UFC Fight Night 171: Prelims - Previews & Predictions

By Scott Reichel

Andrei Arlovski vs. Philipe Lins

Andrei “The Pit Bull” Arlovski is somehow still around in the UFC. Despite being 41 years old and having lost five of his last six fights, Arlovski decided that he was not ready to hang up the gloves as he will be looking to get back on track. Arlovski was known for being a knockout artist earlier in his career but he has not won by knockout since 2015 so it appears that he has lost some punching power over the course of his career. Now, he will be looking to regain some of that power on Wednesday.

Unlike his experienced opponent, Philipe “Monstro” Lins will be making his UFC debut in this fight. Prior to joining the organization, Lins experienced a ton of success in the upstart Professional Fighters League as he was crowned Heavyweight champion in 2018. However, he has not fought since so one has to wonder if he will look a bit rusty in his first fight in roughly 15 months. Similarly to Arlovski, Lins has won the majority of his fights by knockout so this should be a very entertaining matchup.

This fight has the makings for a serious slugfest and I would be shocked to see it finish any other way. Arlovski loves to throw punches in the standup while barely protecting his head and Lins should be content to stand there and trade heavy shots with him from the opening. However, Arlovski does not have the same power that he once had and he still displays virtually no defense so I think that Lins should get the better of those exchanges en route to a victory.

Prediction: Philipe Lins by KO/TKO (+155 Fanduel)

Michael Johnson vs. Thiago Moises

Michael “The Menace” Johnson has been around the block a few times during his long UFC career and it has unfortunately gone pretty poorly as of late. Johnson entered the UFC in 2010 and got off to a fast start before having mixed results ever since. He also enters this fight in terrible form as he has lost seven of his last ten fights including each of his last two. Now, Johnson will be looking to keep his UFC career alive by getting himself a nice bounce-back win in this Lightweight contest.

Thiago Moises has had mixed results so far in his brief UFC career as he has split his first four fights. Now, Moises will be looking to get himself a winning record in the UFC once again with another bout on Wednesday. However, despite his lack of success in the Octagon, Moises is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu prodigy who has the ability to submit anybody at any time. Now, Thiago Moises will have the chance to get back on track after losing his last fight to Damir Ismagulov via decision.

To be clear, I think that this is a terrible matchup for Johnson. Not only has he lost 15 times in his MMA career already but eight of those losses have come via submission so I think that facing a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert is a disaster waiting to happen. Moises should be very motivated to bounce back after his recent loss and Ismagulov has won 15 of his first 16 fights so the level of competition is significantly worse in this matchup in comparison to his last. As a result, I have no choice but to side with the Brazilian.

Prediction: Thiago Moises by Submission (+500 FoxBet)

Sijara Eubanks vs. Sarah Moras

Sijara “Sarj” Eubanks has had a mediocre MMA career up to this point. She has won four of her first eight fights with all four losses coming via decision. To make matters worse, she enters this fight on a two-fight losing streak so she is currently not in the best of form. However, those losses came against Bethe Correia and Aspen Ladd so the level of competition has been very high. With a much weaker opponent on the horizon, Eubanks will look to take care of business on Wednesday.

Sarah “Cheesecake” Moras has also been a pretty mediocre fighter up to this point. With a 6-5 record, Moras will have the opportunity to maintain her winning record if she is able to pull off the upset in this fight. Moras was able to snap a three-fight losing streak with a victory in her last UFC appearance and she will have to hope that some of that positivity will carry over into these 15 minutes.

Oddsmakers anticipate this fight to be completely one-sided and extremely long. Eubanks has faced better competition and she is definitely the superior fighter in this matchup. Plus, being a fighter with the nickname “Cheesecake” does not exactly sound like a ringing endorsement in my book. In reality, this fight is expected to go the distance, and Eubanks is expected to win relatively easily. Personally, I cannot find any fault with either assessment.

Prediction: Sijara Eubanks by Decision (-115 Fanduel)

Omar Antonio Morales Ferrer vs. Gabriel Benitez

Despite being 34 years old, Omar Antonio Morales Ferrer appears to be in the middle of his prime as he is still undefeated in his MMA career through nine fights. In addition, Ferrer has looked dominant in his first two UFC fights as he will look to showcase his skills once again in this matchup. Ferrer has the ability to become a late-blooming contender in the Lightweight division and a victory here should get him a well-known opponent on deck. The only question remaining is if he will be able to get the job done.

