UFC Fight Night 146 - Kansas Breakdown & Predictions
When is UFC Fight Night 146? Saturday 9th March, 2019 - 23:00 start (UK)
Where is UFC Fight Night 146? Intrust Bank Arena, Wichita, Kansas
What channel is UFC Fight Night 146 on? BT Sport 1
Where can I stream UFC Fight Night 146? BT Sport subscribers can stream the fight online via the BT Sport website
Derrick Lewis vs Junior dos Santos
Two of the hardest hitters in the UFC collide in Kansas. Although Derrick Lewis proved even the most electrifying strikers are capable of a snooze-fest when he and Francis Ngannou only exchanged intimidating glares, UFC Fight Night 146 is destined to finish with fireworks.
Lewis wants never to repeat a performance like that and Junior dos Santos is rarely in a boring fight so don’t take your eyes off this heavyweight scrap for a second.
After losing his title fight and rematch with Stipe Miocic, dos Santos has responded with two great wins. Firstly by earning a dominant decision over Blagoy Ivanov, handing Ivanov just his second loss, and then knocking out rising star Tai Tuivasa, handing him his first ever loss.
Lewis is coming off his first title fight against Daniel Cormier and although it was a mismatch, Cormier out-grappled Lewis with ease, ‘The Black Beast’ arrives with a lot of confidence and momentum.
This is a fantastic match-up as both bruisers are two of the most devastating strikers who prefer to stand and bang. This will be a very tense encounter with a low output of strikes.
Both will look to conserve energy in the earlier rounds, knowing they have the power to end the fight with one blow. Lewis will wait to counter the Brazilian, which is dangerous as dos Santos is one of the best technical Boxers in the division.
A knockout is very likely and could go either way. Lewis is always capable of a knockout but dos Santos has the better technique and more variety of punches and kicks. His movement and experience will be key to being patient, avoiding the right hand of Lewis and picking the right shots at the right time.
Winner: Dos Santos via KO/TKO
Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos vs Curtis Millender
Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos is flying in under the radar in the stacked welterweight division but that will begin to change if he keeps winning in spectacular fashion. After losing his UFC debut he has strung six wins together including two sensational knockouts in his last two fights against Sean Strickland and Luigi Vendramini.
Curtis Millender is rising up the ranks in similar fashion with a nine-fight winning streak. He has had three UFC fights which were very tough match-ups to start a UFC career. He knocked out veteran, Thiago Alves and then went on to earn two unanimous decisions against Max Griffin and Siyar Bahadurzada.
These two exciting talents are fully expected to put on a show. They are both phenomenal eight-limbed strikers with knockout power. A key factor in this fight will be Millender’s size, with a significant height and reach advantage. He is a big welterweight and needs to utilize his attributes to win the exchanges.
However, the Brazilian is a unique striker who grew up training Capoeira which he uses to dramatic effect. His style will be crucial to closing the distance and if he can avoid the power strikes of Millender, in particular the right high kick from range, dos Santos’ movement and kicks could make all the difference.
Winner: Zaleski dos Santos via KO/TKO
Tim Means vs Niko Price
Tim Means is desperate for some consistency after two losses to Belal Muhammad and Sergio Moraes but in truth, those decisions could have gone either way and he responded perfectly in his last fight against Ricky Rainey by putting him away in the first round.
Niko Price is out to prove he is still a future star. Despite a submission loss to Vicente Luque and a devastating knockout courtesy of Abdul Alhassan, he has looked brilliant and finished all but one of his 12 wins. This will be a real test of character to see how he responds to the knockout.
Both men are extremely well-rounded and this will be a close fight as the stats suggest. They won’t waste any time in feeling each other out on the feet which could easily spill into a brawl.
Means will look to force the pressure with his usual high output and when he starts to land he builds more and more momentum. Price may be wise to take the fight to the ground but it is not in his nature to shy away from a stand-up battle.
This fight could go either way but Means’ durability could make the difference. He has only been knocked out once, all the way back in 2004, and a high output could set up a late finish.
Winner: Means via KO/TKO
Blagoy Ivanov vs Ben Rothwell
Blagoy Ivanov looks to bounce back from his loss to Junior dos Santos. Making your UFC debut against the former heavyweight champion is not the easiest task but he did well to force the fight to a decision. He is looking to call upon the form that made him a WSOF champion to welcome Ben Rothwell back to the cage.
Rothwell is fresh off a two-year suspension for failing a drugs test. He is also coming off a decision loss to Junior dos Santos but this was nearly three years ago and will need to shake off any ring rust.
The biggest question mark is how Rothwell will perform after a long lay-off. Before his loss to dos Santos he looked exceptional but this was a long time ago. Ivanov is yet to prove himself in the UFC but he has serious pedigree.
The Bulgarian is an exceptionally strong grappler with elite Sambo and Judo. He is also incredibly durable which will provide a very difficult match-up for Rothwell. Ivanov is expected to grind out a win to get his UFC career off the ground.
Winner: Ivanov via Decision
Beneil Dariush vs Drew Dober
The super talented Beneil Dariush has been on the wrong end of two devastating knockouts courtesy of Edson Barboza and Alexander Hernandez, which sandwiched a draw with Evan Dunham. Dariush got back to winning ways in his last fight by earning a decision against Thiago Moises but the Iranian is desperate to get a winning run going.
Drew Dober is enjoying more momentum after suffering a submission loss to Olivier Aubin-Mercier. He knocked out Josh Burkman and went on to win decisions over Frank Camacho and Jon Tuck.
Dariush edges Dober in the majority of the stats but they are very evenly-matched. They are also heavily skilled in every department and this fight is likely to take place in multiple areas but mostly on the feet.
Dober will back himself in the stand-up battle but Dariush has got the technique and class to outpoint the powerful American. Dober’s only disadvantage is that he usually has to cut a vast amount of weight which will effect his endurance.
Although Dariush has come up short in big fights, the experience against top lightweight contenders will assist him in closing out the fight.
Winner: Dariush via Decision
Tim Boetsch vs Omari Akhmedov
Tim Boetsch returns after nearly a year out. ‘The Barbarian’ has been around for a hot minute, making his UFC debut all the way back in 2008, and has since compiled 23 UFC fights. He has experienced mixed fortunes in the octagon but he has come up against some of the best middleweights including Luke Rockhold, Dan Henderson and Jacare Souza and is hoping to bounce back from a submission loss to Antonio Carlos Junior.
Omari Akhmedov, another grappling beast from Dagestan, had a two-fight win streak interrupted by a draw with Martin Vettori. The Russian has not quite lived up to his potential since joining the UFC but is hoping to remind everyone of his ability against the veteran.
As well as Akhmedov’s impressive grappling credentials he is also a ferocious striker, so it is a surprise he has not had more success in the octagon. He will look to hurt Boetsch on the feet and finish him on the ground if necessary.
‘The Barbarian’ will feel his Wrestling can subdue the takedown threat and will be very confident in his stand-up skills. With his experience and knockout power he will be dangerous in every round but the Russian looks more comfortable at middleweight and if he doesn’t find a finish he is likely to earn the decision.
Winner: Akhmedov via Decision
Striking and grappling stats sourced via FightMetric.