UFC Fight Night 131 - New York Breakdown & Predictions
When is UFC Fight Night 131? Saturday 2nd June, 2018 - 01:00 start (UK)
Where is UFC Fight Night 131? Adirondack Bank Center, Utica, New York
What channel is UFC Fight Night 131 on? BT Sport 2
Where can I stream UFC Fight Night 131? BT Sport subscribers can stream the fight online via the BT Sport website
Jimmie Rivera vs Marlon Moraes
While TJ Dillashaw, Cody Garbrandt and Dominick Cruz have been battling to prove they are the best bantamweight in the world, Jimmie Rivera and Marlon Moraes have been patiently waiting for their own opportunity.
Rivera hasn’t fought in nearly a year after failing to find an opponent at UFC 219. Cruz pulled out due to a broken arm before his replacement – John Lineker – then pulled out due to a tooth infection and to top it all off, a last minute agreement with Moraes failed to materialize. They now finally meet in Utica, New York.
Moraes has won an impressive 15 of his last 16 fights with his last two wins consisting of a close decision over John Dodson and a knockout courtesy of a murderous knee against Aljamain Sterling.
Rivera on the other hand is riding a 20-fight winning streak which is extremely rare at this level of the game. He earned two more decisions in his last two outings against Urijah Faber and Thomas Almeida.
Rivera is desperate to get back in the cage and prove he is at championship level. Not many fighters are putting their hand up to fight him but Moraes is confident of a win and a finish.
Moraes is indeed a knockout threat; he is incredibly explosive on the feet – more so than Rivera – but he has never been put away. This fight promises to be as closely contested as they are on paper. It is going to be intense, gritty and a war of attrition.
The deciding factor in this fight will come down to output, whether Moraes can land that killer blow or Rivera can gradually wear his opponent down. This is a five round fight and you may just have to back the cardio and durability of Rivera. Considering his average fight time is 12 minutes and 18 seconds, a decision is most likely.
Winner: Rivera via Decision
Striking and grappling stats sourced via FightMetric.
Gregor Gillespie vs Vinc Pichel
There is only one loss between these two fighters. Vinc Pichel’s sole professional defeat came in his UFC debut against Rustam Khabilov where he was thrown around like a ragdoll and eventually finished with a knockout. However, he has responded brilliantly by winning four on the trot and now faces another beast of a grappler.
Gregor Gillespie is unbeaten and getting better and better; he is not just a National Champion wrestler, he has exceptional submission skills and is a knockout threat which he proved in his last fight against Jordan Rinaldi.
Making an impression is difficult in this stacked lightweight division but an impressive win from either man will make noise and potentially a spot in the rankings.
Pichel is well-rounded but there is a mismatch in the grappling department. Expect Gillespie to feel him out on the feet but any discomfort will force the NCAA Division 1 wrestler to shoot in and take the fight to the ground.
Pichel enjoys a takedown himself but will be wise to try and keep the fight standing. However, Gillespie is expected to wear him down and grind out a victory while he has all the talent to pull off a finish.
Winner: Gillespie via Submission
Walt Harris vs Daniel Spitz
Daniel Spitz is a real heavyweight prospect making his third UFC appearance. He lost his debut against Mark Godbeer but bounced back by ending Anthony Hamilton in just 24 seconds, overwhelming him with heavy punches on the ground.
Standing at 6’7”, he is strong, powerful and uses his range to cause damage but he is also athletic. He moves very well for a big man and has all the tools to give Walt Harris some serious problems.
UFC veteran Harris is coming off two losses but they are not a good reflection of his form. He lost to Fabricio Werdum but stepped in at late notice to save the card and was disqualified against Godbeer due to illegal strikes after the referee paused the fight.
This is Spitz’ toughest test so far in his career and considering the size and finishing ability of both men, the fight can end due to the slightest mistake and Harris’ knockout threat is clear, finishing every win with his hands.
