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UFC 237 predictions: ‘Namajunas vs Andrade’ ESPN ‘Prelims’ undercard preview

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a bevy of “Prelims” fights to both UFC Fight Pass and ESPN this weekend (Sat., May 11, 2019) when UFC 237: “Namajunas vs. Andrade” storms Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.’s Patrick Stumberg continues the UFC 237 “Prelims” party with the second (and final) installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

Ferocious Brazilian slugger, Jessica Andrade, makes her second bid at Strawwieght gold this Saturday (May 11, 2019) when champion Rose Namajunas steps into the challenger’s home turf of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. UFC 237 will also feature power-punching Middleweight Jared Cannonier facing the legendary Anderson Silva and Jose Aldo against the fast-rising Alex Volkanovski.

UFC 237 features four “Prelims” undercard bouts on ESPN this time around (check out the Fight Pass portion here). Let’s see what the freebies have to offer:

205 lbs.: Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Ryan Spann

Things went from bad to worse for Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (23-8) when a 1-3 stretch gave way to a United States Anti-Doping (USADA)-induced suspension that kept him out for 22 months (details). Upon his return, he proved he still had something to offer by knocking out Sam Alvey in Sao Paulo, Brazil, earning a “Performance of the Night” bonus in the process.

“Little Nog” is three inches shorter and 15 years older than “Superman.”

The first “Contender Series” bid for Ryan Spann (15-5) went poorly thanks to some Travis Browne-style elbows from Karl Roberson that put him to sleep in just 15 seconds. After claiming an LFA title and choking out Emiliano Sordi in 26 seconds in his “Contender Series” return, he took a decision over Luis Henrique in his Octagon debut in Sept. 2018.

All 13 of his professional finishes have come inside the first round.

Now this is an interesting clash of styles. Nogueira remains rugged and deceptively dangerous on the feet, but he’s on the wrong end of some serious disparities in speed and general explosiveness. That said, Spann consistently fades late, meaning the fight is Nog’s if he can just survive the first five minutes.

That’s a big ask at Nogueira’s age, though. He’s never been particularly quick and the years haven’t put much pep in his step. Nogueira is still a legitimate threat and could easily take over late. He’s just got too much wear for me to pick him against someone so dangerous in the early going. Spann’s early blitz pays dividends as he cracks the Brazilian veteran with heavy punches for the finish.

Prediction: Spann via first-round technical knockout

155 lbs.: Thiago Moises vs. Kurt Holobaugh

Thiago Moises (11-3) — the former RFA and LFA Lightweight champion — knocked out Gleidson Cutis on “Contender Series” to earn himself a UFC contract. Veteran grappler Beneil Dariush proved too much for him, leaning on his wrestling to defuse the Brazilian and take home a unanimous decision.

He stands two inches shorter than Kurt Holobaugh (17-6), but their reaches are identical.

Holobaugh fought his way back to UFC after going one-and-done in 2013, winning the Titan FC Lightweight title and smashing Matt Bessette on “Contender Series.” Said “Contender Series” victory was later overturned because of illegal IV use, and Holobaugh went on to suffer stoppage losses to Raoni Barcelos and Shane Burgos.

Nine of his 14 stoppage wins have come by submission.

The first time I really looked at Moises, I noted that he was an A+ fighter when he’s advancing and a C+ fighter when pressured. Dariush exploited that brilliantly, scoring four takedowns and limiting Moises to just eight significant strikes in 15 minutes. Though Holobaugh lacks Dariush’s wrestling prowess or the hulking size he enjoys at Featherweight, his relentless forward advance seems perfect for defusing Moises.

The deciding factor here is Holobaugh’s confidence. He’d never been stopped in seven years as a professional, only to be brutally knocked out and cleanly submitted in consecutive fights, So long as he can maintain his customary level of aggression, though, expect him to outland and overpower Moises for the full 15 minutes.

Prediction: Holobaugh via unanimous decision

135 lbs.: Irene Aldana vs. Bethe Correia

Irene Aldana (9-4) excelled in Invicta, but stumbled out of the gate in UFC, dropping decisions to Leslie Smith and Katlyn Chookagian in her first two appearances. She has since won two straight, earning her second “Fight of the Night” in her decision over Lucie Pudilova in Sept. 2018.

She has knocked out five opponents and submitted another two.

Bethe Correia (10-3-1) punched her ticket to a title shot with three consecutive victories, only to fall to Ronda Rousey in just 34 seconds. She’s just 1-2-1 since, the only victory a controversial decision over Jessica Eye.

“Pitbull” has not fought in 23 months, as she wasn’t medically cleared for a fight with Aldana last August.

This is the second time I’ve written this fight up. I was going to just copy-paste like I usually do, but since Aldana’s had a fight in the intervening time, it didn’t feel ethical. The facts haven’t changed, though: Aldana is four inches taller, has a 4.5-inch reach advantage, hits quite a bit harder than Correia, and is the crisper boxer by far. “Pitbull,” now 35, is essentially tailor-made for the Mexican slugger to brutalize.

Correia has had some iffy decisions go her way in the past and Aldana can let fights get closer than they need to be, but every tangible and intangible is in the latter’s favor. Aldana obliges Correia’s desired brawl and puts her down with brutal right hands midway through.

Prediction: Aldana via second-round technical knockout

125 lbs.: Luana Carolina vs. Priscila Cachoeira

Luana Carolina (5-1) fell by decision in her professional debut, but bounced back with three consecutive finishes and a unanimous decision to earn a spot on “Contender Series: Brazil.” There, “Dread” took on unbeaten late replacement Mabelly Lima and used her rangy Muay Thai to take another unanimous decision.

All three of her stoppage wins came inside the first round.

Priscila Cachoeira (8-2) got a co-main event spot in her UFC debut, only to receive a historic beating from Valentina Shevchenko. She returned to action 13 months later against Molly McCann, who fought through some grotesque eye swelling to beat “Pedrita” by decision.

She steps in for the injured Yanan Wu on short notice.

Carolina is a solid-if-unspectacular Muay Thai specialist, sending out punching volleys and single kicks at range alongside hard knees inside. She’s fairly unproven, though, and had some issues maintaining range against Lima. Cachoeira’s devil-may-care slugging could work well if she can stay in the UFC newcomer’s face all night.

That’s asking a lot of Cachoeira, though, especially since Carolina’s got the sharper hands by a fair margin. Carolina has issues off the back foot, but not to the extent that she’ll get touched up by a historically unimpressive brawler. Carolina uses her four-inch reach advantage to piece up Cachoeira at range.

Prediction: Carolina via unanimous decision

UFC 237’s main event and Aldo-Volkanovski are both fantastic fights, while the rest figure to end in some form of dramatic fashion. See you Saturday, Maniacs.

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 237 fight card this weekend, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 237: “Namajunas vs. Andrade” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

Current UFC “Prelims” Prediction Record for 2019: 60-32

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