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UFC on FOX 27 predictions, preview, and analysis

UFC Fight Night Open Workouts Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is roughly 24 hours away from its upcoming UFC on FOX 27: “Jacare vs. Brunson 2” mixed martial arts (MMA) extravaganza, which takes place this Sat. night (Jan. 27, 2018) inside Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.

UFC on FOX 27 will be headlined by the middleweight rematch between top contenders Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Derek Brunson. Elsewhere on the card, grizzled veteran Dennis Bermudez looks to quell the uprising of venerable featherweight bruiser Andre Fili.

Before we break down the main card action, let’s take look at the preliminary card previews and predictions (here and here) from resident “Prelims” guru Patrick Stumberg, who was also kind enough to crunch the UFC on FOX 27 odds and betting lines here.

With that out of the way, let’s focus on the four-fight main card.

185 lbs.: Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (24-5, 1 NC) vs. Derek Brunson (18-5)

Nostradumbass predicts: The way Derek Brunson tells it, Strikeforce threw him to the wolves way back in summer 2012, forcing the inexperienced rookie to square off against Brazilian boogeyman Ronaldo Souza.

“I was very green in the sport and I was ahead of schedule,” he told UFC.com, showing pictures of the ripped, purple pants he wore to the weigh ins while water dripped from behind his ears.

I’m amazed he was even licensed to fight.

In reality, Brunson was 9-1 and ended seven of those nine wins by way of first-round violence. He also had two big wins on the amateur circuit and three appearances for Strikeforce. Remember too, that each fight comes with a training camp, so considering what he had accomplished, he was on schedule, not ahead of schedule.

Besides, it was Strikeforce, it’s not like there was a locker room full of stepping stones or work-my-way-up-the-ladder fights.

After getting laid out by “Jacare,” Brunson did what all great fighters do and went on a tear, to the tune of 9-3 with seven finishes. Losses to Yoel Romero and Robert Whittaker are forgivable, considering their place atop the 185-pound mountain.

Personally, I had him winning the Anderson Silva fight.

So the question becomes, is Brunson more evolved and better suited for an opponent like Souza than he was back in 2012, and the answer is yes. But that only matters if “Jacare” remained in neutral. No doubt the Brazilian has also improved during that span and the onus is on Brunson to close the gap.

Working in his favor is the fact that Souza is now 38 years old and coming off a devastating knockout loss to the aforementioned Whittaker. If we give Brunson a pass for getting slayed by “The Reaper” then we give one to his opponent, as well. There’s a reason the Aussie is middleweight champion.

I think we would all agree that Souza could never train another day of jiu-jitsu for the rest of his life and still retire better than just about anybody else on the roster, with the exception of a select few, so there is no point for Brunson to worry about submission defense. Once “Jacare” gets you down, the curtain falls.

Stopping the takedown is paramount.

The Brazilian is also a surprisingly effective boxer with sneaky power, but Brunson has the edge in the stand up on speed alone, a lesson discovered the hard way by Uriah Hall in late 2016.

I’m not sure what to expect in a five-round fight. Brunson has never gone the full 25 minutes and Souza hasn’t done it since 2001, when he was just 32 years-old. I don’t believe “Jacare” wins this on the feet because Brunson is coming off back-to-back knockout victories and complements his momentum with confidence.

That means Souza has to get this to the floor when he’s still fresh enough to do so, somewhere in the first or second round. Considering Brunson has never been taken down in his career — by anybody — that seems like a pretty tall order.

Final prediction: Brunson def. Souza by technical knockout

145 lbs.: Dennis “The Menace” Bermudez (16-7) vs. Andre “Touchy” Fili (17-5)

Nostradumbass predicts: There was a time in the not-too-distant past when Dennis Bermudez was the winner of seven straight and hovering near the top five of the featherweight division. Then came a submission loss to former title contender Ricardo Lamas and it all kind of fell apart.

“The Menace” has since posted a 2-4 record and has been finished convincingly in three of those defeats.

I’m not sure if Bermudez ever walks into the Octagon with a gamplan. It’s almost like the cage door closes and somebody yells “Go for it!” and the former Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 14 finalist runs wild. While it’s great for the fans, it doesn’t do much for his career.

Or his brain cells.

