Tomorrow evening, the UFC will grace our televisions for the third time in just over a week as they bring is Fight Night 28, live from Belo Horizonte, Brazil. HIghly ranked light heavyweights Glover Teixeira and Ryan Bader will do battle, with the former having the opportunity to secure a title shot with an impressive performance. I’ll be giving my own predictions for each of the fights on the main card, as well as giving some context for what the matchups mean in the larger UFC landscape. UFC Fight Night 28 will air Wednesday, September 4, 2013 on Fox Sports 1, followed by the debut of the new season of “The Ultimate Fighter.” Stay tuned, as we will be providing a full event schedule later in the day.
UFC Fight Night 28 Predictions
Glover Teixeira v. Ryan Bader
Glover Teixeira has been a man on a mission since joining the UFC ranks last year, adding four straight wins inside the octagon to his current 19 fight winning streak. His momentum has led him to the cusp of a title shot, but he will need to put up an impressive performance against former D1 All-American Wrestler Ryan Bader if he wants to get past the final hurdle. Title shots are hard to come by inside the UFC, and there are no guarantees that a win tomorrow night elevates him to that level. However, the fact that champion Jon Jones has expressed interest in a matchup down the line has to improve his stock. Bader may no longer be considered a top-10 light heavyweight, but he is a dangerous opponent nonetheless. He has only suffered defeat at the hands of former light heavyweight champions, falling to Jon Jones, Tito Ortiz, and Lyoto Machida, but despite these losses he still possesses tremendous power and athleticism. Both fighters earned quick guillotine choke finishes in their last outings, and it will be interesting to see where this fight takes place. Teixeira has the clear advantage on the feet, and his takedown defense should help him to avoid getting planted on his back early in the fight. I see Glover utilizing his strong counter-wrestling skills to open up his boxing game, and I believe he will be able to put Bader away with strikes sometime in the second round.
Prediction: Teixeira, 2nd Round Technical Knockout
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza v. Yushin Okami
This should be a fun one. Two top-5 middleweights will square off in the co-main event, each looking to edge themselves closer to a title shot. Both Okami and Jacare are known for their superb grappling skills, but we shouldn’t forget that Okami also has 10 career knockouts. His opponent looked the part of middleweight contender in his UFC debut, putting on a submission clinic against Chris Camozzi, but he we haven’t seen him against the best the UFC has to offer. Tomorrow night represents a much sterner test, and facing an adversary like Okami will go a long way in showcasing whether he truly has championship potential. Okami’s wrestling is good enough to frustrate almost anyone in the division, but Jacare has plenty of weapons off of his back if he is taken down. It will be interesting to see which fighter, if any, opts to take this one to the ground, and if so who will have the advantage. Neither fighter has ever lost a professional bout due to submission, so this may be a classic case of two elite grapplers opting to slug it out on the feet. I have confidence that the fight will hit the ground at some point, and I believe Jacare will extend his current streak to five straight finishes after handing Okami his first submission loss.
Prediction: Souza, 3rd Round Submission
Joseph Benavidez v. Jussier “Formiga” da Silva
Benavidez has already staked his claim as the #2 flyweight fighter on the planet, looking sensational since coming up short against Demetrius Johnson in his attempt to capture the inaugural UFC flyweight championship. He and his Team Alpha Male teammates have been on a roll as of late, and another win over a tough competitor could be all it takes to earn himself another shot at the champion. Formiga is a true veteran of the sport, having actively competed since 2005, and his submission skills should not be underestimated. However, Benavidez has the clear advantage in difficulty of opponents faced. I see him keeping this fight standing for as long as possible, and with his solid wrestling base I believe he has the potential to beat his Formiga anywhere the fight goes. I never count someone out of a fight, but barring any big mistakes Benavidez should see himself in a title bout soon.
Prediction: Benavidez, 3rd Round Unanimous Decision
Francisco Trinaldo v. Piotr Hallmann
Hallmann is a bit of a wild card here, as he is making his UFC debut without ever having faced a top-level opponent that can be used to gauge his potential. He boasts an impressive 13-1 record, and has showcased his ability to finish fights both on the feet and the ground, but little else is known about him at this point. Trinaldo is massive for his weight class, and has displayed savy jui-jitsu skills that complement his size, earning submission victories in his last two competitions by way of arm triangle choke. Brazilians have done notoriously well since the UFC began frequently holding events there, and I have a feeling this same streak will continue here. Too little is known about Hallmann to make him an upset pick, and Trinaldo has shown his ability to hang in there against other mid-tier lightweights by going the distance with Gleison Tibau. Look for Trinaldo to mix it up with strikes in order to set up a takedown, and from there he can use his size advantage to exhaust his opponent. I believe he will do enough to grind out his opponent and earn a unanimous decision victory.
Prediction: Trinaldo, 3rd Round Unanimous Decision
Rafael Natal v. Tor Troeng
Troeng entered the “Ultimate Fighter” house as one of the Europe’s top prospects, and despite his loss on the show he was able to secure a solid victory in his UFC debut against castmate Adam Cella. He is a tough and technical fighter, but he has not faced the same level of competition as his Brazilian opponent. Rafael Natal will be fighting in his birthplace of Belo Horizonte, and you can expect him to put on a show in front of his hometown crowd. He looked impressive in his unanimous decision victory over Joao Zeferino, and has displayed a well-rounded game throughout his UFC career. Troeng has a lot of potential, but I’m not ready to invest in his stock just yet. I expect Natal to transition between strikes and takedown attempts, keeping his opponent guessing during all three rounds. It will be the closest fight on the main card, but one that will ultimately be won by the Brazilian.
Prediction: Natal, 3rd Round Unanimous Decision
Marcos Vinicius v. Ali Bagautinov
As one of the UFC’s most exciting Russian prospects, Bagautinov has the opportunity to really make waves in a shallow flyweight division. Vinicius is fighting at the weight for the first time in his career, and despite the fact that he will be competing in his home country it still feels like the UFC is throwing him to the wolves. As a former World Sambo champion, Bagautinov has all the tools to win this fight. Expect him to strike with his opponent early, then close the distance to use his diverse array of takedowns and throws. Once the fight hits the ground, the Russian can threaten with ground and pound or submission attempts to secure a stoppage.
Prediction: Bagautinov, 2nd Round Submission
SciFighters! As always, let me know if you agree with my picks. If not, let me know why!