UFC Fight Night 144 - Fortaleza Breakdown & Predictions
When is UFC Fight Night 144? Saturday 2nd February, 2019 - 23:00 start (UK)
Where is UFC Fight Night 144? Centro de Formação Olímpica do Nordeste, Fortaleza, Brazil
What channel is UFC Fight Night 144 on? BT Sport 3
Where can I stream UFC Fight Night 144? BT Sport subscribers can stream the fight online via the BT Sport website
Raphael Assunção vs Marlon Moraes
Brazil’s two best bantamweights headline UFC Fight Night 144 which is likely to serve as a number one contender fight for TJ Dillashaw’s title. It’s hard to argue that either fighter won’t thoroughly deserve a title shot, but it will depend on what the UFC do in the aftermath of Henry Cejudo beating Dillashaw last month, defending his flyweight belt.
This is a rematch of their fight back in 2017 where Raphael Assunção edged a very close decision, and is part of his four-fight winning streak including wins over Aljamain Sterling, Matthew Lopez and Rob Font. Assunção also boasts a win over the current champion Dillashaw, and would love an opportunity of a rubber match.
Marlon Moraes’ loss to Assunção was his only in 17 fights. The most remarkable of those 16 wins were his last two fights, earning a knockout and ‘performance of the night’ each time. The first was a devastating knee to Sterling that rendered him stiff as a board and his last fight was a spectacular head kick knockout over Jimmie Rivera handing him his first ever knockout loss.
Their first fight was so close and could have gone either way. Over the three rounds Assunção landed 43 strikes to Moraes' 44 and this fight could easily take a similar shape. It is likely to be a stand-up battle as their elite ground games should cancel each other out.
But this is where Moraes could have the edge. His striking is as powerful as it is technical, and as we saw in his last two, any fighter is at risk of going to sleep when standing in front of Moraes.
That said, Assunção pulled off his first knockout in nine fights against Lopez so Moraes has to respect his skills. It is hard to bet against Assunção, whose only loss in 12 fights was against Dillashaw, but Moraes has flourished since his first UFC fight against Assunção and will not have the same nerves.
Winner: Moraes via Decision
José Aldo vs Renato Moicano
UFC Fight Night 144 is hosting some of the best fighters in Brazil and the co-main event is graced by arguably the greatest in José Aldo. Coming towards the end of his illustrious career, he is taking on a fellow Brazilian with his all of his ahead of him.
Renato Moicano has only lost one fight and looks like a dead-cert to challenge for the featherweight title at some point in the future. He has all the skills, and despite getting submitted by Brian Ortega he boasts impressive wins over the likes of Jeremy Stephens and Cub Swanson.
However, in a generation of supremely talented featherweights, Aldo has only been outmatched by Max Holloway and Conor McGregor, and rolled back the clock in his last fight by finishing Jeremy Stephens with a clubbing left hook to the liver.
Aldo is expected to pick off Moicano from distance as usual. He will negate the reach discrepancy with timed movements as well as any takedown attempts and wear Moicano down with vicious punches and leg kicks.
Moicano has all the skills to cause the upset, especially as retirement has appeared on the horizon for Aldo. However, the biggest factor in this fight is that Aldo is only fighting for three scheduled rounds as opposed to five, meaning he can be even more explosive and dangerous.
Winner: Aldo via KO/TKO
Demian Maia vs Lyman Good
Lyman Good heads to Fortaleza, Brazil for the biggest fight of his career as he takes on the UFC veteran and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu master, Demian Maia.
The former Bellator and CFFC welterweight champion lost his first fight since 2012 when he lost a split decision to Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos but responded emphatically with a knockout over Ben Saunders in his last fight.
Maia is on a three-fight losing streak as hopes of another title shot have faded and although losing three in a row can cost a UFC contract, these losses were against the top-three ranked welterweights and the worst possible match-ups for him. Tyron Woodley, Colby Covington and Kamaru Usman are tremendous wrestlers and diffused his takedown attempts, leaving the Brazilian relatively helpless.
Good knows what he needs to do after witnessing the blueprint to beating Maia in his last three fights: he needs to defend the takedown at all costs. Although Maia’s takedown accuracy is a mere 25.2%, he will keep shooting in for the duration of the fight as he only needs one opportunity to end the fight on the mat.
Good is clearly the better striker and his takedown defence is impressive, but we can ignore Maia’s form and assume he will take Good down to effortlessly wrap up a submission.
Winner: Maia via Submission
Charles Oliveira vs David Teymur
It seems like Charles Oliveira has been around forever as he makes his 23rd UFC appearance, but he is only 29-years-old and takes on David Teymur, also 29, but with only nine MMA fights under his belt.
However, Teymur also has vast fighting experience as a successful kickboxer and Muay Thai fighter and he has transferred his skills over effortlessly. After losing his first fight, he has won eight on the bounce with impressive wins over top fighters including Lando Vannata, Drakkar Klose and Nik Lentz.
Oliveira is a phenomenal striker but Teymur will relish the stand-up battle and even back himself to find a knockout. However, the Brazilian has too much experience to make that mistake and will manipulate the fight into his strengths.
This is not a good match-up for Teymur, who with unproven ground skills takes on the fighter with the most UFC submissions of all time. Oliveira is expected to stretch that record and hand the Swede his first UFC loss.
Winner: Oliveira via Submission
Johnny Walker vs Justin Ledet
The charismatic Johnny Walker will walk out on home soil to make his second UFC appearance, and it seems like he is being fast-tracked to the top of the light heavyweight division as he has been handed the dangerous Justin Ledet.
Ledet suffered only the first loss of his career in his last fight against Aleksandar Rakić and has a lot of potential in the division, but this is a huge test for him. Walker is extremely dynamic considering his huge frame and his striking caught everyone's attention when he dispatched the knockout artist Khalil Rountree on his UFC debut.
Ledet is very tough but he will hope this fight stays at close range to improve his chances of finding a submission. Walker has a clear edge when it comes to striking, and Ledet is also giving up a height and reach advantage which is unusual for him and will be an important factor.
This is because Walker is nasty from range. He is dangerous, and aggressive with all eight limbs, and despite his 6’6” frame he is very athletic and is expected to use these attributes to finish the fight inside three rounds.
Winner: Walker via KO/TKO
Livia Renata Souza vs Sarah Frota
Two Brazilian prospects in the shape of Livia Renata Souza and Sarah Frota kick off the main card in Fortaleza. These ladies have just one loss between them, suffered by Souza who lost a close decision to Angela Hill and her Invicta strawweight championship in the process.
Souza bounced back by winning her next two fights for Invicta, earning a UFC contract, and is fully expected to climb the strawweight ranks after winning her debut against Alex Chambers.
Hoping to derail her ascend is Frota who is unbeaten and earned her contract with a brilliant knockout on Dana White’s Contender Series.
Both fighters are great finishers, which is rare at 115 lbs, and the majority of their wins have come via submission. So, it would be great to see them battle it out on the mat but wherever it takes place Souza should have the edge in every department.
She has more experience fighting some of the best in her division and that championship level experience should enable her to grind out a win to hand Frota her first loss.
Winner: Souza via Decision