UFC Fight Night 135 will kick off in Lincoln Nebraska on August 25th. The card presents plenty of interesting matchups that will help form the landscape for rising contenders in the flyweight, strawweight, and lightweight divisions. The winner of this main event between Gaethje and Vick shapes up to be crucial for both fighters in their talented, yet logjammed division.
See our staff’s predictions below.
Eryk Anders vs Tim Williams (Middleweight)
Dreux: Williams is appearing in his 2nd UFC debut against a tough up and coming middleweight in Anders. I truthfully do not see how Williams wins this fight as Anders is the far more athletic and powerful fighter with great takedown defense.
Eryk Anders wins via TKO in round 2.
Connor: This could be an interesting fight, it just depends if its long or a quick one. Either side could win quickly in this one. Anders has legit KO power and is not afraid to take fights to the ground using his takedowns. He may want to avoid using the takedown in this one as Williams has an excellent ground game. Williams debuted in the UFC earlier this year against Oskar Piechota, which resulted in a 1st round KO loss. If Anders can keep this fight on the feet, he looks to be in good shape.
Eryk Anders wins via KO in round 1.
John Moraga (#6) vs Deiveson Figueiredo (#14) (Flyweight)
Dreux: This is a tough match-up to call as Moraga has seemed to get back on track with three consecutive wins against top tier opponents such as Wilson Reis and Mogomed Bibulatov. Figueiredo in the other hand is and undefeated fighter with 12 of his 14 wins coming by stoppage. For me this is a toss up but I am going to side with Moraga just on the pure octagon experience against better levels of competition.
John Moraga wins via unanimous decision
Connor: This could shake up to be a great fight. Figueiredo is undefeated as a professional and has a background in wrestling. Moraga has been around, and has fought the best, the likes of Demetrious Johnson, Sergio Pettis, and Joseph Benavidez. He has not won any of these high end talent fights, but he is always in the mix. Moraga has had his time, but I believe the winner remains undefeated.
Deiveson Figueiredo wins via unanimous decision
Jake Ellenberger vs Bryan Barberena (Welterweight)
Dreux: I’d love for Ellenberger to take the win here but it’s very hard for me to pick him when he’s 1 for 5 in his last 6 fights where 4 of those losses he got knocked out badly. Barberna tends to start slow and then pick up the pace as the fight goes on. I think this is anyone’s fight but I’ll lean towards Barberena due to Ellenberger’s recent skids.
Jake Ellenberger wins via unanimous decision.
Connor: Two great competitors will go toe to toe and throw down. Ellenberger has been KO’d in three straight fights to great KO artist like Mike Perry and Ben Saunders. Barberena is an great finisher with 9 KO finishes to his name and has won 10 of his last 13. One of his nicknames is “Bam Bam” so you know he hits hard. This does not seem like a good spot for Ellenberger to put his chin. I predict fireworks from both sides, but someone is going down early.
Bryan Barberena wins via KO in round 1.
Courtney Casey (#11) vs Angela Hill (#14) (Strawweight)
Dreux: Early on, I really thought Courtney Casey was going to be one of the more elite fighters in the division, especially after the Aguilar fight. Annnnnd then she had two underwhelming performances where she let, honestly, hittable fighters outstrike her, figure her out early and out-work her all the rest of the way through the fight. Casey comes forward but doesn’t extend her punches and doesn’t kick, ever. Angela Hill keeps a solid pace and is the more versatile striker, which is where both fighters are best at.
Angela Hills wins via unanimous decision.
Connor: Both fighters are looking to break into the top 10 with a win tonight. Casey has reach advantage but striking is probably where Hill has the most advantage in the fight. Casey is a much better rounded fighter, so she should take this fight to the ground to get Hill into deep waters to reduce the effectiveness of her striking. The issues is that if Hill can keep the fight standing, she probably would have the advantage. I think the only chance that Casey has is to take the fight to the ground and try to get a submission, Hill has shown the ability to get decisions when going the distance. I think Hill will dominate most of the fight while standing, but at some point, the fight will go to the ground.
Courtney Casey wins via submission in round 3.
Michael Johnson vs Andre Fili (Featherweight)
Dreux: Win or loss, you will never watch a boring Michael Johnson or Andre Fili fight. Lucky for all of us, they will be competing against each other in this fight.Though having a disappointing run as of late, glimpses of The Menace (Johnson) that mauled the likes of elite competitors in Dustin Poirier, Edson Barboza, and Tony Furguson. Also do not forget he cracked Khabib Nurmagomedov witha blazing left hand that had him wobbles before succumbing to the extreme pressure of Khabib. He was likely winning his previous fights against Justin Gaethje and Darren Elkins before getting caught.
Johnson has not won a decision since he beat Shane Roller in 2012 and he’s lost five of his last six fights, and yet again, Johnson faces an opposition in Fili who will not crumble due to forward pressure. Fili is a well versed striker and can use the takedown when needed. I find Fili to be the more versatile striker while Johnson seems to fall into the same patter to bite down and brawl. I see Fili getting the nod here after an entertaining three round fight.
Andre Fili wins via unanimous decision.
Connor: This fight is a must win for Michael Johnson, he even seems to feel this way when he say in interviews that he feels that he needs a win for his own sanity. I feel he will be on a mission, especially seeing the disdain between Johnsons and Fili at their face-off. The win here for Johnson would be huge for his confidence and his career. Fili will not just roll over, these guys definitely have some animosity, and bragging rights are on the line. Fili is dangerous from everywhere, and is looking to add a big name like Johnson to his win column and help give himself some momentum. Johnson has been competitive against the best, he just needs to get a win, and right the ship to start the climb back into championship contention. This will be a great fight between two exciting and fun to watch fighters who are not afraid to throw down.
Michael Johnson wins via TKO in round 3.
Justin Gaethje (#7) vs James Vick (#10) (Lightweight)
Dreux: This is a winnable fight for Vick although he is still, somehow, unknown to fight fans. He can win this fight. Gaethje is 1-2 in his last three fights with ALL three of those fights being absolute wars. One has to wonder how much he has left in him? Those two losses came against people who also thrive in wars in Dustin Poirier and Eddie Alvarez. This is how I see the fight happening. Vick has never experienced the kind of fight Gaethje brings and I do not beleive Vivk has better grappling than Gaethje. I see Vick winning early of getting smashed into pieces as the fight goes on. My heart and gut lies with the Genesis trainer fighter.
Justin Gaethje wins via TKO in round 3.
Connor: James Vick? Exactly, this is not a household name, but this guy has some skills. Vick is actually pretty new to MMA, he only started traning when he was 22. He does not stick out anywhere as exceptional, but he does everything pretty well and has incredible range for the lightweight division. Gaethje has been in some of the best wars to date, he has never been afraid to take a shot to give one back. This may negate the range difference that Vick has, because he is willing to get hit. This worked for him for a while, but he has lost two of the last three to high caliber talent. Hopefully his team notices that he needs to change things up a little. Gaethje has a background in wrestling, but tends to want to swing his fists first. If he cannot improve his strike defense, then he should utilize his wrestling to tire his opponents out more. This should also reduce the hits he takes and the power from the hits that he does take. There is not telling what a three fight loss streak would do to any sort of hype that would be behind you, I think this is also a must win for Gaethje. If he changes his game plan he could run away with this fight.
Justin Gaethje wins via TKO in round 3.