By Eric Jacinto, Matt Koontz & Mike Whitestone
This card has been full of drama already with it moving on 6 days’ notice from Vegas to California because Jon Jones once against tested positive for a banned substance. The morons are claiming it was a substance from 16 months ago, but tests show that in early August this year he was negative then the substance showed up again in 3 tests. Then it was gone again for multiple tests before showing back up again. This fight shouldn’t be happening because Jones is no way clean entering this fight. It just logically has so many red flags and Dana White, Jeff Nowistky, and Jon Jones refused to actually answer questions that the media had after they had time to research it all. The rest of this card though is pretty awesome so be excited for that.
[C] Champion (UFC Division Ranking)
UFC Fightpass Prelims @ 6:15 PM/ET:
Catchweight Bout (137 lbs) Brian Kelleher (19-9) vs. Montel Jackson (6-1):
We kick off the night in the bantamweight division. Look I know its brutal and not a good strategy as I have seen that over 60% of the fighters that come in overweight win their fights, but I can’t take an unprofessional fighter, so I will just simply say I am taking Kelleher by round 2 TKO after Jackson tires from a bad weight cut. - Matt K
I have Brian Kelleher winning this via 1st round TKO. - Eric J
Welterweight Bout: Curtis Millender (16-3) vs. Siyar Bahadurzada (23-6-1):
This fight in the welterweight division should be exciting. Both of these guys could stop this fight but the better all-around fighter in MMA skills is Siyar in this one. Millender will have the reach advantage and looks to be the more defined fighter entering this one. I do believe if the fight goes longer than a round, we will see Siyar land a take down which could be the end of the fight as his ground game skills are better than his opponents. This fight will surely be one to entertain the fans, but I believe we will see Curtis Millender pull it off and grab himself a late 1st round TKO. - Matt
I'll go with Siyar Bahadurzada in this one via Unanimous Decision. - Eric
Middleweight Bout: #13 (14) Uriah Hall (14-9) vs. Bevon Lewis (6-0):
This middleweight fight will not go the distance. We will see Uriah Hall take on a UFC new comer. So, after watching Bevon’s contender series fights I have to admit this dude is a lot more dangerous than I thought he was for Uriah Hall. He throws some freaking nice elbows in the clinch and knows how to land some devastating knees in the clinch or leaving the clinch. I really like what I have seen of him on his feet as he is an aggressive fighter. Uriah is a beast of a fighter sometimes he seems to come into fights with a different attitude. Uriah wins the fights where he is the aggressor on his feet and loses the fights where he is fighting from his heels, so this fight is as simple as in which way will he approach this fight. I am torn on this fight as I have gone back and forth multiple times changing my pick and here Friday night its time to lock in my answer. I could see it go either way, but I am going to take the newcomer Bevon Lewis by way of 2nd round KO. - Matt
I'll take Uriah Hill in this one to beat the new comer via Unanimous Decision. - Eric
Bantamweight Bout: Nathaniel Wood (14-3) Vs. Andre Ewell (13-4):
The Bantamweight division takes the spotlight in the UFC Fightpass prelims main event. I really like this fight and believe we could see a KO ending as this fight should be close. I think Ewell’s reach advantage will give him a strong advantage in this one as it is a 7-inch advantage for Ewell. Ewell though will need to make sure he lands often and prevents Wood from closing the distance as Wood is the more powerful striker. I am intrigued to see if Wood can close the distance because if he can he will be okay and could win this fight with his striking skills or on the mat as I do believe he is the better ground game. I have Nathaniel Wood closing the distance early in round 2 and landing a devastating knockdown and will grab the submission once Ewell is on the mat. - Matt
I'll agree with Matt on this one and take Nathaniel Wood to win via 3rd round ground and pound TKO.
FS1 Prelims (8 PM/ET):
Lightweight Bout: BJ Penn (16-12-2) vs. Ryan Hall (6-1):
This lightweight fight will kick off the televised prelims and sadly I do not see it going well for a certain beloved fighter. Ryan Hall at this point in their respective careers is the better fighter. BJ as much as we love him needs to admit it is time to close up shop and go home, enjoy the retired life of a UFC legend and hall of famer. I have Ryan Hall winning this fight easily picking up a 2nd round TKO after a 10-8 round 1.
