UFC 209: Woodley vs.Thompson 2 (Prelims) Breakdown & Predictions

-140 Albert Morales (6-1-1) vs. +110 Andre Soukhamthath (11-3)

Bantamweight (135)

Albert Morales: Southern California native Albert “The Warrior” Morales rocketed through the regional rankings once he turned pro and made it to the UFC after training for only 20 months. In his debut he fought Alejandro Perez to a majority draw, after Perez was deducted a point for a late punch. Last time out Morales came up short against the heavily favored Thomas Almeida in a co-main event match up.

Morales is a natural born fighter who will stand and trade with zero regard for his personal health. His rise to the top may have been rushed, but once this hard hitting 25 year old hits his stride in the UFC, he is going to be must see TV.

Andre Soukhamthath:  New England’s number one bantamweight  “The Asian Sensation” Andre Soukhamthath earned his call-up to the big show by winning and defending the CES MMA bantamweight title. His most recent defense was against a second round TKO over Kin Moy avenging a 2014 decision loss.

Soukhamthath is primarily a stand up fighter whose strongest weapon is his boxing. He was a member of the now disbanded Blackzilians fight team for quite some time and now trains with many of the same elite training partners like Rumble Johnson and Rashad Evans at Henri Hooft’s Combat Club MMA and will be more than ready for this step up in competition.

The Fight: This fight should start the night off with a bang, both fighters prefer a stand up battle and will come forward with unbridled aggression. Morales will have the power advantage and may get the better of the early exchanges, but if he cannot get the early stoppage look for the more experienced Soukhamthath to take the striking over with tighter boxing combos and a smarter output of energy. Soukhamthath Unanimous Decision

-115 Amanda Cooper (3-2) vs. -115 Cynthia Calvillo (3-0)

Strawweight (115)

Amanda Cooper: TUF 23 runner up Amanda Cooper recently picked up her first octagon victory defeating scrappy Danish fighter Anna Elmose in a grueling three round decision. Don’t be mislead by Cooper’s less than stellar record, her two losses have come against undefeated prospects Tatiana Suarez and Aspen Ladd. She has the well rounded skills to be a contender in the strawweight division.

Cooper has excellent boxing and is a BJJ Purple belt with better than average strength and wrestling. She has been fighting since she was 19 and will be prepared for the high caliber opponents she will meet in the octagon, expect Cooper to be top 15 before the year is out.

Cynthia Calvillo: Team Alpha Male female Cynthia Calvillo received the call up to the big leagues after winning her first three bouts as a professional. Most recently she defeated Montana Stewart in the inaugural Legacy Fighting Alliance event. Calvillo dominated the Texan prospect on the mat and the feet before getting the stoppage in the third.

Calvillo is a prototypical Alpha Male fighter, quick in grappling scrambles, light on the feet and technically sound in all aspects of fighting. She is still pretty green, but her world class training partners and natural athleticism will make her a strawweight prospect to keep an eye on.

The Fight: Cooper’s striking will be superior, but Calvillo’s versatility makes this fight an interesting match up. If Calvillo does get the takedown, Cooper’s strength will allow her to get back to her feet where she will be able to eek out rounds with her tight boxing combos and takedown defense. Cooper Split Decision

-115 Tyson Pedro (5-0) vs. -115 Paul Craig (9-0)

Light Heavyweight (205)

Tyson Pedro: 25 year old Australian prospect Tyson Pedro came up big in his short notice debut submitting violent knockout artist Khalil Rountree in the first round. Pedro showed extreme composure surviving a early knockdown to secure a takedown and sink in the rear naked choke.

Pedro was raised in the gym and showed zero signs of big fight jitters in his debut. The charismatic Aussie is a star in the making who has not been out of the first round in any of his professional fights. Punch-Face.com recently profiled Pedro as one of the brightest young stars in the UFC, you can check that out here: The New Breed: Top Fighters 26 Years Old And Younger In Every UFC Weight Class

Paul Craig:  Former BAMMA light heavyweight champion Paul “Bear Jew” Craig showed no signs of ring rust in his UFC debut despite having been sidelined for a year and a half prior. The Scottish submission wiz displayed effective dirty boxing and slick BJJ in his second round arm bar victory over the previously undefeated Brazilian Luis Henrique Da Silva.

Craig brings a natural knack for fighting into the octagon that is apparent in his bouts. He mowed through the UK circuit finishing all of his opponents and collecting multiple titles in route to the UFC. The “Bear Jew” has amassed quite the devout following and despite being relatively green in the sport he has the goods to keep his legion growing.

The Fight: This Fight Pass featured bout will be worth the price of admission for the streaming service. Neither of these two have seen the final bell in their careers, a stat I do not expect to change in this fight. Both should have bright futures in the painfully shallow 205 pound division, but this night will belong to Pedro. Pedro is the more experienced fighter despite having less fights and being the younger fighter. Pedro will get the better of the early striking exchanges and finish the rocked Criag on the mat. Pedro TKO 1st

-145 Mark Godbeer (11-3) vs. +115 Daniel Spitz (5-0)

Heavyweight (265)

Mark Godbeer: Former Bamma heavyweight champion Mark “The Hand Of” Godbeer did not have the debut he was hoping for this past November. The English big man was submitted by boxer Justin Ledet with a Gable Grip rear naked choke in the first round.

Godbeer’s lack of grappling has hindered him in the past and it hurt him again in his debut. In response to the submission loss, Godbeer has spent a large part of this camp working with Paul Craig to tighten up his BJJ techniques. Godbeer will be a fan favorite if some one is willing to trade with him or he can improve his wrestling.

