“UFC 138: Leben vs. Munoz” takes place Saturday, Nov. 5, at LG Arena in Birmingham, England. While lacking some of the star power UFC fans have grown accustomed to, let us not judge the card too harshly until after the fights, because as most fans know by now, it is often these very cards that turn out to be the most exciting.
The ProMMAnow.com (www.prommanow.com) staff weighs in with their thoughts and predictions on each of the main card bouts that will air on Spike TV Saturday night starting at 8 p.m. ET/PT (tape delay). We want to hear your thoughts on the fights and your predictions too! It is the perfect opportunity to try out our new comment system.
Chris Leben (22-7) vs. Mark Munoz (11-2)
RICHARD MANN: It is hard for me to not picture Munoz getting dropped when I think about this fight. Leben has struggled against good wrestlers in the past, and Munoz has improved a lot on the floor. However, the former Oklahoma State Cowboy gets dropped in almost all of his fights. Leben might get dominated early, but eventually he will find Munoz’s chin. Leben by TKO.
KELVIN HUNT: Munoz has more ways to win in that he can grind out a decision with his wrestling or ground and pound Leben. Leben has a puncher’s chance and that’s about it. I think Munoz wins, just depends on what his game plan is. I can see him wanting to stand and trade with Leben being that he wants to be exciting in his first main event. That wouldn’t be smart. I say he does that for a while then takes Leben down. Munoz via late TKO.
BRIAN FURBY: Mark Munoz.
JOSH CROSS: Munoz will need to watch out for some of Leben’s wild and undoubtedly powerful strikes in this bout. If Munoz can do that I think he’ll be fine in this fight. I’ll look for him to use his wrestling to take Leben down and dominate from there. Leben is tough, but I think Munoz can and will finish him. Pick: Munoz via TKO.
JACK BRATCHER: This is an interesting match-up between a heavy-handed zombie brawler and a wrestler-turned-MMA-fighter. When one considers all the great people Munoz trains with at Reign and King’s MMA and his only two losses have been to Yushin Okami and Matt Hamill, I have to go with Munoz. I know the caliber of fighters Munoz is training with and with Leben out in Hawaii I’m afraid he’s probably not getting that same caliber training. Munoz via TKO.
Brad Pickett (21-4) vs. Renan Barao (28-1, 1 NC)
RICHARD MANN: It may be due to his “One Punch” nickname, but people seem to think Pickett is a strong striker. However, that is not really his game. He is a relatively slick grappler whose wrestling has improved as he has dropped down in weight. In this fight, Barao should be considered the favorite. He will have the advantage on the feet, and he has enough game to stay out on trouble on his back. Barao by decision.
KELVIN HUNT: I’m going with Barao via submission.
BRIAN FURBY: Renan Barao.
JOSH CROSS: This one is a hard one for me to call. I think it’s going to be an exciting fight, but I can see either fighter winning. I don’t see either guy getting finished though, so I think this fight goes to a decision. I can see Pickett fairing better on his feet than Barao, and so I’ll go with Picket to win the fight, even though I could see it going either way. Pick: Pickett via Decision.
JACK BRATCHER: This is a pretty sick match-up. Barao has not lost a fight since 2005 some 26 fights ago! He lost his pro debut and has won every fight (except for one draw) since. Of course, the majority of those fights took place in Brazil against people you have never heard of. Even still, you don’t accomplish that if you suck. Pickett will have home field advantage but I’m going with Barao via submission.
Thiago Alves (23-7) vs. Papy Abedi (8-0)
RICHARD MANN: Alves needs to follow Stella’s footsteps and get his groove back. Back in 2008, he was an unquestioned top-five welterweight. However, losses and injuries have really derailed his career. Abedi is a big welterweight who likes to brawl. That is not going to serve him well against Alves. The Brazilian should be able to keep the fight on the feet, own distance with leg kicks and score knees in the clinch. Alves by TKO.
