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UFC Fight Night 75 predictions

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

UFC returns to Japan, but this time as part of their smaller Fight Night series. The main event features a heavyweight contest with two fighters looking to stay relevant who were also coaches on a show in Japan the UFC is using as a more native version of The Ultimate Fighter. The rest of the card features a number of Japanese mainstays as well as a middleweight contender battle.

What: UFC Fight Night: Barnett vs. Nelson (UFC Fight Night 75)

Where: Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan

When: Saturday, the four-fight Fox Sports 2 preliminary card starts at 8 p.m. and the six-fight Fox Sports 1 card kicks off 10 p.m.

Josh Barnett vs. Roy Nelson

Nelson's right hand of death is well known and he has a good ground game when he wants to use it, but I'm not sure he'll be able to here. Barnett can absolutely out wrestle Nelson and his top pressure is phenomenal. Nelson is beyond tough and so this being a five-round contest changes the dynamics here a bit. For being "overweight", Nelson can go 25 minutes. Barnett will have to be careful and pick his openings carefully. But once they're in close quarters, they're in Barnett's wheelhouse.

Pick: Barnett

Gegard Mousasi vs. Uriah Hall

On paper, this seems like a nightmare match up for Hall. That's not in the case in the sense I expect Hall to take some sort of terrible beating. Quite the opposite, really. I'm not sure how much offense they'll be in this one, of the game-changing variety, anyway. What I expect is Hall's slow start against Mousasi to cost him. Even when he doesn't throw a huge volume early, he still tends to over pursue, which I suspect Mousasi will be able to work with. Despite knee surgery, Mousasi's all got great trip and clinch takedowns. I'm not sure how much that will play a role, but I guess my sense is that Mousasi has enough gas and break to hit at the right times when Hall isn't pressing enough or when he's pressing too hard.

Pick: Mousasi

Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Chico Camus

Camus has the skills to defensively neutralize most of the attacks of most of the division's best fighters. He's got a good guard, strong takedown defense, great foot work and more. The problem is he doesn't seem to be able to move into the next gear where he can both block their attacks and find space for his own. Horiguchi's low volume of offense might provide Camus the requisite amount of space, but I'm guessing he'll still get caught reacting to everyone else.

Pick: Horiguchi

Takeya Mizugaki vs. George Roop

My sense is Mizugaki is going to try to fence wrestle Roop to death, which will have varying degrees of success (mostly not). In the end, this will kill the clock while putting Roop on the defense. Not exciting or interesting, but probably enough to get the job done.

Pick: Mizugaki

Katsunori Kikuno vs. Diego Brandao

I worry about the pick in this one. Brandao has all the tools to win against the unorthodox Kikuno, but I wonder if he'll try to beat the Japanese karateka at his own open striking game or somehow get dragged into an inadvisable firefight. I hope he's past that stage of his career. If he's patient with his combinations or decides to make it a wrestling contest, he could arguably win comfortably. This will be a big test of the Brazilian fighter's career. Does he make good decisions when facing an unorthodox striker or does he try to brawl? We'll see.

Pick: Brandao

Mizuto Hirota vs. Teruto Ishihara

Ishihara is, in some ways, everything Hirota is not. Ishihara is a flashy showman while Hirota is a straightforward technician. That makes me lean towards the latter in this contest. Hirota isn't a world beater, but facing someone who leaves himself open with wide, flashy, sometimes unnecessary attacks, he should shine. I suspect he'll find an opening to punch his way into the clinch, force Ishihara to the canvas and work his respectable ground and pound.

Pick: Hirota

From the preliminary card:

Li Jingliang def. Keita Nakamura
Nick Hein def. Yusuke Kasuya
Kajan Johnson def. Naoyuki Kotani
Roger Zapata def. Shinsho Anzai

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