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UFC Fight Night 58 predictions

Guilherme Cruz, MMA Fighting

As 2014 winds down, UFC hosts their last card of the year. This one is a fight night and takes place in Brazil with an important main and co-main event. In the headlining role, C.B. Dollaway looks to upset perennial top contender Lyoto Machida while Renan Barao looks to get back on track against Mitch Gagnon in the co-main event.

What: UFC Fight Night 58

Where: Ginásio José Corrêa, Barueri, Brazil

When: Saturday, the two-fight Fight Pass preliminary card starts at 7 p.m., the four-fight preliminary Fox Sports 1 card starts at 8 p.m. and the six-fight Fox Sports 1 main card begins at 10 p.m. ET.

Lyoto Machida vs. C.B. Dollaway

I respect Dollaway's resume. There are legit scalps on there (he also deserved the win over Tim Boetsch). He's steadily improved and turned himself into a formidable foe. Yet, as good as he's become, he's still the sort of fighter Machida normally torches. He's still a forward-moving wrestler, but lacks the finesse of movement or lethality of striking to make it count. Dollaway's going to have a hard time closing distance or cornering the Brazilian. That's not just true because of Machida's movement, but his counterstriking. Despite his advanced age, Machida is still spry and his technical application is as good as ever. I expect a valiant effort from Dollaway, but I also suspect he'll be taken out on his sword.

Pick: Machida

Renan Barao vs. Mitch Gagnon

Gagnon is no scrub, but he's outgunned here. He's a good athlete with real offense everywhere. He's also a strong wrestler with pesky scrambling who packs an array of high-percentage submissions. But there's nothing he does that Barao doesn't do much better. It might take some time for the Brazilian to break him down, but the outcome here should not be in doubt unless something's gone horribly wrong in Barao's preparation.

Pick: Barao

Antonio Carlos Junior vs. Patrick Cummins

There's not much of a need to overthink this one. Either you believe Cummins is going to be able to wrestle his way effectively to a decision win (or a less likely if still possible stoppage) or you don't. I tend to think it's more likely he will. That will be that.

Pick: Cummins

Elias Silverio vs. Rashid Magomedov

The difference for me is going to be Magomedov's takedown defense. I'm not saying he's anything to write home about, but he is tough to take to the ground (or hold there). On the feet, he's more patient and consistent than deadly and overwhelming, but he wins fights. Silverio is better on the ground, probably by quite a wide margin, but he likely won't have an answer for Magomedov's boxing once he's forced to fight on those terms.

Pick: Magomedov

Erick Silva vs. Mike Rhodes

It sounds sort of crazy that the fighter who is simply busier and tries harder to force their offense of their opponent will, over time, have greater success in MMA, but it's true. It's especially true here. Rhodes is by no means a bad fighter, but he simply isn't consistent enough in trying to score real damage. He lets opposition hang around too long before ever pushing back in a substantive way. Silva is a flawed fighter, but he isn't a hesitant one. That should make a big difference.

Pick: Silva

Daniel Sarafian vs. Antônio dos Santos Jr.

I like 'Junior Alpha' in this fight for the upset. He's raw and has a lot of polishing to do, but already gets a lot of the game right. He's aggressive, but can measure it carefully when he needs to. He's a superb and violent finisher, holds big power. In addition to being able to strike on the feet, he chains together offense from the takedown to an advanced position on the ground. Sarafian might be better in the wrestling or grappling department, but he fades, too. Besides, just one or two punches from dos Santos can force Sarafian into desperation mode. This should be a fun one.

Pick: dos Santos

From the preliminary card:

Marcos Rogerio de Lima def. Igor Pokrajac
Tom Niinimaki def. Renato Carneiro
Darren Elkins def. Hacran Dias
Yuta Sasaki def Leandro Issa
Tim Means def. Márcio Alexandre Jr.
Jake Collier def. Vitor Miranda

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