Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight champion Chris Weidman will attempt to salvage what’s left of his once-promising mixed martial arts (MMA) career — now mired in a three-fight slump — against one of the division’s most unexpected contenders in streaking ex-welterweight Kelvin Gastelum.
They’ll do the deed in the upcoming UFC on FOX 25 main event, which takes place this Sat. night (July 22, 2017) inside NYCB Live in Uniondale, New York, featuring “Prelims” bouts on both FOX and UFC Fight Pass.
Joining them will be featherweight standouts Dennis Bermudez and Darren Elkins, as well as light heavyweight sluggers Patrick Cummins and Gian Villante. Rounding out the four-fight main card is the bantamweight bangfest pitting Jimmie Rivera opposite Thomas Almeida.
To see what’s doing on the UFC on FOX 25 “Prelims” card, check out Patty Stumberg’s expert analysis here and here. For all the “Weidman vs. Gastelum” odds and betting lines for this weekend’s action click here.
Now then, let’s get to work.
185 lbs.: Chris “All American” Weidman (13-3) vs. Kelvin Gastelum (13-2, 1 NC)
Nostradumbass predicts: The fall of Chris Weidman has been nothing short of spectacular, as the man who dethroned Anderson Silva — then retained his title with follow-up wins over Lyoto Machida and Vitor Belfort — has been handily defeated in a pair of important fights.
Before we get to the stupidity of the Gegard Mousasi finish, let’s go ahead and say it out loud: Weidman was soundly beaten by both Luke Rockhold and Yoel Romero, with both finishes coming without controversy.
That’s hard to overlook.
As far as his wonky ending with “The Dreamcatcher,” there is really no conclusions to draw. “All American” won the opening round thanks to his usually blend of sneaky punches and fluid takedowns.
Yes, he’s still that same guy who smashed Mark Munoz.
The question now is whether that fighter is good enough to handle the surging Kelvin Gastelum, who continues to defy expectations after previously defying his welterweight diet plan, turning away both Johny Hendricks and Tim Kennedy.
He’s a tiny middleweight, but that hasn’t stopped him from dominating the competition (just ask Vitor Belfort).
The biggest advantage Gastelum has coming into this fight is youth. At just 25, eight years below his veteran opponent, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 27 champ is going to be quicker and more athletic. He’s also a complete fighter, capable of winning on the feet or on the floor.
Unfortunately, he also gives up seven inches in reach, as well as five inches in height.
That’s a deal breaker against a powerful NCAA Division-1 wrestler like Weidman, who also packs a wallop. Gastelum may be stronger down the stretch after abandoning his 170-pound weight cut, but he won’t make it that long, unless Weidman is completely shot.
Final prediction: Weidman def. Gastelum by submission
145 lbs.: Dennis “The Menace” Bermudez (16-6) vs. Darren “Damage” Elkins (22-5)
Nostradumbass predicts: This fight takes the co-headlining spot over the bantamweight bash between Thomas Almeida and Jimmie Rivera, so there are some pretty high expectations going in.
Dennis Bermudez rarely disappoints.
“The Menace” is a live-by-the-sword type of combatant and one of his biggest weapons is his intensity. There are few fighters who can match his blitzkrieg, which unexpectedly lasts deep into the contest.
Those that go deep, that is.
There was a time when Bermudez was the winner of seven straight fights, with current UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway among his victims, and I can’t image this version of the TUF 14 runner-up is that much different.
He’ll need to be aces to overcome “The Damage” of Darren Elkins, the winner of four straight, though his nickname may be up for debate after finishing just one opponent over the last four years.
The good news is, it came in his most recent win over Mirsad Bektic. That bad news is, it came in his most recent win over Mirsad Bektic. The longtime veteran doesn’t hold a win over anyone currently ranked in the top 10.
Bermudez opens up wide, yawning chasms in his already-shoddy defense with every ferocious attack. The workman-like Elkins may not have the power to capitalize on those opportunities, but he may not need to. This fight will boil down to whose will holds up the longest.
In the end, expect Bermudez to win because he’s busier, not because he’s better.
Final prediction: Bermudez def. Elkins by split decision
205 lbs.: Patrick “Durkin” Cummins (9-4) vs. Gian Villante (15-8)
Nostradumbass predicts: What sorcery is this? I’m not sure how pairing these two up made sense to anyone behind the scenes, but whatever, let’s just roll with it and hope to be pleasantly surprised.
We’ll start with Gian Villante, who is now 10 fights into his UFC career and just 5-5. If he was going to do something special in the light heavyweight division, he would have done it by now.
I’m also not crazy about the fact that he’s been knocked out four times in his career.
While the majority of his wins have come by way of flying fists, his technical ability in terms of striking leaves a lot to be desired. He’s a big, tough 205-pounder who likes to plod forward and try to punch you in the face.
Hardly rocket science.
Not to suggest that Patrick Cummins offers anything extraordinary. He’s a talented wrestler and captures most of his wins by way of superior athleticism. But also keep in mind there was a reason he was working at Starbucks prior to his Daniel Cormier fight.
That’s not a knock, but rather an indication of where the soon-to-be 37 year old bruiser resides on the MMA evolution chart. “Durkin” has been stopped in all four of his UFC losses, which not coincidentally, have come against top 10 contenders.
The question here is whether or not Villante will be able to score the knockout before Cummins can tie him up and dump him to the floor. That’s going to be the narrative of this fight and I don’t expect it to be much fun to watch.
Final prediction: Cummins def. Villante by split decision
135 lbs.: Jimmie “El Terror” Rivera (20-1) vs. Thomas “Thominas” Almeida (21-1)
Nostradumbass predicts: This is probably the most exciting bantamweight fight, at least in terms of non-title affairs, since Thomas Almeida battled Cody Garbrandt, a win that catapulted “No Love” into title contention.
The rest is history.
Almeida is the same dangerous prospect he was prior to his Garbrandt loss, starching opponents with extreme violence. Only one decision in 22 fights makes for a fan-friendly style, but it often comes at the expense of his defense.
Remember the Brad Pickett fight?
“Thominas” has the ability to put anyone on their ass, Jimmie Rivera included, but “El Terror” didn’t get to where he is in the division — No. 4 to be exact — by swinging for the fences inside the phone booth.
Rivera is an intelligent counterpuncher who can also wrestle.
That’s likely to be the difference maker in this fight. Almeida will be dangerous for all three rounds and no doubt there will be a bevy of close calls, but it’s hard to imagine Rivera abandoning his gameplan in favor of machismo.
When in doubt, there’s always the takedown.
Final prediction: Rivera def. Almeida by unanimous decision
There you have it.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on FOX 25 fight card on fight night (click here), starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX at 6 p.m. ET, before the FOX main card start time at 8 p.m. ET.
For much more on this weekend’s UFC on FOX 25 event click here.