This Saturday (March 23, 2019), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) travels to Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., for UFC Fight Night 148. In the ESPN+ main event, a pair of knockout artists in Stephen Thompson and Anthony Pettis will engage in a traditional martial arts-inspired duel. I’ll admit now, the rest of the card isn’t particularly strong, but there are some very interesting fights to examine ahead of the headlining bout. Remember: Later in the week, MMAmania.com’s Jesse Holland will preview and predict the main- and co-main events. For now, let’s take a look at these other main card bouts.
Lightweight: John Makdessi vs. Jesus Pinedo
Best Win for Makdessi? Abel Trujillo For Pinedo? Devin Powell
Current Streak: Two UFC wins for Makdessi, a single Octagon win for Pinedo
X-Factor: Will Pinedo over-perform?
How these two match up: It’s not a particularly high-level Lightweight fight, but it should be a fun one.
Makdessi is a very technical kickboxer with some clear limitations. The positive side of Makdessi comes in the form of a sharp jab — classic Tristar — and some side kicks at range. On the downside, Makdessi is a smaller Lightweight, which means he’s often pursuing a rangy kickboxing match with men significantly longer and taller than him.
The 22-year-old “El Mudo” will have those physical advantages. The best way to describe the Peruvian’s mixed martial arts (MMA) approach is enthusiastic. He’s not the most technical, but Pinedo looks to overwhelm opponents with a high volume of rangy kicks and takedown attempts.
This is a fight Makdessi should clearly win. To be frank, it’s a fight he should probably win within the distance. Makdessi is the vastly more refined fighter, and his ability to control range with the jab should completely shut down Pinedo’s wild offense and set up hard counters. In addition, Pinedo doesn’t yet know how to pace himself properly.
All that said, there is a chance Pinedo’s eclectic mix of offense throws Makdessi off his game, simply by being too weird to settle down. In general, a lot of these young, technically raw fighters from Latin America tend to exceed expectations simply by being tough and determined.
Still, Makdessi’s jab SHOULD prevent that from happening.
Prediction: Makdessi via decision
Flyweight: Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Jussier Formiga
Best Win for Figueiredo? John Moraga For Formiga? Dustin Ortiz
Current Streak: A perfect 15-0 for “Daico,” who has won four inside the Octagon vs. three wins from Formiga
X-Factor: Formiga’s incredible back takes and control
How these two match up: Figueiredo might be one of the few fighters keeping the Flyweight division’s future alive. The Brazilian is incredibly aggressive and immensely powerful: he chases opponents down with whinging punches and looks to knock their heads loose.
That wildness does create opportunity, however, and Formiga is the premier back take specialist in a division full of ‘em. Formiga is not helpless on the feet, but it’s always clear that his strategy is to land a takedown, force a scramble, and latch onto the back mount.
Figueiredo has plenty of hype behind him, but it’s easy to see him losing this fight. “Daico” extends badly and chases the knockout to an unreasonable degree. That level of aggression has seen him countered or taken down before, and few men are better at capitalizing on such errors than Formiga.
The path to victory is there.
I still favor Figueiredo. He’s extremely powerful and athletic, and his jiu-jitsu is nothing to scoff at, either. While it’s likely that Formiga gets him down once or twice in the early goings, “Daico” is likely to be able to scramble up rather quickly. Trying to keep a stronger man down is exhausting, and tired legs will only leave Formiga vulnerable once Figueiredo is back up and throwing heat.
Prediction: Figueiredo via knockout
Featherweight: Luis Pena vs. Steven Peterson
Best Win for Pena? Richie Smullen For Peterson? Matt Bessette
Current Streak: A loss for Pena, a victory for Peterson
X-Factor: Pena’s massive weight cut
How these two match up: This is bizarre.
Luis Pena showed some promise on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) before an injury took him out of the competition. Even so, he won his UFC debut before showing his inexperience next time out, a close loss that saw Pena run out of ideas. At 25 years old, that’s understandable, but Pena reacted badly by choosing to drop an additional 10 lbs. to Featherweight.
You’re already 6’3” size wasn’t the problem, dude. Assuming his kidneys don’t implode before the fight, Pena is a decent Southpaw kickboxer with a reasonable wrestling game.
Peterson is more straight forward. “Ocho” is not the most athletic man, but you’re not likely to find a more hard-nosed fighter on the roster. Peterson is a strong jiu-jitsu player with fairly average wrestling, and his stand up is pretty basic. He’s forced to rely on toughness quite often, but he made it to big show as a result.
There is zero chance I am picking Pena. He’ll have a tremendous size advantage, but Peterson is just the type of fighter to negate his reach with constant pressure. Pena is not a dynamic finisher and Peterson eats flying knees like cupcakes — there will be no easy early finish.
Peterson is going to make it ugly, and I’ll be quite surprised if Pena’s dehydrated body doesn’t fail him as a result.
Prediction: Peterson via decision
Women’s Flyweight: Maycee Barber vs. J.J. Aldrich
Best Win for Barber? Hannah Cifers For Aldrich? Polyana Viana
Current Streak: Barber is undefeated at 6-0 (1-0 UFC), while Aldrich rides a three-fight win streak
X-Factor: Barber’s athletic talent
How these two match up: Maycee Barber, 20, lived up to her moniker as “The Future” in her UFC debut four months ago, absolutely beating Cifers to a paste in all areas of the game. Not only does Barber seem extremely athletic, but her game already seems reasonably well-rounded.
This will be her first fight at 125 pounds.
Aldrich is the more established and more technical fighter. She mostly does her work as a high-volume kickboxer, but Aldrich holds both a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and third-degree black belt in Taekwondo.
Aldrich is the more technical woman with more high-level experience, but the athleticism gap here is simply massive. Barber is going to be much, much faster and stronger, and I’m not sure what Aldrich can do to slow this down and make it a technical fight. Realistically, she either has to chop her down with low kicks early or find a way to get on top — both tasks seem quite difficult.
Prediction: Barber via decision
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver live UFC Fight Night 148 results on fight night, which is as good a place as any to talk about all the action inside the Octagon, as well as what you’ve got riding on the sportsbook.
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