KELVIN HUNT: Alves has the experience edge and is a better striker. Abedi’s lead leg is going to take a beating in this one. Alves via TKO.
BRIAN FURBY: Thiago Alves.
JOSH CROSS: This will be a really interesting fight to see play out. On paper, Abedi looks almost unstoppable, but I wouldn’t count on Alves getting knocked out so easily. Not only is this Abedi’s first fight in the UFC, but also I’m just not sure that he has fought anyone as good as Alves either. I think Alves will weather the early storm from Abedi and then make his move later in the fight. Pick: Alves via Decision.
JACK BRATCHER: Alves came in a little heavy but was able to shed the extra weight to make the welterweight limit. Papi Abedy stared Alves down at the weigh-ins with a cigar in his mouth (see photo). The guy is not intimidated by Alves not one bit, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Alves was just a little impressed by the way Abedi carried himself. Having said that, Alves is going to smash him. He has decent striking but from what I’ve seen it’s nothing spectacular (I’ve only seen one of his fights). Alves just seems to be the better all around MMA fighter, including a better striker. Good showcase fight for Alves to hand Abedi his first loss via knockout.
Terry Etim (14-3) vs. Edward Faaloloto (2-2)
RICHARD MANN: It is sort of a mystery how Faaloloto is in the UFC. He was only 2-0 as a professional when received the call up to the WEC. Since then, he has dropped both of his bouts under the Zuffa banner. After this fight, he will almost certainly have to head back to the Hawaiin circuit with a losing record. Etim is not a dynamite wrestler, but he is also not an English stereotype. He should have more than enough game to keep this fight on the feet and do damage. Etim by TKO.
KELVIN HUNT: Etim has been out for over a year which concerns me. However, he absolutely has the tools to put Faaloloto away and that’s what I expect later in the fight. Etim via submission.
BRIAN FURBY: Terry Etim.
JOSH CROSS: It has been nearly 19 months since Etim’s last fight, and while ring rust could play a role in this fight, I don’t see it being a major issue. Etim has much more experience than Faaloloto that I think will make up for any ring rust he might have and I don’t see Etim having much trouble winning this fight. Pick: Etim via Submission.
JACK BRATCHER: The odds in this fight say it all. Etim has a huge experience advantage, not to mention he has a reach and height advantage. With a 2-2 record, it’s surprising Faaloloto is even fighting in the UFC, much less on a main card (it’s funny on the UFC site they jacked his record up to 5-2. It’s very strange to be honest. He’s lost his last two fights and this one should send him packing. Etim wins via submission.
Cyrille Diabate (18-7-3) vs. Anthony Perosh (11-6)
RICHARD MANN: I would say “this is a classic striker vs. grappler match up,” but I normally try to avoid cliches. Diabate is one of the best straight strikers in MMA. His performance against former WEC champion Steve Cantwell was downright masterful. Perosh is a good enough grappler to win fights, but he is not really a UFC-level competitor. Diabate by decision.
KELVIN HUNT: Diabate via TKO if he keeps it on the feet, if it goes to the ground he’ll be in trouble. I’m stay with Diabate though.
BRIAN FURBY: Cyrille Diabate.
JOSH CROSS: I think Perosh’s best chance to win this fight is to get Diabate to the ground and submit him, but that’s easier said than done. Diabate’s takedown defense should be good enough to keep the fight standing for at least most of the fight, and that’s where I think he’ll have the biggest advantage. Even if the fight does go to the ground I don’t see Perosh getting the submission. Pick: Diabate via TKO.
JACK BRATCHER: Perosh is a jiu-jitsu black belt from Australia. He co-owns a gym with Elvis Sinosic the last I heard when we interviewed Elvis last year. Perosh could pose some big problems for “The Snake” on the ground and Diabate will certainly want to keep the fight standing. It’s important to remember Perosh once got TKO’d by Jeff Monson. That’s not easy to do. His stand-up has certainly improved since then but still, I don’t think he’s ready for “The Snake” on the feet. Diabate via TKO.