Francisco Trinaldo vs. Jim Miller and Jack Hermansson vs. Thiago Santos round out the FOX Sports 1-televised card.
It’s a hell of a main card, but there’s also a quality opening act courtesy of a six-fight “Prelims: undercard. Here’s the FOX Sports 2 roster (check out the Fight Pass portion here):
170 lbs.: Vicente Luque vs. Niko Price
Vicente Luque (11-6-1) put a 1-1 run on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 21 and subsequent loss to Miek Graves at the Finale behind him to score four consecutive stoppages and emerge as a top Welterweight contender. This set up a clash with Leon Edwards in hostile territory, wherein powerful body work carried Edwards to victory.
“The Silent Assassin” steps in for the injured Luan Chagas on short notice.
Niko Price (10-0) dominated Brandon Thatch in his Octagon debut before knocking Alex Morono cold little more than one month later. A failed drug test scrubbed the latter victory from his record, but he more than made up for it by flattening Alan Jouban in less than two minutes.
He owns seven professional mixed martial arts (MMA) victories by knockout.
Price is a physical specimen, constantly improving, and has had significantly more time to prepare for this fight. That said, I’ve got Luque. The Brazilian has the chin to stand up to Price’s power and both the striking and grappling acumen to punish his defensive lapses. Luque just seems the slightest bit sharper and is a greater finishing threat on the mat. He drops or takes Price down partway through the first and locks up one of his favored chokes in transition.
Prediction: Luque via first-round submission
185 lbs.: Antonio Carlos Junior vs. Jack Marshman
Antonio Carlos Junior (8-2) looked a world-beater in his dominant run on TUF: “Brazil” 3, only to start his UFC career 2-2 (1 NC) and suffer a stoppage loss to +400 underdog Daniel Kelly. He has since won three straight, including wins over fellow standout grapplers Marvin Vettori and Eric Spicely.
He owns six professional submission wins and hit a flying triangle on Brazilian jiu-jitsu stud Garry Tonon this past January.
The heavy hands of Jack Marshman (22-6) heavy hands carried him to an upset knockout of Magnus Cedenblad in his Octagon debut and he enjoyed early success against Thiago Santos before suffering a wheel kick knockout in February. Undaunted, “Hammer” got back on track in Glasgow three months ago with a decision over the towering Ryan Janes.
He’ll give up two inches of height and six inches of reach to “Shoeface.”
Against Cedenblad, Marshman demonstrated that he’s durable, gritty and mentally tough. He also demonstrated some iffy takedown defense, which is the worst sort of Achilles’ heel to have against a legitimately world-class grappler. If Carlos spends as much time in top position as Cedenblad did, Marshman’s going to sleep.
Carlos has wilted before and Marshman is never out of the fight, but Carlos’ cardio looked solid against Vettori and he’s stood up to strikes from powerhouses. He hands Marshman the first submission loss of his career.
Prediction: Carlos via first-round submission
170 lbs.: Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos vs. Max Griffin
Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos (17-5) came up just short in his UFC debut, a back-and-forth battle with then-unbeaten Nicolas Dalby in Brazil. He’s maintained that level of excitement in three straight victories, two of which earned him “Fight of the Night” bonuses.
Twelve of his 14 stoppage wins have come by form of knockout.
Max Griffin (13-3) had the unenviable task of facing Colby Covington in his promotional debut and, like so many others, wilted in the face of “Chaos’” wrestling. He had rather more success against TUF: “Latin America” 2 winner Erick Montano, whom he knocked out in just 54 seconds.
“Max Pain” has stopped five opponents in less than one minute apiece.
This one has got “Fight of the Night” potential. Two tough, aggressive strikers with big power, one of whom has yet to have a remotely boring fight in UFC. I still think Zaleski is a little too crude with his hands to crack the 170-pound elite, but I favor him here. He’s got the more proven chin, mental toughness, and cardio, which make all the difference when both men are looking for the knockout.
In short, he’s just a little meaner, a little tougher and a little more experienced. They put on a terrific show before Zaleski overpowers him late.
Prediction: Zaleski via third-round technical knockout
155 lbs.: Hacran Dias vs. Jared Gordon
Hacran Dias (23-5-1) joined UFC on the heels of eight consecutive victories and promptly made it nine with a decision over the red-hot Iuri Alcantara. However “Barnabe” has struggled to maintain that form, going 2-4 since that debut victory.
This will be his first appearance at Lightweight since 2011.
Jared Gordon (13-1) — the former CFFC Featherweight Champion -- suffered food poisoning before his planned UFC debut against Michel Quinones, delaying it by a month. Though he weighed in at 149 for the Featherweight fight, he nonetheless managed to overpower Quinones and stop him in the second.
“Flash” went 6-2 as an amateur before joining the pros in 2011.
I honestly don’t think going back to Lightweight will do Dias any favors. He’s consistently struggled with more active opponents who can shut down his wrestling, a description Gordon ostensibly fits to a “T.” Gordon is a far busier striker who, while unlikely to consistently crack that vaunted Nova Uniao takedown defense, will almost certainly outland Dias in between protracted clinches on the cage.
There’s a very good chance this winds up an unpleasant slog of a fight, since their respective wrestling skills cancel each other out. In the end, though, Gordon’s aggression carries him to a narrow decision victory.
Prediction: Gordon via split decision
UFC Fight Night 119, which features Lineker vs. Vera alone, is worth the price of admission. And there are some damn good fights on top of that. Don’t miss it, Maniacs!
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 119 card this weekend, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, and then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 2 at 8 p.m. ET before the FOX Sports 1 main card action kicks off at 10 p.m. ET.