UFC Fight Night 196: Costa vs Vettori Predictions

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UFC Fight Night 196: Costa vs Vettori Predictions & Results

Pintsized Background

Could this be the fight with the accumulated lowest IQ in the octagon? I have a feeling that perhaps Costa is a little sharper than he lets on – tarred by the brush of his memes and broken English. Vettori, however, has no excuse in his orc-like approach to everything in life.

Costa’s refusal to fight at the contractually agreed 185lb, then his failure to even compete at a proposed 195lb catchweight, has bordered insanity during the build-up to the main event. Not only is it disrespectful towards Vettori, but it also proved the UFC’s willingness and ease in which it can move the gateposts for their favoured fighters. I’m a Costa fan, I love his style and his Twitter cracks me up. This week has been number one BS, though, and the LHW bout could be a dangerous joke gone too far.

Failed to catch the action from the last UFC? No worries. Peep our preview from las week via UFC Fight Night 195: Ladd vs Dumont Predictions. Prefer a review of the event to jog the memory? Read MAFB: UFC Fight Night 195 Review. Number crunching more your suit? Find all of Pintsized scores for your favourite fighters on MAFB Math: UFC Fight Night 195.

Unconvinced by Pintsized’s mystical predicting powers? Take a look at our prediction success last month detailed in UFC Predictions Results: September 2021.

Can Mason Jones find his first victory in the UFC? | UFC Fight Night 196 Predictions
Can Mason Jones find his first victory in the UFC? | UFC Fight Night 196 Predictions

UFC Fight Night 196: Main Event

Paulo Costa (13-1) vs Marvin Vettori (17-4-1)

Light Heavyweight (205)

Paulo Costa

Just how much of the move to LHW from MW is down to a botched weight cut? Has Adesanya truly broken the spirit of Costa, or is this just a case of a poor training camp and extenuating circumstances? Worse yet, is there another underlying injury that Costa refused to allow to cancel yet another fight?

We don’t quite know what version of Costa will return to the octagon after his title fight spanking, but the extra weight would likely buff Costa’s natural style. Relying heavily on his nuclear power, Costa aims to walk opponents down and drag them into a fire-fight in the pocket. If you believe there is a hidden subtlety to his game, go re-watch the Yoel Romero match and silence yourself. So why then did Costa decide to unveil a patient, out-boxing approach against Adesanya – one of the greatest MMA strikers of all time?

Underrated grappling could well surprise a few on Saturday night. In the clinches against the cage, Costa has the size and know-how to break back into the centre of the octagon with regularity during the opening rounds. In the championship rounds, Vettori’s persistence will likely wear down Costa’s TDD, but that won’t matter much if Costa breaks his chin early. Of course, Costa’s durability has to be brought into the equation too. While Uriah Hall and Yoel Romero both failed to leave a mark on Costa, the Brazilian was knocked out hard in his last fight.

Marvin Vettori

Pace is king for Vettori. If no one threatens to break the pace he sets, the Italian can lull opponents into his back-and-forth striking affairs before his wrestling edge sees him secure rounds. Costa’s pressure is relentless, however, and Vettori cannot afford to sit on his back foot. Adesanya’s lateral movement and thumping leg kicks neutralised Costa’s forward momentum, but Vettori doesn’t have anywhere near the Kiwi’s technical quality to replicate such a performance. If Vettori fails to clash head-on and battle over the range and pace of the fight, the Italian’s leaky striking defence will see his solid chin peppered. No one has come close to starching Vettori yet, but I wouldn’t roll the dice with the Brazilian’s freakish power.

Vettori’s leg kick during the opening rounds of his rematch with Adesanya may prove important against Costa. The Kiwi battered Costa’s lead leg into submission, taking away the Brazilian’s lethal bursting power. Vettori isn’t as consistent with the leg kick, nor has he shown the mental aptitude to adapt on the feet to push his advantage. Rafael Cordeiro is a solid game-planner, however, who has likely instructed Vettori to attack the legs early.

