The UFC 166 fight card is filled with lots of intriguing matchups, and the baddest man on the planet will be determined, once again, when heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez squares up against Junior dos Santos in the main event.
Here are my predictions for the UFC 166 fight card set for Oct. 19 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos
Dos Santos (16-2-0, 12 KOs) only needed 64 seconds to put Velasquez away during their first encounter late 2011, while Cain (12-1-0, 10 KOs) dominated the rematch last December, dishing out a one-sided beating.
Dos Santos actually got off to a decent start during the rematch, but a huge right hand, which the Brazilian never fully recovered from, took him out of his game.
Cain had a lot of success mixing up his wrestling with strikes during the second fight, but he likely won’t have the same level of success at UFC 166. Dos Santos has had over 10 months to make the necessary adjustments. And his striking arsenal looked improved during his last bout against Mark Hunt.
The third fight between these two will likely be the most competitive, but Junior’s technically superior boxing and ability to fight his way back to his feet when taken down should lead him to victory
Prediction: Dos Santos wins via TKO.
Daniel Cormier vs. Roy Nelson
Nelson (19-8-0, 12 KOs) struggled during his last fight against Stipe Miocic, losing via unanimous decision. He’ll have an opportunity to redeem himself — and a lot more — when he squares up against Cormier (12-0-0, 5 KOs) at UFC 166.
Cormier wasn’t particularly impressive during his UFC debut against Frank Mir in April, utilizing a rather conservative gameplan, doing just enough to secure the decision.
Daniel plans to drop down to the light-heavyweight division for a title shot with a win against Roy, but, given Alexander Gustafsson’s gutsy performance against current 205-pound champ Jon Jones (who is scheduled to fight Glover Teixeira next) at UFC 165, “DC” needs to put on a show against Nelson if he wants to jump the line.
Daniel should have the grapping and striking advantage at UFC 166, but he certainly doesn’t want to run into one of Roy’s massive overhand rights.
Prediction: Cormier wins via decision.
Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez
Melendez (21-3-0, 11 KOs) looked awesome during his UFC debut, holding his own against former lightweight champion Benson Henderson. Sanchez (24-5-0, 9 submissions), on the other hand, wasn’t particularly impressive during his last two fights.
Melendez should enjoy a significant advantage standing up, and he has all the tools needed to deal with Diego’s aggressive grappling.
Prediction: Melendez wins via decision.
Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Shawn Jordan
Gonzaga (15-7-0, 9 submissions) only needed 17 seconds to put Dave Herman away during his last outing, while Jordan (15-4-0, 11 KOs) knocked out Pat Barry 59 seconds into his previous bout.
This should be an entertaining bout if both men decide to stand and trade, but that probably won’t be the case at UFC 166. Gonzaga has a sizable advantage grappling wise, which means he’ll likely try to take things to the canvas early on.
Prediction: Gonzaga wins via submission.
John Dodson vs. Darrell Montague
Montague (13-2-0, 5 KOs) will have his hands full when he makes his UFC debut against Dodson (14-6-0, 6 KOs). John wasn’t able to dethrone lightweight champion Demetrious Johnson during his last outing, but he was arguably DJ’s toughest test to date, earning both men “Fight of the Night” honors.
Montague is currently on a four-fight win streak, but he’ll likely be in over his head against a high-caliber flyweight like Dodson who possesses serious speed and power.
Prediction: Dodson wins via TKO.
Tim Boetsch defeats C.B. Dollaway
Hector Lombard defeats Nate Marquardt
Sarah Kaufman defeats Jessica Eye
KJ Noons defeats George Sotiropoulos
Adlan Amagov defeats TJ Waldburger
Tony Ferguson defeats Mike Rio
Andre Fili defeats Jeremy Larsen
Kyoji Horiguchi defeats Dustin Pague