Freelance: UFC 212—Full Fight Card Preview and Predictions

As what remains of your 2017 calendar continues to shrink, another pay-per-view event from the world leader in MMA is right around the corner. UFC 212 takes place on June from the Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Check out the complete event’s fight-by-fight breakdown below to walk away with an idea of who you should put money on to walk away the real winner from UFC 212.

Pay-Per-View Main Card

José Aldo (c) vs. Max Holloway (ic)

The man simply known as “Junior” in Aldo is one of the best Brazilians (if not overall) to ever put on a pair of MMA gloves. His ability to strike at will with his bruising leg kicks could wear out Max “Blessed” Holloway the feet and with Aldo’s capability in keeping the fight standing makes this a fairly easy pick (aside from the fact that he went undefeated for a decade. Still, Holloway should definitely keep up with Aldo when throwing hands

Also, you can’t look past Hawaii’s Holloway as the interim UFC featherweight (145-pound) champion is riding a TEN-fight winning streak. Aldo seemed to rebound well from originally losing his belt to the “Notorious” Conor McGregor by beating Frankie “The Answer” Edgar at UFC 200 in July in what could be viewed as a four rounds-to-one unanimous decision.

However, some in the MMA world seem to be looking at him a bit differently after it came out that he was considering retirement following the McGregor fight, only being awarded the title after the Irishman was stripped due to inactivity.

Will McGregor still be in Aldo’s head until he moves down from lightweight (155 pounds) for a rematch/ another champion vs. champion super-fight? Will Aldo call it quits in the UFC if he loses this fight? We’ll see on June 3, but for now the numbers are in his favor.

The Odds: Aldo is the -140 favorite against the +110 underdog in Holloway per Bovada.

Pick: (C) Jose Aldo def. Max Holloway by way of a Unanimous Decision.

Cláudia Gadelha vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz

This fight should be a great test of cardio. In her title-challenging performance against UFC women’s strawweight (115-pound) champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Gadelha was blown up (exhausted) midway through the bout as was Kowalkiewicz and both may have only won a single round each against said champion.

Now they are both on their journey back to a title fight, possibly just behind submission threat “Thug” Rose Namajunas. Despite being a Brazilian, Gadelha hasn’t been a jiu-jitsu ace inside the UFC’s octagon, instead preferring to trade leather and going the distance six times overall and five times in the UFC (she has six submissions outside of the UFC as well) winng three of those but falling to Jedrzejczyk.

There’s no reason to think that her boxing won’t hold up against Kowalkiewicz as her first loss to “Joanna Champion” was admittedly narrow. On top of that, a Kowalkiewicz recently made comments to claiming that she will submit Gadelha. Don’t count on that. She only has two wins by submission, both of which were not as a part of the UFC.

The Odds: Gadelha is the -285 favorite against the +225 underdog in Kowalkiewicz per Bovada. The Brazilian should volume-strike her opponent over 15 minutes.

Pick: Claudia Gadelha def. Karolina Kowalkiewicz by way of a Unanimous Decision.

Vitor Belfort vs. Nate Marquardt

“The Phenom” is getting his wish! Vitor Belfort will retire from the UFC and the sport of MMA after competing in his final fight in front of his home country’s fans after a 20-year run that includes being one of the youngest UFC champions in history at the time.

“It's time to end this chapter as a professional fighter,” Belfort said at his previous bout’s post-fight presser in March. “My body is not the same anymore for training. It’s too much pain. I did more than 14 surgeries. I left everything in the Octagon. I’m sad because I didn’t give the win to my fellow Brazilians, but it happens.”

The UFC is basically throwing Belfort a bone as a parting gift by making his final opponent the not-so-“Great” Nate Marquardt.

Even after back-to-back TKO losses (a third straight was overturned to a no-contest after then-opponent Kelvin Gastelum tested positive for marijuana) Belfort could still be viewed as the favorite to win as Marquardt only has three victories during his UFC run since coming over from Strikeforce in 2013 after the promotion folded.

Belfort is not who he used to be, but going out with his hands raised is a great way for him to say goodbye. A knockout win is still a possibility as Belfort got one over Dan “Hendo” Henderson but that was in 2015, so just getting the “W” should be the goal

Pick: Vitor Belfort def. Nate Marquardt by way of a Unanimous Decision.

Paulo Borrachinha vs. Oluwale Bamgbose

“The Holy War Angel” in Bambose enters this bout at a respectable 6-2 with all of his wins coming by way of KO/TKO. However, his UFC run has been nothing noteworthy (1-2) as he dropped his last fight by decision after getting finished by strikes himself before that. Bleacher Report pointed out that he is likely going to be heading to the table to discuss a new UFC contract and this fight could save his job.

However, the world leader in MMA is doing him no favors by matching him up with Brazil’s Paulo Borrachinha (9-0 in MMA, 1-0 in the UFC) who has eight wins by KO/TKO and one submission victory.

Pick: Paulo Borrachinha def. Oluwale Bamgbose by way of KO/TKO.

Erick Silva vs. Yancy Medeiros

Unfortunately, once a hot, young prospect that started his career off with a 9-0 string of triumphs with eight finishes before losing his UFC debut due to an injury TKO, Yancy Medeiros now has almost no momentum. His fight against Yves Edwards following the injury was overturned to a no-contest and he then suffered his first real UFC loss, being submitted by Jim Miller.

