After driving from Portland to central California and then wasting time researching a preliminary fight that ended up being cancelled (Joe Ellenberger vs. Vagner Rocha), I’m just not in the mood to write about the rest of the preliminary fights at length. Here are some quick picks instead. Tomorrow I’ll write at length about all five main card fights.
Joseph Benavidez vs. Tim Elliott
My Fighter Performance Rating statistic likes Tim Elliott a lot, rating him as the number four flyweight in the UFC behind Demetrious Johnson, Joseph Benavidez, and John Dodson. Elliott has shown some of everything including volume striking, effective wrestling, and threatening submissions. However, he’s also been primarily successful against low-level UFC opponents like Louis Gaudinot and Jared Papazian.
At the same time, Elliott did have a very competitive fight against Dodson, an indicator that perhaps FPR knows what it’s talking about. That’s not to say Elliott should be favored to beat Benavidez, a well-rounded fighter with underrated finishing ability by flyweight standards. Benavidez hits harder than Elliott and is more proven against tough competition.
With that said, I don’t think it’s far-fetched to suggest that Elliott could win on points here. Elliott maintains a high pace and could arguably be the more effective wrestler of the two. Benavidez has only landed 15 takedowns in 16 UFC/WEC fights while being taken down 20 times. I think Benavidez will probably be able to win on points in the end but this is a more competitive match than it’s getting credit for.
Pick: Joseph Benavidez by decision
Takanori Gomi vs. Isaac Vallie-Flagg
Is this what Takanori Gomi is doing now? The former PRIDE champion and #1 lightweight fighter in the world is relegated to a preliminary bout against the scrappy Isaac Vallie-Flagg. Gomi was once a fighter with punishing boxing, heavy body shots, and solid wrestling on top of it. Now Gomi is more a fighter who takes a lot of strikes and hopes to land more than he takes. It helps that he has an excellent chin.
The potential is here for Vallie-Flagg to steal a decision with volume, but his defense is probably worse than Gomi’s and he doesn’t have the same power as Gomi either. It’s a fight Gomi really should win, but at this point in his career, there’s a real chance he could be completely shot.
Pick: Takanori Gomi by decision
Bethe Correia vs. Jessamyn Duke
It’s hard to know what to make of Jessamyn Duke after her decision victory against Peggy Morgan on the TUF 18 Finale. On the one hand, Duke was fairly dominant in that fight, but on the other hand, Morgan clearly lacked the skill set necessary to be competitive in the UFC. Duke will take on a much tougher opponent this time in Bethe Correia, who is coming off a split decision victory over Julie Kedzie.
I think Duke’s considerable height and reach (5’11” with a 73” reach) can give Correia some real problems, although I’m also concerned about Duke’s ability to counter takedowns. I’ll pick Duke to win with striking volume but I’m not confident.
Pick: Jessamyn Duke by decision