The Ultimate Fighting Championship will return to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the second time in the promotion’s history on April 11 at UFC Fight Night 39.
The main event features a heavyweight showdown between Roy Nelson and BJJ ace Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira, while the always-tenacious Clay Guida takes on Tatsuya Kawajiri in the co-main event.
Here are my UFC Fight Night 39 predictions and picks:
Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Roy Nelson
Nogueira (34-8-1, 21 submissions) has had his share of struggles lately, losing four of his last seven fights. To make things worse, he was finished during his four losses.
Nelson (19-9-0, 12 KOs) has also has his share of struggles lately, losing two of his last four fights, so he’ll be just as motivated to put on a decent show at UFC Fight Night 39.
Both men are decent boxers, but Nelson should have the edge when it comes to sheer power. Nogueira should have the advantage if the fight hits the canvas, but, given the fact he only completes 33 percent of his takedowns, the odds of that happening are pretty slim.
This should be a closely contested standup battle, with Nelson getting the better of the exchanges.
Prediction: Nelson wins via decision.
Clay Guida vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri
Guida (30-14-0, 15 submissions) will restart his quest for the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s featherweight title when he squares up against Kawajiri (33-7-2, 12 KOs) at UFC Fight Night 39.
Guida, who dropped down to the 145-pound division early 2013, is a battle-tested veteran who was one of the top fighters in the UFC’s lightweight division for years, but Kawajiri has been around the block many times as well.
With wins against the likes of Josh Thomson, Kawajiri has faced most of the top lightweights in MMA, so experience won’t be an issue when he steps inside the Octagon for the second time at UFC Fight Night 39.
Kawajiri should have the advantage standing up, and his takedown defense should be good enough to lead him to victory against Guida.
Prediction: Kawajiri wins via decision.
John Howard vs. Ryan LaFlare
Things have gone pretty well for Howard (22-8-0, 9 KOs) ever since his return to the Ultimate Fighting Championship, racking up victories against Uriah Hall and Siyar Bahadurzada.
LaFlare (10-0-0, 4 KOs) has been equally as impressive lately, with a 3-0 record so far in the UFC. He was extremely impressive during his last outing against Court McGee, handing the Ultimate Fighter season 11 winner a decent beating.
Howard has been very successful using his wrestling to edge out decisions since his return to the Ultimate Fighting Championship, but that likely won’t be enough to get him past LaFlare’s excellent striking and grappling skills.
Prediction: LaFlare wins via decision.
Ramsey Nijem vs. Beneil Dariush
Nijem (8-4-0, 2 KOs) has had his share of struggles lately, and he’ll be in for another tough matchup when he squares up against Dariush (7-0-0, 4 submissions) at UFC Fight Night 39. Dariush couldn’t have looked any better during his UFC debut against Charlie Brenneman, so, given what I’ve seen from him so far, he shouldn’t have any issues dealing with Nijem’s strongest asset, his wrestling.
Prediction: Dariush wins via submission.
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