Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will make its first-ever trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina, this Saturday (Nov. 17, 2018) for UFC Fight Night 140. It’s not the most star-studded event in history to be sure, but UFC did at least pack the main card with consistent action fighters and the few Argentinian athletes on the roster.
Let’s take a closer look at the skills and keys to victory of the first four main card fights, as well as how they match up. Just a friendly reminder: MMAmania.com’s Jesse Holland will preview and predict the main- and co-main bouts as we get closer to showtime later this week.
Women’s Straweight: Cynthia Calvillo vs. Poliana Botelho
Best Win for Calvillo? Joanne Calderwood For Botelho? Syuri Kondo
Current Streak: One loss for Calvillo, five wins for Botelho (two in the Octagon)
X-Factor: Calvillo’s layoff and Botelho’s weight cut
How these two match up: It’s been nearly one year since we last saw Calvillo in the Octagon, a result of drug test failure for marijuana and Nevada’s insistence on maintaining outdated policy. Prior to that, though, Calvillo established herself as a top Strawweight contender, making her the perfect foil to Brazil’s Betelho, a physical beast of a Flyweight who’s looking to drop another 10 pounds and continue her UFC win streak.
The biggest question of this fight is Botelho’s takedown defense and grappling defense. In her debut, Botelho was held against the cage for long periods of time, but her actual takedown defense was never really challenged — it was stalling more than anything else. Then, a body kick knockout ended her second fight in 35 seconds.
Calvillo has taken down every opponent she has faced, and her top game is nasty, accounting for each of her four finishes. As such, smart money expects Calvillo to patiently wait for an opportunity to shoot or catch a kick. It’s up to Botelho, alternatively, to force the action and score her points without getting put on her back.
Prediction: Calvillo via submission
Bantamweight: Guido Cannetti vs. Marlon Vera
Best Win for Cannetti? Hugo Viana For Vera? Brian Kelleher
Current Streak: One win for both men
X-Factor: Vera’s willingness to jump on a limb
How these two match up: A native of Buenos Aires, Cannetti joined the roster through a season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): “Latin America” back in 2014. Adding a layer of intrigue here is that Marlon Vera competed on the same season, and the two are fairly close friends.
Despite fighting and looking like a far young man, Cannetti is somehow 38 years old. In the cage however, Cannetti is a hard-hitting kickboxer, one who likes to jump into the pocket with big combinations or spin his way into brutal kicks. Vera is a more patient combination of kicks and submissions, a Southpaw with a hard left kick and dangerous submission game.
Like the fight above, we have a very clear situation in which one fighter wants to avoid the grappling. Cannetti has been tapped out in both of his UFC losses, a pair of fights he was otherwise winning. Vera, meanwhile, scored an ultra slick kimura counter into armbar against a dangerous grappler in Kelleher — his Brazilian jiu-jitsu is not to be messed with.
Interestingly, the pressure is on the grappler to make adjustments this time. Cannetti does not often look for takedowns, so he’s still free to bounce around at range, kick hard and occasionally flurry. Vera, meanwhile, has never been the most consistent offensive wrestler, but he may have to be opposite the more powerful punches.
Prediction: Cannetti via decision
Middleweight: Cezar Ferreira vs. Ian Heinisch
Best Win for Ferreira? Anthony Smith or Jack Hermansson For Heinisch? Justin Sumter
Current Streak: Two victories for Ferreira, three for the debuting Heinisch
X-Factor: Short-notice match up
How these two match up: Ferreira won a season of TUF: “Brazil” years ago and wanted to be the next Vitor Belfort. That wasn’t meant to be, but after a trio of knockout losses, Ferreira adjusted his style of fighting according to his strengths — being strong as hell and a jiu-jitsu black belt — and has fared quite well since!
Heinisch, a former LFA Middleweight champ, won a fight on the Dana White’s “Tuesday Night Contender’s Series” (DWTNCS) show and replaces Tom Breese on about 10 days notice.
Based on Heinisch’s 2017 loss via arm triangle to Markus Perez, this is the third-straight match up where one fighter holds a significant jiu-jitsu advantage. “Mutante” choked out Hermansson and Karl Roberson with that exact hold, and if Ferreira manages to gain top position, don’t be surprised at a third.
Ferreira’s top game is crushing.
Luckily, “The Hurricane” does have a path to victory. Ferreira was forced to change strategies so thoroughly from bruiser to grappler because the man simply does not absorb hard punches very well. Meanwhile, Heinisch has finished each of his last three fights via early knockout.
In all likelihood, someone isn’t making it to the final bell.
Prediction: Ferreira via submission
Light Heavyweight: Khalil Rountree vs. Johnny Walker
Best Win for Rountree? Gokhan Saki! For Walker? Luis Henrique de Silva
Current Streak: Four-fight unbeaten streak from Rountree, six wins for Walker
X-Factor: Experience level
How these two match up: Rountree entered UFC off TUF, Walker from DWTNCS — does anyone just get signed anymore? Either way, Rountree joined the world’s premiere promotion without a ton of experience, but once he figured out (somewhat) how to defend the takedown, Rountree has been destroying fools with ridiculous power punches. Walker may be unknown to most UFC fans, but he was ranked as Brazil’s best unsigned Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight and stands at 6’5.”
Rountree’s game is pretty easy to explain: he’s extremely athletic and punches plenty hard. Beyond that, Rountree is still growing in all the technical aspects of fighting. The 26-year old from Brazil is a serious hard-hitter as well, a more technical striker who trains in Southhampton, England.
In short, we almost definitely have a kickboxing match on our hands. For Rountree, the task at hand is simple: find a way to drop a bomb on Walker’s chin. Walker, alternatively, must make full use of his range, either by kicking Rountree at range to keep him back or by locking onto the clinch and working from there.
Prediction: Walker via decision
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 140 fight card this weekend, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” undercard bout at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the FOX Sports 1 “Prelims” undercard bouts at 8 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.