Dana White bringing the Pandemic fire with this top-five Bantamweight main event showdown.

UFC Fight Night 179: Moraes vs Sandhagen Predictions & Results

As good a fight as Moraes/Sandhagen is, the rest of the card is a weird mash-up of stylistic counters and prospect watches. The way that the UFC has been treating Aljo Sterling, don’t be surprised if Dana gives the next Bantamweight title shot to the winner of Moraes or Sandhagen though. Saying that, the big goof will probably go ahead and give Dom Cruz a shot at Petr Yan and the title just for the sheer lol’s and dollar bills.

It may not be to everyone’s cup of tea, but three heavyweight fights on a card at least means it’ll be an early night for the non-US viewers. Moreover, some of the prospects include fighters who have been brave enough to take last-minute bouts during this pandemic. In a sense, I’ve grown attached to these particular fighters because of the lack of other sporting news or events. Despite there being no fairytales in combat sports, these prospects all face favourable match-ups. Long reign the pandemic fighters.

UFC news: Tom Aspinall vs. Serghei Spivac booked for Oct. 10
British Heavyweight prospect, Tom Aspinall, made light work of the overweight Jake Collier. 25 July 2020.

Main Event

Bantamweight (135)

Marlon Moraes (23-6-1) vs Cory Sandhagen (12-2)

Marlon Moraes is the more polished striker, and by far, harder hitter. While both men can counter punch, Moraes has made a career from crisp counter striking with exceptional timing. Look no further than Moraes melting Aljo Sterling with a head kick as he dipped into a takedown. During the first couple rounds, Moraes has a genuine chance of sleeping Sandhagen anytime he attempts to close the distance. Sandhagen wasn’t exactly switched on early in his last fight (most likely an anomaly though). If this goes to the ground, Moraes is the more competent grappler. Sandhagen looked lost with Sterling sliding over him on the mat, and Moraes is strong enough to bully his way into a dominant position.

Where this analysis falls apart is when considering Moraes’ conditioning issues. Moraes is a low-output striker who has serious late-round jitters. Against Aldo and Cejudo, Moraes started hot but was unable to keep the upper hand past the first five minutes. Once Moraes has hit the ‘wall’, he resorts to evasion and is even more patient as not to waste his fleeting energy. Unfortunately, against the elite bantamweights, he has been found out and punished. What’s worse for Moraes, Sandhagen is a late-round beast. Against John Lineker, Sandhagen was throwing a crazy volume up until the final bell. While his shots don’t have much notable sting, Moraes could so easily drown in the volume after the first couple of rounds.

Predicted Result: Sandhagen Decision

If Sandhagen’s chin is able to hold up, and he is willing to brave engaging in the pocket after receiving heavy shots, he will be able to take control of the fight in the later rounds.

UFC 238 Full Fight Video: Watch Marlon Moraes Knock Out Aljamain Sterling
The aftermath of Moraes sending Aljo Sterling into Neverland via leg kick express. 10 December 2017.

Result: Sandhagen def. Moraes // TKO (spinning wheel kick and punches) Round 2 1:03

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Co-Main Event

Featherweight (145)

Edson Barboza (20-9) vs Makwan Amirkhani (16-4)

It’s hard not to love Edson Barboza. A fighter who has serious and obvious flaws that have been documented for a long time now. Despite this, Barboza’s incredible kicking game and immense athleticism (all-natural, oi oi) are up amongst the most feared on the roster. If you can back Barboza up to the cage, he is toasted, whether you take him down or not. Without the range to launch a powerful kick, Barboza’s threat is muted, despite solid boxing. Taking Barboza down is a struggle though, with a takedown defence that is surprisingly slippery. On the mat, Barboza is once again, toasted.

Makwan Amirkhani is another fighter with almost comically clear strengths and weaknesses. A serpent on the ground, Amirkhani’s submission offence is viscous and a constant threat. Moreover, Amirkhani possesses an explosive striking game with elaborate kicks and flying knees which can catch out lesser opposition. The reasoning behind such flair striking is to hide his lack of striking fundamentals. A limp jab and limited combination work, it is clear that Amirkhani only strikes to transition to the takedown. Unfortunately for Mr Finland, he possess a two-round gas tank at best. If he struggles to get a takedown, as he probably will against Barboza, he will tire even faster. Without a poker face and against a striker who holds his power late, it’s going to be a long night for Amirkhani.

Predicted Result: Barboza TKO Round 3

This is based upon Barboza still possessing a strong takedown defence. An early takedown for Amirkhani could spell the end for the Brazilian.

VIDEO: Makwan Amirkhani helped opponent regain consciousness after win -  Insider
Amirkhani strangles the hell out of Danny Henry with a mean looking Anaconda Choke. 11 July 2020.

Result: Barboza def. Amirkhani // Decision (unanimous – 30-26, 30-27, 29-28)

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Main Card

Heavyweight (265)

Ben Rothwell (38-12) vs Marcin Tybura (19-6)

Ben Rothwell should have stayed retired. Since his return, Rothwell hasn’t exactly provided blockbuster action. Dropping decision losses to Blagoy Ivanov (not so bad), and Andre Arlovski (bad), Rothwell finally beat OSP in a sloppy decision win. Sure, Rothwell also beat Struve by stoppage, but that itself was a fight marred by illegal shots and once again, sloppiness. Rothwell used to be fun to watch, now he’s a washed striker that’s hesitant to engage.

