By TXMMA Staff // Photos by UFC.com, Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone headlines UFC Fight Night 45 opposite perennial contender Jim Miller
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ, July 16, 2014 – The UFC returns to Atlantic City, NJ this evening for their latest event, UFC Fight Night: Cerrone vs. Miller (also known as UFC Fight Night 45). Set for broadcast on FOX Sports 1, the show will feature two top-10 ranked lightweights in the main event with Donald Cerrone taking on hometown favorite Jim Miller.
Also featured on the card is another 155 lbs. fighter in Edson Barboza looking to get back into the win column opposite Evan Dunham along with 4 additional main card fights featuring more up-and-coming fighters. There’s 11 bouts in all on tap for this evening including prelims.
Here’s an analysis of all of them:
UFC Fight Night: Cerrone vs. Miller – Preview and Predictions
155 lbs.: Donald Cerrone (23-6) vs. Jim Miller (24-4)
This fight pits two 155 lbs. fighters against each other who have something in common. They’re both accomplished and exciting veterans but still have never reached the very top of the UFC ladder. To put it in statistical terms, Miller has been around the UFC for 6 years with only 3 losses out of 17 fights during that span. Everyone he’s lost to has gone on to fight for the title leaving him always the bridesmaid but never the bride. Meanwhile “Cowboy” has 9 FOTN bonuses in his time but a UFC title fight has thus far alluded him.
In the end this one comes down to a very close contest that could be predicated by where the fight takes place. Miller likes to stand despite his wrestling credentials. Cerrone has 15 submissions of his own so he’s no slouch on the ground but he likes to stand too. Donald is rangier though, and more dynamic with his leg kicks so he should have the advantage there. In order for Jim to win he has to make this an ugly fight and do his best to smother Cerrone. He would have a chance to do that in a short three round fight but we’re talking 25 minutes here. And that’s too much time to feel too comfortable about his chances.
Prediction: Donald Cerrone over Jim Miller by unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Edson Barboza (13-2) vs. Evan Dunham (14-5)
A Knockout of the Year winner in 2012 courtesy of his spinning heel kick versus Terry Etim, Edwin Barboza continues to be reputed as one of the more dynamic strikers in the UFC. That reputed is well earned as his quickness and speed is second to none. Unfortunately he still has holes in his game also and that was evident in his last fight, a submission loss to the aforementioned Donald Cerrone. As for Evan Dunham, he was one known as a top prospect in the lightweight division but he’s fallen on hard times (an understatement) since winning 11 straight to start his MMA career. In fact he’s gone 3-5 since 2010 and that’s not a good look for anybody.
Stylistically Edson wins this fight by any way he wants as long as he can keep Dunham from tying him up and taking him down. By contrast, if Evan can get inside and slow the Brazilian’s attack he can win this fight on his terms as well. Still, empirical evidence points to one fighter still with a chance to work his way up the ladder while the other is clearly on the downside of his career.
Prediction: Edwin Barboza over Evan Dunham by TKO, RD2
170 lbs.: Leonardo Mafra (11-1) vs. Rick Story (16-8)
There was a time when Rick Story was considered a potential world beater. He notched consecutive wins over Johny Hendricks and Thiago Alves earlier on in his career but has fallen on hard times since then, losing 5 of his last 8 fights. Simply put, what was once a career filled with championship dreams has regressed into a “Horror” story, pun intended. Still, he’s a tough fight for anybody and that’s who Brazilian Leonardo “Macarrão” Mafra gets in his UFC debut. A member of Team Wanderlei on TUF Brazil, the Chute Boxe trained fighter has 8 wins by KO and 1 by submission. He likes the finish so this should be an exciting fight.
If Macarrão wins then he should definitely be considered a fighter to watch but until he wins, it wouldn’t be wise to pick him against such a proven opponent. All things considered this should be exciting. It’s also Rick Story’s chance to prove he still has something resembling a top 10 fighter inside of him.
Prediction: Rick Story over Leonardo Mafra by TKO, RD3
155 lbs.: Joe Proctor (9-2) vs. Justin Salas (12-5)
Justin Salas comes into this bout following an exciting KO of Australian Ben Wall in his last fight. Joe Proctor made good on dispatching former Chute Boxe BJJ coach Cristiano Marcello in his own last bout and is currently 2-1 in the UFC while his opponent stands at 3-2.
Honestly this bout between the two journeymen may prove to be a decent one but neither of these guys are what most would consider a future contender. They’re journeymen at best but decent ones at that. Salas should have the edge in most areas and can outwrestle his opponent if it comes down to that to win a decision.
