It’s that time again, the UFC is headed back to Brazil and has laid on an absolutely stacked card full of Brazilian fighters. This card could also have a big impact on the top of some of the deepest divisions in the UFC – it’s certainly one to pay attention to. With that, you can find our predictions below:
Fight Night 144 Prelims:
Flyweight: Magomed Bibulatov (14-1-0) vs Rogerio Bontorin (14-1-0, 1 NC)
Prediction: Rogerio Bontorin
Bantamweight: Ricardo Ramos (12-1-0) vs Said Nurmagomedov (12-1-0)
Prediction: Ricardo Ramos
Featherweight: Geraldo de Freitas Jr. (11-4-0) vs Felipe Colares (8-0-0)
Prediction: Felipe Colares
Heavyweight: Junior Albini (14-4-0) vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik (6-0-0)
Prediction: Junior Albini
Welterweight: Thiago Santos (22-13-0) vs Max Griffin (14-5-0)
Prediction: Max Griffin
Women’s Flyweight: Mara Romero Borella (11-5-0, 2 NC) vs Talia Santos (15-0-0)
Prediction: Talia Santos
Middleweight: Markus Perez (10-2-0) vs Anthony Hernandez (7-0-0)
Prediction: Anthony Hernandez
Women’s Strawweight: Livinha Souza (12-1-0) vs Sarah Frota (9-0-0)
This is a fairly close fight to call. Both fighters are Brazilian natives and have dominated the local competition. Souza already has one UFC fight under her belt, a win against Alex Chambers in September 2018. While it may not sound like much of an edge, the step up in competition once you’re in the UFC is steep, and coming through your first fight with a win is the first step in establishing yourself.
Frota is currently undefeated, racking up nine wins on her way to a UFC contract – an impressive record. The only blip on this record is that her past two fights (and wins) have both come against the same woman. Either way, these could be two interesting prospects to keep an eye on in the Women’s Strawweight division.
Prediction: Livinha Souza
Light Heavyweight: Johnny Walker (15-3-0) vs Justin Ledet (9-1-0, 1 NC)
Despite only having 10 fights in his career, Justin Ledet has already fought in the UFC Octagon four times, going 3-1 over this stretch. Walker comes into this fight with one UFC fight under his belt, an impressive win against Khalil Rountree in November.
Ledet made the move back down to Light Heavyweight for his last fight, which he lost, after going on a five fight winning streak at Heavyweight. He has decided to stick around in the 205lbs division for this fight against Walker, though I feel he may regret that decision by the end of the night.
Prediction: Johnny Walker
Lightweight: Charles Oliveira (25-8-0, 1NC) vs David Teymur (8-1-0)
This is an incredibly interesting fight. Despite the large discrepancy in the number of fights that the two men have had, it could be a very even matchup. Olivera is 4-1 on his return to the Lightweight division, picking up some big wins over that stretch. He also owns the record for the most submission victories in UFC history, with a total of 12 so far.
Teymur will have to hope that his Muay Thai background will help him keep this fight on the feet, where he has a much better chance of winning. If this fight does go to the ground, things will look bleak for the Swedish fighter. A win here might push Olivera into the top 15 in Lightweight rankings.
Prediction: Charles Oliveira
Welterweight: Demian Maia (25-9-0) vs Lyman Good (20-4-0)
Demian Maia needs a win. After going on an incredibly impressive seven fight win streak, beating some of the best fighters in the division, Maia earned a shot at Tyron Woodley. Since losing that fight, Maia has gone on to lose to Colby Covington and Kamaru Usman, amassing a three fight losing skid.
Meanwhile this represents a significant step up in competition for Lyman Good. While Maia may be coming off the back of three losses, those three defeats were against the three best fighters in the division. Maia is far from a gatekeeper just yet, he is still one of the most dangerous fighters in the division and Lyman Good will need to produce the best performance of his life if he is going to come through this weekend with his arm raised.
Prediction: Demian Maia
Featherweight: Jose Aldo (27-4-0) vs Renato Moicano (13-1-1)
Renato Moicano is one of the more promising fighters in the Featherweight division, with his only loss coming to former title challenger Brian Ortega. However, as with Lyman Good, this is a huge step up in competition. Jose Aldo is arguably the best Featherweight of all time (the list of contenders is only three fighters long, he’s probably edged out by Max Holloway). It will need to be a monumental performance from Moicano to take the victory.
While Moicano is a surging contender, Aldo is beginning to wind down his career. The former champion has insisted that he will not be renewing his contract with the UFC once he runs it down, and he plans to fight the remainder of his three fights on that contract this year.
It will be a shame to see Aldo go when he does retire, and also a shame that his incredible title reign will likely only be remembered for how it ended, but I’ll certainly be making sure to enjoy the few fights that he has left.
Prediction: Jose Aldo
Bantamweight: Raphael Assuncao (27-5-0) vs Marlon Moraes (21-5-1)
Make no mistake about it, this fight is a title eliminator. Whoever wins this fight should receive a shot at TJ Dillashaw for the Bantamweight title… and if they don’t, we may as well give up on the rankings system all together.
Both men are coming into this fight on the back of impressive win streaks, with Assuncao’s last loss coming against Dillashaw back in 2016, and Moraes’ last loss actually came against his opponent Raphael Assuncao just under two years ago.
It was a split decision loss in a very close fight. It will be interesting to see how the two match up a second time… and to see if either fighter has improved enough to earn a comfortable victory. Either way, this will have a huge impact on the future of the Bantamweight division.
Prediction: Marlon Moraes