Ryan LaFlare vs. Demian Maia:
This under the radar main event could provide a surprisingly technical battle between an experienced veteran and an undefeated prospect looking to gain a signature win. LaFlare has looked strong if not dominant in his four-fight UFC run, and Maia should present his toughest challenge yet. If he can get the fight to the ground, there’s always the possibility for a dangerous submission. However, LaFlare’s been touted as one perhaps the best up-and-coming member of the Blackzilians, and that’s high praise considering their roster. He has a strong base in wrestling, but I expect him to use the knowledge learned from striking coach Henri Hooft to pick Maia apart standing up. If he can do just that, he could be a future contender. My pick is LaFlare by unanimous decision.
Demian Maia is a veteran of the sport, possessing one of the best grappling games in the business and an average striking game that has evolved over time. He has dropped two of his last three, but that includes losses to now title challenger Rory MacDonald and veteran Jake Shields. I believe Maia may be past his prime, and that will be a problem against the young, hungry, and athletic Ryan LaFlare. LaFlare is very well rounded, possessing smooth striking, strong wrestling, and a crisp ground game. If Maia can get the fight to the ground, he may be able to score a submission, but I don’t see that happening. I’m going to give this one to the rising LaFlare, because I believe he has more ways to win. LaFlare by fourth round TKO.
It almost feels as though Demian Maia is being overlooked ahead of this fight, although you can understand why. LaFlare looks to be a rising star in the welterweight division, but this is a huge step up for him. Maia has been in there with the best in the world, and I give him the advantage in this fight. His Brazilian Jiu-jitsu being his best offense, I expect Maia to make this a gritty fight, although he may be outmatched in the stand up. It’s a close one, but I think that Maia’s grappling will win the day with a third round submission.
Erick Silva vs. Josh Koscheck:
This is kind of a strange co-main event after Ben Saunders dropped out due to injury. Koscheck fought only three weeks ago at Feb. 28’s UFC 184, getting choked unconscious by Jake Ellenberger to lose his fourth straight bout. The former title contender is a respected veteran who’s accomplished a lot in his 10-year UFC career. A loss here will likely spell the end of the road for “Kos,” so the pressure will be on in Rio. He obviously wants to go out on his shield and prove he can still hang, but I think Silva will be too fast, athletic, and slick grappling-wise. Koscheck will almost certainly rely on his trademark double leg takedown, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him leave his neck open again. Silva via first round submission.
This is an easy one for me. Erick Silva is a young and tough fighter. He’s also very well-rounded, but his skills don’t really play into my prediction. My prediction is based on Josh Koscheck. At 37 years old, Koscheck has lost four in a row and is coming in on just three week’s notice after just fighting at UFC 184. The former The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 1 contestant has always had solid wrestling and a big right hand, but he’s way past his prime in my opinion. Silva takes this one with a second round submission.
Josh Koscheck is at the end of the road with his fighting career, but hasn’t picked an easy opponent in Erick Silva. ‘Indio’ has some solid stand up skills, and his BJJ is simply awesome. If ‘Kos’ tries to keep this fight standing I see him getting knocked out cold. If the TUF veteran wants to make it a wrestling war, he may get wrapped up and tapped or napped like he did against Jake Ellenberger. A quick turnaround against such a young and hungry fighter like Silva is a very risky move for Koscheck, and I don’t see it paying off. Silva by knockout in round two, take that to the bookies.
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