One of the greatest fighters to never win Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) gold will look to establish himself in a new weight class this Saturday (Nov. 16, 2019) when “Jacare” Souza takes on top-ranked Light Heavyweight contender Jan Blachowicz in the promotion’s return to Sao Paulo, Brazil. Also at 205 pounds, “Shogun” Rua attempts to build off of his upset finish of Tyson Pedro at Paul Craig’s expense, while Charles Oliveira takes on the hard-charging Jared Gordon down at 155 pounds.
UFC Fight Night 164 features seven “Prelims” undercard bouts this go-round. And we’ve divided them up into nice portions for you, so open wide.
170 lbs.: Warlley Alves vs. Randy Brown
Warlley Alves (13-3) hit the ground running after a dominant run through The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): “Brazil” 3 tournament, winning his next three Octagon bouts and choking out Colby Covington in the process. A 2-3 skid followed, though he managed to get back on track in May with a brutal, bonus-winning knockout of Sergio Moraes at UFC 237.
He’ll give up four inches of height and six inches of reach to “Rude Boy.”
Randy Brown (11-3) — the inaugural graduate of “Lookin’ for a Fight” — picked up wins in three of his first four Octagon appearances, including finishes of Erick Montaño and Brian Camozzi. Despite suffering losses in two of his next three, most notably an insane technical knockout loss via hammer fists from the bottom, he put on a career-best performance in June en route to stopping the iron-tough Bryan Barberena in three.
He has knocked out six professional opponents and submitted another three.
Warlley Alves fighting to the best of his abilities is a terrifying thought to consider. The guy has so much potential that he’s utterly failed to live up to, but the Moraes fight gave a tantalizing glimpse of his capabilities. If that was the start of a trend for the Brazilian, Brown is in all sorts of trouble; Alves is the bigger hitter, better wrestler, and more potent submission threat.
Alves has had all of those advantages in the past, though, and come up short because of a lack of cardio. The Alves that burned himself out against Bryan Barberena and got dominated at range by James Krause would be in trouble, but the fact that he managed three busy rounds against Moraes has me leaning his way. Alves powers through Brown’s rangy onslaught to drag him to the mat and wrap up his favored guillotine.
Prediction: Alves via second-round submission
145 lbs.: Renan Barao vs. Douglas Andrade
Renan Barao (34-8) — once a pound-for-pound staple — the former Bantamweight king is now just 1-6 since 2014, the only win a narrow one over Phillipe Nover. His current four-fight skid includes a brutal knockout loss to Luke Sanders last February in his most recent effort.
Though the shorter man, he’ll have a two-inch reach advantage.
Douglas Andrade’s (25-3) UFC career has seen him compete just six times in five years, racking up a 3-3 record overall. He currently finds himself in a 1-2 rut, a decision over Marlon Vera sandwiched between stoppage losses to Rob Font and Petr Yan.
He has scored 19 knockouts and one submission as a professional.
A 3-3 record may not look good on paper, but it’s worth noting that Andrade’s only lost to really solid fighters in UFC — when the worst among them is Zubaira Tukhugov, there’s not much to be ashamed of. The guy still hits like a freight train and was durable enough to take a mauling from Yan before his corner stopped things.
Barao, meanwhile, is an absolute shell of his former self. His killer jab and A+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu are nowhere to be found, while the chin that stood up to heinous damage from T.J. Dillashaw looks to have finally cracked against Sanders. Barao’s habit of getting caught up in brawls and losing them in violent fashion rears its head once again as Andrade obliterates him with power punches.
Prediction: Andrade via first-round technical knockout
125 lbs.: Ariane Lipski vs. Veronica Macedo
A nine-fight win streak and a KSW title earned Ariane Lipski (11-5) considerable fanfare before her Octagon debut, but Joanne Calderwood’s wrestling proved more than “The Violence Queen” could handle. Her sophomore effort put her up against Molly McCann, who handed Lipski her second consecutive upset loss in Greenville.
Six of her eight stoppage wins have come via (technical) knockout.
Venezuela’s Veronica Macedo (6-3-1) stumbled out of the UFC gate, losing her first three fights to Ashlee Evans-Smith, Andrea Lee, and Gillian Robertson. With her back against the wall, she took on jiu-jitsu expert Polyana Viana in August, scoring a bonus-winning armbar in just 69 seconds.
She steps in for Priscilla Cachoeira, who failed a drug test, on less than two weeks’ notice.
I’m honestly not ready to write Lipski off yet — both Calderwood and McCann are quality fighters who’ve accomplished quite a bit more than Macedo during their Octagon tenures. Macedo is a far more limited takedown artist than those two and I don’t see her surviving a striking battle with “The Violence Queen,” who hits much harder and delivers a higher output of strikes.
This may just be me trying to save face after hyping Lipski up in New Blood, but I do think she’s got the potential to do some real damage with a little more seasoning. She batters Macedo on the feet for her first UFC victory.
Prediction: Lipski via second-round technical knockout
135 lbs.: Tracy Cortez vs. Vanessa Melo
A submission loss in her professional debut didn’t stop Tracy Cortez (6-1) from embarking on a five-fight win streak, two of those victories coming under the Invicta banner. This led to a “Contender Series” appearance against Mariya Agapova, whom Cortez dominated on the mat to claim a contract.
Neither she nor Vanessa Melo (10-6) were originally part of this match up; Cortez replaced Leah Letson against Duda Santana, who was replaced in turn by Melo.
Five straight wins, capped off by a decision over veteran Jan Finney, brought Melo to UFC for a short-notice debut against the surging Irene Aldana. The Brazilian wound up grievously missing weight before losing a striking battle by unanimous decision.
This will be her second fight in two months and her third in the last four.
Even if she didn’t get the finish on the Contender Series, Cortez is a quality signing, a powerhouse wrestler with quality passing and ground-and-pound once it hits the mat. She’s already a top-10 caliber fighter at 125 by my reckoning, which is far more than I can say about the decent-but-unspectacular Melo.
“Miss Simpatia” does have a couple things going her way, namely her skill on the counter compared to Cortez’s face-first striking style, but Cortez’s takedown onslaught looks like more than she can handle. Plus, despite Cortez moving up from 125 and Melo failing to make 135 last time out, the latter’s history of competing at Flyweight suggests that foul-up was more a product of poor preparation than any notable size advantage. Cortez dominates on the mat for the full 15.
Prediction: Cortez by unanimous decision
Three more UFC Fight Night 164 “Prelims” undercard bouts to preview and predict tomorrow, including some top-notch grapplers and what figures to be a brutal Lightweight showdown. 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 164 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN+“Prelims” that are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. ET, then the main card portion that will also stream on ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET.
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