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UFC Fight Night 105 predictions

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MMA: UFC Fight Night-Lewis vs Abdurakhimov Michael Adamucci-USA TODAY Sports

This is one of the better UFC Fight Nights in recent times. It might not be an amazing card, but it has enough value to catch some attention and interest, plus it’s on a Sunday rather than the usual Saturday, which is a nice change of pace. UFC Fight Night 105 is headlined by an important heavyweight bout between top prospect Derrick Lewis and battle-tested veteran Travis Browne. This card also features the middleweight debut of former welterweight champ Johny Hendricks.

What: UFC Fight Night 105

Where: Scotiabank Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

When: Sunday, Feb. 19. The lone fight on the UFC Fight Pass prelims begins at 6:30 p.m. ET, the four-fight FOX Sports 1 preliminary card begins at 7 p.m. ET, and the six-fight main card begins at 9 p.m. ET also on FOX Sports 1.

Derrick Lewis vs. Travis Browne

Well, it’s a fine bit of matchmaking in this one, pitting the UFC’s promising prospect Derrick Lewis against against Travis Browne, a veteran with an established name in the division who lurks in the bottom half of the heavyweight top 10. This is by no means an easy task for Lewis, as there are many hazards to be found, but it feels like the right next step for “The Black Beast.”

A few years ago, it was Browne who found himself in Lewis’ situation. He was an exciting, promising prospect with a 7-1-1 in the UFC heading into a clash with Fabricio Werdum in 2014, who was coming off three straight finishes of Josh Barnett, Alistair Overeem, and Gabriel Gonzaga. Today, Browne is on a much different position, riding a two-fight losing streak and sporting a record of 2-4 in his past six bouts. It’s been a tough stretch for his career but, to his defense, those losses have come against former champs Cain Velasquez, Fabricio Werdum (twice), and Andrei Arlovski. Browne is solid striker, very agile for a heavyweight, who has a decent amount of experience fighting against the top guys. And, he’s got that singular trait you look for in a heavyweight: He packs a heavy punch.

Meanwhile, Lewis is carrying plenty of momentum in this one. He’s on a five-fight winning streak and has shown steady improvements in his game. Lewis is far more dangerous and powerful than Browne, but also slower. Lewis is a bit flat-footed in his striking and often keeps his legs close together which makes him a susceptible target for takedowns. “The Black Beast” doesn’t have extraordinary takedown defense, but he counters that with an above-average ability to get back to his feet quickly if the fight hits the canvas.

I find Browne to have more advantages than Lewis in that he’s faster, more experienced, and has a more diversified striking style. However, over the course of 25 minutes I have a hard time seeing Browne avoiding Lewis’ power. I think Lewis will connect with a big shot somewhere in that 25-minute eternity before the final horn.

Pick: Lewis

Johny Hendricks vs. Hector Lombard

Johny Hendricks is finally moving up to the middleweight division after having missed weight several times at welterweight. Although this is a smart move for preserving his body and overall health, it’s a very rough move career-wise considering he’s only 5-foot-9 and all of the top middleweights are over 6-feet tall. To his benefit, Hendricks is testing out the 185-pound weight class against Hector Lombard, a former welterweight who is also 5-foot-9.

This is a fun fight, that’s somewhat hard to predict. Both guys are world-class fighters with very unique talents, who find themselves in a dire straits. Hendricks is on a three-fight losing streak, while the former Bellator champion Lombard has dropped two in a row.

Hendricks has two different fight modes when he enters a bout. The former UFC champ can be a great offensive wrestler that pressures his opponents, dominates and grinds out a victories, while he can also use those same wrestling skills to keep the fight standing, using his solid boxing and massive power to stop opponents.

I don’t think either version tops Lombard.

Lombard might be on a two-fight losing streak, but he at times dominated both fights before things went south along the way. Lombard is a freak athlete, he’s explosive, quick, and powerful. The Cuban also has great striking, strong judo, and really good grappling. Because of his solid takedown defense and strong base, Jake Shields — who’s one of the best grapplers in MMA — couldn’t get Lombard to the ground when they clashed. So I see this being a striking battle, and I think Hendricks falls short against Lombard in that area.

Pick: Lombard

Sam Sicilia vs. Gavin Tucker

Solid featherweight fight between a tough veteran going up against a debuting prospect.

Sam Sicilia has had mixed results in his UFC career. He’s an exciting fighter that has good striking with heavy punching power (at one point, he claimed to be the hardest hitter in the division). Sicilia tends to fare well against fellow strikers, but that’s not been the case when he faces skilled grapplers, as he’s suffered multiple submission loses. His opponent, Gavin Tucker, is an undefeated prospect with a record of 9-0. It was hard to find footage of his fights, but from what’s out there he seems to be a well-rounded competitor who’s dangerous everywhere. Tucker can strike and finish the fight on the feet, and he can also take the fight to the ground and set up submissions.

I think he’s savvy enough to look over the tape on Sicilia, and has the chops to take the fight where the Washington fighter is a liability (the ground).

Pick: Tucker

Elias Theodorou vs. Cezar Ferreira

Cezar Ferreira has looked great since moving back up to the middleweight division, putting together a tidy record of 3-0. The Brazilian has had a questionable chin throughout his UFC career but — not unlike Alistair Overeem — he’s evolved his game to work around that problem. Ferreira is a well-rounded fighter with a strong base in the grappling department. Meanwhile, Elias Theodorou has had a great run in the UFC with the only hiccup being a decision loss to Thiago Santos. The Canadian is a talented middleweight who knows what to do in a scramble, who exploits weaknesses, and who always shows up in shape.

I understand why most people are leaning towards the man with the glorious mane, but I find Ferreira to be crafty and talented enough on the ground to pull of a victory.

Pick: Ferreira

Sara McMann vs. Gina Mazany

Sara McMann was originally scheduled to fight Liz Carmouche on this card, but earlier this month Carmouche was forced to pull out and was replaced by Gina Mazany.

Not throwing any shade on Mazany, but this should be an easy fight for McMann. Mazany is a decent fighter that’s currently undefeated with a record of 4-0. Many might not remember, but Mazany fought Julianna Pena in the elimination bouts to enter The Ultimate Fighter 18. Sara McMann is a skilled wrestler and grappler with way too much experience for Mazany to handle at the moment.

Pick: McMann

Alessandro Ricci vs. Paul Felder

Alessandro Ricci will be looking to pick up his first UFC win after losing to Jeremy Kennedy in his UFC debut. Ricci is a veteran that’s been fighting for quite some time. He’s not particularly outstanding in any area, but he’s generally good everywhere. On the other hand, Paul Felder is a great striker that can put dangerous combinations together, and — like Ricci — he’s also decent-to-dangerous in all other areas. I think Felder has a big advantage in striking skill and power on the feet, and I don’t see Ricci giving the UFC vet any issues on the ground.

Pick: Felder


Santiago Ponzinibbio def. Nordine Taleb

Carla Esparza def. Randa Markos

Aiemann Zahabi def. Reginaldo Vieira

Thiago Santos def. Jack Marshman

Gerald Meerschaert def. Ryan Janes