Gabriel “Moggly” Benitez has been a member of the UFC since 2014 and he has experienced some success with the organization. Benitez has won five of his first eight UFC fights and he will be looking to add another win to his collection in Florida. However, he also got knocked out by Sodiq Yusuff in the first round of his last fight so he hopes to put that lackluster performance in the rearview mirror. Benitez has the talent to take care of business here but he will need to do a better job at staying out of trouble over these 15 minutes.

Both fighters love to be on the ground so I expect this fight to be extremely competitive throughout. However, I think that Ferrer simply brings a bit more to the table in terms of talent so I think that he should be able to do enough to get the job done in this fight. Benitez might be good on the offensive but his defense leaves a lot to be desired which should be his undoing over these three rounds.

Prediction: Omar Antonio Morales Ferrer by Decision (+188 FoxBet)

Hunter Azure vs. Brian Kelleher

Hunter Azure is the other undefeated fighter on this fight card as he has won each of his first eight MMA fights. However, the level of competition that he has faced has been average at best so one has to wonder if the hype surrounding him is accurate or not. Either way, Azure will look to silence some doubters on Wednesday with a more well-known opponent up next. Azure has also won four of his last five fights via decision so he has been very good at acquiring points on scorecards which could very well come in handy for this fight.

Brian "Boom" Kelleher has been a pretty good fighter in his UFC career. Despite winning 20 of his first 30 MMA fighters, he has only won four of his first seven fights with the UFC so he has struggled to adjust to the improved competition. Now, Kelleher will be looking to stay over .500 with another victory in the Octagon on Wednesday. Luckily, he did manage to win his last fight against Ode Osbourne via first-round submission so he will be looking to put this opponent away early as well.

Even though Kelleher has some skills, it is very tough to go against the undefeated fighter in this spot. Kelleher has been very inconsistent against UFC competition and Azure has breezed through his first two UFC fights so I think that there might be a bit of a talent mismatch here. Plus, Azure has won all four of his decisions while Kelleher has lost three of his seven decisions so I think that the favorite should find ways to generate enough points on the scorecards in order to win this fight.

Prediction: Hunter Azure by Decision (+138 FoxBet)

Chase Sherman vs. Isaac Villanueva

Chase “The Vanilla Gorilla” Sherman is known for his elite punching power which has resulted in 12 knockout victories up to this point. However, Sherman’s power did not translate too well to the UFC as he has lost five of his first seven fights with the organization. After a three-fight losing streak about three years ago, Sherman left the UFC and started fighting in Square Ring Promotions where he recorded consecutive first-round knockout victories. Now, Sherman is back and he will be looking for much better results in the UFC the second time around.

Similarly to his opponent, Isaac “Hurricane Ike” Villanueva is not afraid of throwing haymakers in the standup. Villanueva has won 16 of his first 25 MMA fights with 13 of those wins coming via knockout. In addition, Villanueva enters this fight in great form as he was in the middle of a four-fight winning streak in the Fury Fighting Championship before making the move to the UFC. It is also worth mentioning that all four victories came via the first-round knockout so one can expect to see a lot of action in the early going of this fight.

For this fight, I truly have no idea who is going to win. Both fighters tend to win via knockout and I can see this fight being over in the blink of an eye. If I had to take a stab, I would take Villanueva since he is in better form but whoever lands the first clean shot should win the fight so I have no interest in betting this bout from a side perspective. However, I do think that there is some value to be had with the total in this fight since it should end extremely quickly.

Prediction: Fight To End In Round 1 (+135 Fanduel)

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Scott Reichel

Scott Reichel is a University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate with an insane passion for sports. His commitment to endlessly researching statistics helps separate him from other handicappers with regard to MLB, NBA, NCAAB, NCAAF, NHL, and NFL coverage. Scott also shares his passion for sports on StatSalt's YouTube page where he does a daily show called Scott's Selections and he is a sports betting expert. We are very happy to have Scott as a part of our StaSalt team and you will not be disappointed in following him daily.

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