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UFC Fight Night 153 predictions: ‘Gustafsson vs Smith’ ESPN 2 undercard ‘Prelims’ preview

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Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a bevy of “Prelims” fights to ESPN 2 this weekend (Sat., June 1, 2019) when UFC Fight Night 153: “Gustafsson vs. Smith” storms Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, Sweden. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg kicks off the UFC Fight Night 153 “Prelims” party with the first installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) makes its return to Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, Sweden, this Saturday (June 1, 2019), pitting local favorite Alexander Gustafsson against all-action Anthony Smith in the 205-pound main event. Fellow Light Heavyweight action stars dot the ESPN+ main card, including former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir facing Ilir Latifi and Jimi Manuwa duking it out with top prospect Aleksandar Rakic.

UFC Fight Night 153 features seven “Prelims” undercard bouts this time, all on ESPN 2. Let’s begin!

155 lbs.: Nick Hein vs. Frank Camacho

Nick Hein (14-4-1) took home the win in four of his first five Octagon appearances before injury scrapped a planned fight with Zabit Magomedsharipov and kept him out for all of 2017. “Sergeant” has yet to taste victory since, tapping to Davi Ramos and losing a brawl with Damir Hadzovic in Hamburg.

He is four inches shorter than Frank Camacho (21-7) and will give up an impressive 7.5” of reach.

“The Crank” won just one of his first three Octagon bouts, but produced Fights of the Night each time against Li Jingliang, Damien Brown, and Drew Dober. He wasn’t quite as lucky against Geoff Neal, who beat the stuffing out of him before putting him to sleep with a second-round head kick.

He replaces the injured Luigi Vendramini on one month’s notice.

Is there an official term for a grappling specialist who abandons his area of expertise to become a slugger and fails miserably? I know Jorge Gurgel is the archetypal example, but Hein is following in his footsteps. You could be forgiven for not realizing “Sergeant” is a top-notch judoka, as he’s usually content to just throw hands with abandon. This is not a winning strategy when you’re a 5’6” Lightweight with one of the shortest reaches in the sport, especially not against a tried-and-true brawler like Camacho.

Honestly, I feel like Camacho’s biggest battle will be with the scale; he weighed in at 160 the last time he tried to make Lightweight, so one would hope that getting manhandled by Neal will be the motivation he needs to get his weight in check. His huge reach advantage and edge in power should carry him to a fairly comfortable decision after 15 minutes of mutual haymakers.

Prediction: Camacho via unanimous decision

135 lbs.: Duda Santana vs. Bea Malecki

A protege of countryman “Cowboy” Oliveira, Duda Santana (3-0) fought thrice in 2017, picking up one knockout among the victories. “Cowboyzinha” was supposed to face Luana Carolina on “Contender Series” in August 2017, but wound up running into visa issues.

This will be her first fight in almost 18 months

Bea Malecki (2-0) went 1-0 as an amateur before making her professional debut in 2017 and picking up a pair of stoppage wins. She became Team Gastelum’s penultimate Featherweight pick on The Ultimate Fighter 28, where she fell to Leah Letson in the opening round.

She has knocked out and submitted one professional foe apiece.

It says something about the paucity of contenders in the division that the UFC put together a fight between women with five combined pro fights. The only numerically comparable matchup I can think of in recent times was Mickey Gall (2-0) against CM Punk (0-0), which is not something UFC wants to remind the public of.

As far as skills, Santana is happy to plod forward and chuck one-two combinations, while Malecki, despite a solid Muay Thai pedigree, showed little besides a nice elbow on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF). Neither has much in the way of defense so it should be at least somewhat entertaining. Santana’s superior aggression and volume bridge the technical gap enough for her to take a decision.

Prediction: Santana via unanimous decision

205 lbs.: Devin Clark vs. Darko Stosic

Devin Clark (9-3) put an unsuccessful Octagon debut behind him to win three of his next four, including a decision over “Contender Series” standout Mike Rodriguez at UFC 223. He looked strong in the opening minutes of his fight with top prospect Aleksandar Rakic, but ran into a backfist that put him away near the end of the first round.

“Brown Bear” was booked to face prospect Ivan Shtyrkov in St. Petersburg last month, only for the “Ural Hulk” to withdraw because of an illness at the last minute.

A protege of the great Mirko Cro Cop, the only loss for Darko Stosic (13-1) came to current Rizin star Jiri Prochazka in the Serbian’s fifth pro fight. He stopped Jeremy Kimball in his Octagon debut last July and was booked to face Magomed Ankalaev in February, but wound up pulling out with an injury.

Eight of his professional victories have come via (technical) knockout.

This is the fifth consecutive time Clark’s been booked against a prospect if you count the scrapped bouts with Abdul-Kerim Edilov and Ivan Shtyrkov, which has me questioning UFC’s faith in his abilities. Not that they’re wrong to be skeptical, though; Clark’s had six UFC fights to fix his sloppy striking and tendency to overcommit and has yet to do so.

That’s not to say he doesn’t have a shot at victory here; Stosic was a tank of a Heavyweight and we’ve yet to see how his cardio holds up at 205 pounds. If Clark takes advantage of Stosic’s naked kicks and constantly pushes for takedowns, he could conceivably wear the hulking Serb out and take over late. More likely, though, his shoddy defense allows Stosic’s heavy hands to find a home before too long.

Prediction: Stosic via first-round knockout

155 lbs.: Danilo Belluardo vs. Joel Alvarez

Italy’s Danilo Belluardo (12-3) has won six straight since a 1-3 skid, ending all but one of those bouts inside the distance. His last bout saw him reach the judges for the first time since 2015, but ultimately take home a dominant decision over Brazilian Denilson Neves on the strength of his grappling.

He’ll give up four inches of reach to Joel Alvarez (15-2).

“El Fenomeno” racked up a 10-fight win streak on his way to the Octagon, where he faced Kazakh standout Damir Ismagulov in Prague. Alvarez struggled to bring his potent submission game to bear, ultimately making his first-ever trip to the judges in defeat.

Fourteen of his 15 stoppage wins have come by submissions.

I like this match up a lot, actually; Alvarez is of the Brian Ortega/Pedro Munhoz school of submission thought, pressuring until opponents shoot and leave their necks out, and Belluardo looks fit to indulge him. Conversely, Belluardo’s ground-and-pound is one of the strongest features of his game, meaning Alvarez is in for a world of hurt if he can’t snatch something on the way down or in his guard.

The key here might be that Belluardo seems to have a habit of leaving himself open to the guillotine on his entries, and while he managed to survive multiple such attempts against Neves, Alvarez looks to be a different sort of beast. Alvarez will get the type of fight he wants; it’s up to him to execute, and while I don’t see his approach working anywhere near the highest level, it should get him the victory here.

Prediction: Alvarez via first-round submission

Three more UFC Fight Night 153 “Prelims” bouts remain to preview and predict, including a pair of Welterweight newcomers in the featured undercard match. See you tomorrow, Maniacs!

Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 153 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN 2 “Prelims” that are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ET, then the main card portion that will stream on ESPN+ (7-day free trial here) at 1 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Fight Night 153: “Gustafsson vs. Smith” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.