UFC Fight Night 155: De Randamie vs. Ladd - Predictions and Picks

The UFC returns to Sacramento at the weekend with two big Bantamweight fights
The UFC returns to Sacramento at the weekend with two big Bantamweight fights
Scott Newman

After the blockbuster UFC 239 last weekend, this weekend’s UFC show brings things back to the ground with a bit of a bump. Fight Night 155: De Randamie vs. Ladd will air from Sacramento, California, and it isn’t the deepest card to be honest.

Despite that, there are some clear highlights on offer here; the main event could decide Amanda Nunes’ next title challenger at 135lbs, while the return of Urijah Faber should also be interesting. With a full 13 fights scheduled for ESPN+, this one could be a bit of a marathon.

On a side note, Lightweights Beneil Dariush and Drakkar Klose were scheduled to meet on the main card; that fight has been canceled due to an injury to Dariush and as of writing, no replacement has been announced.

Here are the predicted outcomes for UFC Fight Night 155: De Randamie vs. Ladd.

#1 Germaine De Randamie vs. Aspen Ladd

Aspen Ladd is currently unbeaten in the UFC
Aspen Ladd is currently unbeaten in the UFC

Undefeated prospect Aspen Ladd was actually scheduled to fight Holly Holm back at UFC 235, but of course, Holm somehow found herself in another title fight, and so she ended up beating Sijara Eubanks in May instead.

Now, the powerful and aggressive grappler has another chance to capture a shot at Amanda Nunes’ Bantamweight title – by defeating the current #1 ranked Germaine De Randamie, the former UFC Featherweight champion.

In essence, this should be about as pure of a striker vs. grappler match as it’s possible to find in the UFC in 2019. Judging by her previous fights, Ladd’s aggression makes her a willing striker – but she’s not the most technical with it.

Her grappling, on the other hand, is fantastic, particularly once she finds herself in a dominant position on the ground. There’s a reason she’s got 5 TKOs in 8 fights from the ground.

De Randamie, on the other hand, is a classic Dutch Muay Thai style kickboxer, all long attacks from range and nastiness in the clinch, too. 8-3 doesn’t sound like a great record on paper, but she hasn’t lost a fight since 2013 and has wins over Holly Holm and Raquel Pennington on her record, and the Holm fight was of course contested on the feet. It wasn’t pretty, but GDR was largely able to pick the vaunted striker apart to take a clear decision.

On the ground though, ‘The Iron Lady’ is a huge question mark. We’ve only seen her on the mat basically once in her UFC tenure, and she was comfortably beaten by Amanda Nunes in that fight. Sure, there’s no shame in losing to Nunes, but GDR looked like a fish out of water in that outing and offered nothing from her back in defense.

Essentially then, I feel that if Ladd can get this fight to the ground, she should win comfortably. She’s clearly an elite-level grappler as we saw in the way she destroyed veteran Tonya Evinger and dealt with BJJ black belt Eubanks on the mat, and her takedowns are pretty good too.

The problem for her in this fight though is that she gains a lot of her takedowns from the clinch, which is one of GDR’s strongest areas.

The Pennington fight last November, for instance, was fought primarily from the clinch, and despite her best efforts ‘Rocky’ never came close to taking GDR down, and ate tons of punishment from close range, largely knee strikes to the legs and body.

A similar thing happened to Ladd when she faced a similar – but inferior – fighter to GDR in Lina Lansberg in 2017, although she did manage to get Lansberg down and eventually TKO her.

Could Ladd simply spam double legs from the outside, Demian Maia-style, in the hope that if she can get GDR to the ground it’s almost a guaranteed win?

I guess so, but it’s not something we’ve really seen from her before and that worries me a little. With that said, GDR hasn’t really shown one-hit KO power which means that Ladd should be able to survive to close the distance even if she gets sloppy and eats some counters.

This is a super-hard fight to pick, but I’m going to take a risk and take Ladd; I feel like she’s a better athlete than Pennington and should be able to land at least one takedown over five rounds.

And while GDR might’ve improved on the ground since that Nunes fight – we don’t really know, though – I’m not sure she can have improved enough to survive a beast like Ladd once she gets top position.

The Pick: Ladd via third round TKO

#2 Urijah Faber vs. Ricky Simon

After nearly 3 years in retirement, Urijah Faber is back this weekend!
After nearly 3 years in retirement, Urijah Faber is back this weekend!

In all honesty, it took me by surprise when I found out that Urijah Faber was returning to action here. If any card makes sense for a return it’s this one as it’s in his home town of Sacramento, but even so – he’s 40 years old now, hasn’t fought since 2016 and likely doesn’t need the money.