Good God, Marcin Tybura somehow wins the contest for most boring fighter in this bout. A cure for insomnia, Tybura’s lay and pray style leaves much to be desired. Good takedowns, dominant controlling top game, but 0 entertainment value. Is a double knockout asking too much of the MMA Gods?

Predicted Result: Rothwell Decision

Tybura three years ago? A certain win. Tybura 2020? No longer confident enough to takedown the bigger man. Rothwell is the better striker… somehow.

Result: Tybura def. Rothwell // Decision (unanimous – 29-27, 29-27, 29-27)

Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Middleweight (185)

Markus Perez (12-3) vs Dricus Du Plessis (14-2)

Perez is a fun fighter to watch because as good as he is on the mat, he is in love with his hands. Dropping silly decision losses to fighters he should have out-grappled, Perez seems to enjoy fighting on his feet despite it being to his detriment. An Anaconda Choke victory over Anthony Hernandez and Arm Triangle over Ian Heinisch highlights the skill level of the Brazilian.

Dricus Du Plessis is a striker from KSW and EFC (South African MMA Promotion). A rippling physique, Du Plessis pounds in a low kick and uses his straight shots as bait. Bobbing in and out with his head, Du Plessis aims to get opponents to fall into his dangerous hook shots. A second round stoppage of Roberto Soldić illuminated his striking ability and grappling defence.

Predicted Result: Du Plessis Decision

Du Plessis is a top kickboxer, who’s leaky striking defence will not be exposed by Markus Perez. If Du Plessis breaks from his gameplan and takes it to the mat, he may be in serious trouble, despite many of his wins coming from submission.

Result: Du Plessis def. Perez // KO (punches) Round 1 3:22

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Heavyweight (265)

Tom Aspinall (8-2) vs Alan Baudot (8-1)

Tom Aspinall was a monster in Cage Warriors and he seems to have taken his mean streak with him into the UFC. Albeit, beating a vastly overweight Jake Collier is little to celebrate, but it at least put to bed his debut jitters. Heavy with both hands, Apinall will be able to out-box much of the dire Heavyweight cans.

Alan Baudot is a trick card, because he is actually a Light Heavyweight. Having never really fought beyond regional promotions, Baudot is up against the odds in this contest. Undersized and prefering to strike, he had better bank on his chin holding up against a much larger and deadlier man.

Predicted Result: Aspinall TKO Round 1

Baudot is a last-minute replacement so this isn’t shady UFC match-making. Sergei Spivak would have been a perfect opponent to try and test the grappling chops of Aspinall. As it is, Aspinall should smash through this gimme fight.

Result: Aspinall def. Baudot // TKO (elbow and punches) Round 1 1:35

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Featherweight (145)

Youssef Zalal (10-2) vs Ilia Topuria (8-0)

Zalal is a prospect that I have firmly hopped onto the hype train for. Battering Jordan Griffin for three rounds was delightful to watch. Zalal’s last fight against Peter Barrett was a closer affair and he was tagged a few times more than he should have against limited opposition. Thankfully, Zalal can use his wrestling as an alternative strategy to break his opponent down. Calculated long-range striking is used to out-point opponents. Occasionally though, Zalal lands a shot which can (or should) turn the lights out i.e. Zalal’s spinning kick that really should have knocked Barrett out cold.

Topuria is a short notice opponent, and is also far smaller as the career Bantamweight. A wrestling-first fighter, Topuria has been bailed out in the past by virtue of his athleticism and power. Sacrificing his physical upper hand, he will be forced into a striking affair by Zalal, a task which he is not fit for just yet.

Predicted Result: Zalal Decision

Zalal’s striking is a thing of beauty – calculated and patient, with the occasional flashes of explosive brilliance.

Result: Topuria def. Zalal // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Preliminary Card

Middleweight (185)

Tom Breese (11-2) vs KB Bhullar (8-0)

Tom Breese has had a pretty bad streak of bad luck. Suffering a streak of injuries throughout his careers, as well as mental health issues (pulling out of the Ian Heinisch fight due to an anxiety attack), Breese’s MMA career has been stop and start. Also, Breese looked like he almost gave up against Brendan Allen when he was swept onto his back during his last fight. When on point, Breese uses crisp straight shots to back up his controlling grappling which suffocates opponents against the cage.

KB Bhullar is a late notice opponent, but at 6’4″, he is still a threat. A regional fighter, Bhullar will have to bring his striking heat against an opponent whose heart is under question.

Predicted Result: Breese TKO Round 1

Breese may be unable to overcome his mental hurdles, but if he is, he should be able to out-grapple and out-strike his huge opponent.