I after agree with Matt on this as much as I love BJ Penn (favorite UFC fighter of all time no question) he is the reason why I'm a UFC/MMA fan today he needs to stay retired, this really needs to be his last ever fight as an MMA fighter. Ryan Hall via 1st round TKO. - Eric
Kicking off the night we see a relative new comer going up against a UFC Hall of Famer. Ryan Hall has won 4 of his 6 fights by finish with 2 by each way of finish. He is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and favors leg locks which is a tricky set of techniques to get used to. He hasn't had many fights in the UFC so the stats are a little limited, but he has managed a 73% striking defense and nobody has attempted to take him down yet. He is fighting against Hall of Famer BJ Penn who used to be a great fighter, but in my opinion needs to retire. In his career he has won 7 fights by knockout and 6 by submission with 6 first round finishes. He is a 5th degree black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and has maintained a pretty solid grappling with 57% takedown success and 75% takedown defense. However, Penn has lost all of his last 5 fights and and has even retired once in between these losses. He was a great fighter and any long time fight fans probably remember one of his classics, but he needs to call it quits. I'm going with Ryan Hall via submission in the second round - Mike Whitestone
Bantamweight Bout: #14 Douglas Silva de Andrade (25-2, 1NC) vs. Petr Yan (10-1):
Man, this fight is going to be something awesome to watch as these two are going to throw down heavy and look to stop a fight. This fight is between two guys who love to stand and throw punches while looking for a finish. This fight will probably start slow as they feel each other out but pick up a pace once they start landing and getting comfortable. This fight is hard to call but I am going to pick Petr Yan to land a 3rd round big shot TKO victory. - Matt
I'll take Petr Yan via Split Decision. - Eric
Moving on we come to the only bantamweight matchup of the night. Petr Yan is a powerhouse. He has 4 wins by knockout and 1 by submission with 3 first round finishes. He has an average if 6.7 significant strikes per minute and only absorbs 3.75 a minute. Yan has a 72% striking defense and a 88% takedown defense. He is a Master of Sport in boxing and MMA which is a term referring to a National Champion level athlete in USSR competitive sport rankings. His opponent is just as much of a steamroller. Douglas Silva de Andrade has 19 knockouts under his belt with 10 finished in the first. He lands and absorbs the same amount of significant strikes at an average of 4 per minute. He has a good defense at 61% of strikes defended and 68% of takedowns. I believe Petr Yan is a much more aggressive fighter with a better defense. These two will probably exchange well in the first round and in the second Petr Yan will get a nasty TKO. - Mike
Women's Featherweight Bout: Cat Zingano (10-3) vs. Megan Anderson (8-3):
This fight is so difficult for me as Cat is a proven talent in the UFC. Megan Anderson has a ton of potential, but disappointed in her first fight in the UFC, which worries me moving forward. Megan if she looks like she did pre-UFC will dominate Cat and become a star in the UFC as I believe if Nunes doesn’t beat Cyborg that Megan is still the best fighter to be able to do so. This fight is one of, if not the most difficult to predict, because of Megan’s last fight. Cat has a lot of talent and up a weight class could be dangerous as she will be better off without the fatigue of a weight cut. I have Megan Anderson winning this fight via round 3 submission after a slow first round and back and forth second round. - Matt
I'm taken Cat Zingano in this one via 2nd round submission. - Eric
Next up is one of two women's fights tonight. Megan Anderson is entering her second fight in the UFC after losing by a close decision to Holly Holm. She has 4 wins by knockout and 2 by submission with 3 in the first. Anderson is an aggressive striker that walks her opponents down and packs a lot of power. Her submissions came from beating her opponents down and then hopping on after they got rocked. Her opponent is one of the top 5 women bantamweights. Cat Zingano has 5 knockouts and 3 submissions. In college she wrestled in a women's league and was a 4-time All-American and National Champion. She does not a great takedown defense in MMA with only 42%, but a good takedown accuracy with 65%. Anderson was winning against Holm until Holm was able to get her to the ground and take over. While that's a very real possibility against Zingano, Zingano doesn't have a good striking defense and I believe Anderson will be able to keep it where she wants it and get a TKO in the third. - Mike
Heavyweight Bout: #13 Andrei Arlovski (27-17, NC) vs. Walt Harris (11-7):
The heavyweight division will take the main event of the televised prelims and is the only main event fight on the card. Alright here we go with a fight between two big heavy hitting, hard throwing heavyweight fighters. Andrei is a former champ and is a monster fighter with some gas and a spark left in the tank. Walt Harris hits like a bag of rocks and has the possibility of stopping the veteran with a series of good strikes. Walt Harris wins this fight via 1st round KO after an entertaining series of punches between the two that ends with the former champ on the short end of the exchange with his lights out.
