Mixed martial arts (MMA) fans inside The O2 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic, will be treated to some top-notch Light Heavyweight violence this Saturday (Feb. 23, 2019) when Thiago “Marreta” Santos and Jan Blachowicz duke it out in UFC Fight Night 145’s main event, which will stream exclusively online via ESPN+. Other highlights include a battle between Bantamweight knockout artists John Lineker and Petr Yan and a clash of Light Heavyweight prospects Magomed Ankalaev and Klidson Farias.
We’ve got three more UFC Fight Night 145 “Prelims” undercard bouts to preview and predict (check out the first batch here). Shall we?
125 lbs.: Gillian Robertson vs. Veronica Macedo
Despite losing to Barb Honchak in the opening round of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 26, Gillian Robertson (5-3) got off to a strong UFC start, submitting castmate Emily Whitmire and prospect Molly McCann in succession. She went on to meet “Contender Series:” Brazil alumnus Mayra Bueno Silva, who caught her in an armbar from guard in the waning seconds of the round.
She has scored three submissions as a professional, three of them armbars.
Veronica Macedo (5-2-1) debuted in UFC as a Bantamweight in 2016, replacing Germaine de Randamie against Ashlee Evans-Smith and succumbing to ground-and-pound in the third. Injury kept her out of action until May 2018, when she lost a decision to the debuting Andrea Lee but earned “Fight of the Night” in the process.
She’ll have a one-inch reach advantage and one-inch height disadvantage on fight night.
Macedo has been soundly out-grappled in her two UFC fights to date. She is now being rewarded by fighting another grappler.
Trial by fire, I suppose.
Robertson is the stronger wrestler of the two by a decent margin and Macedo, though tricky on the mat, isn’t good enough to make me think she can she can win this off of her back the way Silva did. This fight lasts until Robertson decides to bring it to the mat, at which point either a submission or ground-and-pound finish is a matter of time.
Prediction: Robertson by first-round submission
170 lbs.: Carlo Pedersoli Jr. vs. Dwight Grant
Carlo Pedersoli (11-2) scored a wild back-and-forth split decision over UFC vet Nicolas Dalby in April 2018, then made his short-notice UFC debut a month later with another entertaining split decision over Brad Scott. “Cowboy” Oliveira proved too much for him in his sophomore appearance, knocking out “Semento” cold in just 39 seconds.
He’ll give up two inches of height and one inch of reach to “The Body Snatcher.”
Dwight Grant (8-2) torched Tyler Hill on the Contender Series, setting himself up as a huge favorite in his UFC debut against Zak Ottow, but an inability to pull the trigger left Grant on the wrong end of a controversial split decision. He tried to bounce back quickly by facing Chance Rencountre on short notice last month, but was not cleared by the athletic commission because of an eye injury.
Six of his eight professional wins have come by form of knockout.
This fight boils down to how willing Grant is to throw volume. He’s not much of a technician, but he hits hard enough to punish Pedersoli’s defensive lapses with finality. If he lets “Semento” work with the same impunity, though, Pedersoli will rack up points with his long-range kicking.
Beyond the output issue, Grant is predictable with his counters, and his tendency to lean back at the waist rather than use footwork leaves him open to Pedersoli’s sneaky wrestling game. Unless Grant can land his right hand early and often, Pedersoli will simply outwork him on the feet and on the ground on his way to a decision win.
Prediction: Pedersoli via unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Damir Hadzovic vs. Polo Reyes
Damir Hadzovic (12-4) debuted in UFC with a knockout loss to Mairbek Taisumov, but scored a stunning come-from-behind knee knockout of Marcin Held to earn “Performance of the Night” and even up his Octagon record. He went on to drop a unanimous decision to Alan Patrick and narrowly edge Nick Hein by split decision in the latter’s native Germany.
He has finished nine opponents overall, six of them by form of knockout.
Polo Reyes (8-4) opened his Octagon career undefeated (3-0), including bonus-winning knockouts of Cezar Arzamendia and Dong Hyun Ma, before running afoul of James Vick in 2017. He returned with another bonus-winning finish, a 60-second thrashing of Matt Frevola, but has been out of action for more than one year because of issues with United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
Three of his six knockout victories have come in the first round.
This has “post-fight bonus” written all over it. Neither man cares about anything but smashing whoever has the misfortune of standing in front of him, and putting them both in the same cage all but guarantees a slobber knocker.
Albeit a very short slobber knocker.
Hadzovic is a tough cookie — that uppercut from Taisumov looked fit to kill a man, but the Bosnian was still arguably conscious. Reyes can thump, though, and against a willing striker without the absurd length advantage Vick had, I expect him to find the mark more times than even Hadzovic’s jaw can withstand. They slug it out for a few minutes until Reyes’ right hand shuts the lights off.
Prediction: Reyes by first-round knockout
Hey, at least we’ll get a war in the main event and a look at some solid prospects. See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 145 fight card on fight night, starting with the ESPN+“Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. ET, before the main card start time at 2 p.m. ET (also on ESPN+).