Spitz has more tools but has to avoid the power punches of Harris so his reach and movement will be crucial. Spitz has the edge on the mat with a skilled Jiu-Jitsu game along with good conditioning so as long as he can defend the Harris onslaught, he will have enough in the locker to take home the win.
Winner: Spitz via KO/TKO
Jake Ellenberger vs Ben Saunders
Two wily old veterans in the shape of Jake ‘The Juggernaut’ Ellenberger and Ben ‘Killa B’ Saunders square off in New York with 33 UFC fights between them. Despite the experience, they are both coming off two knockouts in their last two fights; Ellenberger succumbing to Jorge Masvidal and Mike Perry with Saunders falling to Peter Sobotta and Alan Jouban.
They may have both already peaked but they are more than capable of not only putting on a performance but finishing the fight in spectacular fashion.
Ellenberger is a bona fide knockout artist with memorable knockouts over some of the very best including Matt Brown, Josh Koscheck, Nate Marquardt and Jake Shields. Saunders is also a severe knockout threat which only compliments a predatory submission game.
Ellenberger will look for the knockout from the start and will back his speed to get inside the range of Saunders and offload with power. However, if Saunders utilizes his significant reach advantage, he can keep the Juggernaut at a distance and pick him apart with long kicks and punching combinations.
If Killa B controls the distance then expect Ellenberger to shoot in and the take the fight to the ground. If he ends up on top, then he will back his power to finish the fight but Saunders will back his elite ground skills to wrap up a submission.
This fight can go either way and a finish is very likely. As this is unlikely to go the distance, you have to back Ellenberger’s speed and power advantage to get the job done.
Winner: Ellenberger via KO/TKO
Julio Arce vs Daniel Teymur
Two electrifying strikers in the featherweight division will look to thrown down which could easily be a contender for the fight of the night. Both fighters are heavily experienced for their age and champions in their field.
Julio Arce, hailing from a Kickboxing and Boxing background, is in superb form - winning his last six and after making a huge statement with a knockout on ‘Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series’, he went on to win his UFC debut with a unanimous decision over Dan Ige.
Daniel Teymur – the elder brother of David who is also on the card, blazed on to the MMA scene as an accomplished striker. With championships in Muay Thai and Kickboxing, he effortlessly transferred these skills over with three knockouts from his six wins but he has also showcased his grappling skills with three submissions.
This should be an exciting stand-up battle fought at a ferocious pace as they both prefer to keep the fight standing and deploy elite striking skills.
Contrary to the stats (which you should take with a pinch of salt as they have only had one UFC fight each), Arce is more than capable of a takedown and if he has struggles with Teymur on the feet, he may force the fight to the ground and grind out the win.
These guys are very evenly matched and it is hard to pick a winner with any result possible. Knockouts obviously come natural to them but their stand-up skills could easily cancel each other out and force a decision.
Winner: Arce via Decision
Gian Villante vs Sam Alvey
Two slabs of veteran meat kick off the main card in the shape of Gian Villante and Sam Alvey.
New Yorker Villante continues to struggle to get a run of wins going but his aggressive style has earned him a lot of fans and he will no doubt have the crowd behind him. He is coming off a close decision win over Francimar Barroso and is looking to extend the form with a knockout.
This will be no easy feat as Alvey has only been knocked out once in his 43 fights. He also looked rejuvenated in his last fight moving up from middleweight. He announced his move up to the division by starching Marcin Prachnio in the first round and is hoping to do the same against Villante.
Two heavy sluggers looking for a knockout should create fireworks. They will no doubt test each other on the feet which is a risky strategy with the power they possess in their hands.
Alvey may have the speed advantage but Villante will have the size and strength advantage so with a wrestling background he will be very confident with his plan B of out-grappling his foe.
The longer the fight goes on, the more you have to back Villante but with little weight to cut, Alvey will be explosive and energized which may just enable that early knockout blow.
Winner: Alvey via KO/TKO