So why return? Who knows, in all honesty? Whether this is a one-off or a proper comeback, we shall see.

At any rate, he hasn’t been thrown a softball by any means. Simon is a lesser-known fighter right now but he is 3-0 in the UFC and so this is his chance for a real breakout fight. A win over Faber won’t propel him into the top 10 at Bantamweight, but it’d give him the notoriety he needs to find himself in an opportunity to get into that elite level.

So can he do that? I’m not convinced. At his best, Faber was an absolute animal in the cage and one of the best in the whole world in the lower weight divisions.

Initially beginning his career as a wrestler, eventually both his striking and submission skills became elite too, and outside of Jimmie Rivera, who caught him on the downturn of his career, the only guys to beat him were truly world-class fighters like Dominick Cruz, Frankie Edgar and Jose Aldo – and Faber gave all of them issues.

It wasn’t like Faber was looking miles past his prime when he retired, either; he defeated Brad Pickett handily in his last fight and his athletic gifts still appeared to be with him, he just wasn’t in a state to defeat the fighters at the top of the division.

Simon is a solid fighter, but while he’s shown skills in all areas in his UFC run – he submitted Merab Dvalishvili in a bit of an upset in his debut and used his striking to largely pick apart Rani Yahya in February – he hasn’t won his 3 fights without any struggles.

Dvalishvili largely bullied him from the clinch and took him down at will before being caught in a guillotine, while Yahya actually used his crude striking to knock Simon down in the second round.

None of that bodes well for him here in my opinion. I can’t see that Faber’s athleticism can have totally abandoned him since his retirement in 2016 and he still trains regularly with top fighters like Josh Emmett and Joseph Benavidez.

And if Simon had issues dealing with Dvalishvili’s one-dimensional grappling and Yahya’s crude striking, what can Faber do to him?

You can’t count Simon out here purely because Faber could be rusty, but I just can’t see ‘The California Kid’ losing in his hometown to a fighter who, no offense, isn’t close to the top of the 135lbs division just yet. I think we’ll see vintage Faber as he’ll start slowly before swarming Simon, knocking him down and likely submitting him with a guillotine.

The Pick: Faber via first round submission

#3 Josh Emmett vs. Mirsad Bektic

Can the talented Mirsad Bektic avoid the vaunted power of Josh Emmett?
Can the talented Mirsad Bektic avoid the vaunted power of Josh Emmett?

This Featherweight clash is flying under the radar somewhat but it might be the best fight on this card; both men are incredibly dangerous and aggressive fighters and also fight largely with their hearts rather than their heads, meaning we should see some excitement for sure.

Emmett’s UFC career has been interesting thus far. He debuted as an undersized Lightweight and was able to pick up two wins before largely being picked apart by Desmond Green.

That loss triggered a move to 145lbs, where he’d fought prior to his UFC run, and ‘The Grim Reaper’ then dismantled Felipe Arantes before shocking the world with a vicious knockout of perennial contender Ricardo Lamas, on late notice to boot.

It hasn’t been plain sailing since then, though; a brawl with Jeremy Stephens ended badly, as Emmett was knocked silly with a series of vicious elbows, and when he returned earlier this year, he was being picked apart in a dull fight with Michael Johnson before a hail mary right hand knocked Johnson unconscious with just seconds remaining in the fight.

Essentially a classic wrestle-boxer, Emmett isn’t the best in the division in any area really; his wrestling is strong but not the greatest as he struggled to take Johnson down, and while he’s got crazy power in his hands, he’s a somewhat plodding striker who can be picked off. But of course, he does have that power and that’s the great equaliser for him.

Mirsad Bektic has been considered a prospect to watch for years now, and may have broken into the top 10 or 5 at 145lbs had he not been forced out of 3 fights with injuries.

A phenomenal athlete, the Bosnian native’s best asset is definitely his wrestling and ground-and-pound; once he gets top position he’s a monster, as we saw when he largely destroyed Darren Elkins on the ground at UFC 209 – but more on that fight in a second.

He’s also an aggressive and ever-improving striker, but in all honesty, this is largely due to his athletic ability; Bektic can suddenly attack at a pace few fighters can match, and while he’s not technically perfect he hits very hard and definitely carries power in his hands.

Weaknesses? It’s hard to really find any. Sure, Elkins pulled off an all-time great comeback to knock him out, but he’d been thrashed for the previous 10 minutes and most fighters would’ve wilted under Bektic’s assault by that stage.

