Carlos Condit vs. Thiago Alves:
This is an excellent return for former interim champ and title contender Condit, who will face a like-minded striker in Alves after almost 15 months off. Despite Condit’s submission skills, I expect that probably neither fighter will look to take this fight to the ground all that often. Both are ultra-effective kickboxers; here I have to give Condit the slight technical edge while Alves maintains an advantage in pure brute force power. This fight is going to tell us whether or not Condit has one last run in him; I foresee him being a bit cautious to get a win in his first bout back, using his reach to pick Alves apart from the outside over five rounds. Condit wins a unanimous decision.
It’s always going to be hard to pick against a fighter like Carlos Condit, and unfortunately for Thiago Alves I won’t start now. ‘The Natural Born Killer’ has all the tools to nullify the Brazilian knockout artist’s power, and I think Condit will be able to utilize them very quickly in the bout. Fight-ending power is one thing, but you need to be technical enough with it, which is what the Jackson’s MMA star has in boat loads. ‘The Pitbull’ won’t be getting any Hail Mary shots in on Condit, at least not ones that could end the fight. The always-game and ever-durable Condit wins a third round TKO, take it to the bookies.
This is a very interesting matchup between two potential top-five welterweights, but both have something to prove. Carlos Condit is returning from a 14-month layoff due to injury and is only 1-3 in his last four bouts, but still sits at No. 4 in the division. When healthy, “The Natural Born Killer” is one of the most dangerous 170-pounders out there, possessing deadly Muay Thai skills and a slick submission game. Although sitting at No. 12, Alves is a former title challenger and is exhibiting a career resurgence of sorts, as he is 2-0 since returning from a two-year layoff. “The Pitbull” is also a strong striker, and in my opinion, has more pure knockout power than Condit. I think Condit holds a strong advantage in the ground game and the cardio department, and if he can use his reach to avoid big shots and eventually wear Alves down and drag him to the ground, I see him ending it there. Condit by third round submission.
Charles Oliveira vs. Nik Lentz:
While this fight presents an interesting opportunity for Oliveira and Lentz to significantly rise up the ranks in the deep and buzzing featherweight division, it certainly has a tough act to follow in terms of co-main events following last weekend’s blockbuster Chris Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort co-headliner at UFC 187. Lentz is gritty, strong, and tough fighter with strong wrestling; yet against Oliveira, that could be his undoing. Look for the lanky ‘Do Bronx’ to use his creative, dangerous world-class ground game to bait Lentz into a trap with a surprising choke or otherwise. Oliveira by first round submission.
Not really a rematch that I feel needs to happen, as Oliveira previously submitted Lentz before their bout was changed to a no-contest in 2011. I don’t think ‘Carny’ was going to beat ‘Do Bronx’ that night, and I’d believe that even more so now. Oliveira has submitted Hatsu Hioki, fought a close and exciting match with Frankie Edgar, and also beaten Jeremy Stephens. Lentz’s biggest win since they first met is against Manny Gamburyan in a rather eventless decision. It’s a hometown advantage for Oliveira in Brazil too, and I’m calling it a second round submission win for Oliveira.
This is a very difficult one to call for me, as these two men are pretty evenly matched. The first bout ended in an unfortunate illegal knee, and both fighters have evolved since. Lentz has won four out of his last five, while Oliveira has won his last three. The slick rising prospect holds a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and has 11 submission wins to his name, but Lentz is no slouch on the ground with 10 submissions of his own. Lentz is a former Division I wrestler and will definitely have the advantage there, but if he gets Oliveira to the ground, the Brazilian will be very aggressive looking for submissions. And that’s how I see this fight playing out due to the fact that ‘Do Bronx’ has looked great as of late. I expect Oliveira to get his fourth straight win via second round submission.