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UFC Fight Night 78 predictions

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

On the heels of a wild UFC 193, the UFC returns to Mexico, but to a new city and with a smaller show to crown the champs for season two of The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America. The card also features the welterweight return of Gastelum, Diego Sanchez making a featherweight run and much more.

What: UFC Fight Night: Magny vs. Gastelum

Where: Arena Monterrey, Monterrey, Mexico

When: Saturday, the three-fight Fight Pass preliminary card starts at 6:30 p.m. ET, the four-fight Fox Sports 1 preliminary card kicks off 8 p.m. and the six-fight main card starts on Fox Sports 1 at 10 p.m. ET.

Neil Magny vs. Kelvin Gastelum

Magny's coming in on late notice, which would favor Gastelum, which already adds to the style match-up in favor of the TUF winner. Gastelum has a nutritionist, so he should have plenty of zip and pop on his punches and more able movement. The key, though, is probably going to be the forward pressure of Gastelum and the takedown pushes. Magny has strong offensive jiu-jitsu and his takedown defense is good, but I doubt it's enough here. On the floor, Magny's length is a liability and his guard is often extended, leaving huge openings for the pass. Magny is a credible threat, but the ability of Gastelum to win on positional control is too much to overlook.

Pick: Gastelum

Ricardo Lamas vs. Diego Sanchez

Sanchez's move to featherweight to see if he can make any sort of title push is admirable in its characteristic Sanchez gusto, but it doesn't appear to make much sense beyond that. Lamas is more natural at that weight and has better wrestling, anyway. He probably has better striking, too, although I'll concede Sanchez's pressure might have moments of success. In the end, I'm not sure Lamas is the guy to tune Sanchez up enough to make him rethink featherweight or fighting in general, but he should be quicker, have better cardio and more takedown ability to earn the victory.

Pick: Lamas

Jussier Formiga vs. Henry Cejudo

We know Cejudo's the better wrestler, but is he the better MMA scrambler? Probably, but I want to see it play out just to be sure. MMA scrambling involves a variety of positions that are highly unique - think fighters who pull guard for leg locks, for example - that usually only the best fighters or grizzled veterans can handle. That, coincidentally, is also Formiga's best chance to win the fight. Not leg locks per se, but finding Cejudo's back in a scramble. The Olympic gold medalist's takedown defense means unless Formiga can find a non-takedown method to get this fight to the floor (and to the back, where he excels), it's a striking battle. And if it's a striking battle, Cejudo should have the advantage.

Pick: Cejudo

Erick Montano vs. Enrique Marin

I don't think much of either fighter in terms of being ready or able to sustain a career at this level, but of the two, Marin appears to be better. He has a little more overall finnesse and better submission ability. I'll side with the Spaniard.

Pick: Marin

Enrique Barzola vs. Horacio Gutierrez

For my money, the power punching should be the difference. That means leaning toward Gutierrez. Barzola is actually a decent striker in his own right and neither are defensively responsible, but all things being relatively equal, the power difference should show.

Pick: Gutierrez

Efrain Escudero vs. Leandro Silva

The difference between this Escudero and the one who won The Ultimate Fighter isn't necessarily much in terms of what changed in the Octagon, but it's still making a huge difference. It's not that his takedowns are magically so much better or his punches all of a sudden became much harder. Rather, he makes a lot fewer mistakes. He sticks to game plans better, he's tightened up positional control deficiencies and while it's arguably made him a touch more boring (last win notwithstanding), it's made him a lot tougher to take advantage of in key situations. Silva has the submission ability even late in fights to make someone pay, but I'm betting he won't.

Pick: Escudero

From the preliminary card:

Taylor Lapilus def. Erik Perez
Bartosz Fabinski def. Hector Urbina
Scott Jorgensen def. Alejandro Perez
Andre Fili def. Gabriel Benitez
Vernon Ramos def. Alvaro Herrera
Cezar Arzamendia def. Marco Polo Reyes
Michel Prazeres def. Valmir Lazaro

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