UFC Fight Night 125 - Belém Breakdown

Date: Sunday 3rd February, 1am (UK)

Location: Belém, Brazil

Venue: Arena Guilherme Paraense

Lyoto Machida vs Eryk Anders

The legendary Lyoto Machida headlines UFC Fight Night 125 in his home nation of Brazil in a somewhat surprising match-up with Eryk Anders; surprising due to the fact Machida is nearing the end of his illustrious career, desperate for a win after losing three on the bounce and has agreed to fight an unbeaten, athletic beast who is relatively unknown – for now.

The ex-light heavyweight champion is struggling to put on the performances that made him a fan-favourite worldwide. Since a vintage TKO over CB Dollaway back in 2014, Machida has been submitted by Luke Rockhold, viciously knocked out by Yoel Romero, served a drug ban for PED use and then got knocked out in his comeback fight against Derek Brunson.

Now, these losses were against absolute killers and at this stage of his career you wouldn’t blame him for seeking more glamourous fights, but a true testament of his fighting spirit is accepting the call out of this rising star which will be by far the biggest fight of his blossoming career. A win won’t do much for Machida in terms of title hopes but will have great significance for Anders who is looking to trade places in the rankings and firmly stamp his name on the middleweight map. 

The former college linebacker will bank on his speed and power to get the finish and is confident his powerful left only needs one connection to finish the fight. However, even at the age of 39, Machida is still an absolute assassin and one of the most deadly and accurate counter strikers in the game. Wary of this threat, Anders has enlisted the help of Stephen Thompson who is the perfect training partner to prepare for the elite skills of the Karate master.

So, the key will be Machida’s defence – defence of the takedowns and strikes which will set up his clinical counter striking but will the athleticism and power of Anders be too much for the legend at this stage of his career? See below for the statistical breakdown:

Machida v Anders.JPG

John Dodson vs Pedro Munhoz

The co-main for UFC Fight Night 125 should be a thrilling bout at bantamweight between two UFC veterans as Pedro Munhoz welcomes John Dodson for his first fight in Brazil.

The bantamweight division has become fiercely competitive which Dodson has discovered since moving back up from the flyweight division. Since moving up he hasn’t been able to string two wins together with wins over Manvel Gamburyan and Eddie Wineland but close decision losses to John Lineker and Marlon Moraes.

Dodson’s 19-9 record does not flatter him as he is one of the most talented fighters in the lightest divisions. He is arguably the quickest bantamweight but also has unruly power in his hands, represented by the nine knockouts to his name.

These skills will have to simmer on the night because he is taking on Munhoz who has won his last four fights including three ‘performance of the night’ bonuses and is truly in the form of his life. The grappling wizard would love nothing more to wrap up a 10th submission victory and climb up the rankings.

First, he will have to get his hands on Dodson who will leverage his speed to be illusive, avoid the takedowns and create space to light up Munhoz on the feet. Although Dodson is confident with his power in the clinch and his wrestling, he would be wise to keep the distance but with the form Munhoz is in, can we really bet against him having his own way?

See below for the statistical breakdown with Dodson’s takedown defence highlighted as the key stat:

Dodson v Munhoz.JPG

Valentina Shevchenko vs Pricila Cachoeira

The ‘Bullet’ Valentina Shevchenko has been forced to go back to the drawing board after losing her championship fight and rematch with Amanda Nunes. It was a controversial decision which Shevchenko feels she got robbed of but nevertheless she has re-evaluated her quest for gold and it involves dropping down to the new flyweight division.

This is certainly her more natural weight after being undersized at 135 lbs and she is heavily touted to win the 125 lb title, currently held by Nicco Montano. She is one of the most talented fighters in all of MMA as a master in Taekwondo, Muay Thai, Judo, Boxing, Kickboxing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and we can’t help but think the dropdown to flyweight is just part of her plan for another shot at the bantamweight championship.

The first stage of her plan is getting past a UFC debutant who is unbeaten with proven knockout power. Priscila Cachoeira’s long awaited entrance to the UFC comes on home soil and as the heavy underdog, she has all the motivation to cause the upset and put her name in the hat for new flyweight title contenders.