Vettori’s head movement on the back-foot is relatively slick for the initial strike, yet his backward movement on a straight line leaves him open for extended combinations. If Costa is willing to plough forward in typical bruiser fashion, he cannot afford to commit to single power shots. Instead, Costa has to force Vettori to unravel his defence through educated pressure before sitting into his power.

Predicted Result: Vettori Decision

We don’t quite know what version of Costa will return to the octagon after his title fight spanking, but the change of weight class beforehand has raised red flags. Injuries, mental troubles or gamesmanship have all been considered – but it is anyone’s guess until the two meet on Saturday night.

The extra weight could well benefit Costa’s natural bruiser style, banking on his nuclear power to walk opponents down and drag them into a fire-fight in the pocket. Vettori’s defence on the back-foot is surprisingly sharp, even Adesanya struggled to land cleanly during the opening rounds of their rematch. Unfortunately for the Italian, his defence begins to unravel after the initial exchanges as a result of backward movement on a straight line. Costa can land cleanly on Vettori if he maintains educated pressure rather than banking on single power shots.

While Vettori’s wrestling and gruelling pace remain the most likely route of victory, Costa’s underrated grappling could keep the fight standing during the opening sequences. If Vettori consistently pops out his leg kick while he waits for Costa to tire, he can limit the explosiveness of the Brazilian’s bursts similarly to Adesanya/Costa. With Costa’s durability and form questionable after his heavy TKO defeat, Vettori’s pace and consistency on the mat have to be backed.

Result: Vettori def. Costa // Decision (unanimous – 48-46, 48-46, 48-46)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Forget the Adesanya match, rewatch the beautiful violence between Costa and Romero | UFC Fight Night 196 Predictions
Forget the Adesanya match, rewatch the beautiful violence between Costa and Romero | UFC Fight Night 196 Predictions

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UFC Fight Night 196: Co-Main Event

Grant Dawson (17-1) vs Ricky Glenn (22-6-1)

Lightweight (155)

Grant Dawson

Without the stress of a huge weight cut to Featherweight, we may see a newly sharpened Grant Dawson appear. Of course, the pressure wrestler may struggle against the bigger guys – but his Lightweight debut troubles could well be down to Leonardo Santos’ exceptional defensive grappling and wealth of experience. Dawson’s five-fight streak in the UFC is impressive on paper, but the performances have fluctuated wildly in dominance. Perhaps the stiff striking has left question marks over each performance, but when Dawson is unable to grab early takedowns (i.e. Leonardo Santos) he can be slowly and painfully out-worked on the feet. The classic ducking overhand is too often relied upon as a staple of the striking, but hard leg kicks have been a welcome addition.

Ricky Glenn

Glenn may appear a towering figure in the octagon, but his T-Rex level reach hampers his long striking game. Starting fights on the outside and speculatively firing jabs, it doesn’t take long for an opponent to coax Glenn into trading short bursts in the pocket. Joaquim Silva may disagree, but Glenn lacks the power to stop Dawson from walking him down and controlling him on the mat. Gavin Tucker, a fellow prospect, was shocked by Glenn – but I can’t see it happening again. Glenn’s static upper body and cripplingly slow footwork will see him cracked fairly often with Dawson’s fast overhand. Even if Dawson’s initial punches miss, Glenn throws full-blooded counters – rooting his feet in the process and leaving himself open for the takedown.

Predicted Result: Dawson Decision

Joaquim Silva may disagree, but Glenn lacks the power to stop Dawson from walking him down and controlling him on the mat. Glenn’s rigid upper body and cripplingly slow footwork will see him cracked fairly often with Dawson’s fast overhand. Even if Dawson’s initial punches miss, Glenn throws full-blooded counters – rooting his feet in the process and leaving himself open for the takedown. This should prove a stylistic nightmare match-up for Glenn, but his granite chin and deep gas tank could spring a few issues late in the fight.

