The injury bug is looking to give dengue fever a run for its money, as the“Manuwa vs. Teixeira”-led card this Saturday (Sept. 22, 2018) in Sao Paulo, Brazil, is now headlined by a Light Heavyweight bout between former Middleweight contenders Thiago Santos and Eryk Anders. Earlier in the evening, Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira takes on prospect Carlo Pedersoli Jr. and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira returns after nearly two years away to face Sam Alvey.
Fight Pass and FOX Sports 2 will host UFC Fight Night 137’s “Prelims” undercard bouts this time, split 5:4. Let’s check on the former:
170 lbs.: Sergio Moraes vs. Ben Saunders
Repeated injuries to himself and others kept Sergio Moraes (13-3-1) to just seven fights between 2012 and 2018, wherein he went 5-1-1. His last fight saw him take on towering striker Tim Means and escape with a highly controversial split decision in Belem.
“The Panther” has tapped seven as a professional, all but one by form of choke.
Ben Saunders (22-9-2) entered the Octagon in June against Jake Ellenberger in desperate need of a win, having suffered brutal knockout losses to Peter Sobotta and Alan Jouban in previous appearances. “Killa B” came up big with his back against the wall, knocking out “The Juggernaut” with a knee to the body in less than two minutes.
He will have two inches of height and five inches of reach on Moraes.
Moraes is as frustrating as he is talented. Despite boasting the strongest Brazilian jiu-jitsu credentials in the division behind Demian Maia, he’s content to brawl, and even when he does try to wrestle, he hasn’t developed that skill nearly enough. He’s hit one takedown in his last six fights and, going by UFC’s stats, has a takedown accuracy of less than 30 percent.
That’s an issue here. Though Saunders’ ability to take a strike has waned, he’s far sharper than Moraes on the feet. In addition, despite Moraes putting everything he’s got into all of his punches, the only (technical) knockout victory of his career came against an extremely gassed Omari Akhmedov. Saunders’ length keeps him safe from Moraes’ haymakers as he pieces up the Brazilian for a decision win.
Prediction: Saunders via unanimous decision
125 lbs.: Mayra Bueno Silva vs. Gillian Robertson
Mayra Bueno Silva (4-0) scored first-round finishes in two of her first three fights to earn a spot on “Contender Series” last month, taking on unbeaten knockout artist Mayana Kellen. It took “Cheetara” just 62 seconds to lock up a ninja choke and secure a place in UFC.
This will be her return to Flyweight after two years at 135.
Gillian Robertson (5-2) — representing Team Justin Gaethje on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 28 — fell to eventual semifinalist Barb Honchak in the opening round. She’s fared quite a bit better in the Octagon itself, submitting castmate Ariel Beck and prospect Molly McCann in successive appearances.
Four of her professional wins have come by submission within two rounds.
The two fights I could find of Silva’s didn’t last long enough to give a good impression of what she can do — she’s as aggressive as you’d expect a Chute Boxe product to be and showed some sneaky submission chops. It just remains to be seen how she handles high-level opposition, and though Robertson isn’t elite, she’s a very capable fighter who beat a solid up-and-comer last time out.
As with McCann, this will be a good litmus test of where Silva is at. This is more a hunch than anything, as I mentioned that it’s hard to make a qualitative analysis of someone’s skills based on like three combined minutes of footage, but I say Silva catches her in transition for a crowd-pleasing finish.
Prediction: Silva via first-round submission
185 lbs.: Thales Leites vs. Hector Lombard
Thales Leites (27-9) exited UFC in 2009 after consecutive losses to Anderson Silva and Alessio Sakara, then won six of his next seven to earn another shot in the Octagon. Though he started his second Octagon tenure by going undefeated (5-0), he’s now lost five of his last seven, including suffering the first (technical) knockout loss of his career to a badly injured Jack Hermansson in May.
He stands four inches taller than Hector Lombard (34-9-1) and will have seven inches of reach on him.
Lombard — who once put together a 20-fight win streak — has not tasted victory since 2014, losing five straight since a failed drug test overturned a win over Josh Burkman. His latest defeat was the most bizarre yet, as he got himself disqualified by dropping C.B. Dollaway well after the bell.
He boasts 19 (technical) knockouts among his 26 stoppage wins.
Literally anything could happen here — this pair’s collective fight IQ struggles to reach the double digits. I wouldn’t be surprised by anything short of one of them pulling a knife.
In terms of pure ability, Lombard’s power and Judo prowess are more visually impressive, but Leites is extremely durable. As I mentioned, only Hermansson has put him away with strikes, and that was more accumulation than anything. Lombard’s inability to pace himself when he can’t wipe out his foe in a hurry is a critical flaw here, and after a strong first round, I expect him to lose more and more ground to Leites, who’ll strike his way to 29-28s across the board.
Prediction: Leites via unanimous decision
170 lbs.: Elizeu Zaleski vs. Luigi Vendramini
Elizeu Zaleski (19-5) went from losing his UFC debut to winning five consecutive fights, earning three “Fight of the Night” bonuses along the way. His last time out, “Capoeira” lived up to his nickname in dramatic fashion by knocking out Sean Strickland with a wheel kick and follow-up punches.
He has knocked out 13 opponents as a professional.
A 22-year-old prospect out of Constrictor Team, which features the likes of Rani Yahya and Renato Moicano, Luigi Vendramini (7-0) has yet to see the judges as a professional, ending all but two fights in the first round. He last fought in Aug. 2017, knocking out Adriano Andre in his first trip to the third round.
He steps in for the injured Belal Muhammad on a week’s notice.
Vendramini’s a young guy out of a good camp, but his strength of schedule is horrendously bad. Only his most recent opponent had a win on his record. And no, I don’t mean “winning record.” Tapology has him outside the Top 100 among Brazilian Lightweights and, as far as I can tell, he’s never fought at 170 pounds.
Zaleski, on the other hand, is the most violent man in the division and on an absolutely terrific run. Unless Vendramini has improved exponentially in the past year, Zaleski obliterates him in short order.
Prediction: Zaleski via first-round technical knockout
115 lbs.: Livia Renata Souza vs. Alex Chambers
Livia Renata Souza (11-1) submitted Katja Kankaanpaa in her Invicta debut to win the Strawweight title, then stopped DeAnna Bennett in 90 seconds before losing a competitive split decision to Angela Hill. She picked up two more wins before signing on to debut against Jessica Aguilar in February, but wound up breaking her hand.
She has submitted seven opponents, including three by armbar.
Alex Chambers had the misfortune of facing Rose Namajunas in the opening round of TUF 20, becoming one of three women in the tournament to fall victim to her submissions. “Astro Girl” hasn’t fared much better in the Octagon, going 1-3 with the sole win a comeback submission over Kailin Curran.
Three of her four stoppage wins have come in the first round.
Chambers is 39 years old and her only win since 2013 came against a fighter who went 1-6 in the Octagon. She’s here to make Souza look good, although the Brazilian really doesn’t need the help — she’s an excellent grappler with surprising stopping power on the feet and has proven herself against some top-notch fighters in Invicta.
Unless Souza has some significant ring rust after more than a year away, she has Chambers out-gunned in every facet of the game. “Livinha” makes a statement in her UFC debut with a quick submission.
Prediction: Souza via first-round submission
Four more UFC Fight Night 137 “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to preview and predict, among them two more “Contender Series” alums and a clash of top Lightweights. Same time as always, Maniacs!
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 137 fight card this weekend, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” undercard bout at 6:30 p.m. ET, followed by the FOX Sports 2 “Prelims” undercard bouts at 8:30 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.