Daniel Spitz: Washington native and Sikjitsu fighter Daniel Spitz will make his UFC debut stepping in on two weeks notice for Todd Duffe who withdrew from this fight for undisclosed reasons. The 26 year old fighter is undefeated in his five professional fights with his biggest win coming over Hawaiian MMA pioneer Cabbage Correira.

Spitz is a very long 6’7″ heavyweight and uses his length well as a striker and has finished all of his fights via the knockout, except for the Cabbage decision win. His style reminds me of a less technical but scrappier version of Alexander Volkov. It will be interesting to see how he fares against high level competition.

The Fight: Godbeer should get his wish for a striking match in this one, but he will have to overcome a four inch height and noticeable speed disadvantage. Spitz works well on the outside but I expect Godbeer to be able to close the distance with low kicks, figure out the range toward the end of the first and finish it on the feet in the second. Godbeer TKO 2nd

-115 #15 Iuri Alcantara (33-7) vs. -115 Luke Sanders (11-0)

Bantamweight (135)

Iuri Alcantara: The elder of the Alcantara brothers, Iuri bounced back from a fight of the night decision loss to Jimmie Rivera by steamrolling English veteran Brad Pickett at UFC 204. The Picket win was a step in the right direction, but at 36 Alcantara’s time to put together a title run may be limited.

Alcantara’s victories over top guys like Ricardo Llamas, Wilson Reis and  Francisco Trinaldo have proven he is an elite talent in the sport but he has faltered in big fights recently and has been relegated to a gate keeper role. A win here should earn the Jackson/Wink fighter another opportunity at a ranked opponent in his next fight.

Luke Sanders: Former RFA bantamweight champ “Cool Hand” Luke Sanders will make his long awaited return to the octagon following a successful debut over a year ago. Sanders submitted explosive Venezuelan Maximo Blanco last January, but has been sidelined since than rehabbing injuries.

The undefeated MMA Lab fighter will return to his natural bantamweight division after making his debut up a division at featherweight. Sanders will have immense knockout power as a 135 pounder and this will be a huge opportunity to announce his presence as a top 15 fighter.

The Fight: On paper this might look like a passing of the torch type of fight, but I wouldn’t count the Amazonian out quite yet. Alcantara has fought everyone in the division over the years and it would be difficult to imagine Sanders showing him something he has not already seen. Alcantara will edge this one slightly outpointing Sanders in close fight. Alcantara Split Decision

-600 #13 Mirsad Bektic (11-0) vs. #14 +400 Darren Elkins (22-5)

Featherweight (145)

Mirsad Bektic: Bosnian born American Top Team standout Mirsad Bektic continued his dominance in the octagon finishing last minute replacement Russell Doane  at UFC 204. Injuries have slowed Bektic’s ascent to a title shot with this being his first ranked opponent since debuting in 2014.

Bektic has long been considered the future of the featherweight division, he can outwrestle collegiate wrestlers, outstrike muay thai champions and everything in between. If he can stay healthy it would not surprise me if he was fighting for a title this time next year.

Darren Elkins: Team Alpha Male’s Darren “The Damage” Elkins has quietly fought his way into flyweight contention with prominent victories over the likes of Chas Skelly, Hatsu Hioki and Diego Brandao in a UFC career dating back to 2010. He is currently on a three fight winning streak with his most recent victory coming over TUF Brazil runner up Godofredo Pepey.

What Elkins doesn’t posses in god given athleticism he makes up for with grit, a limitless gas tank and the chin of a Clydesdale. Team Alpha Male is a good fit for Elkins, they will give him new weapons for his striking arsenal while improving his wrestling base

The Fight: Bektic is going to be the more talented fighter in every aspect of the fight and will win a one sided decision, but getting a stoppage against the durable Hoosier will be a long shot. Bektic Unanimous Decision

-155 Marcin Tybura (14-2) vs. +125 Luis Henrique (10-2)

Heavyweight (265)

Marcin Tybura: Former M-1  champion Marcin Tybura is widely considered one of the more intriguing heavyweight prospects of the last few years. In his last bout against Viktor Pesta he proved he is much more than a submission threat knocking out the Czech fighter with a violent head kick that left Pesta unconscious for several minutes.

Tybura is a legit talent and his recent training with Xtreme Couture in Vegas may be what he needs to take his game to the next level. His training in Poland with countrymen kickboxing specialist Daniel Omielanczuk has paid off, his striking in the Pesta fight was much improved from his debut against Timothy Johnson.

Luis Henrique: 23 year old Rising Brazilian prospect Luis “KLB” Henrique improved his UFC record to 2-1 with a third round guillotine finish of Danish kickboxer Christian Colombo. Henrique has showcased dominant grappling in his two victories since his debut loss to Francis Ngannou. 

Henrique has some of the best wrestling a Brazilian fighter has ever displayed in the octagon and now training with American Top Team the youngster’s potential in the heavyweight division is great, however if he is allowed to make the cut to 205 his stock will rise even more.

The Fight: This fight was originally scheduled to take place at UFC 208 but was scrapped when Henrique could not get cleared to fight due to a recent eye surgery. This match up between two high level grapplers will most likely play out as a kickboxing match. Expect Henrique to work for the takedown from the clinch early and Tybura to pick up momentum as the fight progresses. Tybura will end up finishing an exhausted Henrique late in the fight. Tybura TKO 3rd

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