Result: Draw (Majority – 28-28, 28-28, 29-28)

Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

It may have been late in the contest, but Dawson still holds the very impressive claim over stopping Leonardo Santos | UFC Fight Night 196 Predictions
It may have been late in the contest, but Dawson still holds the very impressive claim over stopping Leonardo Santos | UFC Fight Night 196 Predictions

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UFC Fight Night 196: Main Card

Jessica-Rose Clark (10-6) vs Joselyne Edwards (10-3)

Women’s Bantamweight (135)

Jessica-Rose Clark

Hordes of horny fans are going to disagree, but Clark doesn’t have a long future in the sport. Plagued with a litany of injuries throughout her short career, the thirty-three year old’s best victory remains a decision victory over Paige VanZant. This represents as winnable a fight as Clark will find. Wrestling will prove the kryptonite to Edwards if Clark approaches the fight with a clear game plan. Sarah Alpar, Clark’s last victim, bullied Edwards in the clinch. The Aussie needs to remain aware of Edwards’ armbar off the back, but aside from the odd scare, Clark can have her way with a strangely passive grappler.

Joselyne Edwards

It is difficult to gauge Edwards. At times, the Panamanian is a crisp technician able to utilise her freakish 70″ reach and break opponents mentally. Recently, Edwards appears to have opted for a pressure heavy, power-first approach. Ideally, Edwards’ chooses the former this time around. Clark is coming off an ACL injury, and Edwards’ regular inside and outside leg kicks would quickly create questions for the Australian. The tendency to back herself onto the cage, however, is frustrating and fight-losing on this occasion.

Predicted Result: Edwards Decision

An incredibly difficult bout to call. Jessica Rose-Clark should out-wrestle Edwards, a fighter more than willing to back herself onto the cage at the first sign of pressure. With Clark coming off an ACL injury, and Edwards’ regular inside and outside leg kicks, it could quickly create tough questions for the Australians. Edwards is the classier technician on the feet and will be benefitting from a far larger frame, but she also routinely fails to fight to a winning game plan.

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

Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

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Alex Caceres (18-12) vs Seung Woo Choi (10-3)

Featherweight (145)

Alex Caceres

Whisper it, but long-time exciting roster figure, Alex Caceres, is riding a hot 4-0 streak. Granted, the victories have come over the likes of Steven Peterson and Chase Hooper, but Bruce Leroy appears to be a far more rounded fighter at Featherweight than in previous iterations. Flowing, fluid striking is based around an exceptional ability to match the flow of a clean kickboxing affair. Unfortunately for Caceres, his inability to impose his preferred pace and range sees him trying to beat opponents at their best game. Caceres cannot afford to allow Choi to walk him down, the South Korean’s counter straight-left hook is too lethal in the early exchanges.

Seung Woo Choi

Historically, Choi is a filthy powerful puncher who seems to have finally found his feet in the UFC. Movsar Evloev is a vile debut for any prospect while Gavin Tucker 2.0 surprised everyone with the developments the Canadian had made in the shadows. Choi’s exceptional pressure was on show against Julian Erosa, and there is no doubt that Caceres will be hit in the smaller Apex octagon. The veteran is excellent at timing reactive counters, however, and the first exchanges will prove extremely telling over the flow of the match. If Choi can eat Caceres’ early power without an issue, the South Korean will simply roll over Caceres – on the feet and the mat.

Predicted Result: Choi Decision

Choi is a filthy power puncher who seems to have finally found his feet in the UFC. Caceres’ fluid striking will eventually be able to reactively counter Choi’s early aggression, but he cannot afford the South Korean to dictate the opening pace. If, as expected, Caceres allows Choi to set the pace – Choi will gladly land his straight-left hook for three rounds and bank a dominant decision.