I'm taken Walt Harris via 1st round KO too. - Eric
Main eventing the prelims is a heavyweight matchup. Walt Harris has gotten all of his wins by knockout and only two haven't been in the first round. Harris didn't start MMA until after he graduated college and in that time he became a State Golden Glove Champ in two different states. In MMA he has a poor takedown rate with only 33% successful, but maintains a good striking defense at 63% and a great takedown defense at 75%. His opponent is a heavyweight veteran. Andrei Arlovski has won 17 fights by knockout and 3 by submission with 13 first round finishes. He is an International Master of Sport in Sambo which is the USSR sport ranking equivalent to an International champion and a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Similar to BJ Penn, he used to be great but now he has only won 2 of his last 9 fights. If you are wondering how he can still be ranked like that it just goes to show how much talent is lacking in the heavyweight division these days. I think Arlovski should be on his way out like Penn and Harris will pickup a knockout in the first or second round. - Mike
UFC 232 Main Card, PPV (10 PM/ET):
Featherweight Bout: #5 Chad Mendes (18-4) vs. #11 (10) Alexander Volkanovski (18-1):
We are kicking off the main card with a throwdown in the featherweight division. I could see either of these fighters finding their way into a title picture in their near future. Volkanovski is the better total finisher of fights as he is a freaking savage. That takes nothing away from “Money” Mendes as his wrestling abilities and pure power are something to fear as he could be in line for another title shot if he wins this one here. This fight will truly come down to how long can Volkanovski keep this fight standing because he has the significant reach advantage. Chad is a powerful dude on the mat and keeps his opponents down exhausting them and pounding them out. I am going to take Chad Mendes via 3rd round TKO from ground and pound. - Matt
I'll also go with Chad Mendes in this one via 1st round TKO. - Eric
Finally at the main card and we are going to see a ton of rankers here tonight. First up is a man on a 15 fight win streak. Alexander Volkanovski has 10 wins by knockout and 3 by submission with 7 finishes in the first. He averages 6.1 significant strikes per minute while only absorbing 2.5 per minute. He may be able to neutralize Mendes' wrestling with his brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and 82% success rate of defending takedowns. Mendes has hit a rough patch recently, once being on a 5 fight win streak then only winning 2 of his 5 fights since. He has 8 wins by knockout and 2 by submission and has a great defense with striking being 68% and takedown at 100%. Volkanovski is a freight train able to do a bunch of damage without taking really any and Mendes hasn't been able to put wins together. I think Mendes will use his wrestling to get through the first, but Volkanovski will eventually land one to get the TKO in the second round.