I’d guess that the way to beat Bektic could be to push the pace, as he did slow down due to his explosive style in the Elkins fight, and basically gave away the third round in his own win over Lamas due to the same slowdown as well. But for me Emmett isn’t that kind of fighter; he’s more of a pot-shotting counterpuncher and isn’t known for his frenetic pace.

In my mind Bektic should win this fight; I’d say he’s superior in all areas to Emmett and it wouldn’t outright surprise me if this turns out to be a bit of a one-sided beating with Bektic coming out on top. But if he rushes in too wildly standing then Emmett almost certainly has the striking power to knock him out.

It depends on Bektic’s gameplan, for me. If the Bosnian can set up his takedowns using his strikes and speed advantage – which should allow him to close the distance on Emmett without eating something nasty – then I think the fight should be his.

It’s always risky betting against Emmett who has the power to win any fight, but I think this should be where we see the best of Bektic.

The Pick: Bektic via unanimous decision

#4 Karl Roberson vs. Wellington Turman

Karl Roberson has become a firm favorite with the UFC brass
Karl Roberson has become a firm favorite with the UFC brass

In all honesty, there’s a good three or four of the prelims that I’d rather see on the main card than this, but then the UFC brass seem to love Karl Roberson – an early discovery from Dana White’s Contender Series – and so that’s why he’s here. To be fair to him, he did almost take out Glover Teixeira on late notice at a higher weight class, so there is that.

Opponent Wellington Turman is making his UFC debut, and it’s on relatively late notice too – replacing British brawler John Phillips with about four weeks of training. A Brazilian native, Turman is 15-2, has been fighting since 2014 and is currently on a 4-fight win streak, with his last win coming over Marcio Alexandre – ‘Lyoto’ of TUF Brazil 3 fame.

Interestingly enough, watching footage on Turman it appears that he’s actually a similar fighter to Teixeira; he’s a plodding but powerful and semi-effective striker but his real strength is on the ground – he has 7 submissions to his name and from what I’ve seen he’s incredibly dangerous and a particularly excellent back-taker.

Roberson meanwhile is a striker, plain and simple. A professional kickboxer prior to getting into MMA, we saw an example of his dangerous striking prior to his UFC tenure when he took out Ryan Spann on the Contender Series with some short elbows from the clinch. Surprisingly though, in the UFC itself he’s been more well-rounded than you’d expect.

His UFC debut saw him choke out fellow striker Darren Stewart, although he rocked him with punches first, and against brawler Jack Marshman he used his wrestling to grind out the Welshman. But he’s also shown vulnerabilities on the ground, as he was submitted by both Cezar Ferreira and Teixeira, both by arm triangle choke.

Turman could gain some hope from watching those two fights; they showed that Roberson isn’t impossible to take down and against a submission expert, he can still put himself into bad positions.

The issue for the newcomer is that Roberson is an unbelievably explosive athlete and he’s also very dangerous from the clinch – the area that most of Turman’s takedowns come from.

If Turman can get Roberson on his back then he could pull off a bit of an upset, but instead I think he’ll probably get hurt by ‘Baby K’ on the feet due to the massive speed difference between the two, and once he lunges into the clinch, Roberson will use those nasty elbows to put him away.

The Pick: Roberson via first round KO

#5 Marvin Vettori vs. Cezar Ferreira

After his loss to Ian Heinisch, does Cezar Ferreira have anything left to offer?
After his loss to Ian Heinisch, does Cezar Ferreira have anything left to offer?

It’s hard to believe that Cezar Ferreira – AKA ‘Cezar Mutante’, one of the original winners of TUF Brazil – has now been in the UFC for 7 years and has put together 14 fights there. A tremendous athletic specimen, Ferreira has had some great highlights in the Octagon but also some huge lows too; essentially, at least until recently, he was a classic example of a glass cannon, incredible on offense but unable to weather punishment himself.

2018 seemed to prove a turning point for him, though. In his win over Karl Roberson he was quick to ground a known heavy hitter and used his superb BJJ to find a dominant position and submit the kickboxer.

It felt like Mutante might’ve been finally putting it all together – but his next fight saw him gas hard against newcomer Ian Heinisch and any hopes of him making it to the top of the division seemed to vanish.

Vettori has had a similar up-and-down UFC career, although not in the same way. He’s 2-2-1 in the UFC at Middleweight, with his most recent fight being a tight loss to Israel Adesanya – largely before Adesanya had gotten really comfortable inside the cage.

Vettori had some success in clinching and grappling with Adesanya, and really that’s where the Italian’s strength lies. He’s a powerful guy at 185lbs, can outmuscle opponents in the clinch and he’s excellent with submissions, having 8 tapout wins on his ledger.