Result: Caceres def. Choi // Submission (rear-naked choke) Round 2 3:31

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

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Dwight Grant (11-3) vs Francisco Trinaldo (26-8)

Welterweight (170)

Dwight Grant

I’m not sure what alternative reality I’ve entered but I simply cannot remember when Grant aged so rapidly to thirty-seven? Granted, the warning signs were always there with his low-output style. Using his jab to manage distance rather than land strikes, Grant happily wheels around the octagon and waits for opponents to walk onto his power. Short 2-3 shot combinations won’t be enough to out-fox Trinaldo, however, and Grant may well find himself out-struck by the smarter fighter.

Francisco Trinaldo

I’m going to have to agree with the overwhelming outlook towards this fight. Trinaldo vs Grant will be an awfully dull staring contest that ends in a brutal knockout and allows us to forget the slothful action prior. Even with such a damning criticism, I love me some Francisco Trinaldo. An awkward Southpaw at an ancient forty-three years old, the Brazilian excels at managing his gas tank and barely pouring out enough volume to sneak rounds. Trinaldo may seemingly have an impenetrable chin on paper, but the Brazilian showed weakness against Jai Herbert. The Brit rocked Trinaldo hard early before he landed a freakish last-gasp left hook to seal the contest.

Predicted Result: Trinaldo TKO Round 3

I cannot see this fight as anything other than an awfully dull staring contest that ends in a brutal knockout and allows us to forget the slothful action prior. Both men use their jab to manage distance and make reads. Trinaldo’s chin was somewhat exposed by Jai Herbert, yet the Brazilian showed uncanny recovery time to find a late finish. Grant’s same short 2-3 shot combinations won’t be enough to out-fox Trinaldo, with the Brazilian’s experience likely too much.

Result: Trinaldo def. Grant // Decision (split – 27-29, 29-27, 29-27)

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

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Nick Negumereanu (10-1) vs Ike Villanueva (18-12)

Light Heavyweight (205)

Nick Negumereanu

A truly ugly LHW bout. Negumereanu is riding a career-high after a debatable split decision victory over Aleksa Camur. Sure, a 78″ reach is impressive, but what’s the point when the Romanian just walks opponents down onto short shots. Plod forward on a straight line, throw a 1-2 and end with a hook, this is the Negumereanu way. The Romanian has a couple of decent throws in his locker, but the top game has no notable ground and pound.

Ike Villanueva

Regional journeyman, Ike Villanueva, may seem to have lost his durability in the UFC, but he has also been a victim of a perfectly placed Prachnio liver kick and a doctor’s stoppage. Villanueva’s dirty boxing in the clinch, an area that Negumereanu will happily walk head-first into, will cause serious damage. Against an opponent unable to move on the back-foot as sharply as Prachnio, Villanueva will be able to unload his combinations without much thought.

Predicted Result: Villanueva TKO Round 2

Villanueva’s dirty boxing in the clinch, an area that Negumereanu will happily walk head-first into, will cause serious damage. Against an opponent unable to move on the back-foot as sharply as Prachnio, Villanueva will also be able to unload his combinations without much thought. The Romanian owns a couple of decent throws, but his limited top game is unlikely to change the outcome much.

Result: Negumereanu def. Villanueva // TKO (punches) Round 1 1:18

Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ❌

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UFC Fight Night 196: Preliminary Card

Jun Yong Park (13-4) vs Gregory Rodrigues (10-3)

Middleweight (185)

Jun Yong Park

Park has had a relatively easy ride in the UFC, beating opponents tailor-made for his oppressive wrestling game. Park will face the first high-ish level adversity of his career against Gregory Rodrigues. Yes, Anthony Hernandez has an excellent submission game, but Rodrigues can go one further and keep himself standing in this affair. Park peppered Nchukwi with the jab last time out, but he cannot afford to throw it wishfully against the Brazilian’s parry and counter game.

Gregory Rodrigues

A crafty back-foot striker, powerful wrestler and questionable top game leave a head-scratcher over how far Robocop can climb in the organisation. Rodrigues is a strong grappler, but he hasn’t yet shown the ability to pin opponents to the mat with the same dominance as Park. Williams may well have checked Rodrigues’ chin, but it may just prove a flash in the pan in a few fights time. Rodrigues could exploit Park’s shakey TDD to halt Park’s volume on the feet or if he is unable to time counters off of Park’s jab.

