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X-Factor! Some UFC Fight Night 157 main card predictions

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This Saturday (Aug. 31, 2019), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) travels to Shenzhen Universade Sports Centre Arena in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China, for UFC Fight Night 157. Despite an excellent title fight in the main event between Jessica Andrade and Weili Zhang, much of the card is very obviously not aimed at a Western audience. Indeed, the event will take place very early in the morning (3 a.m. ET) and largely features local athletes, but there are still some interesting main card bouts worth analyzing.

Remember: Later in the week, Jesse Holland will be back to preview and predict the biggest fights of the night.

Welterweight: Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos vs. Li Jingliang

Best Win for Zaleski? Sean Strickland For Jingliang? Frank Camacho
Current Streak: Zaleski has won seven straight, and Jingliang has put together a couple wins himself
X-Factor: Jingliang’s willingness to cheat
How these two match up: This match up makes almost zero sense to me.

Zaleski has been killing opponents left and right. The Brazilian has nasty kickboxing, slick Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and great finishing instincts. His win streak has proven him the real deal, earning him a match up with a Top 10-ranked foe that just won’t seem to materialize. Instead, he’ll face Jingliang, a very solid but very middle-of-the-pack Welterweight. Jingliang is an aggressive slugger himself, though he often looks to wrestle as well.

So, first and foremost, it’s a match up unworthy of Zaleski’s recent success. More oddly, Jingliang is a fan favorite in China, one of the country’s most established UFC fighters, yet he enters this bout likely to get walloped in front of his home crowd.

There is a chance Jingliang can apply a takedown-heavy strategy and wear Zaleski out, but he’s never been a control specialist. More likely is that Jingliang hits a couple double legs, but Zaleski scrambles back up and proceeds to drop power shots on the Chinese athlete repeatedly.

Jingliang is notoriously tough, but that won’t win him a decision.

Prediction: Zaleski via decision

Flyweight: Kai Kara-France vs. Mark De La Rosa

Best Win for Kara-France? Raulian Paiva For De La Rosa? Joby Sanchez
Current Streak: Kara-France recently won his UFC debut, whereas De La Rosa was out-wrestled last time out for a loss.
X-Factor: De La Rosa seems to have a size advantage
How these two match up: Though both men are well-rounded, this is likely to play out as a striker vs. grappler match up.

Kara-France definitely prefers to kickbox. The New Zealand-native has eight victories via strikes on his record, and he moves quite well. Last time out, Kara-France successfully navigated the aggression and combinations of Paiva to skillfully pick up a close decision win.

De La Rosa, meanwhile, has found mixed success in the Octagon. He tends to win fights via submission, but De La Rosa has struggled when unable to gain top position or put on his own back.

Both of these men understand fully what must be done to win: Kara-France must avoid the takedown, whereas De La Rosa needs top position at some point. It’s always difficult to pick a fight where the match up of a single skill will really dictate the outcome, but I have to side with Kara-France. His style seems better built for success at a higher level, whereas De La Rosa has previously struggled to implement his wrestling against experienced opposition.

Prediction: Kara-France via decision

Featherweight: Zhenhong Lu vs. Movsar Evloev

Best Win for Lu? Sitik Muduev For Evloev? Seung Woo Choi
Current Streak: Lu will debut in the Octagon off a single victory, whereas Evloev has won 11 straight including his recent UFC debut
X-Factor: The two have fought before!
How these two match up: This is a late-notice match up put together out of necessity — Evloev actually already defeated Lu in 2015.

Lu has won 11 of his last 12 bouts, finishing most of his opponents with a healthy mix of submissions and strike stoppages. His level of competition has not been elite, but Lu has been fighting pretty solid opponents on his current run for the most part. At 25 years of age with a perfect (11-0) record, Evloev is definitely a prospect to watch. The former M-1 Global Featherweight kingpin successfully debuted earlier in 2019, showing off solid combinations and a pretty overwhelming wrestling game in the process.

Overthinking is a killer in the fight-picking business. Evloev is a very talented prospect with a high-ceiling facing an unheralded opponent whom he’s already dispatched. In fact, Evloev beat him in his second pro fight, when the Russian was much newer to the game!

Don’t overthink this one folks.

Prediction: Evloev via decision

Flyweight: Yanan Wu vs. Mizuki Inoue

Best Win for Wu? Lauren Mueller For Inoue? Viviane Pereira
Current Streak: Wu won her most recent UFC fight, whereas this is Inoue’s debut on the heels of a single win in Invicta FC
X-Factor: It’s still hard to get a full read on Wu given her lack of high-level competition
How these two match up: This should prove to be a pretty fun fight for however long it lasts.

I’ll be honest, I cannot say with any confidence that Wu is particularly good. She has faced three opponents with positive records: two defeated her with ease, and the other dropped her before falling into a sloppy armbar. These results do not inspire confidence. Inoue, meanwhile, was at one point one of Invicta FC’s top contenders and facing current top-talent like Alexa Grasso. The Japanese athlete has a lot of experience in shoot-boxing and grappling, and she’s proven herself a rather well-rounded and tough fighter inside the cage.

This reads to me like a mismatch. Wu is supposedly a striker, but she tagged up last time out by a fairly average fighter. Unlike in that bout, Wu will not have her jiu-jitsu to fall back on, because Inoue is definitely the superior grappler as well.

Fun and over quickly is not a bad combination ... unless you’re Yanan Wu.

Prediction: Inoue via submission

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 157 fight card this weekend right HERE, starting with the ESPN+“Prelims” that are scheduled to begin at 3 a.m. ET, then the main card portion that will stream on ESPN+ at 6 a.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Fight Night 157: “Andrade Vs. Zhang” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

‘X-Factor’ Picks for 2019: 38-14