Neil Magny enters hostile territory this Saturday (Nov. 17, 2018), challenging knockout artist Santiago Ponzinibbio in the first-ever trip for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) to Buenos Aires, Argentina. South American mixed martial arts (MMA) fans will also get to see Ricardo Lamas take on Darren Elkins, Argentina’s own Guido Cannetti face The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) castmate Marlon Vera, and top women’s Strawweight prospects Cynthia Calvillo and Poliana Botelho go at it.
FOX Sports 1 will feature four UFC Fight Night 140 “Prelims” undercard bouts (check out the Fight Pass portion here) alongside the main card. Let’s have a look!
170 lbs.: Michel Prazeres vs. Bartosz Fabinski
A decision victory over Des Green marked the seventh consecutive victory for Michel Prazeres (25-2), but also his third time missing weight in four fights, forcing him to move up to 170 pounds. There, he faced the hulking Zak Cummings in May, walking away with a split decision victory.
He is six inches shorter than Bartosz Fabinski (14-2) and will give up eight inches of reach.
Poland’s Fabinski handily defeated Garreth McLellan and Hector Urbina in his first two Octagon appearances, only to miss all of 2016 and 2017 because of injury. He returned in July, winning a grueling decision over fan-favorite Emil Meek in Hamburg.
“The Butcher” has finished eight opponents via strikes.
There is a very, very good chance that this fight winds up being terrible. Fabinski showed against Meek that he’s more than happy to hit takedown after takedown and just sit in guard, and though Prazeres has had some entertaining performances in the past, he’s also faded badly in fights he was winning.
This will come down to whether Prazeres’ deeper grappling game and superior stand up can overcome Fabinski’s size and relentlessness. After seeing Prazeres deal with another big customer in Cummings — who is a better technician than Fabinski in most areas — I have faith that the Brazilian’s quick hands and sheer strength can rack up enough quality blows and stuff enough shots to take the decision.
Prediction: Prazeres via unanimous decision
125 lbs.: Alexandre Pantoja vs. Yuta Sasaki
Alexandre Pantoja’s (19-3) submission of Damacio Page to unify the Legacy and RFA Flyweight titles earned him the top seed on TUF 24, where he reached the semifinals before falling to Hiromasa Ogikubo. He’s won three of four bouts inside the Octagon proper, rebounding from a narrow loss to Dustin Ortiz to defeat Brandon Moreno in Chile.
“The Cannibal” will surrender five inches of height and four inches of reach to “Ulka.”
After suffering consecutive stoppage losses to Leandro Issa and Taylor Lapilus, Yuta Sasaki (21-5-2) made the drop to Flyweight, where he’s gone 3-2. He was last seen choking out boxing specialist Jenel Lausa in his first victory since tapping to Jussier Formiga last year.
Twelve of his 14 stoppage wins have come by submission.
I’m a Sasaki fan and he’s got the ability to upset ostensibly superior fighters, but he’s just not built to have consistent success against strong competition. He’s not a capable enough wrestler to bring his potent submissions to bear on his own terms. And even though those crazy-long limbs make him a threat at range or off of his back, he’s going to struggle against fighters with superior fundamentals.
Pantoja fits that bill quite well. The Brazilian has the takedown offense and defense to dictate where the fight goes and is the cleaner, more powerful striker. Sasaki will have his moments, but Pantoja will consistently find his way inside, landing hard punching combinations, low kicks and takedowns on his way to a clear decision victory.
Prediction: Pantoja via unanimous decision
145 lbs.: Humberto Bandenay vs. Austin Arnett
Humberto Bandenay (14-5) came out of nowhere to wipe out TUF: “Latin America” 3 winner Martin Bravo in just 26 seconds, earning “Performance of the Night” via vicious head kick. Injuries and visa problems kept the Peruvian out of action for the next nine months, after which he lost to Gabriel Benitez in a wild 39-second donnybrook.
He stands one inch taller than “Golden Boy” at 6’1”.
Austin Arnett (15-5) came up short in a slugfest with Brandon Davis on “Contender Series,” but impressed enough to join UFC five months later. He has yet to taste victory in the Octagon, losing to prospects Cory Sandhagen and Hakeem Dawodu.
His 12 stoppage wins are split evenly between knockouts and submissions.
It’s hard to get a good bead on Bandenay, as his Octagon career has lasted 65 seconds so far, but he looks like a solid fighter, boasting powerful kicks and reasonably effective hands. He’s not quite as good as any of the three fighters Arnett lost to recently, which is where the difficulty in making this decision comes from.
Despite some misgivings, it looks as though Arnett’s struggles against aggressive combination striking will once again prove his undoing. If Bandenay targets the body with that heavy left leg of his, he should be able to control the fight standing and secure his second UFC victory.
Prediction: Bandenay via unanimous decision
170 lbs.: Laureano Staropoli vs. Hector Aldana
Laureano Staropoli (7-1) — who has not tasted defeat since his third professional fight — punched his ticket to the Octagon with seven victories in less than two rounds. “Pepi” has scored knockouts in five of those seven victories, including four of his last five.
This will be his first fight since June 2017.
Hector Aldana (4-1) represented Team Gastelum on TUF: “Latin America” 2, winning a decision over Alvaro Herrera before tapping to teammate Enrique Marín in the semifinals. Three years later, he made his Octagon debut against China’s Song Kenan, succumbing to his foe’s power after an entertaining two-round brawl.
He has knocked out two professional foes and submitted one other.
A heavy-handed Argentine Welterweight will immediately draw comparisons to headliner Santiago Ponzinnibbio, but Staropoli isn’t quite there yet. That’s not to say he’s not plenty powerful, aggressive and entertaining, though; he’s a brawler to the bone, more than happy to plant his feet and trade heat.
This does, as you might imagine, leave him open to incoming fire, and he’s been rocked before. Luckily for him, Aldana came up short in a slugfest his last time out and doesn’t look like he’ll pose a significant threat with either his power or striking technique. Aldana’s willingness to take it to the ground could be an issue, but I say Staropoli catches him clean midway through the first round.
Prediction: Staropoli via first-round knockout
Ponzinibbio is always good for a brawl and the rest of UFC Fight Night 140’s card offers some decent match ups. See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 140 fight card this weekend, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” undercard bout at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the FOX Sports 1 “Prelims” undercard bouts at 8 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.