Predicted Result: Rodrigues Decision

Rodrigues is a strong grappler, but he hasn’t yet shown the ability to pin opponents to the mat with the same dominance as Park. Park doesn’t have the same pop as Jordan Williams to check Rodrigues’ chin early, meaning Robocop could exploit Park’s shakey TDD if he finds himself overwhelmed by the Korean’s heavy volume. An even, meaningful affair between two rising Middleweights should be fun.

Result: Rodrigues def. Park // KO (punches) Round 2 3:13

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

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Mason Jones (10-1) vs David Onama (8-0)

Lightweight (155)

Mason Jones

Jones may well be 0-1-1 in the UFC so far, but the Welshman has already proven himself to be a seriously hot prospect. The over-reliance upon the chin will continue to prove a major issue – but it is also central to Jones’ game. His greatest success comes from extended exchanges that build upon striking layers and hurt opponents that find themselves woefully out of form. Crisp left hooks and chopping leg kicks are vital weapons that will pin Onama on the back-foot and unable to time his power. A furious pace and naturally larger build will most likely see the Welshman find the finish.

David Onama

A late-notice replacement and UFC debutant, this isn’t an easy knock over can that most would expect. Onama is a powerful finisher who will likely stick around the organisation regardless of the result. Jones is a thoroughly hittable fighter but it is yet to be seen whether Onama is capable of maintaining his output under considerable duress. This is the sort of fight in which a heavy-handed prospect can create a name for himself with a shock early knockout, but it is never a solid call to back.

Predicted Result: Jones TKO Round 3

Onoma isn’t an easy knock-over can that often form most short-notice replacements. The powerful finisher fits the heavy-handed prospect stereotype that has regularly succeeded in securing early knockouts to create a name for themselves. Unfortunately, Jones’ remains the vastly superior fighter. A granite chin, excellent extended striking exchanges, a furious pace and naturally larger frame will drag Onoma into torrid, unproven waters.

Result: Jones def. Onama // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

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Tabatha Ricci (5-1) vs Maria Oliveira (12-4)

Women’s Strawweight (115)

Tabatha Ricci

An established grappling threat, Ricci appears to be a fighter who needs the right match-ups to truly shine. Manon Fiorot was not ‘that’ opponent. Battered on the feet by the far larger woman, Ricci sold herself poorly in an almost unwinnable short-notice fight. Still, Ricci showed signs of impressively adaptive defensive movement and still has a lot of time to refine her skill set.

Maria Oliveira

Representing the more technical striker and owning the superior frame, it is only the lack of experience against solid opposition that leaves question marks. Marina Rodriguez took Oliveira down with ease early, effectively pushing over the unbalanced Oliviera following a loose head kick. If Oliveira allows Ricci to close the distance, Oliveira will find herself sat down and submitted in record time.

Predicted Result: Ricci Submission Round 3

Ricci appears to be a fighter who needs the right match-ups to truly shine. Enter, Oliveira. The superior striker and greater physical specimen, her equally paper-thin record plasters over a total inability to make use of her striking advantage. An ugly fight that will likely see Oliveira allowing Ricci to close the distance, from which Oliveira will be sat and submitted.

Result: Ricci def. Oliveira // Decision (unanimous – 30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

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Laureano Staropoli (9-4) vs Jamie Pickett (11-6)

Middleweight (185)

Laureano Staropoli

A three-fight slide is depressing for a fun fighter who can pull off some incredibly aesthetic combinations. There is a clear wrestling weakness – Roman Dolidze handily grapple-humped him to a decision. The Argentinian’s volume and creative shot selection is likely to overwhelm Pickett – especially when the American fails to assert himself in the fight. Staropoli has almost a 10″ reach disadvantage to overcome, but with Pickett failing to ever use straight shots to control the range, Staro can cause trouble up close.