Light Heavyweight Bout: #4 (5) Ilir Latifi (15-5, 1NC) vs. #9 (10) Corey Anderson (11-4):
Ah one of those fights I feel very confident about on this card. Corey has shown some holes in his game and a lack of pace multiple times in his UFC career which I believe will get exploited here as he seems to be an inconsistent fighter. He won’t be able to wrestle his way out of a dangerous situation in this fight either as he will have to rely on his standup skills which I am not sure can win him this fight regardless of a 5.5-inch reach advantage. Ilir is the fighter I am the most confident in on this entire card. He is coming in with momentum, confidence, and an improved skill set each time we see him fight. I believe Latifi will show he is the far superior fighter in this one and pick up a 2nd round TKO. - Matt
I could see Ilir Latifi if he wins getting the next LHW title shot versus the winner of Gustasson/Jones. With that said I do have Latifi winning via Unanimous Decision. - Eric
Next up is a fight between two guys that are stylistically similar. Both men are good strikers with wrestling intensive backgrounds. However I will say right now that I see Latifi is all around better. Anderson has won 4 of his fights by knockout, however he hasn't gotten a single finish since early 2014. He has a good takedown defense, but only blocks about half the shots attempted against him. Latifi has 5 wins by knockout and 5 wins by submission with all of his finishes in the first round. He has won National Championships in Swedish Greco-Roman tournaments. He takes more significant strikes than he lands, but when he lands they are bombs. He has also never been taken down. I see Latifi taking complete control of the fight, taking Anderson down early and grinding him until he gets a TKO in either the first or second round. - Mike
Welterweight Bout: Carlos Condit (27-5) vs. Michael Chiesa (14-4):
Well here we are in the welterweight division for Michael Chiesa’s welterweight debut. He is coming to a weight class where he belongs and admitted he is staying after a much healthier experience through camp. Condit is on a four-fight losing streak and is at the point where he has to win to stay in the UFC. He is a good fighter, its just like he has lost his confidence of late and needs a win big time. Chiesa with his skill set and not feeling the fatigue of a tough weight cut will be a terror in this division. I feel bad for Condit as I believe Chiesa is where he belongs now and is coming to claim some wins fast in this division and get a title shot in the next year. Chiesa wins by 2nd round submission. - Matt
I like both these fighters and I think this could be fight of the night if we get the old Condit in this one, the one we saw lose a split decision against former Welterweight champion, Robbie Lawler nearly three years ago. As much as I want to take Condit, I'm gonna take Michael Chiesa in this one via Unanimous Decision. - Eric
We are right back to older fighters trying to come back and prove they are still relevant. Michael Chiesa has 10 submissions in his career and 5 of them were in the first. He doesn't have a super successful takedown rate with 39%, but he attempts a lot and usually gets it to the ground where he unloads nasty ground and pound from the mount and then sinks in chokes for the win. His opponent is Carlos Condit who has lost his last 4 fights. In his career he has won 15 by knockout and 13 by submission with 21 in the first round. As a matter of fact all of his first 15 wins were in the first. However recently he has been unable to get a win and I believe Chiesa will make it very hard tonight. Condit has been having a lot of problems and even though Chiesa has also lost his last two, they were because he had weight cutting issues and is now up to 170. I think Chiesa is going to have his way with Condit and get him to the ground, pummel from mount and get a submission in the second. - Mike
Women's Featherweight Championship Bout: Cris Cyborg [C] (20-1, 1NC) vs. Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes (16-4):
The Co-main event of UFC 232. This fight will be freaking incredible and could be the best fight of the night. This fight is taking place in the featherweight division for the featherweight belt between two killer women. They will most likely stand and exchange landing big shots and test each other’s chin. I am not sure who will last the longest between the two, but I have a weird feeling that Amanda Nunes is going to grab the win via a big shot that catches Cyborg and gets Nunes to close the distance and land until the referee steps in. Amanda Nunes wins this fight via 4th round TKO. - Matt
I'm gonna after disagree with Matt on this one and take Cris Cyborg via Split Decision to retain the FW title.
