UFC Fight Night 125: Preview & Predictions (main card only)

You know the old saying, “an attribute polygon is worth a thousand words,” right? But maybe you've wondered -- what exactly IS an attribute polygon? It's a "radial graph". In this case, we will use the graph to compare fighters and illustrate a fighter’s strengths and weaknesses. First, we must determine a rating scale and decide which 8 metrics to base the graph around.

Fighters will be rated in each category on a 1-4 scale (relative to division):
1: below-average (poor)
2: average (good)
3: above-average (great)  
4: top-tier (elite)

The graph is made up of four octagon-shaped rings. The innermost ring represents a rating of 1 (poor) and the outermost represents a 4 (elite). note: fighters can also receive ratings of 1.5, 2.5, and 3.5, for times when a fighter falls in between two tiers.

Strength: How physically strong is the fighter?

Cardio: The fighter’s overall stamina and durability. Determined by the fighter’s conditioning and ability to maintain work rate late into fights. Also, to a lesser extent, how good the fighter’s “chin” is. Still working out the balance between chin and cardio — might have to separate into two categories.

Speed: How is the fighter’s mobility in the octagon? How quickly do they react to and evade strikes? How quick are their hands?

Boxing: The fighter’s technical boxing ability.

Kicking: Pure kicking ability. How hard does the fighter kick? How well do they incorporate kicks and knees into their gameplan?

Fight IQ: Pretty straight-forward. Does the fighter make smart choices in the octagon? Do they fight to their strengths and take advantage of opponent’s weaknesses?

Jiu-Jitsu: Overall jiu-jitsu/submission ability. The fighter’s ability to lock-in submissions, as well as defend them. How good is their defensive guard?

Wrestling: How well the fighter takes down opponents and defends takedowns. Grappling in the clinch and against the cage. Ability to maintain top control and keep opponents on the mat.

P.S. The system is definitely still a work in progress. “Wrestling” and “jiu-jitsu” could possibly be consolidated into one general “grappling” category — this would make space for separate categories of “cardio” and “chin”. Another possibility would be the combination of “speed” and “strength” into one “physical” rating. Would love any thoughts and feedback on this.


#13 Lyoto Machida (22-8, 14-8 UFC) vs. Eryk Anders (10-0, 2-0 UFC) - 185 lbs.

machidavsanders

As he nears the end of an illustrious career, Machida has now been relegated to a “gatekeeper” role. However, even gatekeepers need to win sometimes. With 3-straight losses on the shelf, Machida desperately needs to get back in the win-column this weekend. He will face Eryk Anders, who has been victorious in his first 2 UFC bouts. In those 2 fights, Anders has shown enough promise to be receiving a huge “push” from the UFC brass. A win this weekend will surely catapult the 30-year-old into the top-15. He's displayed knockout power in his hands, but is also a well-rounded fighter who can grind out a victory by decision, if need be. I’m not sure how his cardio holds up in a 5-round fight though.

Things should be pretty evenly-matched on the feet and I’m expecting both guys to employ a calculated approach to striking. Anders' heavy hands may give him the edge, but he’ll have to be careful against an opponent with so much experience. Machida may be well past his prime, but his kicking ability should not be underestimated — he can still end a fight with one well-timed kick.

On the mat is where things could get interesting. Machida should have the upper-hand in terms of pure jiu-jitsu technique, however, i’m not sure that he’s strong enough to have much success controlling Anders on the ground. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Anders end this fight with some heavy ground and pound.

Prediction: Anders via KO/TKO, rd. 3


#8 John Dodson (19-9, 8-4 UFC) vs. #10 Pedro Munhoz** (15-2, 5-2 UFC) - 135 lbs.

** Munhoz missed weight (140 lbs.) UPDATE: Unfortunately, this bout has been cancelled.

dodsonvsmunhoz

Impressively, Dodson has never been finished during his 28-fight professional career. The two main factors which contribute to this feat are his speed and fight IQ. He rarely gets caught in a bad position. Likewise, Pedro Munhoz’ 2 career losses were the result of the judges’ scorecards. Munhoz is a high-level jiu-jitsu practicioner, and has an uncanny ability to sink in a guillotine choke within a split-second.