Result: Breese def. Bhullar // TKO (punches) Round 1 1:42

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Heavyweight (265)

Rodrigo Nascimento (8-0) vs Chris Daukaus (9-3)

Nascimento is a killer grappler who is a true submission threat. While his striking is rather iffy, Nascimento is gradually improving. Moreover, in the clinch, Nascimento can deliver thudding elbows and knees to level the striking playing field.

Chris Daukaus is a big unit of a man who whooped a bigger unit of a man in Parker Porter just a couple of months ago. Daukaus showed fast, crisp boxing combinations but the fight was fought at his own pace and range. Against a more threatening opponent, it is questionable whether Daukaus will be able to fight so fluidly.

Predicted Result: Nascimento Submission Round 3

Daukaus is an unknown entity, and perhaps his conditioning will hold up in the later rounds against a strong opponent. Nascimento must be favoured though, especially with his strength on the mat.

Result: Daukaus def. Nascimento // KO (punches) Round 1 0:45

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Middleweight (185)

Impa Kasanganay (8-0) vs Joaquin Buckley (10-3)

Kasanganay illuminated his development to a real contender at Middleweight after his three round beating of Maki Pitolo. Not once looking tired during the bout, Kasanganay looked POWERFUL with his striking. Cardio and strength, Kasanganay also employs his skills in the grappling department, wearing down opponents against the cage without striking yet. Kasanganay is still very green, however, only turning pro three years ago.

Joaquin Buckley lost a short notice fight against the underrated Kevin Holland, but he looked threatening in the first-round. A manlet, Buckley is built like a tank, and proved his power at the regional levels with a string of first round stoppages. Moreover, Buckley has experience in the LFA and Bellator, two very decent litmus test organisations in regards to a UFC prospect.

Predicted Result: Buckley Decision

Both men are fine fighters with big futures ahead of them, but I think Buckley’s experience will edge out the raw skill and athleticism of Kasanganay.

Result: Buckley def. Impa Kasanganay // KO (jumping spinning back kick) Round 2 2:03

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Bantamweight (135)

Al AlQaisi (8-4) vs Tony Kelley (6-2)

AlQaisi probably deserved his victorious debut against Irwin Rivera back in August, but it wasn’t a robbery by any stretch of the imagination. Far better on the feet than I had given him credit for, AlQaisi has a sweet counter straight that tagged Rivera frequently. Moreover, AlQaisi’s top game saw him claim periods of dominant control against Rivera, a fighter with a very strong bottom game.

Losing to Kai Kamaka III in a close decision, Kelley is a big volume fighter who takes a few to give a couple. Kelley refused to go down in the later rounds, and this is where his best work will appear against AlQaisi.

Predicted Result: AlQaisi Decision

A toss-up really, but AlQaisi didn’t flag too many conditioning problems late against Rivera, and should be able to weather the storm that Kelley brings.

Result: Kelley def. AlQaisi // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Featherweight (145)

Giga Chikadze (10-2) vs Omar Morales (10-0)

How is this bout so far down on the card? This has the potential to be FOTN. Chikadze is a DELICIOUS striker, and when I say delicious, I mean delicious. A kickboxer with incredibly solid fundamentals, Chikadze still opts for the goofy strikes which often leaves himself in vulnerable positions. Chikadze can struggle to set and maintain a solid pace, but once he is comfortable, he throws explosive highlight reel combinations.

Omar Morales is a decent fighter, but he was dragged into a punishing war against Gabriel Benitez. Elderly in regards to the rest of the Featherweight division, Morales is a fighter who can’t decide on where to take a fight. Alright grappling, Morales often power punches his way to victory instead.

Predicted Result: Chikadze Decision

Chikadze has struggled to finish his UFC opponent’s, but it won’t be long before the Georgian finds his perfect timing.

Result: Chikadze def. Morales // Decision (unanimous – 30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Women’s Bantamweight (135)

Tracy Cortez (7-1) vs Stephanie Egger (5-1)

Yeah, I really do not care about this fight. Cortez was a small fighter at Flyweight, and will be even smaller at Bantamweight. Stephanie Egger has had a handful of fights over the past five years, and look ‘eh’.

Predicted Result: Cortez Decision

Cortez is the superior fighter in every aspect, but the move in weight may be detrimental. Who knows? Who cares?

Result: Cortez def. Egger // Decision (unanimous – 30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Flyweight (125)

Tagir Ulanbekov (12-1) vs Bruno Silva (10-5-2)

Not the best striker despite his long levers, Ulanbekov is a savvy and dominating top controller. Actively trying to search for a submission, Ulanbekov attempts to create the opportunities by brute forcing his way with damaging ground and pound.

Bruno Silva is 0-2 in the UFC and has struggled against modest competition. Small and lacking power, Silva is lost on the feet and on the mat.

Predicted Result: Ulanbekov Submission Round 3

Could be a decision but likely Ulanbekov breaks his opponent physically and mentally late in the bout.

Result: Ulanbekov def. da Silva // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Prediction Accuracy

UFC Fight Night 179: Moraes vs Sandhagen

Winner: 9/13

Method: 7/13

Round: 7/13

2020 MMA Season

Winner: 128/210

Method: 100/210

Round: 88/210

Takeaway comments: Man like Cory Sandhagen is back in business, baby.

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