Prediction: Justin Salas over Joe Proctor by unanimous decision
125 lbs.: John Lineker (23-7) vs. Alptekin Ozkilic (9-2)
John “Hands of Stone” Lineker has looked impressive in the past and won 4 straight fights before losing his last one to Ali Bagautinov. That puts him at 4-2 overall in the UFC which is decent but he’s had other problems as well, namely missing weight in 2 out of his last 3 bouts. With that, he’s definitely on the hot seat even though he’s one of the hardest punchers in the division. As for his opponent, Legacy FC vet Alp Ozkilic will walk in as the bigger fighter and has decent measurable of his own but he sh-t the bed in his last fight against Louis Smolka. Hard to pick a fighter that hasn’t proven himself consistent against a proven vet like Lineker.
Prediction: John Lineker over Alptekin Ockilic by unanimous decision
145 lbs.: Lucas Martins (14-1) vs. Alex “The Spartan” White (10-0)
This featherweight bout between two decent prospects is the opening bout of the main card for a reason and has the potential to become UFC Fight Night 45’s ‘Fight of the Night’.
Lucas “Mineiro”Martins entered the UFC in May 2013 and achieved ‘Fight of the Night’ in his second bout, a third round knockout of Jeremy Larsen in Jaraguá do Sul, Brazil. Meanwhile Alex White remains undefeated at 10-0 and earned a ‘Performance of the Night’ bonus in his UFC debut, a KO of Estevan Payan just this past April.
Martins has finished 13 out of 14 while White has finished 9 out of 10 so this one probably isn’t going to the judges. With that said, it’s anybody’s ball game between two big hitters in this one..
Prediction: Alex White over Lucas Martins by KO, RD2
UFC Fight Night: Cerrone vs. Miller – Undercard Preview and Predictions
155 lbs: Gleison Tibau (37-10) vs. Pat Healy (31-18)
Two of the longest-tenured MMA vets in the UFC face off in this one. Gleison Tibau has 22 fights in the octagon but has never quite reached the top. Meanwhile Healy has had flashes of greatness but his career has been derailed by a few things as well. “Bam Bam” can give anyone a good fight on his best day but Tibau is a bad matchup for him. Tibau is a strong striker who’s hard to take down and that could be Bam Bam’s kyptonite. The likely scenario here shows Gleison taking the early round and Healy coming on late but maybe too late.
Prediction: Gleison Tibau over Pat Healy by unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Jessamyn Duke (3-1) vs. Leslie Smith (6-5-1)
One of UFC champ Ronda Rousey’s housemates beyond the show (read; “Four Horsewomen”), Jessamyn Duke has proven herself to be a decent fighter but the jury is still out on whether she can be a legit contender in the UFC. Coming out of Invicta, her opponent Leslie Smith steps in as a late rpelacement for Sarah Kaufman. Duke will be the taller fighter in this bout but hasn’t shown mastery over capitalizing on her size advantage in fights past. Smith is a scrapper as well and seems more game on the feet. As long as she doesn’t get tossed she should win this one.
Prediction: Leslie Smith over Jessamyn Duke by split decision
135 lbs.: Hugo Viana (8-2) vs. Aljamain Sterling (9-0)
Hugo Viana has some notable loss (to eventual TUF Brazil winner Rony Jason and 135 lbs. champ T.J. Dillashaw) but remains a prospect worth watching. Meanwhile (with all due respect to Cody Gibson) Aljamain Sterling is still largely an untested prospect but has some skills that seem to be developing. If this plays out on the fight, Viana may have the slight edge. If it goes elsewhere, Sterling should take it.
Prediction: Hugo Viana over Aljamain Sterling by split decision
155 lbs.: Yosdenis Cedeno (9-3) vs. Jerrod Sanders (14-1)
With 6 wins by KO its clear Yosdenis Cedeno likes to swing for the fences. Meanwhiel Jerrod Sanders is a former All-American wrestler from OSU and had 6 finishes of his own, by submission. Definitely a stylistic battle here and in that type of fight, wrestling usually has the edge.
Prediction: Jerrod Sanders over Yosdenis Cedeno by unanimous decision
115 lbs.: Cláudia Gadelha (11-0) vs. Tina Lähdemäki (5-0)
Finally, the women’s strawweight division arrives in the UFC and they picked a goof prospect to showcase in Brazilian phenom Claudia Gadelha. An 11 fight veteran already, “Claudinha” has a win over an all-time legend in Megummi Fujii to her record.
Her opponent Tina Lahdemaki is undefeated at 5-0 out of Finland and has never gone past the second round. She’s a submission specialist as well but not one on par with the Nova Uniao trained fighter.
Prediction: Cláudia Gadelha over Tina Lähdemäki by submission, RD1