This is a strange fight to pick in that you’d expect it to favour Ferreira on paper; he’s faced with an opponent who likely won’t take advantage of his questionable chin, and he’s also faced with a hugely inferior athlete who won’t have his usual strength and power advantage, and who also appears to be an inferior submission grappler than Ferreira.

The problem for ‘Mutante’ however is that Heinisch ticked all the same boxes that Vettori ticks – perhaps he’s a better wrestler, but that’s it – and despite a strong first round, the Brazilian wasn’t able to put his opponent away and faded badly down the stretch.

So basically this depends on whether you believe Ferreira simply had a bad night, or whether his athletic gifts are beginning to wane.

If there’s a finish here I suspect it’ll be Ferreira with a very early submission, but based on the fact that he’s 34 years old now and has been fighting professionally for 12 years – taking plenty of damage along the way – I’m willing to bet that the Heinisch loss could be the beginning of a trend. As long as Vettori survives the opening round here, I think this one is his.

The Pick: Vettori via unanimous decision

#6 The Prelims: ESPN+ card

Fan favorite Julianna Pena returns on this weekend's prelims
Fan favorite Julianna Pena returns on this weekend's prelims

ESPN+ will be showing a total of 7 prelims this weekend, some of which sound more exciting than a few of the main card fights.

One that doesn’t, unfortunately, is the top prelim between Light-Heavyweights Mike Rodriguez and John Allan, who is replacing Gian Villante on late notice.

Currently 1-1 in the UFC, Rodriguez is the classic Contender Series product – a heavy hitter with KO power who also has some holes in his game. Is Allan the guy to test those holes? I doubt it; sure, he’s a Chute Boxe product but that doesn’t hold the weight it once did, and he’s taking the fight on 9 days notice!

He’s a hard hitter too so I’m purely basing this pick on the fact that Rodriguez has UFC experience and has had time to prepare for a plodding hard hitter in Villante. Rodriguez by late TKO is my pick.

The Featherweight fight between Andre Fili and Sheymon Moraes should be wild, and I’m surprised it’s not on the main card. Moraes is a hell of a kickboxer, which is worrying for Fili here as he’s more on the sloppy-but-effective side and is willing to fire with anyone, but he does have a big grappling advantage.

The fact that Fili has taken so much damage in a relatively short UFC career is making me lean towards Moraes winning a striking-based decision here.

At Bantamweight, Julianna Pena makes her long-awaited return – on late notice, too – to take on former Flyweight champion Nicco Montano.

At her best I’d have taken Pena in a heartbeat here; she’s a phenomenal grappler from the top position and holds a big size advantage, too. She has been out for a long time, but then so has Montano, who hasn’t fought since her win over Roxanne Modafferi in 2017. I’m willing to risk that Pena will outgrapple Montano for a decision.

Featherweight veterans Darren Elkins and Ryan Hall face off next, with the two on differing trajectories; Hall is 3-0 in the UFC while Elkins is coming off two straight losses.

For me, this should come down to whether Elkins can avoid Hall’s phenomenal submission skills, as I’d argue he’s superior in all other areas. Given Elkins hasn’t been tapped since 2010 I’m guessing he can, so I’ll take Elkins via decision.

At Strawweight, potential contender Livinha Souza faces newcomer Brianna Van Buren, who has a trio of wins over UFC veterans in Jaime Moyle, Juliana Lima, and Kailin Curran. I just can’t see her beating Souza, though, who is an excellent striker and a genuinely brilliant grappler with some well-timed takedowns. Souza’s experience should pull her through here and I like her to pick up a submission.

Bantamweights Pingyuan Liu and Jonathan Martinez go to war with both men showing some excellent promise in their previous fights. Martinez was gutsy against Andre Soukhamthath in his UFC debut and then outworked Wuliji Buren for a decision in his last fight, while Liu – who trains with Urijah Faber – is already 2-0 in the Octagon.

It’s a tough one to pick as both men are good athletes with decent skills in all areas, but I like Martinez to eke out a decision.

Finally, another Bantamweight fight sees prospect Benito Lopez face the tough Vince Morales, who’s another late replacement fighter on this card.

Lopez – a wildly aggressive fighter in all areas – looked tremendous in his UFC debut, and his last loss to Manny Bermudez was nothing to be ashamed of. Morales meanwhile has shown a lot of guts in his UFC tenure but not all that much to be really excited about. I like Lopez to use his wild aggression to win this one, likely by submission.

Edited by Arvind Sriram


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