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UFC Fight Night 90 predictions

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The UFC kicks off its three-night extravaganza with a lightweight title bout on Fight Pass. The card features a number of other contenders, although most of the top-end of the roster is being preserved for other cards during the week.

What: UFC Fight Night: dos Anjos vs. Alvarez

Where: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada

When: Thursday, UFC Fight Pass kicks off at 6:30 p.m. ET and the four-fight main card starts at 10 p.m. ET.

Rafael dos Anjos vs. Eddie Alvarez

I struggled mightily with this pick, but I have to lean towards the former Bellator champ. He has a ton of miles on him and while his UFC performances got started a little on the difficult side, I wonder if he's got the goods to get the job done. Between the Jason High and Khabib Nurmagomedov fights, RDA was taken down nine times. He won against High, but the point is this: RDA hasn't defended his title against someone who can reliably wrestle for five rounds. Moreover, Alvarez has the ability to mix up his offense sufficiently to keep RDA guessing. That said, RDA will have the speed advantage as well as the more complete Muay Thai. That will make a difference when it comes to leg kicks and body attacks. RDA winning is hardly surprising. I frankly believe whoever wins this is going to have to take a beating to do it. But maybe, just maybe, the former Bellator champ has what it takes.

Pick: Alvarez

Roy Nelson vs. Derrick Lewis

My best guess is Nelson's not going to attempt to make this a jiu-jitsu contest despite having a considerable ground advantage. If I had to wager, this is going to be a face punching contest until someone drops. If that's the case, Lewis is going to use his trademark aggression and forward pressure, which Nelson will likely attempt to turn into a waiting game. As Lewis tires and Nelson can find the space he needs to land an overhand punch, that's what he'll do. Nelson is banking on his chin outlasting Lewis's, which is not altogether unreasonable. Nelson's has limits, too, but probably take longer to find than Lewis's.

Pick: Nelson

Alan Jouban vs. Belal Muhammad

My hunch is Jouban has too many weapons for Muhammed. Jouban has surprisingly decent guard play and scrambling, which will come in handy against the more patient approach Muhammad employs. Moreover, he has a significant advantage standing, both with a more complete arsenal as well as an edge in explosive speed. This might be a fight where it drags at times or Muhammad even takes a round, but Jouban has more ways to win.

Pick: Jouban

Joseph Duffy vs. Mitch Clarke

Duffy is just too much for Clarke. He's a better athlete, is more proactive on offense and has too many finishing talents. If the Irish lightweight is reckless in the grappling department, a reactive grappler like Clarke can maintain control and wait for a moment to counter. But that just feels exceedingly unlikely. I expect Duffy to overwhelm him early and often.

Pick: Duffy

From the preliminary card:

Mike Pyle def. Alberto Mina
John Makdessi def. Mehdi Baghdad
Anthony Birchak def. Dileno Lopes
Pedro Munhoz def. Russell Doane
Felipe Arantes def. Jerrod Sanders
Gilbert Burns def. Lukasz Sajewski
Reginaldo Vieira def. Marco Beltran
Vicente Luque def. Alvaro Herrera

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