Flyweight is the perfect weight class for Shevchenko so if it is possible, we may see an even more improved version which is an intimidating prospect. Cachoeira, however, has competed as low as 121 lbs and as high as 145 lbs and without a loss and four knockouts to her name, she will not be intimidated. She is a brawler and will hope Shevchenko obliges which will be a dangerous game plan with the weapons at the Bullet’s disposal.  

The new weight class is the key stat as it would be fascinating to see how these ladies perform and who ever is the more impressive will unearth a contender for Montano’s title. See below for the statistical breakdown:

Shevchenko v Cacoeira.JPG

Michel Prazeres vs Desmond Green

The next Brazilian hosting an American for UFC Fight Night 125 is Michel Prazeres, who is relishing the opportunity to fight on his home patch in Belém. Desmond Green travels to Brazil to spoil the party and is hoping to bounce back from a loss in his last fight against Rustam Khabilov.

This loss snapped a five-fight winning streak and was his second appearance in the UFC. His first UFC fight was a close but impressive win over Josh Emmett so he had a lot of expectation going into his fight with Khabilov. Unfortunately, he lost via a unanimous decision which Green was not happy with and he is looking to make amends and make Prazeres his third UFC victory.

However, this is not a possibility in the eyes of Prazeres. After losing to Kevin Lee back in 2015, the UFC veteran has won five on the bounce and is not prepared to have this winning streak broken in the first UFC event staged in his home town.

The skills of the Brazilian undeniably lie in his ground game, showcasing his 2nd degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with 10 submissions. Green on the other hand is a powerful striker built on a foundation of NCAA Division 1 calibre Wrestling so the grappling exchange will be fascinating to see.

Green’s wrestling will be tested, in particular his takedown defence as Prazeres’s easiest route to victory will be getting the American to the ground but Green’s significant size advantage will be key to his takedown defence and retaining enough distance to inflict his destructive striking.

See below for the statistical breakdown:

Prazeres v Green.JPG

Timothy Johnson vs Marcelo Golm

A big heavyweight clash graces the main card in Belém between Timothy Johnson and Marcelo Golm. This will be Johnson’s fourth fight abroad in his last five fights, with wins over Marcin Tybura (Croatia) and Daniel Omielanczuk (England) but a loss against Alexander Volkov in Northern Ireland.

Golm has a growing expectation even though he has only fought once in the UFC and Johnson is looking to inflict the first loss of his career. He has a great build as a heavyweight with thunderous power as well as speed and agility which should give him the physical edge over Johnson.

Johnson has proven power with exceptional Wrestling to match which Golm will be desperate to avoid. Although the stats do not indicate much of a takedown defence, these are only based off his one UFC fight where Christian Colombo took him down. However, Golm went on to finish Colombo with a superb rear-naked choke, showing his diversity of threats.

That said, Golm will naturally hunt the knockout but will have to be careful of Johnson’s own power as well as his takedowns. See below for the statistical breakdown:

Johnson v Golm.JPG

Thiago Santos vs Anthony Smith

The main card for UFC Fight Night 125 will be ignited with two nasty middleweights in the shape of Thiago Santos and Anthony Smith. These two veterans are in red hot form, both boasting a sizzling three-fight win streak with three incredible knockouts.

Santos’ recent victim sheet includes Jack Marshman, Gerald Meerschaert and Jack Hermansson and Smith’s includes Elvis Mutapcic, Andrew Sanchez and Hector Lombard – all hugely impressive wins and the knockout finishes have put everyone on notice, guiding on them onto the same path.

The most impressive wins both came in their most recent bouts. Jack Hermansson was coming off two knockouts of his own but Santos put him away with a flurry of strikes mere seconds before the bell rang for the first round. Not to be outdone, Smith pulled off a remarkable comeback against Lombard who was dismantling him on the feet; Smith countered with a stiff right hand which folded the stocky Cuban in the third and final round.

So, this is fully expected to be a ‘Fight of the Night’ contender, especially if the fight stays on the feet. The significant strikes in general are highlighted as this could easily turn into a war. Defence will be just as important as attack if either man wants to walk away with the win. See below for the statistical breakdown:

Santos v Smith.JPG