Prior to Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 129 in Santiago, Chile, theScore’s Mitch Sanderson makes his picks for the evening’s main-card bouts.
Demian Maia (19-8 UFC, 25-8)
Kamaru Usman (7-0 UFC, 12-1)
Give Maia all the credit in the world for accepting a bout with Usman – one of the most avoided matchups in the UFC – on about four weeks’ notice to replace Santiago Ponzinibbio, but the 40-year-old might be trying too hard to squeeze in another run at a belt.
Maia lost to Colby Covington and welterweight champ Tyron Woodley in his last two fights, both by unanimous decision. Both Covington and Woodley were able to lean on their wrestling to defeat Maia, which bodes well for Usman, who has a similar background and is on an 11-fight winning streak. If Usman can avoid getting into a jiu-jitsu match with his elder opponent, he should be able to grind out another win and continue to climb the welterweight rankings.
THE PICK: Usman
Alexa Grasso (2-1 UFC, 10-1)
Tatiana Suarez (2-0 UFC, 5-0)
Since winning The Ultimate Fighter 23 in 2016, Suarez ended Viviane Pereira’s undefeated streak and now looks to give Grasso her second career loss. Grasso was humbled by Felice in the biggest fight of her career in February 2017 and rebounded with a split decision win last summer. The 24-year-old Grasso is coming off of a knee injury that Suarez, a former flyweight, will likely look to exploit.
THE PICK: Suarez
Jared Cannonier (3-3 UFC, 10-3)
Dominick Reyes (2-0 UFC, 8-0)
Cannonier certainly has the edge in experience, having fought two top-five light heavyweight contenders in Glover Teixeira and Jan Blachowicz over his last three fights. But with unanimous decision losses in each, it’s unfair to declare the 33-year-old better than the undefeated Reyes. Reyes has yet to face a UFC fighter who has a winning record in the promotion at 28 years old, but has managed to end seven of his eight fights in the first round. It looks like the UFC may be feeding Cannonier to Reyes in hopes of adding to his highlight reel and building a needed star in a weak light heavyweight division.
THE PICK: Reyes
Diego Rivas (2-1 UFC, 7-1)
Guido Cannetti (1-2 UFC, 7-3)
Rivas is the only man on the card representing the host nation of Chile and is looking for his first win since beating testicular cancer in 2016. Both bantamweights are coming off losses, adding pressure to 38-year-old Cannetti in particular, who could be in danger of getting cut with a loss. Hailing from Argentina, Canetti shouldn’t be surprised or fazed by the noise in favor of Rivas, which could cause the 26-year-old to get over aggressive looking for a knockout.
THE PICK: Cannetti
Veronica Macedo (0-1 UFC, 5-1-1)
Andrea Lee (0-0 UFC, 8-2)
American strawweight Lee makes her UFC debut on a four-fight winning streak, competing for a mix of Invicta FC and Legacy Fighting Alliance, with Muay Thai, kickboxing, and boxing titles in her background. The 29-year-old is a well-rounded fighter who could become a contender in the UFC’s new women’s flyweight division. Macedo, 22, was overmatched in her UFC debut, though she’s had plenty of time to perfect her craft, last competing in September 2016. Macedo makes the move down from bantamweight while Lee has fought her whole pro career at 125 lbs, so weight cutting is bound to play a factor.
THE PICK: Lee
Vicente Luque (5-2 UFC, 12-6-1)
Chad Laprise (6-2 UFC, 13-2)
Laprise fights for just the third time outside of his home country of Canada in his career as he is 2-0 since returning to welterweight last July while Luque is a veteran of the South American fight scene. Luque is trying to build another winning streak after Leon Edwards ended his four-win run in March 2017. The 26-year-old has never lost consecutive matchups while Laprise’s only defeats were back to back. Laprise has been on a roll since moving up in weightclass with a pair of TKO wins and will continue moving up with a victory Saturday.
THE PICK: Laprise
|Demian Maia vs. Kamaru Usman||Usman|
|Alexa Grasso vs. Tatiana Suarez||Suarez|
|Jared Cannonier vs. Dominick Reyes||Reyes|
|Diego Rivas vs. Guido Cannetti||Cannetti|
|Veronica Macedo vs. Andrea Lee||Lee|
|Vicente Luque vs. Chad Laprise||Laprise|
|Zak Cummings vs. Michel Prazeres||Prazeres|
|Brandon Moreno vs. Alexandre Pantoja||Moreno|
|Poliana Botelho vs. Syuri Kondo||Botelho|
|Gabriel Benitez vs. Humberto Bandenay||Bandenay|
|Enrique Barzola vs. Brandon Davis||Barzola|
|Henry Briones vs. Frankie Saenz||Saenz|
|Claudio Puelles vs. Felipe Silva||Silva|
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