The UFC presents a double-header this weekend, with the TUF 28 Finale taking place in Las Vegas on Friday night, and then Fight Night 142 coming from Adelaide, South Australia on Saturday night. Neither card looks like the greatest on paper, but Fight Night 142 in particular has some really intriguing fights on tap.
The theme for the card appears to be legends vs. prospects, as the top three fights all come in that form, and with plenty of local Australian talent up and down the card, a hot crowd is pretty much a guarantee.
Interestingly enough, this will also be the final UFC card to be aired on Fox Sports 1 (in the US), and so hopefully a run that’s lasted since the channel’s launch in 2013 can go out with a bang.
Here are the predicted outcomes for UFC Fight Night 142 in Adelaide.
#1 Junior Dos Santos vs. Tai Tuivasa
After last week’s Heavyweight showcase in the main event of Fight Night 141, the big boys once again take centre stage as former UFC Heavyweight champ Junior Dos Santos faces off with unbeaten Aussie up-and-comer Tai Tuivasa. It’s a huge step up in competition for Tuivasa, who currently stands at 3-0 in the Octagon, so can he jump to the elite level? Or will the Brazilian veteran send him back down the ladder?
Tuivasa is an interesting case in that rather than climbing the UFC ladder rung-by-rung, he’s literally been jumping in huge distances instead. ‘Bam Bam’ debuted last November in a sloppy-but-entertaining brawl with Rashad Coulter – a fight that saw Tuivasa surprise everyone by finishing Coulter with a flying knee, belying his large frame – and then followed that with a one-sided knockout of the overmatched Cyril Asker in February.
A big fight with Andrei Arlovski was then set up for June’s UFC 225 and Tuivasa managed to pass that test, albeit in what was by far the toughest fight of his career. ‘Bam Bam’ displayed surprisingly solid cardio, a varied striking game and his usual heavy power to beat the former champion, although it wasn’t flawless as he took his fair share of shots, too.
Dos Santos is another step up in competition for him. The former champion was once the premier Heavyweight in the sport, but two losses to Cain Velasquez in 2012 and 2013 have hit him hard. His once-iron chin is now extremely vulnerable and a severe weakness in being susceptible to big shots when he’s backed into the cage has been exposed by other opponents like Stipe Miocic and Alistair Overeem.
Despite losing some big fights, Dos Santos is coming off a solid win over UFC newcomer Blagoy Ivanov earlier this year. At 34 years old it’s unsurprising that ‘Cigano’ is far slower than he once was, but that doesn’t make him completely finished. He’s still got an excellent MMA boxing game, setting his big strikes up with a stiff jab, and he’s still a pretty good athlete in comparison to most of his competition.
For Tuivasa, the worrying thing about this fight is that boxing game. Arlovski was a big win for him but at this stage in his career Andrei simply doesn’t have a striking skillset anywhere close to what JDS can offer, as he largely tends to spam his right hand and low kicks without really setting them up. Dos Santos is far more varied and will offer a far greater challenge to Tuivasa. At 6’1” and with a 2-inch reach disadvantage, can the Aussie get past JDS’s ramrod jab to land a big shot?
You can’t count ‘Bam Bam’ out here because it’s unlikely that he’ll simply circle and allow Dos Santos to jab him to death as Ben Rothwell and Ivanov did when faced with the Brazilian. Instead he’s likely to wade in with powerful shots, and look to rely on his own durability to be able to take whatever comes at him and reply with something harder. If he can back JDS into the fence then there’s definitely the potential for him to hurt and finish the Brazilian, likely with a left or right hook.
Overall though the fight makes me think too much of Dos Santos’s last two wins against Rothwell and Ivanov. Tuivasa is a superior athlete to both of those fighters but I still suspect Dos Santos has enough in the tank to pick him apart over 25 minutes. Should the fight end before the final buzzer though, I’d expect it to be Tuivasa with his hand raised.
The Pick: Dos Santos via unanimous decision