Moving into the co-main event of the night and we get a super fight between two of the baddest women on the planet, the bantamweight and featherweight champion. Amanda Nunes is currently on a seven fight win streak. She has 11 wins by knockout and 3 wins by submission with 11 finishes in the first. She is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and brown belt in judo. Nunes lands an average of 4.5 significant strikes per minute and absorbs an average of 3.2 per minute. Going along with her 59% striking defense she doesn't have a great defense, but makes up for it with intensity and a successful offense. Her opponent hasn't lost a fight since her very first. She has won 17 fights by knockout and 10 of them were in the first round. Cyborg lands an average of 6.8 significant strikes per minute and absorbs 3.2 per minute meaning Cyborg and Nunes take about the same amount of strikes, but Cyborg lands more than 2 significant strikes per minute than Nunes. She also has a 70% striking defense and 91% takedown defense. I like Amanda Nunes and she has knockout power, but I can't help but see Cyborg as the better fighter. I think this is going to be a war and probably fight of the night. I believe that sometime in the third or fourth round Cyborg will get the TKO. - Mike
#2 (1) Jon Jones (23-1) vs. #1 (2) Alexander Gustafsson (18-4):
The most controversial main event in the history of the UFC. This will be the 2nd fight between the two fighters in our main event, which I believe needed to happen already, because I strongly believe the judges got the first one wrong. Jon is on some type of steroid again which really isn’t shocking to me anymore which is a shame because he has so much talent, he doesn’t need to back it up with PED’s. Gustafsson has shown improvement in his few fights since his last fight with Jones. Gus is also coming into this fight with some added passion and a point to prove as he was robbed in his mind during their last fight plus another positive test for Jon. Jon Jones is simply dangerous because he wears you down with leg kicks and then picks his opponents apart as they can’t use their front leg for power anymore. Gustafsson simply is a well-rounded striker who can land some kicks and throws shots from either hand, but his power hand is always waiting to land out of nowhere. I know it is a shocking outcome, but I have Gustafsson winning this fight in the 2nd round via a straight up KO! - Matt
I'm taken Jon Jones in this one to get his LHW title back that he never lost but deserved to get stripped of. Jones wins via Unanimous Decision this time around to become the new UFC Light Heavyweight champion. How long that lasts who knows? Will Jones get popped again who knows with him. If he gets caught cheating again the UFC needs to ban him for life and give the title to the true champion, Daniel Carimer. - Eric
Here we are at the main event and this one might get a bit messy. It's not often I'm going to write picks like this because we don't see someone who cheats this much and gets away with it. Before anyone wants to argue about which side you take on this one as "accidental" or "left-over" from the last test realize that it shouldn't matter anymore. This is drug test failure number 6 and at some point the excuses need to stop. For those that don't want to believe me I'm going to list them. Prior to UFC 182 Jones took his pre-fight drug test and while there was no official substance found, his testosterone to epitestosterone ratio was unnaturally low and many experts noted that was a usual sign of cycling off steroids. April 27th of 2015 was when the hit-and-run happened and the police found marijuana in his system for which he was suspended. UFC 200 he was supposed to fight Dan Cormier, but tested positive for an unnamed P.E.D. and cocaine. July 18th of 2016 he tested positive for two hormone regulators which in competition are seen as P.E.D.s due to increasing the amount of testosterone in your system. August 22nd of 2017 he tested positive for turinabol which is the steroid they are now claiming is still left over in his system. I don't care if he wins or loses tonight or if he keeps fighting and never loses I will always see him as a cheater. From there I am probably going to get more controversial and say Gustafsson is going to win this one. Last fight I believe was a tie and ties always go to the champ. Gustafsson is a different fighter since then and he doesn't have a great striking defense, but lands almost double what he takes. Plus he knows what Jones is bringing to the table because Jones never adapts or evolves. His last 4 of 5 wins were decision because he abuses his length in the form of front leg kicks to keep his opponent too far away and lands shots off of that distance. This may sound crazy going against Jones, but Gustafsson needs to stand with him. Jones does really well in the clinch and ground so Gustafsson needs to stay standing and utilize the striking defense that has been a lot better in his last few fights and use his combinations and crazy stopping power. I think Gustafsson will get the TKO in the fourth. - Mike
This is gonna be an absolutely an entertaining card from top to bottom as we head into 2019 on a high note with the very first ESPN UFC card (UFC Fight Night 143) on tap on January 19, 2019 from Brooklyn New York. UFC Fight 143 features a Bantamweight title bout between the champion, T.J. Dillashaw and Flyweight champ, Henry Cejudo.