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X-Factor! Some UFC on FOX 31 main card predictions

This Saturday (Dec. 15, 2018), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) travels to Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisc., for UFC on FOX 31. In fact, it’s the final UFC event on FOX given its new start at ESPN, which begins in 2019. Headlined by a grudge match between Kevin Lee and Al Iaquinta, much of the card is filled with lighter-weight athletes and should feature some competitive scraps. Of course,’s Jesse Holland will preview and predict the main- and co-main events as we get closer to showtime.

Bantamweight: Rob Font vs. Sergio Pettis

Best Win for Font? Thomas Almeida For Pettis? Joseph Benavidez
Current Streak: A single loss for each man
X-Factor: Pettis’ power and pace up a division
How these two match up: This is a match up that features a good amount of similarity. A pair of rangy strikes who scored some excellent wins on their way up the ladder before struggling with the top-tier, both Font and Pettis are looking to return to the win column and give another go at a title run.

Stylistically, Font is the more aggressive, harder-hitting man who’s a bit more willing to wrestler, whereas Pettis is a stalking counter striker with a sharp jab. It should largely turn out to be a technical kickboxing match that posts some intriguing questions. Can Pettis establish the jab then use range kicks and his counter straight to keep Font defensive? Or will Font be able to lead the distance, make use of his head movement, and throwing in combination?

In all likelihood, a combination of all of that will play out, and there’s a fair chance we see the judges’ scorecards. With that in mind, siding with the more powerful man who also may score a takedown or two seems the wisest move.

Prediction: Rob Font via decision

Welterweight: Jim Miller vs. Charles Oliveira

Best Win for Miller? Charles Oliveira! For Oliveira? Jeremy Stephens
Current Streak: A win for Miller, two for the Brazilian
X-Factor: Oliveira’s heart (or occasional lack thereof)
How these two match up: A rematch from all the way back in 2010, the man with the most UFC fights of all time (Miller) will square off with the record holder for most tapout wins inside the Octagon (Oliveira). For those who were not fans of the sport EIGHT YEARS AGO and have no reason to know this, Miller actually submitted Oliveira with a knee bar in their first match up.

Back in the first match up, Oliveira was an undefeated, 21-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu prodigy, whereas Miller was in the midst of what will be remembered as the best win streak of his entire professional career and making a run toward the title. That’s not to say it was an unreasonable match up back then, but think about the career trajectories of both men.

Miller has struggled and rallied multiple times in that span, but the fact of the matter is that he’s no longer a top contender and has lost a staggering 10 fights since then. Oliveira has faced troubles of his own in that time — the man keeps trying to fight at Featherweight despite missing weight there half a dozen times — but he’s also grown to be better and more dangerous.

The momentum has shifted to his favor.

There’s a chance Miller wins. He still hits hard, and Oliveira is not the most durable in either mind or jawline. Furthermore, Oliveira gets desperate when things are not going his way, leaving himself open to submissions in the process. Miller is still a very dangerous grappler who could capitalize.

Age has taken its effect though. Miller is less durable than he once was and gets tired more quickly. Unless he’s able to catch Oliveira, the more likely outcome is the Brazilian chewing him up with long straights and low kicks. Once Miller is bloodied and tired, Oliveira’s offensive jiu-jitsu is record-setting for a reason.

Prediction: Oliveira via submission

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