Jamie Pickett

As honest an MMA fighter as you will find. Expected to fall over to Tafon Nchukwi’s power early, Pickett rode the early storm before taking the prospect the distance. Despite an impressive 80″ reach, Pickett often opts to suffocate dangerous situations by wrapping up opponents on the inside and catching his breath. Even with a wrestling advantage, Pickett hasn’t shown the ability to pursue his preferred fight with success.

Predicted Result: Staropoli Decision

Maybe it’s my heart speaking, but Staropoli will break his three-fight slide on Saturday night. Despite an impressive 80″ reach, Pickett often opts to suffocate dangerous situations by wrapping up opponents on the inside and catching his breath. Even with a wrestling advantage, Pickett hasn’t shown the ability to pursue his preferred fight with success. The Argentinian’s volume and creative combinations should catch the judges eyes on the night and overcome the 10″ reach disadvantage.

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

Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

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Khama Worthy (16-8) vs Jai Herbert (10-3)

Lightweight (155)

Khama Worthy

It seems now that the book is out on Worthy. A powerful counter-puncher who coasts the early exchanges to make reads before opening up by the mid-point. Unfortunately for Worthy, his paper chin is wildly exploitable in the first round – suffering first-round knockouts five times in his career. In the face of Herbert’s regular ram-rod jab, Worthy will struggle further to make quick reads and will likely be caught flat-footed.

Jai Herbert

There isn’t a need to worry too much about Herbert’s 0-2 record in the UFC so far, the Brummie hasn’t been gifted the most favourable schedule. Moicano was a stylistic nightmare for the Brit, while Trinaldo’s experience and ridiculously efficient striking caught an overzealous Herbert. A bouncing one-two consistently frustrates opponents while Herbert’s head kick can take any opponent’s head clean off.

Predicted Result: Herbert TKO Round 1

Worthy’s vulnerability in the first round will continue the trend in this affair. In the face of Herbert’s regular ram-rod jab, Worthy will struggle further to make quick reads and will likely be caught flat-footed. Worse yet, Herbert’s bouncing entries will leave Worthy unable to time counters and likely find himself caught with Herbert’s killer head kick.

Result: Herbert def. Worthy // TKO (punches) Round 1 2:47

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

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Jonathan Martinez (13-4) vs Zviad Lazishvili (12-0)

Bantamweight (135)

Jonathan Martinez

Martinez needs a strong showing following his devastating knockout loss to Davey Grant. Despite three failed attempts to secure comeback bouts, the unintentional half a year lay-off may well prove vital to rejuvenating Martinez. Wonderful kicks were evidenced against Thomas Almeida, yet the defensive liabilities are likely to remain throughout his career. The opportunistic power strikes may well prove a coin flip – taking Lazishvili’s head off or seeing an unbalanced Martinez maneuvered easily onto the cage or mat.

Zviad Lazishvili

The Georgian is a furiously aggressive grappler who looks to dominate against the cage. Breaking down opponents with suffocating pressure, Lazishvili consistently threatens the legs and back in search of a quick submission opening. The Georgian will find a lot of success early, suffocating Martinez’s superior striking by clinching up and devouring Martinez space. With a late weight cut, however, Martinez should be able to find room in the later rounds and detonate his power.

Predicted Result: Martinez TKO Round 3

The Georgian will find a lot of success early, suffocating Martinez’s superior striking by clinching up and devouring Martinez space. With a late weight cut, however, Martinez should be able to find room in the later rounds and detonate his power.

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

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

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Prediction Accuracy

UFC Fight Night 196

Winner: 7/12

Method: 6/12

Round: 5/12

2021 MMA Season

Winner: 246/402

Method: 190/402

Round: 176/402

MMA Overall

Winner: 437/706

Method: 327/706

Round: 302/706

Takeaway comments: Can we give Mason Jones an easy highlight-reel finish yet?


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