Rio de Janeiro plays host to UFC 224 this coming Saturday. In the main event, Amanda Nunes will try to defend her Women’s Bantamweight Title against the surging Raquel Pennington. The rest of the card has multiple high profile fights that include many Brazilian legends and upstarts.
Now, will a judge screw over a Non-Brazilian? Probably. There have been many examples of Brazilian judges being somewhat biased when Brazilian’s are in a close fight.
Time’s when an American was Screwed in Brazil.
UFC 198 – Shogun Rua Def. Corey Anderson via Split Decision
UFC Fight Night 119 – Deiveson Figueiredo Def. Jarred Brooks via Split Decision
UFC Fight Night 125 – Lyoto Machida Def. Eryk Anders via Split Decision
UFC Fight Night 125 – Sergio Moraes Def. Tim Means via Split Decision
UFC 212 – Vitor Belfort Def. Nate Marquardt via Unanimous Decision
These are just the very blatant ones. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen again.
Middleweight: Vitor Belfort (+220) Vs. Lyoto Machida (-260)
Now if you would like a blast from the past than you should watch this fight. These two are so old and washed up they should be fighting in Bellator. Lyoto Machida is 1-1 since his return to the octagon but is really 0-2 (See Above). His loss came to Middleweight contender Derek Brunson and his win came against Former Alabama Crimson Tide Linebacker Eryk Anders. Vitor Belfort is 1-2-1 in his last 4 since 2015, He is really 0-4 (Gastelum smoked the Reefer and See Above). Neither of these two seem like forces to be reckoned with. Regardless of styles, records, time off and Training camps, I would go with the person who will still be competing in a year. Vitor Belfort has stated that he will retire soon while Lyoto has stated on multiple occasions that he will continue to fight in the future. War Dragon. Lyoto Machida Def. Vitor Belfort
Bantamweight: John Lineker (-238) Vs. Brian Kelleher (+203)
In his UFC Career, John Lineker is 11-3 with his losses coming in his Debut, Against EPO Bagautinov, and Current Bantamweight Champion TJ Dillashaw. Those losses are nothing to hang your head on if your Lineker. However, Brian Kelleher is a Road Warrior as he has won in his opponent’s homeland twice, and in his last fight, he defeated Former Bantamweight Champion Renan Barao. I believe that John Lineker will win this fight, however, it goes to the judges as Brian Kelleher has way too much fight in him. John Lineker Def. Brian Kelleher
Women’s Strawweight: Mackenzie Dern (-265) Vs. Amanda Cooper (+225)
Mackenzie Dern is a Grappling Wizard. Her ground game is among the best when it comes to female mixed martial artists. This advantage will really play into her hand on Saturday as the 3-3 Cooper has only lost via Submission in her MMA Career. Amanda Cooper’s best chance at victory is through standing and trading with her in the pocket and making the fight sloppy, as her boxing skills are years better than Dern’s. Mackenzie Dern will still most likely take the victory by some sort of submission. Mackenzie Dern Def. Amanda Cooper
Middleweight: Kelvin Gastelum (+124) Vs. Jacare Souza (-144)
This fight may be the first fight I don’t pick a winner for. I can honestly see both of these two winning this fight in an incredible fashion. Kelvin Gastelum is looking like a new man at middleweight and just knocked out the former champion Michael Bisping. Ronaldo Souza bounced back in his last fight by defeating Derek Brunson by TKO. With Title Shot Implications on the line, I feel like both of these warriors will be leaving everything in the cage. Hesitantly, I will pick Kelvin Gastelum in this fight. I feel as if Jacare’s age will become a factor in this fight and I believe that Kelvin has more defensive skills at his disposal to negate what Jacare will want to do. Kelvin Gastelum Def. Jacare Souza
Women’s Bantamweight: Amanda Nunes (-950) Vs. Raquel Pennington (+650)
This fight is one for the record books. Not only is this the first time that Amanda Nunes defends her title in her home nation of Brazil, but it is also the first time that two Openly Gay athletes are fighting each other for a title. Pennington, Nunes, Tecia Torres (Raquel’s Fiance and UFC Strawweight) and Nina Ansaroff (Amanda Nunes’ Girlfriend and UFC Strawweight) have trained together in the past and the two opponents on Saturday consider each other friends. Raquel Pennington’s last fight was all the way back at UFC 205 where she defeated her former coach from the Ultimate Fighter and Former Champion, Miesha Tate. Since then, Raquel has missed time because she was injured in a hunting accident back in November (Relax, she wasn’t shot). Amanda Nunes was able to dispatch Valentina Shevchenko in her last bout, but that fight was rather close and I believe that Raquel Pennington will be able to watch some tape of the fight and pick out some possible weaknesses. I think that Pennington will win this fight for a few reasons. One, Shevchenko was able to expose some weaknesses in Amanda Nunes and only nine months of training cannot possibly fix all of those. Two, Pennington is coming into this fight fresh with no injuries sustained during training. Three, Nunes has won her last two fights and might be on an adrenaline high, we saw that come back and bite another Brazilian Legend in Fabricio Werdum back at UFC 198. For those three reasons, I believe that Raquel Pennington will pull off the upset. Raquel Pennington Def. Amanda Nunes *Also if I get this right with those odds call me Nostradamus
Middleweight: Karl Roberston (-131) Def. Cezar Ferreira (+111)
Heavyweight: Oleksiy Oliynyk (+125) Def. Junior Albini (-145)
Lightweight: Nick Hein (+117) Def. Davi Ramos (-137)
Welterweight: Sean Strickland (+111) Def. Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos (-131)
Welterweight: Warlley Alves (-225) Def. Sultan Aliev (+190)
Middleweight: Thales Leites (+129) Def. Jack Hermansson (-149)
Welterweight: Ramazan Emeev (-192) Def. Alberto Mina (+167)
Middleweight: Markus Perez (-300) Def. James Bochnovic (UNL)