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X-Factor! Some UFC Fight Night 156 main card predictions

UFC 232: Latifi v Anderson Photo by Christian Petersen/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

This Saturday (Aug. 10, 2019), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) travels to Antel Arena in Montevideo, Uruguay, for UFC Fight Night 156. In the main event, Flyweight queen Valentina Shevchenko will look to avenge an early career loss opposite Liz Carmouche. In addition, the co-main event promises a violent war between Vicente Luque and Mike Perry. Before then, let’s take a closer look at some of the main card fights!

Remember: Later in the week, I will be back to preview and predict the main- and co-main events.

Featherweight: Luiz Garagorri vs. Humberto Bandenay

Best Win for Garagorri? Jose Trindade For Bandenay? Martin Bravo
Current Streak: Garagorri makes his UFC debut on the heels of 12 consecutive wins, whereas Bandenay has lost his previous two
X-Factor: Garagorri’s lower level of competition
How these two match up: If you’re reading this and are racking your brain trying to remember who Luiz Garagorri is and what he’s done to make it so high up on the main card, please relax. Garagorri is the event’s newly-signed Uruguayan athlete, and though he’s built up a decent record fighting in Brazil and Uruguay, there’s not a ton of tape available on the submission specialist.

Bandenay, meanwhile, made his name by unexpectedly knocking out The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): “Latin America” winner Bravo. Since then, however, he’s faltered, as his strong kicking game was rendered ineffective against recent foes and their wrestling.

There’s no real tape of Garragori facing UFC-level competition, so it’s hard to say exactly how he’ll fare. However, he’s undefeated and fairly experienced. Plus, the most likely case here is that UFC is throwing him something of a softball in the hopes of a successful debut in his home country.

Prediction: Garragori via submission

Light Heavyweight: Ilir Latifi vs. Volkan Oezdemir

Best Win for Latifi? Ovince Saint Preux For Oezdemir? Jimi Manuwa
Current Streak: Latifi lost his previous bout, Oezdemir has been defeated three times in a row
X-Factor: Oezdemir’s ability to land knockout blows from close distances
How these two match up: This is the third time this match up has been made, so hopefully it works out this time.

Latifi is a powerhouse. An experienced wrestler with crushing chokes and big punches, Latifi is deceptively technical. When he’s not fatigued, he’s a very difficult man to fight. The same could be said for Oezdemir, who hits absurdly hard and has good kickboxing technique. His cardio has also been his largest liability, as Oezdemir’s defensive wrestling and grappling tend to fall off a cliff once tired.

Between the two, Latifi is better at setting a pace and maintaining it for three full rounds. If this bout goes to a decision, there’s a good chance he wins it. However, Oezdemir is much larger and longer than Latifi, and he can kick hard enough to force Latifi to close distance. When Latifi drives forward, it brings him directly to the clinch, which is Oezdemir’s most dangerous realm.

Sounds like a bad recipe for “Latdog.”

Prediction: Oezdemir via knockout

Middleweight: Oskar Piechota vs. Rodolfo Vieira

Best Win for Piechota? Tim Williams For Vieira? Vitaliy Nemchinov
Current Streak: Piechota lost for the first time in his last bout, whereas Vieira makes his UFC debut following five victories
X-Factor: Which jiu-jitsu fighter is the better wrestler?
How these two match up: Two high-level Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts are about to throw down.

Piechota won his first two UFC bouts on the strength of his well-rounded game, but the Polish athlete is best known for his grappling prowess. He did well early in his last bout too, but the body kicks of Gerald Meerschaert sapped his energy and left him vulnerable to his foe’s own submission game.

Upon his signing, Vieira instantly jumped up high on the list of most credentialed grapplers in the UFC. An ADCC and Worlds champion, Vieira has required little else but his grappling skill to dominate all of his past competition.

There is a path to victory for Piechota, who’s the more experienced man. If his own jiu-jitsu skill and defensive wrestling can prolong this fight, there’s a fair chance that he can make it a kickboxing match. Plus, Piechota has a lot more MMA experience in general. Unfortunately, Vieira is better than Piechota at their shared wheelhouse of jiu-jitsu, which is generally a tough match up to overcome. Just as important, Vieira seems to be the more physically gifted athlete, which tends to imply he’ll be the one scoring the early takedown.

Once that happens, Vieira is in great position to dominate.

Prediction: Vieira via submission

Featherweight: Enrique Barzola vs. Bobby Moffett

Best Win for Barzola? Gabriel Benitez For Moffett? Chas Skelly
Current Streak: Both athletes have lost their most recent appearance
X-Factor: Moffett’s submission game
How these two match up: Hope everyone likes scrambles!

A product of TUF: “Latin America,” Barzola is a wrestler with a pretty endless gas tank. On the feet, he throws a lot of strikes, mixing in the occasional heavy punch with some funky kicks. He’s not technically perfect anywhere, but Barzola is a tough out for most Featherweights.

Moffett is more of a specialist. A good wrestler with a nasty front choke game, Moffett has some real physicality and has finished his last three victories via d’arce choke.

This is an interesting one, as it’s difficult to tell just how good Moffett is right now. His debut was quite impressive, but against what seemed like a step back in competition opposite Bryce Mitchell, Moffett really struggled to implement his game.

At this point, Barzola is just much more proven against UFC competition. In addition, his pace is a real weapon, something he can use to overcome any technical disadvantages ... so long as he watches his neck.

Prediction: Barzola via decision

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 156 fight card this weekend right HERE, 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.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Fight Night 156: “Shevchenko vs. Carmouche 2” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

‘X-Factor’ Picks for 2019: 34-14

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