This Saturday (June 22, 2019), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) travels to Greenville, S.C., for UFC Fight Night 154. Generally, the promotion does its best to balance name value and entertainment, but this event went all-in on ensuring the fights were fun to watch. The event is not filled with highly ranked athletes, but scrappers like “The Korean Zombie,” John Lineker, Matt Wiman (!!!!), and many more will do their best to guarantee no one is bored. Let’s take a closer look at some of the main card fights!
Remember: Later in the week, MMAmania.com’s Jesse Holland will preview and predict the main- and co-main events.
Welterweight: Bryan Barberena vs. Randy Brown
Best Win for Barberena? Warlley Alves For Brown? Mickey Gall
Current Streak: Both men have lost their previous fight
X-Factor: Who wins the wrestling battle?
How these two match up: As is the theme of the event, file this one under sure-fire entertainment.
Barberena has carved out a place for himself as an action fighter. He’s not the absolute most technical in any one area or a special athlete, but “Bam Bam” is tough as nails and able to come forward with dangerous punches for three straight rounds. His last bout, a third-round knockout loss to Vicente Luque, remains the favorite for “Fight of the Year.”
Meanwhile, Brown is younger in his career, still trying to find a path. “Rude Boy” has some great physical tools, but he’s not technically the best himself, meaning the 28 year old has faced some ups-and-downs inside the Octagon.
Much of the time, fighters lose to Barberena because they fatigue, and the punches they slipped earlier suddenly begin to connect. Brown has excellent conditioning, so that is unlikely to be an issue for him, and there’s a real chance his tall man body lock is enough to drag Barberena down to the mat consistently.
If it isn’t, though? Barberena is the more composed and more powerful kickboxer. He’s tricky on the feet, able to find holes in an opponent’s defense and capitalize with fight-changing shots. Given his relative inexperience, it seems unlikely that Brown can avoid Barberena’s constant offense for 15 full minutes.
Prediction: Barberena via knockout
Women’s Flyweight: Andrea Lee vs. Montana de la Rosa
Best Win for Lee? Ashlee Evans-Smith For de la Rosa? Rachael Ostovich
Current Streak: Lee has won her previous six bouts (two in the UFC), while de la Rosa has won four straight (three in the UFC)
X-Factor: Lee’s improved takedown defense
How these two match up: This is very much a striker vs. wrestling match up.
Lee is a sharp kickboxer, her Wikipedia page filled with amateur Muay Thai and boxing accomplishments. Inside the Octagon, she’s showed great movement, smart combinations, and much improved takedown defense, which had previously troubled her in the early portion of her career.
A decorated high school wrestler with a Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt, de la Rosa has dominated all of her recent foes on the mat. Though her forte is obviously mat work, de la Rosa has shown some skill on her feet as well.
As my MMAmania.com fight-picking peer Patrick Stumberg often laments, fights decided entirely by whether or not the takedown lands are difficult. Still, Lee’s understanding of range and angles on the feet should really prove a difficult obstacle. She seems to have turned a corner in being able to effectively kickbox without exposing herself to the takedown, and that should be enough opposite de la Rosa.
Prediction: Lee via decision
Middleweight: Kevin Holland vs. Alessio di Chirico
Best Win for Holland? Gerald Meerschaert For di Chirico? Julian Marquez
Current Streak: Both have won their last two bouts
X-Factor: Holland’s bizarre decision-making
How these two match up: We’re likely in for a back-and-forth scrap with plenty of momentum shifts.
Holland is an oddball with excellent physical gifts. The Tiger Schulmann-trained black belt is a pretty nasty kickboxer, able to maintain a hard pace for three rounds, and is also rather slick on the mat. He also willingly engages opponents in their strongest area, usually to his own detriment.
I’ve been watching di Chirico fight sporadically since 2016, and I remain a bit unsure of his general strengths and weaknesses. The Italian athlete is something of a jack-of-all-trades, with perhaps toughness and conditioning being his best attributes.
There are two rather distinct paths for this bout to go. Will Holland’s seemingly superior athleticism and kickboxing lead the dance? Or will di Chirico’s consistent approach allow to him to slowly take over and capitalize upon the mistakes of his foe?
In all likelihood, I expect a mix of the two, with Holland landing more often on the feet, but also making bad choices that see him put on his back. Ultimately, he was able to make mistakes and still pull off the close decision against Meerschaert, who is likely just as good (if not better) than di Chirico.
It’ll be dicey, but I’ll side with athleticism and volume.
Prediction: Holland via decision
Women’s Strawweight: Ashley Yoder vs. Syuri Kondo
Best Win for Yoder? Amanda Cooper For Kondo? Chan-Mi Jeon
Current Streak: A win for Yoder, two losses for Kondo
X-Factor: Yoder’s jiu-jitsu edge
How these two match up: This is a low-level Strawweight match up that should be nowhere near the main card.
All the same, Yoder would be a decent prospect were she not 31 years old already. The long and lanky “Spider Monkey” understands how she wants to fight, looking to force a rangy kickboxing battle while occasionally going for clinch takedowns. Japan’s Kondo is a former professional kickboxer, but frankly her UFC career has shown little of her talents.
There is very little in the way of consistency between either woman, which is often the case between inexperienced fighters. Yoder is probably the higher finishing threat — particularly if she lands in back mount somehow — whereas Kondo throws a crazy amount of strikes and will likely win if this bout sees the judges’ scorecards ... unless she gives up easy takedowns by throwing too much.
I’ll be frank, it’s my opinion that Yoder pretty clearly lost her bout with Amanda Cooper, which would’ve been her fourth consecutive defeat and end of her UFC career. Kondo hasn’t been lighting the world on fire either, but her recent losses came to a higher level of competition, and she has more overall experience.
It’s a coin flip really, so take it as you will.
Prediction: Kondo via decision
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver live UFC Fight Night 154 results on fight night, which is as good a place as any to talk about all the action inside the Octagon, as well as what you’ve got riding on the sportsbook.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Fight Night 154: “Moicano vs. Korean Zombie” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.