Throughout his career, Dodson has exhibited elite takedown defense, however, he has seemed reluctant to really grapple on the mat. It will be interesting to see how he deals with a capable submission-artist such as Munhoz. I expect that Dodson will be able to keep this fight standing, and he should be able to out-strike Munhoz.

Prediction: Dodson via decision


#1 (WBW) Valentina Shevchenko (14-3, 3-2 UFC) vs. Priscila Cachoeira (8-0, UFC DEBUT) - 125 lbs.

shevchenkovscachoeira

This is an interesting and surprising matchup. In Shevchenko, we have arguably the best female striker in UFC history. On the other hand, Cachoeira is a relatively unknown commodity. Although the undefeated prospect has finished 4 fights by KO/TKO, her boxing style is extremely reckless. In fact, when watching footage of Cachoeira’s last fight, I was shocked by the wild hooks she was throwing. Shevchenko should have no problem stopping the Brazilian in her tracks, whether it be on the feet or on the ground. Cachoeira is still very raw, and it’s surprising that she will make her UFC debut against such an elite fighter. Furthermore, Shevchenko will be making debut in the 125 lb. division, a much more natural weight class for her.

Prediction: Shevchenko via KO/TKO, rd. 1


Michel Prazeres** (23-2, 7-2 UFC) vs. Desmond Green (20-6, 1-1 UFC) - 155 lbs.

** Prazeres missed weight (161 lbs.)

prazeresvsgreen

On paper, this is a fascinating matchup. Two high-level grapplers with completely different styles — a quick, lanky collegiate All-American wrestler vs. a jiu-jitsu black belt who is compact and powerful. On the feet, Prazeres is aggressive while Green is more tentative. Green can be a bit too cautious sometimes — he just needs to let his hands go a bit more. Both guys have good chins and have never been knocked out. Green should definitely have the cardio advantage. Prazeres’ muscly build can work against him sometimes — he’s very strong but tends to run out of gas before the fight is over. Prazeres will step into the octagon with a significant weight advantage, but Green's conditioning could be the decisive factor.

On a side note, this is the 3rd time that Prazeres has missed weight in his last 4 bouts, so this could very well be the last time we see him as a lightweight.

Prediction: Green via decision


#14 Timothy Johnson (11-4, 3-3 UFC) vs. Marcelo Golm (6-0, 1-0 UFC) - 265 lbs.

johnsonvsgolm

Although Johnson doesn’t really have the expected “look” of a UFC fighter, he has racked up some impressive victories throughout his tenure. Wins over Shamil Abdurakhimov, Marcin Tybura, and Daniel Omielanczuk have proven that Johnson is no slouch. After a 1st-round TKO loss at the hands of Brazilian prospect, Junior Albini, Johnson will once again step into the cage with an up and coming Brazilian fighter. The bad news for Johnson is that Marcelo Golm is, in my opinion, the best heavyweight prospect in the UFC.

With only 6 professional fights under his belt, it is tough to get a read of just how good Golm is. I have high expectations for the 25-year-old and I think he will emerge as a title-contender within the next 2 years. Although none of Golm’s fights have gone past the 1st round, that could change this weekend — Johnson is certainly a level above any of Golm’s previous opponents.

Prediction: Golm via decision


Thiago Santos (16-5, 8-4 UFC) vs. Anthony Smith (28-12, 4-1 UFC) - 185 lbs.

santosvssmith

Great fight to kick-off the main card. I’d have no complaints if this were billed as the co-main event on this card. Two explosive fighters with undoubted finishing ability. At 6’4”, Smith is the tallest fighter in the middleweight division. His length and penchant for throwing unexpected head kicks make him a tough opponent to stand and trade with. If there’s one guy who’s up for the task, it’s Thiago Santos. With 7 of his 8 UFC victories coming by way of knockout or submission, Santos is among the division’s most dangerous strikers. Both fighters have won 3 straight, by knockout.

Prediction: Santos via KO/TKO, rd. 2

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get around to the prelim fights, but I hope that you guys enjoyed this. Thanks for reading! Follow me on twitter @CagesideTribune