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UFC Fight Night 165 predictions: ‘Edgar vs Korean Zombie’ undercard ‘Prelims’ preview - Pt. 2

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Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a bevy of “Prelims” fights to ESPN+ this weekend (Sat., Dec. 21, 2019) when UFC Fight Night 165: “Edgar vs. Korean Zombie” storms Sajik Arena in Busan, South Korea. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg continues the UFC Fight Night 165 “Prelims” party with the second (and final) installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

UFC Fight Night Andrade v Zhang Photo by Zhe Ji/Getty Images

South Korea’s most beloved mixed martial arts (MMA) export gets the chance to dazzle his hometown fans this Saturday (Dec. 21, 2019) when Chan Sung Jung throws down with former Lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, who steps in for the injured Brian Ortega on short notice. Sixty pounds north, long-time contender Volkan Oezdemir attempts to halt the rise of Aleksandar Rakic, while local knockout artist Doo Ho Choi squares off against Canadian slugger Charles Jourdain.

We’ve got four more UFC Fight Night 165 “Prelims” undercard bouts to preview and predict (check out the first batch here). Let’s dig in!

135 lbs.: Raoni Barcelos vs. Said Nurmagomedov

Raoni Barcelos (14-1) — a former RFA Featherweight champion — made his long-delayed Octagon debut in dramatic fashion last year with a “Fight of the Night” uppercut knockout of Kurt Holobaugh (see it). He’s yet to go the distance in the Octagon, dispatching Chris Gutierrez and Carlos Huachin inside the distance.

Eight of his 10 stoppage wins have come by form of knockout.

Said Nurmagomedov (13-1) — no relation to Khabib, as far as we know — won the Akhmat Bantamweight title on the way to the Octagon, where he opened his UFC career with a narrow split decision over Justin Scoggins. His second bout in the world’s largest MMA promotion saw him knock out Ricardo Ramos with a spinning back kick midway through the first round, though injuries have kept him out of action since that February victory.

He’ll have a three-inch reach advantage on Barcelos.

I both love and hate this match up. On one hand, it’s an evenly matched clash of explosive up-and-comers with serious finishing skills. On the other, it knocks one of them out of contention for awhile, and considering how insanely stacked the division is, the loser could find his title run set back by a year or two.

Bad news for the 34-year-old Barcelos.

He’s the better boxer of the two and has the stronger ground pedigree, but he’s going to have all kinds of trouble consistently getting his hands on the rangier Nurmagomedov. His counter-punching arsenal will likely struggle to find purchase against Nurmagomedov’s kicking onslaught and if Barcelos does manage to close the gap for a takedown attempt, Nurmagomedov ostensibly has strong enough hips and scrambling ability to stay out of danger. Barcelos makes it close, but Nurmagomedov’s takedown defense and long-range attack should get him the win.

Prediction: Nurmagomedov via unanimous decision

265 lbs.: Ciryl Gane vs. Tanner Boser

Ciryl Gane (5-0) — MMA’s hottest Heavyweight prospect — leaned on his grappling instead of his vaunted Muay Thai to secure a submission win in his August Octagon debut. He returned to action in October with another submission finish, securing a bonus-winning heel hook of Don’Tale Mayes in the waning seconds, and now prepares for his third fight in little more than four months.

He has knocked out two pro opponents and submitted three other.

Tanner Boser (17-5-1) missed out on a July Octagon debut when opponent Giacomo Lemos failed a drug test, leaving him to face Daniel Spitz in October. Though he didn’t delight the Boston crowd, he nonetheless extended his current run go 5-1-1 with a wide decision victory.

“The Bulldozer” gives up around a half-foot of reach to “Bon Gamin.”

Tanner Boser’s game revolves around having better movement and a better gas tank than the rest of the division. Gane has those, too, only with more technical striking and exponentially more stopping power. Boser isn’t dancing around the outside and pot-shotting his way to success against a rangier, more skillful striker with the cardio to match his pace all night.

“The Bulldozer” just seems out-classed in every conceivable category and doesn’t even have enough pop to offer the traditional Heavyweight puncher’s chance. Gane takes him apart en route to a late finish.

Prediction: Gane via second-round technical knockout

145 lbs.: Seung Woo Choi vs. Suman Mokhtarian

Seung Woo Choi (7-3) ended a 17-month layoff in April when he stepped up on short notice to face prospect Movsar Evloev, who utilized repeated takedowns to win a decision over the Korean bruiser. Three months later, he was tasked with welcoming Gavin Tucker back to the Octagon, resulting in a third-round submission defeat.

Five of his professional wins, including his last three, have come by knockout.

Suman Mokhtarian (8-1), brother of UFC veteran Ashkan, impressed Stipe Miocic enough to become his second pick on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 27, only to lose in the opening round to Daniel Cormier’s final pick in Ricky Steele. He still managed to get a spot on the Finale, where he suffered a first-round stoppage loss to Sodiq Yusuff.

This will be his first fight in 12 months.

I have to admit to some personal bias here: In my opinion, the Mokhtarian brothers are running a grift. They fluffed up their records and those of their Australia Top Team “students” by putting together mismatches in promotions they themselves owned. You can see from Nadia Kassem and Alex Gorgees’ efforts that they were horribly unprepared for UFC, and Suman is no exception, having fought just one fighter with a victory on his record prior to his TUF run.

He scammed his way into the Octagon and is about to get his ass beat for it again.

Choi is a massively flawed fighter, a brawl-happy slugger whose ground game has proven inadequate for the world’s largest fight promotion. Luckily for him, Mokhtarian hasn’t shown the wrestling necessary to crack even Choi’s substandard takedown defense and has little to offer on the feet. They slug it out until Choi’s power brings a dramatic end to proceedings.

Prediction: Choi via second-round technical knockout

155 lbs. Dong Hyun Ma vs. Omar Morales

Dong Hyun Ma (16-10-3) bounced back from knockout losses in his first two Octagon appearances to win three straight, among them a technical knockout of a faded Takanori Gomi. A knockout loss to Devonte Smith followed, though he was putting up a terrific fight in his subsequent bout with Scott Holtzman before the doctor stopped the fight.

“The Maestro” is the taller man by an inch but faces a three-inch reach disadvantage.

Despite a 58-second head kick knockout in his lone Bellator appearance, Venezuela’s Omar Morales (8-0) entered “Contender Series” a decent-sized underdog against LFA champ Harvey Park. Morales wound up defying the odds, compromising Park’s movement with low kicks before putting him away with a contract-winning one-two combination.

All but two of his professional wins have come inside the first round.

I don’t see the logic in pitting Ma against another heavy-hitting, technically superior striker when the last two he fought kicked the snot out of him. Ma’s upright, come-forward offense seems terribly vulnerable to Morales’ straight right and crushing low kicks, and considering the shots Morales shrugged off against Park, Ma is not outlasting him in a brawl.

Ma definitely has the goods on the mat and Morales’ ground game, outside of the solid defensive wrestling and clinchwork he showed last time out, is a question mark, but I don’t think he can withstand the beating he’ll take when/if he pursues the takedown. Morales tears up Ma’s lead leg before planting a shin or right hand on the Korean’s face.

Prediction: Morales via first-round technical knockout

It’s our last UFC event until mid-January, so hopefully some of y’all will get up early and join us for the violence. See you Saturday, Maniacs!

Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 165 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN+“Prelims” that are scheduled to begin at 2 a.m. ET, then the main card portion that will also stream on ESPN+ at 5 a.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Fight Night 165: “Edgar vs. Korean Zombie” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

Current UFC “Prelims” Prediction Record for 2019: 178-98-1