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UFC Fight Night 120 | Poirier-Pettis predictions

Dec 9, 2016; Toronto, ON, Canada; Anthony Pettis during weigh ins for UFC 206 at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Headlined by two veteran lightweights who still carry loads of potential, UFC Fight Night 120 could further crowd the promotion’s 155-pound title scene.

Can Joe Lauzon top a fellow MMA vet, Clay Guida? Will Raphael Assuncao hand Matthew Lopez his second career loss? Can Nate Marquardt put an end to his two-fight losing streak? Will Andrei Arlovski finally turn things around? Does Diego Sanchez have anything to offer at 170 pounds? What version of Anthony Pettis will show up Saturday night?

We try to answer these questions in our latest set of predictions for UFC Fight Night 120.

Prelims

  • Darren Stewart def. Karl Roberson via TKO
  • Marcel Fortuna def. Jake Collier via decision
  • Sean Strickland def. Court McGee via decision
  • Angela Hill def. Nina Ansaroff via submission
  • Sage Northcutt def. Michel Quinones via TKO
  • Tatiana Suarez def. Viviane Pereira via submission
  • Marlon Moraes def. John Dodson via decision

Main card

Joe Lauzon vs. Clay Guida

The first of two bouts on this main card features staples of the previous generation. Joe Lauzon vs. Clay Guida should be a fun scrap. While Guida picked up a majority of his finishes via submission, he has no business going to the ground against somebody as talented as Lauzon. Considering Guida’s game plans typically rely on forward pressure and takedowns to grind out a victory, we don’t see how he can avoid it.

Prediction: Lauzon def. Guida via submission

Raphael Assuncao vs. Matthew Lopez

Raphael Assuncao has struggled to show his true ceiling since returning from an ankle injury last year, dropping his first fight back against T.J. Dillashaw before earning a good win over Aljamain Sterling and a controversial nod over Marlon Moraes. Having become a decision machine of late, it’s hard to take too much stock in Assuncao’s finishing abilities.

That won’t matter too much against Matthew Lopez, considering he won’t need to put away the 30-year-old bantamweight to win this fight. Lopez needs to keep the fight standing to have any hope of winning, but even that may not be enough to guarantee him a nod against one of the better fighters at 135 pounds.

Prediction: Assuncao def. Lopez via decision

Nate Marquardt vs. Cezar Ferreira

We’re not sure what to make of this fight, considering neither man has been overly impressive in recent outings. Marquardt has dropped two straight to very beatable middleweights, Sam Alvey and Vitor Belfort, while Ferreira last dropped a decision to a one-dimensional Elias Theodorou.

If there’s anything we’ve learned of Ferreira in recent bouts, it’s that despite his incredible reach, he’s not much of a striker. That may come to Marquardt’s advantage; despite being 38 years old, he still has some pop.

Prediction: Marquardt def. Ferreira via TKO

Junior Albini vs. Andrei Arlovski

We’ve gotten to the point in Andrei Arlovski’s career where technical analysis mostly goes out the window. His likelihood of victory now depends on one simple factor: Will he be the first to connect, or the first to be connected on? He managed to somehow stay upright in his most recent decision loss to Marcin Tybura, but was stopped in the four fights that came before. He has now lost five in a row since being relegated to stepping-stone territory.

Arlovski faces a Brazilian heavyweight who has finished 12 of his 14 opponents in victory (six KO, six submission). He has also yet to be knocked out.

You do the math.

Prediction: Albini def. Arlovski via KO

Matt Brown vs. Diego Sanchez

Having lost five of his last six fights, Matt Brown is likely very eager to turn things around. He’ll have a great opportunity to do so, taking on an opponent who has also seen better days in Diego Sanchez. Yes, that is the same Diego Sanchez who was competing at 155 pounds in April, and 145 pounds two years ago. He’ll be ballooning back up to 170 pounds for the first time since February of 2012, hoping to avoid a third TKO defeat in his last four fights.

Sanchez’s brawling tendencies seem to have finally caught up to him. He suffered the first true TKO defeats of his pro career just minutes into his fights at UFC 200 and UFC Fight Night 108. We can’t imagine he’ll succeed in altering his approach against Brown.

Prediction: Brown def. Sanchez via TKO

Dustin Poirier vs. Anthony Pettis

For the second straight contest, Dustin Poirier faces a former UFC lightweight champion. For the second straight contest, he stands a good chance of coming out on top. An accidental illegal knee got in the way of a victory last time — we can only hope that’s not the case this time around.

Poirier has gone 5-1 (1 no-contest) in his seven fights at 155 pounds, with his lone loss coming in an early blitz against Michael Johnson. He’s proven to be more than capable on the feet despite the addition of heavier opponents, also still able to impose his wrestling pedigree when needed. Both skills will come into play against Anthony Pettis, when Poirier will need to use his forward aggression to stifle the talented striker within range.

Pettis’s odds of winning this fight generally depend on which version of “Showtime” shows up. Should he be the flashy, exceptional striker we’ve seen in the past, it’s his fight to win. But considering it’s been several years since that iteration of Pettis has stepped into the cage, he’ll likely be stymied by Poirier’s effective style of fighting.

Prediction: Poirier def. Pettis via decision



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