A card that was riddled with injuries still moves forward as welterweights Demian Maia and Ryan LaFlare headlined UFC Fight Night 62. The bout features the last fight on the contract of Josh Koscheck, the return of top prospect Gilbert Burns and much more.
What: UFC Fight Night 62
Where: Ginásio do Maracanãzinho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When: Saturday, the two-fight Fight Pass card starts at 7 p.m. ET, the four-fight Fox Sports 1 main card starts at 8 p.m. and the six-fight Fox Sports 1 card kicks off 10 p.m.
Demian Maia vs. Ryan LaFlare
LaFlare is not the world's best finisher. That leads to fights longer than they need to be, which means opposition constantly have opportunities to make him pay. So far in the UFC, though, they haven't. This bout is extremely close and and a pick for either fighter seems reasonable, but despite my misgivings about LaFlare, I'll side with him. He doesn't have near the acumen Maia does, but is quite the scrambler. He's also younger, the better athlete and has enough submission defense to not let matters escalate to the point of no return. I suspect they'll be some tense moments either way, but LaFlare should have enough to wear down the older Brazilian.
Erick Silva vs. Josh Koscheck
It's hard to feel good about Koscheck's chances. He couldn't get into second gear against Jake Ellenberger and while Silva isn't the fight 'The Juggernaut' is, he's hardly some pushover. Maybe Koscheck can use enough of his power double or knee tap from outside pressure to steal a round or two, but something tells me his scrambling ability and explosive power will find a way to tag the American. From there, his finishing instincts are superb. MMA is insanely unpredictable, but there aren't a lot of likely scenarios where this ends well for the TUF 1 veteran.
This might be the toughest call on the main card. Martin is fantastically well-rounded and truly underrated, but doesn't have any one skill that has the sort of finesse or polish required to lord it over opposition. Santos has more liabilities than Martin, but has the ace in the hole of elite jiu-jitsu to either finish or hugely threaten. Martin's had some tough outs in his UFC run and hasn't shown the full breadth of his abilities, but Santos' wrestling has come a long way. Add that to top of the food chain jiu-jitsu and limited if safe striking and I'll side with the Brazilian.
The question here is whether Nunes trademark aggression leads her to blowing out a Baszler who appears to be in the last chapter of her career or if Baszler's veteran experience and submission savvy leads her overcome the Brazilian's reckless abandon. At this point, I side with the former. Baszler just seems all too willing to counter off the offense of others, but without the requisite defense to stay mostly unharmed long enough to make the counters work. I also think the physical advantages Nunes enjoys will make any counterfighting by Baszler too minimal to matter.
Gilbert Burns vs. Alex Oliveira
Short of a miracle or massive error by Burns, this is his fight to lose. He actually lost a sport jiu-jitsu bout against his old foe Leando Lo at Copa Podio, but I don't think that will have any effect on this bout. I expect Durinho to cruise.
In some ways, the two share some similarities in their fighting style. I'd argue Pepey is ever so slightly more athletic while Fili has a few more technical tricks in the bag and is a bit less of a risk taker. I look for the American to avoid a big strike early, but to eventually wear down Pepey with cleaner outside combinations, a set of back-and-forth takedown attempts along the fence, but with the American just staying slightly enough ahead to claim a decision.
From the preliminary card:
Francisco Trinaldo def. Akbarh Arreola
Kevin Souza def. Katsunori Kikuno
Leandro Silva def. Drew Dober
Leonardo Mafra def. Cain Carrizosa
Christos Giagos def. Jorge de Oliveira
Fredy Serrano def. Bentley Syler