He’s managed three wins by sub and a fourth by decision but those results are mixed in with decision loss and TKO defeat at the hands of Dustin Poirier. Erick “The Tiger” Silva is in a similar spot at 3-2 in his last five, suffering back-to-back losses that include a TKO finish.

This is a rebound fight for both and fortunately, at least based on their past bouts it looks pretty easy to call. If it goes to the ground, it goes to Silva (12 sub wins, 63 percent.) Standing up, the fight should belong to his adversary (six KO/TKOS, 46 percent.)

Pick: Yancy Medeiros def. Erick Silva by way of KO/TKO.

Fox Sports 1 Prelims

Raphael Assunção vs. Marlon Moraes

This fight is truly the main event of the undercard as it marks the highly-anticipated UFC debut of former World Series of Fighting bantamweight champion Marlon Moraes (and boy, is he confident!)

"I’m one of the best fighters,” Moraes said in late March. "I’m not saying outside the UFC, I’m saying all MMA. Bantamweight division, one of the top 5. Anybody knows I can be the champion, I can hang with the champion. Today we can say the UFC champion, Cody (Garbrandt), he's the best out there, he's the champion, he holds the belt, and he makes a lot of money. If I can hang with him, I also want to make a lot of money like all those champions. Let’s see what's going to happen. I’m very excited, man."

Prepare for an upset as much of Moraes’ success came against lower-level talent while Raphael Assunção has hovered around the UFC title picture, the top of the sport, for around four years and has one eight of his last nine bouts per

Although, he still has yet to be a finishing threat under the WEC/UFC banner.

Raphael Assunção def. Marlon Moraes by way of a Unanimous Decision.

Antônio Carlos Júnior vs. Eric Spicely

Even the portion of the world that inhabits MMA’s “bubble” might be unfamiliar with Eric “The Dream Catcher” Spicely (2-1 in the UFC), but that could change very soon. He suffered his very first career loss at the UFC level against Sam Alvey and has rebounded with back-to-back subs. He has two decision wins to his credit, both of which are the only fights of his to go beyond the opening five minutes.

His opponent (7-2, 1 No Contest) is also coming off of back-to-back wins. Five come from grappling. The two jiu-jitsu wizards very well may cancel each other out (there are two losses by stoppage between the two men and none by submission for Carlos Junior,) but the main point is this: Don’t take a bathroom break during this fight!

Pick: Eric Spicely def. Antônio Carlos Júnior by way of a Unanimous Decision.

Johnny Eduardo vs. Matthew Lopez

Lopez sits at 9-1 overall after stints in King of the Cage and the developmental Resurrection Fighting Alliance (1-1 in the UFC.) There’s not a whole lot to be said otherwise as Eduardo, previously in the top ten of his division, has been away for nearly two years. Both are great in the submission department as Eduardo has 21 finishes (13 subs) and Lopez has four subs. Hopefully for the 36-year-old 29-10 Eduardo his wealth of experience will combat his ring rust.

Johnny Eduardo def. Matthew Lopez by way of Submission.

Iuri Alcântara vs. Brian Kelleher

16-7 Brian Kelleher is being fed to the wolves in his UFC debut. He is riding a 6-0 streak and that includes winning and defending the bantamweight title for Ring of Combat. His first opponent in Alcântara has an overall 34-7, 1 NC record (27 finishes) and is 7-3 in his last ten bouts dating back to 2013.

Both men have fought as recently as March and both won by submission. Of his losses though, Alcântara has only been stopped twice, proving his toughness no doubt. There’s more good news: both men have low decision numbers compared to finishes! However, Kelleher has tapped four times and subs make up 41 percent of his challenger’s wins.

Iuri Alcântara def. Brian Kelleher by way of Submission.

UFC Fight Pass Prelims

Viviane Pereira vs. Jamie Moyle

Viviane Pereira is 11-0 at the mid-level of MMA and 1-0 in the UFC for an overall 12-0 record. She has as many finishes as she does wins from scorecards while the stoppage ability from Moyle just isn’t there.

Moyle is working her way up and has proven she can take a punch, but she needs the full fight to execute her plan of attack (she has three wins by way of a decision and her UFC debut was a split one at that) and against her current opponent (who has four wins by KO/TKO) don’t expect the bout to last that long.

Viviane Pereira def. Jamie Moyle by way of KO/TKO.

Luan Chagas vs. Jim Wallhead

This portion of the card preview is regrettably short because it’s very likely that either man’s run with the UFC will be as well. Chagas is 0-1-1 (14-2-1 overall) with England’s Wallhead 0-1 (29-10 overall.) Both men are simply fighting to not get cut (like Oluwale Bamgbose) which is disappointing because Wallhead was riding a four-fight winning streak with three wins by KO/TKO and Chagas had one nine straight, mostly by submission.

Pick: Luan Chagas def. Jim Wallhead by way of Submission.

Marco Beltrán vs. Deiveson Alcântara

At first glance, it might not make sense to have a 3-1 (8-4 overall) fighter in Beltrán going up against 11-0 Deiveson Alcântara. Although, some see Alcântara as having a padded record and while Beltrán might be making his debut at 125 pounds with this fight, his only loss the far came against Joe Soto, a former bantamweight (135-pound) title challenger against then-champion T.J. Dillashaw.

When you add in the fact that this will be Alcântara’s UFC debut and many suffer the famous “octagon gitters,” the puck seems obvious.

Marco Beltrán def. Deiveson Alcântara by way of a Unanimous Decision.

*Leonardo Santos vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier has been scratch from the card

*Odds current per Bovada on 5/19/17