That style can be hard to prepare for and Andre Fili will certainly have his hands full. How do you get your timing down when someone is relentlessly bum-rushing you from bell-to-bell? And nobody does it better than “The Menace.”

We also have to recognize that Team Alpha Male sold us a bill of goods.

Fili came advertised as the future of the division -- on the strength of his 12-1 regional record — and some fans were already labeling him the uncrowned champion after a technical knockout win over Jeremy Larsen in his Octagon debut.

Not quite.

“Touchy” went on to post a 4-4 record and got finished three times during that span. His unanimous decision win over an uninspired Artem Lobov last October doesn’t have me breaking out the party hats and as far as skills go, he does most things good, but not great.

It won’t be enough.

Bermudez is going to charge him like a bull in a china shop, which is fitting when you consider the brute strength of “The Menace.” Fili will try to fall back on his takedowns but nope, he’s going to get beat to the punch there, too. Unless Bermudez silver-platters a guillotine, or something equally careless, it’s going to be a long, painful night in Charlotte.

Final prediction: Bermudez def. Fili by unanimous decision

155 lbs.: Gregor “The Gift” Gillespie (10-0) vs. Jordan “All Day” Rinaldi (13-5)

Nostradumbass predicts: Gregor Gillespie is one of those lightweight contenders who more people should be talking about, simply because his skill set is so formidable. “The Gift” was a four-time Division-1 collegiate All American with a high school record of 238-11.

If he wants to take you down, you’re going down.

Fortunately for fans, that doesn’t mean three rounds of dump and hump. Gillespie is a ruthless finisher, having compiled eight premature endings in 10 wins, split between four submissions and four knockouts.

While he’s already 3-0 under the UFC umbrella, we have to be careful not to get too crazy, as Gillespie has yet to tangle with anyone inside the top 15. That won’t change in Charlotte against the talented-but-unheralded Jordan Rinaldi.

Rinaldi enters this bout with a very troubling stat as it pertains to this contest. The last time “All Day” fought a collegiate All American — Abel Trujillo at UFC Fight Night 88 — he was taken down in three of three attempts, but only landed two of seven in return.

It’s also troublesome that Rinaldi has only scored one knockout win in 18 professional fights, so the idea that he can starch Gillespie on the way in seems remote. His bread-and-butter is the submission game, but he’s trying to work mats against someone who does it on an entirely different level.

That’s how MMA is sometimes. You can be good — and still not good enough.

Final prediction: Gillespie def. Rinaldi by unanimous decision

155 lbs.: Frank “The Crank” Camacho (21-5) vs. Drew Dober (18-8, 1 NC)

Nostradumbass predicts: I’m not sure if Frank Camacho calls himself “The Crank” because he likes vintage aircraft or he’s making dick jokes, but if you're going to come billed with that moniker you should have at least one emphatic win by neck crank.

Or be super cranky at all the press conferences.

Camacho is from one of those weird Pacific islands that I can’t pronounce and will never be able to find on a map, so I can’t speak to the quality of opposition under the Pacific Xtreme Combat banner in Guam, where he rose to power over the past few years.

What I do know for certain is that our cranky lightweight had 22 finishes on the international circuit, then went to the scorecards in two appearances for UFC. He was also bounced from TUF 16 by Neil Magny.

He needs a breakout performance sooner, rather than later.

We could probably make a similar case for Drew Dober, also a TUF grad, but one with a significant amount of Octagon experience. The Nebraskan has been consistently inconsistent, racking up an even 4-4 record with one “no contest” after four years as a UFC contractor.

At age 29 with 27 professional fights, I think we’ve seen pretty much all there is to see. That doesn’t make him bad, per se, as he’s a durable, well-rounded fighter. But competence does not translate into excellence unless the results are there to back it up.

Dober is riding high after starching Josh Burkman last July, but “The People’s Warrior” is shot and has little name value these days. Dober will be at a significant height and reach disadvantage for tomorrow night’s showdown and I think the best is yet to come for “The Crank,” who complements his trophy-winning jiu-jitsu with knockout power.

Final prediction: Camacho def. Dober by submission

There you have it.

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on FOX 27 fight card on fight night (click here), starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” match online, which is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 5 p.m. ET, before the FOX main card start time at 8 p.m. ET.

For much more on UFC on FOX 27 click here.

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