Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is back on television this Saturday night (Oct. 28 2017) with the UFC Fight Night 119 mixed martial arts (MMA) event on FOX Sports 1, which features a middleweight main event between Lyoto Machida and Derek Brunson, who battle for a spot in the 185-pound title chase.
In the UFC Fight Night 119 co-main event, held inside Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, former welterweight No. 1 contender Demian Maia tries to quell the uprising of 170-pound rising star Colby Covington.
We’ll take a closer look at those two fights, as well as the rest of the UFC Fight Night 119 main card below, but first check out a comprehensive preview with predictions for the UFC Sao Paulo “Prelims” here and here.
Let’s get to it:
185 lbs.: Lyoto Machida (22-7) vs. Derek Brunson (17-5)
It’s been eight years since Lyoto Machida annihilated Rashad Evans for the light heavyweight title. It’s been four years since he dropped to middleweight and knocked Mark Muñoz cold. It’s been almost three years since he’s won a fight and more than two years since he fought at all.
So why am I still leaning towards him?
Brunson has a terrific wrestling base and booming power in his left hand. What he doesn’t have is any sort of consistent gameplan. Robert Whittaker was already well-known as a lethal counter-puncher and Brunson charged at him face-first. He was so cowed by Anderson Silva’s countering skills that he barely moved.
And as much as I love Dan Kelly, Brunson had every conceivable advantage there. That doesn’t tell me a lot.
“The Dragon” is 39 years old and has been violently stopped in his last two fights. I still think he’s got one more big win left. Shades of Machida-Bader as Lyoto cracks Brunson coming in for the finish.
Prediction: Machida by second-round knockout
170 lbs.: Demian Maia (25-7) vs. Colby Covington (12-1)
Colby Covington might not have Tyron Woodley’s cataclysmic punching power, but he’s a physical monster with comparable wrestling prowess. If Maia can’t find his way onto Covington’s back early and juice his brain like he did against Rick Story, this is going to be a long and painful night. Covington doesn’t suffer the sort of volume issues that Woodley and Jorge Masvidal do, either, so I fully expect him to do a lot more damage in transition.
Sure, Covington got caught before against Warlley Alves, but he also successfully navigated Mike Pyle’s guard and demolished a highly accomplished grappler in Dong Hyun Kim. Once bitten, twice shy, yadda yadda.
Maia is such a likable, badass throwback that I desperately want him to upend another younger, stronger, more athletic fighter on a hot streak. I just don’t see it happening. Maia gets a good early position or two before his gas tank starts to empty and Covington starts laying down the hurt on the feet.
Prediction: Covington by unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Rob Font (14-2) vs. Pedro Munhoz (14-2)
While Font and Munhoz both stand as some of the best prospects in the division, it’s fascinating how different their roads have been. Font was actually an underdog to George Roop, having never before competed at bantamweight, and proceeded to put together impressive performance after impressive performance. Only John Lineker has thus far managed to trouble him.
Munhoz, on the other hand, had heaps of hype behind him when he joined the UFC, only to lose two of his first four fights and fail a drug test. His current three-fight streak is solid, but he was losing badly to Justin Scoggins before nabbing him in his signature guillotine.
It just seems like Munhoz’s athleticism, killer jiu-jitsu, and power striking can’t mesh, while Font blends his game together brilliantly. Unless Munhoz can lock up that guillotine or rock him standing, Font’s ability to dictate where the fight takes place should net him a competitive-but-clear decision victory.
Prediction: Font by unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Jim Miller (28-10) vs. Francisco Trinaldo (21-5)
Jim Miller is still one of the toughest, gamest bastards in the lightweight division. He’s just not an elite anymore. He’s been plagued with cardio issues and struggled against stronger men during his current 4-6 stretch, which could easily be 2-8 with a different set of judges.
The two clear wins? A shot Takanori Gomi and a grievously overweight Thiago Alves.
Trinaldo put together a seven-fight winning streak in the UFC’s deepest division, including a thumping of Paul Felder, and had Kevin Lee hurt before succumbing to a head kick. He’s quite a bit bigger and stronger than Miller, an advantage that newfound cardio allows him to use to its fullest extent, and packs more power in his punches and kicks.
Miller’s top game remains top-notch, of course, but he’ll have to get Trinaldo down first, a feat that’s gotten exponentially harder since Michael Chiesa dominated “Massaranduba” in 2014. Expect Trinaldo’s power kicks and heavy left hand to control a fun fifteen-minute striking battle.
Prediction: Trinaldo by unanimous decision
185 lbs.: Thiago Santos (15-5) vs. Jack Hermansson (18-3)
Thiago Santos’ fighting style is Hobbesian in that his fights tend to be nasty, brutish, and short. A physical powerhouse with dynamite in his hands and shins, any protracted striking exchange with him should require a Surgeon General’s warning.
The problem? He really, really doesn’t like getting taken down.
He managed to stay on his feet against Gerald Meerschaert, but both Gegard Mousasi and Eric Spicely downed him early and enjoyed huge success from there. Hermansson is a capable striker in his own right and, in recent fights, has shown quality takedowns and ground-and-pound.
While Santos certainly has the raw power to wipe Hermansson off the face of the Earth in one shot, the likelier outcome is that Hermansson once again hits a takedown, works his way to the back, and pounds on him until the ref steps in.
Prediction: Hermansson by first-round TKO
135 lbs.: John Lineker (29-8) vs. Marlon Vera (12-3-1)
There are two ways to defeat John Lineker: take him down consistently or have sufficiently good lateral movement that he can’t trap you on the fence and go Neil Peart on your midsection. I can’t see Vera pulling off either.
He, like pretty much everyone else in the bantamweight division, will have an absurd height and reach advantage over Lineker and some quality kickboxing and grappling on top of it, but simply does not have the tools to slow Lineker down.
This is a man who laughed at T.J. Dillashaw when Dillashaw broke his jaw.
Vera has surprised me before, certainly, and his grappling is nothing to scoff at. He just hasn’t accomplished nearly enough in the UFC to make me think he can handle a smaller, more malevolent version of the thing from It Follows. Lineker beats him down with body shots for a mid-fight finish.
Prediction: Lineker by second-round TKO
There you have it.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 119 fight card on fight night (click here), starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, and then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.
For much more on tomorrow night’s event from Sao Paulo click here.