UFC on ESPN+ 10 Prelims preview and predictions (Part I)
Two former Lightweight elites will look to rebound from tough defeats this Saturday when Rafael Dos Anjos squares off with Kevin Lee in Rochester.
Also at Welterweight, Neil Magny tries to turn aside the surging Vicente Luque, while Antonio Carlos Junior puts his five-fight winning streak on the line against Ian Heinisch 15 pounds north.
Seven Prelims this time, all joining the main card on ESPN+. Let’s begin.
205 lbs.: Patrick Cummins (10-6) vs. Ed Herman (23-14)
It was more than five years ago that Cummins stepped up on short notice to fight Daniel Cormier and got smoked in just 79 seconds at UFC 170. “Durkin” currently finds himself 2-2 in his last four, including a career-first submission loss to Misha Cirkunov last October. He’s knocked out four pro opponents and submitted another two.
“Short Fuse” made his first UFC appearance in 2006 when he fell to Kendall Grove on the Ultimate Fighter 3 Finale. Now 10-10-1 in 21 Octagon bouts, Herman has lost three straight to Nikita Krylov, CB Dollaway, and Gian Villante. He’s submitted 14 professional opponents, though none since 2012.
Cummins fights always boil down to whether or not he can consistently take his opponent down. If he can, he’s got the heavy top game and ground-and-pound to ruin just about anyone’s night. If he can’t, well, there’s a reason four of his losses are by (T)KO.
Luckily for “Durkin,” Herman shouldn’t prove terribly difficult to wrangle. Beyond being undersized for the division and incredibly shopworn to boot, “Short Fuse” got taken down six times by Dollaway. Further, beyond some nice knees in the clinch, he’s nowhere near the KO threat that Ovince St. Preux, Glover Teixeira, or even Minotouro Nogueira are, so Cummins’ shaky chin shouldn’t prove his downfall this time. Cummins grinds his way to another methodical victory.
Prediction: Cummins by unanimous decision
170 lbs.: Danny Roberts (16-4) vs. Michel Pereira (22-9)
“Hot Chocolate,” coming off of a Fight of the Night victory over David Zawada that moved his Octagon record to 5-2, entered his March bout with Claudio Silva as a slight underdog. After dropping the first two rounds to the Brazilian’s elite grappling, Roberts seemed on the verge of a potential comeback when the referee controversially claimed a verbal submission to an armbar Roberts was in the midst of escaping. His pro finishes are split 7-5 between knockouts and submissions.
“Demolidor” went viral for his acrobatic antics in the ROAD FC cage during his current 6-1 (2 NC) run, which includes five wins by finish. The Brazilian fought seven times in 2018 alone and was last seen scoring a TKO finish in an openweight bout last February. He is 8-2 (2 NC) overall since a 1-3 skid.
This phrase is horribly overused, but Pereira really does fight like a button-masher. He’s got a dangerous straight right, left body shot, and clinch knee, but he’s happy to unload whatever’s on his mind, be it a Superman punch off the cage or a tornado kick or a backflip guard pass off the cage. It brings to mind Marius Zaromskis, but unlike “The Whitemare,” Pereira doesn’t seem to have a great sense for when to throw his nonsense, resulting in wasted energy and no connection.
Roberts is chinny, true, but far more economical on the feet and boasts enough power to hurt Pereira once the Brazilian’s gas tank starts to empty. Pereira actually got knocked out three fights ago and took another fight two weeks later, which can’t be healthy; luckily, the athletic commission should provide a proper medical suspension after Roberts puts him away.
Prediction: Roberts by third-round TKO
185 lbs.: Zak Cummings (22-6) vs. Trevin Giles (11-0)
Despite an unsuccessful run on The Ultimate Fighter 16, Cummings worked his way through the Welterweight ranks with six wins in his first eight Octagon appearances. A split decision to Michel Prazeres sent him back to 185 pounds, where he outlasted fellow grinder Trevor Smith in Milwaukee. 11 of his 16 stoppage wins have come by submission.
“The Problem” narrowly edged Ryan Spann in his final pre-UFC bout, then demolished James Bochnovic in his Octagon debut five months later. He then proceeded to welcome grappling standout Antônio Braga Neto back to the UFC after a lengthy layoff, ultimately breaking the Brazilian down midway through the third. This will be his first fight since December of 2017.
I’m always for fighters competing closer to their natural weight, but a huge part of Cummings’ success at Welterweight was how damn big and strong he was. Though he’s still a dangerous, well-rounded fighter without that edge, it’s hard to see him making too deep a run at Middleweight, especially since he’s not particularly fast and thus lacks the advantage most rising fighters do.
Giles is the more dangerous striker and has solid wrestling of his own, making it unlikely that Cummings takes over with either his submissions or heavy left hand. Cummings is insanely durable, to be fair, but I see Giles’ sprawl and power carrying him to victory as it did against Braga Neto.
Prediction: Giles by unanimous decision
145 lbs.: Julio Arce (15-3) vs. Julian Erosa (22-7)
Consecutive losses to Brian Kelleher didn’t stop Arce from winning five straight on his way to the UFC, including a TKO of Peter Petties on the Contender Series. Following victories over Dan Ige and Daniel Teymur, Arce took on striking standout Sheymon Moraes, fighting through hard knockdowns but ultimately losing a split decision. He will give up five inches of height and four inches of reach to “Juicy J.”
Erosa washed out of the UFC after a 1-1 start, but fought his way to a Contender Series slot opposite Jamall Emmers and secured his return to the Octagon via second-round head kick. He’s yet to taste victory in his latest run, suffering a knockout loss to Devonte Smith and dropping a decision to Grant Dawson. 19 of his 22 wins have come by stoppage, 10 of them (T)KOs.
Fun as Erosa is, he’s nearly 30 fights into his professional career and still hasn’t ironed out the litany of issues keeping him out of contention. He just flat-out doesn’t use his length, which makes for entertaining fights but opens him up to way too much return fire. Arce’s kickboxing is far crisper than Erosa’s and the reach difference isn’t enough to offset that, especially considering the way Erosa prioritizes offense over all else.
Arce’s takedown defense means this will be a striking match as long as he wants it to be and it’s only a matter of time until Erosa’s chin fails him again. Expect an early bonus contender until sometime in the second round.
Prediction: Arce by second-round TKO
Three fights remain, including a clash of Featherweight prospects and two new faces taking on veterans. Same time as always, Maniacs.