SMITH ANTHONY vs RAKIC ALEKSANDER Prediction & Preview
After last weeks card was lacking in star power barring a high-ranking main event, UFC Fight Night 175 sees former champions and challengers throughout the main card.
Headlined by a light heavyweight clash that has become more important with Jon Jones’ decision to vacate his title, Anthony Smith and Aleksandar Rakic will be looking to make a statement on the hunt for UFC gold.
Elsewhere, former champ Robbie Lawler makes his return to the octagon against a resurgent Neil Magny, Ji Yeon Kim and Alexa Grasso will look to break out of a chasing pack at flyweight while the anticipated rematch between Magomed Ankalaev and Ion Cutelaba opens up the main card.
Anthony Smith (33-15) vs. Aleksandar Rakic (12-2)
Smith has shown himself to be a solidly well-rounded fighter at 205 lbs but his questionable gas tank and durability is a worry against someone like Rakic.
While Smith has shown the ability to defeat top-quality opponents like Alexander Gustafsson, I’m not sure that Rakic would find himself in a position where Smith can maintain top control for long periods.
Rakic meanwhile has a varied striking game with noticeable power and his athleticism allows him to glide in and out of range for offensive and defensive purposes.
This being a three-round fight should give Smith more joy but I think Rakic’s power and more consistent output will give him the edge.
Pick: Aleksandar Rakic
Robbie Lawler (28-14, 1 NC) vs. Neil Magny (23-7)
Stylistically, Neil Magny is a poor match-up for Robbie Lawler.
Offering pressure, range and physicality, Lawler has struggled in the past with restrictive opponents and those who can use their size in the clinch – pretty much an outline of Magny’s routine gameplan.
Lawler however possesses good leg kicks which can offset Magny and he holds notorious power in his hands.
It’s a tough one to pick as Lawler is more than capable of big moments that can swing rounds in his favour while Magny should be the one who dictates the bout.
Logically, Magny should capitalise on Lawler’s rustiness and weaknesses but Lawler’s punishing punches could see him get the better of his foe.
Pick: Robbie Lawler
Ji Yeon Kim (9-2-2) vs. Alexa Grasso (11-3)
You’d expect this bout to primarily take place on the feet as neither is a takedown artist by any stretch of the imagination.
With this bout likely to be a striking battle, Grasso’s speed and more varied approach should see her better Kim here.
Kim does have a solid right hand which could counter or cause problems but Grasso has shown herself to be the slicker boxer.
Pick: Alexa Grasso
Ricardo Lamas (19-8) vs. Bill Algeo (13-4)
Lamas is fading as a fighter who can compete at the top end of the featherweight division but he should still have enough to best Bill Algeo.
While there’s always the chance he clips Lamas’ chin and tests his durability, Lamas is still talented on the mat and is game with his own striking offence.
Pick: Ricardo Lamas
Magomed Ankalaev (13-1) vs. Ion Cutelaba (15-5, 1 NC)
Hopefully, these two just stand and trade like they did in their first bout and provide the masses with some edge of the seat phonebooth fighting.
While Cutelaba’s protestations earned him an immediate rematch, Ankalaev was still landing the crisper strikes than his aggressive opposition.
Whether it be a wild scrap again or Ankalaev deciding for a safer route to victory, I think the Russian is simply the better of the two.
Pick: Magomed Ankalaev
(Last Predictions: 2/4, Total: 82/122, 67% Success Rate)
(Success Rate: 2016: 61%, ’17: 60%, ’18: 58%, 19′: 57%)