The UFC Fight Night on Wednesday series returns, this time from Brazil. The card itself is fairly ho-hum in total, but the top three fights all promise good action in meaningful match-ups.
Can Glover Teixeira become the next man to earn the right to face Jon Jones? Is Ryan Bader ready and able to play spoiler? I answer these questions and more with my predictions for tonight's fights.
What: UFC Fight Night 28: Teixeira vs. Bader
Where: Mineirinho Arena, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
When: Wednesday, the one-fight Facebook card starts at 4:30 p.m. ET, the four-fight Fox Sports 1 card starts at 5 p.m. and the six-fight main card starts on Fox Sports 1 at 7 p.m.
Anything can happen in MMA, but short of the improbable 'anything', this is Teixeira's fight to lose. His striking is significantly better than Bader's, he's ironed out some of the recklessness he showed against Fabio Maldonado, the takedown defense should be there and if not, his jiu-jitsu game is enough to keep him alive or even threaten. Like John Hackleman, I really don't see a likely scenario where Bader can win this.
A close, competitive fight, but one where I have hard time seeing how Okami can stick behind the jab long enough against a fighter as athletic and dynamic as Jacare. That isn't to diminish Okami's jab, which is ordinarily fantastic. In this particular case, however, Jacare has really developed his game to the point where no single attack can truly fend him off. I truly believe Jacare can level change into a takedown under the jab or at least cause Okami to second guess himself. In any case, it's unlikely either is getting finished here, but Jacare should be the more active of the two.
I'll keep this brief: Formiga is a serious talent, but he doesn't have much for Benavidez. This fight only goes to the ground if Benavidez wants it to. The American is also the far superior athlete of the two. This one should be a rout.
'Massanduraba' is going to run over Hallmann, in all likelihood. The Pole is actually a relatively decent kickboxer who often shows good poise and timing, but that isn't going to work against a juggernaut like Trinaldo. Hallmann is by no means small for the weight class, but isn't likely to be much of a match for Trinaldo. This one should eventually end ugly.
I don't have high hopes for this and it continues to amaze me that Natal gets the cherry fight card placement that he does, but there it is. In any case, either guy is legitimately capable of winning this, but I'll side with Natal. If the fight goes to the floor, Troeng has some decent skills, but isn't much of a match for the Brazilian. On the feet, things could get interesting. Natal is routinely tagged by opposition, but what saves him are his rather remarkable survival instincts. That will actually come in handy here, I suspect.
All the world's hype is behind Bagautinov whose skills are still very raw, but athleticism and mat skills are high level. I'm actually worried he's not quite ready for this level just yet in his developmental process, but oh well. He's got enough for this bout.
From the preliminary card: