It has been three full weeks since the UFC has held an event, but the break is over. Fight Night 135, or UFC Lincoln, will take place in the Pinnacle Bank Arena on August 25th. The main event is between two rising stars in the UFC as they face off in a lightweight bout that could propel them up the rankings. Let’s get to the preview and predictions!
Eryk “Ya Boi” Anders (10-1) vs. Tim “The South Jersey Strangler” Williams (15-4)
Winner- KO (4:42, RND 3)
Anders- The former LFA middleweight champion is set to take on Tim Williams in Lincoln. Anders is coming off his only loss, albeit controversially, to Lyoto Machida. “Ya Boi” brings a 0.65 striking differential into the match according to fightmetric.com. The former University of Alabama star is a powerful striker, with six knockouts, but has slowed down a little after entering the UFC finishing only one bout via knockout in his three contests under the promotion.
Williams- The South Jersey Strangler is also entering the fight after losing his last. Williams lost via KO in the first round of that contest. According to his fight metrics, Williams has a staggering -4.74 strike differential, which could spell trouble against a powerful striker like Anders. With nine wins by submission, Williams could turn to grappling, but getting a former national champion linebacker to the ground is easier said than done.
PREDICTION: Eryk Anders- TKO (RND 1)
John “Chicano” Moraga (19-6) vs. Deiveson “Dues da Guerra” Figueiredo (14-0)
Moraga- Moraga is riding a three-fight win streak ahead of his bout with Deiveson Figueiredo. Neither fighter lands a lot of strikes per minute, as Chicano sits at just 2.62 SLpM and an overall strike differential of 0.12. He does have three knockout victories as well as eight submissions. Moraga has only finished one opponent in his last six fights.
Winner-KO (3:08, RND 2)
Figueiredo- At 14-0, and only going the distance twice in his career, Figueiredo is an intriguing rising star. The Brazilian has seven knockouts and five submission victories and is hungry to keep his perfect record intact. With a striking differential of 0.35, he and Moraga are closely matched. The deciding factor may be in Figueiredo’s ability to get Moraga to the ground. He averages 2.17 per fifteen minutes with a 55% accuracy. Once Deiveson has his opponent on the ground he goes to work, averaging 4.3 submission attempts per fifteen minutes.
PREDICTION: Deiveson Figueiredo- TKO (RND 3)
Jake “The Juggernaut” Ellenberger (31-14) vs. Bryan “Bam Bam’ Barberena (13-5)
Ellenberger- The Juggernaut will participate in his 46th professional fight on Saturday. Unfortunately, Ellenberger has only won two of his last ten fights, while being finished in six of those eight losses. In his defense, he lost to some of the best in the UFC. If I had to guess, I would say Jake will look to control the Octagon with takedowns and top control. Ben Saunders just demolished Ellenberger in his last outing, and it is hard for me to believe he has a lot of power left in his strikes. Ellenberger does average 2.07 takedowns per fifteen minutes, and with Barberena’s 47% takedown defense, he may be able to get the fight to the ground and keep it there.
Winner- TKO (2:26, RND 1)
Barberena- The fourth fighter on this main card that enters the event having lost their last fight, Bryan Barberena will look to swarm Ellenberger and get a quick, decisive finish to get him back on track. Bam Bam brings a solid 4.89 SLpM and 1.22 strike differential (-0.33 for Jake) to this contest and has nine of his thirteen wins by knockout. His takedown defense is not the greatest, but with constant forward pressure with clean, accurate strikes, he should be able to keep distance and finish the fight on the feet.
PREDICTION: Bryan Barberena- KO (RND 1)
Cortney “Cast Iron” Casey (7-6) vs. Angela “Overkill” Hill (8-4)
Winner- Split Decision
Casey- Entering the contest on a two-fight losing streak and dropping three of four, Cortney Casey will look to earn her first win in over a year. Her last previous fights have all ended in a decision, including her last win over Jessica Aguilar in 2017. “Cast Iron” lands a respectable 4.39 strikes per minute, but with only 39% accuracy. The grappling statistics are, as Mike Goldberg would say, virtually identical, except takedown defense. Casey touts just a 25% takedown defense while Hill has 72%.
Hill- Overkill has gone the distance in her last six fights, and while only losing two of those, we know she can go deep into the later rounds. Angela’s 5.42 SLpM and 50% accuracy can be used to pressure and wear down Cortney throughout the fight. Her striking defense, at 62%, could lessen some of the strikes that Hill absorbs, increasing her strike differential and outscoring her opponent using her phenomenal kickboxing.
PREDICTION: Angela Hill- Decision
Michael “The Menace” Johnson (18-12) vs. Andre “Touchy” Fili (18-5)
Winner- Split Decision
Johnson- Michael Johnson is on a three-fight losing streak that includes a loss to main event fighter, Justin Gaethje, and lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. Those three losses all came by way of stoppage but was able to KO Dustin Poirier during his last win in 2016. With 4.13 SLpM and a 0.10 strike differential. Johnson’s 79% takedown defense could come in handy since Fili averages 2.91 takedowns per fifteen minutes.
Fili- Back to a fighter on a winning streak, Andre Fili is riding a two-fight win streak with wins over Dennis Bermudez and Artem Lobov. “Touchy” Fili has eight knockout victories, and three submission wins, finishing eleven of his eighteen wins. He carries the takedown per fifteen minutes advantage with 2.91 but will have to contend with a 79% takedown defense by Johnson.
PREDICTION: Michael Johnson- Decision
Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje (18-2) vs. James “The Texecutioner” Vick (13-1)
Winner- KO (1:27, RND 1)
Gaethje- The fight that MMA fans have been waiting for over the course of UFC’s hiatus is finally here. Justin Gaethje returns to action after two losses that earned him the fight of the night bonuses and a performance of the night victory over Michael Johnson. The Highlight lives up to his moniker, finishing all but two of his wins with a fantastic fifteen wins by knockout! Gaethje’s 8.67 SLpM is more than double that of his opponent, but it comes at a cost. Gaethje absorbs 10.68 strikes per minute creating a -2.01 strike differential. The former WSOF champion will look to utilize brutal leg kicks that he is known for and break his opponent from the bottom up. Gaethje fights aggressively and could be too much for Vick to handle.
Vick- The Texecutioner looks to extend his four-fight win streak against an electric Justin Gaethje, thus further rising in the UFC rankings. While Vick may not wow the crowd the same way Gaethje does, he is a highly technical striker, with a blue belt in BJJ. Vick has three knockouts, five submissions, and five decision victories to his one loss. The Texan does not land nearly as many SpM as his opponent but does have a far better strike differential at 1.09. His striking defense at 62% may protect him from some of the heavy punches that Gaethje throws, but it is the leg kicks he will have to be conscious enough to check. If he is unable to check the leg kicks, Gaethje can chop Vick’s frame down and turn it into a slugfest.
PREDICTION: James Vick- Decision
@beardedm00se was 4-2 on the card, 36-29 overall