Who is Ryan LaFlare?
That’s the question on the minds of many casual fight fans as we head into UFC Fight Night Rio this weekend.
You can be sure the #14-ranked LaFlare (11-0-0) is well known to #7-ranked middleweight Demian Maia (19-6-0).
LaFlare is on a nice five fight win streak since joining the UFC. An impressive win over Maia will likely catapult him in the rankings. One thing though. They’ve all been decision wins.
Maia is trying to get a streak of his own going, after tough losses to Rory MacDonald and Jake Shields.
Maia will have the hometown advantage.
Welcome back to The Crossfire.
MMA Crossfire Expert Kenai Andrews checks in with his thoughts on the main card matchups.
GODOFREDO “PEPEY” PEPEY (12-3-0) VS ANDRE “TOUCHY” FILI (14-2-0)
Andrews: Fili has the height and reach advantage. As long as he plays his game on the feet and avoids the ground, he should be able to earn the decision win here. Pepey lost to Felipe Arantes, a fighter Fili beat last year. But Pepey is coming off back-to-back performance-of-the-night wins. This is an improved Pepey, just not enough to upset Fili.
Andrews Prediction: Andre “Touchy” Fili via unanimous decision.
GILBERT “DURINHO” BURNS (9-0-0) VS ALEX “COWBOY” OLIVEIRA (10-1-1, 1NC)
Andrews: Donald Cerrone will be none too pleased that there’s another “Cowboy” in the division. But, not for long. This is Oliveira’s debut, a scratch for Josh Thomson. The advantage goes to the undefeated Burns, who catches Oliveira with a submission before he can take him out with strikes.
Andrews Prediction: Gilbert “Durinho” Burns via submission.
#9 AMANDA “THE LIONESS” NUNES (9-4-0) VS SHAYNA “THE QUEEN OF SPADES” BASZLER (15-9-0)
Andrews: Nunes has a 89% knockout rate while Baszler has a 87% submission percentage. This should be a good fight, seeing who can enforce their grip. Both have fought tough competition, but Nunes has fared better. The aggressive striking of Nunes should overpower the ground prowess of Baszler.
Andrews Prediction: Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes via TKO.
LEONARD SANTOS (13-4-1) VS TONY MARTIN (9-2-0)
Andrews: Santos is 10 years older than Martin, but he is a TUF Brazil 2 winner (at welterweight). Both are dangerous on the ground, so it will come down to striking and cardio. I’m going with the experience of Santos.
Andrews Prediction: Leonard Santos via unanimous decision.
ERICK SILVA (17-5-0, 1NC) VS JOSH “KOS” KOSCHECK (19-9-0)
Andrews: Koscheck returns to the fray after a disappointing loss to Jake Ellenberger at UFC 184. Silva already bounced back from a tough loss to Matt Brown and should put away Kos to the delight of the home crowd. Just beware of the overhand right and don’t let Kos use his wrestling to stifle him.
Andrews Prediction: Erick Silva via TKO.
#7 DEMIAN MAIA (19-6-0) VS #14 RYAN LAFLARE (11-0-0)
Andrews: LaFlare’s best bet is to take the starch out of Maia by keeping the fight on the feet and avoid the deadly BJJ of Maia. Maia’s striking has improved but he wants to take the fight to the ground and wear LaFlare out. I think LaFlare controls the fight on the feet and outstrikes Maia to a unanimous decision win.