It’s wrestling vs. Brazilian jiu-jitsu in Kallang, Singapore, this Saturday (Oct. 26, 2019) when Ben Askren looks to rebound from his first-ever loss against the ageless Demian Maia in UFC Fight Night 162’s main event. Also on tap for ESPN+ are a pair of Lightweight slugfests featuring Michael Johnson and Beneil Dariush against Stevie Ray and Frank Camacho, respectively, as well as the latest from blue-chip Heavyweight prospect Cyril Gane.
We’ve got three more “Prelims” undercard bouts to preview and predict (check out the first batch here) before all that, though, so let’s not dally ...
115 lbs.: Randa Markos vs. Ashley Yoder
Consistency continues to elude Randa Markos (9-7-1) five years after her Cinderella run on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 20, as she’s yet to score consecutive wins in the Octagon. “Quiet Storm” currently finds herself in a 1-2-1 hole, most recently dropping a decision to Claudia Gadelha in July.
Her four submission wins — along with four from her opponent Ashley Yoder (7-4) — have all come via armbar.
“The Spider Monkey” fell to Kate Jackson in the second round of TUF 23, picked up a win in Invicta FC, and proceeded to lose her first three Octagon bouts by decision. She enters the cage this Saturday on a two-fight win streak, having beaten Amanda Cooper and Syuri Kondo.
She’ll have three inches of height and six inches of reach on Yoder.
There’s an argument to be made that Yoder deserves to be 1-4 in the Octagon against mid-tier opposition. That’s because as good as her top control is, the rest of her game isn’t enough to keep her afloat when the takedowns aren’t there. They won’t be against Markos, a superior and more battle-tested wrestler whose one-shot power gives her the edge on the feet as well.
Markos has never lost two straight in the Octagon and I don’t anticipate that changing here. Whether she sprawls-and-brawls or elects to put Yoder on her back, expect her to take a comfortable victory.
Prediction: Markos via unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Rafael Fiziev vs. Alex White
Tiger Muay Thai’s Rafael Fiziev (6-1) brought an impressive kickboxing pedigree into his Octagon debut against the returning Magomed Mustafaev. Neither was enough to save him, as Mustafaev caught him with a spinning back kick to the face to hand “Ataman” his first mixed martial arts (MMA) defeat in St. Petersburg.
All of his MMA victories have come by stoppage, five of them knockouts.
Back in 2014, Alex White (13-5) made his Octagon debut in dramatic fashion with an 88-second knockout of Estevan Payan. “The Spartan” has since struggled to replicate those results, going 3-5 but recently scoring a decision over Dan Moret in Wichita.
He stands four inches taller than Fiziev at 6’0.”
I’ll admit to being underwhelmed by Fiziev’s Octagon debut, but it’s worth noting that Mustafaev hits exponentially harder than White. Not to say that White can’t thump; there’s just a difference between above-average power and the ability to knock someone unconscious with a blocked kick. Without that escape clause, White’s in for a beating against a far more seasoned striker.
The one possible complication for Fiziev is White’s wrestling, but “The Spartan” has never managed to make his takedowns work against higher-level opposition. Fiziev tears him up on the feet for a brutal finish.
Prediction: Fiziev via first-round technical knockout
145 lbs.: Enrique Barzola vs. Movsar Evloev
Enrique Barzola (16-4-1) followed up his TUF: “Latin America”-winning victory over Horacio Gutierrez with victories in four of his next five fights, the only loss a controversial one to Kyle Bochniak. Kevin Aguilar ended his streak this past May, though Barzola came back to edge Bobby Moffett four months later.
“El Fuerte” will give up 2.5 inches of reach to Movsar Evloev (11-0).
A lengthy reign as M-1 Bantamweight champion brought Evloev to the Octagon this past April, where he took a decision over Seung Woo Choi in St. Petersburg. He was all set for a sophomore appearance against Lv Zhenhong earlier this year, only for the “Bull Demon King” to suffer a last-second cut and withdraw.
He has tapped four professional opponents, all by rear-naked choke, and knocked out another three.
Fights between wrestle-happy fighters can turn dull in a heartbeat, but I’ve got high hopes for this one. Barzola’s takedown spam and Evloev’s chain wrestling are fun to watch and both men can entertain on the feet.
Fond as I am of Barzola, this looks like a comfortable Evloev victory. Barzola struggles to maintain top position, while Evloev excels at riding out long stretches and threatening submissions; a Barzola takedown is a few good seconds, an Evloev takedown is a few good minutes. Plus, Evloev has more natural punching power and has been developing the boxing to use it. Harder punches and ground dominance make Evloev 2-0 in the Octagon.
Prediction: Evloev via unanimous decision
UFC Fight Night 162’s main event between Ben Askren vs. Demian Maia figures to be pure scramble goodness and we’ve got finishers all over the rest of the ESPN+-streamed card. See you Saturday, Maniacs!
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 162 fight card this weekend right HERE, starting with the ESPN+“Prelims” that are scheduled to begin at 5 a.m. ET, then the main card portion that will also stream on ESPN+ at 8 a.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Fight Night 162: “Askren vs. Maia” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.