UFC Fight Night 129 Preview and Picks
The UFC heads to Santiago, Chile for the first time as Demian Maia and Kamaru Usman square off in the main event. It’s not the greatest of cards, and in my opinion some of the prelim fights should a lot more competitive than the main card. Here are some of the fights to watch this Saturday night.
Humberto Bandenay (14-4) vs. Gabriel Benitez (20-6)
This is a pretty intriguing fight in my opinion. Gabriel Benitez is coming off a very impressive win over Jason Knight, and Humberto Bandenay is coming off a fuge knockout win over Martin Bravo. The line on this fight opened up a pick em and the money has come in on Benitez…I can see why as this is a pretty big step up in competition. However I think Bandalay’s style and length will give Benitez trouble. Bandenay is on a six fight winning streak and while many remember his quick knockout of Martin Bravo, he also has a nice submission game as well. I like Bandenay to score the upset here.
The Pick: Humberto Bandenay via 2nd rd TKO
Poliana Botelho (5-1) vs Syuri Kondo (6-0)
I had my eye on this one as this is a good contrast in styles. Botelho comes out of the same camp as bantamweight up and comer Ketlan Viera and had an impressive performance in her fight against Pearl Gonzales. There was one thing that caught my eye in that fight, Pearl had her small moments when she came at Poliana with pressure. Syuri Kondo is all about pressure…if Poliana can get this fight to the ground she can have success, but I think Kondo’s pressure and volume will ultimately lead to a decision victory.
The Pick: Syuri Kondo via unanimous decision
Brandon Moreno (14-4) vs Alexandre Pantoja (18-3)
Both of these fighters are coming off a loss, Moreno losing to Sergio Pettis in Mexico City and Pantoja losing to Dustin Ortiz at UFC 220. This is actually a rematch as these two met during season 24 of the Ultimate Fighter with Pantoja winning via submission. A lot has changed since then, and while Moreno might have the advantage in the grappling department against most, it’s not against Pantoja. Pantoja’s diverse and more technical striking will be the difference in this one. I am a tad concerened about Pantoja’s cardio, but I think he gets the job done here, as I think he’s simply the more well rounded fighter.
The Pick: Alexandre Pantoja via unanimous decision
Vicente Luque (12-6-1) vs Chad Laprise (14-2)
Chad Laprise has rattled off 3 straight victories all via knockout but now he faces a stiffer test in Vicente Luque. Laprise is a good technical striker but I still think his recent run is due to the level of competition. Luque is the bigger guy and is much more versatile. Laprise is just too undersized for the welterweight division and I think Luque’s grappling will prove to be too much for the Canadian.
The Pick: Luque via 2nd round submission
Kamaru Usman (11-1) vs Demian Maia (25-8)
While I am a huge fan of Demian Maia, I simply think that the UFC Veteran is really up against it here coming in on short notice against a young contender in Usman. If Maia can possibly get Usman down in the first round then I believe that is the only opportunity for Maia to win. It’s a small window, but what have we seen in the past? Maia gasses midway through 2nd round…we saw it in his fight against Colby Covington and we saw it against Woodley. Usman is by far more athletic and should be able to keep this on the feet. The longer this fight goes on, the more it favors Usman. The young Nigerian is just quicker and the more explosive guy, and should be able to end the fight midway through. As much as it pains me to see Maia being fed to the wolves…it’s apparent that he’s become a gatekeeper as he nears the end of his MMA career.
The Pick: Usman via 3rd round TKO