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UFC Fight Night 129 predictions: ‘Maia vs Usman’ FOX Sports 2 ‘Prelims’ undercard preview

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a bevy of “Prelims” fights to both UFC Fight Pass and FOX Sports 2 this weekend (Sat., May 19, 2018) when UFC Fight Night 129: “Maia vs. Usman” storms Movistar Arena in Santiago, Chile.’s Patrick Stumberg continues the UFC Fight Night 129 “Prelims” party with the second (and final) installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Belem-Prazeres vs Green Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Demian Maia remains as gutsy as ever at 40 years old, stepping up on short notice to face Welterweight powerhouse, Kamaru Usman, in UFC Fight Night 129’s main event this Saturday night (May 19, 2018) inside Movistar Arena in Santiago, Chile. In addition, top-ranked women’s Strawweight prospects Alexa Grasso (No. 9) and Tatiana Suarez (No. 12) go at it, plus Dominick Reyes vs. Jared Cannonier and the Octagon debut of Flyweight standout Andrea “KGB” Lee.

FOX Sports 2 gets to host four “Prelims” undercard matches this time around (check out the Fight Pass portion here). Let’s see the line up:

170 lbs.: Michel Prazeres vs. Zak Cummings

Michel Prazeres (24-2) put a 2-2 UFC start behind him to rattle off six straight wins, including an upset of Gilbert Burns and a bonus-winning, north-south choke of Josh Burkman. His recent victory over Des Green marked his third time missing weight in four fights, however, and prompted his return to !elterweight for the first time since 2013.

“Trator” will give up six inches of height and eight inches of reach to Cummings.

Though unsuccessful on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 17, Zak Cummings (21-5) put together a 6-2 UFC record to emerge as an unexpected Welterweight contender. His last two fights have seen him secure first-round submissions of Alexander Yakovlev and Nathan Coy, the former of whom had not been submitted since 2009.

This will be his first fight in more than one year thanks to injury.

Here we have a guy who couldn’t make Lightweight against a guy who has twice failed to make Welterweight, one time by such a huge margin that his opponent refused to fight. These are some right big lads, I tell you what.

This is honestly a toughie: Prazeres is the more decorated grappler and his hand speed makes up for his stubby arms, but Cummings is a quality pressure fighter who uses his size and power to great effect. It’s worth considering, however, that Prazeres’ wins over Burns and Green are better than anything Cummings has on his resume (none of Cummings’ six UFC wins have come over current members of the roster).

Prazeres’ superior wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu should be enough to get him the win here, as he’s more than strong enough to physically hold his own against solid Welterweight competition. Cummings has a chance if he properly exploits that monster reach advantage, but the more likely outcome sees Prazeres bully his way inside and grind him down.

Prediction: Prazeres via unanimous decision

125 lbs.: Brandon Moreno vs. Alexandre Pantoja

Brandon Moreno (14-4) essentially sprinted his way up the Flyweight ranks, picking up bonus-wining submissions of Louis Smolka and Dustin Ortiz to earn himself a main event slot. Said opportunity proved too much, too soon, as Sergio Pettis survived an early submission attack to soundly outpoint “The Assassin Baby” in Mexico City.

Ten of his professional mixed martial arts (MMA) wins have come via submission.

After unifying the LFA and RFA titles with a submission of Damacio Page, Alexandre Pantoja (18-3) earned the No. 1 spot on TUF 24, defeating Moreno and Kai Kara-France before suffering an upset loss to Hiromasa Ogikubo in the semifinals. He went on to defeat Eric Shelton and Neil Seery in the Octagon before losing a competitive decision to Dustin Ortiz in January.

He replaces Ray Borg, who withdrew to take care of his newborn son, on just under three weeks’ notice.

Moreno is legit as hell and I have a bad habit of not giving him enough credit, but that Pettis fight was seriously underwhelming. He looked absolutely lost on the feet and, after a strong start, struggled to get his takedowns going against a guy with mediocre takedown defense. Without the element of surprise Moreno had on TUF, I see him struggling quite a bit more here.

Pantoja has the wrestling to dictate where the fight takes place and is markedly superior to “The Assassin Baby” in the stand up. Hard leg kicks, rapid punching combos, and a strong sprawl carry Pantoja to a wider victory than before.

Prediction: Pantoja via unanimous decision

115 lbs.: Poliana Botelho vs. Syuri Kondo

Poliana Botelho (6-1) took just two years to go from her debut to the XFC Flyweight title, losing only to fellow UFC competitor Viviane Pereira along the way. Her UFC debut wound up being one of the most bizarre in recent memory, as Pearl Gonzalez elected to basically lean on her against the cage for 15 minutes while Botelho landed short punches.

Five of her six wins have come by knockout.

Syuri Kondo (6-0) — a decorated professional wrestler — proved her skills were legit with a win over current Rizin standout Kanna Asakura in her pro debut. She ultimately won the Pancrase Strawweight title before scraping past Korean slugger Chan Mi Jeon in Saitama.

She stands four inches shorter than Botelho at 5’4.”

I really should come up with a term for “one fighter has the skills to win this but always fails to utilize them properly.” Botelho’s height, reach, and punching power make her a legit threat at 115, but she can be bafflingly lackadaisical in fights. Kondo is anything but; she’s incredibly busy, throwing almost 300 strikes in 15 minutes against Jeon and landing nine per minute.

Though Kondo’s lack of head movement and predictability with her endless stream of 1-2s limit her potential, she’s so tough and aggressive that she’s a legit threat to the middle of the Strawweight pack. Unless Botelho can crack her chin, Kondo outworks her for a wide decision victory.

Prediction: Kondo via unanimous decision

145 lbs.: Humberto Bandenay vs. Gabriel Benitez

Peru’s Humberto Bandenay (14-4) defied massive odds to destroy TUF: “Latin America” 3 winner Martin Bravo in 26 seconds via head kick. This will be his first appearance in nine months, however, as injury and visa issues scrapped fights with Alexander Volkanovski and Steven Peterson.

He stands a massive 6’1,” five inches taller than Gabriel Benitez (20-6).

“Moggly” choked out Diego Rivas on TUF: “Latin America” before losing to Leonardo Morales in the semifinals. He entered his last fight on a 1-2 skid, but defied the odds to earn a career-best win over Jason Knight in Fresno.

Ten of his 16 stoppages have come by submission.

Bandenay’s got some wicked kicks and solid footwork that would have served him well against the aforementioned Peterson. Benitez, unfortunately, has a much more rounded game than “Ocho,” not to mention quite a bit more experience at the highest levels than the Peruvian upstart. “Moggly” has the skills to win a kickboxing match and some sneaky chokes waiting should Bandenay elect to take it south.

Bandenay is just 23 years old, towering for a Featherweight, and trains under the venerable Colin Oyama. I fully expect him to stay on the roster for a while. For now, though, Benitez’s experience wins the day in a competitive affair.

Prediction: Benitez via unanimous decision

UFC Fight Night 129 features several bouts that are definitely worth your consideration. See you Saturday, Maniacs.

Remember, too, that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 129 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 2 at 8 p.m. ET, before the FOX Sports 1 main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

Current UFC “Prelims” Prediction Record for 2018: 62-29

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