The UFC returns to New Jersey Saturday on Fox with a title eliminator bout in the lightweight division. Jim Miller will fight Nate Diaz for the opportunity to face the winner of Frankie Edgar and Ben Henderson. Main card predictions after the jump.
Pat Barry vs. Lavar Johnson
Fan favorite Pat Barry takes on the heavy handed Lavar Johnson. This is going to be a tough fight for Barry, he’s one of the shortest in the heavyweight division and while he has great kick boxing, Johnson has world class power. Johnson’s going to have a huge height advantage and definitely the power to finish this bout. Barry has had difficulty with bigger fighters like Cheick Kongo and Stefan Struve and he’ll be at another big disadvantage here. It’s tough to see this fight going to the one-dimensional Barry.
Prediction: Johnson via 2nd round TKO.
Rousimar Palhares vs. Alan Belcher
This is going to be an absolutely amazing fight and if it weren’t for the two flyweight fights I would predict fight of the night. Either way it’s going to be an amazing fight. Palhares is a beast on the ground and is going to look to grab a limb and break it off from Belcher. The height advantage goes to Belcher who just looks better and better. He’s going to keep this standing and use his reach and kick boxing advantage. If this fight goes to the ground it’s definitely an advantage for Palhares, but he needs to get it there.
Prediction: Belcher via unanimous decision.
Josh Koscheck vs. Johny Hendricks
Another great fight and one that has interesting title implications. If Hendricks wins it puts him in line for a title shot with one more win, but if Koscheck wins it throws off the welterweight division. Koscheck has had two fights with St. Pierre and lost both. A win basically puts him in Jon Fitch limbo. This is going to be a fight where Koscheck needs to go back to his wrestling roots and avoid the heavy hands of Hendricks. If he can do this he should grind out a decision victory.
Prediction: Koscheck via unanimous decision.
Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller
Diaz looks revitalized since moving back down to lightweight. He’s won two straight, but this is by far the biggest fight in his career. Diaz is going to look to use his reach and jiu-jitsu to defeat Miller, but Miller has great wrestling and jiu-jitsu. This should be a fun ground fight and definitely is a toss up.
Prediction: Miller via unanimous decision.
Other fights to watch:
If you have Fuel TV there are definitely a couple great fights to watch on the prelims. The two I have highlighted are in the flyweight division. It’s new to the UFC and features two Ultimate Fighter vets. I would definitely pay attention to Dodson-Elliot and Gaudinot-Lineker.