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X-Factor! Some UFC Fight Night 167 main card predictions

This Saturday (Feb. 15, 2020), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) travels to Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, N.M., for UFC Fight Night 167. I don’t know what exactly the poor people of New Mexico did to offend UFC and deserve this truly poor event, but it must have been heinous. In events like these, the best we can hope for is entertainment and perhaps a positive bet slip, so let’s break down some main card fights!

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

Heavyweight: Ben Sosoli vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima

Best Win for Allen? Rachael Ostovich For Botello? Kalindra Faria
Current Streak: Both women came up short last time out
X-Factor: Can Botello stop the shot?
How these two match up: We likely have a grappling match on our hands, hopefully of the fun variety.

Prior to her recent loss to Andrea Lee, de la Rosa had put together a solid three-fight win streak that looked to make her a contender at 125 pounds. A wrestler with an airtight top game, the 24-year-old’s kickboxing still has a bit of room to grow, but she remains a promising prospect.

Botello is a bit more well-rounded, a black belt in both Judo and kickboxing. However, she’s struggled to find the same level of success as her opponent, alternating wins and losses in four trips to the Octagon. However, it could also be argued that she’s faced a higher level of competition in that time.

The paths to victory for both women are fairly clear. De La Rosa wants to ground her opponent, advance position, and lock up a submission of some kind, whereas Borella wants to deny the takedown replicate Andrea Lee’s success on the feet opposite. However, Borella is less of a specialist than Lee and seems more inclined to wrestle with de la Rosa at some point.

Add in the advantage of youth, and De La Rosa seems primed to take the win.

Prediction: De La Rosa via decision

Lightweight: Brok Weaver vs. Rodrigo Vargas

Best Win for Weaver? Devin Smyth For Vargas? Mike de la Torre
Current Streak: Weaver makes his UFC debut on the strength of seven straight wins, while Vargas came up short in his own debut last time out
X-Factor: Vargas’ is likely in a must-win situation
How these two match up: It’s a solid Lightweight clash between two men looking for their first UFC victory.

Weaver is a “Contender Series” product with a good mix of skills that tends to win fights from top position. Despite a few submission wins of his own on his record, Vargas finds a bit more of his success on the feet, and his latest victory came via 18-second head kick knockout.

UFC likes Weaver, an athlete of Native American heritage with a good deal of talent and great story behind him. As such, it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that his debut opponent seems picked for Weaver to succeed.

In his debut, Vargas was thoroughly controlled from top position in just the way that Weaver will attempt to win. History seems likely to repeat itself, as Vargas really needs to do something dramatic to pull off the upset.

Prediction: Weaver via decision

Flyweight: Rogerio Bontorin vs. Ray Borg

Best Win for Bontorin? Magomed Bibulatov For Borg? Jussier Formiga
Current Streak: Bontorin is 2-0 in UFC and has won his last four, while Borg returned to the win column last time out
X-Factor: Can Borg make weight?
How these two match up: We’ll see if this is actually a Flyweight contest, but it has potential to be the best grappling match on the card.

Bontorin was likely the best Flyweight pickup of 2019. The Brazilian grappler is strong as an ox, known for picking up opponents and slamming them repeatedly until a submission opens up. In addition, Bontorin scored his latest UFC victory by opening up one of the nastiest cuts you’ll ever see with a brutal knee.

At 26 years of age, Borg has seen more ups-and-downs than most in his professional. Unfortunately for the Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace, however, a fair few of them have been self-inflicted, as he’s repeatedly struggled to make weight. A 1-1 run at Bantamweight has sent Borg back down, but weigh-ins will determine if anything has changed.

These two fighters are legit black belts, both with excellent scrambles and plenty of submission wins. Borg is more proven against elite opposition, but Bontorin has picked up some strong wins of his own and has more experience.

In truth, it’s something of a toss up. However, I just don’t trust Borg at 125 pounds, and he won’t have his usual physicality advantage either.

Prediction: Bontorin via decision

Lightweight: Lando Vannata vs. Yancy Medeiros

Best Win for Vannata? John Makdessi For Medeiros? Alex Oliveira
Current Streak: Vannata came up short in his last bout, while Medeiros has lost two straight
X-Factor: Medeiros is a fair bit longer than his opponent
How these two match up: If you like face-punching and hate defense, boy, do I have the fight for you.

Vannata is damn entertaining but cannot string two wins together. His record inside the Octagon is an absurd 2-4-2, which does undersell his talent a bit. Vannata is incredibly creative on offense and actually does move his head well ... until he fatigues, at which point, he’s incredibly easy to hit.

Medeiros has the same issue of being massively easy to punch in the face, but he tends to overcome this obstacle by being inhumanly tough. The Hawaiian has a long and powerful one-two combination and can fight at a high-pace for three rounds, a combination of skills that often lands him in a brawl.

Pace and conditioning are the clear keys to victory for Medeiros. The first round is likely to see both men land huge shots, and it’s also Vannata’s opportunity to secure the victory via knockout. If that perfect strike does not land, however, Medeiros is going to be the far more effective man in the second and third, and “The Kid” is quite good at turning up the head on a tired opponent.

Prediction: Medeiros via knockout

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 167 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 also stream on ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Fight Night 167: “Anderson vs. Blachowicz 2” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

‘X-Factor’ Picks for 2020: 0-0

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