UFC Boston is filled with several intriguing fights at TD Garden on Friday night. Here are some previews on each of the matchups, along with best bets at the bottom.
#4 DOMINICK REYES 11-0 VS. #8 CHRIS WEIDMAN 14-4
This should be a fantastic main event. Dominick Reyes is looking to further validate himself as Jon Jones’s next opponent for the belt, but first he must get through former middleweight champ Chris Weidman, who’s making the move up to light heavyweight after dropping four of his last five. Reyes is undefeated, yet coming off of a very disputable win against Volkan Oezdemir back in March. Reyes comes out fast and strikes at volume, mixing jabs, and kicks with a bunch of power. Weidman has decent stand up, coupled with some top-tier grappling, giving him the ability to take his opponents down at any given moment. This could be a factor if he gets hurt by the powerful Reyes in the stand up. Weidman has taken a ton of damage over his last several fights, and will turtle up and cover, almost freezing in place, which will be a huge tell for Reyes. Aside from the wrestling, the other disadvantage Reyes will have is the moment itself. This is Reyes’s first main event, while Weidman has been here on at least five other occasions. This is a big pressure spot here for Reyes to deliver, but all signs show this week he’s been very composed and confident in where he is in his career. The truth will be told Friday night. I’d hate to say it, but I’ve never been that sold on Chris Weidman. He’s a former champ and amazing fighter, but gets gassed and hurt quicker than most. Knowing this, and the danger Reyes brings, it could be a rough night for the former champ unfortunately. Reyes gets his moment Friday night.
PREDICTION: DOMINICK REYES
#7 YAIR RODRIGUEZ 12-2 VS. #8 JEREMY STEPHENS 28-16
Here we go again! The fight has been rebooked and we have some serious heat. Rodriguez and Stephens have been jawing all week, right where they left off after the last match ended in 15 seconds, after Yair eye poked Stephens accidentally, causing a no contest. In his last two fights, Yair has been beat up pretty badly. Frankie Edgar finished him via doctor stoppage, and the Korean Zombie was clearly on his way to victory, until Yair magically landed an up-elbow with just one second left in the fifth round, literally stealing the fight and putting the Zombie to sleep. Yair will not want to come forward too much against Stephens and attempt to stay at range. This will be a challenge and I suspect this turning into a brawl. Yair has the technical ability to land something fancy and to hurt Stephens to the mid-range at any given moment. This could happen. Stephens is a bulldog though, and just keeps coming forward looking for that big shot. There is an output edge for Yair, but he has to watch out for the big bombs from Stephens. I liked Stephens more when he had five rounds to work, compared to the three in this one. I still believe, however, he will have his moment and get the nod.
PREDICTION: JEREMY STEPHENS
GREG HARDY 5-1 VS. BEN SOSOLI 7-2
That slow climb up the ladder continues for Greg Hardy. Here he gets the No. 1 heavyweight in Australia/New Zealand in Ben Sosoli, who’s 7-2, and has never been finished, coming off the Contender’s Series in August. Sosoli has a solid chin, but will be tested against the much bigger and more athletic Hardy. Hardy’s 5-1 and has five first-round KO/TKOs, four inside of a minute. His only loss is by DQ, where he was fighting like an amateur, and ended up getting warned and eventually busted for landing an illegal knee. This showed just how young he is in the sport, but has since looked slightly matured as he wraps 2019. I suspect the trend continues here.
PREDICTION: GREG HARDY
JOE LAUZON 27-15 VS. JONATHAN PEARCE 9-3
Huge opportunity for Pearce against UFC vet Joe Lauzon, who absolutely is on the tail end of his career. Lauzon gets to fight here in his home state and that crowd will be wild. If he gets crushed, and he actually has in his last two fights, this could be it. Lauzon will look to lock in a sub, and typically comes out very fast, and Pearce will need to look to keep it standing. I believe Pearce has the size and ability to control the quick start from Lauzon, and eventually land something to put Lauzon into some trouble.
PREDICTION: JONATHAN PEARCE
#12 MAYCEE BARBER 7-0 VS. #15 GILLIAN ROBERTSON 7-3
I was telling someone who messaged me the other day that Barber has been talking a lot, and eventually she’s going to get caught speeding. Robertson is looking for her fifth UFC finish Saturday night, and she currently holds the most in the division. What Barber will have to watch out for is those shots she typically takes with the chin in the air, which could allow Robertson the ability to close in and lock something in. Barber usually turns up the heat when she’s getting hit or controlled, and I bet we see it in this one, too. Robertson will have her moments and could actually get the W, but I’m still on the Barber hype train for now.
