Chartway Arena in Norfolk, Va., hosts some tantalizing Flyweight violence this Saturday (Feb. 29, 2020) when Brazil’s “God of War,” Deiveson Figueiredo, throws down with division stalwart Joseph Benavidez for the vacant Flyweight title. UFC Fight Night 169 features a Light Heavyweight clash between finishers Magomed Ankalaev and Ion Cutelaba, as well as Megan Anderson against undefeated Norma Dumont.
We’ve got two more “Prelims” left to preview and predict (check out the first batch here), one of which features a pair of top Middleweight prospects. In we go ...
185 lbs.: Brendan Allen vs. Tom Breese
Brendan Allen (13-3) won and defended the LFA Middleweight title before tapping Aaron Jeffery on “Contender Series,” snagging a UFC contract in the process. Three months later, “All In” successfully debuted with a second-round finish of Kevin Holland in Boston.
His eight submission wins include six by rear-naked choke.
Tom Breese (11-1) got off to a red-hot start in the Octagon, smashing Luiz Dutra and Cathal Pendred before winning his first-ever decision over Keita Nakamura. A questionable split decision loss to Sean Strickland sent “The Octopus” up to Middleweight, where he knocked out Dan Kelly for his second post-fight bonus.
This will be his first fight in nearly two years after health issues scrapped fights with Cezar Ferreira and Ian Heinisch.
Man, I’m just not sure whether the tall submission specialist with a surprisingly dangerous striking game has what it takes to beat the tall submission specialist with a surprisingly dangerous striking game.
All joking aside, this is a pick-‘em mirror match. I’ve got Breese by a hair — he’s got the grappling credentials to dictate the nature of the fight and is the heavier puncher. The rust is definitely a concern, as is Allen’s reach advantage, but “The Octopus” just seems like the stronger fighter overall, and he’s at least kept busy with grappling. In the end, Breese lands the more telling blows and wins enough wrestling exchanges to get the win.
Prediction: Breese via unanimous decision
265 lbs.: Marcin Tybura vs. Sergey Spivac
Marcin Tybura (17-6) made a name for himself in UFC with a head kick knockout of Viktor Pesta, which he followed up with two more wins to earn a main event slot. He is just 1-4 since, suffering knockout losses in three of his last four fights.
“Tybur” has submitted seven foes and knocked out another six.
Finishes of journeymen Travis Fulton and Tony Lopez brought Sergey Spivac (10-1) to the Octagon, only for Walt Harris to spoil his debut via 50-second knockout. “Polar Bear” wound up a decent-sized underdog against Tai Tuivasa, but defied the odds to choke “Bam Bam” out in the second round.
Eight of his previous nine finishes came in the first round.
The however-much-their-win-bonuses-are-dollar question is how much Tybura has left in the tank. He can probably win a slow-paced kickboxing battle if he’s firing on all cylinders, but when was that last the case? His 2017 beatdown of Luis Henrique, probably; beating what’s left of Andrei Arlovski and Stefan Struve are not praiseworthy accomplishments at this point.
It’s become clear that beating Tuivasa isn’t the feat we once thought it was, either, but it’s a lot more heartening than three knockout losses. Spivac should be able to just straight-up maul Tybura early, and if that doesn’t work, I’m not convinced “Tybur” has the gas tank to capitalize. Spivac makes it 2-1 in the Octagon, blitzing the older man for a swift finish.
Prediction: Spivac via first-round submission
155 lbs.: Luis Pena vs. Steve Garcia Jr.
Injury knocked Luis Pena (7-2) from The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 27 following an opening-round victory, but didn’t stop him from winning three of his first four in the Octagon. His last Octagon effort pitted him against fellow prospect Matt Frevola, who narrowly edged Pena by split decision in a fight that had the media similarly split.
He has finished six opponents overall, four of them by submission.
Steve Garcia Jr. (11-3) scored a dominant first-round knockout of Desmond Torres on “Contender Series,” but missing the Bantamweight limit by almost four pounds cost him a UFC contract. He moved up to 145 pounds for an LFA main event opposite Joe Mariscal, scoring another finish despite missing weight once again.
He replaces the injured Alex Munoz on five days’ notice.
Garcia is going to have the very unfamiliar experience of being the smaller man on fight night. Indeed, as a hulking six-footer, he’s generally able to bash away with his straight left and front kicks, a luxury he won’t be afforded in the face of a three-inch height disadvantage and five-inch reach disadvantage. He’s also not immune to getting pressed against the fence even by smaller men, a bad sign considering Pena’s grappling skills, and looks to be on the wrong end of the wrestling battle.
“Mean Machine” does have enough power in that left hand to fold Pena with a clean shot, especially if he targets the midsection, but the likelier outcome sees Pena sit pretty at range before dragging Garcia to the mat and polishing him off with ground-and-pound.
Prediction: Pena via second-round technical knockout
Not gonna lie, UFC Fight Night 169 is a pretty dire card as far as names go, but the main event is pure chaos. See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 169 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 also stream on ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Fight Night 169: “Benavidez vs. Figueiredo” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.