Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) female Flyweight queen, Valentina Shevchenko, attempts to avenge the first loss of her professional mixed martial arts (MMA) career in Montevideo, Uruguay, this Saturday (Aug. 10, 2019) when she faces veteran Liz Carmouche in UFC Fight Night 156’s main event. Earlier in the evening, Volkan Oezdemir and Ilir Latifi look to finally find consistency at each others’ expense and Vicente Luque will attempt to continue his brutal rise through the Welterweight ranks against the brick-chinned (and brick-fisted) Mike Perry.
We’ve got three more UFC Fight Night 156 “Prelims” undercard bouts to preview and predict (check out the first batch here), full-to-bursting with strong prospects. Shall we?
265 lbs.: Ciryl Gane vs. Raphael Pessoa
Ciryl Gane (3-0) — France’s most notable Heavyweight export since Francis Ngannou — brought a strong Muay Thai pedigree into his MMA debut in 2018. “Bon Gamin” claimed the TKO Heavyweight title with a technical knockout of Adam Dyczka less than two months later, then defended his title in May with another first-round finish.
He stands two inches taller than Raphael Pessoa (9-0) at 6’5.”
Pessoa opened his professional career with eight fights in less than 12 months, five of which ended in the first round. He made his stateside debut in Sept. 2018 under the LFA banner, where he knocked out journeyman Brian Heden in 99 seconds.
Three of his six (technical) knockout victories have come in less than one minute.
Gane is worth getting excited about — he reminds me somewhat of a supersized Israel Adesanya, an in-and-out sniper with solid power and a lightness of foot you just don’t see in this division. He’s a match for anyone in the Octagon on the feet. As always, though, his ability to stay there will determine his future.
Though I couldn’t find much footage of Pessoa, a written account of a recent fight suggests he can grapple if needed. Gane just out-classes him so badly on the feet that I can’t pick against him. “Bon Gamin” clips him partway through the first and puts him away with knees in the clinch.
Prediction: Gane via first-round technical knockout
115 lbs.: Tecia Torres vs. Marina Rodriguez
Tecia Torres (10-4) went 1-2 on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 20 despite being one of the top seeds, but established herself as a top contender by starting her Octagon career 6-1. “The Tiny Tornado” has since lost three straight, twice to former/future champions and most recently to top contender Weili Zhang in March.
She will give up 6” of height and 6.5” of reach to her Brazilian foe.
Nine consecutive victories earned Marina Rodriguez (11-0-1) a spot on “Contender Series: Brazil,” where she beat down Maria Oliveira to claim a contract. She survived a 10-8 first round to fight Randa Markos to a draw in her Octagon debut, then overpowered late replacement Jessica Aguilar for her inaugural UFC victory in March.
She has knocked out five professional opponents and submitted another two.
Torres is probably on the least-damning, three-fight losing streak in recent memory. That’s because all three of the women who beat her are division elites. Even if her ceiling’s proven lower than the very peak, she’s still a damn good fighter.
So is Rodriguez, to be fair, but she hasn’t proven herself a class above the sort that Torres consistently beats.
Though Rodriguez’s length will give “The Tiny Tornado” issues, Torres is no stranger to being the smaller fighter and has the wrestling to recreate Markos’ early success. Torres’ blended wrestling offsets her striking difficulties enough to earn her the decision.
Prediction: Torres via unanimous decision
125 lbs.: Raulian Paiva vs. Rogerio Bontorin
Raulian Paiva (18-2) brought an 11-fight win streak, capped off by a 58-second finish of UFC veteran Iliarde Santos, into “Contender Series: Brazil.” After narrowly edging Allan Nascimento, Paiva took on Kai Kara-France in Australia, losing a razor-close decision for his first defeat since 2015.
He stands two inches taller than Rogerio Bontorin (15-1) at 5’8.”
Bontorin — whose only professional defeat came against former UFC competitor Michinori Tanaka — came back from near-disaster to submit Gustavo Gabriel and earn a contract on “Contender Series: Brazil.” He was thrown to the wolves in his UFC debut against Magomed Bibulatov, but defied the odds to claim a split decision victory.
Eight of his 11 submission wins have come by rear-naked choke.
This strikes me as a case where one fighter is better on the whole, but faces a serious stylistic issue. Bontorin’s greatest weapon is his killer Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but Paiva has incredible defensive wrestling and scrambling ability, making it likely that we’ll see a striking battle. Though Bontorin can hold his own, Paiva’s relentlessness and superior volume ostensibly gives him the edge.
Bontorin has more weapons and — though he did get cracked on “Contender Series” — is probably the more likely of the two to get a finish. Just because Paiva’s game is more straightforward, however, doesn’t mean it won’t work. Paiva sprawls, pressures and lands enough power punches to eke out the win.
Prediction: Paiva via split decision
UFC Fight Night 156 is a throwaway card on paper, but the violence potential and prospect density are high. See you Saturday, Maniacs!
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 156 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN+“Prelims” that are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. ET, then the main card portion that will stream on ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET.
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