PREDICTION: MAYCEE BARBER
DERON WINN 6-0 VS. DARREN STEWART 10-4
Man, the weigh-in staredown was great. Mini DC is so small compared to his opponents, but he has some skills. Coming into this one at 6-0, he’ll look to keep things going against a very dangerous Stewart. His volume, coupled with top-tier wrestling, should show size doesn’t matter in this one.
PREDICTION: DARON WINN
CHARLES ROSA 11-3 VS. MANNY BERMUDEZ 14-1
Bermudez missed weight again. He has to give up 20% of his purse, and will have a tough test against Charles Rosa, who looks to get back on track after taking some extended time off. Rosa is a submission guy himself, and pretty much lands takedowns in every fight. As long as he can avoid getting submitted for the first time in his career against a sneaky Bermudez, I’d have to think Rosa’s gas tank, and ability to rally when down, could be a difference-maker.
PREDICTION: CHARLES ROSA
MOLLY MCCANN 9-2 VS. DIANA BELBITA 13-4
Though McCann is the biggest favorite on the card, we’ve seen what happens with that in the past. Meatball faces the somehow No. 1 women’s fighter in Romania in Belbita. Belbita has not fought anyone of note. Of her last five opponents, only one has a pro victory. Only three of the past 13 have had winning records. This could get ugly.
PREDICTION: MOLLY MCCANN
KYLE BOCHNIAK 8-4 VS. SEAN WOODSON 6-0
Have to go with the hometown guy here. Bochniak has dropped three of his last four, but against a whole different level of opponent. Woodson is solid, a massive featherweight at 6’2” who plays some games by trying to catch his opponents sleeping. He just came off a highlight-reel flying-knee victory against Terrance McKinney at DWTNCS to land his spot here Saturday night. The crowd will be heavy on Bochniak.
PREDICTION: KYLE BOCHNIAK
RANDY COSTA 4-1 VS. BOSTON SALMON 6-2
Boston Salmon coming back after that brutal 25-second KO loss against Khalid Taha, who caught him pretty clean. It’s easy to get caught up in what you’ve seen lately, but I believe Salmon will come back with a better showing here. Costa is 4-1 and suffered his first loss against Brandon Davis in his UFC debut in April, and although he has power, he throws wild and crazy. While doing that, he got hurt a couple times against Davis, before getting submitted. His four victories are all via KO/TKO, but it’s important to know his opponents during that stretch were 0-2, 5-9, 0-1 and 0-5. But it’s fighting though, and all it takes is a punch. Costa could quite possibly land, but I’m going to go with Boston in Boston.
PREDICTION: BOSTON SALMON
COURT MCGEE 19-8 VS. SEAN BRADY 10-0
Brady is coming in making his debut against a pretty gritty McGee, who’s on the downhill of his very respectable career. Brady is undefeated at 10-0, with half coming via finish. Brady should have some speed on McGee, although McGee will have the edge with volume. McGee can take some shots, and will here against Brady. While McGee doesn’t have a finish in his last 13 matches, I feel like this line should be tighter. I’m going to take the newcomer edging this one out.
PREDICTION: SEAN BRADY
BRENDAN ALLEN 12-3 VS. KEVIN HOLLAND 16-4
I think these two were supposed to scrap back in the day in a different organization, so they have some history and build up to this spot. Allen making his debut will be game, but as we’ve seen, Holland is a freak athlete in there, talking the entire way. Although he’s been in some danger, he’s weathered the storm and gone 3-1 in the UFC, after dropping his short notice debut against former title contender Thiago Santos. Holland’s obvious weakness is his takedown/grappling defense. That said, Allen isn’t too shabby with the ground game. I expect to see Allen get pieced up a bit on the feet, while working to get it down. I like Holland’s ability to get the fight back up though, throwing some flashy stuff along the way to sway the judges.
PREDICTION: KEVIN HOLLAND
DANIEL SPITZ 6-2 VS. TANNER BOSER 16-5-1
Boser, the No. 1 heavyweight in Canada, had his debut cancelled back in July. Having to wait a few months to get back in there, you know he’s jacked about finally getting his chance under the bright lights. Although he’s pretty low volume, half of his wins are via KO/TKO, while only being finished once himself. Boser has proven he’s also decent on the mat, and can typically get back up off bottom position when the fight gets there. Spitz will have the size advantage, and will look to leverage out of the shoots. I expect him to mix in some kicks, keeping Boser off balance. The challenge with him, though, is his offense isn’t necessarily anything that leads to finishes. This gives his opponents that ability to get inside, and Boser will be able to do the same at some point. This fight will be determined between Spitz’s volume versus Boser’s control, I’ll take Boser in what could be a close fight.
PREDICTION: TANNER BOSER
Pearce KO/TKO -105
McCann KO/TKO +315